Mon 20 Aug 2007, 15:47 GMT
By Charles Mangwiro and Gordon Bell
MAPUTO Aug 20 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe was not heeding International Monetary
Fund advice to implement measures that would help ease its deteriorating
economic crisis, IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato said on Monday.
Rato told a news conference in Maputo the IMF had stressed the need for a
stabilisation programme, enhanced transparency and for authorities to
increase the capacity of the market economy.
"We have been emphasising with the Zimbabwe authorities the need to address
(the) very extreme and deteriorating macroeconomic environment," he said.
"We are not encouraged by the responses of the authorities... Our advice to
the Zimbabwe authorities is not the one they are applying."
An economic meltdown marked by the world's highest inflation rate and severe
food and fuel shortages, which critics blame on President Robert Mugabe's
controversial policies, has ravaged the southern African country.
Mugabe accuses Western powers of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy and working
with opposition groups to oust him.
In February, the IMF maintained its suspension of financial and technical
assistance to Zimbabwe, saying Mugabe's government had failed to clear its
arrears and face its worsening economic and social crisis.
Zimbabwe has averted expulsion from the Washington-based IMF by making small
payments towards closing its arrears, which stood at $131 million including
interest in late July.
Rato said there was no consensus on the board of the IMF to restore
Zimbabwe's voting rights, which were suspended four years ago.
"The staff and management have proposed different approaches but up to now
we have to recognise that there is not enough consensus," he said, adding
the option to expel Zimbabawe had not been raised by the fund.
Mugabe, who has ruled for 27 years, has accused the IMF of treating his
country unfairly and said Zimbabwe was unlikely to clear the arrears without
guarantees that aid and its voting rights would be restored.
The IMF and other key Western donors, including the World Bank, suspended
aid to Zimbabwe more than six years ago over Mugabe's economic policies.
Western donors withdrew aid and other assistance to the country, accusing
Mugabe of widespread human rights violations and for seizing white-owned
farms, which critics say has turned the country from a regional bread basket
to a nation barely able to feed itself.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: August 20, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Cases of diarrhea and dysentery have soared to 900 a day
in the Zimbabwean capital with health authorities blaming water shortages,
according to a report Monday in the official newspaper.
City health director Dr. Prosper Chonzi said each of Harare's 60 public
clinics were treating an average of 15 water-related complaints a day, with
private doctors dealing with many more, the Herald newspaper said. No deaths
State radio said taps ran dry in impoverished townships around Harare for up
to three days at a time, forcing householders to search for water in drains
and wells contaminated by collapsing sewerage facilities.
The northern Hatcliffe district, where basic houses were built after a
widely criticized slum clearance operation in 2005, rarely had running
water, according to city health authorities.
Chonzi said two years ago that diarrhea cases were uncommon in the city of
1.5 million people.
Such cases have also increased in the second city of Bulawayo and other
centers, officials say, but no comparative tallies have been made available.
Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema said Harare residents were
storing water for long periods, risking the build up of bacteria, and
underground water had become unsafe to drink, the Herald reported.
"People now realize that we messed up our environment ... we have killed the
water table flows with our actions," Nhema told the newspaper.
The newspaper itself is increasingly difficult to find because of the
economic crisis gripping the country.
Daily water and power outages have affected industrial districts, further
curbing production of already scarce goods after the government June 26
ordered the prices on all goods and services to be cut by about half to try
to tame rampant inflation. Acute shortages of gasoline have crippled
transportation and delivery services.
Official inflation is given as 4,500 percent, the highest in the world, but
independent estimates put it closer to 20,000 percent.
The International Monetary Fund has forecast inflation reaching about
100,000 percent by the end of the year.
Stores across the nation remain empty of cornmeal, bread, meat and other
staples as producers say they cannot afford to sell their products below the
cost of production and distribution.
The shortages of basic goods have spawned the emergence of "professional
queuers" - generally the unemployed who stand in line to await deliveries,
buy goods at the reduced prices enforced by police and price inspectors and
then sell them at a profit.
On the street in the well-to-do Harare suburb of Newlands on Monday,
children were offering bread for nearly double the fixed price of 30,000
Zimbabwe dollars (15 U.S. cents, 11 euro cents at the dominant illegal black
market currency exchange rate, or US$2 (?1.45) at the official rate.)
The main Newlands "TM" supermarket had little food or essential goods to
sell Monday. Fruit and vegetable racks were almost bare. Soap, washing
powder, cigarettes, newspapers and magazines, and beer disappeared last
Staff at a small cafe said they received ten copies of The Herald on Monday
out of a long-standing daily order of 60. The newspaper, suffering shortages
of newsprint and materials, was again not delivered to its subscribers in
the residential neighborhood.
The independent press is banned in Zimbabwe so most people rely on radio or
the Herald for news. But the paper has been forced to slash both its print
run and the number of pages it publishes.
The "TM" supermarket, named after the initials of Thomas Meikle, founder of
a main nationwide 60-store supermarket brand, has been dubbed by locals as
"MT" - for empty.
Afrique en ligne
Harare (Zimbabwe) A Zimbabwean court Monday threw out a bail
application by seven men accused of plotting to topple President Robert
Mugabe, APA learnt here.
Magistrate Archie Wochiunga rejected the application by the accused
men, citing the gravity of the charges they are facing.
The alleged coup plotters are now expected to apply to the Harare High
Court for permission to attend court from home, citing the prosecution's
failure to lay charges against them.
Zimbabwe law states that the police can only detain accused persons
for up to 48 hours without bringing them to court, after which they must be
released if no formal charges are laid against them.
The men were arrested in June on allegations they wanted to stage a
coup d'etat against Mugabe and replace him with one of his ministers,
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who heads the rural housing ministry.
Defence lawyers last week filed an application for refusal of further
remand but the matter was postponed to Monday.
Observers say the coup trial is part of the ongoing internal fighting
within Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party over who would succeed the aging leader
when he retires.
African Press Agency
By Tererai Karimakwenda
20 August 2007
The excitement and hope that preceded the meeting of leaders from the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) has died. It had been hoped by
many that the regional grouping would finally take some decisive action on
the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe as its impact on neighbouring
countries is now weighing on them heavily. And the pressure on South Africa's
president Thabo Mbeki as the SADC appointed mediator had also raised the
stakes and instilled hope in Zimbabweans that something would finally
happen. But SADC leaders once again failed to censor Robert Mugabe or adopt
a plan to pressure him for change.
Mbeki's anxiously awaited report and statements by the incoming SADC
chairman both dashed any hopes for a resolution of the deteriorating
situation on the ground, and any hopes of African pressure on the Mugabe
regime to abide by regional standards. The report simply said the ruling
party and the opposition in Zimbabwe had agreed on 60% of the agenda items
for mediated talks, but not much else about it was revealed to the press.
The leaders who were privileged to hear it were obviously gagged by Mbeki's
controversial "quiet diplomacy" approach.
Zambian authorities also cooperated with their Zimbabwean counterparts by
deporting activists headed for the summit in Lusaka. As if to add insult to
injury the economic report on Zimbabwe prepared by SADC executive secretary
Tomaz Augusto Salomao, was not adopted. Some journalists say his report
included an economic rescue package that had tough conditions for the Mugabe
regime, including constitutional and electoral reforms and a return to the
rule of law. Leaders were divided over the report, with Mugabe and others
blaming 'sanctions' for Zimbabwe's woes. Other journalists said that the
economic rescue package had no conditions at all attached to it. The virtual
press blackout has created all this confusion.
So where does this leave Zimbabweans? Political analyst Dr. John Makumbe
said it was "unwise" of anyone to expect results from SADC, just as it is
unwise to expect the African Union to act on Zimbabwe. He explained that
since the last summit in March this year, the situation in Zimbabwe had
deteriorated further, yet SADC leaders were not mindful of this and they
acted as though progress had been made.
Makumbe said SADC's failure to act this time should bring home the fact that
Zimbabweans must accept that 'we are our own liberators.' Asked what options
Zimbabweans have he said: "There is always the non-violent civic approach to
organised resistance." The outspoken commentator believes what is needed is
street action by large numbers of people on a daily basis to pressure the
Mugabe regime. He said this will require leaders who are not afraid and can
sacrifice by leading from the front. People will be beaten and arrested but
they should regroup and continue. This would make it costly for the Mugabe
regime. Asked if there is such leadership in Zimbabwe, Makumbe said: "The
people are ready but the leaders are 'luke warm'."
Makumbe said the talks mediated by Mbeki had actually made things worse
because all street action stopped as Zimbabwe awaits results. He added: "It
has put a damper on the courage of the leadership and left them all saying
'Give Mbeki a chance'."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Violet Gonda
20 August 2007
Observers say Zimbabwe is "doomed" if statements made by the new chair of
the Southern African Development Community are a reflection of the general
attitude of the regional leaders. Despite the situation getting worse in
Zimbabwe where thousands of people are fleeing daily to neighboring
countries, mass starvation looms and people are going for days without water
and electricity, Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa began his chairmanship of
the SADC by stating: "We ... feel that the problems in Zimbabwe have been
exaggerated. We feel they will solve their economic problems."
But it was only in March that he described Zimbabwe as the "sinking Titanic"
of the region. People had pinned their hopes on Mwanawasa who had been one
of the few African leaders to make strong comments on the deteriorating
situation in Zimbabwe. So what has changed his mind?
Businessman Mutumwa Mawere says there is a tendency in Africa to look at
problems as exaggerated and solutions that come from within tend to be
marginalized. "So according to SADC the problem in Zimbabwe is that
colonialism has a lot to explain about what happens in Zimbabwe and nobody
focuses on what Mugabe has done to create the current situation in Zimbabwe.
So he is saying you are exaggerating because if you look at the core of the
Zimbabwean problem you will find the British failing to pay for land reform.
So the issue is, Zimbabwe is a victim."
Mawere said colonialism was a fact but after 27 years of power the
government needs to take responsibility for what it has done and feed the
Sydney Masamvu, a senior analyst with International Crisis Group, described
Mwanawasa's statement as diplomacy being overplayed. He said if SADC is
certain that the problems in Zimbabwe are exaggerated, why are they talking
of an economic rescue package.
However the failure by the Heads of State to take strong action against the
Mugabe regime at the just ended SADC summit in Lusaka has led some to
question why the opposition is failing to put the message across to the
Masamvu said: "There has not been a coordinated political approach which
drives the point home, which brings the situation on the doorsteps of the
SADC leaders. And I believe too much energy has been wasted by the
opposition in terms of trying to resolve their internal differences rather
than crafting and repackaging their message to really drive their point home
especially on the African continent, where they are viewed with a lot of
skepticism, that there really is a crisis in Zimbabwe."
The analyst said the MDC has really done a good job of "preaching to the
converted - the West - but he said the African continent is proving to be a
different ball game. "It requires a different approach. A more nuanced
approach to take into consideration the sensitivities surrounding the
political parties within the Southern African Community, " Masamvu said.
However other observers say no matter how much the opposition may change its
"packaging of the struggle" it will still be an uphill battle to change the
thinking and the mindset of the "African brotherhood mentality."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Afrique en ligne
Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe will continue to hog the limelight after it
escaped censure from fellow southern African leaders whose economies are in
danger of paying the price for their silence on alleged human rights abuses
by Harare, observers have said here.
The observers said that the 14-member states of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) would be the ultimate losers for failing to
speak out against the unbridled abuse of power by Zimbabwe President Robert
SADC leaders, to the surprise of many outside and within the SADC
region, last week stood by Mugabe by endorsing his policies.
"It was a mistake for fellow southern African leaders to let Mugabe
come out of the summit without them asking him to account for his actions
because they have given him more ammunition to act as he wishes," University
of Zimbabwe political science lecturer John Makumbe said.
"They have failed to grasp that the Zimbabwe mess will also mess them
up, because their economies are better and will therefore attract multitudes
of our people there. I am not sure they will be able to cope with that,"
The effects of Zimbabwe's crises on the other economies are already
beginning to show.
Botswana\'s inflation jumped to 7.5 per cent year on year in July from
6.4 per cent in June, while gains in food prices saw South Africa's
inflation jumping to 6.4 per cent in June.
In Malawi the cost of building cement, which gets some of its
ingredients from Zimbabwe but is now unable to make the supplies, has
doubled in prices from US$15 to US$30 a 50-kg bag - that is if the product
can be found on the market.
Even bread prices, whose wheat is imported from Zimbabwe, have gone up
slightly in Malawi.
On the social scene, thousands of Zimbabweans are crossing into
neighbouring Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia
daily to buy food.
While most of them return, a good number remain behind to seek
employment in order to remit funds for relatives back home.
Now the influx of the Zimbabweans is being blamed for the rising
prices in the neighbouring countries.
With no end in sight to the current crises, Mugabe is expected to
intensify his crackdown on the opposition as the country approaches
presidential and parliamentary elections set for next March - the first the
two polls are being held together since independence.
The Zimbabwe leader attracted international outrage in March after
police and the army brutally assaulted opposition leaders attending a prayer
meeting in the capital, Harare.
Another effect on SADC's failure to address the worsening situation in
Zimbabwe would be an expected increase in the number of economic refugees
and political asylum seekers from Zimbabwe.
Already, South Africa, which is the strongest economy in the region,
is feeling overwhelmed by the number of Zimbabwe's productive best, escaping
political persecution at home.
At a church run relief home in Johannesburg, one priest admitted that
his clients were no simple off the street Zimbabweans seeking shelter, but
there were lots of skilled workers - the kind that South Africa was failing
to train to satisfy the local job market.
If this is what Zimbabwe is daily losing to other countries, the long
term effects of such an exodus are not hard to contemplate, according to the
South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nquakula last
week rejected requests by some humanitarian organisations to set up refugee
camps for Zimbabweans seeking asylum in the country.
It is estimated that at least 5,000 Zimbabweans cross into South
Africa daily in search of economic solace and to escape persecution by
The Zimbabwe factor could also have a telling effect as SADC
approaches the launch of a regional free trade area in 2008.
One of the targets is to have macroeconomic convergence, with all
member states expected to have single-digit inflation next year.
This might not be possible, with Zimbabwe's current possession of the
world's highest inflation rate, estimated at more than 4,500 percent in May.
In fact, it is said that Mugabe has now stopped releasing the
inflation numbers since June - to avoid further embarrassment.
While condemning Mugabe is not a song that would get airplay in
southern Africa, SADC leaders and their "quiet diplomacy" need to work hard
on some magic to get Comrade Mugabe and Zimbabwe out of this current
quagmire - before the mud hits the fan.
African Press Agency
Afrique en ligne
Lusaka (Zambia) The Southern African Development Community (SADC)'s
economic plan for Zimbabwe should not be used to bale out the ZANU-PF
government, the Zimbabwe opposition appealed here Monday.
Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), said the economic plan for Zimbabwe should instead benefit citizens,
and not dictators.
Speaking in an interview in Lusaka, venue of last week's SADC summit,
MDC Press Assistant Joseph Mungwari said that the SADC leaders should be in
solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe and not its government led by
President Robert Mugabe.
The MDC was not against economic reforms to help Zimbabwe, he said,
adding that the MDC's mission to Zambia to lobby the just-ended SADC
gathering was a success.
He said the party was confident that the SADC mediation on the
Zimbabwe crisis would yield results.
"We feel encouraged and motivated that SADC leaders agreed with our
calls for talks between the Zimbabwean government and the opposition to be
expedited," he said.
Mungwari, however, said MDC felt that there was need for SADC to
broaden the mediation by incorporating more leaders in the region, to anchor
SADC in March entrusted South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate
the political crisis in Zimbabwe.
He said MDC was happy that for the first time, SADC accepted that
there was a crisis in Zimbabwe and was concerned about finding a lasting
solution to the problems.
African Press Agency
Tuesday 21 August 2007
By Hendricks Chizhanje
HARARE - Zimbabwe's neighbours have reduce electricity supplies to
Harare over a ballooning debt, raising fears of a fresh round of power cuts
in a country already weighed down by growing economic problems.
Authoritative sources within the state-run Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (ZESA) power company said on Monday that the cash-strapped power
utility has accumulated arrears of almost US$40 million, owed to SNEL of the
Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa's Eskom, and Hydro Cahora Bassa
(HCB) of Mozambique.
The sources said the three regional power utilities, from whom ZESA
imports more than 40 percent of Zimbabwe's electricity requirements, have
reduced electricity exports to the troubled southern African country to
protest the outstanding power import bills.
Of the three, HCB is owed the largest amount at US$32 million while
the debt to SNEL stands at US$5.5 million. Eskom is owed US$1.9 million,
according to the sources.
"We have been reduced from an average of 450MW to 200MW," said a
senior ZESA official who spoke on condition he was not named fearing a
backlash from his bosses.
ZimOnline could not verify the reports with the ZESA management or any
of the three regional power utilities by last night.
But, according to the official, Eskom stopped electricity exports to
Zimbabwe while HCB reduced supplies from 350 megawatts to 150 MW and SNEL
reduced its supplies by half to only 50 MW.
Before the latest development, Eskom exported between 50 and 150 MW of
power to bail out ZESA, which has since 2000 failed to meet domestic demand
for electricity due to a crippling shortage of foreign currency to import
Local generation capacity has also been affected by inadequate coal
supplies to power the country's sole coal power station at Hwange as well as
Economists yesterday said the power outages would impact negatively on
the country's troubled manufacturing sector, which is already suffering from
a fuel and a hard currency squeeze that has severely affected capacity
The local industry, said to be operating at a third of its capacity,
might sink deeper into crisis because of the resurgence of electricity
cuts. - ZimOnline
Tuesday 21 August 2007
This is the first in a two-part series by former Daily News news editor Luke
Tamborinyoka on his experiences while in remand prison in Harare.
Tamborinyoka was arrested together with 41 other party activists during a
government crackdown on the opposition last March.
Tamborinyoka, who is also a former secretary general of the Zimbabwe Union
of Journalists, now works in the MDC's information department as the
technical head of the department.
By Luke Tamborinyoka
HARARE - Inscribed on the door of cell C6 at Harare Remand Prison is a
simple message in the local vernacular Shona language: "Zvichapera boyz
dzangu", a telling reminder that this suffering will eventually come to an
I walked out of the prison gates at exactly 1933hrs on Thursday, 7 June
2007, after a three months-stint as a guest of the State.
But even the euphoria for new-found freedom did not erase my memory of the
simple inscription obviously scribbled by an optimistic home-sick inmate.
After what I had gone through, it remained a pleasant surprise that I was
finally out of the belly of the beast. The ordeal had indeed come to an end.
In the glaring moonlight, I turned my back to the dilapidated two-storey
building that constitutes the D-class section of this cursed and
unimaginative piece of architecture.
I painstakingly walked the final 10 metres to the prison fence and
immediately jumped into the crushing embrace of my loving wife, Susan.
I ordered that we quickly drive away, never again to look back to the dingy
prison buildings where I had seen over 10 people succumb to various diseases
related to malnutrition.
The D-class section, reserved for "dangerous" suspects, was my home for 71
It was a place where one had to adjust to tough conditions such as leg
irons, dirty khakhi shirts and shorts, sub-standard food, tight security,
the company of hardened criminals and scowling prison officers.
For me, Harare Remand prison represented the dark rictus of death. It was an
odd place for hardened criminals and innocent prisoners like me whose
persecution arose simply because of our relationship with Zimbabwe's main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
Harare Remand Prison was a potpourri of the genuinely guilty and those whom
the tyrant wanted to torment and intimidate. Harare Remand will forever
remain etched in my mind as one of tyranny's prized institutions plucked
straight from the heart of Hades.
It was a waiting room of extreme fortunes where two cellmates could part to
go to contrasting destinations: one for home and the other for the
My ordeal started on a sunny Wednesday afternoon on 28 March 2007. On that
day, over 500 armed policemen descended on Harvest House, the national
headquarters of the MDC.
From 1215hrs to 1530hrs, an assortment of visibly drunk policemen wrenched
open doors and seized party equipment, from documents to computers and
They stole people's mobile phones, prised open cabinet drawers and stuffed
money, passports and other valuables into their pockets. Everyone was
ordered to lie down while the sadists among them indiscriminately battered
our backs with batons.
My friend, Kudakwashe Matibiri, and I lay down for close to three hours
while adventure-seeking young policemen hit us with booted feet and
The sorry sight resembled a scary scene from an Alfred Hitchcock whodunit.
Mugabe's merchants of death had come to Harvest House ostensibly to recover
"weapons of war" which they said were hidden at the MDC headquarters.
They combed cabinet drawers, ceilings and any other crevices within reach.
They poked every nook and cranny. Like determined bloodhounds, they sniffed
all sorts of odd places such as toilet cisterns and air vents in search of
the elusive MDC "weapons".
Their desperation was understandable in the circumstances. The following day
on Thursday, 29 June 2007, Mugabe was due to leave for Dar es Salaam in
Tanzania to explain the crackdown on the opposition: his police officers had
shot dead an MDC activist, Gift Tandare. May his soul rest in peace.
Mugabe's clearly partisan police force had beaten to pulp MDC president
Morgan Tsvangirai and other senior opposition party officials. Several MDC
executives and party members had been abducted, severely beaten up and
dumped in far-away places.
Mugabe had to have a plausible explanation for the SADC leaders in Dar es
Salaam and the prospect of an arms cache at Harvest House would give him a
credible story to justify the violent crackdown on a legitimate opposition.
They were obviously disappointed when they failed to find even a box of
matches at Harvest House. The regime's grand plot had fallen apart at the
Harvest House is a six-storey building in which the MDC occupies the two
upper floors with the rest occupied by an assortment of tenants.
The police ordered everyone in the building, including tenants and their
clients, to get into the police vehicles.
About 100 people were taken to the infamous Room 93 of the Law and Order
section at Harare Central police station where the series of the nights of
terror immediately commenced.
That night, we were severely assaulted. One by one we were called into
another office where all sorts of wild allegations were made against us. We
were part of the MDC thugs that had "petrol-bombed" police stations, the
We worked for a puppet opposition party. We wanted to hand the country back
to the white colonialists and any such drivel associated with a regime that
is fast accelerating the nation towards an inevitable implosion.
The following day, the number of suspects was trimmed down to 23 and
eventually to seven. No charge had yet been preferred against us.
For three nights, we were tortured and brutally assaulted with a baseball
bat, clenched fists and batons. Ian Makone and Paul Madzore came out the
worse for wear in the sordid ordeal.
For three days, the beatings and assaults continued.
For three days we were denied access to food, legal and medical assistance.
For three days, the sadists continued to call us one by one, asking all
sorts of questions.
For three days our condition deteriorated due to the incessant torture. They
wanted to know more about the MDC's 'democratic resistance campaign'.
They alleged that the MDC was beating up the police.
On Saturday, 31 March, we were finally told that a court order had been
obtained that we should go home because the police had detained us for more
than 48 hours without preferring any charge against us.
It was then that an official whom I suspect to be a member of the dreaded
state security Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) called me to a
He said I worked in the MDC's information and publicity department and I was
responsible for the "Roll of Shame", a column in a local weekly where the
department named and shamed all government and ZANU PF personalities who
were committing human rights abuses.
He referred to what he called "anti-government speeches" that I made five
years ago when I was secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.
He accused me of writing for "anti-government" on-line publications.
He said I had retained my news editor's position at the banned Daily News
and I was responsible for co-ordinating the pool of former Daily News
reporters to write for anti-government on-line publications.
For my alleged "crimes", the officer said I was going to be imprisoned.
* Do not miss Part 2 of Tamborinyoka's experiences at Harare Remand Prison
Tuesday 21 August 2007
By Thabani Mlilo
HARARE - Riot police on Monday dispersed more than 300 foreign currency
dealers gathered to pay their last respects to a well-known foreign currency
baroness who died in a car accident in Harare last Saturday.
The dealer, fondly called 'Sister Martha' by scores of foreign currency
street dealers operating along the busy Fifth Street in Harare, had
reportedly made a fortune through illegal trading in scarce foreign
Probably for the first time in years, the dealers voluntarily deserted the
busy street to make a rare show of solidarity with their deceased colleague.
Baton-wielding police moving in a Madza B1800 truck descended on the
mourners along Union Avenue saying they were under orders to stop the
"We have just come to mourn our colleague. We are neither dealing in foreign
currency nor having any political meeting. Police should stop the business
of assuming that every gathering is meant to demonstrate against the
government," one dealer was overheard saying.
It is illegal under Zimbabwe's tough security laws to gather in groups of
more than three without first seeking permission from the police.
But due to the increasingly restive political atmosphere caused by Zimbabwe's
fast deteriorating economic atmosphere, police have taken it upon themselves
to bar funeral gatherings that they feel can torch full blown
Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said he was not
aware of the funeral but was quick to defend the police action, saying
police have the mandate to stop illegal gathering for security reasons.
"While I have not been informed of the funeral, what I can confirm is that
police have the mandate to stop any form of gathering for as long as we have
reasonable cause to believe there are security threats involved," he said.
In March this year, operatives from the dreaded spy Central Intelligence
Organisation barred scores of opposition Movement for Democratic Change
party supporters from attending the funeral for a slain colleague, Gift
Tandare, who was shot by police during a prayer meeting in Harare. -
African leaders meeting in Zambia proved all too adept at ignoring the
continent's biggest problem: the ongoing disaster of Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
John M Morrison
August 20, 2007 8:00 PM
African summits? Apart from the drummers and tribal dancers at the airport,
they're much like summits anywhere else. Run up the flags, line up the
Mercedes, switch on the TV cameras and keep the masses at a safe distance.
But whatever the burning issue at the top of Africa's agenda, you can
guarantee that the elderly men around the table will ignore it or fudge it
before returning home.
That's a pretty cynical view, but it's the verdict I came to after three
years reporting these bunfights in southern Africa in the 1980s. I even
shared the occasional pot of hotel tea with Thabo Mbeki, then the exiled
ANC's foreign minister. Since then, South Africa has joined the party, but
judging by last week's Southern African Development Society (SADC) summit in
Lusaka, Zambia, the habit of brushing difficult issues under the carpet
hasn't gone away.
By failing for the umpteenth time to get to grips with the issue of
Zimbabwe, the SADC leaders are seriously undermining Africa's credibility on
the world stage. Once again, President Robert Mugabe has emerged unscathed
and uncriticised by his peers. "We feel that the problems in Zimbabwe have
been exaggerated," says Zambia's president Levy Mwanawasa. Well, tell that
to the millions of Zimbabweans who have fled abroad and the millions left
behind who are struggling with political dictatorship and economic collapse.
The continent's leaders seem to be in denial, but I think they may get a
rude awakening the next time they lobby for a better global deal for their
countries on the world stage. Gordon Brown and other leaders in the
developed world, who have expended serious political capital trying to force
through debt relief and more aid for Africa, can hardly be expected to do
more on these issues if African leaders pretend that the continent's most
spectacular example of bad government doesn't exist.
At the moment African countries are insisting that Mugabe, although banned
from the EU, must have the right to attend an EU-Africa summit in Lisbon
next September. If he does, then Brown will stay away - and he'll be right
to do so.
A few years ago, Thabo Mbeki floated the idea of an African renaissance,
where the continent would begin to solve its own problems. The age of
clrruption, stagnation and dictatorship in Africa was over, we were
encouraged to believe. Instead of monsters such as Mobutu and
a new generation of leaders would begin to lead Africa forwards. Good
government, democracy, human rights and economic reform would create a
virtuous circle that would enable the continent to break free of the spiral
of decline. Well, dream on.
The details of Zimbabwe's collapse are too well known to need repeating; to
suggest, as many African leaders do, that hyperinflation, food shortages,
mass emigration and plummeting life expectancy are somehow all the fault of
Britain is an insult to anyone's intelligence. Mugabe himself may believe
this, but that is no reason to humour his delusions.
The coalition of protesters that lobbied the Gleneagles summit two years ago
on behalf of Africa and wore 'Make Poverty History' armbands has already
dissolved, and many of them are choosing to demonstrate about climate change
instead. Who can blame them? Africa needs to keep its friends around the
world, but unless its leaders, Mbeki first and foremost, awake from
dreamland and tell Mugabe his time is up, those friends will walk away.
In 1990, on the eve of the tenth anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence,
when the country's outlook was still quite rosy, I drove through Harare's
leafy northern suburbs to interview Ian Smith, the leader of the white
minority rebels who declared unilateral independence in the 1960s rather
than accept black majority rule.
After a few minutes listening to a self-justifying diatribe about the evils
of black government by "communist terrorists" I switched off my tape
recorder and politely made my excuses, shaking my white liberal head in
amazement at his antedeluvian views.
Today I find it extremely painful to read the daily news from Zimbabwe and
realise that perhaps "good old Smithy" had a point. Mugabe has managed in
those 17 years since my interview to make the case for something utterly
inconceivable - that Ian Smith was right all along in saying that black rule
would lead to chaos.
So if African rulers want to banish the media stereotype of their continent
as a place of famine and disaster, the first thing they have to do is put
aside the cosy rules of the leaders' club and isolate Mugabe, just as
European countries isolated the governments of Spain, Greece and Portugal
when they were under dictatorship. If they can't deal with this issue in
their own backyard, then turning up in Lisbon and asking the EU for help
with their problems is going to be a complete waste of time.
John M Morrison is a former foreign correspondent who was based in Zimbabwe
from 1987 to 1990.
By Macdonald Dzirutwe
12:49 a.m. August 20, 2007
HARARE - Zimbabwe's parliament meets for a new session on Tuesday that
will consider two major pieces of legislation, one to give the president
considerable sway in appointing a successor and another to nationalise
Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since
independence in 1980, is seeking to consolidate power in the face of growing
discontent at home and abroad over policies that critics say have plunged
the economy into crisis.
AdvertisementPolitical analysts said the veteran leader, re-energised
by the support from regional leaders at a summit last week, wants to quickly
ram through legislation enabling parliament to pick a successor if a vacancy
arose mid-term and an economic empowerment bill to nationalise foreign-owned
Critics, including the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), say the plans would hurt an economy already enduring the world's
highest inflation rate, above 4,500 percent, and increase political tension.
'Mugabe will feel re-invigorated by events at the SADC (Southern
African Development Community) meeting and I have no doubt he will move with
speed to make sure that legislation is passed by parliament,' Eldred
Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe
'The cost of nationalisation to the economy is great but that is not a
matter that would worry the government. Its goal is to maintain power at all
The Constitutional Amendment Bill seeks to merge presidential,
parliamentary and council elections but analysts say a clause allowing
parliament to choose a new president if a vacancy arose in between elections
would give Mugabe room to manoeuvre a dignified exit.
Mugabe, 83, plans to stand for another five-year term next year but
political analysts say he may seek to retire mid-term and would be able to
anoint a successor if the legislation were passed because parliament is
dominated by his ZANU-PF party.
The MDC says the Constitutional Amendment Bill is being presented in
bad faith by Mugabe because it is already a sticking point at talks between
the opposition and the ZANU-PF being mediated by South African President
Thabo Mbeki, who was appointed by SADC.
The opposition wants a new constitution.
'We have said this is against the spirit of the SADC initiative and we
will oppose such legislation,' Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the larger of
the MDC's wings, said.
Despite criticism over his policy of seizing white-owned farms for
blacks, Mugabe is pushing ahead with plans to transfer ownership of all
foreign-owned businesses, including mines, into local hands.
Zimbabwe's economy has hit even more turbulent times after the
government ordered a price freeze in June to stem inflation, leaving shop
shelves empty of basic goods such as milk, maize-meal, flour and meat.
Analysts say Mugabe could use the economic empowerment law to reward
supporters as he seeks re-election in 2008.
Mugabe portrays himself as a victim of Western sabotage and has
suggested Britain failed in a bid to lure Zimbabwe's military to help topple
him as punishment for the land seizures.
Los Angeles Times
Manufacturing and retail, one of the last productive sectors, falls victim
to Mugabe's policies. Financial losses and arrests are mounting.
By Robyn Dixon
August 20, 2007
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe -- He has lost his export customers, struggled with power
cuts and shortages of foreign currency and raw materials. He has raised
prices several times a month to keep up with hyperinflation. He has shrugged
off government inspectors angling for bribes.
Through it all, clothing manufacturer Anthony Robinson has always managed to
turn a profit.
The new enemies of President Robert Mugabe's regime inhabit one of the
country's last productive sectors -- manufacturing and retail. In an
Orwellian twist to Zimbabwe's downward spiral, more than 7,000 of them have
been arrested and jailed in recent weeks, accused of breaching draconian new
Among them are many senior black managers of national retail chains.
Robinson, a 60-year-old white Zimbabwean, fears he could be next.
"Everyone is terrified," he said. "To be honest, you don't have to
contravene anything. If they want to put you in jail, they'll put you in
Even if he doesn't end up behind bars, Robinson says, he'll probably be out
of business in a couple of months.
"You've got to be bloody hopeful or stupid to remain here," he says. Yet
that's what he intends to do.
Eventually, economic analysts say, Mugabe's system has to collapse. But no
one knows when that will be.
A drive across Zimbabwe today reveals a desolate portrait of decline:
Aimless mobs of people wait along the rural roads, each with a silent
pleading gesture for a lift at every passing vehicle. With fuel almost dried
up, unemployment at 80% and transport too expensive for most, movement is
Along the highways, brown grass stands high between the thorny acacias in a
stunning vista of what Africa must have looked like before mechanized
agriculture made farming Zimbabwe's main export business. Now, most farms
Meat disappeared after the government shut down private abattoirs,
transferring all slaughtering to a quasi-governmental organization that
cannot meet demand. Fuel supplies dried up after the National Oil Co. of
Zimbabwe was made the sole authorized distributor.
In towns, straggling queues form at any rumor of sugar, maize or bread. Most
supermarket shelves are empty of basic staples: no meat, no sugar, no maize,
no bread, no pasta, no rice, no milk.
Authorities have focused on one sector after another, accusing them of
collaborating with the opposition, supporting regime change or engaging in
Beginning in 1999, most white-owned and some black-owned commercial farms
were seized, leading to a collapse in production, food shortages and hunger.
More than 3 million people now need food aid.
In 2005 at least 700,000 people were left homeless by Operation
Murambatsvina, or "clean out the filth," which destroyed the shacks and
livelihoods of informal traders.
According to the government's figures, inflation has rocketed to 4,500%.
Independent economists estimate it is closer to 7,000%.
The country's leaders are now focusing on what's left of the business
community, accusing it of stoking hyperinflation to undermine the ruling
The government last month forced businesses to cut their prices in half,
leaving them to face catastrophic losses. Businesses risk a government
takeover if they close.
Manufacturing and retail account for about 27% of what is left of the formal
"We are operating at a complete loss," said Robinson, a shrewd-eyed, wiry
man with the rugged tan of a white man born in Africa. He is one of the few
businessmen willing to risk government ire and speak out publicly.
"Basically we haven't got long to be in business. I'd say we won't see
October if this madness doesn't stop."
Factories struggle along, running a few days a week, as owners try to slow
production to a minimum without attracting the government's wrath. Some are
just treading water; others lose money every day they open.
Robinson has been in business for 36 years. When he was exporting to Europe
in the 1990s, he employed 172 people full time. Now 143 people work for him
three days a week. He produces only about 110 blazers and pairs of trousers
a day, compared with 300 only a few months ago.
His price structure illustrates the effects of both hyperinflation and the
government's plan to control it.
For every blazer he makes, Robinson's company, United Clothing and Shirt
Manufacturers, loses 1.3 million Zimbabwe dollars, or $5,300, according to
the highly distorted official exchange rate. Each pair of trousers loses him
600,000 Zimbabwe dollars, or $2,450.
At the more realistic black market rate, he still loses $7.20 and $3.33,
Two weeks after the price controls were imposed July 2, the government also
required him to give his employees a 162% raise.
Robinson isn't the only one losing money. The maximum price that retailers
may charge is slightly less than the wholesale cost.
The prices are enforced by roving squads of army and police. Last month the
squads hit stores and slashed prices. Large groups of people followed,
stripping the shops of stock at the new price and leaving owners unable to
"When these guys come in, they're followed by, I dare say, 'friends.' To me,
they've tried to legalize looting," Robinson said.
Despite the criticisms and opposition within the ruling party, Mugabe, 83,
said early this month that price controls would stay.
Several black businessmen who were arrested, jailed and released pending
trial, declined to speak to The Times, saying they were afraid of
But a black senior manager at one national retail chain, who spent the night
in a cell after being accused of breaching the price controls, spoke on
condition of anonymity, even though he is terrified of being jailed again.
"Please be careful. I could get into real trouble," he pleaded.
"I don't know where we are going. I don't think . . . any business will
survive under this," he said, speaking rapidly during an interview in his
He said that after his arrest last month, he was taken to a squalid,
freezing jail cell -- it is the dead of winter in the Southern Hemisphere --
in one of the poor suburbs of the capital, Harare.
"It was so cold all I could do was pray to brave the cold, and thank God I
did that," he said. Employees of his are being arrested almost every day, he
"You are working in an evil system," he said. "And unfortunately, the people
who are involved in it will never see that, because for them it works and
they enjoy it. Once you join them, you become as evil.
"I don't think they care about human life, at the end of the day."
Another black retail manager speaking on condition he not be named said that
even after his company complied with price controls, the police and army
"You have five or six large people, and all of them are asking different
questions at the same time. They would talk about how 'we locked so-and-so
up and we can lock you up,' " he said.
The South African economic analysis group Econometrix predicted in a report
last month that Mugabe would find it difficult to survive. Hyperinflation is
likely to squeeze his supporters in the security forces and fuel discontent,
Independent Harare-based economist John Robertson warned of protests and
food riots as the supply of essential goods dries up and businesses try to
"Inevitably we will face many more shortages," he said. "Some companies will
go out of business before too long.
"It won't be sustainable for very long. I think there's a very serious
danger there will be an upwelling of severe anger that could lead to social
unrest and demonstrations in the street."
He said that blaming business for hyperinflation and profiteering seemed
designed to deflect popular anger from the government and onto shops and
But ultimately, he said, Mugabe's belief that the government could legislate
economic behavior was doomed.
"The laws of economics are very powerful in the end, and they will take
over," Robertson said. "It's actually quite a dangerous business trying to
force bad policies into a system where there's a great reluctance to accept
He said the retail shortages would slash tax revenue, further complicating
But Mugabe is pushing ahead. Despite reports of strong opposition from
pro-business ministers, his government recently introduced a bill in the
parliament that would allow it to hand 51% of foreign- or white-owned
businesses to black Zimbabweans.
Some fear that such a law would allow the transfer of businesses to ZANU-PF
heavyweights and allies, as happened after the farm invasions.
"I believe it's another one of these grab-the-farm strategies, but now it's
grab-the-business, and there will be the same dire consequences that there
were before," Robinson said.
He said he no longer bothers to exhort his staff to work hard.
"Now I let them work at their own slow pace and encourage them to take
longer tea times."
After clinging to his dream for all those years, he sees it ebbing away like
water through his fingers.
"Maybe it's a softening-up process. You won't feel too bad losing 51% of
your business, because you don't have a business anymore."
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre - Norwegian Refugee council
In May 2005, the Zimbabwean government initiated an extraordinary campaign of forced evictions and demolitions resulting in the internal displacement of an estimated 570,000 people, many of whom remain in transit camps and have limited access to assistance. Operation Murambatsvina (“Restore Order”) targeted informal and legal settlements and businesses across the country, as homes were first destroyed in high-density shanty towns and subsequently in settlements on farms in peri-urban and rural areas. Since 2005, ongoing displacements have been noted by international observers, and the government’s eviction programmes have recently reportedly expanded to include students and illegal gold miners. The breakdown of the formal economy has led ever more people to search for livelihood opportunities in urban areas, causing an increased risk of new evictions. (...)
Full Overview (html/pdf)
Full Internal Displacement Profile
Please contact the IDMC in case you would like to receive an electronic copy by e-mail.
The Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), established by the Norwegian Refugee Council, is the leading non-governmental body monitoring conflict-induced internal displacement worldwide.
By Tichaona Sibanda
20 August 2007
The MDC has warned its officials and supporters to be vigilant following a
new wave of violence by Zanu (PF) youths.
Zanu PF youths recently unleashed an orgy of violence in Muzarabani in
Mashonaland central. A number of MDC officials were severely assaulted and
left hospitalised. MDC national youth chairman, Thamsanqa Mahlangu said a
number of their activists are still hospitalised in Bindura and Harare after
Zanu (PF) youths stormed a district meeting of their party in the area.
Mahlangu urged all youth members of the party 'to act defensively under
attack and to refrain from becoming offensive' as this would be construed as
an attempt to topple a sitting government by force.
'They have intensified their violence against the MDC and their machinery is
now at work. Now that they have realised they have lost so much support
following their disastrous pricing policy, they want to intimidate potential
voters from exercising their democratic right in next year's elections. This
time it will not work as we have plan B and plan C in place for such
eventualities,' Mahlangu said.
The youth chairman explained that part of the strategy by Zanu (PF) was to
target grassroots members of the MDC from branch to district level, as
happened in Muzarabani. Since Vice-President Joyce Mujuru addressed a rally
there three weeks ago, Muzarabani has been a no-go area for the MDC.
Ging Dhlamini, the organising secretary for Muzarabani, told the Zimbabwe
Standard newspaper that scores of MDC members were now in hiding because
Zanu (PF) militia and traditional leaders are targeting them. Dhlamini said
other MDC activists assaulted during the raid on their meeting included
Farai Pambayi (Dambakurima ward chairman), Constance Dzingirai (ward
councillor) and Stanford Maramba.
Dhlamini said Zanu youths accused him of being a puppet of the West because
he was senior member of the opposition party in the area.
After the attacks the perpetrators told the MDC leaders that they must not
leave their homes or report the matter to the police. But Dhlamini managed
to escape and reported the assault case at Chadereka Police post. He was
told to go and make a complaint in Harare because the officers were afraid
of handling the matter.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Derek Moyo
20 August 2007
In Zimbabwe, health experts are asking consumers to beware of purchasing
poisoned mushrooms. This year, several people in the town of Epworth died
after eating them. The deaths made headlines, but haven't deterred the
public from buying wild mushrooms. Given the harsh economic climate, wild
mushrooms are viewed by many as an affordable source of fiber and vitamins.
But consuming this fungus may be fatal, as Voice of America, Zimbabwe
Service's Derek Moyo reports from the town of Bromley, Zimbabwe.
After traveling about 47 kilometers from the capital, along the
Harare/Marondera highway, you come to the area called Bromley. As cars speed
by, groups of vendors dot the roadside, selling mushrooms.
One of the traders, who introduced himself has Thompson Thompson, says he's
been in the mushroom business "for a long time". He said he picks the
mushrooms, from underneath nearby shrubs. Thompson is confident his
merchandise is safe. He says he knows they're not poisonous because they
grow near Muzhanje and Msasa trees, and near the mountains.
With the confidence of an experienced salesman, Thompson points out
different types of mushrooms. He says he sells various kinds, including the
nhedzi, the chihombiriri, tsuketsuke and the ndzeve. When asked how he
convinces people his mushrooms are safe, he says he tastes one: "When we are
now selling the mushrooms and want to convince people that the mushrooms are
safe, we begin first by eating and swallowing the mushrooms while they are
looking at us. This is meant to show then that the mushrooms are not
poisonous and are safe to eat. And when we do this, people buy [them.]"
Joshua Nyundo, a commercial white button mushroom grower in Bromley, warns
there's no way of telling if the mushrooms are poisonous or not. He says
consumers risk their lives by buying mushrooms at the side of the road, "Its
not very safe to just buy mushrooms by the road side because other mushrooms
out there in the bushes are so poisonous that if say one picks a poisonous
mushroom, and puts it in a basket where there are some non-poisonous
mushrooms and then later on they discover that this is a poisonous mushroom,
picks it from the basket and throws it away you will have contaminated those
mushrooms which are edible. So, it's also possible that you can have
problems from edible mushrooms because they would have been mixed with
Nyundo adds that while some traders might be selling mushrooms that are not
poisonous, the public should be aware that some types of toxic mushrooms are
identical in appearance to safe mushrooms. For example, he says the local
popular edible mushroom, Nhedzi, is in the Amanita category of mushrooms,
and poisonous mushrooms are members of the same group.
But warnings may not deter the desperate or hungry. One of the reasons wild
mushrooms remain popular is their affordability. At one time, a plate of
mushrooms, sold along the Harare-Marondera route, for about 2,000 Zimbabwe
dollars per kilogram -- much cheaper than the white button mushrooms, which
can be over 15 times more expensive.
When the mushroom traders were asked if police had been warning them about
eating the mushrooms, they said no, that the police often were the ones to
Mon Aug 20, 8:30 AM ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's Deputy President Joseph Msika has urged people to
turn to traditional food for survival and denied there was starvation in the
impoverished country, a state newspaper reported.
"We have an array of traditional foods in Zimbabwe and I do not see how
someone can say we are starving," Msika was quoted as saying by the
state-run Herald during an official opening of the provincial Mazowe Valley
"Do not despise traditional foods such as mutakura (a mixture of boiled cow
peas and groundnuts), mufushwa (dried vegetables), and rupiza (mixed beans
and peanut butter) which have a nourishing effect.
"My problem is that some of us are now despising the traditional foods
preferring food like eggs and butter yet the traditional foods are the ones
that boost the immune system," he said.
Msika said he watched in shock on one of the international television
channels, a Zimbabwean woman who had escaped hunger into neighbouring South
Africa purporting there was mass starvation and critical unemployment in the
The southern African nation is in the midst of an economic crisis with hyper
inflation, and shortages of basic commodities, such as corn meal, sugar,
flour and cooking oil. These things, with a recent crackdown on prices,
forced thousands to flee to neighbouring countries.
Adding to the woes of a tottering economy are drought and the impact of land
reform programmes launched in 2000 in which some 4,000 white-owned
commercial farms were seized and redistributed to blacks.
The latter has punched a gaping hole in agricultural production, which once
accounted for 40 percent of the economy, with most of the new beneficiaries
lacking both farming equipment and expertise.
Msika said western countries may attack Zimbabwe in any manner they wish,
but Zimbabweans would remain resolute.
Comment from The Cape Argus (SA), 19 August
So you think Zimbabwe can't get much worse? Well, think again because there
might be some surprises in store for the imploding country next year. There
was something deeply alarming about a little vignette after the launch of
the Southern African Development Community's Peace Brigade outside Lusaka on
Friday. As the presidents' limousines arrived to cart them away to the SADC
summit a Nissan Hardbody arrived from nowhere. It was brand new, and
colour-coded in blood red. On it was mounted, in the style of Somali
warlords in Mogadishu, a machine gun, manned by the meanest looking gunner
in camouflage. Three more toughies emerged from the crowd of military
dignitaries and jumped into the bakkie. It was their way of showing the top
generals and defence officials from the rest of the region just how tough
these guys were. No surprise then to hear they were the bodyguards of
Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe, who had just been cheered warmly at the
start of the SADC summit the day before. Maybe he was also sending the
message - "I'm here to stay" - to his fellow presidents who were about to
deliberate on his future.
Exactly 963 soldiers from 11 of the 14 SADC countries took part in the
low-key, well-disciplined parade of the new SADC Brigade that contrasted
sharply with Mugabe's macho gesture. But the force will be an odd creature
from the outset. It has no troops, no headquarters, not even a depot for its
equipment. Only five officers man a "planning element" in temporary offices
in Gaborone, Botswana. Its strength is based on "pledges" - of troops, not
money. This "pool of capabilities", as the chief of staff Brigadier General
Malakia Nakanduugileh from Namibia calls it, will theoretically be available
at short notice to be deployed by SADC's leaders of the day. But the SADC
Brigade is also supposed to be part of the continent-wide African Standby
Force, along with five other regional brigades.
Because the ASF is also somewhat of a virtual animal, the real marching
orders will be given by SADC, and specifically its organ on politics,
security and defence cooperation. Here is where it is getting interesting.
The next chair will be Angola. It is ruled by a government that is just as
close to a dictatorship as any on the continent. It has been stalling for
months to announce the date of its next elections. Its human rights record
is hugely unsavoury. It is also a close friend, along with Namibia, another
organ member, of Zimbabwe. So, talking of scenarios, here's one: Zimbabwe
goes to the polls in March after Mbeki's mediation has failed, which it
shows all the signs of doing. Zimbabwe's population, hungry and tired of
misrule, rise up when they discover that many are not even allowed to vote,
since registration closed on Friday and most of them were unable to get to
How will the organ react? Among the groups of scenarios practised from the
start of peacekeeping war games in the region in 1998, is how to deal with
"splinter groups" instigating violence against the government of the day.
Much emphasis is laid on humane treatment of belligerents, and how to
involve civil society monitors was a key part of training during Operation
Blue Crane, the first regional exercises at the SANDF's Lohatla battle
school in the Northern Cape. All will depend on definitions, of
"belligerents", political "splinter groups", and "insurgents", and the like.
Whoever is the chair of the three-country organ, could have a major say in
the decision whether to deploy the SADC Brigade. Mugabe's strategy has
created a precedent that SADC comes to the defence of its imperilled
fellow-leaders. However, the loose wording of the protection treaty might
just save SA and some other reluctant SADC member states from rushing in to
save Mugabe from his own people if Zimbabwe continues to spiral down.
Political will is weak in the region; but Mugabe has shown it in his
well-demonstrated desire to cling to power at all cost. That he is ready for
another adventure in his long reign is shown by his pizzazz in taking along
his Nissan toys when he goes to summits.
Comment from The Cape Times (SA), 20 August
To the perennial question "can't the South African government and the
southern African region do more about Zimbabwe?", perhaps the most
irritating official reply is: "What do you want us to do? Invade the
country?" Well, perhaps it's just a short step away from the military
option, but, as one alternative to invasion, how about withholding
tumultuous applause from Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe? I refer, of
course, to the loud applause Mugabe got at last week's Southern African
Development Community (SADC) summit in Lusaka. Perhaps once the region has
got over the post-traumatic stress of withholding adulation, it could
consider the next bold move. One suggestion - stop blaming the stupendous
economic meltdown in Zimbabwe on the fact that Mugabe's young wife Grace
can't go shopping at Harrod's any more.
I refer, of course, to the fact that the only international sanctions
against Zimbabwe are travel and financial bans on Mugabe, a few of his
cronies and some of their families by the European Union, the United States,
Australia and perhaps one or two other countries. These draconian measures
have forced Bob and Grace to do their Christmas shopping in Kuala Lumpur
instead of London or Paris. But at the Lusaka summit, SADC executive
secretary Tomaz Salamao nevertheless blamed sanctions for Zimbabwe's
economic calamity, and therefore proposed a regional economic rescue plan,
fully endorsed by the summit. There was, understandably, some speculation
that SADC might use this bail-out as leverage to extract some quid pro quo
from Mugabe - like ending his crazy campaign to halve prices by decree or
restoring property rights, or agreeing to reforms to ensure free and fair
elections next year.
But that was too much to expect. President Thabo Mbeki, who is facilitating
political negotiations between Mugabe's Zanu PF party and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to try to ensure fair elections, told
journalists after the summit that the economic package was unconditional.
Which means it will probably have the effect of helping Mugabe win the
elections by alleviating some hardships which are driving his supporters
away from Zanu PF. So the chances of Mbeki's mediation dislodging Mugabe
seem even more remote. Most foreign governments were not including it among
their scenarios for change anyway. "Mugabe is not going to negotiate himself
out of power," one well-placed observer explained. "He has no Plan B. Having
seen (former Liberian president) Charles Taylor stand down on the basis of
an offer of exile and amnesty from his fellow African presidents which they
later reneged on, he's determined to stay in power to the bitter end. To go
from State House to Heroes Acre, as it were."
Only a palace coup - probably backed by military muscle - has any chance of
removing Mugabe, foreign governments increasingly believe, and the rumblings
have already begun. They see evidence of it in the handful of officers
arrested recently for plotting against Mugabe and don't believe they were
victims of his paranoia, as others believe. They are also inclined to
believe army General Armstrong Gunda, officially killed by a train recently,
was actually murdered. Their eyes are now fixed firmly on Solomon Mujuru,
ex-military husband of Vice-President Joyce Mujuru, to see if he will
venture a move within Zanu PF over the next few months to have Mugabe
replaced as the party's presidential candidate for the elections. "If he
fails at the party congress, he will need military back-up," one observer
said ominously, indicating just how high and perilous the stakes have
become. If it comes to that, then perhaps SADC will at last act decisively -
but only by sending in its brand new SADC brigade, launched at the Lusaka
summit, to save Mugabe's skin, as it might be obliged to do under SADC's
mutual defence pact. And so, after all, perhaps the answer to that
irritating question is, yes we do, sort-of, expect SADC to invade Zimbabwe.
Nyasa Times, Malawi
Josh Ashaz on 20 August, 2007 09:25:00
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Lilongwe Msozi North parliamentarian, Stanely
Chimphonda, today told parliament that Malawi government was exporting
undisclosed tonnes of newly harvested maize from Malangalanga Admarc in the
capital, Lilongwe to Zimbabwe.
The parliamentarian made the allegation during his contribution to the
budget debate. He expressed displeasure with the government for exporting
Malawi maize to Zimbabwe amid reports that the broke Zimbabwe government was
struggling to pay for 400 000 tonnes of maize it imported from Malawi.
He said government should be cautious in exporting maize expressing fears
that Malawians would suffer if the entire maize stockpile was sold.
According to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS
NET), out of the 400,000 metric tonnes of maize of which Zimbabwe required
from Malawi, about 114,085 metric tonnes had been delivered by the end of
But President Bingu wa Mutharika says the country has enough maize.
"Neither the donation to Swaziland and Lesotho nor the sale of maize to
Zimbabwe will affect us at all; we have enough maize to feed ourselves till
the next season," Mutharika said amid donating 10,000 metric tonnes of maize
to drought-hit Lesotho and Swaziland.
Malawi recorded a bumper harvest with a surplus of about 1.5 million metric
tonnes from the required two million metric tonnes."
The question is what would we do with the surplus? It is only human and
proper then to assist our friends who are in dire need of maize in Lesotho
and Swaziland," President Mutharika said in justifying the donation.
Maize exports to Zimbabwe has been dogged by revelations that government has
failed to put monitoring mechanisms in place raising fears that private
sector traders who started buying the grain cheaply well ahead of Admarc,
might end up leaving the country with little of the surplus.
Further fears are being raised on how the government documented the 400 000
metric tonnes realised last year since as of now Admarc has wholly sold its
25 000 metric and has an export contract of 50 000 tonnes. The National Food
Reserve Agency had only 90 000 in stock for emergency only.
Malawi News in July quoted their source who bemoaned the maize export: "One
wonders: where is the 400,000 metric tonnes surplus we had last year. If
anything, the country has got only 90,000 metric tonnes and this maize is
strictly for emergency use."
The paper reported that no one knows who is keeping the 400 000 metric
tonnes from last year's harvest much talked by President Bingu wa Mutharika.
Dzoole Mwale - Chairperson of Agriculture Parliamentary Committee - is on
record to have warned a disaster following failure by government to adopt
his committee's recommendation.
"We asked government to declare maize a protected crop so that it can easily
regulate the purchase and selling of the commodity but nothing has happened.
We have seen private traders dictating the selling of the crop and
unfortunately poor farmers are not benefiting from the sales," Mwale is
quoted as saying.
The 2000/01 growing season had a surplus of over 200,000 metric tonnes that
was sold to Kenya in anticipation of a replenishment from the 2001/02
harvests. Malawi was left with over one million people without food was
forced to import maize due to unfavourable weather conditions.
By Mutumwa D. Mawere
Last updated: 08/20/2007 21:24:25
THE Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Chairman, Zambian
President Levy Mwanawasa, summed up the position of the regional grouping's
political leadership on Zimbabwe at last week's summit by saying: "We also
feel that the problems in Zimbabwe have been exaggerated. We feel they will
solve their economic problems."
The summit provided a unique forum for leaders of SADC and their social
partners to explore some of the most pressing issues of the day and Zimbabwe
was one such issue.
The position taken at the summit on Zimbabwe is reflection of a widely held
view that the root cause of the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe is
the unresolved colonially generated asset ownership structure.
It is evident that there is consensus among many African leaders that issues
related to economic democracy in the continent necessarily attracts a
negative response from the former colonial masters and their alleged
puppets. To this end, if one accepts that the root cause of the Zimbabwean
crisis is the position taken by Mugabe to democratise land ownership, then
the Zimbabwean crisis with attendant targeted sanctions is seen as a
necessary price to pay for the complete emancipation of the country.
Mugabe's views are shared by many in Africa and the developing world for
different reasons. They argue that anyone who takes a fight against Anglo
American hegemony can never be wrong and, if anything, he deserves support.
People, who believe in pan-Africanism, see in Mugabe the fighting spirit
that is missing in many post-colonial states that still face the challenge
of eradicating the enduring economic legacies of colonialism.
The standing ovation Mugabe received in Lusaka is no different from the
treatment he has enjoyed at many conferences. In fact, the only thing that
seems to unite Mwanawasa and his political nemesis, Michael Sata, is their
common and shared position on the origins of the Zimbabwean crisis.
The success of the Lusaka summit in the eyes of Harare demonstrates that the
message from Zimbabwe's opposition has failed to resonate with Africa's
critical players. This raises the following questions: Is the Zimbabwean
opposition misinformed or misdirected? To the extent that the opposition
believes that Mugabe is the problem, why is it that they seem to fail to
communicate this? If Zimbabwe faces a leadership crisis, does SADC have any
locus to intervene, let alone pronounce an opinion?
If there is a common theme that characterises the Zimbabwean crisis, it is
leadership: what constitutes good leadership, how (and, indeed, whether) the
lack of it is responsible for the Zimbabwean crisis, what criteria should be
applied when assessing it in the context of a post-colonial state? What
should be the role of the opposition and how should citizens weigh the
various indicators - from maximising national wealth (poverty eradication)
to brand-building and longer term considerations such as nation building?
And given the emergence of China, India, UAE and other nations as global
players and the pace of globalisation, can one expect to apply one set of
criteria to what makes for good leadership in very different cultural
contexts? Anglo-Saxon models have dominated the theory and practice of
leadership for so long that it may be difficult to accept that other models
may be relevant and appropriate.
When there remains immense differences of perceived leadership qualities
between Africans and Anglo Americans, how much do we as Africans have to
start investing in understanding this important variable in nation building?
Does Africa need democracy to progress? If so, what kind of leadership
should it have? What interests ought to inform it?
It is more than 27 years since Zimbabwe became an independent and sovereign
state. It is salutary, looking back, to remember the illusions which were
commonplace at the time. Some Zimbabweans believed that independence
accompanied by eloquent speeches about how Europe underdeveloped Africa
would quickly solve the country's problems.
In the West, the grant of an Anglo Saxon type of constitution was considered
as a necessary and sufficient condition by itself to institutionalise a
functioning constitutional democracy underpinned by a scrupulous respect of
the Rule of Law, human rights, accountability and transparency.
The euphoria that characterised the independence atmosphere in Zimbabwe was
well founded in Robert Mugabe's reconciliatory speeches and approach to
Many were convinced that a new dawn had visited Zimbabwe and the country had
the leadership it deserved to rid itself of the negative vestiges of
colonialism. That was then and now the illusions have largely evaporated.
Zimbabwe under Mugabe has lived through some challenges from the
construction of a post-colonial dispensation in which all citizens were
allowed to assert their sovereign right to makes laws and regulate their
lives as they wish to the well acknowledged investment in the social and
physical infrastructure of the country using a small tax base inherited from
the colonial state. Regrettably the post colonial state did not address
issues related to the democratisation of the economy resulting in the
current state of affairs where the population has grown accompanied by a
decaying national economy.
The financing of the post-colonial state investments was largely done from
borrowed sources and not from taxes. Any rational leader would have known
that the relationship between the state, the protector of collective
interests and the market, and the protectors of individual interests, is
critical for economic growth. In assessing whether Mugabe has been a good
leader for Zimbabwe, one has to look at how his administration has balanced
the interests of the market with that of the state.
The failure of the post-colonial economic model was already evident in the
late 1980s to the extent that the IMF, ordinarily a fire brigade, was
invited by none other than Mugabe to intervene with balance of payments
The Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) or euphemistically
referred to as The Extended Suffering of African People was adopted and
implemented not by the opposition but by a Zanu PF government. The program
was abandoned by the government of Zimbabwe because the hard policy choices
that needed to be made could not find leaders with the courage to make them.
While the SADC leaders have accepted that targeted economic sanctions have a
causal link with the Zimbabwean crisis, they surely must be aware that the
economic objectives of growth for any nation must be harmonised with the
objectives associated with the political order. The designing of growth
strategies must necessarily include the promotion of factors that support
the democratisation of society, the defence of sovereignty and the self
determination of citizens.
What is evident is that no growth strategy will succeed if it is underpinned
by an ideology that is premised on the state as the referee and player. Yes,
SADC may have endorsed the Zimbabwean rescue plan like the multilateral
institutions have done in the past but the success of such plans have to
deal with the leadership question without any equivocation.
Anyone who thinks seriously about Africa and indeed Zimbabwe's future will
value a conversation on the leadership question. Can Mugabe reinvent himself
and make the choices that he has failed to make over the last 27 years? Is
Mugabe's world view on issues of governance, rule of law, and leadership
consistent with a view that is required for a progressive nation?
Some have argued that when the Emperor is naked it is difficult for friends
and foes to inform him. Could any rational person have expected SADC leaders
to tell Mugabe where the root cause of the Zimbabwean crisis is? Does SADC
have such a mandate anyway?
What is evident to many and I am sure to Africa's leaders is that the course
of nation building in Zimbabwe has encountered serious set backs.
Zimbabweans' hope for a free democratic existence as the background for
stable national development has been dashed.
Huge treasuries of material resources and opportunities for development have
been dissipated. And more worrying is that the current leadership does not
seem to have what it takes to motivate citizens to recover sufficient
strength to resume the fight to build a future for themselves (rather than
worrying about daily existence) and their families.
Morale is at its lowest in Zimbabwe for justifiable reasons. A rescue
package from SADC will not rescue the injury to the psyche of citizens who
legitimately had a right to expect better from their leaders. Will Mugabe's
re-election next year change the climate of hopelessness that is evident in
Zimbabwe? Even if sanctions were lifted today, how would that address the
leadership credibility issue?
The 2008 elections have been dubbed the economic emancipation elections.
President Mugabe is convinced that a fresh mandate will allow him to use the
state to empower the majority economically. While this may be exciting news
to the naïve, how is this going to be done against a background of a
bankrupt state and economically vulnerable citizens? Even if all the
economic assets were transferred to the state/selected individuals, would
that promote growth and prosperity?
Someone said a long time ago you cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the
strong. No government in the world has managed to come up with an instrument
where the fear of being arrested induced favourable supply response. While
the government of Zimbabwe may believe that arresting businesspersons will
arrest inflation and restore economic order, I am not sure whether SADC
leaders (who incidentally are not pursuing such policies in their own
countries) seriously believe that Zimbabwe is a candidate for economic
When Margaret Thatcher became big headed and a stumbling block to progress,
the Conservative Party managed to remove her. Equally, Tony Blair got the
same medicine. In Zimbabwe it appears that some people believe that only one
man can solve the colonial injury however defined and that person has no
obligation to explain how he will be able to implement the new ideas of
empowerment when he has failed to do the same for agriculture.
I believe that Mwanawasa may be cynically encouraging Mugabe to hang in
there so that he can benefit from the contribution of Zimbabwean settler
farmers. If Mugabe goes, I have no doubt what is in Mwanawasa's mind about
the sustainability of the agrarian revolution that is underpinned by
Zimbabwean skills in his country. Would the farmers elect to remain in
Zambia or return to Zimbabwe?
Leadership plays a central role in managing perceptions. Today Zimbabwe is
less confident that it was 27 years ago. It is now a confident member of the
class of nations that can be classified as failed states. The frightening
economic indicators have escaped the attention of the SADC leaders. Apart
from the expected anti-imperialist rhetoric, the current political and
economic crisis in Zimbabwe is testament to wrong, irresponsible and
backward looking policies and weak core values of democracy, freedom and the
Rule of Law. Many democratic nations would find it difficult to trust a
leader that has been at the helm of a crumbling state to continue
experimenting with the nation building project.
While the world waits for signals that Zimbabweans will take ownership of
their problems, the tragedy is that Zimbabweans expect change to come from
without. The message from the SADC summit is that only Zimbabwean leaders
can lead and shape Zimbabwe. A committed and accountable leadership that is
forward looking can find the world and indeed SADC a reliable partner in
delivering a better future for Zimbabwe and its people.
The world is anxiously waiting for Zimbabweans in general to have an
opportunity to genuinely express their choice about who should govern them
notwithstanding the privatisation of the state and implications thereof on
freedom of choice. The illusions of independence have been sufficiently
exposed to allow Zimbabwean citizens to use the ballot as the instrument for
In the final analysis the responsibility must lie with those who have
dedicated their lives to the change agenda to demonstrate that bad
leadership has a lot to do with the Zimbabwean crisis. Zimbabwe needs a
smart system and not necessarily a smart leader.
Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column appears on New Zimbabwe.com every Monday. You
can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
August 20 2007 at 04:07PM
Business leaders in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
region are upbeat about the situation in Zimbabwe.
"We are feeling very encouraged... that there is now dialogue with the
government and the opposition in Zimbabwe which is being championed by South
Africa," said the president of the association of SADC Chamber of Commerce
and Industry, Harrison Kalua.
He was speaking at a media briefing about business development in the
The deputy president of the Zimbabwean National Chamber of Commerce,
Sibanda Obert, said a social contract between government, labour and
business had been signed.
The contract deals with economic stabilisation, the mobilisation of
foreign currency and productivity.
"We are working on coming up with the implementation framework," he
Earlier Kalua said: "Political stability is key to doing good
business." - Sapa
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
20 August 2007
An official of the United Nations' refugee agency says a contingency plan it
has put in place for a possible flood of Zimbabwean refugees is just a
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres disclosed the existence
of the plan on the weekend to reporters, but said most of the Zimbabweans
pouring into neighboring countries are not seeking political asylum.
Consequently, said Guterres, currently in the Southern African region to
assess the situation in Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa, said his agency
has no mandate to intervene on behalf of the millions of Zimbabweans who
have left their homeland.
An estimated 2 million to 3 million Zimbabweans have crossed into South
Africa, most illegally, some to flee political persecution but most to seek
economic survival. Many thousands more have migrated to neighboring Botswana
"It is our wish that the problems in Zimbabwe will be solved," Guterres told
reporters. "We have no mandate to intervene but we are discussing with the
humanitarian community to see how we can help."
Agency spokesman Andre Mahecic told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the UNHCR has not declared a crisis because most
of the Zimbabwean emigrés by their own admission are fleeing economic
Project lawyer Anna Yvonne Moyo of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum in Johannesburg
said the UNHCR's position can be justified - but that the agency should
overhaul its police to be able to relieve those who do not strictly qualify
By Carole Gombakomba
20 August 2007
The Zimbabwean government has denied that a sharp increase in cases of
diarrhea is related to chronic water shortages in Harare and other cities,
although the state-run Herald newspaper has quoted Harare's top health
official, Prosper Chonzi, as saying city health centers are treating around
900 cases of diarrheal disease a day.
Chonzi told the Herald that public health officials fear "the situation
might get out of hand" if there the regular flow of water to Zimbabwean
cities is not restored. Most of the country's major cities have had severe
water shortages in recent months due to electrical power shortages,
breakdowns, or a lack of water purification chemicals.
But Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti told reporter Carole Gombakomba of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that there is no evidence the "watery diarrhea
and dysentery" are linked to water shortages, adding that the latest
outbreaks are not "serious."
But opposition lawmaker Blessing Chebundo, chairman of the parliamentary
committee on health, said that in cities where the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority has taken over municipal water systems, residents have been going
without water for days or weeks, increasing their risk of infection by
drinking water from other sources.
Chebundo cited the recent firings of two senior engineers in connection with
the crisis at Harare's Morton Jaffray water plant as an indication that all
is not well in the state water authority's operations in the Zimbabwean
Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for
Human Rights, said any disease outbreak in a city should be taken seriously.
20 August 2007
The Voice of America (VOA) has expanded its Studio 7 broadcasts to Zimbabwe
with the addition of one-hour programs Saturday and Sunday in response to
the country's deepening crisis, upcoming elections and state jamming of VOA
The expansion, implemented on the weekend of Aug. 18-19, bolstered Studio
7's previous schedule of 90-minute evening broadcasts Monday through Friday
Studio 7 programs now air seven days a week at 7 p.m. Zimbabwe time (1700
UTC) on 909 medium wave and on 4930, 13755 and 15775 kiloHertz shortwave.
The weekend programs comprise 20-minute segments in the indigenous Shona and
Ndebele languages as well as English, which is widely spoken in Zimbabwe.
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe has been on the air since January 2003 and
posted strong audience growth through 2005 and 2006 to establish an audience
of more than 1 million listeners in the Southern African country. Jamming of
Studio 7's medium-wave signal began in mid-2006 and the government has
acknowledged it is responsible.
The Saturday-Sunday programs will pursue breaking or developing stories
while presenting discussions on critical topics including the continuing
political and economic crisis, efforts to mediate a solution to the crisis,
intensifying shortages of food and other essential goods, and efforts to
stem a major HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Studio 7 will add audience participation to the mix with callbacks to
listeners who would like to express their views on news topics, especially
in the run-up to the general and presidential elections to be held in March
Since its inception, Studio 7 has established itself in Zimbabwe as a
reliable source of objective and balanced news and analysis of the evolving
crisis that has pitted the government and ruling ZANU-PF party of President
Robert Mugabe against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and
civil society groups.
Studio 7 is produced by the Zimbabwe Project, which is funded by the U.S.
Agency for International Development and is managed and operated by the
Voice of America.
Studio 7 is edited by a staff of Zimbabwean emigré journalists and
contributors on the ground in Zimbabwe. On the Web
(http://www.studio7news.com) Studio offers reports in English, Shona and
Ndebele, and e-mail newsletters in all three languages. Web visitors can
also listen to Studio 7 daily programs through streaming audio.
Opposition leaders and civil society activists cite Studio 7 broadcasts as a
major factor in the democratic reform process given the virtual exclusion of
dissenting voices in the state media. Studio 7 provided extensive and
balanced coverage of the 2005 general election and delivered intense,
high-impact reporting on the government's May-July 2005 campaign of forced
evictions and home demolitions.
Reporter Carole Gombakomba's telephone interviews with victims of the
exercise received a 2006 commendation from the Association of International
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia
international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the
Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of
news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an
estimated worldwide audience of more than 115 million people in 45