African Union faces embarrassment on Zimbabwe Tue 16 August
HARARE --The African Union (AU) is facing major embarrassment
as President Robert Mugabe appears determined to snub an initiative by the
continental body to broker a negotiated solution to Zimbabwe's long running
political and economic crisis.
Nigerian President and AU
Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo last week appointed former Mozambican leader
Joaquim Chissanno to mediate in Zimbabwe in a first ever public attempt by
the union to act to halt the fast deteriorating crisis in the southern
Western governments and human rights groups have
long accused the AU of standing by in the face of gross human rights abuses
by Mugabe and his government.
Chissano, a long time friend of
Mugabe and best man at the Zimbabwean leader's wedding to his young wife
Grace, immediately started laying the groundwork for talks between Mugabe's
ZANU PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
But analysts on Monday told ZimOnlline,
the AU was travelling a path that regional powerhouse, South Africa, the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Obasanjo himself have
walked before, with no success.
"It is the best the AU can do,
whether they are serious or not remains to be seen," said University of
Zimbabwe (UZ) political scientist Eldred Masunungure. "But they are walking
down a known path and we have already seen that their success on this front
is in doubt," he said.
Obasanjo had banked on Chissanno's more than
good relations with Mugabe to lure the veteran Zimbabwe leader to agree to
engage the opposition.
But no sooner had Chissano started
making the initial calls to ZANU PF and the MDC had Zimbabwe government
media moved in to kill whatever prospects there may have been that the
former Mozambican president could succeed.
The official Sunday
Mail newspaper, a reliable indicator of official thought, dismissed the AU
initiative which it labeled a project of Obasanjo that was doomed to be
The state-run paper, which quoted unnamed government
officials castigating the AU initiative, reminded Obasanjo of Mugabe's
declaration a week ago that the would rather talk to British Premier Tony
Blair who he claims is the principal behind opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and his MDC party.
To add more hurdles to the AU
mediation effort in Zimbabwe was the ever widening differences mutual
dislike between Mugabe and his ZANU PF party and Tsvangirai and his MDC
party. With no common ground between the two protagonists there was little
possibility the AU could succeed where the SADC and South African President
Thabo Mbeki had failed, they said.
The MDC sees the talks as
necessary to restore Zimbabwe's battered image abroad, which is key to
unlock investor confidence and want to tie the talks to Mugabe's
But buoyed by a controversial landslide victory in March 31
polls that have assured ZANU-PF two-thirds majority and negotiated financial
lifeline from chiefly China and South Africa, Mugabe has not hidden his
hostility to the talks.
"As long as there is no clarity on what
the talks should centre on the two parties will continue to quarrel and
cling to positions that are partisan," said UZ lecturer Heneri Dzinotyiwei.
"The starting point is to have a programme of national transformation that
can turn around the economy," he added.
Zimbabwe is in the
throes of six years of economic recession, highlighted by the highest
inflation in the world, a jobless rate of above 80 percent and critical food
shortages, all blamed on government mismanagement.
recently said his recent weeklong trip to China would affect Zimbabwe's
economy in a "fundamental way", which analysts took to mean that the veteran
leader had been promised large investment by the Asian giant.
Africa has agreed in principle to offer Zimbabwe a US$500 million loan but
is said to have demanded that Mugabe resumes dialogue with the opposition as
one of its key loan conditions. Pretoria has however denied the loan has
Zimbabwe government sources told ZimOnline that the
loan agreement had been given to Harare for perusal at the start of last
week but it could not be confirmed by yesterday whether Harare agreed to the
The analysts said they expected a SADC summit taking
place in Botswana this week to give tacit support to Mugabe which they said
would make the AU mission even more impossible. ZimOnline
GNU not the answer to Zim's problems: South Africa Tues 16
PRETORIA - The formation of a government of national
unity (GNU) in Zimbabwe was not necessarily the panacea to the country's
political woes, South Africa admitted yesterday.
Both Zanu PF
and the Movement for Democratic Change have persistently ruled out a GNU but
for different reasons. Zanu PF believes it has no prerogative to form a GNU
because it "won" elections "freely and fairly" and has been "mandated" by
the people to rule. The MDC argues that joining a GNU would amount to
legitimising the Mugabe regime's "theft" of elections and giving it veneer
of respectability that it does not deserve.
Deputy Minister of
Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad said neither the ruling Zanu-PF nor the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) regarded a unity government
as an imperative,
"It would be useless, us insisting on something
both sides say is not fundamental," Pahad said at a press briefing to
reporters in Pretoria yesterday (mon).
He was refuting reports
that South Africa had prescribed the GNU as one of the key conditions for a
reported US$1 billion loan Zimbabwe has asked from Pretoria to meet urgent
fuel and food imports.
Pahad said Pretoria's only consideration for
any such loan assistance would be the impact that it could have on improving
Zimbabwe's economy. The GNU issue was therefore out of the
"We are negotiating in the... broad context that we need
fundamental economic changes, and how do we minimise the political tensions
of Zimbabwe without necessarily talking about governments of national
unity," said Pahad, emphasising that there was a need for a "real re-look"
at Zimbabwe's economic affairs.
Among issues that needed to be
seriously looked at included the independence of the central bank, exchange
rate distortions, and getting agricultural productivity back on
A decision on a loan would take into account "certain basic
realities", he said. These included the point that Zimbabwe's expulsion from
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over debt would lead to a further
deterioration of the country's political and economic
"All our interventions on the Zimbabwean issue have been
to prevent a failed state on our doorstep," Pahad said.
said talks for the loan were continuing between South African Finance
Minister Trevor Manuel and SA Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni, and their
Zimbabwean counterparts Herbert Murerwa and Gideon Gono
He professed ignorance over reports that Zimbabwe
had decided to turn down South Africa's help because of the strict
pre-conditions Pretoria was prescribing for the loan.
He said a
report on the outcome of the loan discussions was expected
The South African parliament would be informed about
the outcome of the negotiations and nothing would be done in
Pahad said the Zimbabwean issue was not a separate agenda
item for this week's Southern African Development Community (SADC) council
of ministers and heads of state meetings in Botswana.
clearly these matters are always discussed, if not formally then
But South Africa's official opposition - the
Democratic Alliance (DA) - said
South Africa had a special
responsibility to play the lead-role in addressing the Zimbabwe crisis and
must therefore ensure that this matter would be on the agenda of the SADC
Heads of State Summit.
The DA's spokesperson on Africa Joe Seremane
said Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma could make sure of this during
the SADC Council of Ministers meeting today, where the agenda will be
discussed and finalised before the heads of summit meeting opens later this
"If this does not happen, SADC will be nothing more than an
'old boys club', determined to ignore a growing crisis which can drag the
entire region down," said Seremane.
He said SADC leaders were
seemingly determined to ignore the growing crisis in Zimbabwe and would go
out of their way to protect Robert Mugabe from any form of
"But it is in the region's best interest for this to
change. The time for blind loyalty is long finished; now is the time for
tough love," said Seremane.
He said SADC leaders must, among
other things tell Mugabe that:
* As a group, they unequivocally
condemn Operation Murambatsvina which was characterised by the UN as "a
clear violation of international law." Any similar operations must be ended
* They must demand that all regional and international
food aid be allowed to enter the country without unnecessary
* As a group, they must urge Mugabe to immediately adopt
prudent fiscal and monetary policies.
* They must demand a
return to the rule of law and respect for fundamental democratic
* They must strongly urge the Mugabe government to enter
into dialogue - in good faith - with the opposition MDC and other relevant
stakeholders, and provide the necessary political support to AU appointed
mediator Joaquim Chissano.
"The international community will be
justified in questioning the commitment of some African states to good
governance, if SADC yet again fails to put political pressure on President
Mugabe," said Seremane. ZimOnline
Zim Priests Visit Exiled Zimbabweans in SA Tues 16 August
Johannesburg - Several Zimbabwean priests - under the banner
of the Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference (ZNPC) - have begun a week long
visit to South Africa to assess the enormous problems of Zimbabwean exiles
who have fled their country and settled here.
The pastors will
visit Lindela Refuge Detention Centre, where several Zimbabwean refugees
have died while awaiting deportation back to Zimbabwe, among other places.
They will also visit slums where Zimbabwean exiles are living in squalid
"The aim of the visit is to acquaint pastors from
Zimbabwe with conditions and challenges facing Zimbabweans who have been
forced to settle in South Africa," said the organisation's spokesperson
"The Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference is
particularly concerned that the situation in Zimbabwe is failing to show
prospects of improvement. It is tragic that the situation continues to
deteriorate, given especially its effects on the poor and vulnerable
"Zimbabwe is in turmoil. Today and everyday, thousands of
Zimbabwean fathers, mothers, and children are forced to leave their country
of birth, and flee across the borders into neighbouring countries to seek
political and economic refugee. These countries include South Africa," said
She said ever since the Zimbabwean crisis began, life had
become particularly harsh for the people of Zimbabwe over the past few
Operation Murambatsvina , which left more than 700 000
homeless had been particularly brutal. The victims would not recover to
resume normal life in the foreseeable future.
Nations said a total of 2.4 million people had been indirectly affected in
varying degrees by Operation Murambatsvina.
"This has aggravated
the unnecessary suffering and misery of the Zimbabwean people, many of whom
are left with no other option but to leave Zimbabwe. The further
disintegration of family and community relations is a matter of grave
pastoral concern to us. Now Zimbabwe stands as a nation without strong
family and community ties. This is the greatest challenge to our pastoral
work today," said Mugwidi.
She said the pastoral visit was thus
being undertaken because Zimbabwe's clergy felt that they had an obligation
to provide pastoral support to Zimbabweans within the country, as well as
those who had been forced to leave the country under difficult
"We bring a message of hope in God. We would like to
thank Church institutions in South Africa, organisation and individuals who
have received and cared for Zimbabweans. We are encouraged by the
expressions of solidarity and support from the people of South Africa," she
Zim newspapers in CIO funding row Tues 16 August
HARARE -- Two Zimbabwe newspaper groups are accused of
receiving billions of dollars of taxpayer's money from the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) laundered through 'loans' from a bank in
which South Africa's Absa is the major shareholder.
allegations, first published last week by the Zimbabwe Independent have not
surprised Zimbabwean media watchdogs who long suspected that the weekly
Financial Gazette and the Daily and Sunday Mirror were part of the ruling
Zanu PF's media wars.
The Financial Gazette and the Mirror
newspapers are seen as supporters of the "enlightened" wing of the ruling
With the exception of two weeklies, the Zimbabwe
Independent and its sister Sunday publication The Standard, all other daily
press and electronic media are controlled by the Zanu PF
Former information minister Jonathan Moyo now an
"independent" MP since the March general election, said Monday he was
"shocked" at the revelations that the Gazette and Mirror newspapers received
covert funding. "I will be investigating this," he said.
Zanu PF government, under Moyo's direction, launched a full frontal attack
on the privately owned press when, in early 2000 the new opposition party,
the Movement for Democratic Change mobilised enough support to defeat a
referendum for a new constitution.
The Financial Gazette, then
fiercely critical of Zanu PF was sold in 2002 by veteran publisher Elias
Rusike to his editor-in-chief, respected journalist Francis Mdlongwa now
lecturing at Rhodes University.
Mdlongwa, some say naively,
borrowed the purchase price of Z$200 million (Zimbabwe dollars) , then about
R25 million from the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, CBZ, whose chief executive
at the time, was Gideon Gono, now governor of the Reserve Bank who usually
Absa has a 25 percent stake in
"The money was lent with no questions asked and without even
any agreement on when it would be paid back, and a few months later Mdlongwa
was asked to repay the money immediately, and obviously he couldn't," Rusike
He said he had been happy for Mdlongwa to own the
newspaper because he knew it would be in "safe hands" and would remain
Mdlongwa then had to withdraw and ownership of the
publication passed to two of Gono's associates in a deal which has never
been adequately explained.
Upon the arrival of the two
associates, Mdlongwa had retained his position as editor in chief of the
In an interview yesterday, Mdlongwa said upon their
arrival, the two Gono associates started attacking the Financial Gazette's
editorial stance, saying the paper needed to be toned down as it was too
critical of the government.
Their stance alarmed Mdlongwa and
his fellow directors with whom he had formed a consortium to buy the
Mdlongwa, who now heads the Sol Plaatje Media Leadership
Institute at Rhodes University, said he then opted to quit his post as
editor in chief as he could not countenance attempts to compromise the
editorial freedom of the Financial Gazette - Zimbabwe's oldest independent
"Looking back with hindsight, it is difficult to rule
out that there could have been other forces behind it all, but we simply did
not have evidence.....," said Mdlongwa.
Supa Mandawanzira, who
has the contract to produce television news for the SABC is now on the board
of the Financial Gazette and also handles much advertising and publicity for
Gono's various projects at the Reserve Bank.
Editor of the Gazette,
Sunsleey Chamunorwa denied the newspaper had been funded by the CIO through
a deal facilitated by Gono. "I will be issuing a full statement in the paper
on Thursday," he said.
Ibbo Mandaza, a long-time Zanu PF supporter,
who claims to be the only shareholder in the Mirror Group said yesterday:
"This story is not true. We have an overdraft from CBZ and circulation is
growing. We would submit our books to an independent audit."
Zimbabwe's hyper inflationary climate many find it hard to believe that the
two Mirror newspapers survive when both have maximum circulations of about
15 000 and scant advertising.
Gono declined to comment on the
allegations of his involvement with the newspaper groups. Nicholas Goche,
formerly the minister responsible for the CIO and who now heads up the
welfare portfolio also declined to comment.
Andrew Moyse, director
of the Media Monitoring Project said he was not surprised at the allegations
of covert funding from the CIO to both newspaper groups.
editorial content of the Financial Gazette altered considerably after it
changed hands. It fails to ask fundamental questions that would be
unpalatable fo its owners. We have seen it protect Gono primarily and the
government he serves.
"The Mirror newspapers are a foil for the
reformed wing of Zanu PF. They exist on some permanent financial support and
we can only assume it comes from quarters whose interest it
The Daily News and its sister Sunday and two small
weeklies the Tribune and Weekly Times are banned from publishing because
they failed to get accreditation from the government appointed Media and
Information Commission, set up by Jonathan Moyo.
critics are outraged that it invested billions in seeking to control the
private media while millions of people face food shortages.
ZIMBABWE's revolution has gone off
the rails and the country's current troubles were the result of a failure to
transform the colonial economy, the Congress of South African Trade Unions
(Cosatu) said yesterday.
Cosatu president Willie Madisha and general
secretary Zwelinzima Vavi spoke of Zimbabwe's failures to delegates at the
union federation's central committee meeting outside
In his speech welcoming guests and delegates, Madisha
said the South African government should ensure that its proposed financial
bale-out of Zimbabwe did not lead to further attacks against that country's
Vavi said Zimbabwe's impasse had already shown its potential
to divide the African National Congress (ANC)-led
"Mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that the loan
is not used for further subjugation of the working class, but to address
hunger and improve political dialogue and general economic stability," said
Zimbabwe's problems contained lessons for SA and highlighted
problems to be avoided in this country, Vavi's report said.
revolution ceased to be progressive if its main beneficiaries were no longer
workers and the poor but a new ruling class linked to business, he said.
"The Zimbabwean revolution is off the rails. It is no longer serving the
interests of the working class and the peasantry."
assessment of the Zimbabwe crisis comes as SA's government is poised to bale
out President Robert Mugabe's government with a financial rescue package
that could be worth up to $1bn.
Vavi said the source of Zimbabwe's
crisis was not external debt, but "a failure to restructure the colonial
The post-liberation government had used the commodity-based
economy to pay for socially desirable programmes such as education and
However, when export commodity prices fell, this led to
dependence on foreign loans and the imposition of structural adjustment by
the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Vavi said.
reportedly owes the IMF $295m and is in danger of being booted out of the
These developments had gradually set the state directly
against the interests of the poor, Vavi said. Zimbabwe's government had
begun to use "left-wing rhetoric to justify right-wing solutions", he
Cosatu's assessment of the Zimbabwean crisis dovetails with
that of President Thabo Mbeki, who told the national land summit earlier
this month that the country was in debt because it had overspent on social
programmes following its liberation in 1980.
However, Vavi went
further than Mbeki, saying the Zimbabwean government had created the present
lack of foreign currency, collapsed economy and widespread homelessness, and
bore the responsibility for resolving it.
Mugabe's government "must
take full responsibility for (the) crisis", Vavi told the gathering.
Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has accused President Thabo
Mbeki of snubbing it in favour of rival union federations not aligned to the
African National Congress (ANC).
The complaint is contained in general
secretary Zwelinzima Vavi's political report, presented to the federation's
central committee's four-day meeting, which started yesterday.
told 500 delegates from Cosatu unions and regions that relations in the
tripartite alliance had improved since January this year, but tension
remained over the allies' disagreements on Zimbabwe, black economic
empowerment and the "acrimonious discussion" between Mbeki and Archbishop
Desmond Tutu earlier this year.
Government leaders were quick to use
the power of their offices to discourage unpopular decisions, without
sufficient buy-in from the alliance.
He said this problem was compounded
by the fact that Cosatu had failed to "develop a more direct relationship
with the president".
However, both the National Council of Trade Unions
(Nactu) and the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) claimed a "cordial
personal relationship" with Mbeki, he said.
This had "strategic
implications" for Cosatu and its access to government.
delegates why this was the case, given that Nactu and Fedusa were not in a
formal alliance with the ANC.
Both unions have criticised Cosatu's
relationship with the ruling party, arguing it compromised worker
independence and distracted unions from workplace struggles.
question that arises is whether we are beginning to witness the emergence of
a 'new worker' divorced from engaging with political transformation in
favour of only focusing on narrow workplace issues," said Vavi.
called for a "new worker" at Fedusa's national congress three years
At the time the call was widely interpreted to mean a less
militant union movement focused almost exclusively on shop floor issues and
not policy making.
The call, which came amid acrimonious relations
between Cosatu and the ANC after the union's general strike against
privatisation, led to a cordial relationship between Mbeki and
Nactu has also recently enjoyed a close relationship with
Former general secretary Cunningham Ngcukana now occupies a senior
policy position in the president's office.
In contrast, relations
between Mbeki and Cosatu soured recently, following Cosatu's public backing
of axed deputy president Jacob Zuma.
Zuma is expected to speak to the
Cosatu meeting this morning.
Presenter: Lindsay Williams Guest(s): Dumisani Muleya
description of Zimbabwe's own style of black economic empowerment - called
indigenisation by some - comes from Business Day Harare correspondent
LINDSAY WILLIAMS: When we first heard about
the proposals from the Zimbabwean government there was a minimum black
shareholding of 20% proposed in all mining companies within two years - I
think that was about nine months ago - increasing to 25% in seven years, and
30% in 10 years. Has the process stalled now?
MULEYA: Basically it's actually 30%. There are some regulations which
government is currently considering - I have those draft regulations -
basically those draft regulations will amend the Mines and Minerals Act in
order to introduce this black empowerment provision. It basically reads: "In
order to increase participation in ownership by historically disadvantaged
persons in the mining industry, mining companies shall achieve 30%
historically disadvantaged ownership of mining industry assets in 10 years -
20% in two years, 25% in seven years and then the full 30% in 10
LINDSAY WILLIAMS: So the theory is very similar to
the theory in South Africa? The BEE process in South Africa has been
proceeding apace, and in the main has been a success. The theory is one
thing, how will the process be different in Zimbabwe should it go
DUMISANI MULEYA: Actually they plan to reform the
mining sector along the lines of South Africa's Mining Charter - however in
Zimbabwe it will be quite entangled into the politics of the day because
there have been a lot of threats here of nationalisation of foreign-owned
companies. The threats have been made by President Robert Mugabe and his
Ministers. That's the uncertainty in the mining sector - if not across the
whole economy - particular to foreign investors. The problem that basically
affects that kind of legislation in Zimbabwe is that it's entangled into
politics - it's the rhetoric of politicians when they are going for votes,
they always raise these things. When they table these things there is always
scepticism around about how achievable it would be, about what the funding
arrangements for these things will be, and the feasibility or in fact
viability of mines under such a regime and what it will be like - those are
the questions that people are asking.
Many people I speak to think that this could actually be a rescue plan for
the economy of Zimbabwe - not in isolation of course, but with other things
- but what worries me is are there enough empowerment partners to take
advantage of this legislation, should it go through?
DUMISANI MULEYA: Yes. If this legislation does go through, it will be very
difficult to make sure that it works in practice - because there are all
sorts of serious implications of funding. If you look at the situation now
there is a serious foreign currency shortage. When they are selling their
stakes to local investors as stipulated by the legislation the mining
companies would need those equities to be sold in foreign currency terms -
we've seen in the past year that local investors do not have capacity to
raise foreign currency in order to take up stakes like this. We have an
example in Zimplats - a platinum mining company owned by South Africa's
Impala Platinum - that has offered local investors 16%, but there has been a
dispute going on about fund raising, and who qualifies. The government just
last week ended up saying that the 15% is to be split onto two for different
consortiums. We've also seen similar disputes with regards to Independence
Gold Mines here - the gold mines are owned by Metalon - so there has been
some disagreement as to how local investors are included, because they don't
have the money, and they can't raise foreign currency to buy into those
LINDSAY WILLIAMS: The danger is, of course, that the
deals will fall into the hands of small concentration of individuals - and
empowerment will not be broad based. Is that a real fear?
DUMISANI MULEYA: Yes, here it's even worse than South Africa - small
politically organised groups will grab these stakes, so these political
sharks will just move in using their political connections and resources in
order to take up these stakes - so it won't really be empowerment, it will
be just an elitist empowerment process, which is exactly the problem that we
have been facing over the years. This "indigenisation" program has just
degenerated into an empowerment of the political, economic and military
elites - in some cases there are some people in the army who have ventured
into the mining sector. I'm talking here about certain military and former
military people that have moved into diamond mining here in
- Zimbabwe is taking legislative steps to force foreign-owned mining houses
to cede 30% equity to local black investors in the next 10 years. Most of
the mines in Zimbabwe are foreign owned and the move could help redress this
However, the timing and motives of the legislation, 25 years
after independence, will undoubtedly fuel uncertainty in the country's
troubled economy, which is struggling to attract foreign direct
Analysts also argued the move was a ploy by the
forex-strapped government to retain some of the mining sector's
Fears were raised that, as with their South African
counterparts, mining stakes will be secured by a well-connected elite close
to the government.
Draft regulations to be inserted into the Mines
and Mineral Act through a statutory instrument show government is mulling
over plans to reform the sector using SA's mining charter as a
The amendment, yet to be tabled before parliament, says: "In
order to increase participation and ownership by historically disadvantaged
persons in the mining industry, companies shall achieve 30% ownership of the
industry assets in 10 years of which 20% shall be achieved in two years, 25%
in seven years and 30% in 10 years from the date on which these regulations
"Mining companies shall give historically
disadvantaged persons a preferred supplier status, where possible, in all
three levels of procurement, namely capital goods; services; and
Mining companies will now have to apply to the mining
department when they want to import capital goods, services or consumables
and justify their actions - a requirement that analysts said could cripple
their operations given the inefficiency of the Zimbabwean government's
However, the regulations do not say how the locally held
30% stakes are to be funded.
Zimplats, owned by Impala Platinum, has
already offered 15% to local investors who have, however, failed to fund the
stake and have been fighting over it for the past two years. Borrowing rates
in Zimbabwe are at astronomically high three-digit levels.
Minister Amos Midzi would not comment on the draft yesterday, saying he was
"too busy". Chamber of Mines CEO David Murangari was also not available for
Although the Zimbabwean plan is meant to transform the
mining sector, dominated by British, South African and Australian companies,
it has been dogged by controversy stemming from repeated official threats to
nationalise foreign companies, including mines.
mining companies operating in Zimbabwe include Anglo America, Rio Tinto,
Implats, Mimosa Platinum, and Aquarium Platinum.
director David Brown says the 30% figure bandied about was not dissimilar
from empowerment requirements in SA, which his company was comfortable
He suggested that funding empowerment deals in Zimbabwe was
likely to be more challenging than in SA.
"These requirements need to
be balanced with what is do-able in reality," Brown
He said this requirement should be "almost reversed",
given what was achievable in reality.
London office said it would not comment before the bill was
Anglo American, which has significant mineral assets in
Zimbabwe, also said it was unable to comment on a document they had not yet
President Robert Mugabe has often threatened forced company
A few years ago Mugabe's supporters invaded companies'
premises, trying to take them over by force.
mining sector has been slowly recovering in the past 18 months, with mineral
exports increasing 10% in the first quarter, it is still reeling from a
skewed exchange rate, foreign currency shortages and high
Zimbabwe produces minerals such as platinum, diamond,
gold, black granite, coal, chromate, cobalt, graphite, iron ore, iron
pyrites, lithium minerals, magnesite and nickel.
The mining sector's
foreign-exchange contribution has also fallen in recent years from more than
30% of the country's total net proceeds to 25%.
Reporter Last updated: 08/16/2005 12:32:05 ZIMBABWE'S teachers and parents
are planning a sustained battle against the government over a planned
take-over of private schools.
Teachers' unions, labour movements and
parents' associations say the move could spell the death knell for
Zimbabwe's education system, once one of the best in the region.
government says private schools are a law unto themselves, and accuses them
of running a parallel education system which limits access by poorer parents
through unrealistic fees.
The new Education Amendment Bill 2005 will
bring the control of the private schools under government. The Bill also
gives the Minister of Education power to prescribe fees and school uniforms,
and decide which affiliations teachers could join.
Last week, the
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), the Association of Trust Schools
(ATS) and the Progessive Teachers' Union (Ptuz) presented their critical
submissions to the parliament's portfolio committee for
The Bill's critics said the offending sections were not
practical given that the ministry has previously failed to monitor and
review fees at the government schools.
Raymond Majongwe, the chairman
of teh PTUZ said: "Government cannot be allowed to direct affairs at private
schools -- enough damage has already been done in the public education
sector under the same ministry, and we should never allow the same rot to
extend to private schools.
"That would kill the private schools which are
our last hope for quality education and truly free
Zimbabwe's Education Minister, Aeneas Chigwedere, has said
the government would take into consideration submissions by the teachers and
parents before the Bill returns to Parliament, but lawyers fear changes will
only be minimal.
"If this Bill passes through parliament in its
present form, half of our schools would be closed by mid-next year," said a
lawyer representing ATS.
Teachers and parents also say that the take-over
of private schools will present additional bureaucracy epitomised by the
1,000 percent tuition fee increase in all government schools backdated to
January this year.
"This is like trying to erase the diversity in our
schools by prescribing one common uniform; it is a serious violation of the
children's, the parents' and the teachers' right to make their own choices,"
Meanwhile most private and mission boarding schools have
increased fees by as much as 100 percent for the third term of this
School heads at private schools in the country justified the fee
increases, saying they were commensurate with the inflation rate, which
continues to rise.
Prices of basic food and non-food items rose by as
much as 247 percent while inflation is currently running at 164
Tuition and boarding fees at Arundel Girls' School have gone up
from 16 million Zimbabwean dollars (about 888 US dollars) in the last term
to 25.5 million Zimbabwean dollars (about 1,416 US dollars) in the next
term. Prince Edward High School has increased its fees to 15 million
Zimbabwean dollars (about 833 US dollars) for the boarders while day
scholars have to pay 5 million Zimbabwean dollars (about 277 US
The parents from rich families said there was no reason for the
ministry to wait until it was too late to raise fees, adding that they were
willing to pay as they were also experiencing the same prevailing economic
conditions that schools are experiencing.
However, some poor citizens
are crying foul over the fees increases, saying that the move would
eliminate their children from the schools.
Experts in the education
sector said the fee increases were justified given the prevailing situation.
Some experts argued that if the responsible authority is unable to charge
fees sufficient to cover its costs, then it would be unable to maintain its
They also said 95 percent of parents were "willing and capable"
to pay realistic fees at most private schools, so there was no need for the
government to be involved in fees determination. Do you think the
government is right to make a move for private schools? Send us your shouts
Reporter Last updated: 08/16/2005 12:29:16 ZIMBABWEAN government officials
and senior intelligence officers are locked in emergency meetings Monday in
a bid to contain the fallout from the biggest media scandal to rock the
country in 25 years.
Government sources said State Security Minister
Didymus Mutasa was expected to meet senior intelligence officers in a bid to
limit the damage caused by media reports that Zimbabwe's state security
agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), had taken over three
private newspapers using billions in taxpayers' funds. The development
further cripples independent critical voices in the country.
will be emergency meetings between government officials and the intelligence
chiefs to discuss the issue, which has sent shock-waves through government
and media circles," a source said. "There will also be meetings between the
management and editors of the three newspapers affected by the
"This issue has caused great damage to the government's
image and also threatened the survival of the three
There were inconclusive meetings between government
officials and the senior intelligence officers, as well as management and
the editors of the media houses concerned, after the story broke in the
Zimbabwe Independent, which is owned by SA's Mail & Guardian proprietor
The Independent reported on Friday that the CIO used
billions of public funds to buy major business weekly the Financial Gazette
and the two other newspapers under the Mirror Newspaper Group, the Daily
Mirror and the Sunday Mirror.
The CIO also tried and failed to buy
the closed Tribune newspaper, and is manoeuvring to buy President Robert
Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) mouthpiece, The Voice.
It was reported the
CIO was behind the closure of the privately owned Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe title, the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, and allegedly
behind the closure of the Weekly Times earlier this year.
reportedly copied their strategy of owning newspapers through shell
companies or as silent shareholders from Angola, where the intelligence
service owns the largest circulating daily.
already controls a chain of newspapers under the Zimpapers stable, and
enjoys a monopoly of the airwaves.
Over the past five years, the
government has intensified media tyranny in tandem with political oppression
as part of its political survival strategy.
Dozens of journalists of the
independent media have been arrested and foreign correspondents deported.
The Independent newspaper named CIO officers deployed to the three
newspapers to tighten the intelligence service's grip on the
The government, the CIO and the newspapers themselves have
not disputed the report. The CIO's action were twidely seen as similar to
SA's information scandal in the late 1970s when apartheid intelligence
services set up a newspaper and bought space in the foreign media to defend
their policies - Business Day
Reporter Last updated: 08/16/2005 12:25:15 AN INFLATIONARY environment and
political pressure is making Zimbabwean newspapers financially vulnerable,
according to media sources.
"There are exorbitant costs involved. All of
us [newspaper publishers] have enormous debts - we owe money to the banks,"
said publisher and editor Ibbo Mandaza.
"Newsprint accounts for 70
percent of our costs - it costs about Zim $20 million (about US $1,100) a
tonne and we require three tonnes a day," noted Mandaza, head of the
Southern Africa Publishing House (SAPHO), which owns and prints the Daily
Mirror and Sunday Mirror.
Escalating fuel costs and increasing salaries
to keep up with the high inflation rate have also impacted on the company's
Besides the financial costs, Mandaza said he had to contend
with the psychological pressure of "safeguarding his journalists every day"
- he and two journalists from his publishing house were detained in
This week Mandaza was busy fielding queries related to a
controversial news report claiming that the Mirror group, the Financial
Gazette and the suspended weekly, the Tribune, had either been bought or
approached with a takeover bid by the Central Intelligence Operation (CIO),
Zimbabwe's state security agency.
The report's claims have been shot
down by all the publications involved, but it highlighted yet again the
vulnerability of the media in a politically charged environment.
have a 100 percent stake in SAPHO - I own the publishing house. We have in
the past - i.e. before 2003 - received offers from several people we found
unsuitable; we have not received any offers since then," Mandaza confirmed.
"We might have CIO agents in my newspaper and I will be unable to confirm
that - I mean state security agencies across the world have agents in the
media - they are all over the place."
Kindness Paradza, publisher of
Africa Tribune Newspapers (ATN), which used to print the Tribune newspaper,
said in the past he had also been approached with offers, "but I will not be
able to confirm whether they were CIO operatives - I wouldn't know". Paradza
has other pressing problems: he is fighting to keep his business afloat
after the government-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC)
suspended ATN for a year in June 2004.
Last month the MIC turned down
ATN's application to resume publication, saying the company had failed to
show that it had enough capital, and because it intended operating from a
"How was I expected to rent business premises if I had not yet
been given a licence? Anyway, I have gone ahead and rented premises and met
with all the requirements asked, and resubmitted my application last week,"
ATN shut down when the MIC ruled that it had failed to
inform the commission that The Tribune - initially published on Thursdays as
The Business Tribune, and on Saturdays as The Weekend Tribune - had merged
into The Tribune, which had gone on sale on Fridays.
suspension was based on allegations of breaching the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which stipulates that the commission
must be informed of any changes in the titles, frequency and ownership of a
licensed media house.
"We realise the costs of running the operation -
both financially and psychologically - but we are journalists: we cannot
earn a living doing anything else," commented Paradza, who has been in the
profession for 22 years. ATN is owned by journalists, with Paradza owning a
90 percent stake.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa, a media
watchdog, said controversial legislation such as AIPPA had placed an
additional burden on journalists in Zimbabwe.
"They have to operate
in constant fear of possibly breaching the legislation," commented MISA's
The MIC was set up under Zimbabwe's controversial AIPPA
law to license newspapers and journalists. In a high-profile decision in
2004 it denied a licence to Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), which
owned two antigovernment papers: the Daily News, once the country's largest
selling newspaper, and the Daily News on Sunday.
pressures, Mandaza said his company had taken out yet another loan to
purchase a printing plant recently. "We hope to divert some of the resources
that we will now be able to save towards increasing our
The public's "thirst for information" was what kept
publishing houses running, Paradza maintained. "Almost 80 percent of
Zimbabwe's population is literate. We already had our niche market because
of our middle-of-the-road stance" regarding the government. "With our belief
in accurate reporting we hope to maintain our readership - we believe you
can do business in Zimbabwe."
Besides the official daily, The Herald,
and pro-government The Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe's press stable includes the
privately owned weeklies The Financial Gazette, The Independent and The
Standard - IRIN
Some of the people evicted from
their homes in Zimbabwean towns in recent weeks are trickling back to their
destroyed homes, hoping to rebuild their lives and start afresh.
many find that as soon as they start building on the site of their flattened
shack, they are forced on to police trucks to be ferried out of town
The government's Operation Murambatsvina - Drive Out the Rubbish -
was ostensible to clean up Zimbabwe's decaying towns and clear out criminals
and people working illegally. But many thousands of homes have been
bulldozed, with devastating social effects for some of the country's most
Ten weeks after President Robert Mugabe's police
began the mass destruction programme, countless numbers of poor people are
struggling to pick up the pieces. Most of the displaced are living in abject
conditions, surviving on charity. Their children's education has been
disrupted, perhaps terminally, as there are no schools in the so-called
"transit camps" to which the families have been removed.
government said it plans a three trillion Zimbabwean dollar (940 million US
dollar] rehousing programme. But that is an empty promise, as the government
is close to bankrupt, and the funding does not appear in the national budget
The fate of squatter camps like Porta Farm and Hatcliffe, on the
outskirts of the capital Harare is demonstrative of the effects of the
government campaign. The dazed residents have been creeping back furtively,
only to be greeted by the rubble of what a short time ago were their
Nixon Ndongwe had a house at Porta Farm for 12 years before it
was knocked down. Like others who have nowhere else to go, Ndongwe, his wife
Melody and their three children made their way quietly back to Porta Farm
after officials suddenly announced they were closing the transit camp where
the family had been dumped.
They are among perhaps 2,000 people who
have returned to the homes which police first smashed and then burned when
they moved in in July.
They now survive on help from well-wishers,
particularly churches. "We came back from Caledonia Farm [transit camp 30
kilometres outside Harare] last week," a dejected Ndongwe told IWPR. "This
is what we have been saying all along - that we just don't have anywhere to
Families like the Ndongwes felt they had no choice but to go back to
Porta Farm after the government failed to deliver on a promise to allocate
them with new land plots, but closed the transit camp anyway.
the government's public claims that it has allocated people new housing
plots, Ndongwe and many thousands of others have not benefited because they
are unable to meet all the conditions. To apply for one of the limited
places, they would need a rent card, a marriage certificate and a salary
slip - none of which people them are likely to possess.
"My life has just
been destroyed because of government's actions," said Ndongwe. "Because of
the government I lost my house. We have no food. They are telling everyone
that we were given plots, but it's not true."
It was, ironically,
President Mugabe who ordered the creation of Porta Farm back in 1991, when
30,000 people were rounded up from squatter camps scattered across Harare
and housed in the new settlement so that they would be invisible from view
during that year's Commonwealth summit.
Those now returning to Porta Farm
and Hatcliffe have not yet put up permanent shacks, fearing that the
government will return and destroy them again. Instead, at sunset they put
up makeshift shelters of corrugated iron and plastic, hoping to ward off the
chilly night temperatures that dip below zero in the short but sharp
southern African winter, and dismantle them before sunrise.
afraid that they might come back and drive us away. We saw what they did to
our homes and can't take chances any more," said Benedict Chiwora, whose
shack at Porta Farm was destroyed in the blitz. "So we only build something
for the night in case they come for us."
Chiwora added that he had been
told by Harare City Council that he would note be allocated a housing plot
because he did not have a pay slip.
Last week, the police came back, and
loaded the Ndongwes and others onto trucks, and dumped them on the road to
the eastern border city of Mutare.
As the transit camp at Caledonia Farm,
inmates were ordered onto trucks last week and driven away to unknown
Also last week, police evicted hundreds of homeless
families who had been given refuge in churches in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's
second city, where pastors and priests were providing temporary sanctuary
for victims of Operation Murambatsvina.
Riot units raided the
churches and loaded the dispossessed people into trucks. Police said they
had instructions "from the bosses to take the victims to Tsholotsho",
referring to a rural community in an area of severe drought some 120 km
northwest of Bulawayo.
The police raids have deeply angered the Churches
in Bulawayo, a coalition of churches which has come together because of the
demolition programme and the resulting humanitarian crisis.
removal of the innocent, poor, weak, voiceless and vulnerable members of
society by riot police was uncalled for and unnecessary," said the coalition
in a statement. "It is inhuman, brutal and insensitive and in total
disregard of human rights and dignity."
Meanwhile police barred churches
and non-government groups from entering Helensvale Farm, a transit camp 20
km from Bulawayo that is the second largest holding facility for families
whose homes have been bulldozered and burned in the city.
been no provisions for the people at the transit camp since we were ordered
off Helensvale farm," said the Reverend Ray Motsi, a spokesman for the
church coalition. "And we do not know what the people are eating now because
we did not supply them with long-term food and other provisions. The reports
we got from the camp are worrying."
Pastor Moyo, another of the church
aid coordinators, said amenities at the camp were almost non-existent, and
that armed police are stationed at the entrance gates to Helensvale Farm to
check people entering and leaving the camp.
The government has
reacted angrily to a highly critical United Nations report on Operation
Murambatsvina, saying the findings are "biased, and did not take into
consideration the effort of the government to provide
The report, order by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan,
said the operations had been carried out in a haphazard manner and that
those responsible for the clearances should be prosecuted.
Makwembere is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in