Mon 27 Aug 2007, 13:31 GMT
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Removing Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe would not
automatically deliver democracy to the troubled African nation, said
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai, whose campaigning against Mugabe has seen him brutally attacked,
said a political culture of abuse and corruption needed to end before
democracy could return.
"Let's not get too preoccupied with Mugabe," Tsvangirai told Australian
television on Monday.
"Let's be preoccupied with the political culture that has been instituted,
which disrespects people, that violates people's rights, that undermines the
economic well being of people.
"So removing Robert Mugabe may suit our own egos but certainly it does not
remove the political culture. Removing Robert Mugabe may not necessarily
mean we have created democracy," he said.
Tsvangirai said the killings and violence under Mugabe's regime was enough
to take the Zimbabwe leader to court on criminal charges, but such action
would only cause instability.
"Given the choice between giving Mugabe amnesty and allowing him to leave so
that we can get on with our lives and restore the stability of the country,
I think people would chose that," said Tsvangirai.
Mugabe had rigged elections over the past six years to maintain power and
his grip on the country had led to political, economic and health crises,
said the opposition leader.
AIDS kills almost 4,000 Zimbabweans a week, inflation is running at 14,000
percent, electricity is a luxury and about one million school-age children
are not going to school, he said.
"Mugabe's crackdown on our people leaves a trail of broken limbs, rape
victims, torture victims, dead bodies. The unprovoked and continuing attacks
on all Zimbabweans advocating for peaceful change must stop and indeed it
must stop now," said Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai, who will meet with Australia's foreign minister on Tuesday, said
Australia had led international efforts to restore democracy to Zimbabwe.
"Australia, I think has moved far ahead of other countries in ensuring that
at least pressure is applied through multilateral interventions, than any
other country so far," he said.
Over the last five years Australia has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe such as
restricting senior government officials and state-owned enterprise managers
from visiting Australia.
In May, Australian Prime Minister John Howard banned the Australian cricket
team from visiting Zimbabwe.
In July, Australia upgraded its Zimbabwe travel warnings, saying a "high
level of criminal activity, the absence of the rule of law and deteriorating
economic conditions could lead to civil unrest at any time".
By Peta Thornycroft in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 1:16am BST 27/08/2007
Zimbabwe's military strength, upon which Robert Mugabe's political
survival depends, is seeping away due to the country's collapsed economy.
Once among the best trained and most battle hardened in Africa, the
military is now suffering a rash of defections among servicemen who are no
longer prepared to put up with subsistence wages.
One young officer cadet who went AWOL in May asked not to be named by
The Daily Telegraph, nor for his home village to be identified in case of
The son of a former veteran of President Robert Mugabe's liberation
war, this 26-year-old now works across the border in Johannesberg. He earns
between £100-£150 a month working seven days a week for a Zimbabwe-run
This is at least 25 times what he used to make in the Zimbabwean
airforce, which has now also run critically short of planes.
The former airman said: "We didn't have enough food to eat when we did
fly, and our pay was Z$150,000 (about £4 in April). We complained but they
said everyone was suffering from British sanctions.
"At home I saw friends who didn't have a secondary school education
coming from South Africa with many things, and we had absolutely nothing, I
couldn't even buy food for my mother.
"Last year I spent four months without flying and that was when I
started thinking of leaving."
The man was stationed at the Thornhill airforce headquarters, outside
Gweru, a shabby town in central Zimbabwe, 160 miles south west of Harare.
Out of a force which at one time had scores of fighter planes, he said
only one Chinese MiG21 and four MiG23s were still working.
Zimbabwe's airmen used to be trained on British Hawks, but Britain
along with the EU and the US banned sale of military hardware to the nation.
"There is still one Hawk, but the only pilot who flies is gone," he
The base's training planes, the airman said, were now three or four
old Italian Genet SF260s and TPSF 260s.
"Sometimes when I was in the air I wondered if they were safe," he
He added that he was the fourth from an intake of 16 officer cadets to
"I phoned some of them at Thornhill and they want to know what it is
like in South Africa, but we don't talk politics. I had never been to South
Africa before and it is hard."
Some estimates, probably exaggerated, are that three million
Zimbabweans - a third of the population - have fled the country since 2000.
A former career soldier from the Zimbabwe National Army who left three
years ago also came along for the interview to make sure his young friend's
identity was protected.
"The army was professional. Now it is political," said the veteran who
fought in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"I now see plenty of army guys here, some now driving trucks from the
coast to Johannesburg. We would go home and vote next year if the opposition
re-unites. If it doesn't, Mugabe will win the elections."
The Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's opposition, split into
two factions in 2005.
SW Radio Africa (London)
27 August 2007
Posted to the web 27 August 2007
The already ailing agricultural industry has taken a blow with the
revelation by the state controlled media that 3 major fertiliser
manufacturers have closed due to power cuts and a lack of raw materials.
The Herald newspaper reported Monday that the Chemplex Corporation, which
manages the 3 fertiliser firms, has not been able to operate since last
month. The paper quoted Eben Makonese, chief executive of Chemplex, as
saying: "We have sent people on forced leave and on half pay because of
these operational challenges."
The three companies, Dorowa Minerals, Iron Duke and Zimphos, are all vital
to the production of fertiliser in Zimbabwe. According to The Herald,
600,000 tons of fertiliser are needed by Zimbabwean farmers every year, but
only 160,000 tons have been produced so far.
The MDC shadow MP for Agriculture, Renson Gasela, said at this pace only
half of the fertiliser needed will have been produced by the end of the
year. "So regardless of how much rainfall the country gets this season, it
will be disaster."
With elections scheduled for March in Zimbabwe, Gasela said the ruling party
will definitely take advantage of the hunger that will be gripping voters.
He said elections and hunger "go hand-in-hand" for ZANU-PF. He explained
that the government will buy a small quantity of food which will be
carefully managed and given to party supporters only, and it will be used to
Gasela explained that there is a "domino effect" in the country and
everything has broken down. He said: "Even the most unpopular paper is in
short supply. The Herald cannot be found in the town of Kwekwe because the
government cannot afford to produce enough copies. There is no paper and
there is no ink. I believe they only sell about 50 copies there per day."
Mail and Guardian
27 August 2007 01:17
Zimbabwe is facing another year of food shortages as three major
fertiliser manufacturers have closed due to power cuts and a lack of raw
materials, state media reported on Monday.
Eben Makonese, chief executive of Chemplex Coroporation, which
runs the three semi-governmental firms, said Dorowa minerals, Iron Duke and
Zimphos have not been able to operate since last month.
"We have sent people on forced leave and on half pay because of
these operational challenges," the Herald quoted him as saying.
The Dorowa mine, which produces phosphate rock concentrate, a
key component in making fertiliser, ceased operations due to "persistent
power cuts" and lack of foreign exchange to import mining materials, said
Fertiliser firms have so far produced 16 ,000 tonnes against a
target of 600 000 tonnes for the forthcoming season.
Misheck Kachere, another senior company official, said
fertiliser has been sold at a fifth of the cost of production as a result of
government price controls imposed two months ago.
He said a bag of 50kg of fertiliser was selling at Z$88 000
Zimbabwe, while packaging alone cost Z$79 000.
The shortage of fertiliser will only add to the country's food
crisis, with increasing poverty and hunger blamed on controversial land
reforms seven years ago.
Zimbabwe, once the region's breadbasket, is now forced to import
maize from neighbouring countries since President Robert Mugabe's government
seized about 4 000 white-owned farms.
Inflation 'slowdown' not making a difference
Meanwhile, 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." -- Sapa-AFP
Aug. 27, 2007, 9:49AM
By ANGUS SHAW Associated Press Writer
© 2007 The Associated Press
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's weeklong agricultural showcase kicks off
Monday, despite the country's collapsing farm industry and worsening food
The Harare Show, to be opened 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,
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 President Robert Mugabe, whose country faces growing international
isolation over its economic meltdown and record on human and democratic
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
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.
SW Radio Africa (London)
27 August 2007
Posted to the web 27 August 2007
A parliamentary committee chaired by Zanu PF's Gutu South MP Shuvai Mahofa,
has recommended the closure of youth militia training centres because there
is not enough food to feed recruits.
A damning report presented to parliament last Thursday described conditions
as appalling with both the diet and living quarters at the camps not meeting
standards suitable for human habitation. MDC Member of Parliament for Mkoba,
Amos Chibaya, was part of the committee on Youth, Gender and Women's Affairs
that went on a national tour of the centres. He said trainees are eating
porridge without sugar, while 'lunch was always sadza and beans or
vegetables without cooking oil.'
Guyu National Youth Service Centre for example is said to have no doors or
windows and students regularly run into snakes getting cosy inside the
buildings. Female recruits are being denied sanitary wear and only the visit
by the parliamentary committee prompted authorities to supply pads two weeks
before the visit. The Kaguvi training centre meanwhile is also said to be
unhygienic with sadza cooked there turning to a brownish-greyish colour
instead of white. The kitchen is heavily infested with cockroaches and very
dirty. One student broke his arm in a fight for food at the centre,
highlighting the desperate plight of the trainees.
The report confirmed long held fears the camps were meant to produce a
militia whose mandate was violence against the opposition after it found
that most lecturers and trainers had a military background. The committee
recommended the introduction of civilians, social workers, counsellors and
teachers into the training staff, arguing this would add diversity to the
programme. The trainees are subjected to rigorous exercises and drills
raising further questions on why a 'national youth training' centre would
resemble a military facility. Chibaya meanwhile said some of the recruits
admitted they were being brainwashed to beat up their own parents and
relatives if they ever supported the opposition.
Mugabe's regime has used the centres as a pool for recruiting 'loyal'
members of the police, army and security services. The graduates have first
preference in colleges and universities across the country. Recruits are
told they do not need the standard 'O' and 'A' level passes to get into
professions like nursing or teaching. A certificate from the youth centre is
touted as a passport to any profession they want. The 'green bombers,' as
they are derisively called, have to earn their stripes by terrorising and
killing opposition supporters in the run up to any election, and continue to
be used as a para-military force. The Reserve Bank has also employed their
services in several of its 'economic' crackdowns.
SW Radio Africa (London)
27 August 2007
Posted to the web 27 August 2007
There are no sanctions currently imposed on Zimbabwe by Western nations or
anyone else. There are targeted sanctions that affect only the ruling elite
assets and their ability to travel.
Yet Robert Mugabe, who is acknowledged by many as a master of propaganda,
has managed to create a media frenzy around this issue, constantly blaming
sanctions for destroying Zimbabwe's economy. Now South Africa's President
Thabo Mbeki is reported to have adopted this spin. Media reports quote Mbeki
as saying SADC should "do all that it can to help Zimbabwe address the issue
of sanctions," which are hurting the country's economy. In a report back
about discussions on Zimbabwe that took place at the recent SADC summit in
Lusaka, Mbeki is said to have blamed Western nations, including the US, UK
and Australia, for imposing these so-called sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Mbeki also accused the media of fabricating false information suggesting
that the Heads of State had been divided over the SADC secretariat report on
Zimbabwe, which was presented in Lusaka at the recent summit. He is quoted
saying: "If anything, the heads of state are united in their resolve to do
what is necessary to help Zimbabweans to find a lasting solution to the
socioeconomic and political problems."
The South African president is also quoted as saying: "Sanctions also damage
the image of Zimbabwe, causing a severe blow to her tourist sector." Mbeki
made other policy recommendations, but it is the "sanctions" issue that has
Piers Pigou, a researcher on Southern Africa at The National Archives in
South Africa, said there is a media war taking place between those who
support Mugabe and those who want to see him go. He described the whole
sanctions issue as "nonsense which is being peddled by ZANU-PF and its
apologists." He said sanctions are a smokescreen that is not really there
but it has given SADC and Africa in general a "headache." Pigou said issues
are sometimes over-exaggerated or twisted by both sides to achieve a certain
Pigou also blamed the lack of direct information from Mbeki and SADC leaders
for some of confusion that is making the rounds in reports on Zimbabwe. He
said Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" has led to a broader problem of
misrepresentation by the media, and his ability to explain things clearly
has been problematic."
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: August 27, 2007
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: The Zimbabwean opposition called on Monday for
President Robert Mugabe's government to allow Zimbabwe citizens living in
neighboring countries to vote in next year's general election.
"It can be done. Let's allow Zimbabweans in the Diaspora their democratic
right to vote," Lovemore Moyo, chairman of the main Movement for Democratic
Change faction, said at a news conference.
Massive inflation, shortages of food and fuel and a crackdown on political
opposition have sent Zimbabweans fleeing into neighboring countries.
Moyo said there were about 3.5 million Zimbabweans in South Africa, which is
in line with other estimates, although there are no official figures.
He appealed to the Southern African Development Community to pressure Mugabe
to allow Zimbabweans who were eligible to vote and resident in the region to
be allowed to cast their ballots.
"The Diaspora vote is critical to our democratic transformation in
Zimbabwe," he said.
The Movement for Democratic Change has raised concerns about the
registration of voters for the March election, which closed last week.
Moyo said the process was badly publicized and mobile stations were placed
in remote, inaccessible places.
He said his party had approached the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to
extend the registration period to ensure that the elections were free and
Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper reported Monday that about 80,000 new
voters had registered but that final figures from two-month registration
drive would be released soon.
Moyo said his party still supported the Southern African Development
Community's mediation process headed by President Thabo Mbeki but were being
cautious about the talks, which have so far failed to yield much success.
A summit of southern African leaders closed earlier this month with no quick
solution in sight to Zimbabwe's political crisis and economic meltdown.
Zimbabwe's official media hailed the outcome of the summit as a victory for
Mugabe, who received the loudest applause on the opening day.
The closing summit communique welcomed the negotiations mediated by Mbeki
and encouraged the ruling Zanu-PF party and Movement for Democratic Change
to narrow their differences to enable elections scheduled for next year to
take place in "an atmosphere of peace and tranquility."
However, Moyo said there were "pitfalls" to the process and, "given the
history of Zanu-PF, we would be fools to put all our eggs in one basket."
He said the Movement for Democratic Change was preparing to contest
elections and going ahead with fundraising and campaign events in South
Africa as well as in London, where there is a large expatriate community of
Zimbabweans as well.
He said the mediation "is just one process. It is not the only answer."
Mail and Guardian
Peter Kagwanja: COMMENT
26 August 2007 11:59
The recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit
in Lusaka was clouded by a seven-year-old face-off between Africa and the
West over Zimbabwe. And the continuing brinkmanship promises to haunt the
Euro-Africa summit in Portugal and the Commonwealth Heads of Government
Meeting in Uganda, both of which take place later this year -- even as
mediation efforts continue.
The 14-member SADC resolved to put together a blueprint to bail
Zimbabwe out of its economic woes, but critics are already warning that
Africa stands to pay a heavy price for not "reining in" Harare.
"Failing . to get to grips with the issue of Zimbabwe, the SADC
leaders are seriously undermining Africa's credibility on the world stage,"
chides John Morrison, a former foreign correspondent for Reuters. "They may
get a rude awakening the next time they lobby for a better global deal for
their countries on the world stage."
Zimbabwe's economic and political meltdown has been recognised
as a security and economic threat to the region, where there are no less
than three million refugees. But in some eyes the real threat is
ideological. The seven-year stand-off between Africa and the West has
emboldened Robert Mugabe, who has cloaked himself in the garb of African
resistance -- a victim of racially inspired retribution for seizing and
handing over white-owned farms to black Zimbabweans.
South African President Thabo Mbeki's continuing efforts to
mediate a political settlement between Mugabe and the opposition provide the
best chance for levelling the playing field ahead of the 2008 elections --
and these efforts must be given a chance to breathe. But there are no
Zimbabwe's ruling party is torn apart by the stampede to succeed
Mugabe, who has declared that he is pitching for the 2008 elections. One can
only speculate about ferment in the military. The opposition, meanwhile,
remains too divided to be a real threat to Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
The European Union and the United States have frozen assets and
slapped a travel ban on Mugabe and 128 of his top associates and their
spouses. But sanctions and isolation have fostered an international climate
that is dangerously hostile to Zimbabwe's economic recovery.
Portugal, which currently holds the EU presidency, has decided
to waive the travel ban and invite representatives of the Zimbabwean
government to attend the December 8 to 9 Euro-Africa summit. This has
attracted severe criticism, particularly from Britain, and Prime Minister
Gordon Brown is likely to stay away.
This sort of political theatre aside, the SADC mediation should
focus on securing constitutional reforms, an economic recovery plan and
electoral reforms ahead of the 2008 elections. But a bit of help from the
likes of Sam Nujoma and Kenneth Kaunda, who have the necessary liberation
credentials to urge Mugabe to step aside and oversee a peaceful transition,
could also help ease the tension.
Peter Kagwanja is a research director and senior African fellow
at the Human Science Research Council and president of the Africa Policy
Monday 27 August 2007
By Farisai Gonye
HARARE - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has shot down a southern African
economic rescue package amid fears that the West was waiting in the wings to
use the regional initiative to bankroll its regime-change agenda, ZimOnline
heard at the weekend.
Authoritative government sources said the 83-year-old Zimbabwean leader,
accused by critics of ruining the once-prosperous economy, was not eager to
embrace an economic rescue plan being dangled before him by fellow Southern
African Development Community (SADC) leaders.
SADC has offered to bail out Harare, currently in the throes of an
eight-year-old economic crisis whose effects are beginning to cause panic
within the 14-member regional bloc.
An economic report on Zimbabwe prepared by SADC executive secretary Tomaz
Augusto Salomao was not adopted at the SADC summit two weeks ago and it was
forwarded to a committee of regional finance ministers for their blessings.
In the report, Salomao echoed International Monetary Fund (IMF)
recommendations that Zimbabwe undertakes comprehensive economic reforms that
should include currency reforms, expenditure cuts and a stable policy
He called for robust policies "to reduce the overvaluation of the exchange
rate, to reduce the budget deficit and to control the growth of domestic
credit and money supply which fuel inflation, and to reduce price
distortions in the economy".
"Equally important is the need to avoid frequent changes in policy
initiatives, which have caused uncertainties and led to the view that the
policy environment is unpredictable," said Salomao.
Salomao was tasked by SADC at a special summit in Tanzania last March to
recommend a rescue package for Zimbabwe, in the eighth year of an economic
recession that threatens to disturb prevailing regional peace and security.
In the same report, Salomao recommended the restoration of balance of
payments support for Zimbabwe to ease shortages of foreign currency in the
country and to boost the capacity to build Harare's hard cash reserves.
"The restoration of the country's foreign exchange generating capacity
through Balance of Payments support is crucial: however, the most urgent
action that is needed to start this process is to establish lines of credit
to enable Zimbabwe to import inputs for its productive sectors, particularly
for agriculture and foreign currency generating sectors.
Zimbabwe is believed to have operated on less than a week's import cover
since her economic crisis started towards the end of 1999 after the IMF
pulled the plug on aid in protest at mismanagement by President Robert
The sources said Mugabe last week told his Cabinet colleagues that Harare
should forge ahead with its own economic programmes, arguing that the SADC
rescue plan was a back-door strategy by his sworn Western enemies to
influence political developments in his country.
"He told cabinet not to wait for SADC because he doesn't like the conditions
which are no different from what Western countries have been asking for.
"He feels that, if adhered to, the conditions could weaken his government's
hold on power," said a senior Ministry of Finance official who did not want
to be named fearing retribution from Mugabe.
Mugabe, the country's sole ruler since independence from Britain in 1980,
fears that the United States and Europe would ultimately fund the SADC
initiative and may try to use the opportunity to push through their own
"SADC has no money of its own and would rely on Western funds for the
initiative and for Mugabe this is old wine in new bottles," said the finance
Agreeing to the SADC conditions was tantamount to accepting the same Western
demands that Mugabe has rejected over the past seven years.
The Zimbabwean leader has blamed International Monetary Fund and World Bank
policies as well as Western sanctions for the current economic crisis faced
He accuses the West of a sinister plot to elbow him out of power and install
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change whom he considers to be
The sources said the Zimbabwean leader told his inner ruling elite that
rather than agreeing to the SADC economic proposal, he preferred a
home-grown stabilisation plan that would not tie his government to
unfavourable external terms.
Harare is currently putting final touches to a new economic blueprint - the
Zimbabwe Economic Development Strategy (ZEDS) - that will replace the
ineffective National Economic Development Priority Programme.
ZEDS is expected to spearhead the country's economic revival after nearly a
decade of recession triggered by the violent removal of former white farmers
from their properties which led to foreign currency, fuel and power
Information and publicity deputy minister Bright Matonga however denied that
Harare had rejected the SADC package, insisting that the home-grown economic
stabilisation policy would complement the regional initiative.
"What you should understand is that we cannot stop working on our policies
because SADC has promised a package. It will complement our own work if it
comes," said Matonga.
No timeframe was given for the implementation of the SADC rescue package,
raising fears among economists that "the patient may expire before the
medicine arrives". - ZimOnline
Monday 27 August 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe is sitting on a health time-bomb amid fears of a major
disease outbreak triggered by the proliferation of unlicenced meat traders
taking advantage of beef shortages in the country.
Health experts said at the weekend that selling of uninspected beef was now
rife in the country's urban centres following last June's decision by the
government to deregister private abattoirs.
President Robert Mugabe's government reintroduced the state-owned Cold
Storage Company (CSC)'s monopoly as the sole buyer and seller of beef in the
country as part of a blitz on runaway prices started two months ago.
Zimbabwe has faced serious beef shortages following the decision to restore
CSC's monopoly, forcing the government to reinstate licences of 42 private
abattoirs last week.
But even with the reinstatement of licences of the 42 abattoirs, shortages
of beef have not gone away, creating perfect conditions for unlicenced
"street butchers" to take advantage of the long-suffering Zimbabweans.
The beef is brought from farming areas close to the main cities and towns
under the cover of darkness and sold to desperate residents who are prepared
to part with Z$400 000 per kilogramme against the gazetted price of $140 000
Bulawayo City Council spokesperson Phathisa Nyathi confirmed the emergence
of unlicenced street butchers in the city but said the local authority was
failing to cope with the problem.
"The scope of the problem is too wide and we have constraints in
monitoring," Nyathi said.
Under Zimbabwe's tough health laws, it is a crime to sell meat that has not
been inspected for diseases such as anthrax and foot-and-mouth.
But with the shortages and new rules regulating the sale of cattle,
unlicensed dealers in the meat industry are now buying cattle and
transporting them at night in order to beat veterinary check-points.
"As it is, the whole country is at serious risk because people are eating
uninspected meat but the main problem is a result of the meat shortage in
the butcheries," Nyathi said.
Bulawayo residents who spoke to ZimOnline said they were aware of the risks
involved in eating uninspected meat but they had no choice because of the
beef shortage on the official market.
Convenience is another major consideration pushing consumers to buy from the
"The beef we buy from private meat dealers is supplied through an order
system and it is delivered door-to-door to customers and if there is any
left, then they sell it on street corners," said Martha Moyo who says she
has been buying meat through that system for the past two months.
Fears of a disease outbreak are compounded by water shortages and power cuts
currently affecting the country. - ZimOnline
Monday 27 August 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO - Zimbabwean police have arrested three members of a
government taskforce enforcing a government directive to reduce prices for
allegedly demanding bribes from a bus crew.
The three, who are all based in Masvingo town some 260km south of the
capital Harare, appeared in court on Saturday facing corruption charges.
Thembani Ncube, a police officer, Joseph Makanho, a serving soldier
based at the army's 4 Brigade and Patience Runesu, a worker in the Ministry
of Industry and International Trade, were arrested last week for demanding
The three are being charged with contravening a section of the
Prevention of Corruption Act.
Magistrate Stanley Mambanje remanded them out of custody to 30 August
The state alleges that the three suspects "arrested" Alec Zvavashe, an
inspector with one of the buses run by Mutare businessman Esau Mupfumi, for
allegedly failing to slash fares as demanded by the government.
The three then demanded a Z$6 million bribe from Zvavashe, with the
bus inspector complying with their demand. Zvavashe also gave the three
another Z$3 million bribe two days later.
But when Mupfumi queried the "payments", Zvavashe told his boss that
they had paid some bribes to the price monitoring team leading to the
businessman reporting the case to the police. The three suspects were then
The Zimbabwean government has since last June been enforcing a
controversial directive to businessmen to reduce prices by 50 percent.
The move has seen over 12 000 businessmen being arrested for failing
to comply with the order.
Several police officers have been arrested since the crackdown began
last June for allegedly demanding bribes from businessmen and hoarding basic
commodities that they then re-sell on the parallel market.
Zimbabwean police officers are among the worst paid civil servants
taking home salaries of around $3 million a month, an amount that is way
below the poverty datum line that stood at Z$12.6 million in June. -
Monday 27 August 2007
JOHANNESBURG - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António
Guterres has ruled out setting up refugee camps for Zimbabweans escaping
hardships at home, insisting a more permanent solution was required to
arrest the declining political and economic climate in Harare.
Speaking after meeting South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe
Mapisa-Nqakula in Cape Town, the world's top refugee official backed
Pretoria's stance not to set up camps for Zimbabweans fleeing economic and
political difficulties at home.
Guterres said the Zimbabweans fleeing from the economic crisis into South
Africa were not legally defined as refugees.
The UN said over three million Zimbabweans had fled and most had flocked to
South Africa. However, only a limited number had applied for asylum.
"Only those who have never lived in a refugee camp will advocate a refugee
camp as a solution for problems of this nature. A refugee camp is an
extremely hard place to live in," said Guterres.
The UN said it would support South Africa in its initiatives, but a
contingency plan had been made in anticipation of thousands of Zimbabweans
fleeing their country's worsening political and economic situation. -
Monday 27 August 2007
By Tanonoka Joseph Whande
GABORONE - If there is one thing that has always irked me, it is the
Zimbabwean people's penchant to inflict political wounds and paralysing
handicaps on themselves.
From soccer administration to running trade union affiliates, we have
this propensity to regurgitate and recycle proven failures from days gone
In politics, we, Zimbabweans, are unintelligently too tolerant, to a
fault. Our tolerance borders on masochism, as successive white regimes in
the land may care to confirm, even from beyond their graves.
Today, it is Mugabe's turn. 'Leadership qualities' is something that
distinguishes exceptional citizens from others yet Zimbabweans do not react
when a 'leader' imposes or is imposed on them.
ZANU-PF, the ruling party since independence in 1980, has always
stunted emerging brilliant young leaders while promoting tired old goats and
praise-singers into the forefront.
Today, the nation of Zimbabwe continues to frolic in a pool filled
with an endless string of tried, tired and useless leaders who are no longer
relevant to our situation today.
Today, whenever we talk about Mugabe's successor, four names make
themselves prominent but for different reasons. None impresses me.
Edgar Tekere is a respectable man. I think he owes his respect to
having been the first to openly 'challenge' Mugabe for the presidency. But
Tekere waited too long and supported Mugabe just a little bit too much.
Even today, I am not sure whether his departure from ZANU-PF was
caused by meaningful differences of principles or was necessitated by other
Tekere seems to have been spared the expected ZANU-PF backlash and
abuse and actually appears to have been left well alone, a curiosity for
someone who put up such a spirited effort to humiliate Mugabe at the polls.
Others who did less against Mugabe found themselves dead, arrested on
frivolous treason charges or were 'dealt with' into silence and a pauper's
However, I applaud Tekere's statements several years ago that he was
retiring from politics and was just going to be a commentator. I urge him to
stay on that course.
He should not bother recommending to us Mugabe's successor.
Zimbabweans do not need endorsements of potential leaders from former
ZANU-PF stalwarts. Tekere did his undisputed part for Zimbabwe and that is
as far as it goes. Finito!
Enter one Enos Mzombi Nkala. Like Tekere, Nkala was one of those
closest to Mugabe, a member of the original inner circle. And, like Tekere,
the party took good care of him.
When people in his Matabeleland constituency rejected him at the
polls, ZANU-PF rammed him down the throats of the people of faraway Kariba.
Mugabe continued to give Nkala several high profile cabinet posts among
which were Finance, Defence and Home Affairs.
But typical ZANU-PF greed saw him being the first to be ensnared in
the widely publicised Willowvale Motor scandal. So through fault of his own
greed, he stumbled and fell.
But recently, Nkala told reporters that he was getting back into
active politics so as "to frustrate Robert Mugabe's bid to stand for
re-election next year."
And to achieve that, Nkala chose, as his vehicle, the Patriotic Union
of Matabeleland, a regional nonsense that advocates for the autonomy of
Desperation and oblivion can cloud up people's minds. Nkala, founder
member of ZANU-PF, but with hardly any constituency at all, now believes
because Mugabe has turned into a fiend, people will listen to him. It is
It is truly pathetic. Nkala justifiably benefited from ZANU-PF as
ministerial portfolios given him testify. He was instrumental in the
horrific massacres in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces.
To his credit, he admitted his complicity and apologised. But now,
left with no choice, he is denouncing Mugabe and ZANU-PF. On my part, I say
to Mr Nkala: "Zimbabwe gave you support and a chance but you abused it.
You now threaten to "spill the beans" on Mugabe but conveniently
ignore that you are just as much to blame.
Spill the beans and give us the evidence to incarcerate you too
because you were party to all that went on.
"Secondly, you are a damn coward since you want your 'book' to be
published after you are dead. Let it be published now so we can all flock to
you for clarification and authenticating.
You want to throw Zimbabwe into perpetual chaos with unproven
announcements. When politically dead people start publishing after they are
physically dead, I get mighty suspicious because our country has gone
through hell because of ZANU-PF political dinosaurs.
If it's true, why wait till you are dead? Zimbabwe needs your help
now, Mr Nkala. "However, I hear that you are fronting for some obscure
'party' that champions the autonomy of 'Matabeleland.'
Mr Nkala, please understand that not an inch of Zimbabwean land is
ever going to be parcelled out to any tribe for any reason.
Zimbabwe took care of you and you failed on your own; now you want to
cause unnecessary chaos because you, like your benefactor Mugabe, have
proved to be liabilities to the nation and are out of time.
"Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe. There was never any MashonaLAND or MatabeleLAND
or ManicaLAND, just Zimbabwe. Do not fool anyone in your part of the country
into believing that there is ever going to be a separate state or a federal
nation or something so atrocious.
"Zimbabwe does not belong to a tribe and no part of it ever will." I
have heard about one Joice Mujuru. She is not a contender for the
presidency. Mugabe used her just to cause confusion and almost succeeded.
Then there is the third twin, Simba Makoni. So much is being said
about him and his potential to be president of Zimbabwe. He is the real "Mr
Teflon", squeaky clean as Mr Min might say.
Sadly, no one in ZANU-PF is clean. I concede that, outwardly, Makoni
entices me with his mind, demeanour and 'a seeming appearance' of political
cleanliness. But clarifications first, okay?
Who is trumpeting Makoni's presidency? Makoni is a member of ZANU-PF.
That alone is a fault that even the heavens can hardly correct.
He was Mugabe's blue-eyed boy who, like all the others before and
after him, was discarded when he had performed for the master.
When he ran out of luck, like Kamuzu Banda's Aleke Banda, he started
mutedly mumbling negatives about his benefactor. And Makoni has no
constituency. I cannot recall an election he won in his own name.
He also appears to have been fired from all the public jobs he was
appointed to. So why is his name always being pushed forward? The two camps
vying for Mugabe's throne are courting him.
According to one online publication, "powerful retired army commander
General Solomon Mujuru has ditched his wife, Vice President Joice Mujuru, as
his ideal successor and is now opting for former finance minister Simba
He is said to have no presidential ambitions of his own but would like
to be "the power behind the throne."
In other words, he wants to be Puppet Master. Forgive me, but just why
are all the ZANU-PF malcontents, who have something to answer for, vying for
Will he be our president or theirs? Will he be, as former Kenyan
president Daniel arap Moi said of Uhuru Kenyatta, "(easily) guided"? I am
afraid Makoni will not be ours and his deep roots in ZANU-PF make him very
Meanwhile, there are thousands of young men and women, in and outside
ZANU-PF, who are more deserving than 'compromise candidates.' There is
nothing more dangerous than a 'compromise candidate' who might not execute
his responsibilities fully as he attempts to pay old debts.
Anyone with IOUs to ZANU-PF stalwarts is worse than Mugabe. What will
he give them as quid pro quo? Immunity from prosecution? Don't say I didn't
*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean writer.
By Peter Clottey
27 August 2007
Former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma says the debate on the
political crisis in Zimbabwe has been internationally overblown, making it
difficult to amicably resolve the impasse. He said what is causing the
tension between the Mugabe-led ZANU-PF government and the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is a political disagreement over how to
move the country forward.
Zuma, who is affectionately called "Musholoozi" by his teaming supporters,
adds that the Zimbabwe situation is a unique one, which needs to be
carefully understood before it could be resolved. He admits the crisis has
taken a rather long time, which he said has put pressure on surrounding
countries in the southern Africa sub-region. From Johannesburg, he tells
reporter Peter Clottey that he reposes great confidence in South African
President Thabo Mbeki to help resolve the political impasse in Zimbabwe.
"In Zimbabwe, we are dealing with the political tension that is not yet a
war, which is not also based on ethnicity, which is based on the political
disagreement as to how Zimbabwe must be run. And of course I know it has
taken too long, and I don't think it is desirable. By now that issue should
be resolved. It is not also good for the neighbors because of its impact to
the neighbors. We in South Africa, for example, receive thousands and
thousands of refugees from Zimbabwe. And I don't think that is healthy
because it means the Zimbabwe situation in a sense spills over to the
neighbors," Zuma pointed out.
He said although the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been
trying to resolve the situation in Zimbabwe, the crisis has received
negative debate on the international stage.
"SADC has always tried to deal with this issue. The problem in Zimbabwe
becomes a little bit difficult because of the manner in which it is debated
internationally. I think it does impact in a particular way within the
regions and in Zimbabwe. But we are hopeful that the matter would be
resolved," he said.
Zuma defended South Africa's quiet diplomacy approach to the Zimbabwe
"From our point of view, since the beginning of the conflict, the ANC
(African National Congress) on one hand, and the government on the other,
the government of course took the lead because of the relations between
governments. We took the view that instead of standing out there and
shouting and criticizing, that is not going to help us," Zuma noted.
He said the best solution to the crisis is for an intense, open and
trustworthy dialogue between the ruling ZANU-PF government and the
"I do not think that there is any other solution that you can find in a
situation of tension except opening up a possibility of dialogue, and debate
engagement. What I think in Zimbabwe has not happened is intensive and very
deep negotiation with an aim to find the resolution. I think there have been
many distractions, and many things that has been happening that the kind of
interaction has not been that very effective because the kind of attention
and suspicion hasn't been allowed to flourish. I think the more vigorous
engagement particularly by the region and with supportive kind of decisions
taken by the globe, I think it will go a long way," he said.
Zuma said he would like to be remembered as somebody who rose through the
ranks of the ANC through hard work.
"I don't think you can look at Jacob Zuma without the ANC. In the first
instance what the ANC has done in the history of South Africa, during the
struggle and indeed in the manner in which it resolved the problem, and how
it has been handling the country. Jacob Zuma should be taken in that context
as a cadre of this movement.and I would love that when people look at Jacob
Zuma, must look at the cadre who grew within the ranks to senior kind of
cadre ship and what is it that he did carrying out instructions and indeed
implementing the policies of the ANC," he said.
The Age, Australia
August 28, 2007
ZIMBABWE'S main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has thrown his support
behind moves to force strongman President Robert Mugabe into exile to end
the country's political crisis.
In Melbourne at the start of a week-long visit to Australia, Mr Tsvangirai
said yesterday private approaches had been made to ease Zimbabwe's ruler of
27 years out of office with the promise of sanctuary abroad.
"I'm sure that people have been looking at how to give him a so-called
'dignified exit' as a way of finding a solution, but I don't know to what
extent that dignified exit will be acceptable to Mugabe, given his defiance
and his insecurity," Mr Tsvangirai said.
The priority for Zimbabwe was to escape a growing humanitarian emergency, he
said. "I'm more concerned about the plight now of the people, rather than
trying to hang Mugabe from the nearest pole."
Zimbabwe's economy is in ruins, with an inflation rate topping 10,000 per
cent and 80 per cent of people out of work.
Earlier this year, images of Mr Tsvangirai's swollen face provoked
widespread anger after he was bashed by police in March before a planned
protest against the regime.
Mr Tsvangirai yesterday encouraged Australia to maintain economic pressure
on the Mugabe Government and applauded sports boycotts, saying measures
designed to isolate the regime would eventually have an impact.
Australia has extended its "smart sanctions" against Zimbabwe to deny
student visas to children of regime officials and cancelled a cricket tour
planned for next month.
But Mr Tsvangirai called for more pressure from southern Africa leaders to
bring about democratic change in Zimbabwe. "I think they should be more
vocal about the situation in Zimbabwe and how it impacts the region,
economically, politically and socially."
He said 3 million to 4 million Zimbabweans had fled the country, many to
South Africa, creating a wider humanitarian problem.
South African President Tabo Mbeki is mediating talks between Mr Mugabe's
party and Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change in the hope of
finding a political solution before Zimbabwe's next presidential election,
due in 2008. Mr Mugabe has tried to alter the constitution to stay in office
for another term.
Mr Mbeki has been widely criticised for not taking a tough line with Mr
"In Africa there is conflicting emotions on Mugabe," Mr Tsvangirai said.
"Land and race are intricately linked issues in Africa, so you find some
people supporting him, not because he's right, but because he's one of our
He said the problem in Zimbabwe was growing more urgent. "The crisis in
Zimbabwe is nothing to do with land, has nothing to do with race. It has
everything to do with mismanagement and misrule."
Mr Tsvangirai will meet Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in Adelaide
tomorrow before going to Sydney and Canberra later in the week.
:: The Southern African
Monday, 27 August 2007
Foreign mining companies are reportedly negotiating deals to pay the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority in foreign currency as a way to ensure
uninterrupted power supply to their mines.
A Canadian mining executive last week revealed to South African mining
publication, Mining Weekly, that about six foreign mining companies were in
negotiations with ZESA and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is in an economic free fall caused by the country's political
problems and power supply is among essential services that have been
Caledonia Mining Corporation's president, Stefan Hayden said his
company is negotiating an agreement to pay ZESA in forex so the power
authority can keep the lights on at its gold mine.
A contract is currently being drawn up, which will then be submitted
to the RBZ for approval.
Hayden said despite the probability of delays, he hoped that approval
would be granted by this week.
Caledonia operates the Blanket Gold Mine, which recently resumed
underground operations following the stripping and re-equipping of its main
Due to ongoing power outages in the country, production was currently
at about 400 tonnes per day. Caledonia has set a target of achieving 1 000
t/d of production by year-end, and Hayden acknowledged that power is "the
single most critical thing" in ensuring the target is met.
from the August 27, 2007 edition Harare, Zimbabwe; and Musina, South Africa - Once
considered a shining example of Africa's potential, Zimbabwe is now a country in
the throes of its worst economic crisis in decades. Critical shortages of food, fuel, foreign currency, and, in some areas, water
beset a nation where the official inflation rate tops 7,600 percent. Some
analysts believe the real figure is much higher and climbing fast. "We can't get anything now – no bread, no petrol ... nothing," says Shephard
Lunga, a truck driver from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city. "If you
don't have somebody who's outside the country supplying you with things, you're
finished." The country's beleaguered economy has taken a turn for the worse since late
June, when President Robert Mugabe ordered all prices cut by at least 50 percent
in a bid to slow runaway inflation. The move backfired, causing manufacturers to
stop producing their goods. Now grocery store shelves are barren, and people are
increasingly hungry. Even a casual stroll through the capital, Harare, shows the consequences of
the country's record inflation. Supermarkets that once offered an impressive
array of cereals and ice cream no longer carry even the basic goods every
Zimbabwean relies upon: things such as cooking oil, bread, and cornmeal. People loiter around grocery stores by the dozens, waiting for delivery
trucks. The arrival of cooking oil or bread leads to lines that curl around
street corners. When a store is able to put tea biscuits on its shelves, for
instance, they vanish in minutes. Gangs of men linger outside nondescript buildings, hawking fuel on the black
market at prices few Zimbabweans can afford: about 2.3 million Zimbabwe dollars
per gallon, which is $9,200 according to the official exchange rate (250
Zimbabwe dollars to $1) or $11.50 at the more realistic black market rate. Money
merchants huddled near hotels are now offering roughly 200,000 Zimbabwe dollars
to $1. Key goods no longer available Carrying rolls of bills the size of Big Macs, well-dressed shoppers walk into
pharmacies stocked mostly with expensive imports. More often than not, they walk out with nothing. Affordable bath soap is
among the many items that hasn't been available for weeks. "It's become like Zambia in the 1980s," says Iden Wetherell, editor of the
Zimbabwe Independent, one of the country's two independent newspapers. "People
are preoccupied with sustenance, getting by on a day-to-day basis, which
successfully diverts them from politics." The country's downfall was set in motion in 2000, analysts say, when Mr.
Mugabe ordered the country's white farmers off their land and distributed a
majority of it to cronies in his ruling party, Zanu-PF. Since then, Mugabe's government has passed draconian measures banning public
demonstrations, and members of the now emasculated opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have been beaten. "There is no life here," says a taxi driver who declined to give his name for
fear of government retaliation. "We are struggling like it's nobody's business."
For its part, the government has recently allowed businesses to raise the
prices of some basic goods. But John Robertson, a Harare-based independent
economist, said the move would do little to stem the country's shrinking
economy, saying the government had done a "hatchet job on the business sector"
over the past decade that could not be easily remedied. A bill put forth last week forcing foreign companies to give Zimbabweans
majority ownership is expected to make life even harder for people like Sibanda,
a hotel porter who refused to give his last name. The father of three says he pays 3 million Zimbabwe dollars a month for the
two rooms he shares with his wife and kids. His salary, he says with a sigh, is
only 5 million Zimbabwe dollars a month and he pays 200,000 commuting to work
every day. "I can't support my family anymore," he says. Sibanda's family is forced to subsist on whatever his wife can scrounge up
from the markets, which these days isn't much. A recent dinner was typical: okra and potatoes. No corn meal means they can't
even make sadza, a thick porridge that is eaten with meats and
vegetables. The porter says his family hasn't eaten any beef in weeks. "This country used to be beautiful for us," he says. "Now people are running
away." And they are doing so at an alarming rate. Exodus to South Africa More than 3 million Zimbabweans are believed to have fled the country, among
them doctors, teachers, and other highly educated professionals. Unable to afford visas or obtain passports, some have crossed illegally into
countries like South Africa, braving attacks from bandits and the threat of
imprisonment. Hours after he and a friend slipped into South Africa through a hole in the
border's barbed-wire fence, Tatenda Muzondo nervously walked down the tarred
road toward the town of Musina. Anxious, tired, and penniless, the 18-year-old high school graduate says that
despite his education he couldn't get a job and headed south at the suggestion
of his parents. "We forced ourselves to cross to look for greener pastures," Mr. Muzondo
says. "They call this 'the promised land' now." Those with passports and enough cash cross into South Africa legally to stock
up on goods they can then sell on the black market back home. Last week, a primary school teacher who refused to be named was among a dozen
others crammed into a van stuffed with goods heading to Zimbabwe from
Johannesburg, South Africa. She says the constant struggle to survive was coming at the expense of
students throughout Zimbabwe. Having stocked up on soap and cooking oil, the mother of two was planning on
selling them on the street after her classes were through. "I go to school and just teach some basics," she says. "I don't have time for
the children because I have to worry about providing for myself and my family."
A man shows the new 200,000 dollar note unveiled
this month by Zimbabwe's central bank. Desmond Kwande/AFP/Getty
from the August 27, 2007 edition
Harare, Zimbabwe; and Musina, South Africa - Once considered a shining example of Africa's potential, Zimbabwe is now a country in the throes of its worst economic crisis in decades.
Critical shortages of food, fuel, foreign currency, and, in some areas, water beset a nation where the official inflation rate tops 7,600 percent. Some analysts believe the real figure is much higher and climbing fast.
"We can't get anything now – no bread, no petrol ... nothing," says Shephard Lunga, a truck driver from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city. "If you don't have somebody who's outside the country supplying you with things, you're finished."
The country's beleaguered economy has taken a turn for the worse since late June, when President Robert Mugabe ordered all prices cut by at least 50 percent in a bid to slow runaway inflation. The move backfired, causing manufacturers to stop producing their goods. Now grocery store shelves are barren, and people are increasingly hungry.
Even a casual stroll through the capital, Harare, shows the consequences of the country's record inflation. Supermarkets that once offered an impressive array of cereals and ice cream no longer carry even the basic goods every Zimbabwean relies upon: things such as cooking oil, bread, and cornmeal.
People loiter around grocery stores by the dozens, waiting for delivery trucks. The arrival of cooking oil or bread leads to lines that curl around street corners. When a store is able to put tea biscuits on its shelves, for instance, they vanish in minutes.
Gangs of men linger outside nondescript buildings, hawking fuel on the black market at prices few Zimbabweans can afford: about 2.3 million Zimbabwe dollars per gallon, which is $9,200 according to the official exchange rate (250 Zimbabwe dollars to $1) or $11.50 at the more realistic black market rate. Money merchants huddled near hotels are now offering roughly 200,000 Zimbabwe dollars to $1.
Key goods no longer available
Carrying rolls of bills the size of Big Macs, well-dressed shoppers walk into pharmacies stocked mostly with expensive imports.
More often than not, they walk out with nothing. Affordable bath soap is among the many items that hasn't been available for weeks.
"It's become like Zambia in the 1980s," says Iden Wetherell, editor of the Zimbabwe Independent, one of the country's two independent newspapers. "People are preoccupied with sustenance, getting by on a day-to-day basis, which successfully diverts them from politics."
The country's downfall was set in motion in 2000, analysts say, when Mr. Mugabe ordered the country's white farmers off their land and distributed a majority of it to cronies in his ruling party, Zanu-PF.
Since then, Mugabe's government has passed draconian measures banning public demonstrations, and members of the now emasculated opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have been beaten.
"There is no life here," says a taxi driver who declined to give his name for fear of government retaliation. "We are struggling like it's nobody's business."
For its part, the government has recently allowed businesses to raise the prices of some basic goods. But John Robertson, a Harare-based independent economist, said the move would do little to stem the country's shrinking economy, saying the government had done a "hatchet job on the business sector" over the past decade that could not be easily remedied.
A bill put forth last week forcing foreign companies to give Zimbabweans majority ownership is expected to make life even harder for people like Sibanda, a hotel porter who refused to give his last name.
The father of three says he pays 3 million Zimbabwe dollars a month for the two rooms he shares with his wife and kids. His salary, he says with a sigh, is only 5 million Zimbabwe dollars a month and he pays 200,000 commuting to work every day.
"I can't support my family anymore," he says.
Sibanda's family is forced to subsist on whatever his wife can scrounge up from the markets, which these days isn't much.
A recent dinner was typical: okra and potatoes. No corn meal means they can't even make sadza, a thick porridge that is eaten with meats and vegetables.
The porter says his family hasn't eaten any beef in weeks.
"This country used to be beautiful for us," he says. "Now people are running away."
And they are doing so at an alarming rate.
Exodus to South Africa
More than 3 million Zimbabweans are believed to have fled the country, among them doctors, teachers, and other highly educated professionals.
Unable to afford visas or obtain passports, some have crossed illegally into countries like South Africa, braving attacks from bandits and the threat of imprisonment.
Hours after he and a friend slipped into South Africa through a hole in the border's barbed-wire fence, Tatenda Muzondo nervously walked down the tarred road toward the town of Musina.
Anxious, tired, and penniless, the 18-year-old high school graduate says that despite his education he couldn't get a job and headed south at the suggestion of his parents.
"We forced ourselves to cross to look for greener pastures," Mr. Muzondo says. "They call this 'the promised land' now."
Those with passports and enough cash cross into South Africa legally to stock up on goods they can then sell on the black market back home.
Last week, a primary school teacher who refused to be named was among a dozen others crammed into a van stuffed with goods heading to Zimbabwe from Johannesburg, South Africa.
She says the constant struggle to survive was coming at the expense of students throughout Zimbabwe.
Having stocked up on soap and cooking oil, the mother of two was planning on selling them on the street after her classes were through.
"I go to school and just teach some basics," she says. "I don't have time for the children because I have to worry about providing for myself and my family."
August 27, 2007 Edition 1
Two issues have dominated media coverage of the government in the past two
weeks: the parlous state of Zimbabwe and whether health minister Manto
Tshabalala-Msimang is fit for office.
A third issue, which should have received more attention, was why trade and
industry minister Mandisi Mpahlwa has been unable, after five months, to
resuscitate the national lottery. Government spokesperson Themba Maseko
merely said at a post-cabinet briefing that an announcement was "imminent",
the same reply given two weeks back.
The parliamentary media corps, accused of misleading the public, fictitious
reports and sensationalism, did not take the criticism lying down this time.
The government was asked why allegations of theft - in Botswana - against
Tshabalala-Msimang were not taken seriously by the cabinet, but somehow the
alleged theft of her medical documents was.
Maseko explained that cabinet appointments were the president's prerogative.
By implication, the decision to keep the health minister on board was not a
matter for discussion in the cabinet, but between the president and a
But asked if the president was aware of the allegations against the minister
of health in Botswana from 30 years ago, Maseko said: "I can't answer that
question. Only the president can do so."
Nevertheless, the cabinet was able to apply its mind to "the distasteful
media coverage around the minister of health, particularly the unlawful
publication and theft of her medical records from the hospital.
"While cabinet fully endorses free speech as articulated in our
constitution, there is a need to maintain a balance that respects and
protects all rights, including the right to privacy and free speech.
"These rights must be respected and observed by all, including the media.
The sacrosanct principle of doctor-patient confidentiality must be respected
at all times and its application cannot be dependent on a person's class,
position, gender or race."
The cabinet said the minister's decision to take the Sunday Times to court
"is a legitimate way of ensuring that clear parameters are set on the
balance between the right to privacy and dignity, especially their
application to public figures and free speech".
On Zimbabwe, the cabinet position was just as defensive. "Government once
again categorically rejected the allegation that President [Thabo] Mbeki had
blamed the British government for the problems in Zimbabwe. This is not
It went on: "Contrary to misleading and sensationalist media reports, the
report indicated that the facilitated talks between the government of
Zimbabwe and the opposition [facilitated by Mbeki] were on track and was
confident these talks will deliver an agreement that will lay the foundation
for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe."
Perhaps one need not be surprised that finance minister Trevor Manuel told
the national assembly on Thursday that - contrary to all evidence - "I will
stand by the right of Zimbabweans to elect their democratic government. What
you have in Zimbabwe is an elected government, elected on universal
franchise by all the people of Zimbabwe. That is a fact". He refused to
apologise for letting Zimbabwe's people down.
If public debate - and indeed, whistle-blowing on the health minister and on
the parlous economic state of Zimbabwe - is viewed by our leaders in this
manner, how far are we from mirroring that pernicious law that applies in
Zimbabwe - where the president of the nation cannot be criticised in public
or in the media?
Or am I being paranoid, in addition to being sensationalistic and motivated
by a personal desire to demean terribly high-ranking politicians?
27th Aug 2007 00:37 GMT
By a Correspondent
Zimbabwe's leading opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change's
statistics shows that it has gained massive support over the past two years
in some parts of rural Masvingo province regardless of political violence
and intimidation said to be instigated by the ruling Zanu PF supporters and
Research conducted by independent pro-democracy groups alongside the MDC
showed that the party has increased its support base in areas which
previously were dominated by the President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF.
In districts like Mwenezi, that voted for Zanu PF in huge numbers in the
2000 parliamentary elections, membership for the MDC has vastly increased to
figures that can alarm Zanu PF, considering the ruling party waxes lyrical
about the rural population and its support for its land reforms and related
"Our research shows that over the past three years in Mwenezi, we have
gained more than 10 000 new supporters which brings our present ratings in
the district to about 17 000," said Nelson Chamisa, the MDC's Spokesperson.
Chamisa said Zanu PF's failure and lack of vision as opposed to the
"fledgling and vibrant" had contributed significantly to the growing numbers
ditching Zanu PF for its ruinous policies that have seen the closure of
companies, no job creation opportunities, the rise of hunger and disease and
"Most of those people whom we interviewed stated that they had been failed
by President Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF and their hopes now rest
much on the MDC which they believe holds the hopes for a new Zimbabwe,"
In districts such as Chiredzi South, the MDC gained a relatively 8 000 new
members, 7 000 more in Masvingo South, 6 500 new ones in Shuvai Mahofa's
Gutu South and 9 000 in Zaka.
Nqobizitha Mlilo, the MDC's political liaison officer said Zimbabweans have
seen the "brutality, fraudulent and false promises" Zanu PF has made over
the years resulting in untold suffering and hence this huge vote of no
confidence in President Mugabe's party.
Asked to comment on the MDC statistics, independent political analyst
Tafadzwa Muguza said the figures proved that in an environment that promoted
free and fair elections, the MDC would not lose to a "weak, divided and
hopeless party like Zanu PF".
"It does not need a rocket scientist to tell that Mugabe and Zanu PF are by
a far margin weaker compared to the opposition MDC, especially considering
the economic meltdown caused by Mugabe and Zanu PF in the past seven years,"
27 August 2007, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Robin Brown will replace Kevin Curran as Zimbabwe coach following
their 3-0 one-day series defeat by South Africa.
The former Gloucestershire all-rounder has been given a new but as yet
unspecified role with Zimbabwe Cricket.
Curran, 47, took over from Phil Simmons in September 2005 and won nine
of 42 matches played during his tenure.
Former Zimbabwe captain Brown, 56, takes over on 1 September and his
first challenge will be the World Twenty20 tournament in South Africa.
Brown said: "I am very lucky to get the job and I am excited about it.
The guys are currently on a high. I hope I can continue with the re-building
and get some positive results for Zimbabwe."
What Happens When A Paper Currency Fails?
The Worst Episode of Hyperinflation in History: Yugoslavia 1993-94
Thayer Watkins, Ph.D.
Between October 1, 1993 and January 24, 1995 prices increased by 5
quadrillion percent. That's a 5 with 15 zeroes after it.
Thayer Watkins is an instructor and graduate advisor in the Economics
Department of SAN JOSÉ STATE UNIVERSITY.
Under Tito, Yugoslavia ran a budget deficit that was financed by printing
money. This led to a rate of inflation of 15 to 25 percent per year. After
Tito, the Communist Party pursued progressively more irrational economic
policies. These policies and the breakup of Yugoslavia (Yugoslavia now
consists of only Serbia and Montenegro) led to heavier reliance upon
printing or otherwise creating money to finance the operation of the
government and the socialist economy. This created the hyperinflation.
By the early 1990s the government used up all of its own hard currency
reserves and proceded to loot the hard currency savings of private citizens.
It did this by imposing more and more difficult restrictions on private
citizens' access to their hard currency savings in government banks.
The government operated a network of stores at which goods were supposed to
be available at artificially low prices. In practice these store seldom had
anything to sell and goods were only available at free markets where the
prices were far above the official prices that goods were supposed to sell
at in government stores. All of the government gasoline stations eventually
were closed and gasoline was available only from roadside dealers whose
operation consisted of a car parked with a plastic can of gasoline sitting
on the hood. The market price was the equivalent of $8 per gallon. Most car
owners gave up driving and relied upon public transportation. But the
Belgrade transit authority (GSP) did not have the funds necessary for
keeping its fleet of 1200 buses operating. Instead it ran fewer than 500
buses. These buses were overcrowded and the ticket collectors could not get
aboard to collect fares. Thus GSP could not collect fares even though it
was desperately short of funds.
Delivery trucks, ambulances, fire trucks and garbage trucks were also short
of fuel. The government announced that gasoline would not be sold to
farmers for fall harvests and planting.
Despite the government's desperate printing of money it still did not have
the funds to keep the infrastructure in operation. Pot holes developed in
the streets, elevators stopped functioning, and construction projects were
closed down. The unemployment rate exceeded 30 percent.
The government tried to counter the inflation by imposing price controls.
But when inflation continued, the government price controls made the price
producers were getting so ridiculous low that they simply stopped producing.
In October of 1993 the bakers stopped making bread and Belgrade was without
bread for a week. The slaughter houses refused to sell meat to the state
stores and this meant meat became unvailable for many sectors of the
population. Other stores closed down for inventory rather than sell their
goods at the government mandated prices. When farmers refused to sell to
the government at the artificially low prices the government dictated,
government irrationally used hard currency to buy food from foreign sources
rather than remove the price controls. The Ministry of Agriculture also
risked creating a famine by selling farmers only 30 percent of the fuel they
needed for planting and harvesting.
Later the government tried to curb inflation by requiring stores to file
paperwork every time they raised a price. This meant that many store
employees had to devote their time to filling out these government forms.
curbing inflation this policy actually increased inflation because the
stores tended to increase prices by larger increments so they would not have
file forms for another price increase so soon.
In October of 1993 they created a new currency unit. One new dinar was worth
one million of the "old" dinars. In effect, the government simply removed
six zeroes from the paper money. This, of course, did not stop the
In November of 1993 the government postponed turning on the heat in the
state apartment buildings in which most of the population lived. The
residents reacted to this by using electrical space heaters which were
inefficient and overloaded the electrical system. The government power
company then had to order blackouts to conserve electricity.
In a large psychiatric hospital 87 patients died in November of 1994. The
hospital had no heat, there was no food or medicine and the patients were
wandering around naked.
Between October 1, 1993 and January 24, 1995 prices increased by 5
quadrillion percent. This number is a 5 with 15 zeroes after it. The
social structure began to collapse. Thieves robbed hospitals and clinics of
scarce pharmaceuticals and then sold them in front of the same places they
robbed. The railway workers went on strike and closed down Yugoslavia's
The government set the level of pensions. The pensions were to be paid at
the post office but the government did not give the post offices enough
funds to pay these pensions. The pensioners lined up in long lines outside
the post office. When the post office ran out of state funds to pay the
pensions the employees would pay the next pensioner in line whatever money
they received when someone came in to mail a letter or package. With
inflation being what it was, the value of the pension would decrease
drastically if the pensioners went home and came back the next day. So they
waited in line knowing that the value of their pension payment was
decreasing with each minute they had to wait.
Many Yugoslavian businesses refused to take the Yugoslavian currency, and
the German Deutsche Mark effectively became the currency of Yugoslavia. But
government organizations, government employees and pensioners still got paid
in Yugoslavian dinars so there was still an active exchange in dinars. On
November 12, 1993 the exchange rate was 1 DM = 1 million new dinars.
Thirteen days later the exchange rate was 1 DM = 6.5 million new dinars and
by the end of November it was 1 DM = 37 million new dinars.
At the beginning of December the bus workers went on strike because their
pay for two weeks was equivalent to only 4 DM when it cost a family of four
230 DM per month to live. By December 11th the exchange rate was 1 DM = 800
million and on December 15th it was 1 DM = 3.7 billion new dinars. The
average daily rate of inflation was nearly 100 percent. When farmers selling
in the free markets refused to sell food for Yugoslavian dinars the
government closed down the free markets. On December 29 the exchange rate
was 1 DM = 950 billion new dinars.
About this time there occurred a tragic incident. As usual, pensioners were
waiting in line. Someone passed by the line carrying bags of groceries from
the free market. Two pensioners got so upset at their situation and the
sight of someone else with groceries that they had heart attacks and died
At the end of December the exchange rate was 1 DM = 3 trillion dinars and on
January 4, 1994 it was 1 DM = 6 trillion dinars. On January 6th the
government declared that the German Deutsche was an official currency of
Yugoslavia. About this time the government announced a NEW "new" Dinar
which was equal to 1 billion of the old "new" dinars. This meant that the
exchange rate was 1 DM = 6,000 new new Dinars. By January 11 the exchange
rate had reached a level of 1 DM = 80,000 new new Dinars. On January 13th
the rate was 1 DM = 700,000 new new Dinars and six days later it was 1 DM =
10 million new new Dinars.
The telephone bills for the government operated phone system were collected
by the postmen. People postponed paying these bills as much as possible and
inflation reduced their real value to next to nothing. One postman found
that after trying to collect on 780 phone bills he got nothing so the next
day he stayed home and paid all of the phone bills himself for the
equivalent of a few American pennies.
Here is another illustration of the irrationality of the government's
policies: James Lyon, a journalist, made twenty hours of international
telephone calls from Belgrade in December of 1993. The bill for these calls
was 1000 new new dinars and it arrived on January 11th. At the exchange
rate for January 11th of 1 DM = 150,000 dinars it would have cost less than
one German pfennig to pay the bill. But the bill was not due until January
17th and by that time the exchange rate reached 1 DM = 30 million dinars.
Yet the free market value of those twenty hours of international telephone
calls was about $5,000. So despite being strapped for hard currency, the
government gave James Lyon $5,000 worth of phone calls essentially for
It was against the law to refuse to accept personal checks. Some people
wrote personal checks knowing that in the few days it took for the checks to
clear, inflation would wipe out as much as 90 percent of the cost of
covering those checks.
On January 24, 1994 the government introduced the "super" Dinar equal to 10
million of the new new Dinars. The Yugoslav government's official position
was that the hyperinflation occurred "because of the unjustly implemented
sanctions against the Serbian people and state."