|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
an official with the opposition party’s elections
directorate, told the Daily News that several potential voters in the city
had been disenfranchised, while non-residents of Gweru were being registered
under non-existent residential addresses.
"We bought the voters’ roll from the
RG’s (Registrar-General’s) Office
for the Gweru municipal elections and carried out a physical audit of the
voters’ roll by checking names against given addresses," he said.
"It has been proved beyond
reasonable doubt that there are close to 6
000 anomalies. This reduces our chances of a convincing win as ZANU PF can
benefit by about 20 percent through bussing in people and ghost voters."
It was not
possible to secure comment from Registrar-General Tobaiwa
Mudede, who was yesterday reportedly attending meetings.
But ZANU PF secretary
for information and publicity Nathan Shamuyarira
said those who doubted the credibility of the electoral system should go to
court so that ghost voters could be disqualified from voting on the basis of
available material evidence.
"The registration of voters is an ever-continuing
process, but one
must be resident in a particular constituency to be registered," Shamuyarira
"One has to give his name and
physical address before they can be
should take that matter forward through the legal system and
those illegally registered will be disqualified.
"No one knows better how to go
to the courts than the MDC. Let them go
to the courts and appeal against that."
Chirunga said the MDC had discovered several ghost names
incomplete or non-existent physical addresses, while another 723 phantom
voters were registered at state institutions such as police stations,
hospitals and military camps.
The MDC officials
said names such as that of Laison Morgan Tonera
appeared on the voters’ roll in Ward 3 without a physical address.
disenfranchised voters included one Janet Bafana of 206
Makina Square in Senga of Ward 5, who is registered under the Ward 3 voters’
Other names appearing on the voters’ roll
included Agnes Kudzai
of Ward 3, Cecilia Jakachira
and Inosi Matora, both of Ward 12, whose
physical addresses indicated that they were residents of Silobela and Gokwe
Electoral Supervisory Commission spokesman
Thomas Bvuma yesterday
admitted that there were problems arising from the voters’ rolls, mainly due
to the continued movement of people from one area to another.
He said: "I have not heard such reports and l have
not seen any
letters raising those issues from the MDC. Some people may have been
registered a long time ago and people are moving to new areas like
"Those are factors which should
be considered by people going through
the voters’ rolls. If there are any anomalies, one has to consider when that
registration occurred. In fact, people are moving to new residential areas
without effecting transfers on the voters’ roll with the RG’s Office.
Several names will, in the process, remain registered in an area they have
since moved from. That’s a general problem that exists."
Meanwhile, MDC officials in Mutare said more than
50 opposition party
supporters were injured on Wednesday night in clashes with suspected ruling
ZANU PF activists ahead of this month’s urban council elections.
The injured included two aides of MDC Mutare mayoral
The two, Peter Buzuzi and Shamiso Obert Mubango, sustained serious
injuries from stabbings on Wednesday night, MDC officials said. MDC
provincial spokesman Pishai Muchauraya yesterday said Buzuzi and Mubango
were admitted at a privately-run city hospital after they were attacked by
about 60 people dropped off by three Nissan Hardbody vehicles marked "ZANU
PF Manicaland Province" and another marked "ZANU PF Mutasa DCC". Muchauraya
said those attacked were among about 400 people gathered at Sakubva’s Ward 2
near Sakubva District Hospital at Kaburabadza’s campaign rally. Muchauraya
said Kagurabadza escaped unhurt, but the windscreen of his Nissan vehicle
was smashed. "Buzuzi and Mubango were stabbed while protecting Kagurabadza
from being assaulted by the youths with missiles," Muchauraya said. He added
that the police officer commanding Manicaland, Ronald Muderedzwa, whisked
Buzuzi and Mubango to hospital. Muderedzwa yesterday confirmed that he had
been called to the scene. "Yes, I heard about that, but can you call the
Officer Commanding Mutare District, Emilia Moyo? " Moyo could not be reached
for comment yesterday. By Precious Shumba Senior Reporter
Police quell skirmish at ZANU PF meeting
BULAWAYO – Riot police were called in this week when a group of ZANU
PF youths stormed into a meeting at the party’s provincial headquarters, it
was learnt yesterday.
Some of the provincial executive members
attending the meeting
allegedly sought refuge in the toilets when the marauding party youths
threatened to assault them on Wednesday.
Ruling party sources said the youths were seeking
the reinstatement of
an executive member who was allegedly fired recently.
The incident is believed to be part of the
factionalism that has
threatened to tear the party apart in the country’s second largest city.
The sources said riot police were called
to the party’s offices at
Davies’ Hall and they swiftly responded and defused the situation.
They said no one was arrested or injured during the disturbances.
Sources said ZANU PF candidates for the
elections were present during the skirmishes.
An official who answered the telephone at the party
refused to disclose his name but only said: "That has nothing to do with
Some of the party’s provincial
executive members alleged that the
ousted provincial chairman, Jabulani Sibanda, was responsible for the
yesterday denied having a hand in the skirmishes and
said he was not aware of the incident.
He said: "The allegations are nonsense. They have
got their problems
because they are trying to run the party for their own selfish reasons
without considering the party constitution.
"They are using personal level politics to guide the party instead of
the constitution. I’m not involved in that at all."
Several ZANU PF
executive members in Bulawayo have been fired or
resigned in the last few months in what party insiders say is part of a
Provincial party spokesman Sikhumbuzo Ndiweni resigned
allegedly differed with the party’s old guard on his intentions to include
youths in the provincial leadership. Yesterday, he confirmed resigning but
refused to disclose the reasons.
confirm that I resigned, but I cannot tell you the reason,"
ESC ordered to submit report on alleged blocking of nominations
HIGH Court judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo yesterday ordered the
Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) to submit by the end of today a
report on events at the Nomination Court in Chegutu last month, where 11
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidates were allegedly prevented
from presenting their nomination papers by suspected ruling ZANU PF party
The affected opposition contestants had
petitioned the High Court to
order Tobaiwa Mudede, the Registrar-General, to consider their nominations
for urban council elections scheduled for the end of this month.
On Thursday last week, the same judge reserved
judgment on the matter,
saying he required time to consider the submissions by the parties.
Justice Hlatshwayo said officials from the ESC
were present at the
Nomination Court at the Chegutu Town House on 21 July, "therefore their
views and observations would be critical to the finalisation of this
He said lawyers representing the MDC
candidates, ZANU PF and Mudede
would be given up to Monday afternoon to respond to the ESC’s report.
The opposition party candidates,
who said they were attacked and
chased away from the Nomination Court by ZANU PF youths, complained that
Mudede and the police failed to ensure that the nomination process was
conducted in a free and fair manner.
Seven of the aspiring candidates and six party activists submitted
affidavits through their lawyer, Sheila Jarvis of Atherstone and Cook,
detailing how they were allegedly attacked with sticks and stones,
sustaining various injuries.
One of the candidates, Shepherd Jack, was allegedly
the Chegutu Town House after he tried to sneak into the Nomination Court
with his nomination papers tucked under his jacket.
Revai Mahano, who wanted to contest in Ward One, said
injuries on his face and back when a gang raided his home and attacked him
before making off with his national identity card and other personal
Chegutu Executive Mayor Francis Dhlakama
said despite his persistent
appeals to the police to provide adequate security and the police’s own
pledge to maintain order at the Nomination Court, rowdy youths invaded an
open space surrounding Town House.
Dhlakama said: "The general atmosphere was tense and
the Town Clerk and I phoned the officer-in-charge at Chegutu Central (police
station) and asked him to deploy officers to clear the Town House and its
environs as previously arranged. The police then deployed 10 officers to
monitor the situation.
"However, shortly after
that, I found that again the venue for the
court and the premises of the Town House were full of people who were in a
large crowd and challenging anybody carrying papers," he added.
Patience Nyabadza of the
Attorney-General’s Office, representing
Mudede, and ZANU PF’s lawyer, Joseph Mandizha, said there were no
disturbances inside the Nomination Court and that no complaints had been
made to officials from Mudede’s office.
The lawyers suggested that the MDC candidates could
have filed their
nomination papers earlier since there was provision in law for candidates to
submit their papers in advance.
admitted there had been disturbances outside the Nomination
Court and that the MDC candidates had approached them seeking escort to gain
entry into the Nomination Court.
They said by the time they accompanied the
candidates, the Nomination
Court had closed.
Mandizha did not dispute that the opposition candidates
had asked for police protection on the day the Nomination Court sat.
Payments row stalls ‘A’ level exams marking
MUTARE – Marking of this year’s June Advanced ("A") Level
examinations, which should have been concluded by now, will only begin at
the end of this week, with markers saying they were unhappy with the rates
being offered by the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC).
Local teachers, who are supposed to mark the exams,
said the rates the
stipulated by ZIMSEC were too low.
Progressive Teachers’ Association of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president
Takavafira Zhou said ZIMSEC had not increased its rates despite soaring
inflation, which rose 364.5 percent in the year to June and is expected to
top 500 percent in the next few months.
"They are paying last year’s rates of
$172.22 per script marked and
the teachers have said the rate is unattractive," Zhou said.
He said in a memo dated 29 July 2003,
ZIMSEC had indicated that it
would also pay each marker $3 626.03 as co-ordination fee for the marking
which is scheduled to begin on 17 August and end on 31 August.
The ZIMSEC assistant director
(examinations administration), who was
identified as C B Murira, yesterday would not comment on the issue.
"I do not speak to the media.
You cannot have my comment. Talk to the
director, Mr Ndanga," Murira said.
It was, however, not possible to secure comment from
Oswald Ndanga, whose secretary said he was out of the office on business
But Zhou said the unattractive
remuneration offered to teachers was
likely to compromise the outcome of the June "A" Level results.
He said after consultation over the
proposed rates, many PTUZ members
had resolved to snub the invitation to mark the examinations.
Zhou said those teachers who had accepted the
offer were likely to
adopt a "helicopters view" approach to the marking, that is, they would go
through as many scripts as possible in order to generate higher earnings.
The PTUZ president said this was likely to
compromise the examination
Parents of students who
wrote their "A" Level exams in June told the
Daily News that the delay would derail plans they were making for their
children to further their education.
They said some students would lose out on scholarships.
ZIMSEC has been hit by controversy in the past
few years, with several
of its officials being implicated in a serious examination scam under which
candidates were issued with certificates for exams they had not written.
The government is planning to merge
the organisation with the body
responsible for administering exams for tertiary education institutions.
Women demand say in ZANU PF-MDC talks
JOHANNESBURG – 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
organisations (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.
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
"To illustrate just how affected women
are by the crisis, all one has
to do is consider that a packet of eight sanitary pads now costs, on
average, Z$5 000 (about US$6 at the official exchange rate). Most domestic
workers only earn $5 000," Win said.
The price of a packet of three female condoms – more
commonly used by
women to prevent pregnancy and HIV infection – is now Z$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 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
"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
"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 guarantees our right as Zimbabweans."
Shrinking economy sends professionals fleeing
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
In the meantime, government price controls on basic
created a booming black market. He decided to resign and take his chances
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.
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 $1 500 (US $1.80) a litre, but seldom available.
shortage resulting from the government’s crippling lack of
foreign exchange has kept Chirova 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
parallel market. She graduated from a 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
plasticware and china imported from South Africa.
"I earn enough to pay rent and buy food. I can [turn
over] up to $200
000 [US $244] a month," she said.
in Zimbabwe earn an average of $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.
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
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 (Z$4.12 million) every month," he explained. The average salary for a
junior lawyer is $450 000 (US $549).
worker Michael Phiri said Zimbabwe’s formal sector is
increasingly understaffed as professionals seek opportunities elsewhere.
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.
Chirova and Zuze deliberately opted out of formal
employment. But for
most Zimbabweans, the country’s shrinking economy has left them with little
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 an NGO, the
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development. – IRIN
Wake up and smell the coffee
IN LESS than 24 hours, Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano could see the
magnitude of suffering in Zimbabwe, but it would seem no amount of misery or
agony could ever awaken President Robert Mugabe and his government to the
reality of the Gehenna they have created in Zimbabwe.
Indeed, nothing illustrates the
callousness and insensitivity of the
government to the plight of tormented Zimbabweans than its obscene
preoccupation with fixing "official prices" of basic commodities that are
not available except from the cut-throat black market.
Needless to mention that no one, including the very
fat cats and their hangers-on, observes or cares a hoot about the so-called
Industry and commerce,
already on its knees just like everything else
in once proud and prosperous Zimbabwe, must suffer more losses because there
is no fuel.
And Zimbabweans must endure more hardships because of the biting
shortage, all because the government is still haggling with private oil
companies over what "official price" fuel companies should be allowed to
charge for petrol or diesel they would have imported using their own money!
In which country does the government of Zimbabwe live, we ask?
There are virtually no more queues for fuel at garages
country, not because the precious liquid is suddenly in abundance in the
country, but because people are buying diesel and petrol in dark alleys and
at night from black market suppliers.
black market traders are charging for petrol and diesel are
more or less the same with what private fuel importers want to be allowed to
charge for their product.
Surely, it should be obvious, even to the dimwits at
the Energy and
Power Development Ministry, that letting black market dealers supply
Zimbabwe’s fuel needs, as is the case now, does not make fuel any cheaper
than allowing companies with proven track records to source the commodity
for the country.
But even this might be too
difficult to grasp for a government that
first allows political thugs to chase productive farmers off the land and
when the country is threatened with starvation, takes its sweet time to
appeal for food handouts from international donors.
Zimbabwe’s economic crisis, created by
the government, and by the
government alone, is an abnormal situation that requires a serious, well
thought-out and holistic approach.
This is what Chissano, when he visited Zimbabwe this week, meant when
he said: "On the economic side, I’m under the impression that there are
still some serious problems."
Too much has been allowed to go wrong
in this country because it was
politically expedient at that time.
Tinkering with prices of goods or promulgating new and
tougher laws in
the foolish hope of legislating the crisis away is not going to work because
in the economic Gehenna called Zimbabwe, there is only one law and that is:
survival of the most brutal and meanest.
Mugabe and his government should wake up to this sad reality created
by their own illustrious handiwork in the last 23 years, or God save
ZANU PF leaders about to slaughter Zimbabwe’s remaining ‘cash cow’
The government’s latest plan to give a 20 percent share of all
businesses to indigenous workers would be the last straw that broke the
As nothing more than a plan to try
to win urban support for the ruling
ZANU PF party, the plan is ill-conceived.
It is among the rash, spur-of-the-moment
decisions which have plunged
this once beautiful country into ruins.
Clearly, the plan, if brought to fruition, would see
by the hundreds, and a further mass exodus of the businessmen who have
earned foreign currency for the government’s insatiable needs. Pay as You
Earn (PAYE), sales tax and company tax revenues will dwindle and thousands
more workers will be found unemployed on the streets chasing less and less
The scheme cannot afford to
discriminate, which would mean that all
registered companies will have to follow suit.
Farmers would again be affected as all farms are
registered companies. Parastatals like the Cold Storage Company, Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority, National Railways of Zimbabwe and National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe would have to be included in the scheme or workers would
The civil servant too must be
included and be given a 20 percent share
of government’s losses. Not to do so would see massive migration of workers,
skilled and unskilled, from the civil service and parastatals to the private
businessmen will not be exempt, and neither will the new breed
of ministerial weekend farmers. What about a firm of auditors which employs
a large number of black, white, coloured and Indian clerks all on the same
salary scales? Is it only the indigenous workers who get shares?
When will our
leaders realise that they cannot buy their way out of
the present fiasco? We need solid, brave, well-thought-out decisions to
reverse the downward slide of the economy and, more importantly, we need to
fix the problem instead of always tackling the end result.
Workers would be more than
happy if the current spiralling prices were
brought back to normality by the benefits of international recognition and a
new democratic government.
Companies must surely have a right to compensation
for disposal of
shares, and who is going to fund this purchase? I hope its not the British
The foreign currency earners of
tourism and farming have already been
killed off, and now the last remaining "cash cow", commerce and industry,
which provides vast company tax revenues and foreign exchange from exports,
is about to be led to the slaughter.
This move will make the farm seizure fiasco look
like a "Sunday
picnic". Gukurahundi was accepted as "an act of madness" – this idea will go
down in history as the third "act of madness".
They say when you find yourself in a hole, the best
thing to do is to
stop digging, and get out there. Mark these words!
Surely our President, if he is serious about vacating
must realise that it is time to grasp the nettle, make hard decisions and
only two factors need to be done immediately: give the country freedom and
justice and all else will follow.
would he be able to depart with a modicum of dignity
B R Charsley
No aid before political deal
Itai Dzamara/Vincent Kahiya
THE United Nations Development Programme is anxious to see a political
settlement between Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change in order
to persuade donors to contribute the vast sums that are needed for recovery
The Zimbabwe Independent this week heard that the UNDP will next month
present Zimbabwe's case for humanitarian assistance to an international
donors conference in New York.
this week said traditional donors would only come to
Zimbabwe's assistance if there was a settlement on the political front.
"There will be no
relief from donors or multilateral lenders until there is
evidence of political consensus in the country," a senior diplomat told the
Bernard Mokam, the UNDP act-ing resident
representative, confirmed on
Wednesday that the meeting would be held to consider requests from
countries, including Zimbabwe, for humanitarian assistance.
"Indeed, we are planning a donors conference,
provisionally set for
September 15 but still subject to revision," said Mokam.
"The purpose is to present appeals to the international
community based on
the requests made by governments in the region for humanitarian assistance."
The UNDP's intervention, diplomatic sources
said, was crucial in mobilising
international support to alleviate Zimbabwe's crisis. Last month United
States Secretary of State Colin Powell said his country was working with the
United Nations and other partners to clear the country's political logjam.
Diplomatic sources said the donor
community would seek "tangible evidence"
of progress in talks on Zimbabwe's crisis before committing themselves to
providing support to the country which is experiencing economic meltdown.
Harare has already requested 600
000 tonnes of food aid, a large variety of
medicines, as well as $885 billion for the revival of the agricultural
sector from the donor community as immediate needs.
The UNDP, sources said, was keen to convince
international financiers that
more funds would be required to rebuild the country during its transition to
democracy. The UNDP still hopes it can secure Western donor support for
another land conference after the failure of the 1998 Harare meeting. But
this all depends on the prevailing political situation.
Sources this week said UNDP/government relations had to
co-operation to take place. The government has used the state media to make
veiled attacks on the UNDP. The UNDP was recently accused of aiding white
commercial farmers' relocation to neighbouring countries instead of
mobilising funds to support the land reform exercise.
about the UNDP's role in finding a settlement in Zimbabwe, Mokam
admitted that the international community was worried by the situation in
the country and wanted it solved.
"I agree that the crisis is a cause for
concern. However, our primary
objective is to deal with the humanitarian situation," he said.
"Of course, a forum to discuss the political
side is on. Political processes
and dialogue are taking place. The (political) initiatives that are underway
need and indeed have our full support," he said
The UNDP itself has started local efforts aimed at
bringing the political
contenders into resolving the current standoff, albeit at a primary level.
Last week the UNDP organised a workshop in Kariba for Zanu PF and MDC MPs on
conflict resolution and negotiating through dialogue.
Delegates who attended the workshop disclosed that the
focus was on the
"We covered all concepts of
conflict resolution specifically focusing on the
Zimbabwean crisis," one delegate said. "Much emphasis was put on the need
for political parties to compromise on positions and differences for the
sake of an amicable settlement that would make the country accepted by the
Mokam confirmed the workshop took place but insisted that
it was merely "a
capacity building project".
Mugabe makes new proposals
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is now pinning his hopes on constitutional reform to
extricate himself from the current crisis.
High-level sources privy to the ongoing talks between Zanu PF and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said Mugabe is behind the
ruling party's efforts to revive the constitutional issue as part of his bid
to find an exit plan that allows him to go with dignity.
The sources said Mugabe
wants an amendment to the current constitution or
the drawing up of a new one that would provide ring-fencing measures to
protect him from prosecution for human rights abuses. It is understood
Mugabe would, if the talks restart any time now and progress is made,
relinquish the Zanu PF leadership in December during the party's annual
conference but remain as head of state until fresh elections are held by
June next year.
The June time frame for
fresh polls emerged after United States President
George Bush's meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki on July 9.
would also revive the post of prime minister enabling
Mugabe to retain the ceremonial post of head of state while conceding
day-to-day authority to either his designated successor as party leader or
an MDC official.
Mugabe recently said he did not mind which system of
government was in place
although he preferred the American-style presidential system. Thabo Mbeki
who has been trying for the past three years to broker a solution to
Zimbabwe's seemingly intractable crisis was said to have indicated to a
senior regional official recently that Mugabe wants to retire as Zanu PF
leader in December.
Mbeki has of late been trying to
placate Mugabe to ensure he remains on the
path to dialogue. In July Mbeki was reported to have engineered Mugabe's
appointment as one of the five deputy chairs of the African Union in
Mozambique as part of a wider propitiation policy.
Sources said Pretoria would also ensure Zimbabwe
is not discussed at the
forthcoming Sadc meeting in Tanzania and the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting in Nigeria in December, thus removing Mugabe from
divisive and unflattering controversy.
constitutional debate has now moved to the centre of the ongoing
dialogue between the two parties aimed at breaking the political impasse.
Zanu PF now wants to table the constitutional issue currently being
considered informally when talks that broke down in May last year officially
resume. The MDC is amenable to constitutional change but its position is
that there has to be an interim document instead of a final one to
facilitate transition to democratic legitimacy.
Although Zanu PF is pressing for a signed and
sealed constitutional deal in
a bid to secure immunity guarantees for Mugabe, the MDC is resisting the
idea because it says only a popularly elected government can bring about a
genuine new constitution. The MDC's position is similar to the African
National Congress's stance at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa
(Codesa) from 1991-93.
whose civic society allies are anxious to ensure
constitutional reform before a new political dispensation, recently raised
the issue in its report to church mediators.
"A programme for comprehensive constitutional
reform is necessary and must
be agreed upon so as to remove some of the major sources of political
instability and contestation in the country," the MDC said. "Such
constitutional reform should guide us in returning to legitimacy."
The constitutional reform initiative is seen as the only
way out for Mugabe
now. The MDC's ally, the National Constitutional Assembly, has argued that a
constitutional review should take precedence over politics, as it is the
only route towards the restoration of democracy upon which political and
economic stability rest.
Zim seeks expert advice on fiscus
A Ministry of Finance tender document says the "existing Treasury
Instructions, the Audit and Exchequer Act and other statutes are now
outdated", hence the need for review.
Numerous reports by the Comptroller and
Auditor-General have highlighted
incidents of profligacy and the need to tighten monitoring mechanisms.
But the tender document says the
government had decided to hire a consultant
because of "a lot of changes which affected the application of the Treasury
financial and legal instruments".
"In an effort to address the changes, the Ministry of
Finance and Economic
Development has been reviewing the legal framework on a piecemeal basis
through issuing of circulars and guidelines," the tender document said.
Ministry of Finance sources this week said the tender
had not yet been
awarded although the bid closed in June.
have however pointed out that while the current treasury
instructions needed to be repealed, the real problem was government's
failure to implement its own laws. This they said had resulted in
overspending by line ministries, failure to recover monies loaned to
parastatals and the ballooning of debt
A 2000 report by the Auditor-General on the management of debt
government should not commit itself to loans whose conditions are not
"The government should not commit itself on these
loans whose conditions are
not feasible," the Auditor-General said.
"The ability to fulfil the loan conditions on time should be
considered in the negotiation of loans since some lenders' requirements
might be difficult to meet," he said.
servant and economic consultant Samuel Undenge said if
implemented well the proposed changes should help manage debt.
"It (the hiring of
consultant) is a realisation by government that we cannot
stick to outdated laws," said Undenge. "If implemented well the laws might
help manage the bloated debt."
"Government has waited for things to be out of hand
before taking some
action. The problem might be whether the state will effect the proposed
regulations with the diligence they require. Failure will result in a
worse-off situation," he said.
The envisaged legal regime
should help the government to control and monitor
expenditure in line ministries by minimising fraud and misappropriation of
public funds. The government also hopes to put in measures to enhance
efficiency of donor fund accounting and to standardise procedures and
transactions across ministries.
The legislation would also enforce compliance on
legislation and Treasury Instructions.
Zanu PF snubs church-led talks
THE church-led talks to find a political accommodation in Zimbabwe are in
trouble as Zanu PF will not be submitting its proposals to the clergy as
promised, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
The initiative of the clerics is in danger of being sidelined altogether as
Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change look set to press ahead with
behind-the-scenes talks of their own.
The ruling party, which was expected to submit proposals
last week, is said
to be suspicious of the church delegation that seeks to revive dialogue for
an end to the political crisis gripping the country.
"There is nothing to say about that," said Zanu PF spokesman
Shamuyarira. "The teams have not even met to discuss the proposals. There is
nothing to talk about."
Zanu PF's chief negotiator
Patrick Chinamasa has publicly dismissed the
church leaders as "insincere brokers" and supporters of the MDC. It is
thought he was piqued by the publicity given to the church-led talks. His
discussions with the MDC team headed by Prof Welshman Ncube are regarded in
government circles as the official negotiations initiated by Presidents
Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo last year.
Chinamasa's outburst against the clerics could
also have been directed by
hostility from President Mugabe himself and officials in his office.
Sources said the church initiative,
involving Bishop Sebastian Bakare of the
Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Bishop Patrick Mutume of the Zimbabwe Catholic
Bishops Conference, and the Reverend Trevor Manhanga of the Evangelical
Fellowship of Zimbabwe, was jeopardised when they issued a joint statement
on July 17 condemning human rights abuses and instability prevailing in the
apologised for previous inaction by church leaders and called
on government to address the economic malaise afflicting the country.
church leaders met Mugabe on July 25 he is said to have had a copy
of their statement on the table in front of him.
The sources said Mugabe was
keen to send out the message that talks would be
held according to his rulebook and not the church's or the opposition's.
"The church has to
start to mend bridges with Zanu PF which is a major
drawback to its mediation thrust," a source said.
The church leaders held meetings with both
Zanu PF and MDC leaders last
month, after which they proclaimed having received assurances from both
sides on their commitment to the resumption of dialogue. But it now seems
the government would prefer to concentrate on its direct talks with the MDC,
abandoning the "unofficial" church mediators, at least for the time being.
The Zanu PF delegation that met the church
leaders comprised Mugabe,
Shamuyarira, vice-president Joseph Msika and national chairman, John Nkomo.
The church leaders had been waiting
for written proposals from both sides.
The MDC submitted its proposals three weeks ago. Zanu PF has been dithering
on submission of its agenda because it has "reservations over the church in
as far as what the party expects from the dialogue is concerned", a senior
ruling party source said.
Manhanga yesterday said the church troika was organising a
meeting with Zanu
PF to better understand the party's position.
"It appears there is some misunderstanding," said Manhanga.
"We will probably understand when we meet with Zanu PF. We
can't comment on
what they feel about us or statements issued by the church because the party
has not made any official position to us," said Manhanga. "It will be
difficult to proceed without Zanu PF submitting its agenda or stating a
The Independent recently disclosed that
the political rivals have been
holding informal talks behind the scenes, and sources this week said that
the ruling party has opted to pursue this "official" route. A regional
delegation with the blessing of South African President, Thabo Mbeki, would
be expected to come and mediate the talks once there is evidence of
"The two parties are committed to
dialogue," said a source privy to the
ongoing manoeuvres. "In fact, they have been covering some ground. But the
issue is that of the (church) mediator. Zanu PF has agreed to ignore the
church's initiative because of the suspicion it has of the church leaders."
Ministry sends wake-up call to cabinet
AS Zimbabwe's economic woes continue unabated, the Ministry of Finance last
week sent strong proposals to cabinet on measures to avert a complete
The proposals, according to ministry officials who spoke to the Zimbabwe
Independent on condition of anonymity, are a blend of appraisals from the
government's National Economic Revival Programme (Nerp) and the business
sector that have been gathering dust on government shelves.
The officials said the crux of the proposals involves a
review of the
exchange rate policy and the crafting of policies that would restore
confidence in the farming and business sectors while at the same time
seeking to bring spiralling inflation under control.
proposals are part of the quarterly review of the performance of the
economy that is sent periodically to cabinet for consideration.
said some of the proposals forwarded to cabinet seek to
address the currency crisis plaguing the country.
"The proposals centre on recommendations
for a revision of the country's
exchange rate against the US dollar from $824 to $1 350," said one official.
"Although this still falls far short of the black market rate it will help
boost the import and export sectors."
The officials said if government implemented some of the
especially the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar, this would boost
production while curbing the country's thriving black market.
Former Finance minister Simba Makoni fell out of favour with
Robert Mugabe after he suggested that the dollar be devalued against the
$75b farm equipment vandalised, stolen
FARM equipment worth $75 billion has been either vandalised or stolen since
the beginning of land invasions three years ago, the Commercial Farmers
Union said last week.
CFU vice-president Mac Crawford said the value of the vandalised equipment
jumped by 326% from September last year due to continued illegal evictions
"In September 2002,
farmers estimated looted and vandalised equipment at $23
billion," Crawford said.
"This figure has since risen to approximately $75 billion to
figure is probably below the actual value of assets because many of the
farmers had been evicted from their properties and were not available to
estimate the value of movable property damaged or stolen."
Crawford said farmers' major concern is the widespread theft
and damage of
irrigation equipment, tractors and stationary engines vital in the
"There is no doubt that the interruptions to
farming operations resulting
from theft and damage to equipment will result in lower than expected
output," he said.
The agricultural sector
has been in free-fall since February 2000 as
government implemented its chaotic land reform programme.
The programme resulted in government
forcibly acquiring a total 11 million
hectares, most of which is sitting idle as the resettled farmers cannot
fully utilise it.
brought the formerly vibrant commercial agricultural sector to
ruin, which has resulted in acute food and forex shortages while the
downstream effects have destabilised the whole economy.
Production in general tumbled by
over 70% over the three seasons with areas
planted being drastically reduced.
Farm evictions cripple research stations
AGRICULTURAL research stations, key components of the country's
agro-industry, are collapsing owing to the continued farm evictions
prompting donors to hold back funding, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this
Zimbabwe had some of the most advanced research institutes on the continent,
especially in grain seed development and improvement of cattle breeds. The
research stations in all the country's provinces were funded by commercial
farmers through levies while international donors provided equipment and
The Independent this week also heard that government-owned
institutions were facing collapse due to poor funding.
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president Doug Taylor-Freeme
at the farmers'
congress last week said land invasions had seriously jeopardised the
research programmes, especially in seed multiplication, cattle breeding
schemes, and skills training throughout the country.
"Research has become an area of concern," Taylor-Freeme said.
"In the past growers used to be levied and supported by donors
in funding of
extensive and regionally recognised research programmes."
Officials at the Agricultural Research Trust (ART Farm)
said they have
stopped all off-station trials for the new seed varieties since the farmers
who used to grow the seeds have been evicted.
"Seed research activities are now restricted to only three
stations," one of
the officials said.
"Farmers who used to pay
levies to sponsor the trials are no longer
contributing or involved in the farming business and as a result the new
varieties are no longer being tested in the different regional climatic
conditions in the country. The new farmers have not yet attained the status
to meet the stringent measures needed in seed production."
The stations that are still functional are ART Farm
sponsored by the CFU,
Rattray Arnold in Enterprise, and Kadoma research stations. The last two are
both sponsored by SeedCo.
said the Commercial Cotton Growers' Association had been
managing on-farm trials for the Cotton Research Institute until last year
when they were forced to close down.
"The association was forced to shut down its
research section as many of the
on-farm trial sites had been taken over in the land invasions and funding is
becoming scarce due to the reduced numbers of cotton growers," he said.
Research experts said only Natbrew has
managed to maintain its on-farm
research trials for barley.
"Grain, cereal and oil seeds research activities lost over
80% of the
on-farm sites thereby restricting trials mainly to the research stations,"
one of the experts said.
He said government-sponsored
research stations were now almost defunct
because of budgetary constrains due to donors holding back funding.
He said the decline of research
activities in the country could result in
the loss of the market share which Zimbabwe use to enjoy in the region and
agricultural produce had successfully penetrated international
markets but the new farmers are not likely to uphold the stringent standards
demanded internationally," he said.
Civics want accountability on human rights abuses
ZIMBABWEAN civic leaders urged President Robert Mugabe's government and the
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), to hold all
perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable as soon as the countrybegins
a transition to restore democracy.
rights abuses of the past, both during the colonial and post-colonial
eras must be redressed, said the leaders of more than 40 non-governmental
organisations who met in South Africa to discuss "Civil Society and Justice
The organisations said that as
talks between the Mugabe government and the
opposition party are about to begin, they wanted the voice of civil society
to be heard in the negotiations.
"We are here in South Africa because we wanted to be
able to meet, think
together and discuss the way forward for Zimbabwe in a safe environment
outside the threat of intimidation and arrest," said Brian Kagoro,
coordinator of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
November we expect some form of negotiations to be underway between
ruling party, Zanu-PF, and the opposition party, MDC. There was urgency to
our conference, here, because of the pace at which things are moving and our
conviction that any settlement should have our participation," Kagoro said.
The civic groups concentrated on developing ways to build a
just society in Zimbabwe, in contrast to previous meetings which have
focused on reports of human rights abuses, corruption and misgovernance by
the Mugabe regime.
The civic leaders demanded
that the Mugabe government put "an immediate end
to political violence and intimidation".
In a statement released yesterday, the groups also
called for the repeal of
repressive legislation and electoral reform to allow free and fair
elections,and for the country's economic and humanitarian crisis to be
The United Nations was urged to send a
special rapporteur to Zimbabwe to
assess the human rights environment. The African Commission on Human and
People's Rights was asked to release the report on its mission to Zimbabwe
Kagoro said South
Africa and Nigeria must prove there is concrete progress
to keep Zimbabwe from being expelled from the Commonwealth at its heads of
government meeting in December. There is also pressure from the European
Union. But the most potent pressure, he said, is the growing poverty, hunger
and starvation on the ground in Zimbabwe.
UN renews probe into plunder of DRC resources
THE United Nations Panel of Experts on the illegal exploitation of the
natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is set to visit
Zimbabwe again this year after the Security Council on Wednesday unanimously
renewed its mandate to gather more information.
The Security Council resolution also demanded that all states named in
various probes should take immediate steps to end such illegal exploitation.
Zimbabwe was singled out by the panel of experts last
year as one of the
countries involved in the plunder of natural resources in the DRC through a
network of companies run by the military.
Zimbabwe Defence For-ces, through its company Operation Sovereign
Legitimacy (Osleg), went into a joint venture with a Congolese company
during the height of its military engagement in the Great Lakes to form a
mining concern, Cosleg.
Cosleg director-general Retired Brigadier Sibusiso Moyo in an
the Zimbabwe Independent last month said his outfit was not involved in any
commercial activity in the DRC.
"There is no
mining (by Cosleg) taking place there," said Moyo. "Since our
military withdrawal we are not involved in any military or economic
"The only activities taking place are those covered by the MOU (memorandum
of understanding) like electricity, trade and investment."
Government officials including Speaker of Parliament
believed to be a key figure in Zimbabwe's operations in the DRC, have denied
any wrong-doing. The network of government officials include senior army
personnel and retired officers.
The UN panel
headed by Mahmoud Kassem is expected in its new mandate to hold
"dialogue with parties named in its last report, particularly with
governments concerned". It is also expected to get "a clearer picture of
activities related to the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, and to update its findings during the
remainder of its mandate period".
The 15-0 vote in the Security Council on Wednesday
gives the panel until
October 31 to complete its mandate, at the end of which it will submit a
The resolution noted "with great
concern" that plundering continued,
especially in the eastern part of the DRC, and stressed that "appropriate
action should be taken with regard to those responsible for such
The Council "reiterates
its demand that all states concerned take immediate
steps to end the illegal exploitation of nature", the resolution added.
In a report to the
Council last year Kassem said it had identified three
"elite networks" that had carved out separate spheres of economic control in
the country over the past four years. Zimbabwe's Cosleg was mentioned as at
the heart of one of the networks.
"The elite networks' grip on the DRC's economy extends
far beyond precious
natural resources to encompass territory, fiscal revenues and trade in
general," he noted.
Kassem said the networks'
activities involved highly organised and
documented systems of embezzlement, tax fraud, extortion, kickbacks, false
invoicing, asset-stripping of State companies and secret profit-sharing
agreements. These activities were orchestrated in a manner that closely
resembled criminal operations, he said.
Mugabe agrees to devalue
IN a major policy shift President Robert Mugabe has finally succumbed and
now agrees that the Zimbabwe dollar needs to be devalued for the country to
enjoy the fruits of economic transformation.
Mugabe, who has vowed that anyone talking devaluation was an economic
saboteur, gave in on Heroes Day when he addressed thousands gathered at the
National Heroes Acre to commemorate the annual event.
Simba Makoni former Finance and Economic Development
minister fell out of
favour with Mugabe and his cabinet colleagues when he told them that the
dollar was over-valued, was killing the economy, and needed to be devalued.
Makoni was immediately offloaded from Mugabe's
"gravy train" and replaced
with Herbert Murerwa, a former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
While not specifically saying by how much the
nation's currency would be
devalued, Mugabe said it had been agreed under the National Economic Revival
Programme that government would "review quarterly" the rate of the Zimbabwe
"Various measures have been
adopted to support sectors with the potential
for generating foreign currency," Mugabe said. "The Export Support Scheme
and the Export and Productive Sector Finance facilities are meant to support
productive sectors that encourage exports. Through these schemes, the
government has made available resources amounting to $60 billion."
He said resources
under these facilities were being accessed at 5% for
exporters while the productive facility would be accessed at 15%.
Government had also introduced an Export Support Rate of one United States
dollar to $824.
"As highlighted in the Economic Revival Programme, the rate
will be reviewed
quarterly, taking into account macro-economic developments," the president
The business community has come out strongly
against government's slow pace
to devalue the dollar against the world's major currencies, saying this was
stifling competitiveness and was affecting various sectors including
manufacturing, mining, tourism, and agriculture.
The dollar is officially pegged at $824 against the US
greenback, $1 300
against the pound, $105 against the rand and $160 to the pula. It is however
going for as much as $3 500 against the US dollar, $5000 against the pound,
$350 to the rand and $400 to the pula on the parallel market.
Two weeks ago the Washington-based International Monetary
released a six-page damning report on the country's deteriorating economic
situation, saying if Mugabe did not move quickly to try and salvage the
situation the Fund would not re-instate the nation's voting and related
The IMF pointed out that while the recent adjustment of the official
exchange rate from $55 against the greenback to $824 was welcome, it
regretted that government transactions continued to be undertaken at a more
appreciated exchange rate, which could result in significant distortions and
They emphasised the need to
follow up with further rate adjustments to stem
the sharp erosion of external sector competitiveness.
"The ultimate goal should be to unify the
exchange rates as quickly as
possible, liberalise the exchange system, and eventually eliminate surrender
requirements," the IMF said.
IMF directors urged government to step up efforts to liberalise
Zimbabwe's external trade.
Donors needed to rescue economy
PRESIDENT Mugabe’s go-it-alone policy has failed to revive the crumbling
economy, analysts pointed out this week in the wake of attempts by
government to approach donors for help.
The government still needs international support to resuscitate key sectors,
especially agriculture, manufacturing and fuel and power supplies.
Ministers have already gone cap in hand to donor countries to revive the
crumbling health delivery system. The government badly needs funds to put
right the education system which has seen a dramatic fall in standards.
The analysts say government would also need donor funds to control its
bloated foreign and domestic debt.
This dire need for donor handouts is despite Mugabe’s continued attack on
international financial institutions and Western countries which he accuses
of habouring neo-colonial designs on Zimbabwe.
The embattled Mugabe has over the last three years accused the West of
financing the opposition in order to topple his increasingly unpopular
government. He has also rubbished donor driven programmes like Esap.
However, economic commentators now feel that Zimbabwe’s crisis would worsen
without support from the donor community. Prior to the land seizures, the
crackdown on the opposition forces and Mugabe’s stand-off with the West,
external funds had poured into Zimbabwe boosting the manufacturing and
The agricultural sector was growing until 1999 when government allowed war
veterans to invade commercial farms bringing vital production to a
standstill. Now Zimbabwe, embroiled in a self-inflicted political crisis,
It is in agriculture that Mugabe urgently needs aid. The agricultural
sector — the mainstay of the economy — has shrunk 70% over the last two
years. According to the government’s food aid appeal to the World Food
Programme (WFP) last month the country has a food deficit of about 1,09
million tonnes for the current season. Normally the country requires 1,9m
tonnes to last the whole season. Tobacco production, which in the past has
bailed the nation out, has plummeted to alarming levels. Conservative
estimates have put this year’s tobacco at 70 million kg compared to a high
of 230 million kg in 2000.
About 60% of the national herd has been culled. Government now requires $700
billion for cereal production and a further $120 billion to revive the
livestock sector. With government’s coffers evidently empty Mugabe will have
to revise his hostile stance against donors to get the funds he so badly
Commercial Farmers Union newly-elected president Doug Taylor-Freeme summed
it up at the recent 60th Annual Congress.
“We have a government that is attempting desperately to prove that it runs a
country on its own in complete contradiction to globalisation and succeed on
its present policies,” Taylor-Freeme said.
“It has turned its back on the international community, not listening to the
demands of the people. It has managed to distort and influence every
government institution into not making good governance decisions, in the
interest of politics. The result is a country that on a free-fall.”
Mugabe would also need to assure potential financiers that government has
the capacity to meet its debt obligations.
“Government would need foreign donors to revive the agricultural sector that
is currently in the doldrums,” said economic commentator John Robertson.
“To return to normal production government will need foreign currency to
acquire inputs and it should have an orderly land reform programme,” he said
“The state has no capital to bring agricultural production to the pre-land
reform levels. Worse still it has failed dismally to feed the
hunger-stricken peasants. We will therefore require foreign food assistance
to avert the looming catastrophe,” he said.
Notwithstanding Mugabe’s public outbursts against Western donors, government
has been approaching them for food behind the scenes. Recently the
government, through the Finance ministry implored the World Food Programme
to provide food relief and drugs. Analysts say the application for
humanitarian aid indicates government’s desperate need for foreign help.
“Government now accepts that a wrecked economy needs some aid to kickstart
production,” said Robertson. “But the land policies have to be changed to
ensure a return to sustainable production. There is need to guarantee
security of private property and land if donors are to loosen their
Manufacturing, which has plunged 17% over the last two years, is also in
dire need of capital injection. Companies which have curtailed production
require forex to start up operations again.
The government requires assistance from multilateral organisations to
mitigate the effects of the ballooning foreign debt. The Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) in its weekly economic highlights revealed that domestic
arrears have soared to $542 billion for the month of May. Foreign debt has
also increased sharply on the back of government’s lavish spending and
“We need balance of payments support,” said an economic analyst with the
Zimbabwe Economic Society. “We need goodwill from those we owe. Mugabe’s
diplomatic blunders have however wiped out the goodwill that the country
used to enjoy from IMF and the World Bank.
“Financiers are needed to ease our debt burden for sometime before the
country regains it footing. Foreign debt is discouraging international
financiers because we now have a reputation of not servicing our loans,” he
Desperate attempts to alleviate the fuel crisis have achieved negligible
results. The US$360 million fuel deal signed with Libya two years ago
collapsed due to government’s inability to pay and supply agricultural
products, as initially agreed. With little hope from the Libyans, government
in July approached France. Moves have also been made to lure the Iranians.
This indicates a government that is begging for outside aid. Noczim is
reeling under a US$21billion debt wrought by corruption, underpricing and
Zimbabwe also needs US$17 million to import electrical power monthly. Hwange
and Kariba stations, which are currently operating at below capacity, will
require money to import spare parts and upgrading existing infrastructure.
Every angle of the crisis hinges on the foreign currency availability, the
supply of which heavily depends on aid.
Key Western donors — including the International Monetary Fund and the World
Bank, Nordic countries, the United States and Britain — cut their aid to
Zimbabwe three years ago over Mugabe’s controversial land seizures, poor
economic management and war in the Congo.
Since then Mugabe has turned to the Far East for help. But there is nothing
to show for his forays to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
The vast improvement and expansion of the education system and the
construction of hospitals and roads in the 1980s was financed by donors who
saw potential in the newly independent state. Now they have made it clear
that no change can be expected from the current regime, and so long as it
persists in office, so will the problems associated with it.
Chissano lets cat out of the bag
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has called on the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change to “repent” and seek common ground with the government before unity
talks can succeed.
“There is room for them to repent,” he said in his address at Heroes Acre on
Monday. “There’s room for them to say we were wrong yesterday, we shall not
be wrong tomorrow.”
There could be no unity with “enemies of the people, enemies of the struggle
and enemies of our Independence”, Mugabe said, claiming the MDC should
“speak the same language” as Zanu PF.
It is easy to think of the language that could be used to respond to this
misdirected proposal. Exactly who needs to repent here? Is the MDC
responsible for the killing fields of Matabeleland? Did it make people
disappear in the 1980s? Is it responsible for the violence and mayhem that
have accompanied two national elections in which people were abducted,
tortured, killed and maimed because they dared to oppose the ruling party?
Has it impoverished a whole nation by arbitrary land seizures and failed
economic policies? Has it suborned the police and judiciary and spawned a
culture of corruption?
If Mugabe has accumulated any wisdom over the past 79 years it was certainly
not in evidence at Heroes Acre this week.
Followers of the MDC are deeply anxious about the talks currently getting
underway between the two parties. The last thing they want is to see their
leaders speaking “the same language” as Zanu PF: the language of political
violence; the language that dishonestly blames outside forces for Zimbabwe’s
current predicament; the language that is trapped in the mantras of 20 years
ago and which offers no hope to the current generation of Zimbabweans.
The threat to Zimbabwe’s Independence comes from those who have so
impoverished the nation that it is now obliged to beg for food from its
“enemies”. The talks-about-talks are not about Mugabe giving the MDC a
chance. They are about the country giving Mugabe a chance to redeem
himself — to atone for the sheer wickedness and devastation wrought by his
The MDC should be less diplomatic in their response. They are throwing
Mugabe a lifeline at the behest of the country’s neighbours. That may be
what Zanu PF needs. But it is not what MDC supporters want.
The MDC has taken a commendable path in pursuing a policy of engagement as
the country faces its worst crisis ever. But it needs to explain to its
suspicious public why it is doing this and what its objectives are.
The aim should be to restore democratic freedoms seized from the people by
the Zanu PF government after its defeat in the 2000 referendum. It is to
remove the parasitic dictatorship established by Mugabe and his court circle
after 1987. It is to restore independence and professionalism in the police
and army, a need underlined by the partisan remarks on Wednesday of General
Vitalis Zvinavashe who, not content with instructing voters on who the
military would accept as president last year, is now stipulating who
qualifies to be a Zimbabwean.
It involves levelling the electoral playing field so there are no more
travesties of the sort engineered by Mugabe’s supporters and supervised by
the army last year.
The MDC needs to tell its people that Mugabe is looking for a dignified way
out. That if not heckling him in parliament and providing guarantees against
prosecution locally is the price to pay for that, it may be worth
But there will be no sacrificing the trump card of the election petition —
which will expose extensive electoral fraud — unless the process of
negotiation shows signs of achieving tangible results.
President Joaquim Chissano let the cat out of the bag this week by speaking
of the “political reforms” that were being contemplated in Zimbabwe. He
promised, as African Union chair, to mobilise support so that “all the
Zimbabweans have not yet been informed by their government of what these
reforms entail. Indeed, listening to Mugabe, it would seem he was still
considering whether to talk to the MDC or not. His officials, who control
the state media, are openly hostile to any talks with the MDC. But it is
evident that Chissano knows more about this than we have been told.
What reforms and when? The public should demand to know.
It is understandable that both the government and the MDC should be
reluctant at this delicate stage to negotiate in public. But that should not
stop the MDC leadership from outlining in broad terms what such talks should
expect to achieve. Hopefully, such an outline will accord with civil
society’s desire to see systematic change rather than just a change of
Whatever the case, it is clear the hardliners around Mugabe have been
fanning a bush fire so our view of what they are being obliged to concede
behind the scenes is safely obscured.
Following Chissano’s visit, we at least know they are under peer pressure to
reform. It’s official now.
Obrigado Presidente Chissano.
Everyone hedging against inflation
TEN years ago the year-on-year rate of inflation, based upon the Consumer
Price Index (CPI), was 27,6%. In contrast, in June that rate of inflation
was 364,5%. The July rate of inflation is due to be released by the Central
Statistical Office (CSO) today, and will undoubtedly exceed 400%. The next
two months will inevitably reflect yet higher rates of inflation for the
combined effects of the inflation to date, of the rise in parallel market
exchange rates by more than 100% in July, and of substantial increases in
salaries and wages, must cause a very considerable further increase in
However, the actuality of the Zimbabwean environment is that real inflation,
as distinct from that calculated on the basis of movement in the CPI, is
very markedly greater. Although the 1993 inflation rate will have
approximated real inflation, having been calculated on an average consumer
spending basket determined in 1989, and applied by the CSO from 1990, the
rates now calculated cannot be correct.
The average consumer spending basket today is very different from that of a
decade ago, for the consequences of inflation upon most consumers have been
that they must now expend a higher proportion of income upon such items as
food and transport, and a lesser proportion upon leisure and entertainment,
furniture and the like. As the former have been subject to far greater
inflation than the latter, the CPI-based calculation is inevitably
incorrect. The inaccuracy is exacerbated by the fact that due to massive
scarcity of many basic commodities, consumers are having to resort to the
black market to source their needs, or to the purchase of substitutory
products at prices very different to those which constitute the CPI. The
result is that inflation is undoubtedly now in excess of 500% per annum, as
distinct from that cited by the CSO.
With inflation being at such massive levels, those in Zimbabwe fortunate
enough to have incomes in excess of their needs (which is relatively few in
number) and those with accumulated capital, are very reluctant to retain
their excess incomes or capital in a monetary form, for the purchasing power
thereof is progressively eroded by inflation. Effectively, their wealth is
very rapidly diminishing. This is especially so as interest rates available
in the money market, although considerably greater than three months ago,
are at best a fifth of real inflation.
The result is that investment within the money market is, to all intents and
purposes, devaluing by almost 80% per annum.
The accelerating erosion of value is increasingly motivating investors to
seek investments outside of the money market, their criteria being that the
investments should be such as will, at the least, appreciate in monetary
terms at a rate at least equal to inflation. In other words, the primary
concern of the investor is to hedge against the effects of inflation, with
generation of a yield in excess of the rate of real inflation being a
secondary consideration only. However, the extent to which inflation-hedge
investments are available is relatively limited.
Many, in disregard for the prevailing laws of Zimbabwe, overcome the impacts
of inflation by externalising out of Zimbabwe as much of their assets as
they are able. To the extent that they are possessed of funds in excess of
their day-to-day needs, they turn to the parallel and black markets to buy
foreign currencies which they unlawfully accumulate outside Zimbabwe.
This has become a favourite inflation hedge for numerous, and especially
amongst some of the leading members of government, and many within commerce
But others look to hedge against inflation within Zimbabwe. Some do so by
purchasing imported goods which they anticipate will appreciate in value
commensurately with inflation. Thus, although Zimbabwe’s economy is
devastated and poverty-stricken in the extreme, there is a constant stream
of new, luxury-style, executive motor vehicles appearing on Zimbabwe’s
roads. Whilst the not-so-well-off, who cannot afford to replace their
ageing, derelict motor vehicles, drive them throughout the country with
broken lights, dents galore, failing engines, and bodies that are falling
apart, there is an almost endlessly greater number of sparkling, new
Mercedes-Benz, BMWs, Pajeros and other 4 X 4 vehicles, to name but a few.
Similarly, others are investing in aircraft, computers, electrical
appliances, large-screen television sets, and so forth. Not only do none of
these contribute materially to the economy, other than insofar as the
distributors of such goods are concerned, but they divert from the parallel
market much-needed foreign currency which would otherwise be available for
imports of fuel, food, agricultural, mining and industrial inputs, and the
The craving for hedges against inflation has spectacularly impacted upon the
prices of shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. Virtually all shares have
appreciated in value (based on selling prices if not underlying asset
values), but that is especially so of the shares of those companies whose
revenue streams include substantial foreign exchange. Companies who have
major export performance, and those who are highly active in countries in
Africa with no exchange controls, or only very limited constraints on
foreign exchange remittance, are most attractive to the inflation-hedging
The perceptions, correctly held, are that the foreign currency exchange
rates are likely to move substantially in tandem with inflation, with
resultant increase in company earnings in line with inflation, and a
corresponding increase in the market value of the shares. The investors are
also focussing upon shares in those companies which, although not
significant generators of foreign exchange, are purveyors of goods or
services which are priced in relation to inflation.
So great has been the attraction of quoted shares as an inflation-hedge that
the market values of almost all shares listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
have soared to almost incomprehensible highs. Under any other circumstances
the astounding appreciation in market values would be suggestive of a very
virile, thriving economy, whereas in practice the economy is writhing with
agonising ills which are intensifying daily. It must be anticipated that as
the market rises further, some will be motivated to realise profits, with a
consequential partial decline in market values. However, after a period of
“correction”, those profits will presumably be reinvested and hence the
values will rise once again, as they will also do once the economy is set
upon a genuine and continuing recovery path.
The search for appropriate hedges for inflation has also focused upon the
property market. This has in part been facilitated by many property-owners
being willing to dispose of properties at below normal market values, if
paid for in foreign currencies. Therefore, those seeking to hedge against
inflation have sourced foreign exchange within the parallel and black
markets to enable them to buy properties at discounted values, whereafter
the properties appreciate as building costs surge upwards.
In normal economic environments it is sound business policy to minimise
stockholdings to levels that suffice to ensure effective, continuing
operations, but not to allow stock levels to exceed such volumes as are so
required. But in a hyperinflation environment, conventional business wisdom
is cast aside. Provided that the stocks are of a nature which does not have
a limited shelf-life and are not subject to obsolescence, the stance of most
businesses today is to maximise their stock-holdings, in an awareness that
they are effectively appreciating in value. This is particularly so in the
case of enterprises that have abandoned the principles of First In, First
Out (FIFO) and Last In, First Out (LIFO) in computing selling prices. They
now resort to Next In, First Out (NIFO), ensuring that sales will yield
sufficient to fund stock replacement.
All these actions are very prudent on the part of those resorting to them,
but do not contribute to development of a positive economic recovery, for
investment is actually needed into the establishment of new enterprises or
the expansion of existing ones. But that will only come about when inflation
is brought under control, and when the economy is set upon an irreversible
path of recovery.
Huni, Hungwe: sober up and get real
Congratulations to the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform for embarrassing the
government on Heroes Day by pointing out just how many genuine heroes lie in
unmarked and forgotten graves, many within prison premises. This is while a
number of criminals and imposters rest peacefully at Heroes Acre.
The distinguishing mark of Zanu PF has always been the yawning chasm between
its claims and the reality on the ground.
“Let no one amongst us who betrays the cause of those who lie here,” Mugabe
said on Monday, “be regarded as one of us.”
His speechwriters had evidently forgotten that the verb “to lie” has more
than one defnition. There has been too much lying going on at Heroes Acre
recently. It should stop.
Poor little Munyaradzi Huni. He is easily confused it seems. Despite having
to write the same story every week, the Sunday Mail’s political editor is
clearly out of his depth.
The MDC should be told “to stop confusing us because Zimbabweans stand ready
to defend themselves”, he wrote last weekend.
It would be nice to hear the BBC saying “the MDC leaders have told
unrepentant Rhodesians and former Selous Scouts to stop confusing us…” he
One way he can stop being so easily confused is by refusing to repeat the
silly lies he is fed by his political masters at Munhumutapa Building. What
Selous Scouts is he talking about? Can he name any?
This is one of several lies generated by the propaganda machine in the
Office of the President which any self-respecting journalist has a duty to
question before regurgitating. Could Huni for instance explain the
difference between David Coltart’s national service record in Rhodesia and
Philip Chiyangwa’s? And has anybody at the Sunday Mail or Herald ever asked
how their masters can keep repeating that Walter Kansteiner’s wife is
ex-Rhodesian when she is not remotely Rhodesian and never has been? It would
be easy enough to check on this but none of the state reporters have
bothered because they are obliged to peddle whatever they are told
regardless of its veracity.
“People want to hear the MDC suggestions, criticism and solutions to the
problems facing the country,” Huni says. “They are tired of being told the
lie that President Mugabe is the only one to blame and so if he goes the
country’s problems will be over.”
He raises a useful point. Mugabe is obviously not alone in being responsible
for the disaster now unfolding around us. The unemployment, starvation and
isolation Zimbabwe is experiencing are the responsibility of the cabinet and
politburo as a whole. All those in the business and civil sector that have
collaborated with this delinquent regime must also accept some
responsibility for the nation’s collapse.
But it is Mugabe who is blocking economic recovery, not his Minister of
Finance. It is Mugabe who is bent upon political revenge, not the Speaker of
parliament. It is Mugabe who has presided over the systematic subversion of
the rule of law, not the Minister of Home Affairs.
As for the MDC, it has repeatedly set out its programme for the restoration
of the rule of law, repeal of offensive and anti-democratic legislation, and
the creation of independent electoral institutions. It also proposes to
engage the international community in economic recovery and land reform so
resettled people have access to infrastructure, training and resources
instead of being dumped in the bush.
If Huni is ignorant of this programme he has only himself to blame. He says
he can’t wait to see a headline in the Independent proclaiming: “Tsvangirai
denounces Blair” or “MDC hails Mugabe”. After years of “fictitious stories”
and “crazy scenario-building”, it will be difficult for some journalists to
“sober up”, Huni declares.
Here are some other headlines he should look forward to: “Mugabe apologises
for human rights abuses and incorrigible misrule”; “Zanu PF decides to put
country first”; “Moyo promises ‘No more lies’”; “Made admits he misled the
country”; “Public media to be run in public interest”.
Of course, after years of feeding on fictitious stories such as “Tsvangirai,
Ncube on collision course over talks” and crazy scenario-building such as
the imminent collapse of the MDC, bumper harvests and the Nuanetsi project,
it is certainly going to be difficult for this particular journalist to
Masvingo governor Josiah Hungwe also needs to sober up. His particular brand
of populism has done untold damage to the nation’s resource base. Hungwe
must accept responsibility for the chaos in the conservancies south of
Masvingo. He has been encouraging invasions of land unsuited to agriculture.
It is not surprising therefore that people occupying land alongside wildlife
should turn to poaching as a means of survival, as well as profit.
Game in some areas of the Lowveld conservancies has been decimated. Up to
70% of wildlife has been poached, according to wildlife managers. Hungwe
claims “blacks are being put in the conservancies to fulfil an agreement
made almost a decade ago between Vice-President Simon Muzenda and white
So why are thousands of ill-equipped people being resettled where there is
no infrastructure or management training? What sort of management system is
it that sees 70% of the assets to be managed consumed by those supposed to
be managing them?
Hungwe should get real. His stupid talk of only “security conscious” people
being put in charge is completely unconvincing. What does his colleague the
Minister of Environment and Tourism think of unregulated resettlement that
destroys the country’s rich wildlife legacy, undermines transfrontier park
schemes, and sabotages the tourism industry?
Hungwe had better prepare his defence now. Future generations will not
forgive his role in the destruction of the nation’s resources. And judging
by his recent remarks, he plans to extend the chaos and destruction he has
introduced into the Lowveld conservancies to other parts of the country.
In the circumstances it is delusional for the state press to continue
carrying silly puff pieces about the imminent recovery of tourism. It isn’t
going to happen.
The Herald recently carried a fanciful piece headed “Air Zimbabwe defies the
“Built from the ashes of Air Rhodesia,” the Herald’s enthusiastic travel
writer told us, “Air Zimbabwe has remained the nation’s biggest airliner
(sic), growing from strength to strength and flying high the colourful
“Ashes”? “Strength to strength”? Air Rhodesia was a profitable little
airline surviving the rigours of sanctions. Air Zimbabwe is broke and
survives on government grants.
The excited commentator could barely contain himself on a recent trip to the
Victoria Falls. The flight “left the whole lot of us wishing we had extended
the journey by a few more hours”.
AirZim occasionally grants this wish to passengers left stranded at local
and international airports. But what exactly was it that was so memorable
about this particular flight to the Falls?
“Sandwiches and drinks were served amid comfort, pomp and zest”.
So there you have it. Sandwiches served with pomp and zest. Passengers could
barely contain themselves!
“It is difficult to convey the feeling of exhilaration that we had soon
after take off,” the travel writer bubbles on.
Had this person been on a plane before? Surprisingly he admits to travelling
twice before. But the flight to Vic Falls was “awe-inspiring” we were
If you are not tempted aboard international flights by the lure of chimukuyu
and dovi, sadza and rape, or kapenta and rupiza, all glowingly advertised by
the Herald’s intrepid reporter, you might be attracted by the possibility of
being dumped in obscure locations because the president and his entourage
need a lift!
Tafataona Mahoso, writing as “we remember the heroes who made Zimbabwe”,
claims the Media Ethics Committee appointed by the government in 2001 to do
an evaluation study of the media in Zimbabwe, was struck by one finding:
‘The majority of the people invited to make presentations felt that many of
Zimbabwe’s problems arose from the fact that there was widespread lack of
patriotism among a significant section of journalists, editors and
publishers operating in Zimbabwe’.”
Did they really? Why does this sound more like something Mahoso or Jonathan
Moyo would say? Strange isn’t it that the “people” in question never made
the same remarks to anybody else except this dubious Media Ethics Committee?
Mahoso should stop telling stories. We understand he is now required to
parrot the official line, even pretending that a “shortage of patriotism”
explains the shortage of goods and services when everybody knows economic
bungling at the highest level is to blame.
“We must be honest and confront reality,” Mahoso tells his readers.
But he doesn’t say when!
Congratulations to Vanessa Nicolle who told Sydney Sekeramayi a few home
truths when he presented prizes at Borrowdale racecourse recently. She
accused him of being part of a regime whose policies had turned Zimbabwe
from a breadbasket into a basket case.
That is the truth that everybody now knows. Sekeramayi needs to understand
that he and his colleagues will one day be held accountable for the
destruction and starvation that is now stalking the land. The United Nations
has been busy documenting the trail of plunder Zimbabwe’s political and
military elite have left behind in the Congo. Now these ruling parasites
have done the same thing here and think they will get away with it. They won
Doris Lessing referred last weekend to the “layer of ruthless thieves”
Mugabe had created around him. They shouldn’t for one minute think the world
is unaware of their record or that one day they will be restored to
It’s just a pity Venessa didn’t tell that harridan Jocelyn Chiwenga that the
law will catch up with her as well very soon. Does she really think this
corrupt and lawless regime will last forever while she and her ilk benefit?
As for Ben Hlatshwayo who has benefited from the Nicolle’s Gwina farm, we
will be interested to see exactly what farming skills he brings to this
poorly judged acquisition.
‘What’s going on here”? asks the Sunday Mail’s
“Under the Surface” columnist
when the MDC finds it necessary to hire a South African counsel like “that
Bizos guy” to defend Morgan Tsvangirai or when it consults Codesa.
Are they not confident of themselves, Cde “Under” asks?
Well, they are doing precisely the same thing the government did when it
hired Advocate Nazeer Cassim from Cape Town to try and help Mugabe block
electoral appeals in January 2001. That hiring was the precedent the MDC
followed, or did Cde “Under” hope his readers would have forgotten already?
Cde “Under” suffered another attention lapse recently. For two weeks running
Munyaradzi Huni has confirmed that talks have in fact been taking place
behind the scenes between a Zanu PF team headed by Patrick Chinamasa and an
MDC team led by Welshman Ncube. When the Independent revealed that these
talks were taking place on August 1, Cde “Under” accused us of day-dreaming.
Perhaps his exclusion from the talks has led him to deny they are happening
at all! By the way, Cde “Under”. Is Precious Shumba still a trespasser in a
field “she” will never understand?
Banks should destroy old notes
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will shortly be introducing a new $500 bill.
One has to ask why this decision has been taken instead of introducing a
higher denomination with immediate effect.
The normal practice where new bills are put into circulation is for the old
ones to be destroyed immediately by the Reserve Bank upon receipt by
collecting commercial banks.
Should this not
happen and these old bills are re-introduced or are siphoned
off by unscrupulous individuals as much as $200 billion could be gained for
free and reused illegally.
It is important to remember that this government is
effectively broke and
has no cash to pay members of its security services such as the police and
army and any others requiring large pay-offs.
There are a number of ways to circumvent this situation:
l Once the new $500 bills become available from commercial
banks in return
for old notes, ensure that the old notes handed over to the bank tellers are
defaced by crossing through the notes with either a marking pen or ball
point pen and insist that you receive new notes. If new notes are not
available do not bank them, keep them until new notes are made available; or
l Insist that commercial bank tellers cut off one corner of the
using a guillotine immediately. (Serial numbers must be left visible for
verification by the Reserve Bank.)
Both of these
features will make old notes easily recognisable should they
re-surface after having been through the system and should not be accepted
as legal tender.
I urge you all to give this situation some very serious
thought before we
are subjected to another massive scam by the authorities.
Nick and Lydia Swanepoel,
Armed robberies and carjackings haunt Zim
ALTHOUGH totally sympathetic to the feelings of Gordon Addams (Zimbabwe
Independent, August 8), I have to say that he is of course only within sight
of, not even touching, the tip of the iceberg!
The evident breakdown of the justice system, the apparent lack of efficient
policing, and the inability of ministers or senior members of the police
force to reply to letters of complaint are unfortunate. Once one has become
the victim of an armed house robbery or an armed hijacking, the adventure is
only just beginning.
l You are lucky if the police come when you call them;
l The ability of the police constable to take a reasonable
the complainant is questionable.
In a murder case
just over one year ago, the complainant was a white female
(her son had just been shot dead in front of her in their lounge during a
bungled house robbery attempt). The lady constable wrote the complainant
down as a black male, and the accompanying constable was clearly drunk and
admitted the same to the family. Letters of complaint to senior police
officers and the Minister of Home Affairs has produced absolutely nothing.
Visiting the scene of
the crime, taking fingerprints, bringing in the dog
section all appear to be police duties which are now defunct. In the case of
the above murder, it took the police four months before the crime scene was
fingerprinted and a bullet removed from the wall.
Suspected house robbers and carjackers are
given bail, though not as much as
in the past. Certainly magistrates do not look kindly on carjackers.
Having to attend our antiquated ID parades is often more traumatic than
being robbed at gunpoint. Victims are unaware of the ordeal they will have
to face at a parade. Court appearances are fraught with difficulties. The
courtrooms are sordid, suspects out on bail are allowed to mingle with all
and sundry, including victims.
Witnesses have to wait in the same room as convicted
robbers, some of them
in leg irons, until they are called to give evidence.
Again and again victims are told to "come back tomorrow".
No wonder so many
refuse to have anything more to do with it. No wonder so many members of the
public no longer report any crime. "What is the point?" they say. On the
other hand, some members of the police force do their jobs, they do care,
and they too are frustrated and get absolutely no job satisfaction.
In South Africa, there has been an uproar and the call
for the reinstitution
of the death penalty after three suspects were arrested for the monstrous
and horrific carjacking in Pretoria which resulted in the execution-style
murder of a woman motorist, her one-year old baby girl, and her
Another victim was shot but after "playing
dead" managed to survive. All
three women were beaten and raped, the baby girl was beaten and executed by
being shot in the back and the head. We felt sick after hearing this report
and having it confirmed.
is refused to ALL armed robbers by all the courts as a matter of
course, until the sentences meted out to convicts fits the crime, and until
the law enforcement agents do their job properly, we have very little to
hope for in this country right now.
Armed house robberies and armed carjackings
continue to haunt Zimbabweans.
We live in fear wondering when it will be "our turn". We are not confident
that as victims we will be treated with compassion and respect. We have no
faith in the justice system or the police. Laws need to be updated and
criminals in our society need to be deterred from their cruel acts.
In two of the house robbery cases we have handled
women have had their dresses pulled up by the thieves and threatened with
rape, one home owner was shot dead at point blank range, and children have
been separated from their parents and locked up during the robbery.
There is so much fear out there. Everything appears to be on
the side of the
perpetrator, they have nothing to fear from the law, and in far too many
cases they know they will get bail.
victims say to us: "I'm not going to let them get away with this,
I'm going to pursue this all the way." Fine words but too often it all comes
Mary van Heerden,
CEO Anti Hijack Trust.
HOLIDAYS are supposed to be a time for relaxation and fun, getting away from
the daily cares of the workplace. That is especially true of those who hold
demanding and stressful jobs.
No, this is not about me although I am hoping for a break soon. I was
reading in the British press about the Blair family vacationing in Barbados
whilst back home the political temperature matches the heatwave which has
seen the thermometer break through the 100F mark for the first time in
37,9C for those who are metricated. It last got somewhere near that
in 1990. Before that, the highest temperature recorded was in 1665, the year
of the Great Plague.
Tony Blair must feel assailed by another plague as
politicians make hay, as
it were, while the sun shines. At the centre of the storm are charges that
Blair's advisers "sexed up" intelligence reports on Iraq before Britain and
the United States launched their attack in March.
This included claims that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons
destruction at 45 minutes notice and that he had obtained "yellowcake"
uranium from Niger. The furore spread across the Atlantic when George Bush's
advisers slipped the Niger claim into the president's State of the Union
address to Congress, attributing it to British intelligence.
His CIA chief has taken the blame for that even though
he wasn't actually
Blair received 17 standing
ovations during his 40-minute address to Congress
last month. US newspapers were generous in their praise of his remarks that,
whatever the outcome of investigations into Saddam's weapons of mass
destruction, history would not have forgiven Britain and the US for
hesitating in the face of a threat from a regime with a proven record of
We tend to forget
in all this that Saddam had in the past 23 years attacked
several of his neighbours and used nerve gas against ethnic minorities
within Iraq. And he has also in the past obtained uranium from Niger, as
reported by the International Atomic Energy Authority in 1993.
The French ambassador
to Niger, Denis Vène, is reported as saying exports
from Niger were "perfectly controlled".
France has a substantial stake in the two
companies that mine, process and
export uranium from Niger. Saddam could have obtained the metal more easily
and more cheaply elsewhere, Vène contends. He could also have found uranium
that was more ready for immediate use.
"It is inconceivable that uranium could be sold to another
anybody knowing," Vène claimed in Niamey.
all very embarrassing for Blair because the British claim their
evidence comes from French intelligence sources. The French of course are
not a disinterested party in all this. And making Blair uncomfortable is a
recognised sport in Paris.
But Blair's own spin doctors have
compounded his problems by hammering the
BBC for its reporting and making unguarded comments.
The dispute with the BBC, which claimed Blair's
own staff "sexed up" the
Iraq dossier, has now been brought before the judicial inquiry headed by
Lord Hutton who has been appointed by Blair to investigate the circumstances
surrounding the suicide of the government's chief adviser on WMD, Dr David
Kelly took a pounding before
a Commons select committee last month. The BBC
has now admitted he was their source in making the claims against Blair's
made the mistake of telling a journalist at what he thought was
an off-the-record meeting that Kelly was a "Walter Mitty" character living
in a fantasy world. That led to an apology to the Kelly family.
many enemies have been looking for an opportunity to strike a blow
at a prime minister who has hitherto proved to have Teflon qualities.
Nothing seems to stick. And his reputation was enhanced by the Iraq campaign
which was a huge political gamble for Blair in relation to his own party.
political chickens now coming home to roost? Polls have seen his
standing taking a major dive as the public say they don't trust him anymore.
The Hutton Inquiry is designed to show he has nothing to
hide. Blair is not
guilty of any serious political crime, whatever the claims of old-left
commentators such as Julie Hyland whose doctrinaire views on the Internet
are unlikely to find purchase outside the columns of the Herald.
But Blair's critics have always argued that his New Labour
more concerned with spin than substance.
In the end what will matter to British voters are improvements in the
National Health Service and transport. If Blair can show progress there,
voters are likely to forgive him for allegedly misleading them over Iraq.
What has impressed me in
all this is the way in which this debate is taking
place in the full glare of publicity. The prime minister has been held
accountable before the foreign affairs select committee of the House of
Commons and in the House itself. His advisers have been grilled by the same
committee and in the press which believes it has at last found a chink in
see a democracy where politicians do not get away with facile claims
and whose spin doctors are asked to explain their responsibility for
statements made. So is the public broadcaster.
This is the exact opposite of the
totalitarian state we have here where
powerful rulers are able to destroy the economy and the fabric of society
because they are not held accountable and spin doctors are given a mandate
to lie about their critics because they want to conceal the criminal careers
of their masters.
One example will
suffice. For weeks the state media claimed that there were
meetings in the Botswana desert involving the US and Britain aimed at
unseating the Zimbabwe government. Walter Kansteiner and Jack Straw were
implicated. Reference was made to a US airbase in Botswana.
We said at the time these stories
were nonsense. Now Botswana Foreign
minister Mompati Merafhe has issued a statement saying the same thing.
There was no meeting between Kansteiner and Straw, he said. Straw had not
even been to Botswana. And the Thebephatshwa airbase was wholly
It couldn't be
clearer. But aftermisleading the public in their newspapers
our usually voluble government spokesmen have said nothing.
How's that for accountability?
Mail and Guardian
Opposition says no to Mugabe unity government
15 August 2003 17:13
The opposition said Friday it would not join a government of national unity
with President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, widening the rift on possible
negotiations between the parties to end Zimbabwe's political and economic
Paul Themba Nyathi, the chief spokesperson for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), described suggestions of a unity government with
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party as a gimmick designed to demoralise opposition
"What we seek from dialogue is to find a route toward the restoration of
democracy in the country. Anyone who thinks that the MDC seeks unity with
Zanu-PF is engaged in delusional politics," said Nyathi.
"If Zanu-PF and Mugabe think that the MDC seeks to march alongside them,
they are gravely mistaken."
He was responding to allegations printed on a pamphlet that the opposition
was "moving toward a unity government" in its preparations for new talks
with Mugabe's party. Nyathi said he believed the pamphlet came from the
He accused Mugabe's party of "seeking to redeem their image" by promoting
the idea of a coalition government.
Earlier this week, Mugabe himself dashed hopes of a compromise with the
opposition, seen as the only hope of dragging the country out of economic
and political chaos.
He called on his opponents to "repent and re-orientate themselves" before
national political dialogue could resume, saying "there cannot be unity with
enemies of the people."
South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
have tried bringing the two parties to the negotiation table for more than a
Talks failed after the opposition refused to recognise Mugabe's re-election
for another six-year term last year. The MDC is challenging the results in
court, claiming the vote was marred by rigging and intimidation by ruling
These allegations also saw Zimbabwe suspended from the Commonwealth.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Friday branded Mugabe an "unelected
despot" and said his nation should not be readmitted to the decision-making
councils of Britain and its former colonies.
Howard was speaking on the sidelines of a Pacific leaders' meeting in
Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980,
with official inflation at 370%. Black-market trading in scarce food and
gasoline puts inflation closer to 700%.
Local currency shortages are blamed on the out-of-control inflation, the
central bank's inability to print money quickly enough and the hoarding of
cash amid uncertainty in the crumbling economy.
The deepening economic crisis is blamed partly on the state programme that
seized thousands of commercial farms from the white minority for
redistribution to black settlers. The program is also blamed for greatly
exacerbating a hunger crisis that threatens nearly half of the population.
The United Nations estimates about 3,3-million Zimbabweans are in urgent
need of food aid. Mass starvation last year was only avoided by
international food aid. -- Sapa-AP
'Zim should remain suspended'
15/08/2003 10:55 - (SA)
Auckland, New Zealand - Australian Prime Minister John Howard on
branded Zimbabwe's president an "unelected despot", and said his nation
should not be re-admitted to the Commonwealth.
Zimbabwe was kicked out of all decision-making councils of the group that
comprises Britain and its former colonies after President Robert Mugabe's
regime was accused of intimidation and vote-rigging at March 2002
Speaking on the sidelines of a Pacific leaders' meeting in Auckland, Howard
said unless Zimbabwe moves back toward democratic rule, it "should
definitely remain suspended".
"There's no sign that Zimbabwe's position is altering," he added. "Zimbabwe
as a nation continues to suffer the ruin of a country that has been in the
hands of an unelected despot."
Howard also said Mugabe should be barred from the next Commonwealth meeting,
scheduled for December in Nigeria's capital, Abuja.
"I don't think it would be helpful for the Commonwealth if Mr Mugabe were to
come to Abuja," he said.
Earlier on Friday, Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon announced he
planned to stand for a second four-year term when his current term expires
at the end of the year.
McKinnon, a former New Zealand foreign minister, said the 54-nation group
"has achieved a lot in the last three years", but added: "I think there is
still a lot of work to do."
Land reform audit final report expected out soon
16 August 2003
The final report on the land reform audit exercise carried by the
presidential land review committee, will be out soon.
This was revealed by the chairman of the eight-man committee Dr Charles
Utete in Harare late this afternoon.
Dr Utete told journalists that site visits to the resettled farms and
interviews with beneficiaries, government ministers and officials who
executed the fast track land reform programme are now complete.
He said the committee is now formulating some parts of the editing process
and polishing up the report.
While in Harare, during this period the committee also interviewed
government ministers and officials involved in the implementation of land
He said the committee asked for an extension of the period of its mandate
from the original two to three months due to the intensity of the work
involved in the exercise.
Dr Utete expressed gratitude to the people of Zimbabwe adding that the
committee's preliminary findings revealed that Zimbabweans appreciate the
agrarian reforms and are determined to see the country prosper through the
effective use of land.
The presidential land review committee was set up by president Robert Mugabe
in May this year to audit the land reform programme in the country.
Mugabe attends CPTM talks
15/08/2003 10:55 - (SA)
Ezulwini - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was attending
talks hosted by a Commonwealth program in Swaziland on Thursday, despite his
country's suspension from the 54-nation group last year.
Mugabe arrived in Swaziland on Wednesday afternoon along with several heads
of state and government also bound for the economic talks in Ezulwini, south
of the capital Mbabane.
The annual event, dubbed the Global 2003 Smart Partnership International
Dialogue, aims to forge partnerships between developing countries, and is
organised by the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management (CPTM).
The CPTM's chairperson Omar Abdul Rahman said he believed Mugabe had been
allowed to attend because the event was not a political gathering, but
admitted that the decision to include the Zimbabwean leader had bent
"We have a problem. We are actually not following Commonwealth rules,"
Rahman said. "But we say although we are part of the Commonwealth, we are
not political. The Smart Partnership is not about isolating people. Instead
of isolating people we want to learn from his problems.".
The CPTM, set up by Commonwealth heads of government in 1995, is an
organisation linking Commonwealth governments, the private sector and
academia to promote efficient management of technology and knowledge.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad spearheaded the Smart Partnership
concept, which Rahman said was intended to allow developing countries to
examine global issues affecting them, and discuss how best to manage them.
Asked what the Commonwealth Secretariat had said concerning Mugabe's
attendance of the talks, Rahman said: "They are attending and participating.
But I know in private maybe they are a bit unhappy."
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth last year following Mugabe's
re-election in a March presidential election, which both international
observers and the Zimbabwean opposition denounced as rigged.
President Thabo Mbeki and his Nigerian counterpart Olusegun Obasanjo lobbied
for the suspension to be lifted early this year, but the Commonwealth
decided not to review its decision before December. - Sapa-AFP