International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: August 26, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Workers were readying displays on Sunday for Zimbabwe's
weeklong agricultural showcase, despite the country's collapsing farm
industry and worsening food shortages.
The Harare Show, to be opened Monday by Equatorial Guinea's dictator Teodoro
Obiang Ngeuma, will feature exhibitions including more than 100 cattle,
goats, pigs, guinea fowl, rabbits and chickens, the state Sunday Mail
reported, citing organizers.
One planned highlight is a livestock auction on Thursday, and as Zimbabwe -
once southern Africa's main agricultural exporter - faces acute shortages of
meat and staple foods, many of the animals were expected to quickly
disappear into the cooking pot.
Organizers said the show's theme this year was "Our Task to Feed the Nation,
Time for Innovation."
Obiang's participation reflects his government's strengthening ties with
that of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, whose country faces growing
international isolation over its economic meltdown and record on human and
Few Zimbabweans had heard of distant Equatorial Guinea until 2004, when a
group of white-led mercenary suspects headed for the oil-rich West Africa
nation was captured after their plane landed in Harare to collect weapons
bought from the Zimbabwe state arms maker.
Zimbabwe's alliance with Equatorial Guinea had brought hopes of a gasoline
deal to ease chronic shortages of fuel.
But gas shortages worsened sharply after a June 26 government decree to
slash prices on fuel and other goods and services in an effort to tame
rampant inflation, officially at 7,636 percent - the highest in the world.
Independent estimates put real inflation closer to 25,000 percent.
The price cuts have left shelves bare of cornmeal, meat, bread, eggs, milk,
sugar, tea and other staples, forcing shoppers to stand in long lines for
limited supplies, and leading many stores to close early to avert unrest.
Two people were killed in a stampede for sugar earlier this month.
Mugabe has blamed the crisis on Western economic sanctions, imposed to
protest Zimbabwean policies criticized for leading to political and economic
Foreign loans, aid and investment have dried since 2000, when the government
began seizing thousands of white-owned commercial farms, disrupting the
agriculture-based economy in the former regional breadbasket.
Western nations have imposed travel restrictions on Mugabe and ruling party
leaders. Britain last week added central bank governor Gideon Gono to its
list of prohibited Zimbabweans, accusing him of helping to fund government
policies that led to corruption and the undermining of democracy and the
rule of law. The governor also allowed extra money to be printed, despite
Australia said last week it was mounting "smart sanctions" against the
children of Zimbabwean leaders studying there. Among those facing expulsion
were Gono's son Peter and twin daughters Praise and Pride.
Hundreds of banned leaders' children are studying at universities and
colleges in Australia, Britain and the United States.
Zimbabwe's main university in Harare, meanwhile, is near collapse, due to
shortages of staff, books, stationary, food, water and electricity supplies.
Portable toilet cabins have been set up on the campus.
The week's news was not good for Zimbabwean soccer fans either. The national
soccer team dropped out of the world soccer body's list of 100 competitive
teams for the first time since independence in 1980.
Janine Macdonald | August 27, 2007
JOHN Howard is hosting a visit by Zimbabwean Opposition Leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, in yet another move to isolate Robert Mugabe by highlighting to
the Australian public the thuggery of his regime.
Flown to Australia under a shroud of secrecy for his own protection, Mr
Tsvangirai arrived on Saturday in Perth -- where he has relatives -- and is
expected to fly to Melbourne today for the formal start of
In a deliberate snub to Mugabe, the Movement for Democratic Change president
will meet the Prime Minister -- who as chairman of CHOGM in 1999 built the
commonwealth sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies -- and Foreign Affairs
Minister Alexander Downer.
Beaten by Mugabe's thugs in March, Mr Tsvangirai will use his visit to
detail to Australians at large the human rights abuses of Mugabe and his
ruling ZanuPF regime.
Also wounded in the series of mass beatings by Mugabe thugs in police
detention after being arrested on trumped-up charges was former Australian
resident Sekai Holland.
Mugabe, presiding over the economic annihilation of the country he has led
since 1980, said at a regional conference, after Mr Howard and other world
leader had condemned the bashings, that the victims "had asked for it".
Mr Howard has invited Mr Tsvangirai to Australia under the federal
Government's official visitor's program for a week of meetings and to
address human rights and international policy forums on the human rights
situation in Zimbabwe.
The visit follows Australia's targeted sanctions against Mugabe, including
the decision to revoke the study visas of eight adult children of senior
government officials blacklisted by the commonwealth, US and European Union.
Immigration officials have refused a further two visas, and will screen all
future applications to ensure the children of banned officials and regime
supporters are not able to study in Australia.
Mr Tsvangirai, a former union leader, is the only credible challenger to
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the visit
"provided an opportunity to underline Australia's determination to see a
return to democracy, good governance and rational economic policy in
Zimbabwe (and) reflects the long-standing community interest in Australia on
developments in Zimbabwe".
The spokesman said that Australia was dismayed by the Mugabe regime's gross
"Its recent attempt to address hyperinflation (estimated at more than 10,000
per cent) by halving the prices of consumer goods only accelerated the
disintegration of the formal economy," he said.
It is understood that Mr Tsvangirai was allowed to leave Zimbabwe on the
pretext of attending an African leaders' summit and the visit has been kept
quiet by Australian authorities until now to ensure his safe departure from
Mail and Guardian
Godfrey Marawanyika | Harare, Zimbabwe
26 August 2007 09:19
A drop in the monthly inflation rate may have been greeted with
sighs of relief by the Zimbabwean government, but analysts and consumers
have seen little evidence that the economy has turned a corner.
After suppressing inflation data since May, the central
statistics office announced last week that while the annual rate had hit a
new high of 7 634,8%, month-on-month inflation in July was 31,6%, a fall of
54,6 percentage points on the June rate.
Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi said the figure vindicated
the government's imposition of price cuts in late June, which effectively
forced businesses and retailers to halve their tariffs.
But with shelves bare of everyday commodities such as cooking
oil and sugar, most Zimbabweans find themselves paying well above the
official rate on the black market where the decline in the official
inflation rate is irrelevant.
"The ordinary consumer is paying more than the actual price.
This is the real inflation, not the inflation they show on graphs," said
Daniel Ndlela, an economist with Zimconsult. "The said deceleration is only
good for those who want to believe their own lies."
Ndlela said there is evidence of a crisis everywhere, citing an
example of people who were lined up at a hardware store to buy cement at the
government price of Z$150 000 per 50kg.
"The queue resembled a desperate situation of people trying to
enter Rufaro Stadium [in Harare] to watch a popular soccer match," he said.
The prospective buyers were not "building homes or anything, but they will
just resell the same bag at Z$1,5-million around the corner. "That is real
inflation, not what we hear."
Nothing to buy
Lucky Mapfumo (23), a University of Zimbabwe medical student,
said a slowdown of the inflation juggernaut means little if there is nothing
to buy. "I have plenty of money on me, but I can not buy anything because
there is nothing in the shops," he said. "We heard the government reduced
prices, but I don't remember the last time I had bread and now we hear that
inflation is slowing down."
Conscious of the widespread shortages, the government announced
on Wednesday the prices of some goods such as cooking oil and sugar could be
increased but most shops in Harare remained bereft of such items.
While the price crackdown was initially welcomed as it enabled
Zimbabweans to stock up on goods that had been out of their price range, the
subsequent shortages as a result of manufacturers being unable to cover
their costs has stoked resentment towards the government.
Witness Chinyama, a Harare-based independent economist, said the
suppressed inflation and price cuts were never going to work. "The way
forward for government is to now try and stabilise the macroeconomic
environment," he said. "What was announced is simply suppressed inflation,
which is not helpful because they are suppressing the symptoms and not the
Tapiwa Mashakada, secretary for economic affairs for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, forecast the slowdown of
inflation would be temporary. "People have become professionals queueing for
basic commodities and there is untold suffering as result of government
actions," Mashakada said.
Deputy Industry Minister Phineas Chihota said although inflation
is decelerating, more still needs to be done. "As government, we have a
distressed funding scheme for companies which we avail funds to firms at
very low interest," he said. "By availing funds cheaply, this will result in
goods being available in the shops and this will benefit the ordinary men in
Zimbabwe was previously regarded as a regional bread basket, but
the economy first ran into trouble in 2000 when President Robert Mugabe
ordered the seizure of white-owned farms that had been a major source of
The situation has worsened in the intervening years to such an
extent that more than three million Zimbabweans have fled the country and
four out of five people are now unemployed.
Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, has blamed the
former British colony's economic woes on targeted sanctions imposed by the
West over allegations he rigged his re-election in 2002. -- Sapa-AFP
At last a brilliant summer day. We have had a rather dismal spell in London
recently but today the clouds were gone. It was also great to have so many
people able to stay on for a post-Vigil planning meeting at our local pub.
First we wanted to organise our parallel Vigil at Zimfest next Satuday (1st
September). Zimfest is a largely white event held in London every year and
we want to encourage people there to give more support to the struggle. We
are having a stand there with banners, petitions and leaflets. Hopefully,
we'll even be having our usual drumming and singing. Many thanks to Luka
Phiri and Chipo Chaya for liaising with the Zimfest organisers to arrange
this. Of course the normal Vigil will be help as usual.
We also discussed the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum event at London's
Chathan House at lunchtime on Tuesday, 4th September. It is the 10th
anniversary of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace's account of
Gukurahundi, "Breaking the Silence". A second edition (with an introduction
by Elinor Sisulu and a new foreword by Archbishop Pius Ncube is being
launched. Arrangements are being made for a group of Vigil supporters to
We have been invited to contribute a speaker and a singing/dancing group to
a film festival "Ndinadsawapanga" which means "I will tell" in the Senna
dialect (Mozambique). They would like someone to speak about the situation
in Zimbabwe from a Christian perspective after the showing of the film
"Innocent Voices" in London next Saturday evening. The organiser, Jenni
Lee, wrote to us "I have walked past your vigil a number of times and heard
the beautiful voices and seen the dancing of the Zimbabwean people. It would
be wonderful if a small group would perform one or two short songs before
the screening". Dumi Tutani is co-ordinating our participation.
We firmed up plans for our special literature event at the Vigil taking
place on 8th September as part of a worldwide reading for Zimbabwe organised
by the International Literature Festival of Berlin. Our event will take
place between 3.30 and 5 pm. Several Vigil supporters have volunteered to
do the readings which will be interspersed with singing. The readings
comprise poems by Chenjerai Hove, Chirikuré Chirikuré and Dumbudzo
Marecharas, and Elinor Sisulu's introduction to the Gukurahundi book. More
information can be found on http://www.literaturfestival.com/. Thanks to
Chipo for organizing the programme.
We also discussed possible venues for the social event after the
commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the Vigil on Saturday, 13th October.
A cooking team has been agreed made up of Gugu Tutani-Ndhlovu, Agnes
Zengaya, Netsai Matambadanzo and Addley Nyamutaka. It was agreed we needed
a venue where we could have our own music and provide our own food and
The Vigil celebrated the birthdays of two staunch supporters: Moses
Kandiyawo, responsible for Vigil youth / student liaison, and Gugu, mother
of baby Zizi who gives everybody so much pleasure.
We were pleased to meet Caroline and her two daughters. Caroline is married
to a Zimbabwean and took away our petitions to be signed tin her shop in
south London. Other visitors from Mutare showed us low denomination Zimbabwe
currency which they said nobody would bother to pick up from the ground.
Another passer-by had just returned from Victoria Falls and reported that he
was not allowed to pay for anything in local currency. This was made more
expensive because there was no change given for foreign currency.
For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/
FOR THE RECORD: 118 signed the register. Supporters from Banbury, Bedford,
Birmingham, Bolton, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool Manchester,
Newcastle, North Wales, Northampton, Sheffield, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent,
Wolverhampton and many from London and South East England.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
- Monday, 27th August 2007 - there will be no Central London
Zimbabwe Forum because it is a public holiday.
- Saturday, 1st September 2007, 12 noon - 10 pm. Zimfest 2007 (food,
sports, music). Venue: Prince Georges Playing Fields, Bushey Rd, Raynes
Park, London, SW20 9NB. A group of Vigil supporters will be there at a
parallel Zimbabwe Vigil. For more information check: www.wezimbabwe.com.
- Tuesday, 4th September, 12 - 1.30 pm. The International Liaison
Office of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum will be hosting 'Zimbabwe's
Gukurahundi: Lessons from the 1980-1988 disturbances in Matabeleland and The
Midlands' at Chatham House in London. Further information on the Chatham
House website at: http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/events/view/-/id/572/.
- Friday, 7th September 2007, 6.30 pm. Debate on human rights opened
by barrister James Keeley. Discussion on Zimbabwe led by Albert Weidemann.
Venue: Ripon, North Yorkshire, Address: YMCA, Water Skellgate, HG4 1BQ. For
more information, contact: Albert Weidemann on 01765-607900 or mobile 0779
- Saturday, 8th September, 2 -6 pm. Special literature event at the
Vigil as part of a worldwide reading for Zimbabwe. Readings have been
chosen by the International Literature Festival of Berlin to be read and
broadcast around the world on 9th September. We have chosen the nearest
Vigil to do this. For details, check http://www.literaturfestival.com/.
- Monday, 10th September 2007. The Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign, as
agreed with Ian Paisley Jnr, are presenting a petition to Stormont. They
plan to do a presentation to the assembly members in the long gallery and
then get as many members as possible to sign the petition in front of the
- Saturday, 13th October, 2 - 6 pm. Zimbabwe Vigil's 5th Anniversary
followed by a social event.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
BY WALTER MARWIZI
A Parliamentary Committee says conditions at Zimbabwe's National
Youth Service (Border Gezi) Centres are appalling, and has recommended they
be shut down until there is enough food to feed the recruits.
The report, presented to the House of Assembly last Thursday, followed
assessments at Dadaya (Zvishavane) and Guyu (Gwanda), between November 2006
and March this year.
The report revealed students were near-starvation and living in
The portfolio committee on Youth, Gender and Women's Affairs, said the
students' diet fell short of the prescribed government dietary requirements,
putting at risk the health of the students who undertook gruelling physical
The committee, chaired by Gutu South MP Shuvai Mahofa, said: "While
the centres could previously manage to feed the trainees, the current
intakes had suffered greatly due to lack of finances to buy food. The
trainees were given a cup of porridge with no sugar in the morning.
"Lunch was always sadza and beans or vegetables without cooking oil."
The committee said trainers had told them the food did not provide
enough energy as required by the vigorous exercises they undertook.
The trainees undergo ten-foot drill programmes designed to "instill a
sense of discipline".
Critics have claimed the exercises are designed to prepare them for
the violent campaigns the youths, nicknamed "the Green Bombers" or
"militias" carry out against opposition supporters.
They have been accused of raping and murdering MDC activists.
The committee condemned the infrastructure at the centres, describing
it as appalling.
"At Guyu National Youth Service Centre, the Committee was horrified by
the state of the barracks. They had no doors or windows and the students
complained about finding cats and snakes in the barracks," said the report.
Another concern was that female trainees were not provided with
At Guyu, trainees told committee members they had only been given
sanitary wear two days before the committee arrived.
But what impressed the committee was that female trainees were now
wearing decent shorts. During a tour of National Youth Service Centres in
2003 they discovered that female trainees were not happy with what they were
required to wear during training.
"The length of the shorts that they wore made the girls uncomfortable
in front of male trainees and instructors. The Committee made a
recommendation that the issue be looked into and was pleased to find out
that the recommendation had been taken up and the female students now wore
longer shorts that they were happy with."
The committee found that lecturers were mainly people with a military
background - retired army personnel, war veterans and others with a military
"The Committee recommends that the centre should have other ordinary
civilians as trainers as these would have a different frame of mind and
would enable diversity in what the students learn. Social workers,
counsellors, teachers etc could also be incorporated in the teaching staff."
But it is not only the youth service centres that have been affected
by the food shortages as other government-run vocational training centres
have fallen victim.
The committee noted that apart from food shortages, Kaguvi training
centre had a shortage of pots "such that the sadza was cooked in a pot where
vegetables or beans had just been turned out.
The committee noted that the sadza had a brownish/greying colour and
the kitchen was heavily infested with cockroaches and was dirty and
The committee noted an incident at the training centre when army
personnel, from the Operation Maguta programme based at the centre and
National Youth Service students were engaged in a food battle.
"An upheaval arose over the issue of delays in the serving of food and
one student had had his arms broken," said the committee.
By Vusumuzi Sifile
and Kholwani Nyathi
THE Zanu-PF MP for Mudzi East constituency, Christopher Joseph Musa,
is embroiled in a wrangle with a Harare man after he demanded "ridiculous"
rentals, defying President Robert Mugabe's call for all rentals to be
Recently, Mugabe declared that "the moratorium on rent increases
remains in force" and warned landlords to "take note".
While other landlords were "taking note", the Zanu PF MP was charging
$30 million for a cottage at his house in Belvedere, Harare, it was alleged.
On Friday last week, Last Mapuranga, a tenant at the cottage, took
Musa to court after he raised rentals three times in one week from $1.8
million to $30 million. Harare Magistrate Brighton Pabwe granted Mapuranga a
peace order against the MP for the next 12 months.
Mapuranga moved into the cottage last February, and they agreed that
he would pay $1.8 million a month.
But on 25 June, Musa wrote to inform Mapuranga that "with effect from
01 July 2007, rentals for the premises have been reviewed upwards to $5
million, in line with the prevailing situation".
The letter was delivered on 28 June, two days before the due date.
Before Mapuranga could pay the new rent, he received another letter
informing him that the rent had been increased to $15 million.
Mapuranga says in his affidavit that he reported the case to the Rent
Board, which issued a Rent Restriction Order, reminding the MP that "rents
for residential dwellings have been frozen until further notice".
After the order, Mapuranga says the MP "started to act wildly", and
verbally informed him that his rent had doubled to $30 million.
But in his opposing affidavit, Musa said Mapuranga "is so stubborn"
and the contents of his founding affidavit "are completely surprising".
"Surely, how can a mere tenant who is not even paying rent state that
he is fed up with me?" he says. "How can a tenant talk of losing his temper
and ending up fighting with me . . .? Applicant is, with respect, an
unreasonable person. I am now living in perpetual fear because of his
conduct. He has no shame at all."
Meanwhile, businesses are reportedly queuing up to sue the government
for losses incurred during the government's price blitz, which left
retailers and other businesses tottering on the brink of collapse.
The lawsuits come at a time when the government has made a spectacular
policy about-turn and allowed businesses to review their prices.
The Minister of Industry and International Trade, Obert Mpofu
reportedly told a recent meeting with businesspeople in Hwange TM
Supermarkets had notified the government they intended to sue over the price
"The minister refused to entertain questions from a TM supermarket
manager, saying his company had taken the government to court," said a
source. "He said they will meet in court."
Last week, Mpofu confirmed the pending suit, referring questions to
the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa,
and the Attorney-General, Sobusa Gula Ndebele.
Chinamasa could not be reached for comment.
But TM Supermarkets group chief executive, Michael Oakley, denied his
company was suing the government.
A Zanu PF insider said the court challenges had been discussed in the
politburo and could have influenced the government to reverse the price
"It's not only one company that has indicated its intention to go to
court," said the source. "There are insurance companies who claim they lost
at least $3 billion after reversing premiums. It is also common cause that
retailers were the hardest hit."
It is understood companies are demanding compensation for losses
incurred during the blitz before the government formalised the price
controls that sought to roll back prices to pre-18 June levels.
By Vusumuzi Sifile
AS you drive along Simon Mazorodze road past the Nutresco premises in
Southerton industrial areas, Harare, in the morning, you are likely to come
across what appears, at first sight, to be a political rally.
There are always hundreds, at times, thousands of people gathered
outside the entrance.
A closer look establishes, most emphatically that this is not a
political rally: why would some of the people have wheelbarrows in front of
them, while others hold empty grain bags?
They are, in fact, some of the 4 200 Mbare residents who receive
monthly allocations of food aid sourced by a group of non-governmental
organisations and a food processing company.
In the past, food relief projects were usually associated with the
rural areas: now it is a regular phenomenon in the cities and towns.
The programme, targeting the under-privileged communities in the
oldest townships in all the major towns, has been going on since December
Among the beneficiaries are widows, orphans and other vulnerable
children. The Mbare programme is by far the biggest relief operation
targeting Zimbabwe's poor, hardest hit by the escalating economic crisis.
When The Standard visited the premises on Wednesday, the beneficiaries
were each being given 40kg of maize-meal, 750ml cooking oil, 375ml peanut
butter and 2kg beans.
Representatives of the organisations involved refused to provide
details, referring all inquiries to the District Administrator for Harare
Central, identified only as Masawi, who could not be reached on his mobile
An official involved in the programme could only disclose that it was
a joint initiative between local and international non-governmental
organisations, donors, and food manufacturing companies. All of them
realised the hardships facing many families in Mbare.
Among the key partners in the project are Oxfam International,
Africare, Care, Zimbabwe Project Trust, Blue Ribbon and Nutresco Foods.
The government, through the DA for Harare Central, apparently
"muscled" its way into the project.
"Basically, this is a joint initiative by local and international NGOs
and donors to assist vulnerable groups in major towns," said the official.
"In every town we operate in the oldest suburb. We do not just focus on
food, but the project has many other facets, such as shelter, clothing and
"Each beneficiary is given a food voucher with a date on which they
have to collect their food. Every month we dedicate one week to distributing
the food handouts. In fact, we distribute the food for four days, and then
dedicate the last day to those who would have failed to make it on the other
One beneficiary, Marian Chimuka, a 55-year-old Mbare widow, said the
handouts had become her only diet.
"If it wasn't for these handouts, we would be dead by now," she said.
"I stay with my two grandchildren, whose mother passed away. I used to sell
vegetables, but the money I made could not sustain us. The food I get here,
if used well, is enough to last me a month.
"The problem is that some of my neighbours now know the timetable, and
they come to ask for small portions each time I get my handouts. They say
there is no food at the shops."
Rhodes Marime, another beneficiary who left his job in 2000 because of
ill health, said the handouts had gone some way to alleviate their plight,
but were still not enough.
By Kholwani Nyathi
BULAWAYO - There was a verbal standoff between Governor Cain Mathema
and the city council last week over the fast deteriorating water situation
Since January, Bulawayo has decommissioned three of its five supply
dams following insignificant inflows during the 2006/7 rainy season -
plunging the city into an unprecedented crisis.
The water crisis sunk to new levels during the recent holidays as most
high-density suburbs are spending up to five days without water.
Already residential properties are limited to five-hour supplies of
water a day and last week council said it was extending the water cuts to
industries and the city centre, which could now affect major hospitals.
But Mathema, who has been on the warpath against the local authority
for resisting a Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) takeover of the
water supplies, said there was "something fishy going on".
"The decommissioned dams can provide up to 85 000 litres of water and
we do not know how council got to decommission those dams," he said in
response to the worsening situation.
Bulawayo consumes an average of 145 000 cubic metres of water a day
but council says following the decommissioning of Lower Ncema, Upper Ncema
and Umzingwane dams the available water is now down to 67 000 cubic metres.
Council hit back at Mathema, saying the governor needed to be
"educated" about laws governing the extraction of water and the gravity of
the crisis facing the city, which has been blamed on government dithering.
"I think he needs to be educated on this," said Pathisa Nyathi, the
"When you talk about a dam being decommissioned, it is a straight
forward matter in terms of the Water Act.
"We can't draw water to the last drop because there is aquatic life to
protect. At least one million cubic meters was left in each of those dams
when they were decommissioned, an amount which is very difficult to extract
Nyathi said the water situation was worsening faster than council had
anticipated, with levels at the Criterion and Magwegwe reservoirs falling
dramatically in the past few days.
"When we introduced the daily water cuts the city's consumption had
been expected to be 79 500 cubic metres a day but our reservoirs can only
supply 67 000 cubic metres," he said. "This is why some suburbs are no
longer receiving water during the allocated times."
The council has already started using water bowsers to supply areas
without boreholes. The government has been blamed for the water crisis since
it has not built an alternative source since 1976.
Despite signs that the city would completely run out of water, the
government has also failed to provide funding for the rehabilitation of
boreholes at the Nyamandlovu Aquifer, which can provide the city with 15 000
cubic metres of water a day.
ZINWA also belatedly started laying a pipeline linking the idle
Mtshabezi Dam to the city's water works and the project is unlikely to be
completed until the next rainy season. The remaining dams, Inyankuni and
Insiza, are expected to run dry between next month and October.
BY OUR STAFF
THE Standard Masvingo reporter Godfrey Mutimba was on Wednesday
illegally detained for four hours by rowdy Zanu PF militia at Mushayavanhu
business centre in Gutu district while carrying out his duties.
The militia was patrolling the area where a memorial service for the
MDC founding member Isaac Matongo was disrupted by heavily armed police over
the Heroes' Holidays.
Mutimba was following up reports that several villagers who defied
traditional leaders' orders not to attend the memorial service were being
victimised by Zanu PF officials.
There were also reports that Zanu PF militias had declared Gutu North
constituency a no-go area for suspected MDC members.
But Mutimba did not need to apply his journalistic skills to find out
whether this was fact or fiction.
The militias emerged from behind one shop at Mushayavanhu, armed with
sticks and sjamboks and confronted Mutimba, who was travelling with a
companion, Robert Chitanga.
"They ordered us to sit down and produce our IDs," said Mutimba.
"Their leader, Joe Masanga, claimed he had seen us earlier at Matongo's
memorial. He said we were back on a spying mission. They wanted to beat us
with sticks and sjamboks and for a moment I thought that was the end of my
For four hours the militias pushed and shoved Mutimba and his friend
while business was brought to a halt as shop attendants, shoppers and
passersby came to catch a glimpse of the drama.
Mutimba said the militias did not beat him after Masanga, who is the
ward 35 youth chairperson, was shown Mutimba's Media and Information
Commission (MIC) accreditation card.
Pleas by Bill Saidi, Deputy Editor of The Standard, for the militias
to release Mutimba, who phoned the newsroom in Harare, were in vain.
They only released him after they contacted ward 35 Zanu PF
councillor, Benson Dandira, who was at Mupandawana growth point, 15km away.
Dandira is said to have told Mutimba's captors to release him as he was an
By our staff
THE government bungled closure of private abattoirs when it decreed
the Cold Storage Company (CSC) should be solely responsible for procuring,
processing and marketing of beef, The Standard has learnt.
Last week, in one of several instances of admission of its failure,
Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Industry and International Trade, also chairman
of the Cabinet Taskforce on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation, ordered
private abattoirs be re-licensed.
Details of what the re-licensing entailed were unintelligible, with
industry sources saying the government had panicked on realising the extent
of its mistake and was scurrying around trying to cover up the
The government has not said exactly which abattoirs it has
re-licensed, again raising suspicions that figures with absolutely no
meaning were being bandied around in order to pacify an increasingly
restless public, irked by continued shortage of beef.
Calls to the major abattoirs in the country found many still closed
with staff bamboozled by government's decree which led to closure of the
But industry sources, reluctant to be identified, told The Standard
the CSC ceased to be a significant player in the industry in 1992. A year
later, they said, the wholly government-owned company was slaughtering 260
000 cattle, while private abattoirs were at 345 000.
"By last year (2006)," sources said, "CSC commanded only 2% of the
total market while private abattoirs controlled 98% of the share of the meat
Current performance of the CSC, said the sources, showed that the
company's abattoirs in Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Masvingo and Marondera were
operating at less than 10%.
"This," explained one of the industry players "indicates that CSC has
no capacity to provide for the nation's beef requirements."
CSC's lack of capacity saw its foreign currency earnings from beef
exports declining from about US$40 million in 1996 to less than US$500 000
Consequently, even its beef exports to Hong Kong, which the government
made so much of as proof of the benefits of the Look East policy, are
expected to decline, as the government scrambles to put in place measures to
fight off a potential uprising over meat shortages.
Industry players told The Standard the government was shooting itself
in the foot as the loss of export revenues was expected to worsen Zimbabwe's
foreign exchange shortages.
"The cancellation of licences for private abattoirs means CSC is
responsible for meat supplies throughout the country," said one of the
industry players, who preferred anonymity, "but based on its current
performance, it has no capacity to fulfil domestic requirements. That is why
there is a shortage of meat."
The best solution, the sources said, was for private abattoirs to be
allowed to operate alongside the CSC because there was no way it could
realistically be expected to meet national demand.
The fiasco over private abattoirs is one of many recent ill-advised
measures by the government that have left many shops empty because
manufacturers cannot operate under a command system.
BY OUR STAFF
BULAWAYO - Residents in most of the city's high-density suburbs have
gone for more than a week without water as the crisis that has seen council
decommission three dams inside six months continues to worsen.
Council has blamed the shortages on low water levels at its Magwegwe
and Criterion reservoirs, which now supply a mere 67 000 cubic metres a day
against normal requirements of about 145 000 cubic metres.
Following the introduction of seven-hour daily water cuts last month
the council had envisaged that it would be able to pump 79 500 cubic metres
But the situation seems to have taken a turn for the worse as the
pumping capacity from the remaining two dams - Insiza and Inyankuni - is
failing to cope with demand.
"The situation is deteriorating very fast," council spokesman, Pathisa
Nyathi said last week.
Meanwhile, the water crisis is having a significant effect on the
daily lives of residents who now spend most of their time queuing at
boreholes or at council water points.
An overwhelming majority of people living in high-density areas are
being forced to forgo basic hygienic requirements such as bathing regularly.
Some have to walk long distances to the nearest boreholes to draw
water, while profiteers have seen a business opportunity in selling water
from unprotected wells and containers at exorbitant prices.
"There are gangs, which have emerged and are digging wells and selling
water to residents," said Bulawayo deputy mayor, Phil Lamola. "But there is
serious danger that these wells might be poisoned because they are not
For others, bathing has become a luxury as they reserve the little
available water for cooking, laundry and flashing toilets. Instead of
bathing, they wipe themselves with damp towels.
"I have not taken a bath for two days," Mxolisi Khumalo of Entumbane
said. "When do I get the time to fetch water from boreholes when I am
supposed to be at work?"
He walks a round journey of about 15 kilometers to and from work in
the Kelvin North Industrial Sites, where he is employed as a carpenter
because he cannot afford bus fare.
By Kholwani Nyathi
BULAWAYO - The High Court has ordered police officers who invaded a
safari farm in Matabeleland North to vacate the property immediately and
return vehicles they seized from the commercial farmer.
Last month, heavily armed police officers evicted Margaret Joubert and
her 83-year-old mother, Ellen Maud Dolphin, from their Portwe Estates in
Bubi District at gunpoint.
The police, who say they want to turn the farm into a ZRP enterprise,
also evicted farm workers and dumped them in their communal areas.
The terrified workers were reportedly told never to set foot in the
Police also seized Joubert's three vehicles, computers and three
elephant tusks, while several hunting rifles were confiscated by police
during earlier raids as they tried to force one of the few remaining
commercial farmers in the province off the property.
But on Thursday Justice Nicholas Ndou ruled that the occupation of the
farm by the police was illegal. He said the seized property should be
The evictions were in contempt of another High Court ruling by Justice
Francis Bere in May ordering the police who had invaded the farm to vacate
and stop interfering with its operations.
After the eviction, Joubert, now staying with well wishers, made an
urgent High Court application for the release of the property and the
eviction of the illegal settlers.
Martha Cheda assisted by Eric Moyo defended the police while Advocate
Tim Cherry represented Joubert.
The government recently instructed chief land officers in all the
provinces to cause the arrest of white farmers who remain on land earmarked
for acquisition after the expiry of their notices of eviction.
But the Commercial Farmers' Union, representing an estimated 600 white
farmers, says contrary to assertions that white farmers were resisting the
government's land reform programme, most of those still on their farms were
awaiting the outcome of applications, lodged with the government, for land.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
CHIMANIMANI - The Grain Marketing Board is allegedly preventing
poverty-stricken villagers in Chimanimani district from sourcing enough
maize to feed their families, The Standard was told last week.
The GMB allows a person to bring in only a single bag of maize from
farms in Chipinge or Chimanimani, a distance of 100km.
Among the most affected areas are Hotsprings, Nyanyadzi, Gudyanga,
Tonhorai in Chimanimani as well as Maunganidze and Birchenough Bridge in
Chipinge district, where most of the villagers did not harvest any crops
last season due to drought.
Most villagers buy maize or exchange old clothes for maize on farms
near Chimanimani and Chipinge towns, where commercial farmers reportedly
harvested surplus maize.
The restrictions on maize movement are forcing villagers to make
weekly trips to Chipinge or Chimanimani, draining the little financial
resources the poverty-stricken villagers have.
One of the villagers from Tonhorai village, Amon Sithole, said it did
not make sense for the GMB to limit the amount of maize a person was allowed
to bring home when there was a serious food crisis in the area.
Sithole urged government to lift the restriction, saying he looks
after about 15 dependants and a single bag of maize does not last two weeks.
"I make at least two trips to Chipinge in a fortnight to buy maize for
my family because the GMB only allows us to bring in one at a time, which is
not enough," said Sithole.
If a villager is caught with more than one bag of maize, the rest is
confiscated and sold at the nearest GMB depot, where it fetches very little
money, he said.
"I had secured five 50 kg bags of maize in Chipinge but four of them
were seized at a roadblock. The officers gave me receipts and said I should
come and collect my money at Chipangayi depot," said another villager,
Detserai Mukono of Tonhorai village.
The GMB public relations manager, Muriel Zemura, could not be reached
But GMB loss control department on Wednesday maintained that no maize
could be moved from one area to another without their written authorization.
An official with the department said if a person intended to move more
than three 50 kg bags of maize, they should seek a permit from GMB.
"The person should give reasons for the movement, date and quantity of
maize. If he or she once sold maize to GMB that person should also attach
proof of that," said the official.
But the Movement for Democratic Change spokesperson for Manicaland
province, Pishai Muchauraya said restricting the movement of grain in the
country demonstrates the government's failure to feed the people.
"If we had good agricultural policies, as we did years ago, the
farmers would be actually battling to source markets to sell their maize,"
he said. "This is just a result of poor policies."
He said at every roadblock there would be a police officer, a soldier
and a GMB official to make sure no one passes through with more than one bag
Since the government-sponsored land invasions in 2000, Zimbabwe, once
the breadbasket of the Southern African region, has not been able to achieve
BY OUR STAFF
THE Domestic Workers Union (DWU) has described the newly gazetted
domestic workers' minimum wages and allowances as outrageous.
In a supplement to the Government Gazette dated 20 July 2007, domestic
workers' minimum wages and allowances were increased with effect from 1
This saw the lowest earning domestic worker getting $120 000, while
the highest paid will get $142 336.
The general secretary for the Domestic Workers' Union, Helarious Ruyi,
said the union would not comply with the government minimum wages, as they
could not sustain basic needs.
"Our union has pegged the minimum wage of domestic workers at $1.3
million for the least paid," Ruyi said. "There are four grades in which
these workers are placed and for each grade there is a difference of $50
Domestic workers who spoke to The Standard said the government should
consider them as workers who also have families to look after.
"Inasmuch as government has tried to control prices, with these
gazetted wages, I have to work for the whole year to afford to visit my
family in the rural areas," said Mavis Moyo, a domestic worker in Glen View.
Some employers said that the gazetted minimum wages do not recognise
the importance of the domestic worker.
"The domestic worker is very important in our daily lives," said
Rejoice Chisi an employer. "If my child minder decides not to come to work
it means I will have to miss work that day and look after my baby. The
minimum wage should allow them to meet the necessary basics."
The domestic workers' union, however, has launched an advocacy
programme to lobby employers to be more sensitive to the needs of their
workers and pay them accordingly.
By Our Staff
FOLLOWING the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act, the United
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the government and
the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers' Association is training hundreds of traditional
leaders across the country.
The training ensures more than 300 chiefs are reached with information
on how they can interpret and apply the Act, stop abuse, and offer support
to victims in their communities.
"Chiefs play a pivotal role in settling domestic disputes across rural
Zimbabwe," said Unicef representative, Dr Festo Kavishe. "They are often the
custodians of traditional law and receive the bulk of cases dealing with
domestic violence. Yet too often in the past they have lacked the power and
knowledge to prevent and adequately respond to domestic violence."
Amid continuing economic hardships, unemployment at 70%, and a growing
HIV/Aids crisis, anecdotal evidence has shown, not only an increase, but
severity in domestic violence. In Zimbabwe 95% of the victims of domestic
violence are women.
"Advocating for a Domestic Violence law was a triumph, a great first
stride," said Unicef's gender focal person, Jelda Nhliziyo. "But this is the
beginning. The greatest challenges lie ahead. We must fight to change
mindsets, entrenched values and habits, and in this struggle traditional
leaders are the key."
The training has enabled 300 chiefs to create community-level systems
to support survivors of violence. It has also provided a forum for ongoing
dialogue on the growing problem of violence in the family setting and how to
curb it. In addition to chiefs, the Unicef training brought together
councillors, Members of Parliament, government and civil society to exchange
The Domestic Violence Act provides Zimbabwe with clear laws against
violence in the home. The Act protects victims of domestic violence and
provides long-term measures through among other things, stiffer sentences in
criminal matters and placing special duties on police to assist victims and
providing for special domestic violence sections at police stations.
Nonetheless, there remains a widespread lack of knowledge about the
Act (which became law in 2006), and its provisions. In particular, many are
unaware that physical, psychological and emotional abuse are grounds for
protection and that a protection order can remain in force when a protected
person is living with the perpetrator. The engagement of traditional
leadership aims to address these knowledge gaps.
Beyond the training, Unicef is actively engaged in working to reduce
domestic violence in Zimbabwe. Unicef also trains pastors, police and
communities on handling domestic violence, together with teachers on how
they can provide life skills to victims of violence. It works with
community-based counsellors to identify and counsel survivors of domestic
"Some of the biggest victims of domestic violence are the smallest,"
said Kavishe. "Protecting children should be the absolute concern of
everybody who is working to see an end to domestic violence."
DESPITE the proliferation of
organisations ostensibly dedicated to the welfare of abandoned and orphaned
children in the cities and towns, a solution to the problem seems as far
away as it has ever been, according to many people involved in this largely
Others are calling for drastic reforms in the child protection laws of
the country, as they believe the present legal arrangements are not enough
to ameliorate the state of the child.
Recently, The Standard's Zvipo Muzambi conducted a survey of the
street life of the child in Harare. She also sounded out the concerns of the
army of volunteers who spend largely thankless hours trying to improve the
welfare of - the children.
Tawanda Maronga spends his day in the streets of Harare selling sweets
or begging for money.
Like many other children found on the streets, Tawanda exudes
confidence and has developed the uncanny knack of evading municipal police,
whose daily routine is to pounce on vendors, confiscating their wares.
The only time the streetwise Tawanda loses his cool and looks as
vulnerable as a bird with a broken wing is when one starts talking of his
At 13, Tawanda should be in Form One but he has never set foot in a
classroom because his mother says she cannot afford the fees.
"My mother is blind," he said last week.
"I am told that my father passed away when I was just a baby," he
says, suppressing a choke in his voice, trying hard to hold back the tears.
"The only place I knew as my home in Mbare was destroyed under Operation
"We don't have a home anymore. I sleep at Mbare bus terminus with my
The Roman Catholic Church in Mbare can only provide us with blankets.
here looking for money to make things easier for my mother."
Tawanda's companion is seven-year-old Marvellous Muvha, who has learnt
to toil for her own education at that tender age.
While girls of her age spend most of their time playing, she spends
the day sitting at a street corner, selling sweets and cigarettes.
"I stay in Epworth with my mother and I come here everyday," she said.
"My mother leaves me here while she goes to search for goods with reduced
prices. I go to school at Domboramwari Primary in Epworth and this business
contributes to my school fees. My mother can only afford to feed me and my
Marvellous said her father abandoned them after he married another
Tawanda and Marvellous are among many Zimbabwean children who have
become victims to the harsh economic meltdown. As the hardships worsen, many
children now work in the streets of Harare, trying to raise money to help
their families keep the wolf from the door.
The children, many from broken homes, are spotted in the city, selling
cigarettes, brooms and fruits. Some said they had to work because fewer and
fewer Zimbabweans were now willing to help their parents with handouts: they
too may have hit rock-bottom as a result of the deepening economic crisis.
Research by New Hope Foundation, a child care organisation,
many of the children living and working on the streets were victims of
the government's controversial clean-up operation launched two years ago.
"A good number of them are coming from our operational areas such as
Hopley, Dzivaresekwa, Caledonia and Epworth," said David Chitsungo, a
grants, development and compliance officer with New Hope Foundation.
"The children lack sustainable sources of livelihood. Seventy percent
of them are HIV and Aids orphans," he said. "As a result they find
sustenance from working for themselves and begging on the streets."
But in the streets, the children are exposed to many forms of abuse.
Young girls are the most vulnerable to exploitation as they are
desperate for survival. Many of them are taken from the streets and end up
in the brothels where they are abused.
Betty Makoni, director and founder of Girl Child Network said: "The
worst thing that can happen to a child is to be working on the streets.
There is so much potential in these children. My worry is why we still see
so many children on the streets when there are many child-care
organisations. There is need to redirect our efforts for us to achieve
Makoni said the "street life" of the girl child was harder than that
of boys as they doubled up as commercial sex workers at night.
"The girl child has a double tragedy -being a child who needs to be
looked after, and a woman at night. This is both child labour and
BY OUR STAFF
THE African Development Bank (ADB) has cited Zimbabwe as a bad debtor
as scrutiny into its embattled economy continues.
The remarks are contained in a statement by the bank's vice-president
in charge of Infrastructure, Water and Sanitation, Private Sector
development, and regional integration and trade, Dr Mandla Gantsho, on the
"We haven't lent to Zimbabwe, for example, because the country is in
arrears on its loan repayment obligations to the AfDB," he said.
His comments follow recent sentiments by the International Monetary
Fund's managing director, Rodrigo Rato; quoted in the Mozambican media as
saying the IMF board was yet to reach a consensus on the restoration of
Zimbabwe's voting rights, suspended four years ago.
Last February, the IMF promised to review Zimbabwe's position after
six months, which occurs this month.
Other financial giants to recently cast votes of no confidence against
Zimbabwe include the South African Reserve Bank and the Standard Bank Group.
Gantsho was discussing the ambitious idea of a unitary government for
Africa and what he anticipates for the Bank in its regional integration
activities if the idea came to fruition.
He said the bank was currently finding it difficult to work with
individual countries in financial straits, such as Zimbabwe.
He was optimistic the bank would find it easier to work with a united
government for the continent.
"We would be more preoccupied with regional policies, instead of
national policies, and we would also be spared the difficulty of working
with countries that sometimes are regarded as non-performing within the
Regional Economic Communities," he said.
Under a unitary African government, it would be possible to continue
giving aid to weak economies, he said.
"But if we were looking at Zimbabwe as a part of a viable region, we
would find a way of delivering development to the people of that country by
working with the regional government and then relying on member countries of
that sub-region to deal with their weakest link through peer pressure.
"They would turn to the country concerned and say: 'Listen, you are
actually slowing down the pace of development in our sub-region. You are
making it difficult for us to get assistance for our regional development
programmes from the African Development Bank," he said.
Zimbabwe belongs to the 14-member Southern African Development
Now popular with seasoned and proven dictators like Libya's Muammar
Gaddafi, the idea of a unitary Africa was first propounded by Ghana's first
president Kwame Nkrumah who proposed the formation of a United States of
In recent years, President Robert Mugabe has also spoken passionately
of this hardcore Pan-Africanist pantheon, which remains the only fall-back
position after the disruption of links with the West.
A recent summit of the African Union in Accra, the birthplace of
independence for Africa south of the Sahara, failed to endorse
wholeheartedly the immediate drawing up of a United States of Africa plan.
ADB has in the past expressed concern over Zimbabwe's failure to clear
its arrears which stood at a staggering US$300 million as of December 2005.
Last August, Zimbabwe was unfortunate not to be part of 13 African
countries which received amnesty which saw the bank cancelling debts
totalling US$8.5 billion.
BY OUR STAFF
ZIMBABWE is set to miss the 80 million kilogrammes of tobacco sold
this year with less than two weeks before the selling season ends.
Statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show
that on the 82nd day of trade on Wednesday 64.3 million kg of tobacco valued
at US$151.2 million had gone under the hammer less than two weeks before the
season came to an end.
TIMB figures show that Burley Marketing Zimbabwe had sold 8.5 million
kg since the beginning of the selling season; Tobacco Sales Floor (9.558
million kg); Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction Centre (7.936kg) and 38.2 million kg
came from contract tobacco farmers. Last year, 55.5 million kg went under
With 12 days of trade left before the floors are closed on 7
September, tobacco experts said it was unlikely that the projected 80
million kg would be achieved, considering the rate at which tobacco has been
flowing since August.
by Jennifer dube
THE government decision to backtrack on its price blitz shows its
officials have no capacity to run private businesses, commentators said last
In separate interviews, most said the government, notorious for its
ruthless handling of ordinary citizens, could have gone ahead with its
threats to acquire private companies if it had the money to run them.
Immediately after launching the price blitz last month, the government
announced it had set aside billions to resuscitate the defunct Zimbabwe
State Trading Corporation and the Zimbabwe Development Corporation.
These two were to be used as conduits for the acquisition of companies
that it might want to take over for engaging in suspected economic sabotage.
"They (government) have no capacity whatsoever to take over private
companies," said Mufandaidza Hove, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
secretary for Industry and International Trade. "That was an empty threat
made with (the 2008) elections in mind,"
In June, the government ordered companies to slash prices of goods and
services by at least 50%.
A task force was formed to enforce the decree, which led to the arrest
of more than 12 000 businesspeople on charges of insubordination.
But the government unclenched its fist last week when it moved away
from announcing new prices for selected products, but authorised businesses
to increase prices, although still giving some restrictions on percentages.
This came shortly after the authorities reversed plans to monopolise
the handling of meat and fuel supplies for commercial purposes.
"The track record of the state companies is not very convincing," said
an economist who preferred anonymity. "In fact, we do not have many success
stories in that area and it is possible the authorities realised it would be
a mammoth task to take them over, hence the decision to hand back business
to private players."
"Much like the agricultural sector, which crumbled after the land
reform fiasco, the manufacturing sector was headed for destruction had the
government pursued its ambitious plans," said independent economist, John
"They were badly advised in the beginning, to even think of taking
over the companies," he said. "Private businesses are difficult to run and
the government would not have managed them, given their ongoing struggles in
almost all parastatals.
"Companies are not made up of buildings and machinery. They are made
up of skilled people and these were going to leave immediately after the
implementation of the plan. The manufacturing sector was headed for a
downfall, as happened with agriculture. They (government) now have farms and
tractors but they are failing to restore viability to that sector because
they lack the skills."
The blitz created economic casualties, some of which will be
permanent, despite the decision to be lenient, commentators said, adding
that a complete halt of government interference with market forces was
imperative for industry to fully recover.
They said some of the new prices remained unviable, given the
The government likes to cause havoc in the belief that its
interventionist measures will wrap it in the mantle of a knight in shining
armour, a posture it believes will garner votes.
Not satisfied with the havoc it has wreaked on the economy, the
government believed it would be popular with the voters if it forced
business to slash prices. However, it has now gone into reverse mode, giving
the green light for prices of a raft of commodities to increase. That was
the only way to save it from the embarrassment of the omnipresent queues for
just about everything.
Last week in yet another major climb-down, it "re-registered" 42
private abattoirs in a measure intended to portray the government as acting
in the interests of ordinary people who can no longer find meat.
The truth, however, is that the government is backing down after
realising its foolish miscalculation over the price blitz.
The Cold Storage Company (CSC) on which the government had conferred a
monopoly to supply beef to the whole country was only serving a miserly 2%
of the total meat market in the country. Clearly, someone did not do their
The government's directive on supplies of beef is akin to getting a
street vendor to run, for example, Bon Marche or the best of the Spar retail
outlets. It just does not work!
It is the same porous logic that guided the government to instruct
fuel importers to channel all of their imports through the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe whose record of incompetence is well-documented. Noczim
was only responsible for supplying government vehicles, even though
ironically, numerous government officials and motor cars with government
registration plates were a common sight at the Caltex service stations that
catered for the needs of the private sector and a majority of ordinary
The reason why people are reporting late for work is because the
government directive on fuel, as in the case of abattoirs, has backfired and
is producing the "unintended consequences" that the Central Bank governor
Therefore for anyone to ask CSC or Noczim to take over the role and
functions of the private sector is to court mischief and demonstrate the
regime change mentality that President Robert Mugabe is fond of accusing the
opposition of. It is his colleagues who are working round the clock to
effect regime change by virtue of their disastrous policies. The agents of
regime change are not in the opposition. They are in government.
In a bid to outdo other colleagues in government in the belief that
such actions would win the author elevation to loftier offices of the State,
someone helped to undermine the government in a manner no opposition could.
And to expect the electorate to reward a government that has traumatised
them so much is to demonstrate how far removed from everyday reality the
regime has become and the reason it deserves to be red-carded.
The most frightening thing is that none of those in government ever
foresaw the consequences of the price blitz. Unfortunately, the
after-effects will continue to be with us until Election Day in 2008. With
the crisis in water, electricity and basic commodities coupled with world
record unemployment, it will take more than a miracle for the ruling party
to survive. There doesn't have to be an opposition. The ruling party is
doing a better job at discrediting the government.
Whoever thought of the price blitz deserves the sack.
sundayopinion by Bill Saidi
THE following was part of an editorial, not in The Standard or The
"South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been regarded as one of
Mugabe's few supporters, has already warned the despot to ensure elections
slated for next year are free and fair.
"Other African leaders should follow suit and tell Mugabe that they
will no longer stand for his government failures. They will not be doing so
to support the West. They will be doing so to save ordinary Zimbabweans."
The editorial is not from what the Zimbabwe government would label as
"the usual suspects" - The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Daily Mail,
The Times - all British; or The Mail and Guardian, The Johannesburg Star,
The Sunday Times or The Cape Times - all South African.
Or even The Sydney Morning Herald of Australia.
The editorial is from The Daily Nation of Nairobi, Kenya. As far as I,
know, the editor is neither British, South African nor Australian. He
probably boasts of a respectable Kikuyu, Luo or Kamba totem, which should
gain him the awe of the Zimbabwean leader, a great stickler for totems.
Mwai Kibaki, the President of Kenya, has not become the beacon of
democracy that many Kenyans hoped he would be, after replacing the
Mugabesque Daniel arap Moi, 83 years old as well.
Kibaki is 76 years, a younger brother of the two men, but has so far
not publicly identified himself with the fervidly anti-Western politics of
His handling of a vibrant private media is suspect, although his
recent dismissal of a proposed law forcing journalists to disclose their
sources is commendable.
The Daily Nation has not traditionally identified with any ruling
party, although its sympathies appear to have been with Kibaki's coalition
in the battle with the Kenya African Union (Kanu).
Yet he too is of the older generation of African politics, having
served under Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
Kibaki could join Nelson Mandela, Sir Ketumile Masire and Kenneth
Kaunda in engaging Mugabe on a resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis.
The suggestion was made by a Zambian politician. Mugabe is so much
older than the current crop of Sadc leaders they can hardly communicate on
the same wavelength.
The proposer of this "elder statesmen" team to tackle Mugabe included
among them Joachim Chissano (68).
Chissano was proposed as a go-between for a round of talks between
Mugabe and others. He was forced to back off when Gushungo expressed
scepticism, as he has on almost every other attempt to engage him in
Benjamin Mkapa was another casualty.
Mugabe was the oldest leader at the recent Lusaka summit, the youngest
Mugabe is known to have used his age as an effective lever to cow the
other leaders into letting him have his way. To Joseph, he could easily say:
"If it wasn't for my soldiers, your father would not have won . . . Neither
Even to Mbeki, he could pull the same political rank: "You were in
diapers when I started fighting the colonialists . . ."
Eduardo dos Santos, who succeeded Agostinho Neto as Angola's president
in 1979, could probably be Mugabe's younger brother, not his son, as the
last two would be.
He is now 65 years old, but has been in power one year longer than
Reverence - and not just respect or awe - for age is a very "African"
thing. The saddest aspect of all this cultural dogmatism is that the
livelihoods of more than 13 million Zimbabweans are being sacrificed on the
altar of age.
In their Worship of Old Age, the Sadc leaders could be contributing to
the beginning of a long and bitter struggle in Zimbabwe, a struggle to
change leadership, not through the tried and tested mechanism of free and
fair elections, but through strife.
His undoubted passion for the peaceful resolution of conflicts
notwithstanding, even Madiba might find tangling with Gushungo a new Robben
Kaunda would not fare better. He may have eventually accepted, without
rancour, electoral defeat by Frederick Chiluba in 1991, but his democratic
credentials are suspect.
His instant conversion to a Mugabe praise-singer was not accepted by
most cynics as being anchored on a genuine appreciation of the deepest
wishes of the Zimbabwean people - a return to political tranquility, the
realisation of the material, spiritual and social potential of their
Only Mandela can be trusted to act without the impediment of idolising
old age. He is the epitome of age being equated with wisdom.
sundayview by Judith Todd
IN mid-March, my parents invited the Shamuyariras to dinner. Halfway
through, Nathan said: "Judy, I hope CIO is not still interfering with your
mail?" I had to think on my feet, as it were, although I was sitting down.
What worried me was any possible fright to my mother, so I tried to
pass his question off as a light-hearted matter and said: "Minister, I haven't
told my mother about this, but everything seems to have led to vastly
improved relations with the CIO, and Mr Stannard and I are even due to have
lunch with each other."
The minister seemed amused, and my mother and the two New Zealand
visitors seemed unperturbed. I supposed, sitting warmly around the table,
the possibility of the CIO opening my mail seemed unreal to everyone but the
minister, my father and me. But of course, whatever I hoped, my mother would
have known exactly what was happening. Her sensitivity was ultra acute.
Now and again, I thought I had reached the age and the condition when
nothing was so bad that it could shock me. That particular thought was in my
mind on Monday 24 March when Michelle Faul rang to say that we must meet,
which we did high above Harare on the Meikles Hotel pool deck at lunch time.
She worked for Associated Press and was a stringer for the BBC.
Four days earlier, Michelle had been instructed to meet Nathan
Shamuyarira. She was told that "we" are tired of her reporting; she would
have no further assistance from the ministry - which meant she would lose
her accreditation. She couldn't be deported, as she was a citizen by birth
of Zimbabwe, so the only way to deal with her was detention at Chikurubi.
She was rightly very frightened, and at the same time ashamed of being
scared. She was leaving Zimbabwe within the next 48 hours, deprived of her
home, her right to work and, basically, of her citizenship.
After our painful lunch, I got back to the office to find a white
woman of about 60 who asked if I could spare a few minutes. Between Michelle
and now this lady, I realised that there were still things that could
profoundly shock me.
She sat down, introducing herself as Margie Schwing, and although she
never actually wept, she was on the verge of tears and struggling for
control throughout the awful story she told me. She had been in Park Street
in November, and all of a sudden was surrounded by five men who said they
were from CIO and took her off to Harare Central police station. From there
she was moved to Chikurubi Women's Remand Section. She appeared once in a
magistrate's court and the CIO opposed bail because they said they were
still investigating fraud.
From what Mrs Schwing said, it was CIO throughout, and not the fraud
squad. She said she still didn't know why she had been held. She was
released at the end of February, suffering from pneumonia, and was taken to
Parirenyatwa Hospital outpatients. Due to one of those strokes of good
fortune, Mrs Schwing had been alone when a member of her church saw her and
came to ask what was wrong. She was accompanied by two CIO agents, one of
whom had gone to get her prescription filled, while the other had gone to
The friend was extremely practical and whipped out a notebook, and
took down the name and address of Mrs Schwing's son, who apparently worked
for Tabex in Malaysia, and then darted off before CIO reappeared.
The conditions she described were terrible: women not knowing of any
rights they might have; beatings by wardresses; people having their hair
torn out; a woman having teeth punched in; the use of hosepipes on prisoners
by the wardresses; malnutrition among toddlers and babies picked up with
their mothers. She said that on New Year's Day as the women came out of the
cell blocks, they each received a blow with a hosepipe and the accompanying
greeting: "Happy New Year!"
Mrs Schwing also said something that I thought might be the truth of
the matter, although she apologised for saying it, because, she said, it
sounded so unreal. She had been at a party before her detention, and Simon
Muzenda was there. He had been very nice to her, and introduced her to a lot
of people. Mrs Schwing heard a young man, who seemed to stay close to her
all the time at the party, saying to someone else: "It's just not fair! I'm
also in business. Why doesn't Muzenda introduce me to all these people?"
So, she said, it may have all started with jealousy. To me, that didn't
On Tuesday 1 March 1986, Lieutenant General Lookout Masuku and the
veteran PF Zapu politician Vote Moyo were officially released from
detention. As was the case under the Smith regime, the names of detainees
could not be published, so there hadn't been news of them in the papers for
the four years they had been imprisoned in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe. Now
their freedom was headline news.
Lookout's wife Gift managed to get permission for me to see him on
Sunday 9 March from 3.30PM to 6PM at Parirenyatwa Hospital. There were four
heavily armed soldiers outside his room. I sat down with them, and said I
gathered they had a permit for me to see Masuku. They were perfectly
pleasant and said that was fine, so I walked into the private ward.
Lookout was attached to two drips but sitting up in bed, and he gave a
small scream when he saw me, jumped up and hugged me hard. The drips were
suspended from a wheeled stand, so he was mobile.
There was no awkwardness. It was as if we had known each other for
years and had seen each other yesterday. But the joy was precisely because
we hadn't seen each other for more than four years, and because it was so
wonderful to see one another again. I couldn't begin to fathom the hell of
uncontrolled suffering he had been going through. There were some days he
had no memory of, which was probably just as well. The full story would
probably never unfold, but if it did, it would be bleak. For example, it
turned out that the "specialist" the prison authorities had told his lawyer
he had seen in December was neither a specialist nor even a registered
I wondered, too, about the doctor at Chikurubi. I had learned he was a
Russian Jew on contract, that he had worked previously in Israel and that he
was very timid. I wondered if he had ended up in his position because he had
such good qualifications.
We talked non-stop, an interested guard listening in the corner, until
after six, when the soldiers very reasonably asked me to leave, as visiting
hours were over. That was sad, because we didn't then think we would be
seeing each other again in the foreseeable future.
I rang Gift the next day to thank her, and to say I'd had a wonderful
time. Of course, "wonderful" was the wrong word. Lookout was skinny and his
arms were very swollen from trying to find veins for the drips, and he was
very, very sick. But he sat up all the time I was with him and was mentally
as bright as a button. There was a heart-rending moment when he said: "But
what of the future? When I went to prison I got high blood pressure. Then I
got kidney troubles. Now I have this. What is going to happen to me next?
I said: "Oh Lookout!" as though, how could he ask such a question?
But he said: "No, Judy, I mean it. Let's be practical about the whole
I feared he was absolutely right. I had been consulting Professor Noel
Galen, who was very gloomy about Lookout's future.
Late on Monday night I returned a call from Gift.
"Have you heard anything?" she asked.
I said I had heard a rumour that Lookout was to be released. She said
it was true. I said: "How do you know? Who told you? Is there a piece of
She laughed and said the fact that she was telling me meant that it
She travelled up the next day from Bulawayo, and I spent half an hour
with her and Lookout at Parirenyatwa. As he was now a free man, no permits
were required to see him and the armed guards had been withdrawn.
At about six that Tuesday evening, an unknown man walked in and stood
by the bed. Lookout was polite but cool. I kept thinking, what an odd
doctor. He didn't ask how Lookout was feeling - he just kept informing him
that he would be seeing him again, the next night, in hospital, in Bulawayo.
When he left, they simultaneously said: "CIO." Then I remembered him.
*Excerpt from Judith Todd's latest book, Through the Darkness; A Life
in Zimbabwe, available from www.zebrapress.co.za.
presidential and parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone where the Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (ZESN), under the auspices of the African Union
(AU) and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI)
sent some observers were an eye-opener and a living testimony of how other
African countries have evolved democratically. Most importantly, the Sierra
Leone elections exhibited the gateway to electoral credibility in a country
whose previous elections were littered with irregularities.
What struck the ZESN team most was the amount of trust that the
electorate, the political parties, civil society and government had in the
National Electoral Commission (NEC), the body tasked with running the
elections in the country. Other than the fact that the commission is truly
independent of government, the idea that it is headed by a person whose
public profile attracts approval and contentment from all sectors of the
society is neither here nor there.
The Sierra Leone experience showed the need for a truly independent
electoral commission headed by a credible individual whose moral aptitude is
beyond reproach if elections were to be credible in this country. In the
case of Sierra Leone, the NEC chairperson is a trustworthy and incorrigible
professional whose appointment was acceptable to all stakeholders in the
electoral process. That Dr Christiana Ayoka Mary Thorpe, the head of NEC is
a nun and a devout Christian are not the only facets of her profile that
made her acceptable, but that her vision, that of bringing credibility into
whatever she does, weighed in heavily towards her universal acceptance in
the electoral process is never in doubt.
What a country that has had a history of disputed elections needs is a
transparent, people-driven electoral process that could suddenly bring trust
where there is mistrust, satisfaction where there is suspicion and
credibility where the song has always been fraud and post election
litigation. This, however, comes with the appointment of a truly independent
electoral management body whose secretariat is professional and whose terms
of reference are non-partisan.
"At NEC we're doing our best to establish credibility in all what we
do. Our approach has been to get everybody in the process and let the nation
know that collectively we all have a role to play in ensuring that the
elections are credible and acceptable," she told one journalist.
Clearly, fostering credibility is what she did. Party activists and
polling staff involved in irregularities during the local elections in 2004
were purged during the staffing of NEC for the 2007 elections. NEC officials
numbering 1 500, who were implicated in electoral fraud-related accusations
in 2004 or those who were found to be party activists, were dismissed in the
chairperson's attempt to come up with a truly independent and professional
team that would ensure the elections are credible and acceptable.
Furthermore, in its endeavour to "get everybody into the process," NEC
created a platform through which political parties interacted with it to
input suggestions and recommendations for electoral reform that were in
tandem with its goal of ensuring a credible free and fair election.
Consequently, NEC supervised the establishment of the Political Party
Liaison Committees (PPLC) at national and district levels to register,
regulate, monitoring adherence to the code of conduct and mediate disputes
among political parties. In addition, it provides political parties with
opportunities to request additional information and challenge NEC's
decisions on various aspects of the electoral process.
Despite the logistical challenges the political campaigns were visible
and vigorous. ZESN officials were impressed by the scheduling of campaign
activities for different political parties on different days to reduce
political clashes and tensions. They did not witness incidences of violence.
Furthermore no campaigns were observed after the 24 hours deadline before
election day and on election day.
The process of voter registration that NEC embarked on was another
major stride towards ensuring that a lot of people participated in the
election process. According to the European Union Observer Mission (EU OM)
about 2 619 565 people registered to vote. This is 91% of the total number
of people eligible to vote in the country. Apart from people participating
as voters, 35 domestic organisations and 5400 local observers were deployed
to observe the election covering 87% of the polling stations open on
election day. The same observers were also accredited to observe the voter
registration and delineation of boundaries exercises.
It is our submission that our own electoral management body could
learn from Sierra Leone the importance of having total figures of people
eligible to vote in the country and making them public so that when they
announce the percentage number of people registered in the voter
registration exercise, people would have a benchmark on which to refer to.
That the 2.6 million registered to vote in the Sierra Leone election
constitute 91% of the total number of people eligible to vote gives the
voter registration exercise credibility as an exercise that sought to ensure
everyone eligible to vote was registered. However, in our case, it is very
difficult to appreciate the 45 000 voters registered so far in the on-going
mobile voter registration exercise as a milestone in ensuring popular
participation in the electoral process. According to ZEC (Herald 9 August
2007), the 45 000 registered is a significant number but one would question
its significance vis-à-vis the unknown total number of people eligible to
vote who were targeted by the exercise.
In order for an election to be credible, it is key that there is
constant communication between the electorate and the electoral management
body through different media available in the country. In Sierra Leone
communication was always available.
ZESN officials noted that public debates and forums were conducted by
the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists. This gave citizens an
opportunity to hear political parties' policies and manifestos in order to
vote from an informed position.
According to the NDI preliminary report, "NEC regularly and
effectively communicated information about the process to voters, political
parties and the over 37 000 polling staff" it had. NEC also established a
permanent two-way dialogue with political parties through the Political
Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC) to inform them of the process and
incorporate their feedback. For instance, the NEC made an important change
to the electoral procedures the week before the polls in response to
concerns raised by political parties during a PPLC meeting.
In addition, NEC made a provision that voters who lost their voting
cards but their names still appeared on the register could get a certificate
two weeks before polling day to enable them to cast their vote on election
NEC also pressured parliament for reforms and urgent positive changes
to the Electoral Laws Act were passed in June 2007. Parliament established
the Elections Offences Court, a subdivision of the High Court with
jurisdiction over electoral offences of criminal nature. This innovation
built confidence among stakeholders in that there were legal processes to
address issues of an electoral nature. The Election Petitions Court was also
established under the Elections Laws Act. It provided mechanisms essential
for the hearing of electoral civil offences such as disputed results. These
two courts provide political parties a legal process to resolve their
disputes without resorting to violence, or taking the law into their own
The timetable for petitions was also improved with the introduction of
a new set of provisions stipulating that petitions must be submitted within
seven days of the official announcement of results and should be concluded
within four months.
NEC also ensured the whole voting process was people oriented as
special treatment was accorded to groups of people with special needs during
voting. The elderly, pregnant women and those with babies were given
preferential treatment on voting day. In another positive development,
tactile ballot guides for the blind were available in polling centres.
Provisions were also made for the old and illiterate voters to cast their
votes without assistance.
There are three ways that a choice can be registered in Sierra Leone,
by marking an x on the choice or putting a tick. Alternatively voters may
use ink that is provided in the booth to mark their ballot papers. This
meant that the aged and illiterate were able to cast their votes without
assistance from polling officials. This is particularly important in
Zimbabwe where we a have a huge number of "assisted" voters.
NEC also made the processing of voters smooth and fast by the
provision of more than five polling stations in one centre. Despite voting
starting at 7AM and officially ending at 1700 hours, by 1500 hours no queues
were noted and this enabled counting to start immediately thereafter when it
was still daylight. This is unlike in our case where polls close at 7PM when
it is dark thereby increasing chances of cheating during the counting
process. The counting was conducted in a transparent manner and immediately
copies of the results were posted on the walls outside polling stations for
the public to see.
My office is perhaps not ideal. It's a bit cramped, and the
ventilation and lighting is rather poor. High up on the wall there's one
small barred window and the heavy metal door can only be opened from the
outside by a not very obliging doorman. The in suite ablution facilities
consist of an overflowing rusty bucket. There isn't a mini-bar or a
cellphone. This is not quite what I expected when I undertook to head and
body the Human Rights Commission.
When the requisite legal instrument was in place (constitutional
amendment No 653), I phoned the Minister to inform him there could not be
any better man for the job than I. Although not a woman, which is hardly my
fault, I'm the most gender sensitive male chauvinist I know.
The hysterical laughter I heard on the line must have been either a
crossed line or the Minister's staffers must have just cracked a good joke.
The long pause on the line was clearly because the Minister had been
overcome with gratitude and needed time to recover his composure. I didn't
wait for the Minister to exclaim, "Fiddler, as usual, you are dead right",
the right to be dead or even alive right being the most fundamental of all
human rights. But, ever modest, I didn't require expressions of eternal
thankfulness, but simply told the Minister I would start as soon as he made
available a suitable official residence in Borrowdale Brooke, a
Mercedes-Benz S600L with all the trimmings and lavish office accommodation.
I told him not to bother appointing other Commissioners as I had already
selected my dream team, a team that even Alex Ferguson would be extremely
proud of. I gave the Minister a flavour of my line up: I had put Jono Moyo
in the position of very right back but had been unable to find a suitable
position for Charles Taylor.
It was not long before my new aide de camp arrived at my doorstep to
take me on a tour of my workplace. Regrettably this man was to prove to be a
real pain in the butt, particularly when he accompanied me to the showers in
the evening. With him were sundry other burly gentlemen who eyes must be
very sensitive eyes as they were shielded behind very dark glasses. These
were obviously my official bodyguards. They greeted me with warm smiles and
due deference by throwing me into the back of an unmarked car, presumably my
temporary vehicle pending the arrival of my Merc.
On arrival at my office premises, I was greeted by the large number of
staff assigned to me. They were all dressed in smart uniforms. The security
at the premises was excellent. We must have had to go through at least 30
barred and locked doors until finally we arrived at my own personal office.
By now I was feeling distinctly peckish, so I instructed my aide to bring me
the luncheon menu. He did so telling me that the cuisine would meet my
undoubtedly high standards. There appeared to be a set menu for all meals.
One small sip of aqua - rancid, not chilled.
One slice of bread - matured for at least two years - unavailable.
I pointed out that there was a typographical error on the last item
but I was assured that there was not. In flagrant contravention of the price
control regulations no prices for the items were listed. I made a note to
report this to the relevant authorities.
After the fortifying meal, I immediately got down to work. My first
important task was to compile a human manual, which would take at least 20
minutes. The task was made somewhat more difficult by the fact that my hands
were handcuffed behind my back. The heavy leg irons were also a bit
uncomfortable. Before leaving me to my work, my aide mentioned that later
several young men would come to tuck me in after providing some valuable
practical examples of human rights violations to include in my manual.
Pen in mouth, I started work. First, I needed a snappy title for my
manual. I toyed with "Pipe Dreams about Human Rights and Other Jolly Good
Fables" or "Why ZLHR has such difficulty in spelling 'human rights.' "
Some days later, whilst still searching for the most suitable title,
some distinguished visitors came to consult with the oracle. They were from
International Bleeding Hearts, Interfering Busybodies based in Eureka,
Georgia. They all turned out to be barking mad. This I discovered later when
I read their report on their visit;
"When we entered his cell, we saw a pathetic filthy wretch huddled in
a corner scratching incomprehensible hieroglyphics on a wall. He greeted us
with the words 'What's up, my old toerags. I do hope you remembered to feed
your hyenas as there is a bit of a bull run in the market at the moment'. He
told us to help ourselves to any tipple we fancied, provided we had brought
"After we left his cell, the guards told us that this week the inmate
thought he was the Chairperson the Human Rights Commission. The week before
he had been Governor of the Reserve Bank and the week before that President
of a country called Murambatsvina."
MDC factions should swallow pride, unite PLEASE keep up the good work of
telling us the truth about what is happening around Zimbabwe.
I would like to applaud M M V Mlambo's letter (The Standard, 8 July
2007) because what he said is exactly what is happening in our MDC. A united
front (MDC) to confront Zanu PF is the only answer to freedom. Arthur
Mutambara is ready for unity while Morgan Tsvangirai says he will consult
When the late Dr Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe united in 1987, did
they go to the provinces in order to consult on the idea of uniting? We only
saw them on television confirming to the nation that they had buried their
differences and united.
Which provinces does Tsvangirai want to consult? He is only famous in
towns and not the rural areas, unlike Mutambara who has 23 rural councillors
in Matabeleland provinces.
On the issue of infiltrators, the Tsvangirai faction of the MDC has
failed to manage them. As I write there are four of their members who are
serving officers from the Police Internal Security Intelligence, who joined
the force in January 1981 on a Zanu PF ticket.
Some within the Tsvangirai faction of the MDC are on Zanu PF's payroll
with a mission to derail any attempts at unifying the opposition. This issue
is similar to the PF Zapu and Zanu PF affair during which the parties were
identified on ethnic lines.
Zanu PF has three if not four factions but they are united in their
fight against the two MDCs. In all the past rural council elections where
they fielded candidates against Zanu PF, the ruling party won.
It is my view that all Zimbabweans should put pressure on the two MDC
leaders to swallow their pride and unite. Some in the Tsvangirai faction
fear for their positions and because of this they are against unity. We have
nine months left to put our house in order.
Sgobela sika Qhawana
Open letter to Morgan Tsvangirai
THANK you for an informative newspaper. Please kindly publish my
open letter to Morgan Tsvangirai:
This letter is addressed to you as the leader of the so-called
main wing of the MDC. You are the sole person responsible for everything
happening to us because of your refusal to unite with Arthur Mutambara.
You must exercise your conscience and see if you are not the one
celebrating the people's misery because of your refusal to consider and
implement unity. This is now a big hindrance and I am puzzled how you could
be benefiting from this crisis and how much of an effect the financial
support from the donor community is.
You have the voice and experience of being in the opposition
trenches, but the strategic mind is firmly situated in the Arthur Mutambara
faction. A combination of the two would make for a formidable opposition.
With only nine months before the election, you have to accept
the inevitability of unity, come to Matabeleland and address rallies as a
united MDC and apologise for your remarks during the split.
Without unity the chances of moving into State House are slim.
Matabeleland is already MDC and so you will need to concentrate on the other
provinces in the country. However, your greatest weakness is that you are
surrounded by some immature politicians.
Lastly, for the time being, cut down on foreign visits and
concentrate on the job at hand - unity and preparing to fight Zanu PF during
next year's harmonised elections.
If by the time this letter is published, you have decided on
unity, I apologise unreservedly for my remarks.
Voter registration a mockery to democracy I have personally witnessed
the suffocation of democracy in Zimbabwe.
I was recently in Mberengwa where I wanted to register as a
voter. When I produced my identification card to the official of the
registrar's office, I received the shock of my life when he demanded to see
my Zanu PF membership card first before he could assist me.
I was perplexed and I told him that my registration had nothing
to do with my political affiliation. The man was so livid that he threatened
to beat me up if I persisted asking him questions.
I approached a member of staff of the school where the
registration was taking place for help and when he tried to negotiate on my
behalf, he was slapped in the face and had to flee for his life. To my
surprise all this took place in full view of the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission agents and the police officers but not one of them uttered a
In addition some students who were eligible to register as
voters were denied the chance as they were said to be politically immature.
I would like to strongly condemn the Registrar-General's Office for the
idiocy that is being exhibited by its agents. It is no doubt that the
registration process is just a botched up exercise.
A case of 'Do as I say...' THE government has just approved
increases in NetOne cellphone charges from $518 to $7 200 per minute. This
if far, far more than the 20% that Obert Mpofu, the Minister in charge of
the Cabinet Taskforce on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation. has allowed
retailers of basic commodities to increase their prices by.
Even in the increases in freight charges and train fares
are above the 20% that private business has been permitted. Since the
institutions concerned are State companies, is this a case of "Do as a say,
not as I do"?
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
25 August 2007
Posted to the web 26 August 2007
ON first sight they appear like stranded travellers struggling to find
transport to various destinations along the Harare-Masvingo highway.
To avoid detection, some of the group members will be dressed in trendy
outfits -- clutching travelling bags -- and even strapping children on their
backs. Only God knows where they get these children they use in such
Others will be playing cards, gambling or just running about aimlessly.
To them gutter language and violent drunken behaviour is common, forget
about who is within earshot or the safety of the babies.
For some dreadlocked boys -- most of them with scars and open wounds all
over their bodies -- who will be drinking undiluted brandy and shouting
obscenities, an electricity pylon is about enough cover for them to relieve
themselves in public.
Their female counterparts are not any better. They just cover themselves
with waist cloths -- the famous mazambia -- and the rest is history.
Wait until a car drives by.
Members of the group literally run in droves towards the vehicle, coercing
the driver and other occupants to buy their laundry soap, sugar, cooking oil
and even foreign currency.
"Yaah. Ehh. Inzwaika shasha. Bhigazi. Cooking oil iripo jahwi ende
yakaslashwa price rough. This two-litre container is going for just $750
"We can even sell rands for as little as R1: $2 700. Everything is very
cheap here," said one of the boys who was walking with the aid of crutches.
Before we were finished with him, a shapely, booty and cheerful lady --
donning swanky clothes -- who identified herself as VaChihera came and
offered the same goods at reduced prices.
She said just a phone call was enough for her to deliver the goods to my
We, however, could not conclude the transaction after she immediately left
my car window just as a police vehicle was driving by.
In a flash of a moment, a middle-aged woman, with smelly hair and torn
tennis shoes was on my window trying her luck.
She resembled a graveyard. There was everything bad about the clothes she
was wearing because they were so dirty and ragged that anyone could conclude
the sister needed help.
But her language was convincing. She spoke good English and smiled
frequently, exposing her yellowing teeth.
Feeling pity for her, I ended up buying cooking oil, toothpaste and laundry
soap from her.
It sounds weird, but this is what is happening at the famous "Messina" or
White Horse garage in Waterfalls near the former 7 Miles Hotel along the
The women and boys who operate from the area come in different shapes and
They seem to be employed by some big fish because they just move with
samples and rush to collect the goods from the boot of some parked luxury
cars as soon as someone registers his intention to buy.
You have to pay cash first, before the goods are released.
The traders also have their lexicon too. If one whistles, it's a sign of
danger -- a warning that a policeman or member of the taskforce on prices is
At times they just shout "ngonjo" to alert their peers.
"Haulume" is used to mock a peer for failing to lure a customer.
"Kongaz" or "kongiri" is used for a customer who complains about prices
without arriving at any buy. "Yadya basa" is when one manages to sell goods,
albeit at an exorbitant price to an unsuspecting customer. Rands are
referred to as "marara" while the US dollar has been christened "magreen" or
So cunning are some of the female traders that they can give you a hug or
plant a soft kiss on your cheek as part of "customer care".
Gentle reader, black market dealers are now drunk with mischief and
something needs to be urgently done to ensure they stop condemning ordinary
Zimbabweans to poverty.
Superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, in one of his timeless classics sang:
Hope hadzina ndima,
But until when will we be expected to put up with the illegal because
someone out there is trying to eke out a living?
Old Testament prophet Jeremiah is on record as having cried out to God:
"Yahweh, why do the ways of the wicked prosper?"
In the same vein, I believe no one can be adjudged mischievous for daring to
ask as to whether black market activities cannot be put to an immediate end.
It is clear the blokes are trading in violation of publicly imposed
regulations such as rationing laws, laws against certain goods, and official
rates of exchange among currencies.
They are providing scarce goods readily and one wonders as to where they get
The underground economy seems to be thriving at the expense of the formal
market, affecting the lives of the ordinary man.
Life in the ghettos, my main constituency, has been grossly affected by the
illegal parallel market.
Cheers that accompanied the slashing of beer prices and the cost of other
commodities have vanished. What with news that beer, which is supposed to
cost $30 000 a pint in bottle stores, is no longer readily available.
You can now only find it on the black market for anything between $80 000
and $120 000 for the same unit.
The dreaded Eagle lager, a bottled version of masese, is the only brand
available and it is now common to see guzzlers doing justice to it --
pamunyatso wegondo adhala.
Shebeen queens are now also back in business. These businesspeople, the kind
that respects nobody except themselves, can chase you away for daring to
negotiate a lower price.
"Iwe ibva pano. If you can't afford these prices, just leave. Hapana munhu
akambosungwa nekuti murombo," they brag using their coarse and unpolished
But for how long can this be allowed to stretch?
"This is just dangerous. At a time when we were celebrating the return of
our lost pride, things are now worse. Kill the black market. It's just not
good for anyone.
"Fushira mwoyo, the Scud. That rough beer is no longer available on the
formal market. Let's fight the black market because it is now causing more
suffering to the people," charged Takunda Muteredzi of Highfield.
The police, he said, must arrest all people behind the black market.
Takunda is not the only person who is bitter about the goings on.
"Government has played its part and we must complement its efforts. The
President cannot come and feed us. Let's boycott the black market and
everything will be fine for the rest of the country," cooed Monica Maendesa.
Gentle reader, the black market has become a flood that is fast eroding the
ordinary man's purchasing power.
The President was right when he said "Musatora urombo hwevanhu muchiisa
mudumbu menyu" in reference to businesspeople who were hiking prices
"Poverty is just dangerous. We must treat other people fairly. The police
must arrest all black market dealers and ensure that munhu wese anorarama
nenzira dziri pasi pemutemo," said a top businessman who spoke on condition
In light of the evils of the black market, "Dr Love" Paul Matavire was
correct when he sang:
Munhu akanaka, akarara.
But akarara anorota horror,
Saka munhu is no good zvamuchose.