Mon Aug 13, 2007 1:23PM BST
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's embattled President Robert Mugabe vowed on
Monday he would not change course because of Western opposition to his
policies and instructed landlords and businesses to seek state approval for
all price increases.
Mugabe, 83, and in power since the southern African country's independence
from Britain in 1980, faces an economic crisis marked by the world's highest
inflation rate of more than 4,500 percent.
Addressing a rally to celebrate veterans of Zimbabwe's national liberation
struggle, a defiant Mugabe said his ZANU-PF government was determined to
implement policies it believed would economically empower the country's poor
Mugabe accused Zimbabwe's former colonial power Britain of spearheading a
Western campaign against his government's seizures of white-owned farms for
blacks, its current price blitz and plans to nationalise foreign-owned
companies, including banks and mines.
"If indeed we are a sovereign independent nation, we see no reason whatever
why our empowerment programmes should encounter undeserved opposition as
comes from Britain regularly," he said.
"There will never be recognition of that opposition and hostility as an
attitude that can ever deter us from expressing our sovereign right to
govern ourselves as we deem fit," Mugabe said, adding that London should
stop treating Zimbabwe as if it was still a British colony.
Mugabe -- who in June ordered businesses to slash prices by half and
landlords to freeze rent increases in a bid to tame galloping inflation --
said on Monday he took the move to stop a "brazen conspiracy" against his
government and all new prices increases must be sanctioned by the state.
To a round of cheers from a crowd of thousands of people at the rally,
Mugabe warned landlords who have been accused of raising rents despite the
price freeze: "Landlords take care: the moratorium on rent increases remains
"Under the new law, businesses must seek approval from the ministry of
Industry and International Trade before raising prices," he said.
Since June 25, police have arrested and fined more than 7,500 businesses --
including transport operators -- accused of defying the new price controls,
which have emptied shop shelves and sparked a new wave of panic buying.
Mugabe, who is seeking re-election in a general poll due in March next year,
rejects criticism he has run the economy into the ground, accusing the
opposition and Western powers of trying to oust him.
Zimbabweans are struggling to cope with the world's highest inflation rate
and severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.
On Monday, Mugabe said his government was investing heavily in agriculture
to turn around an economy which critics say has been badly damaged by his
land seizures, and was also looking at problems in the transport and health
The former guerrilla leader -- who denies that Zimbabwe is doomed under his
rule -- appealed for national unity to defend what he called Zimbabwe's
"Let Zimbabwe be an impenetrable fortress inhabited by people who know fully
well the trials and tribulations they endured to attain nationhood, people
who are therefore determined to conquer the current temporary challenges and
look to the future with hope," he said.
By Angus Shaw, Associated Press Writer | August 13, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe --President Robert Mugabe rejected criticism of his
economic policies and called for a revolutionary spirit of self sacrifice to
be rekindled among Zimbabweans, but also said Monday that officials were
reviewing price cuts blamed for making life even more difficult.
Mugabe said a government edict June 26 to slash the prices of all goods and
services -- which has left shelves bare of staple foods across the
country -- was intended to halt exploitation by businesses.
But last week the government raised the prices of some goods and doubled the
price of beef to restore supplies. Retailers have complained they could not
keep shelves stocked if they had to sell food for less than they paid for
"We are accused of bringing hunger to the people," Mugabe said Monday during
the annual holiday honoring fallen independence fighters. "When we assert
our sovereignty, they say we are out of touch with reality. The government
is very clear about its programs. We run things our own way."
Mugabe said those who died fighting for independence from British colonial
rule in 1980 had been unflinching in their belief in freedom from
"We should pause and reflect on the supreme sacrifices made by our selfless
fighters. We pray those acts and spirit of dedication be rekindled in us,"
Zimbabwe's official inflation is given as 4,500 percent, the highest in the
world, although independent estimates put it closer to 9,000 percent. Meat
and many other goods are sold on the illegal black market at up to five
times the government's fixed price.
At least 7,000 executives, business managers, traders and bus drivers have
been arrested in the price clampdown since June 26.
Corn meal, meat, bread, milk and other staples have disappeared from stores.
Beer, cigarettes and newspapers were the latest items mostly unobtainable
Acute gasoline shortages have crippled transport services and stranded tens
of thousands of travelers hoping to visit rural families across Zimbabwe
over the Heroes and Defense Forces holidays.
Tuesday also celebrates the defense capability of the nation's military,
which is commanded by many former guerrillas.
Mugabe described the holidays as one of the most revered occasions in the
life and evolution of the nation and that they symbolized "not just the
freedom of the men and women of Zimbabwe but also of our animals, our birds,
our fish and everything that belongs to us."
"It is the wealth of Zimbabwe that we celebrate," he said in an address
broadcast by state television from Heroes Acre, a cemetery outside Harare
for former guerrillas and politicians.
Chinese-built fighter jets screamed above a military parade and Mugabe led a
wreath-laying ceremony. Supporters waved banners, one saying: "Economic
saboteurs do not have a place in Zimbabwe."
"Let us continue to defend Zimbabwe from internal and external forces
seeking to reverse the gains we have so far registered. Let Zimbabwe be an
impenetrable fortress inhabited by people determined to conquer current
temporary challenges and look to the future with hope and optimism," Mugabe
By Peta Thornycroft
13 August 2007
South African President Thabo Mbeki's anticipated report to the Southern
African Development Community summit on Thursday is unlikely to reveal
significant progress toward resolving the crisis in Zimbabwe. The report, on
the mediation between President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, began after a special summit on
Zimbabwe in Tanzania five months ago. Peta Thornycroft reports for VOA.
President Mbeki goes to this week's SADC summit in Lusaka, Zambia, unable to
claim any significant progress in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.
The South Africans were appointed by SADC in March to facilitate talks
between the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC leading to elections next
So far there have been only two substantive sessions between President
Mugabe's negotiators and the two secretary-generals of the divided MDC.
At first the two sides engaged on a draft constitution they negotiated in
secret in Harare in 2004.
However, after Mr. Mugabe said last month he would never agree to a new
constitution ahead of the elections in six months, the two sides have been
discussing reforms of electoral laws.
Any reforms could be facilitated through another amendment to Zimbabwe's
President Mugabe already wants an amendment to allow presidential and
parliamentary elections to be held simultaneously. He also wants the
constitution amended so that if he retires or dies in office, parliament
would choose his successor and not the electorate.
As it stands now, President Mugabe would be the ZANU-PF candidate for the
presidential election due next March, and time is running out for any
serious changes to Zimbabwe's electoral laws and processes, which the
opposition claims were created to assist ZANU-PF at the polls.
President Mugabe told cheering crowds at a rally Monday to commemorate
Zimbabwe's liberation war heroes, that the recent price cuts which saw
retail prices cut below cost of manufacture, would remain.
He said nothing would stop Zimbabwe "from expressing our sovereign right to
govern ourselves as we deem fit."
The Zimbabwean president described current hyperinflation as a "brazen
conspiracy" and blamed former colonial power Britain, for the unprecedented
economic crisis, which he said was "temporary."
Last week the U.S. Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or Fewsnet, issued
an "emergency" report on Zimbabwe's food situation.
In addition to a poor agricultural season and the need for massive emergency
feeding programs, Fewsnet commented on the empty shelves in Zimbabwe's
"The formal market can no longer maintain a regular supply of basic goods,"
Meanwhile all SADC countries surrounding landlocked Zimbabwe report an
upsurge of people fleeing the economic crisis.
The South African government says it has repatriated about 100,000 illegal
Zimbabweans so far this year.
Monsters and Critics
Aug 13, 2007, 17:59 GMT
Lusaka - Zimbabwean activists on Monday urged leaders of Southern African
Development Community (SADC) nations to take action to resolve the current
economic and social crisis in the country during this week's SADC summit in
the Zambian capital Lusaka.
Speaking in Lusaka, Charity Sampa of the Media Institute of Southern Africa
said that SADC leaders meeting August 16-17 should help Zimbabwe come out of
its current impasse.
Countries neighbouring Zimbabwe were facing the adverse effects of the
turmoil crisis in the once economically and politically buoyant nation,
Spokesperson for united NGOs against poverty, Jason Ng'uni appealed to
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to dialogue with
Robert Mugabe's regime.
'Please, let us be united in fighting the causes of poverty rather than
fighting amongst ourselves,' he said.
SADC executive secretary Dr Tomaz Salomao reiterated on Monday, that
Zimbabwe would be among several key issues on the agenda for the heads of
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
August 13, 2007, 17:00
Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders are expected to act
more decisively on Zimbabwe, as neighbouring countries have to
deal with an influx of Zimbabwean refugees.
Analysts believe SADC governments are feeling the pinch of Zimbabwe's woes
as the latest price cuts has accelerated the flight of Zimbabweans over its
borders. SADC leaders will receive a report from President Thabo Mbeki on
mediation efforts at this week's meeting in Lusaka.
The regional body is expected to consider an economic report, compiled
earlier this year to asses Zimbabwe's economic situation. The report is also
expected to include a rescue package.
A report by President Mbeki is expected to hint at progress with mediation
efforts between the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change. While no radical move from the quiet diplomacy approach
can be expected, analysts believe an increasing number of Zimbabweans
crossing the borders cannot be ignored.
Africa analyst Dianna Games says this time the situation is a lot more
serious, particularly in the wake of the price cuts and hopefully realism
will prevail. Analysts say SADC will emphasize the need to ensure that an
environment exist to conduct free and fair elections in Zimbabwe next year.
SADC is under pressure to conclude its meeting this week with clear and
decisive action on Zimbabwe.
August 13, 2007 Edition 1
Officials, diplomats and activists flew into Lusaka from all over the region
yesterday mainly to hear President Thabo Mbeki's report on his mediation
efforts to solve the crisis in Zimbabwe.
But few believe this year's Southern African Development Community (SADC)
summit, which starts on Thursday, will make this an auspicious week for
Zimbabwe's suffering millions.
Mbeki was tasked by a special summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on March
29, after an international outrage over assaults on Zimbabwe's main
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and amid diplomats' public criticism
of neighbouring countries' inaction.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party showed little
inclination towards change, rubberstamping the 18th amendment to the
Zimbabwe constitution instead, which would further entrench the rule of the
party under Mugabe.
The crisis reached meltdown in recent weeks when Mugabe began arresting
Zimbabweans perceived to be breaking economic decrees meant to stem record
inflation of more than 4 000%. This unleashed a "tsunami" of refugees into
After failing to attend scheduled talks to find a solution based on an
abandoned 2004 constitutional draft, Zanu-PF negotiators arrived in Pretoria
at the weekend.
In a belated attempt to involve civil society, which had been in the
forefront of anti-Mugabe demonstrations and campaigns for a new
constitution, Mbeki invited civic leaders for discussions on Tuesday.
But observers say it is too little too late. Mbeki will probably convince
SADC leaders there had been progress, but not the rest of the world, they
say. Faced with dissension in their ranks, with the MDC split in two,
anti-Mugabe activists hold little hope the SADC summit will act against "one
of their own".
Nevertheless, the Department of Foreign Affairs has put the Zimbabwe crisis
at the top of the agenda in a Press statement, along with crises in Lesotho
and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Activist organisations such as Zimbabwe's Crisis Coalition, with Elinor
Sisulu in the vanguard, plan a series of events and an exhibition of
paintings by Mugabe victims.
She will launch her book on Mugabe's war of terror in Matabeleland, and
music albums of dissident songs sung in South Africa will also be released.
Yesterday Amnesty International's Zambian chapter welcomed the SADC's
attention on Zimbabwe, but cautioned against pressing for regime change.
It said South Africa was having "a tough time" in dealing with illegal
Zimbabwean migrants, and warned that other Zimbabwe neighbours faced similar
The SADC heads will address two other regional crises. In Lesotho, chronic
political instability is threatening to erupt over rejection by the
opposition of the results of the February parliamentary elections. Seven
months later, the country has still not been able to decide on how many
proportional representation seats in parliament each party should get.
In the DRC, a year after the first democratic elections in more than four
decades, the country's main opposition leader, Jean-Pierre Bemba, is still
in exile and rebels in the east are again threatening to upset the fragile
World Net Daily
Posted: August 13, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
Leaders of 14 African countries, along with wives, ministers and various
political big wigs are in conference until the 18th in Zambia. One of those
member countries is Zimbabwe.
I'm told, in the last month in Zimbabwe, "conditions have gone from
difficult to impossible. I am not exaggerating when I say there are no
basics: No flour, no maize meal, no cooking oil, no margarine, no matches,
no fuel, no meat no eggs. On top of this, there are widespread shortages of
water and electricity. I simply do not know how people are surviving."
It's the meeting of the Southern African Development Community - an
organization of 14 African nations, intended to focus on economic, political
and security issues.
Their meeting today involves the "Ministerial Task Force on Regional
Don't bother checking the schedule. The daily program schedules tea, lunch,
dinner and receptions. Spouses meet, discussing, among other things, essay
contests. The main sessions are intentionally vague.
It's always more fun to socialize, schmooze and live the good life than
address what the folks back home face, a situation especially true for
Thousands of Zimbabweans have been victimized, beaten and killed by
government soldiers, police and thugs. Millions suffer under the iron
control that President Robert Mugabe, an avowed Marxist, exerts on the
entire economy and society.
When Zimbabwe was British Rhodesia, it was the breadbasket of Africa,
feeding itself and millions through exports. It had a thriving economy, an
excellent infrastructure, educational system, media, living standards,
medical facilities, recreation, tourism and more.
Independence as Zimbabwe in 1980, and Robert Mugabe as president, brought
the beginning of the end - an end many fear is at hand.
The infrastructure is gone, as are commercial farms. The medical,
educational, media, commercial, religious, housing, tourism, aviation,
mining and all other business ventures are ruined and pillaged. Thousands
are homeless. People are starving, eating grass and facing water shortages.
The sanitation system is virtually non-existent; disease threatens.
Government buildings have water but most homes don't. People carry buckets
of water home. It costs Z$50,000 a bucket! That Z$50,000 is worth $200; the
black market value is 32 cents. Inflation is the world's highest - real
estimates put it at 10,000 percent and climbing. With that, you don't live
very well, if at all.
No one knows how many have died, but millions have left the country and
millions of others want to - for food, housing, jobs and safety. They flood
neighboring countries, namely South Africa, which, while President Thabo
Mbeki has never rebuked Mugabe for his destruction of Zimbabwe, has enforced
its own borders with military to prevent illegal border crossings.
Mugabe's "land reform" meant white farm owners and black employees were
ordered off of their land. Resistors were beaten, raped and killed, their
property looted and destroyed.
More than 4,000 farms were seized. The best were given to Mugabe's favorite
henchmen, the rest to non-farmer blacks, so land went fallow.
Last week, Mugabe ordered the last 600 white farmers to vacate, and if they
don't, he'll move them out. The security minister said he has "a list" of
resisting farmers. A new law forbids legal challenges to land seizures.
When Mugabe didn't like the shanty homes of the poor, he forced them out,
literally bulldozing homes, sometimes with people still inside. Forced into
the bush, people had no shelter or jobs.
Last month, he ordered businesses to cut prices 50 percent and more -
supposedly, so people could shop. At least 5,000 resisting business owners
and managers were fined and jailed; taxi drivers had vehicles impounded.
When stores sold out, producers couldn't afford to import or produce more,
so shelves stayed empty. Businesses closed; commerce stopped.
A civil servant might earn $22 a month; that's $4-million Zimbabwe dollars.
Fuel, if available, costs up to Z$500,000 a liter; people walk. Maize is
Z$300,000 for 10 kg. if available. There's no meat or rice. All food is
rationed. Prisoners go hungry. Police and soldiers are reportedly looting.
Outside of Zimbabwe, almost no one knows what's happening, and those who do
know ignore it.
South African President Mbeki talks about the need for "free and fair
elections" in Zimbabwe next year and, in an astounding understatement, calls
Zimbabwe's economic recovery a "major challenge!"
A real election is virtually impossible. Political opposition to Mugabe
tries to gain some foothold, but their efforts are split. Mugabe clamps
down, making it clear by having police savagely beat opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai to within an inch of his life as he walked with a group to
a prayer vigil. Such violence is increasing.
The now 83-year-old Mugabe plans to win re-election. If that election is
whitewashed, as it appears it will be, by those covering up the atrocities
in Zimbabwe, the future of that country and its people, black and white, is
The West talks sanctions but does nothing, even as Mugabe flirts with Libya,
Cuba, China, Russia and Iran.
When the West wanted to rid South Africa of white apartheid, the world
united - against the whites.
In Zimbabwe it's worse - racism against whites, brutality against blacks and
the intentional destruction of a country.
But this time, under a black, Marxist leader, the world is silent.
It's racist, immoral and - dangerous.
13 August 2007
IT IS a sorry day when a country runs out of beer, especially one that has
so much need for it right now.
Drinking away the realities of life in Zimbabwe is one of the coping
mechanisms that people had access to until that, too, became a casualty of
the government's latest price-slashing drama.
The supermarkets in Harare last week were a woeful sight as the price blitz
really began to bite. One supermarket, in a relatively upmarket area, had no
power and shoppers wandered up and down half-empty shelves in the gloom to
see what they could find.
Watching over them was President Robert Mugabe, from a portrait high above
There are millions of dollars chasing very few goods at this stage. A joke
doing the rounds in Harare suggests that there are three things you should
never tell a Zimbabwean woman: that she looks like a million dollars (only
about R30), that you will stand her to a candlelit dinner, or run her a
bubble bath - the last two references to extensive power and water cuts.
Business people report the presence of police in factories, forcing
industries to produce, or to raise their production. But production can only
continue, they say, as long as they have raw materials.
A lack of foreign currency for imported inputs and a shortage of fuel are
constraining their ability to produce and the bankrupt government is not in
a position to help out.
So where does it end? In a way it already has. The government is already
starting to increase prices as factories threaten closure.
Last week the state-owned newspapers (the only kind you can get daily in
Zimbabwe) have reported that the farmer price of beef has been increased to
lure boycotting farmers to sell, and that the state-owned Cold Storage
Commission is courting private abattoirs, which recently had their licences
withdrawn, to provide beef to butcheries. The next price control to go was
on beer - just in time for the Heroes Day holiday today. This was joined by
bread, cement and maize meal and more are expected next week.
The government has backed down as a result of talks with the private sector
to find a compromise on the price freeze, and it is expected that more
concessions will be announced soon.
The government will then portray itself as the saviour of business as a way
of saving face, Zimbabweans predict.
There seems to be a prevailing view that the crackdown, which the government
insisted would continue until the year-end, was a misplaced election tactic.
But it has backfired and it will take a lot to paper over the cracks it has
It was unsustainable in an environment where the private sector had already
had so much of the life sucked out of it. Companies, unable to survive on
volumes in a depressed economy, were relying on high margins to keep going -
and that is exactly where the government hit them.
Business people maintain that there is no capacity in government to
understand economic issues and the few who do, such as Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono, were anyway opposed to the cuts.
The fuel crunch is also biting and people predict the next climbdown may be
the reversal of the decree that only the bankrupt state fuel parastatal
Noczim can import fuel.
The reason for the deregulation of the fuel market a few years ago was the
inability of Noczim to provide fuel, and nothing has changed.
As one businessman said: "It's one thing not to learn from others' mistakes;
it is another not to learn from your own."
The government spin doctors have had their work cut out for them trying to
convince the population that this is all one big western plot. Ironically,
Mugabe last week asked a forum of journalists what led reporters to publish
misleading information and sway the truth to suit powerful interests. I am
surprised that he had to ask - he is the master.
I find it disappointing that many Africans say Zimbabwe, despite its
problems, it is still in better shape than many other African countries - as
if that somehow makes it all right.
Zimbabwe in 2007 reminds me of Zambia in the late 1980s, early 1990s.
Shelves were bare, foreign currency was scarce, the kwacha was worthless and
skills flight was rampant.
Now Zambia is booming and Zimbabwe is down where its neighbour was nearly
two decades ago.
The tendency to benchmark Zimbabwe against Africa's failures rather than its
successes is surely holding back the continent's development.
If Africans are not outraged by Zimbabwe's demise, they will not hold their
own governments accountable for similar declines and poor leadership will
Games is director of Africa @ Work, an African consulting company.
Monday, 13 August 2007, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
BBC News, South Africa
The gaping holes in the security fence between Zimbabwe and South
Africa give a hint of the determination of many Zimbabweans to leave their
During a late-night drive I spotted 12 holes along one 10-metre
As fast as the South Africans repair the fence, new holes are cut.
One estimate suggests that three million Zimbabweans have fled across
the border in recent years.
One illegal Zimbabwean migrant, Christopher, explained to me how so
many people manage to breach border security.
When he decided to leave several years ago, he phoned a contact in
South Africa who cut the fence to order for a fee of 50 rand (about US$7)
and provided transport for an extra fee.
He said those who are caught by the South African authorities and
deported often try to cross the border illegally again on the same day.
"The government of Zimbabwe is not looking after people. It's beating
people, it's shooting people," says Christopher.
"There's no law in Zimbabwe. The law is for the president only."
In the space of just seven years, Zimbabwe has managed to transform
itself from one of Africa's most stable and prosperous countries to one of
its poorest and most chaotic.
Inflation is the highest in the world (the government has stopped
publishing the figures) and millions are expected to need food aid in the
How might the trend be reversed?
The root of the problem is, according to many observers, the
concentration of too much power in the hands of President Mugabe.
Repeated constitutional amendments since Zimbabwe gained independence
in 1980 have had the effect, in the words of the opposition faction leader,
Arthur Mutambara, of allowing Mr Mugabe and his party to "get away with
The solution, in theory at least, is equally clear. Zimbabwe needs a
It should, according to Trevor Ncube, a Zimbabwean newspaper publisher
now based in Johannesburg, envisage "a Zimbabwe that gives all its citizens
a stake in society, rather than one which is dominated by a clique that is
pillaging the country."
The apparently simple solution also requires free and fair elections
(voting is due to take place by March next year), the formation of a
government which reflects the views of the majority and the replacement of
83-year-old Mr Mugabe.
Zimbabwe's former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, who is now a
strident critic of the government, says this last point is not sufficient to
end Zimbabwe's crisis, but is absolutely necessary.
"Obviously there'll be no solution as long as Robert Mugabe remains in
power," he said.
"For most Zimbabweans, the situation is a living hell, and he is the
biggest part of the problem."
Only once the political problems have been resolved will Zimbabwe's
economy be brought back under control.
Economists say Zimbabwe either has to kick its habit of printing
money, or should abandon its own currency altogether in favour of the South
African rand or the US dollar.
At the same time, several billion dollars in international aid would
be needed to stabilise the economy.
And many of those millions of Zimbabweans who have fled abroad could
play a key role in rebuilding if they were to return.
Even so, it could take many years for the country to return to its
previous position of relative prosperity.
Sultan Barakat of the Centre for Post-War Reconstruction and
Development at York University says the trick is to capture as much
international attention and resources as possible within the first three or
four years of any transition, before the rest of the world loses interest.
What remains frustratingly unclear, though, is how to reach the point
at which this advice can be implemented.
The opposition is weak and divided. Mr Mugabe's determination to
remain in office appears undiminished.
His party has become factionalised and has failed to coalesce around a
single, alternative candidate.
Nor does the government even acknowledge, in public at least, the
scale of the current problems.
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told the BBC: "Really, the
Zimbabwean people are a happy lot, and that's why you don't see any
"Zimbabwe is opening up and the people are responding positively. They
see opportunities. Zimbabwe is on course to become the Singapore of Africa."
Zimbabwe's crisis could continue for a considerable time yet,
according to some observers, as more and more people are driven from the
cash economy back to subsistence.
Daniel Makina, a Zimbabwean finance professor at the University of
South Africa, laments the tendency of his compatriots to "normalise the
He believes they have become so wrapped up in the struggle for daily
survival that they have lost the long-term view necessary to help rebuild
If he is right, Zimbabwe could be drifting ever further from resolving
Zimbabwe: Out of Control. Two-part series broadcast on BBC World
Service radio on Monday 13th August and Monday 20th August. Also available
as a podcast.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
13 August, 2007
The Heroes and Defence Forces holiday began with reports that uniformed
soldiers continued to beat up vendors and residents of Kuwadzana
high-density suburb in Harare. Gertrude Kuudzehwe, a representative of the
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) in Kuwadzana, said the soldiers
beat up vendors and innocent civilians, forcing them to walk to the Heroes
celebrations at the Heroes Acre. The soldiers confiscated vegetables and
other food items as the vendors fled for safety. Kuudzehwe said the primary
reason was to increase numbers at the ceremony to make it look crowded on
television and score a propaganda victory for the regime. She said many lost
their valuable goods and business for the day.
Precious Shumba, spokesperson for CHRA said the soldiers descended on the
area around 10:00 A.M. Monday, took a lunch break and returned again in the
afternoon. But targeting vendors takes away their only option to make a
living. It is not clear why they are targeting Kuwadzana, but they attacked
vendors there last week as well, in a move seen to be linked to the price
The holiday is meant to commemorate the liberation war that led to
independence in 1980. But what is usually a happy time for Zimbabweans has
been marred for the last few years by critical shortages of goods and
services in the country. Shumba said this year was the worst so far. He
spoke to people who said they had been stranded for days in Mbare. Many
travellers told him they had not been able to find groceries to bring their
Over the weekend thousands of commuters around the country found themselves
stranded due to serious fuel shortages. Privately owned buses stopped
operating weeks ago after government ordered a 50% price-cut on travel
fares. Bus terminals were crowded with many people waiting hours for
transport. Riot police were called to the Mbare terminus in Harare Saturday
to stop passengers fighting to board the buses. The state controlled Sunday
Mail reported that 51 bus drivers were arrested on Saturday for
overcharging. A police spokesman said they have been forced to pay Z$40,000
fines. The report also said some commuters were unwilling to incriminate
their bus drivers, and refused to disclose what they had been charged.
Even the more affluent are being affected by the latest crisis and those who
attended a cricket match between Zimbabwe and South Africa at the Harare
Sports Club found there were no beers, no bread rolls no meat for burgers.
The government over the weekend made a u-turn on its ban on private
slaughter houses, reinstating licenses of some private abattoirs.
The regime has gone on a major international publicity stunt lately,
claiming the problems we face are due to sanctions imposed by 'western
imperial powers' and the UK. But the only sanctions that exist are targeted
sanctions that ban Robert Mugabe and his closest allies from travelling
abroad. Their personal assets have also been frozen. Economic experts blame
the current crisis on the price blitz initiated by government 6 weeks ago.
Panic buying and massive looting by authorities left shelves empty and
created shortages as most retailers just cannot afford to reorder supplies
that they then have to sell at a loss.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Lance Guma
14 August 2007
Twenty-seven years ago thousands of Zimbabweans had died fighting against
the colonial regime led by Ian Smith, during a 7-year guerrilla war.
Although Robert Mugabe and his 'comrades' who led that liberation struggle
now rule the country, hundreds of thousands are now perishing from a
combination of hunger, violence and bad governance. So when it came to
celebrating Heroes Day on Monday there was a shift in focus from remembering
the fallen heroes to worrying about economic and political problems
besetting the country. People interviewed by Newsreel all said there was
nothing to celebrate.
For the ruling Zanu PF party the holiday provided the perfect opportunity to
take pot shots at the opposition and dwell on glories past. Lionel Saungweme
reporting from Bulawayo says the state media was awash with propaganda meant
to shore up Zanu PF's image as a liberation war party. A state sponsored
gala in Chinhoyi gave the platform to musicians like Minister Elliot Manyika
to perform his 'Nora' song. The song branded as containing violent lyrics,
talks about opposition puppets and how they are manipulated by the west. The
song urges them to be whipped into the Zanu PF way of doing things.
Saungweme says this is the problem. Holidays such as these are hardly
national and only serve to whip up animosity between the political parties.
On Tuesday the country celebrates Defence Forces Day. The day celebrates
Zimbabwe's defence capabilities but for many all they can reflect on is the
brutal role the army has taken in suppressing dissent. The MDC meanwhile
issued a statement saying it will join the families and relatives of the
fallen heroes in marking the day. Zanu PF has always been accused of trying
to monopolize the event. Speaking for the Tsvangirai MDC, spokesperson
Nelson Chamisa said they would only join in government celebrations once
Mugabe stopped insulting the opposition. He also criticised the criteria for
hero status as being too partisan. Their rivals in the Mutambara camp echoed
the same sentiments, adding the day should not be owned by any party or
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
HARARE - Weary Zimbabweans were still waiting in long lines for fuel and
cash, hoping to scrape together enough of both to hold whatever celebration
they could during the long Heroes and Defence Force holiday.
The disastrous price slash also stole the cheer from the holiday. No beer!
No meat! No cash!
Lengthy queues have been a part of life in Zimbabwe since seven years ago,
when economic troubles began causing fuel shortages. But during the last
week, the fuel queues became four-lane monstrosities that clogged Harare's
streets and caused occasional fist-fights over line-cutting.
For many, waiting for fuel was the second queue - after waiting for cash at
banks and automatic teller machines that repeatedly ran out of money during
the weekend as workers tried to withdraw cash for travel to their rural
homes or to spend during the long holiday that ended Wednesday.
Friday was the last banking day here ahead of the holiday weekend, which led
to lines that snaked around blocks in downtown Harare as people hoped to get
cash from ATMs, only to find that banks had run out.
By Sunday, the lines downtown began shrinking, both because many ATMs were
empty and because people had given up. The queues were only a problem for
people who had money in the first place. The average Zimbabwean's disposable
income has fallen by 70 percent since January, according to estimates from
consumer watchdogs here.
"No holiday for me. We are suffering," said a security guard in downtown
Harare, who asked not to be named. He said he wasn't working during the
holiday week, but he didn't have enough money to take his wife and children
to visit relatives.
During the holidays, many city-dwellers travel to the villages where their
families live. But bus fares have skyrocketed as fuel prices more than
doubled on the black market and passengers have complained that not enough
buses are running.
"Normally we do not have problems with the buses," said Shungu, who was
heading to her village in the Mhondoro region. "I think it's because of the
fuel shortage," she said. Police were called to the nation's busiest bus
terminus, Mbare-Musika, on Friday to control hundreds of disgruntled
passengers who had waited hours for a bus home.
The inter-city train service increased locomotives. But the train was
overwhelmed by desperate passengers.
Air Zimbabwe, which slashed fares by up to 50 percent, was also fully
booked - with a return trip to Bulawayo from Harare going for a laughable
amount of $4,5 million. - Chief Reporter
Zimbabwe 's security forces have been put on high alert to deal with any
possible uprising; such measures were put in place after the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) announced that it will this month
demonstrate over economic recession.
The ZCTU's secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe announced that the labour
would go in the streets as a way of pushing the Robert Mugabe regime to deal
with appalling economic standards the country is facing.
The country's police commissioner Augustine Chihuri when reached for comment
by The Zimbabwean said the police has the duty to protect all citizens and
make sure that all who embark on moves to destabilise the country will be
dealt with accordingly.
In the past Zimbabwe security forces have descended heavily on this labour
body when making demonstration to have their request made known to the
Zimbabwe is in its ninth year of economic recession with independent
economists placing figures close to 10 000 percent whilst unemployment rate
figures placed at just above 80 percent.
In the past few months Wellington Chibhebhe called on the government to
review salaries of civil servants alleging that they were being paid about
one sixth of the poverty datum line standards.
Thousands of Zimbabweans are expected to throng major cities such as capital
Harare , Bulawayo , Mutare and Gweru to have their demands met. If these
planned demonstrations succeed rolling demonstrations will be expected
through the country.
Zimbabwean workers are among the poorly paid civil servants in the global
economy were they can not even afford to pay school fees for their children
even if their salaries are doubled according to present rates.
Zimbabwe 's civil servants used to fall in the country's middle class but
due to the decline in the economic performance of the country, the middle
class has been totally erased from the economic structure.
In Zimbabwe it is illegal for citizens to gather and make demonstrations
without clearance of the police as such gatherings will be termed illegal
and deserving the full wrath of the law.
· Report attacks Britain as main protagonist
· Harare opposition denies view agreement is near
Chris McGreal, Africa correspondent
Monday August 13, 2007
South Africa has blamed Britain for the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe by
accusing the UK of leading a campaign to "strangle" the beleaguered African
state's economy and saying it has a "death wish" against a negotiated
settlement that might leave Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF in power.
According to a South African government document circulating among diplomats
ahead of a regional summit this week, President Thabo Mbeki will paint an
optimistic picture of his efforts to broker an agreement between Mr Mugabe
and the Zimbabwean opposition.
But the document, a draft of the report the South African president is
expected to present at the meeting, says Britain remains a significant
obstacle by spearheading sanctions that Mr Mugabe blames for his country's
"The most worrisome thing is that the UK continues to deny its role as the
principal protagonist in the Zimbabwean issue and is persisting with its
activities to isolate Zimbabwe," the report says.
"None of the western countries that have imposed the sanctions that are
strangling Zimbabwe's economy have shown any willingness to lift them."
Britain pressed the European Union to impose "targeted sanctions" against
Zimbabwe's leadership by refusing visas, freezing bank accounts and other
measures that the UK said were aimed at individuals without harming
But Mr Mugabe has blamed what he describes as the "illegal sanctions" for
the economic collapse and said his government is a victim of British
imperialism because it seized white-owned farms for redistribution to poor
His opponents say the crisis is the result of a brutal strategy to hold on
to power by violently suppressing the opposition, rigging elections and
trying to buy support by seizing the farms. This last move devastated the
tobacco export industry that provided Zimbabwe with much of its foreign
The wholesale printing of money helped fuel inflation now estimated to be
running at about 20,000%. Shops are virtually empty of basic foodstuffs.
Some African leaders have been willing to criticise Mr Mugabe, although a
Zambian opposition leader, Michael Sata, urged the region's leaders to "join
hands and launch strong protests against attempts by the west to recolonise
The South African report describes the crisis as "Zimbabwe's bilateral
dispute with Britain". However, the focus of Mr Mbeki's efforts is to reach
an agreement between Mr Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change ahead of elections next year.
Mr Mbeki has not had a smooth ride. Mr Mugabe's two negotiators, both
cabinet ministers, failed to arrive for talks in South Africa last month.
The ministers, Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa, finally arrived in
Pretoria a week ago.
The document says some issues, including constitutional reforms, have been
"worked out". "There are strong indications that the two sides are sliding
towards an agreement," it says.
But MDC sources say that agreement is not near and they suspect that Mr
Mugabe is playing for time until the end of the year when the focus will
shift to the presidential election campaign. Meanwhile, the economic crisis
is expected to deepen. More than 3 million Zimbabweans have left the country
in search of work.
Afrique en ligne
Johannesburg (South Africa) South Africa's business community says it
is concerned that the prolonged meltdown of Zimbabwe's economy would
eventually affect other countries in the region, including the region's
economic powerhouse itself.
"An inevitable global evaluation process might result in the political
and social aspects gaining more prominence with unpleasant real effects for
the economies of the region," the South African Chamber of Business (SACOB)
has said here.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government ordered retailers last
month to slash prices of basic goods by half in a bid to quash soaring
The order triggered a wave of arrests of business executives -
including South Africans - who failed to fully comply with the ruling.
In addition, the order saw the dwindling of supplies of staple
necessities and a mounting crackdown on the opposition in Zimbabwe.
This increased a growing exodus of refugees into neighbouring
countries, particularly South Africa.
"This was the main issue in July," said SACOB Economist Richard
Downing, in outlining its recent outlook of the Southern Africa region's
"We don't want to climb on the Zimbabwe bandwagon. But there are
people who must be looked after, and yet nothing is happening to address the
"I think the state has a responsibility in this regard," Downing said.
Despite this occupation with Zimbabwe, the business group noted a
steady recovery of its own South African economy.
It, however, warned the recovery may be temporary, as a slowdown in
real activity was likely to continue into 2008.
But on a positive note, the South African government's infrastructure
spending drive is boosting investment from both the public and private
sectors, and is expected to replace consumer demand, as the economy's main
engine of growth in the coming months, said SACOB.
SACOB also cited volatility in global financial markets - which were
shaken by housing credit concerns in the USA this past week - as a major
African Press Agency
THE DEBATE on a United States of Africa is set to continue at the SADC
meeting scheduled to begin in Lusaka, Zambia, tomorrow.
In a statement released yesterday, the Foreign Affairs ministry said the
SADC (Southern African Development Community) Council of Ministers would
discuss a report on regional economic integration.
The idea of a United States of Africa caused major splits during the African
Union summit held in Ghana earlier this year.
Libyan President Muammar Gadhaffi pushed for the creation of a confederation
of states, with a union government that would replace the exiting African
This government would draw up common foreign and defence policies and ease
trade barriers on the continent.
South Africa and other key players want the existing AU structure to be
given time to mature.
The implications of the outcomes of the AU summit on the SADC would also be
discussed in Lusaka.
"In this vein a report on continental integration including the African
Union and Nepad (New Partnership for Africa's Development) and
inter-regional integration will be presented to Council," Foreign Affairs
said in a statement.
The political situation in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of
Congo would also be discussed.
Among the other issues that would be up for discussion would be the proposed
launch of the SADC Brigade and the Integrated Committee of Ministers (ICM).
The ICM would target trade, industry, finance and investment; infrastructure
development, the water sector, food, agriculture and national resources and
human development and special programmes.
Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was to leave for Lusaka
yesterday. - Sapa
Monsters and Critics
Aug 13, 2007, 8:27 GMT
Harare - A magistrate in Zimbabwe ruled that he would only hear an
application for refusal of remand by six alleged coup plotters in a closed
courtroom, a newspaper said Monday.
The six men, including former army officer Albert Matapo, were arrested in
late May in central Harare while allegedly discussing the plot to oust
President Robert Mugabe and replace him with Rural Housing Minister Emmerson
It is alleged Matapo planned to become prime minister.
The accused, including at least one serving soldier deny the allegations.
They insist that on the day of their arrest they were discussing plans to
launch a new political party.
They want the case thrown out by the magistrates court. But Magistrate
Archie Wochiunga consented last Thursday to a request by state prosecutors
to have the appeal heard in secret, the official Herald newspaper said.
State prosecutor Joseph Makwakwa was reported as saying names of the alleged
accomplices of the six men would be disclosed during the court hearing,
which could jeopardize police investigations.
But defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange dismissed the state's request as a ruse
aimed at saving its embarrassingly weak case from public scrutiny.
'My clients do not want to be acquitted in secrecy,' he told the Herald. The
truth is that the state does not want to be exposed that they do not have a
case against the six.
Political commentators have expressed skepticism over the alleged coup plot,
saying it could be an attempt to besmirch the reputation of Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa, who has dismissed claims he is involved in any coup plot as
stupid, heads one powerful faction within the ruling ZANU-PF, and is seen as
a possible successor to Mugabe.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
August 13, 2007
One could wonder, if you can put aside the cries of starving children, the
medicine-free hospitals and inflation of 12,000 percent (officially only
4,500 percent), what was the tipping point for Robert Mugabe? When did the
Zimbabwe president begin his descent into madness?
Was it as a boy studying in Christian mission schools in racially-segregated
Rhodesia, or was it as a lonely university student in Moscow being fed a
diet of anti-colonialism and voodoo economics? Or was it when he grasped the
possibilities of absolute power as an acolyte to Julius Nyerere in Tanzania?
Or is it an altogether more sinister and gothic story of love and betrayal,
of envy and fall from celebrity?
Here is that tale. When the white government of Ian Smith handed over power
to the rebel forces of Mugabe and his fellow guerrilla leader, Joshua
Nkomo - as a result of talks held at Lancaster House in London - Mugabe
entered a golden period and behaved quite well. He embraced Smith and became
the darling of the Western world. At last, an African leader who was up to
the job and who was taking over a functioning country with a strong economy,
a thriving agricultural sector and limitless potential.
There were some warning signs, but no one wanted to heed them. The first was
Mugabe's insistence during the peace talks that he and his delegation stay
in the finest luxury hotels, while the other participants settled for lesser
quarters. "We are not dogs," he declared, forcing the British government to
pick up the inflated tab. Now, he is building for himself the most expensive
house ever constructed in Africa.
Another warning sign, blithely ignored by the press as well as the
politicians, was Mugabe's insistence that the major newspapers in the
country should transfer to the government. But on the whole everyone was
happy, including the white settlers who went about their business as usual.
Mugabe went about the world collecting honors and approbation.
True, he sent his crack troops into Matabeleland, home of the Ndebele
people, traditional rivals of Mugabe's Shona tribe. But it was far away, and
there was no television coverage (20,000 or more were slaughtered).
The world wanted to love Mugabe and a blemish or two did not matter. The
country was a poster for the "New Africa."
But Mugabe's days in the sun faded in the 1990s. Nelson Mandela, a saintly
figure, was released from prison after 27 years of privation. And the world
embraced him with passion. Here was a greater hero for the New Africa, on
the way to becoming the leader of a much larger country. Mugabe had lost his
luster - his 15 minutes of fame were at an end. Worse was to come.
Mugabe had been courting Graca Machel, the widow of former Mozambiquan
leader Samora Machel. Sadly for Mugabe, Mandela also wanted to marry Graca
and did so in 1998, after which Mugabe turned against Zimbabwe's white
commercial farmers, attacked homosexuals - denouncing Britain in
particular - and the West in general.
There followed one catastrophic decision after another, enforced by bands of
thugs calling themselves "war veterans," although most were too young, or
not yet born, at the time of the war. With the aid of his corrupt party
henchmen, rigged elections, wholesale corruption, brutal repression and
government by fiat, Mugabe has destroyed Zimbabwe. Unemployment is above 80
percent and hundreds of thousands are without food.
In the dock of history, Mugabe will be convicted. But will he face a jury of
his peers in his lifetime?
Only one African leader has spoken out against Mugabe, and that was Mandela,
briefly, in 2003. Thabo Mbeki, Mandela's successor has been silent. Yet
South Africa is feeling the consequences. It is host to 3 million starving
victims of Mugabe's rule. They get there by walking across a porous border
into an uncertain future in a country with trouble enough of its own.
Indeed African leaders, even those at war with each other, have kept an
unbreakable code of silence - an omerta Africana. They won't criticize each
other in public, in the ears or eyes of the rest of the world. Even when
Ugandan leader Idi Amin was feeding his foes to the crocodiles, he was given
a standing ovation by the Organization of African Unity.
Oh, Africa, your drums are muffled.
Monsters and Critics
Aug 13, 2007, 12:11 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - A defiant President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on
Monday said all businesses in the country had to seek government approval
before they could raise prices.
Addressing thousands of people gathered for Heroes Day commemorations to
honour fighters who died in Zimbabwe's war for independence more than two
decades ago, the 83-year-old president accused businesses of 'waging a
brutal and merciless price war' that necessitated a controversial price
slash campaign last month.
Such brazen conspiracy and indiscipline called for countermeasures in order
to bring sanity, said a defiant Mugabe, who was decked in medals and a green
and gold sash.
He said regulations had been brought in that would mean all businesses had
to seek government approval before they could hike prices.
'Under the new law, businesses must seek approval from the Ministry of
Industry and International Trade for raising prices,' said the Zimbabwean
leader, in power here since independence in 1980.
He also said companies had to carry on providing goods and services at
government-set prices, ignoring the fact many have incurred huge losses.
Since late June, teams of police and government officials have conducted
snap raids on stores, garages and businesses, forcing them to reduce prices
by at least 50 per cent.
More than 7,500 people have been arrested and fined for overcharging, while
shops and stores have been left bare of basics like meat, cooking oil and
The government claimed the price blitz was aimed at protecting consumers and
curbing inflation of well over 4,500 per cent. But the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the campaign is a political
gimmick aimed at shoring up support for Mugabe ahead of next years polls.
The Zimbabwean leader said his government was in discussions with the
business community, including manufacturers to determine prices agreeable to
In the interim government has urged business to continue providing goods and
services while negotiations for appropriate pricing levels continue, he
Ahead of Monday's speech, independent reports had suggested Mugabe might
announce a partial reversal of the sweeping price controls.
But the mood at the official celebrations which were held at a national
shrine in the capital Harare where prominent veterans of the war for
independence are buried was one of defiance.
'Prices did not fall on their own, we slashed them,' read one placard
displayed in the crowd of spectators.
Another read: 'No to economic saboteurs,' which is how Mugabe's government
commonly refers to the business community. Many soldiers and police were
among the crowds, some of them members of regional police forces who are
currently in Zimbabwe to attend a sports contest.
As a result of the price blitz, which at first proved popular, some shops
were quickly emptied of goods. Bargain hunters fell with glee upon shops
selling normally expensive electronic equipment like DVD players. Many
businesses have said they cannot afford to restock.
In his speech Mugabe also attacked former colonial power Britain for what he
said was its failure to recognize the country's independence.
He complained that Zimbabwe continued to regularly feature in debates in the
'I don't know whether it is out of total ignorance of the fact that on the
18th of April 1980 the British flag was lowered. We became totally
sovereign,' Mugabe said.
'We run things our own way in accordance with the will of our people and
that is what offends them (the British),' Mugabe claimed.
Mugabe routinely blames Zimbabwe's worst-ever economic crisis on what he
calls illegal sanctions imposed by Britain, the United States and the
But Western countries say they have not imposed punitive measures on
ordinary Zimbabweans but only targeted sanctions including a travel ban, an
arms embargo and asset freezes on more than 100 top ruling party officials.
In a grim warning ahead of crucial parliamentary and presidential polls next
year, Mugabe also said police would not tolerate politically-motivated
violence in the run-up to the elections.
There has been politically-motivated violence in the run-up to previous
polls in 2000, 2002 and 2005. But local rights groups have pinned much of
the blame upon supporters and top members of Mugabe's ruling party.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
From Financial Times
By Tony Hawkins in Harare Mon Aug 13, 11:40 AM ET
The Zimbabwean government has given notice that it is serious about its
plans to put businesses in the hands of locals by cancelling the operating
licence of a foreign-owned mobile operator, Telecel Zimbabwe.
Telecel was accused last week by Zimbabwe's Postal and Telecommunications
Regulatory Authority of violating conditions of its licence, which
stipulates that Zimbabwean investors must own a majority stake in mobile
The company is 60 per cent owned by Telecel International - a subsidiary of
Egypt's Orascom Telecom - with the balance of 40 per cent of the shares held
by a black empowerment company, Empowerment Corporation (EC).
The operating licence was awarded to EC in 1997 in line with the
government's plans to make business operations in the country indigenous.
The watchdog said in a statement that Telecel International had been given
five years from the start of its licence to reduce its equity stake to below
50 per cent. That grace period expired on June 30.
EC has the pre-emptive right to buy 11 per cent of the share capital from
Telecel but has been unable to raise the necessary foreign currency. Telecel
Zimbabwe has filed an urgent appeal against the licence cancellation.
President Robert Mugabe's nephew, Leo Mugabe, a backbench MP representing
his uncle's ruling Zanu-PF party, has been engaged in a long-running feud
with Telecel over the ownership structure. He has claimed a stake in EC, but
this has been denied by the corporation.
New legislation that will require foreign-controlled businesses to sell up
to 51 per cent of their shares to local investors is due to be debated in
the Zimbabwe parliament when it resumes at the end of this month.
An indigenisation policy document drawn up by President Mugabe's office 10
years ago estimated that foreigners accounted for more than 70 per cent of
total investment in mining, finance and manufacturing with most of the
remaining 30 per cent owned by non-indigenous Zimbabweans.
While the cancellation of Telecel's licence is covered by existing
legislation, businesspeople are concerned that Zanu-PF is gearing up to make
'indigenisation' of the economy the main plank of its election manifesto,
ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls due next March, in the same
way that it used land expropriation to win popular support in the 2000
Daily News, SA
August 13, 2007 Edition 1
South Africa rejected calls yesterday to set up a refugee camp for the
thousands of hungry Zimbabweans who daily flock into the country, saying
that to do so would violate UN regulations.
"South Africa is a signatory to many UN conventions. We cannot impose a
refugee status on people who do not want to be refugees.
We will be doing that if we set up a refugee camp ... and that will be
against the UN regulation," Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nquakula
said in a televised interview.
She described most Zimbabweans who illegally enter the country as "economic
migrants" who had no intention of settling but wanted only to buy food.
There are severe shortages in Zimbabwe after the economic meltdown there and
a recent crackdown on prices, and media estimates suggest between 3 000 and
5 000 Zimbabweans cross the border into South Africa every day.
"These are people who still want to go back to their country. They are not
"Asylum seekers do not jump borders, they know where to go to seek asylum.
People who jump borders are economic migrants," the minister said.
She slammed the media for "peddling incorrect" figures about the number of
Zimbabweans crossing the border. - Sapa-AFP
Mail and Guardian
Johannesburg, South Africa
13 August 2007 06:06
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Monday
demanded action against Limpopo farmers who arrest Zimbabwean
border-crossers, but the farmers said they were merely protecting private
The rounding up of Zimbabwean migrants by farm patrols was
reminiscent of apartheid-era white farm commandos, Cosatu said.
The Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) said members were
protecting their farms, insisting that the influx of fleeing Zimbabweans
posed agricultural and veterinary risks.
"Our attitude is to arrest people who are trespassing on private
property and then hand them over to the police to be processed," said TAU
safety and security manager Chris van Zyl.
"The farmers haven't got an axe to grind with undocumented
foreigners but if the farm is your business, your livelihood, the least you
can do is take measures to protect it."
The BBC recently reported on patrolling farmers who rounded up
Zimbabweans and bound their wrists in order to hand them to police.
"There is no place for such behaviour in the new South Africa,"
said Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven.
Estimates of daily illegal border-crossers vary, but 100 000
Zimbabweans were officially deported between January and the end of July,
according to Department of Home Affairs figures.
"We are purely doing what the president had asked us to do and
that is take care of the security of our own environment," said Van Zyl.
Not only TAU members were involved in the "arrests", he said.
"My question would be what would the provincial commissioner [of
police] do if a couple of farmers jumped over his fence in his own house and
walked around his garden. Would he tolerate that? I don't think so."
Farmer union AgriSA said it did not support the action.
"Our members are definitely not involved with the sort-of
arresting of people and taking them to the police stations," said Gert Rall,
"You don't correct one crime by committing another. We don't
agree with it."
Rall said the union's members had boosted security and that
broken fences, disruptions to farming, damage to water equipment and empty
housing had been reported.
The numbers of border-crossers were impossible to estimate but
one farmer had reported 60 people from "toddlers to stone-age" crossing his
Both the TAU and AgriSA said the solution needed to be
"Whichever way you look at it, South Africa is stuck with
thousands of people and they are going to stay here for many years," said
Control should come from leaders and not citizens, he said.
"The problem is that there is no constructive policy or decision
on how its going to be handled. There is no coordinated effort at this
Van Zyl said the government needed to "realise that there is a
problem" and put in structures where people could voluntarily report and be
"The problem is getting so big that government needs to take a
decision on this. Whether they support the president of Zimbabwe is
immaterial," he said.
"There is some type of human tragedy playing off there -- famine
is running rife unless you are fortunate enough to be part of the political
elite." -- Sapa
Dear Zimbabwe Situation,
I have just read an article on your website entitled "Secure Instant
Messaging Communications" with dismay. I feel it is important to correct
the misinformation given in this article before too many people are
misled into a false sense of security by taking the advice given. Please
can you publish this letter.
The original article asks five questions, to which I will reply directly:
1. Can you guess what instant messenger program I will use between Yahoo
, MSN or Aim ?
The hardware and software that monitors communications ("listening
devices") are capable of monitoring all different types of internet
messaging protocols and they monitor all of these at once. The moment
you start using any of these programs they will be monitoring you.
2. Can you predict what username I will sign up as ?
This is irrelevant. Listening devices know the source IP address of your
communication and therefore which household it is coming from.
3. Can you guess at what hour I will be sending IM messages ?
Listening devices run 24 hours a day. It will make no difference what
time you send messages.
4. Can you indicate where I will be when I am sending IM ?
Again the source IP is always monitored. If you are using IM from a
friend's house the government will know it is coming from there and
while you might not get into trouble, your friend will.
5. Ah also tell me who I will be chatting with ?
That will generally depend on how much information the person you are
chatting with has put into their public profile. If the destination IP
address of your communication is to someone in Zimbabwe then it's likely
that the government can find out who you are chatting to. If not then
they can find out which country you are sending the messages to from the
destination IP and in some cases narrow this down further.
I should also point out that while the advice on password choice given
in the article is sound you should also change your password often (at
least quarterly) and also use different length passwords each time.
While you generally will not be able to give away the fact that you're
using IM or where you're sending messages to you can prevent the content
from being known by encrypting your IMs. And after all the content is
what the government is most interested in.
[The author of the original article has been invited to comment and we hope to publish his reply in due course. The more information we all have, the better. Ed]