By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye & Patience Rusere
18 August 2007
Southern African leaders have taken tentative steps towards an expanded role
in the resolution of Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis, observers
concluded after the Southern African Development Community ended a summit in
The SADC summit that ended Friday was tougher on Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe than expected, as diplomatic sources said his fellow regional leaders
insisted that he institute democratic reforms and economic policy changes
before they would assemble an bailout package to relieve food, fuel and
But critics said leaders headed by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, SADC's
new chairman, offered nothing new in the way of solutions to the longrunning
Mr. Mugabe's peers were said to have grilled him behind closed doors, but in
public they closed ranks, giving him a standing ovation on Thursday when he
Though Zimbabweans are flooding into South Africa and other neighboring
countries to escape dire economic conditions at home including
hyperinflation and critical food shortages, the SADC communiqué merely
urging Mr. Mugabe's government and its opposition to seek common ground in
South African-mediated crisis talks.
The SADC leaders "encouraged the parties to expedite the process of
negotiations and conclude the work as soon as possible so that the next
elections are held in an atmosphere of peace," referring to general and
presidential elections in early 2008.
The faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change headed
by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai took issue with Mwanawasa for declaring
during the summit that the severity of the Zimbabwe crisis was
"exaggerated." The formation said it intended to "enlighten" regional
leaders as to the depth of Zimbabwe's distress.
But the U.S. State Department voiced satisfaction at the SADC summit
Political analyst Peter Kagwanja of the Human Sciences Research Council in
Pretoria, South Africa, told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe that the Southern African regional organization has clearly
toughened its stance.
Meanwhile, police in Lusaka twice arrested then released a Southern African
regional officer of the Tsvangirai opposition faction, sources in the
Zambian capital said.
Lusaka police arrested MDC official Nqobizitha Mlilo Friday for allegedly
attending the summit without accreditation, released him later after
verifying his credentials, then re-arrested him on Saturday. He was released
within hours after his lawyer intervened.
Reached late Friday after being released for the first time, Mlilo told
reporter Patience Rusere that he was not questioned about his credentials
but about the activities of the Johannesburg MDC office, adding that
Zimbabwean agents were present.
His attorney, Executive Director Arnold Tsunga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights, said the Lusaka police told him clearance would have to be
obtained from the Zambian secret service before Mlilo would be allowed to
leave the country.
August 18, 2007, 15:15
Civil society delegates meeting in Lusaka, Zambia during the SADC heads of
state summit have called for strong intervention by governments to resolve
the crisis in Zimbabwe.
The Civil Society Forum has implored SADC leaders to set targets for the
creation of a climate that will allow for free elections. Crisis in Zimbabwe
coalition coordinator Nicholas Mkaronda says a people driven constitution
that entrenches democratic governance must be developed.
SADC leaders earlier said regional finance ministers had been tasked to find
a solution to Zimbabwe's economic problems. South African President Thabo
Mbeki also told delegates that there had been progress in facilitated talks
between Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC.
August 18 2007 at 12:53PM
Civil society groups on Saturday called on the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) to review Zimbabwe's electoral framework,
following a two-day SADC heads of state summit in Lusaka, Zambia.
"Zimbabwe's electoral framework must be reviewed to comply with the
barest minimum requirements of the SADC Principles and Guidelines on
Democratic Elections, along with other recognised international standards,"
said Reverend Malawo Matyola of the SADC Civil Society Forum in a statement.
Delegates welcomed President Thabo Mbeki's efforts on Zimbabwe, but
said mediation efforts by SADC governments in emerging and existing conflict
areas continued to be marginal and fell short of addressing core issues.
There was a "worrying trend" by some SADC member states to institute
statutory regulation aimed at stifling the work of NGOs, the civil society
"Civil society is calling on SADC heads of state to institute
legislation promoting and enabling civil society participation in
decision-making processes in the region."
Meanwhile the SADC secretariat said the summit had been briefed that
negotiations between Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party and both factions of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change were "progressing smoothly".
"Summit welcomed the progress and encouraged the parties to expedite
the process of negotiations and conclude work as soon as possible...," a
An economic plan to support Zimbabwe would be drawn up, based on a
report by the SADC executive secretary, in consultation with the Zimbabwean
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who took up the SADC chairmanship,
said he would work towards making a free trade area a reality by 2008 and
accelerate preparations for a customs union. - Sapa
August 18, 2007, 16:15
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Kenneth Meshoe has accused
President Thabo Mbeki of protecting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. He
says Mugabe will further violate people's rights and Mbeki should own up to
the current situation in Zimbabwe.
Meshoe says Mbeki is well positioned to intervene. "The President of South
Africa is in a position to confront the leader of Zimbabwe and ensure that
the decisions he make do not cause unnecessary suffering amongst Zimbabweans
and Mbeki has not done so," says Meshoe.
He adds: "So the problem we are facing as a result of the flood of illegal
immigrants, he must take responsibility for. He (Mbeki) does not want to
tell Mr Robert Mugabe that he is wrong and he needs to correct the wrongs
Mbeki told the SADC summit, which ended in Lusaka, Zambia last night, that
there had been progress in facilitated talks between the ruling Zanu-PF and
the opposition MDC. He has also asked SADC finance ministers to come up with
a plan to save the Zimbabwe economy.
Sat Aug 18, 10:42 AM ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) said on Saturday it would "enlighten" regional leaders who have
dismissed the country's crises as exaggerated.
"We will continue to enlighten Southern African Development Community (SADC)
on the crises affecting us, which have resulted in our people fleeing to
other countries in large numbers," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told AFP,
reacting to a statement by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa.
"We remain focused to allow the region and the entire continent to stand on
the side of the people and not to stand on the side of Mugabe and his people
who are the authors of these crises and who are also benefiting from them,"
Chamisa said, referring to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
On Friday Mwanawasa, who is also chairman of the SADC, said at the close of
a regional summit: "We ... feel that the problems in Zimbabwe have been
exaggerated." The country, he added, would find a solution to its economic
"We are quite satisfied with the report from South African President Thabo
Mbeki on the crisis in Zimbabwe," the Zambian leader said.
Earlier, however, Mwanawasa had likened neighbouring Zimbabwe to a "sinking
In the throes of an economic crisis, Zimbabwe is plagued with hyperinflation
well past the 5,000 percent mark, four in five people jobless, and 80
percent of the population living below the poverty threshold.
Chamisa said the MDC was discouraged and disappointed by Mugabe's insistence
that problems were minimal.
"Companies are closing down, there is shortage of food, shops are empty.
"We would have thought Mugabe would have at least owned up and say we have a
challenge, which will need the ruling party and the opposition to sit and
talk," the spokesman said.
The 83-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled his country for nearly three decades,
has blamed the country's woes on drought and the imposition of targeted
sanctions by Western nations on himself and members of his inner circle.
But critics say problems started with a much-disputed government land reform
programme in 2000 that saw thousands of white-owned commercial farms seized
and redistributed to landless blacks and government cronies.
Meanwhile, a South African a newspaper on Saturday lashed out at President
Thabo Mbeki and SADC leaders for allegedly being soft on Mugabe at the
just-concluded summit in Zambian capital Lusaka.
"The SADC leaders are a pathetic, week-kneed bunch, judging by their
inability to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis," the opposition newspaper said
in its editorial titled 'Mbeki bows to the hero of SADC'.
"And none is more ineffectual than Mbeki, mandated by the SADC to facilitate
a political solution, he has got precisely nowhere," it said.
August 18, 2007, 09:45
President Thabo Mbeki says political negotiations and efforts to support
Zimbabwe's ailing economy will continue.
Mbeki was speaking in Lusaka, Zambia at the end of the two-day SADC summit,
where the situation in Zimbabwe featured prominently on the agenda.
The President says SADC leaders accepted a report from the regional body's
executive secretary on what needs to be done to revive Zimbabwe's economy.
He also said that he was confident that the SADC region will be able to have
a free trade area by the end of next year as planned. He says SADC states
have just one year left to remove tariffs on goods.
Despite many beatings in pursuit of equal rights, Peter Tatchell has always
abhorred violence. Now he says he could understand the murder of an African
Interviewed by Cole Moreton
Published: 19 August 2007
Peter Tatchell speaks very carefully. He stops in mid-sentence to edit his
words - "Sorry, let me rephrase that" - as if a conversation is a radio
interview. Remember that when the famed campaigner for human rights says
something truly shocking about what he would like to see done to Robert
Mugabe. But first this thin, intense man is telling me the terrible things
that other people would like to do to him.
"We are going to kill you gays," says Tatchell, reading from a transcript he
has made of threatening telephone calls. "The punishment for sodomy is
death." The calls have been frequent, usually late at night. He takes them
in this musty room, where every spare space is filled with stacks of books
or papers. They tell him: "You are going to be beheaded: that is the
punishment in Islamic law."
I was going to start lightly, with a question about the Manchester Pride
festival, where he will be on Thursday, arguably the biggest, most joyfully
riotous celebration of gay culture in the country. I was going to ask
Tatchell, best known for his outrageous direct action in support of lesbian
and gay rights, whether the battle for equality had been won and it was time
to kick back and party. But instead we're talking about death threats.
"I know that most of them are bluff and bravado, but there is always a
danger that someone might be deadly serious and have a go," he says. I'm on
a low sofa, trying not to kick over copies of The Humanist. He's looking
down on me from a hard-backed wooden chair he has pulled close. He has an
unsettling habit of keeping constant eye contact, except for when his energy
or attention flags momentarily.
Tatchell still suffers headaches, blackouts and memory loss from his beating
by Russian Neo-Nazis (and possibly secret policemen) at a Pride event in
Moscow in May. The 57-year-old has been assaulted many times during 40 years
of campaigning. Homophobic Muslim clerics with friends who like to call and
make threats in the dark are among the more gentle of his enemies. Followers
of Jamaican reggae were said to have taken out a contract on his life after
he called for the banning of songs, such as Buju Banton's "Boom Bye Bye",
that advocate the shooting, hanging, burning or drowning of gays.
The police gave him armed protection for a while, but it seems to have gone.
The windows of his three-roomed council flat in a tenement just off London's
Elephant and Castle are protected by security bars, and a notice on the
front door warns that it is under 24-hour electronic surveillance. That
stopped people putting dog-shit through the letterbox, but Tatchell is less
than impressed with the official reaction to the latest calls, which have
been going on for three months. "We have managed to trace the number to
identify the perpetrator but that person has never been interviewed, let
alone questioned by the police. It's an absolute fucking disgrace."
Tatchell is edgy. It's late afternoon and he has been arguing with officials
all day in an attempt to prevent a lesbian being deported back to a country
where she believes she will be executed. He has had no breakfast and only a
"a small banana and apple" for lunch, which is not unusual.
"Some of the abuses these people have suffered are so catastrophic, they are
difficult to block out. Until I can find some kind of solution they do play
on my mind and I find it difficult to sleep." He looks drawn. "I'm getting
into the Margaret Thatcher mode of sleeping for three or four hours a night.
But I know I need eight."
Thatcher has an inevitable presence in a room whose walls are decorated with
the ephemera of four decades as an activist. There's a Coal Not Dole sticker
and a badge that says, "If Thatcher is the answer, it was a bloody stupid
Thatcher has long gone, but every radical figure needs a nemesis, and for
Tatchell, her place was taken by Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe.
Having supported the struggle for independence in that country, Tatchell
found himself appalled by the President's violent persecution of gay and
lesbian people, and his treatment of his own people. It was challenging
Mugabe that also transformed Tatchell's public image.
He was part of human rights campaigns even as a teenager in his native
Australia, but here he was long seen as a single-issue obsessive: in the
Nineties, the papers called him a "homosexual terrorist" and "prize pervert"
for seizing the Archbishop of Canterbury's pulpit at Easter and trying to
"out" gay public figures with his group Outrage!.
Labour's victory in 1997 began a political shift towards equality, but the
way Tatchell was seen did not shift dramatically until 2001, when he tried
to make a citizen's arrest of Mugabe at the Brussels Hilton. The sight of
the determined but slight protester being forced to the ground by the
President's bodyguards won him many new admirers.
Last year, New Statesman magazine named him as one of the "heroes of our
time", and The Independent included him among 50 men and women who had made
the world a better place. So it is a shock to hear this lifelong advocate of
non-violent protest say, in carefully chosen words, that he believes the
problem of Mugabe may now have only one solution: assassination.
"The prospects for democratic, peaceful change seem to be closed, in the
same way as in Nazi-occupied Europe," he says. "In all normal circumstances,
I'm against violence. All violence. But in the extreme situation of a
dictatorship where tens of thousands, if not millions, of lives are at
stake, there may be a moral and ethical case for the people of Zimbabwe to
It would have to be a black Zimbabwean, he says, so the motives could not be
misunderstood. "And preferably someone who had opposed Ian Smith's
white-minority rule." This is not frustration then, or a moment of
ill-temper. He has thought out the strategy. But still, it seems
extraordinary coming from him, as if all the energy and fury that enabled
him to challenge the powerful with nothing but his body and his willingness
to take a beating has been twisted into the single, burning thought of a gun
and an expedient death.
Not that Tatchell will worry about what it does to his image. He has never
attempted (or been able) to make money from that, earning only about £8,000
a year from journalism. His colour-spattered tie looks like a relic from the
Eighties and his red jeans and red shirt are not new, although they are
neatly pressed. The long-life lightbulb remains unlit as the shadows darken,
although he does switch on the kettle to make a good, strong cup of tea. And
offers biscuits. He is witty and friendly, when he's not being recorded.
On Thursday, Tatchell will attend the massive Pride festival that will
fittingly dominate Manchester, a city whose regeneration has been helped by
gay culture. Sponsors include Manchester City Council (flying a rainbow flag
from public buildings) Selfridges and even the Highways Agency.
After a carnival-style parade watched by "young and old, gay and straight,
friends and family", Gossip will headline a concert; but there is also
classical music, theatre and comedy, film and even sporting competition.
Tatchell will speak on the question, "Queer human rights: what next?" In the
midst of such a big party one answer would be, "Relax". But not for him.
"There are unfinished battles."
Such as? "Imagine how we would feel if the black or Jewish communities were
told, 'You're banned from getting married but we'll give you a separate
system of civil partnership.' This is a form of sexual apartheid."
Then there are the problems in the playground. "A recent survey found
two-thirds of lesbian and gay pupils had suffered homophobic abuse in
school. A quarter had been physically assaulted. That's truly shocking."
The asylum system is unjust too, he says. "Time and time again, we see gay
and lesbian asylum-seekers, who have been jailed, tortured and had their
partners murdered, being told they are not genuine refugees and deported
back to violently homophobic countries like Jamaica, Nigeria and Iran."
And it is a mistake to believe that the violence has ended here, he says.
"About a quarter of all lesbian and gay people here have suffered assaults
by homophobic gangs. We're talking about at least a million people. Over the
past two decades, I have been physically attacked more than 500 times." When
was the last time? Tatchell pauses, and clears his throat. "The last
incident was about two years ago."
Things have changed for the better? He switches tack. "Yes. The decline of
physical attacks on me is probably a rough barometer of the demise of
homophobia in Britain. I don't want to diminish the gains of the past
decade, but it would be a mistake to assume they are permanent. Let's not
forget, Berlin was the gay capital of the world in 1930. Then Hitler came to
power and gay and bisexual men were carted off to concentration camps."
Now he campaigns (for free) across a wide range of issues, including climate
change and the need for an overhaul in our democracy, which he thinks will
only be achieved by "a new mass movement such as the Chartists or
Suffragettes". Despite this, he will stand for the Greens in Oxford at the
next election. He just can't stop, and admits to working almost every
weekend and evening, responding to 60 calls and 300 emails a day. "I don't
have the capacity to switch off my mind to other people's suffering. I can't
His heroes, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, had movements around them.
Tatchell has a close circle of friends, mostly fellow campaigners, but
admits he does not spend enough time with them. It sounds like a lonely
life. "It's not lonely. It has been one of my great failings to not build a
movement, but that's perhaps partly because I have been involved in so many
Perhaps it's also because he's difficult to get on with? He ponders for a
moment. "I guess I am sometimes driven." He has charm, but after two hours
his intensity is exhausting. "The downside is that it has made sustaining a
partnership with someone difficult. Who would put up with me?"
Have lovers come close and been put off? "Yeah." Tatchell smiles, but he
does look drained. "I work the hours of two people. I do recognise the way
I'm living my life is not ideal, by a long way. If George Soros or someone
said to me tomorrow, 'Here is £150,000 for 10 years to run and staff an
office,' I would grab it, and take the occasional weekend off."
His expression says we both know that is unlikely. "I have been unable to
attract funding," says the awkward, driven, maverick Peter Tatchell. "I
don't know why."
18/08/2007 14:27 - (SA)
Johannesburg - A Zimbabwe government official has scoffed at reports that
Britain is looking at contingency measures for the possible evacuation of up
to 22 000 of its citizens from the crisis-wracked country, saying Harare
would assist them to leave, official reports said on Saturday.
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga was responding to reports in the
British press earlier in the week that said Whitehall was concerned over
deteriorating conditions in Zimbabwe and had ordered the Ministry of Defence
to look at what logistical support it could provide in the event of a total
The report, quoting unnamed ministry sources, said military evacuation of
British citizens would only be used as a last resort.
Matonga, who has lived in Britain and has a British wife, told the official
Herald newspaper: "If, in our wildest dreams, such a wish from the British
government occurs, why would they dare to send their evacuation team to
Zimbabwe? We can assist them to leave."
"This is not going to happen. It's only a dream. Zimbabwe is peaceful and
secure, and millions of Britons are dying to come and stay in our country,"
Zim students deported
Conditions in Zimbabwe are deteriorating, with chronic shortages of food,
fuel, power and water.
Political tensions are on the rise ahead of parliamentary and presidential
elections early in 2008, in which President Robert Mugabe is expected to
seek another term in office.
Matonga also hit out at a decision by the Australian authorities to deport
eight students who have been linked to families from Zimbabwe's ruling
"We are not surprised by this move by Australia, a country born of
descendants of British rapists and paedophiles that were deported from
Britain," he said.
The official said the expelled students would be able to enroll at
universities in other countries such as Malaysia, which Harare deems
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: August 18, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: A private security guard attacked and killed a colleague
he accused of stealing his bag of cornmeal amid acute food shortages in
Zimbabwe, the official media reported Saturday.
The arrest of Voice Tongotaya, 29, for alleged murder followed the deaths
Wednesday of two people crushed in a stampede for sugar.
Tongotaya allegedly slashed a co-worker repeatedly with a machete after his
10-kilogram (20-pound) bag of maize meal - a staple in Zimbabwe - went
missing at a security company depot in the eastern border town of Mutare,
the state Herald newspaper reported.
A 10-kilogram (20-pound) bag of cornmeal cooked sparingly can last an
average family about 10 days.
Shortages of food and basic goods have heightened tensions in the southern
African country where lengthy and unruly lines of shoppers waiting at stores
and markets for food deliveries occur daily.
In Bulawayo on Wednesday, hundreds of people surged toward the gates of a
yard where sugar was expected. The perimeter wall collapsed, killing a man
and an infant.
Police were called to one Harare supermarket Friday to quell mobs jostling
for cornmeal. A few blocks away, youths in lines for transportation hurled
rocks at passing cars and the few minibus taxis still operating, witnesses
Gasoline shortages have crippled commuter transport since a June 26
government order to slash the prices of all goods and services in efforts to
tame rampant inflation given officially as 4,500 percent, the highest in the
The order has left shelves bare of cornmeal, bread, meat and other basics.
Independent estimates put real inflation closer to 20,000 percent on goods
still available, often through illegal black market trading, and the
International Monetary Fund has forecast inflation reaching 100,000 percent
by the end of the year.
In other signs of rising tension, earlier this month, two soccer matches
were abandoned before the final whistle after violent fans invaded the field
to protest refereeing decisions, and music fans trashed the venue at a show
by top local musician Alec Macheso.
Such actions generally are rare in Zimbabwe.
At least 7,000 executives, business managers, traders and bus drivers have
been arrested since June 26 for overcharging. Most have been briefly
detained and fined, some have been sentenced to community service cleaning
dilapidated government buildings and one, described in court as an unethical
and unrepentant businesswoman, began an eight-month jail term this week.
No deaths have been officially linked to worsening food shortages though
doctors have reported an increase in conditions related to poor nutrition,
contaminated water in the nation's collapsing sanitation facilities, daily
water and power outages and shortages of basic drugs.
From The Star (SA), 18 August
A schoolgirl from Mabelreign High School in Zimbabwe stole a march on
President Thabo Mbeki's Zimbabwe mediation by quoting him on poverty being
the cause of Aids. A visibly embarrassed Mbeki tried to ignore President
Robert Mugabe's tugging at his elbow, but had to relent with a curt smile to
the octogenarian dictator. Diana Kawenda, of Harare, walked away with the
top prize in a Southern Development Community essay competition for
secondary schools. She was asked to read her essay to the 12 heads of state
gathered on a stage for SADC's 27th summit being held in Lusaka, Zambia.
Kawenda (18) turned the essay-reading into rousing propaganda for Mugabe's
viewpoints. It was his second triumph of the day. At the opening of the
summit, Mugabe had already been applauded loudly by about 1 000 ministers,
officials and dignitaries when the heads of state were introduced.
Mbeki was supposed to have by then delivered his report on his attempts to
mediate in the Zimbabwe crisis by bringing together opposing parties for
dialogue. But the briefing to the Tanzanian, Namibian and Angolan presidents
was postponed at the last moment until after the opening of the summit. The
three leaders make up the troika of the SADC organ on politics, security and
defence. During the long opening of the summit, leaders and the audience
struggled against fatigue from two weeks of hard work to prepare a long
agenda for the summit. Kawenda enlivened proceedings when she quoted from
research that men in Africa worked harder than women. Following the ruling
Zanu PF party line, she ascribed poverty in the region to Africans having
been robbed of their land. She said political unrest during the apartheid
and colonial eras also contributed.
Kawenda also blamed drought and floods - favourite scapegoats of Zanu PF
propagandists. To some extent, she said, drought has also led to the closure
of manufacturing facilities and rising unemployment. The main culprit, she
said, was a lack of basic education, due to colonially biased syllabi. She
then quoted Mbeki from a Zimbabwe newspaper published in April saying the
cause of the Aids pandemic was poverty. Mbeki turned towards the podium
where Kawenda was standing, as the audience tittered. Mugabe, who was seated
next to him, reached over and tugged at his sleeve. Mbeki ignored the first
few tugs, but then had to turn to Mugabe, after it had become clear he would
not stop pulling at Mbeki's arm. With great mirth Mugabe said something in
his ear, at which Mbeki gave a short laugh and turned back to listening to
She praised the Chinese for experimenting with new ways during the Cultural
Revolution - now widely discredited by the Chinese themselves - but also
advocated free trade in the region. She made no mention of the fact but
Zimbabwe has been known as a supplier of arms to mercenaries and a trader in
conflict diamonds. Just as she began speaking on the need for economic
growth, there was a power failure. A woman in the audience said, to
laughter, that it was "male sabotage". An official from Botswana took
umbrage, and started a serious debate in his corner of the audience on
women's rights. Later he said he was not against gender reform, as he was
surrounded by women in his job. Only 13 entries were received for the SADC
media awards, but an adjudication committee nevertheless flew to Windhoek in
June, where they spent a week - from June 19 to 27 - finding winners in the
print and radio categories. It was decided not to appoint a winner in the TV
category, as there was only one entry.
On Thursday, Zimbabwe had scored its first propaganda victory when SADC
executive secretary Tomaz Salamao told reporters he had discovered during a
fact-finding mission on behalf of the summit troika that Zimbabwe was
labouring under sanctions. Zimbabwe had a viable economy, he said, but
politics and the economy could not be separated in the country. He said
Zimbabwe's critics did not acknowledge the damage caused by sanctions. The
US and Europe imposed targeted sanctions against 130 Zimbabweans deemed to
benefit from repression by Mugabe's government. SADC is partly financed by
money from Western donor countries.
Saturday 18th August 2007
Dear Family and Friends,
A month ago I received an email from one of the last few commercial sugar
farmers still hanging on in Chiredzi. She described how in April a convoy
had arrived at the farm and announced that the government were taking over
their property and that the family had until September to wind up their
business, give up their livelihood, get out of their home and off the land.
The government delegation then proceeded to enter the family home and list
all the things which were not to be removed as these were also being
acquired by the State. These included fans and kitchen units and from the
house the delegation moved out to the farm yard. Here they took details of
tractors, machinery and farm implements and said these too were now the
property of the State. The delegation said compensation for the listed items
would be made "One Day" in the future at a price to be decided by State
valuators when finances were available. The farming family are now, as I
write, closing down their affairs and preparing to leave their home and
property which grows sugar cane, citrus fruit and produces milk. In her
email describing these last weeks, the farmer wrote that her children are
well but very upset with these events and that they have so many questions
about it all but there are not many answers.
This farming family are leaving to make way, not for a landless Zimbabwean
peasant, but for the daughter of a high up political figure in the district.
This story of what is happening to one farm and one family in Chiredzi has
been repeated hundreds of times over in the last eight years. The continuing
seizure of farms in Zimbabwe by the State makes less sense now than ever
before in our hungry land which has the lowest life expectancy and highest
inflation in the world. The story of the seizure of this sugar farm is
particularly poignant this week as tragic news has emerged of how three
people died when a sugar queue in Bulawayo turned into a deadly stampede.
Just a fortnight ago I described being in a supermarket with my fifteen year
old son and witnessing a stampede for cooking oil. The sight and sound of
the rush, the pushing and shoving and the frantic snatching is still clear
in my mind. These events are being repeated every day all over the country
as there is virtually no food to buy in our shops as the government
continues to insist on price controls. The deadly stampede happened in
Bulawayo where many hundreds of people were queuing for sugar. A supermarket
Security Guard opened the gates, people surged forward and then a wall
collapsed. The Security Guard died instantly. Another man died later of head
injuries and broken limbs. A 15 year old school boy was trampled in the
stampede, his limbs were broken and he too died later in hospital.
As a farmer who suffered the indignity and outrage of the seizure of home,
business and farm by the State in 2000 and who was also given the
unfulfilled promise of compensation, I understand exactly the agonies of the
sugar farming family in Chiredzi. As a mother of a 15 year school boy my
heart goes out particularly to the family of the teenager trampled to death
in a sugar queue in Bulawayo. Like my son, this teenager would have been
just a year away from writing his 'O' Levels, about to embark on his life
and perhaps go on to do great things for his country.
In a week so many lives and families have been broken - and all for sugar
but all because of politics. Knowing this and then hearing of the standing
ovation at the SADC summit in Lusaka makes the events on the ground at home
all the more tragic. Do the SADC leaders know? Do they care?
Until next week, thanks for reading. Love cathy.
Friday 17th August 2007
Dear Friends. 'Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe was greeted with
thunderous applause by delegates as he arrived at a meeting of the 14-nation
Southern African Development Community (SADC) at which his country's crisis
tops the agenda.'
So writes Chris McGreal in The Guardian today Friday August 17th 2007.
All week long we in the UK diaspora have been hearing and reading comment
and analysis of the likely outcome of this meeting in Lusaka. Just this
morning the BBC's Today programme carried an interview with the MDC man in
London and one George Shiri, a British based academic - or that's how he's
described - on the prospects for the talks. Shiri has been in this country
for close on twenty years, he is in effect the ruling party's spokesperson
in London and can always be relied on to parrot the party line.
For anyone who knows anything at all about the situation in Zimbabwe it was
a shoddy piece of journalism. The BBC presenter clearly had not done his
homework; he asked innocuous questions and completely failed to respond when
Shiri, questioned about the violence in the country and the attack on the
MDC leaders, replied with the usual unproven allegations that it was all
caused by the MDC themselves. They were mounting a violent attack on a
police station at the time of the attack, Shiri claimed. And he was allowed
to get away with that preposterous allegation. No one, not the BBC man nor,
I'm sorry to say, the MDC representative had the wit to challenge Shiri or
to remind him of Mugabe's own words at the time, 'We will bash them.they
deserve it.' which would have pinpointed for the listener exactly where the
violence is coming from and who is directly responsible for it all.
And this is the same man who receives 'thunderous applause' from the SADC
leaders as they gather in Lusaka. Maybe Zanu PF bussed in a whole lot of
cheer-leaders, I wondered? How else could grown men, leaders of their
countries, cheer for a man like Mugabe who permits no opposition, muzzles
the press and beats his own people . Have these leaders lost all decency and
humanity that they continue to back the man who has time and again shown his
utter contempt for the people's suffering? With literally thousands, of
refugees flooding over their borders, SADC leaders continue to applaud the
man who has brought about his country's downfall and reduced the population
to starvation, misery and desperation so great that they will risk
everything to get out of Zimbabwe.
Mugabe will fly back to Harare once again, his ego undiminished, to claim
that he has the full support of his African brothers and the state-owned
media will trumpet his success on the front page and shout it aloud on every
news broadcast. And once again the Zimbabwean people, those that are left in
the fast-shrinking population, will hear the same old lie: that it is the
British who are responsible for the whole mess. I wish that someone would
explain to me how sanctions against named individuals have caused the total
collapse of Zimbabwe's economy. Sanctions! scream the Zanu PF apologists. UK
led sanctions have destroyed the economy and the SADCC leaders believe -or
choose to believe - the lie. Even while they benefit from British aid and
trade they swallow the lie because they must not be seen to attack a
'liberation leader' and break so-called African unity.
Today's article in The Guardian reports that The Zambian president who in
March this year described Zimbabwe as a 'sinking titanic' heaped praise on
Africa's liberation leaders, including Robert Mugabe and urged all
Zimbabweans to ' maintain peace and stability.' What kind of nonsense is
this? Morality is turned on its head and Mugabe's blood-soaked present is
overlooked on the grounds that twenty-seven years ago he was a great
liberation leader. In the twisted logic of the SADC leaders' thinking the
past liberation history excuses all present crimes against his own people.
There is something terribly wrong with that logic; rather like telling
oneself that one great, heroic deed in the past excuses all present crimes.
Winning freedom from colonial rule was a great achievement but the
liberation leaders would do well to remember that they would never have won
that battle without the support of millions of ordinary men and women who
gave their lives for freedom. But that was then and this is now, the
twenty-first century. Thousands of young Zimbabweans have no memory of the
liberation struggle. The only struggle they know is the struggle to survive
in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. He will be long gone while the born-free generation
will live on with his dreadful legacy.
There was one tiny ray of hope - and unintended humour - in The Guardian
report. The Zambian information minister, speaking to Associated Press
commented' Zambia cannot impose its will on Zimbabwe just as Zimbabwe cannot
impose its will on Zambia. But we can quietly whisper to each other our
So now we know! A combination of Mbeki's quiet diplomacy and Zambia's quiet
whispers seems to be all that will come out of this SADC extravaganza. Will
the softly-softly approach be loud enough to awaken the collective
conscience of the SADC leaders? Maybe even Mugabe himself might hear a
distant murmur of disquiet from his neighbours and change his ways. Somehow
I doubt it - but miracles do sometimes happen!
Ndini shamwari yenyu. PH.
Afrique en ligne
Harare (Zimbabwe) The queue at Beitbridge border post in Southern
Zimbabwe snaked for nearly 500 metres as Zimbabweans waited patiently to
clear immigration formalities so that they could enter South Africa.
The South African officials appeared to be in no hurry as the queue
moved at a snail's pace, while the number of Zimbabweans continued to swell.
There were close to 700 other people ahead of us on that chilly August
midnight, but by the time we finally cleared the immigration formalities
four hours later, the number had increased to 1,500.
This is the story of the daily tribulations of Zimbabweans who leave
their home country in droves to make forays into neighbouring countries in
search of either better economic fortunes or groceries.
It is estimated that close to 5,000 Zimbabweans cross into Botswana,
Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia daily to escape
economic hardships at home.
While some of the people making the great trek into neighbouring
states do not have proper documents and use uncharted entry points, the bulk
of those leaving are bonafide travelers, driven by a desire to fend for
their families back home.
Most of the travelers are Zimbabwean informal cross-border traders who
sell their wares in South Africa and return with groceries either for their
own consumption or for resale back home.
After clearing the border formalities, the journey to the South
African commercial capital, Johannesburg, was not easy either.
Police had mounted roadblocks to flush out illegal Zimbabwean
The illegal immigrants bribe their way through at the border but often
encounter problems when they come across roadblocks along the way.
Companies in the country's neighbours are making brisk business out of
the Zimbabwean plight because the Zimbabweans tend to buy more than most of
Figures from Statistics South Africa showed that in 2006 Zimbabweans
were among the largest spenders in that country, pumping 2.2 billion rands
(US$324.3 million) into that economy.
The favourite purchases are goods in short supply at home such as
cooking oil, sugar, washing soap, milk and, lately, beef.
From time to time one would see cars carrying unconventional purchases
such as old bicycles and used furniture.
Besides the benefits to business, the unresolved Zimbabwean crises
have been taking a toll on neighbouring economies. Inflation in South Africa
and Botswana have been rising, a development observers blame on the high
demand by Zimbabweans.
Southern Africa's main fear is the contagion effect of President
Robert Mugabe's policies on their own countries and the region.
Zimbabwe is currently the third most risky country in the world,
ranked marginally better than Myanmar, according to the Economist
Intelligence Unit of the UK.
Excluding Zimbabwe, the average rate of inflation for the SADC region
is pegged at 17.3 percent.
Zimbabwe currently has the highest inflation rate in the world,
officially estimated at more than 4,500 per cent in May. Independent
estimates put the rate of change in Zimbabwean prices at as high as 20,000
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has even warned that Zimbabwe's
inflation could breach the 100,000 per cent by year-end unless drastic
action was taken to arrest the economic decline.
There are also concerns about the effects of Zimbabwe on the rest of
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in light of the imminent
launch next year of the SADC free trade area and a Customs Union, and the
various targets the member states have set for themselves ahead of the
The targets include single-digit inflation and budget deficit for all
member states by 2008.
These targets could prove quite a tall order for the Harare
authorities whose penchant for populist and often ill-conceived policies is
African Press Agency
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COMMENT: Heroes Day mean little to most residents 16 August 2007
THE Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) shares the same concerns
with residents on the collapse of service delivery in Harare. This is mostly
striking considering that this issue comes to you just a few days after
Zimbabwe commemorated Heroes Day.
The day is associated with liberation of the citizenry by liberation
fighters. Unfortunately, those among our members who also participated in
the liberation struggle are bitter over the collapse in service provision,
the shortages of water, of drugs in clinics and hospitals, the continued
breakdown of the rule of law, and the unreasonable hiking of rates.
The meaning of this very important day in our nation's history has been
eroded by endemic corruption, police brutality, State-sanctioned violence,
repressive legislation that hinders civic participation of the masses and
declining living standards to the majority of residents of Harare under an
CHRA continues to urge the citizens to exercise their right to vote in next
year's election by participating in the current voter registration exercise.
Although the voter registration points are few in Harare, concerned citizens
must still use this opportunity to become registered voters.
Register now or you will continue to be held at ransom by those you have not
elected into power.
Below are some key articles that appeared in the media:
Commission orders investigation of indiscipline among council workers,
Herald 6 August 2007 ----Page 1
Council on drugs, Herald 10 August
Zinwa takes over, Herald 10 August
Self-styled 'prophet' swindles Harare residents, Sunday Mail 12 August
Mahachi all out to bring back sparkle to Harare, Sunday Mail 12 August
Chi-town implements supplementary budget, 12 August
2007 --------------------------------------------Page 6
Vendors in new survival tactics, Sunday Mail 12 August
2007 -------------------------------------------Page 6
Commission orders investigation of indiscipline among council workers,
Herald 6 August 2007
THE Commission running the affairs of the City of Harare has ordered an
investigation into the rampant indiscipline among its workers after
deliberating over 34 such cases, which occurred last month only.
According to the latest full commission minutes, the acting director of
human resources Mr Stewart Mungofa was ordered to investigate the problem
and to prescribe solutions to contain the high incidence of insubordination,
corruption, moonlighting, absenteeism and various other disciplinary issues.
Statistics last year showed that on average, council dealt with 30 cases of
various acts of misconduct per month.
Dismissals, suspensions and demotions were prevalent.
Last week, the full commission deliberated on 34 cases of misconduct which
included seven dismissals, one acquittal, 19 initial appearances before the
disciplinary committee and four withdrawn cases.
"The commission has resolved that the acting human resources director
establishes the root cause of the increase in cases of misconduct with a
view of recommending measures to address the problems," reads part of the
full commission minutes.
Mr Mungofa confirmed starting the investigations.
He said they would look into a number of issues adding that some of the
reasons were already known such as those related to the economy and a poor
working culture within council.
A municipal police officer who was responsible for manning the Central
Stores was cautioned for releasing towed away vehicles without authority.
A worker from the engineering services department charged with absenteeism
was acquitted after council failed to prove a case against him.
The worker has since joined another employer.
Four employees from the engineering service department had their cases
withdrawn after key witnesses who were supposed to testify in the cases were
reported to have left council.
Two employees from the housing and community services department and urban
planning services who were supposed to appear before a disciplinary
The commission approved the resignations allowing the workers to claim their
benefits from council.
Council on drugs, Herald 10 August 2007
THE Commission running Harare City Council has authorised the city health
department to buy hospital and clinical drugs from private suppliers in the
event official suppliers, the National Pharmaceutical Company, does not have
The decision, which was given as an option in the event that NatPharm fails
to supply, was reached when the health department had requested permission
to buy drugs in bulk at a cost above the threshold allowed for departmental
The advantage of buying from NatPharm is that drugs are sold at 50 percent
less than the price of private suppliers.
"The commission authorises the purchase of drugs above the $100 million
threshold set for the town clerk.
"The commission authorises purchases of drugs from private institutions in
the event that the drugs are not available from NatPharm subject to the
sourcing of three quotations and purchasing of the drugs from the lowest
supplier," reads part of council minutes. - HR.
Zinwa takes over, Herald 10 August 2007
BINDURA Municipality is ready to partner the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority in its efforts to achieve excellent service delivery after taking
over the water and sewage reticulation system in the town.
Speaking at the handover-takeover ceremony on Monday, Bindura executive
mayor Cde Martin Dinha said his council would ensure the transitional period
Council would also hand over to Zinwa all skilled manpower from the water
"Unlike what happened in other towns, we are going to impart all the
knowledge since the municipality had been in charge for about 25 years," the
Cde Dinha said he envisaged that residents would get improved service
following centralisation of administration.
He said Bindura was in the process of rehabilitating the sewer system.
"We know there would be an interim period during which you would be trying
to get acquainted with the system in Bindura, but we are here to assist you
so that residents are assured of good service delivery," he told the Zinwa
Cde Dinha said demand for water in the town had increased over the years and
council was resorting to cutting supplies at night to allow reservoirs to
He said Bindura Municipality would now assume a regulatory role and ensure
the maintenance of current standards of water quality.
Self-styled 'prophet' swindles Harare residents, Sunday mail 12 August 2007
A SELF-STYLED Harare prophet, who allegedly swindled several residents of
their property, was last week arraigned before a Mbare magistrate and
charged with six counts of theft.
Patrick Saungweme (35) pleaded guilty to four counts only when he appeared
before Mrs Letwin Rwodzi, who remanded him in custody to August 16.
For the State, Ms Fadzai Nyagwande said charges against Saungweme arose on
March 8 this year when he approached one Mrs Rose Sanyamande in Glen View
when she was escorting her child home from school.
He allegedly told her that he was a prophet who could solve any problem.
Mrs Sanyamande then took him to her house where she indicated that there
were some family problems. Upon arrival, Saungweme told the complainant that
his powers would be effective if she switched off her cellphone before
putting it in the clothes she was to wear the following day and she
Saungweme then allegedly sprinkled some water in the house before he ordered
Mrs Sanyamande to go out and spill some water, which he claimed was part of
the cleansing process.
In her absence, he then stole the cellphone. When the complainant returned,
Saungweme indicated that he was leaving.
She later discovered that her cellphone was missing. It is alleged that
Saungweme used the same trick and stole a cellphone, R200 and $500 000 from
Tambudzai Goche of Glen View.
He also allegedly stole two cellphones, which were valued at $20 million,
from Faith Dzeka of the same suburb, on April 18.
On July 19 this year, using the same trick, he stole three cellphones, R500
and $8, 5 million from other complainants.
Saungweme allegedly approached Mrs Pamela Chidziva of Glen Norah and
swindled her of her cellphone, it is alleged.
On July 16, Saungweme approached Mrs Madeline Guchu of Glen Norah and
applied his usual trick.
He then ordered the complainant, who was in the company of her aunt and
sister, to follow him to a nearby bush so that he could burn some charms
which he said had been found in their house.
When they were in the bush he ordered the complainant's sister and aunt to
return home so that he could remain with her to perform the task.
When the two returned home they were shocked to discover that two
cellphones, US$100, 350 pula, R1 000 and $300 000 were missing. The two then
rushed back to inform the complainant and the money and cellphones were
found in Saungweme's possession.
They called for help from other residents in apprehending him before handing
him over to police.
Mahachi all out to bring back sparkle to Harare, Sunday Mail 12 August 2007
FOR the past few years, the sun has failed to shine on Harare, casting a
dark shadow of uncertainty on many residents of Zimbabwe's once shining
From the shadows of the city comes a man who believes he can return the
sparkle that made Harare a marvel to many. He believes this can be done
within the next six months.
"Six months seems like a long period, but I am laying the foundation for the
direction that we are taking," said newly appointed chairman of the
commission running the affairs of Harare, Mr Michael Mahachi.
Mr Mahachi rose to the helm of Harare City Council after his predecessor, Ms
Sekesai Makwavarara, elected not to be considered for reappointment at the
expiry of her tenure in June.
His term runs until early next year when a substantive mayor will be elected
for the city. Before his appointment, he was the deputy chairman of the
commission's finance committee.
In coming to the post, Mr Mahachi holds high hopes that his contribution
will help improve the city's outlook.
He has set out the development of housing, clinics/schools, roads, power and
social amenities as some of his targets for his tenure.
He said these would feed into the council's master turnaround programme,
which is already being implemented.
"My main priority areas are providing accommodation to residents," he said
in an interview in his mayoral office at Town House last week.
According to Mr Mahachi, the commission will solicit for private sector
assistance for a good number of its projects. In terms of housing, plans are
already underway to unlock stands that will be subdivided for those that can
Flats will also be provided for yet to be established professionals. The
projects will mainly be for leasing, divorcing them from Government's
national housing project list. The initiative is expected to bring relief to
many residents who have been facing accommodation problems.
"Planning, surveying and subdivision of land is not a lot of work and can be
accomplished in no time," he said.
While the housing project is set to alleviate housing constraints, Mr
Mahachi is of the opinion that it could be a source of revenue for the
By charging rentals instead of selling identified properties, the council
could also use this vehicle to regulate rentals.
"As it stands, no revenue flows from that section. It would be good if we
could get this underway to generate revenue for the council," said Mr
Provision of affordable accommodation is just one of the new chairman's aims
during his term in office.
He also hopes to address refuse collection issues that have been contentious
Street and traffic lights would also be fully catered for under standing
arrangements with players in the private sectors.
"I am itching to change a lot of things and at the moment I am still
deliberating on the outcome of some of my plans," he said.
"I know some might not work out or appeal to other concerned parties, but I
hope to serve the city to the best of my capabilities."
To achieve his brief, Mr Mahachi hopes to soon fill in critical vacancy
areas in council. Adverts for suitable personnel have already been flighted
while interviews will soon be conducted.
He believes having the "right" team will help bring the long-awaited glow to
the city. "The commissioners that are there comprise a very powerful team,
but what remains is to get dynamic people in the key positions that are
"We expect that these will be able to push the agenda that we are rolling
out to the residents."
Another contentious issue that has been gnawing at residents is that of the
enforcement of council by-laws.
Mr Mahachi said it has been difficult for municipal police to act in certain
instances, as they did not fall under their jurisdiction.
However, measures are already on course to provide the framework for the
laws to have biting teeth.
Negotiations will soon open with the police to second their officers for
duty under the council for a specific period.
Soon after his appointment, questions around his ability to achieve his
goals within six months arose, but Mr Mahachi is not new to such leadership
A quantity surveyor by profession, Mr Mahachi has held several chairmanship
positions in the private sector. In 1981, he worked in the then Ministry of
Works before joining a private firm, Nudds/Burns Partnership, in 1984. In
1985, he became Zimbabwe's first black quantity surveyor in private
practice, as he, together with some partners, formed Nudds, Mahachi and
McComick Quantity Surveyors.
After the departure of Nudds and McComick in 1990, Mr Mahachi teamed up with
another surveyor to form an all-black firm called Mahachi, Gwaze and
In the same year, he became chairman of Intermarket Discount House, which he
helped form together with his fiend, Mr Nicholas Vengerayi.
He was chairman of various organisations such as the First National Building
Society (FNBS), Willdale Bricks and Mashonaland Holdings.
He is also a board member of Batanai Holdings Finance.
Chi-town implements supplementary budget, 12 August 2007
CHITUNGWIZA Municipality has started implementing its 2007 supplementary
budget after objections received were deemed as directed at council
operations, and not at the contents of the budget itself.
A report presented by Chitungwiza's director of finance, Mr Renias Mutati,
said the objections received could not be sustained, leaving the town with
no option but to go ahead with implementing the budget.
In accordance with Section 219 (3) (a) of the Urban Councils Act [Chapter
29: 15], "if a statement of the budget is advertised and within 30 days the
objections of the proposed tariffs, charges or deposits are lodged by 30 or
more persons who are voters, such tariffs, charges or deposits shall not
come into operation".
Chitungwiza's supplementary budget received 33 objections and after council
scrutiny, it was observed that only six appeared as coming from registered
ratepayers, as they were the only ones appearing on the town's record.
"It was, therefore, management's considered position that since the
objections received were taken to be nowhere near the stipulated figure of
30 users of the services concerned, there was no need to wait for council to
sit and consider the objections," said Mr Mutati.
Mr Mutati said some of the objections were written in a rhythmic style,
which made them identical, with the difference being only the handwriting.
He said others were misdirected and talking about Zesa issues while others
talked about the management of council affairs.
"The objections received were based on two different cycle-styled filling
forms, which made them identical. Furthermore, it was observed that the
objections were misdirected.
"For example, some talked of Zesa issues such as streetlights. Again, some
were not relating to the supplementary budget but largely to management of
council affairs," he said.
Vendors in new survival tactics, Sunday Mail 12 August 2007
WANDERING close to the exit of most retail shops is a group of women one
would mistake for pedestrians.
Some with babies strapped to their backs and clutching big handbags
containing their wares, they constantly look out for both customers and, of
course, their sworn enemies, the police.
"Everyone is a potential customer or police officer, so you just have to be
alert," said Mrs Esnath Kahembe, who operates from a retail shop along First
Street. She sells carrier bags targeting mainly customers who shop at the
large retail outlet. Of late she has also diversified to selling airtime to
supplement her earnings.
"Occasionally we approach shoppers and offer them a carrier bag big enough
for the goods they will be carrying. We even offer to pack the goods for
them, and while we conduct business, our eyes are also darting around
scouting for potential threats," added Mrs Kahembe, who is popularly known
as Gogo Kahembe.
Mrs Kahembe has been conducting business on the streets for several years
and is taking care of her family single-handedly. She buys the carrier bags
from various wholesalers. In Mbare she gets the bags made from plastic sacks
and these are very durable. She sells a taxi bag for an average of $30 000
and the bigger bags for $50 000.
Mrs Kahembe and her colleagues all over the city have developed a sound
communication system to warn each other of impending danger - a unique
"We look out for one another and often alert our colleagues if we get the
chance. It is not always easy but often we are able to run away blending in
with the pedestrians. The trick is to make as much commotion as possible to
confuse the police officers, giving us room to flee," said Ms Maria Saizi,
who operates from a retail outlet along Nelson Mandela Avenue.
She added that of late business has been booming as consumers take advantage
of the Government directive to reduce prices.
"People had stopped buying groceries in bulk and that reduced our sales of
carrier bags. But since the beginning of the price slash, we are back in
"During the past few weeks business has been brisk and I also had the chance
to buy some basic commodities. I can sell the carrier bags and fruits while
queuing for basic items," said another vendor, who only gave his name as
Tom frequents a retail outlet along Cameron Street and also sells socks and
The 29-year-old man from Mufakose wakes up early and makes his way to Mbare
Musika where he buys fruits in season for resale in the city.
From as early as seven, he is on the streets doing business although he
admits that he has been arrested several times.
"I am aware that my business is illegal, but I have a family to support.
Besides, where there is risk is where the money. Where the police are, is
where the money is, so we will be engaged in these running battles with the
police forever," added Tom.
Concerned residents have expressed disapproval of the vendors operations
along the pavements.
"Vendors take up most of the walking space and if you step near their stuff,
they pounce on you forgetting that they should not even be there in the
first place," said a shopper in the city centre.
When arrested the vendors pay fines of $200 000, but they said that they get
away with a $50 000 bribe to the arresting officers.
In their quest to evade the law enforcement agents, vendors in the city have
familiarised themselves with the council's vehicles.
"I know most of the trucks they use when they are raiding us and we are
often clear of them before they even know it," chipped in a dreadlocked
vendor only identified as Mike.
Mike is a regular face along Robert Mugabe Road and his wares include
stockings, cotton buds, wallets, needles and sewing thread, among others.
Recounting the countless running battles he is often engaged in with the
police, he says that the secret is in vigilance.
"When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. When I fail to evade the
police I sometimes apply hide and seek tricks. I have an art in evading the
police as I often slip through their hands. Sometimes I get arrested and pay
fines or spend a night or two in the cells.
"I have some of my stuff in a satchel that never comes off my back and I
leave the rest of my stuff at a parcel counter at a nearby supermarket.
There is a friendly guard at a nearby alley whom I sometimes give my stuff
for safekeeping. You cannot risk displaying everything as the police may
impound the items," said Mike. He added that they employ a special type of
whistling to warn each other of impending danger.
In a bid to deceive law enforcement agents, some flower vendors who used to
operate from the Africa Unity Square stalls are conducting their business
differently at the old site.
They do not display the fresh flowers, but only talk in soft and hushed
tones to passers-by.
"Upon the realisation that customers were used to getting their flowers from
this place, I opted to continue with the trade. I still get my flowers from
the same old suppliers and have a steady client base," said Mr Tawanda
Sagumbetu as he goes through his newspaper. On first glance, he would fool
anyone because of his trendy dressing.
There is now a new breed of vendors specialising in vegetables that descends
on the city's busy roads and bus terminuses in the late afternoon.
"Every weekday I am on the street from three in the afternoon until eight as
I sell vegetables to workers on their way home.
"These pay better than in the residential areas, but it is not all rosy as
we are often raided by the police. The trick is to spread the goods on a
sack that you can easily roll up and flee when the police come," said Mrs
Petronella Masoka of Domboshawa.
"I've lost a good deal of stuff to the police, but there is no job without
its own hazards," added Mrs Masoka.
At most shopping centres in the residential areas, vendors have become part
of the scenario. It is interesting how all the vendors will disperse at the
sight or rumour of police presence.
"CHRA for Enhanced Civic Participation in Local Government"
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