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SADC 'like a club of old buddies'

The Star

August 28, 2007 Edition 1

Hans Pienaar

In Soweto an animated conversation strikes up. "The West wants to liberate
Zimbabweans, but Mugabe won't let them," says 29-year-old Carrington

Joburg Mayembe (39) joins in: "Zimbabwe should have peace and unity. They
need a strong leader, not a weakling like this Mugabe."

Original and unexpected opinions, but then this is Soweto, a suburb of
Lusaka, and not Soweto, Johannesburg.

The place is the Mukupa guest house, a compound in the poorer parts that
gets packed every night with Zimbabweans returning from begging, selling
sweets and Chinese trinkets on the streets . and prostitution.

Nyeleleti and Mayembe are not Zimbabweans, but are frequent visitors to
Mukupa to come and chill with a beer or two. In the daytime there are fewer
people and they like the company. Especially of the female kind.

Mayembe gets really worked up over the plight of the Zimbabweans. Actually,
he says, beer in hand, it disgusts him, the "many, many" Zimbabwean women
who rely on prostitution to make money to send home to their relatives.

He tries to get a group of older Zimbabwean women to talk about their
desperate struggle to eke out a living in Zambia by selling cheap goods on
the streets.

He persuades one old lady to speak, on condition of "information only", no

But then a younger Zimbabwean woman arrives, dressed seductively, wearing a
brown Western-style wig. They talk in Ndebele, and one hears the words
"money" and "police".

They want to be paid for their story. I say then I won't know whether
they'll be telling me tall tales, and they walk off, in a huff.

At the long-distance bus station it is the same story. Some women, sitting
among their belongings on the concrete benches, wolfing down slices of white
bread with canned red beans in between, want to talk, on condition of
anonymity, but others stop them. Again one hears the word "police".

It has not always been like this. When the Zimbabweans began arriving in
droves as the economic meltdown sped up, they felt free to talk, and spoke
easily to researchers.

This was at the time of Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa's famous
description of Zimbabwe as a "sinking Titanic".

Mwanawasa expected some applause for his bravery, since he was uttering his
remarks in Windhoek, capital of Namibia, whose government still regards
Mugabe as a hero. But diplomats say when he was met with a stony silence
from media and leaders in the region, he lost his nerve.

Perhaps this filtered down to the ground. Researchers from Southern Legal
Assistance Network (Salan) said there has been a marked change in Zambia.

Police have swept down on "street vendors", echoing Zimbabwe's notorious
Operation Murambatsvina, when 700 000 people were forcibly removed from city

A month after the first phase of its research, Salan encountered serious
problems. They could not find their original respondents, and the rest
clammed up.

They believe part of the reason for the clean-up was the approaching SADC

Zambian NGOs have been battling a bill to control them along the lines of
the Public Order and Security Act in Zimbabwe, which has been used to harass
NGOs there.

The Zambian bill was withdrawn a week before the summit, but activists
believe the government will try to "sneak it in" after the summit.

Their fears were underlined by the deportation of a total of 70 activists
who had been travelling for days from Zimbabwe the day before the summit

The police decided they might demonstrate in Zambia, and so take part in
political activities, which are banned for foreigners.

The hand of the Zimbabwe embassy was clear, since the first group of 55 had
been passed by customs on both sides at the Kirundi border post, before a
phone call from the Zimbabweans led to their arrest.

The deportation in itself was not the end of the world for the activists,
who could exploit the publicity. But civic leaders pointed out that the
deportees now had criminal records, and that the deportation stamps in their
passports would cause them endless difficulties for the rest of their lives
in the paranoid world of international air travel.

Zambia went to extremes for security in the equally paranoid world of
African summits.

Lusakunians have been cursing the government for a week of closures of whole
suburbs. Jokes went around about the "block protocol system": Thirty blocks
sealed off for presidents, twenty for ministers and ten for any official

Huge convoys of up to 35 vehicles sped from airport to hotel to conference
centre, causing enormous traffic jams.

The Zambian police took literally the tendency among leaders and government
to keep journalists in the dark; a car full of journalists was pulled over
and instructed to switch off its lights to let "first spouse" Zanele Mbeki
and her convoy pass.

Abie Ditlhake, chair of the SADC Council of NGOs, which held a parallel NGO
forum alongside the official summit, said they are "extremely disturbed" by
the Zambian actions.

One after the other Zambian NGO leader stood up to express their shame over
the deportations, but they also cancelled a scheduled march on Friday to
present a list of demands on Zimbabwe.

Activists are warning that the cowed Zimbabwean refugees, the excessive
security and the docile Zambian NGOs are all symptoms of a deeper malaise
affecting the whole region.

Mehluli Dube, a Bulawayo student activist who escaped deportation by
pretending to be honeymooning with another student, Maureen Kademaunga of
Harare, said: "Mugabe is exporting repression to the region - the only thing
Zimbabwe is exporting now, apart from diamonds."

The South African government itself has grown disdainful of civil society.
Apart from heated stand-offs with the Treatment Action Campaign, the
government shocked many by usurping its own invention, the African Peer
Review Mechanism.

When SA's country review was launched, the government appointed a cabinet
minister to run it where other governments had appointed civil society
representatives in that position.

Ditlhake said he saw the "failures of silent diplomacy and the reluctant
interventions by SADC" in Zimbabwe as part of a greater political crisis in
the region, in which an inherited party-political culture brings with it an
internal practice of "discipline and control".

The party is worshipped instead of being opened up for debate and

"The leader then gets elevated into an infallible god, who can easily
manipulate the party machinery and thus the government into his personal

A generally weak opposition allows the former liberation movement to be
turned into "a potentially dangerous weapon in the ready service of the

SADC heads of state needed to get their peers to adhere to the many
protocols, especially ones on human rights and elections that they were
continuously adopting.

One of Ditlhake's group's projects will be to set up a monitoring mechanism
to hold the SADC accountable to its protocols and its founding treaty.

"The SADC remains a club of heads of state, whereas it really belongs to all
in the region," he said. A monitoring mechanism will serve to avoid
situations like that in Zimbabwe.

Or as Joburg Mayembe put it in the Soweto shebeen: "We need a strong
leadership that accommodates everybody," and not just 13 or 14 paranoid
leaders. - Independent Foreign Service

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No retribution for Mugabe, says Tsvangirai

Zim Online

Tuesday 28 August 2007

Own Correspondent

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
extended an olive branch to President Robert Mugabe, saying the veteran
president should not face trial for crimes against humanity in order to
avoid plunging the troubled country deeper into turmoil.

Speaking to journalists during a visit to Australia, Tsvangirai, who
heads the larger faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said
there was overwhelming evidence linking Mugabe to killings and violence
against the people of Zimbabwe but insisted that a trial would only cause

"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," Tsvangirai told an Australian
television yesterday.

Several local and international human rights groups have often accused
Mugabe of committing serious human rights violations against political
opponents. Mugabe denies the charge.

Among the crimes faced by the Zimbabwean leader, who is blamed for
running into the ground the once-prosperous southern African economy since
taking over power from Britain 27 years ago, is the murder of at least 20
000 minority Ndebeles in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces in the
early 1980s.

He is also accused of authorising a campaign to persecute political
opponents since 2000, which has involved beatings and denial of food to
perceived opposition supporters.

Tsvangirai was brutally assaulted by Mugabe's men last March following
his arrest after trying to seek the release of fellow opposition officials
picked up by the police for attending a banned prayer meeting in the capital

The assault drew international condemnation of Mugabe and prompted the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) to call an emergency regional
summit in March to discuss the political situation in Zimbabwe.

SADC tasked South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki to mediate in talks
between Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party and the MDC.

Tsvangirai said the solution to Zimbabwe's long-drawn crisis did not
lie in the removal from power of Mugabe but the destruction of a political
culture of abuse and corruption, which has taken hold on the country.

"Let's not get too preoccupied with Mugabe," Tsvangirai said.

"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 the people," he added.

Zimbabwe has some of the world's toughest media and security laws and
human rights groups have accused Mugabe of selective use of legislation to
stifle democratic space.

He has used the controversial Public Order and Security Act to ban
rallies by the MDC and outlaw gatherings by any organisations seen as
hostile to his government.

Tsvangirai meets with Australia's foreign minister Alexander Downer
today. - ZimOnline

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Teachers demand 400 percent salary hike

Zim Online

Tuesday 28 August 2007

By Lizwe Sebatha

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwean teachers are demanding 400 percent salary increments,
citing mounting poverty amid reports that 7 200 of their colleagues have
resigned since last January over low pay and poor working conditions.

They have threatened to abandon classrooms if the government does not
increase their salaries to $15 million a month with effect from September
from about $2.9 million currently.

The demands were submitted to the Public Service Commission and the Ministry
of Education, Sports and Culture at the end of July through the APEX council
that represents all civil servants.

Tendai Chikowore, president of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association and APEX
chairperson, confirmed the teachers' demands to the government but refused
to disclose the increment they were asking for.

"We made submissions to the government for salary adjustments for the third
quarter of the year but I can't reveal the figures as it might jeopardise
negotiations," Chikowore told ZimOnline yesterday.

Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the militant Progressive Teachers
Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), defended the $15 million demands, arguing the
government had reneged on a promise to review quarterly their salaries.

"Teachers are now worse off than they were the same period last year," said

"Unless the government makes an undertaking to award us $15 million
salaries, we are headed for collision as we are not going to allow a
situation where our teachers are pauperised."

He however did not disclose whether the teachers had given the government an
ultimatum over the salary increments.

Majongwe said a survey by his union had revealed that 7 200 teachers had
left the country since January this year in frustration over low pay and
working conditions.

This is 44 percent more than the 5 000 teachers who left the country in the
whole of last year.

Majongwe said most of the teachers had sought employment in Botswana, South
Africa, Namibia and Swaziland.

"According to our survey and reports from various provinces, over 7 200
teachers have left since January. We have lost the greatest number of
teachers in the first eight months of 2007 compared to previous years," said

He however conceded that the figures could be an understatement because more
teachers may have left during the second term school holiday which ends next

"Most schools might fail to have lessons when they open next week due to
lack of teachers," he warned.

The worst affected would be peri-urban and rural schools because teachers
would not afford high transport costs.

Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere could not be reached for comment
yesterday as he was said to have travelled out of the country.

He has always denied claims that Zimbabwe faces a shortage of teachers.

Zimbabwe is grappling with a severe brain drain as professionals continue
leaving the country to regional and overseas destinations in search of
better paying jobs.

It is estimated that there are 10 000 Zimbabwean teachers in South Africa,
some of them doing menial jobs.

The South African government recently said it wanted to recruit foreign
teachers to teach science and mathematics and that it preferred the
"well-trained" teachers from its troubled northern neighbour. - ZimOnline

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Church group demands action against SABC correspondent

Zim Online

Tuesday 28 August 2007

By Nqobizitha Khumalo

BULAWAYO - The Solidarity Peace Trust has asked the South African
Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to take action against its Harare
correspondent accused of aiding Zimbabwean state agents in a sting operation
against a government critic and Catholic cleric Pius Ncube.

In a letter addressed to SABC current affairs managing director Snuki
Zikalala, the trust accused the broadcaster's Zimbabwean correspondent Supa
Mandiwanzira of complicity in the sensational exposure of an alleged
adulterous affair involving Ncube and a married parishioner.

Ncube, who is archbishop of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe's second largest
city of Bulawayo, is being sued for adultery by Onesimus Sibanda who claims
the clergyman was involved in a sexual relationship with his wife, Rosemary.

State newspapers, radio and television have in recent weeks published
pictures they claim show Ncube making love to Rosemary, in what some
observers have said is a well orchestrated campaign by state secret agents
to humiliate and silence the bishop who has been outspoken against President
Robert Mugabe and his government.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the involvement of the SABC,
through Supa Mandiwanzira, in the smear campaign against Archbishop Ncube
and in the gross violation of the human rights of Archbishop Ncube and
millions of Zimbabweans," read part of the Solidarity Trust letter.

It was copied to the South African Broadcasting Complaints Commission, the
South African Embassy in Zimbabwe, and the South African Parliament.

"It is alleged that Mandiwanzira used his SABC credentials to assist the spy
Central Intelligence Organisation and state media to ambush Ncube into
accepting an interview, which was later doctored by government spin-doctors
to show as if the cleric had accepted the adultery charges.

Solidarity Trust accused SABC of invading Ncube's privacy by aiding a
Zimbabwe government campaign calculated to destroy the social standing of
the archbishop and to silence democratic voices in the country.

A fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe and co-chairperson of Solidarity
Trust, Ncube was once quoted as having wished the demise of the Zimbabwean

The trust urged the SABC to "take immediate steps against Mandiwanzira" and
to unequivocally apologise to Ncube and Zimbabweans in general for the role
of the SABC in attempts to stifle democratic forces in Zimbabwe.

Zikalala was last week quoted in South African media saying the SABC will
investigate allegations that were raised against Mandiwanzira.

Mandiwanzira runs Mighty Movies which is contracted by SABC to provide
footage on Zimbabwe on a daily basis. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwean Food Shortages Test Viability Of Online Grocery Services


By Carole Gombakomba
27 August 2007

Widespread severe food shortages are making it hard to obtain the essentials
of life even for the fortunate Zimbabwean families whose relatives in the
diaspora buy them maize meal and other staples on the Internet for delivery
inside the country.

Online suppliers used to be able to get food to families in the country in
two days, but now it is taking as long as a two weeks for some of the firms
to fill orders.

Such businesses are being forced to turn to the informal or black market or
import the goods from South Africa, boosting costs and stretching delivery
times. Online business (sadza, prepared from maize meal, is a core
component of Zimbabwean meals) has scaled back operations due to the
shortages of basic commodities.

Founder Anesu Manjengwa said the delivery of groceries which used to take 48
hours now takes up to two weeks, testing the firm's resources and customers'
patience. co-founder Laz Hege told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that with the exception of meat and smaller items, his
firm is still able to bring basic goods to thousands in desperate need of
food. has offices in Birmingham, England, and McKinnon, Texas.

Both Hege and Manjengwa said that when commodities are not available, they
either decline to take orders or inform customers that it may take longer
than usual to get the items delivered to their families and relatives.They
both say they have not raised the prices of the commodities they offer for
fear of losing customers.

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Freed After Four Months, Zimbabwean Opposition Official Out Of Work


By Patience Rusere
27 August 2007

A senior official of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
who was held by police for about four months has been suspended from his job
as a technician for the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority for failing to
report to work in that time.

Deputy Organizing Secretary Morgan Komichi of the MDC faction headed by
Morgan Tsvangirai is a technician at the Munyati Power Plant in Midlands

Harare police held Komichi and about 30 other MDC officials and activists
for several months between March and this month on charges they committed or
plotted violent acts - based on evidence that a high court judge concluded
had been fabricated.

Other defendants include Glen View member of parliament Paul Madzore and
Youth Secretary General Solomon Madzore. Arrested in April, Komichi was
released early this month, and charged that he had been severely beaten
while in custody.

Komichi said he has not been receiving a salary for the past three months
and did not receive a formal letter indicating his suspension. A ZESA human
resources manager who gave his name as Sibanda refused to comment, saying
the matter is in court.

The cases of Komichi and his co-defendants have been put off to September.

Komichi told reporter Patience Rusere that he suspects his suspension is
politically motivated as he has not been found guilty for the charges he is
facing and he was denied bail for months, making it impossible for him to go
to work.

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Zimbabwe: MDC Should Tread Carefully on Mbeki's So Called Mediation

African Path

Izzy Mutanhaurwa

August 27, 2007 05:35 PM

After the stolen presidential election of 2002 The Commonwealth (a
voluntary association of 53 independent sovereign states all of which are
former colonies of the United Kingdom, except for Mozambique and the United
Kingdom itself) appointed a troika<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]--> consisting
of Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and John Howard
of Australia to resolve the Zimbabwean problem. It failed before it even
started as the three presidents never visited Zimbabwe as a group but rather
Mbeki and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Zimbabwe and met
Mugabe and Tsvangirai separately each visit not lasting longer than 6 hours.

While John Howard and Olusegun Obasanjo both were in favour of
rebuking Mugabe and demanding free and fair elections as soon as possible,
Mbeki advocated negotiations and foisted upon the troika the idea of a South
African type of settlement after apartheid, a government of national unity
even though the elections had been declared not free and fair by The
Commonwealth observer mission.

His quiet diplomacy never yielded results as Mugabe refused to
negotiate with MDC because we had filed a case challenging the result of the
presidential elections. He failed to do or say anything when President
Tsvangirai was arrested<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]--> not once but twice on
trumped up charges of treason. The 2005 Presidential elections came and went
past again stolen conducted under unfair and intimidating conditions, Mbeki
was still talking to Mugabe. While he was giving him money an emergency loan
of ZAR1 Billion which was given to the Zimbabwean government, in the same
year the despotic government of Robert Mugabe destroyed homes and
livelihoods of more than 2 million people under the guise of an urban
clean-up dubbed operation Murambatsvina<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]-->.

The urban clean-up displaced millions of MDC voters that had been
voted MDC throughout the rigged elections. Despite worldwide condemnation
Mbeki and the South African government never said a word to criticise
Mugabe's regime on Murambatsvina. Even the beating of more than 60
opposition and civic leaders including Morgan Tsvangirai on March 11 was met
with silence from Thabo Mbeki. A lot of people are skeptical of Mbeki's
chances on the other hand he Mbeki argues this time around his so called
mediation will be a success that now he has the mandate of SADC, another
ineffective body of countries with common interests such as is The
Commonwealth which also mandated the same Thabo Mbeki 5 years ago.

Thabo Mbeki's mediation is a ploy that he uses to shield Mugabe from
international censure. When George Bush visited South Africa in July of
2003, Mbeki lied that the mediation process was going very smoothly, he said
"We are absolutely of one mind about the urgent need to address the
political and economic challenges of Zimbabwe." and I am sure that the MDC
leadership in Harare should tread carefully before being led on another
merry-go-round that characterised Thabo Mbeki's previous efforts. He has on
a number of occasions tried to force-feed Zimbabweans into getting into a
marriage of convenience with Zanu-PF in the form of a government of national
unity so as to preserve Mugabe's status. Just before the dissidents led by
Welshman Ncube broke away from the main MDC, Welshman was secretly meeting
with Zanu PF officials such as Chinamasa drafting a constitution that even
The President, Morgan Tsvangirai had no knowledge of but all with the
blessing of Thabo Mbeki.

Thabo Mbeki needs a legacy to be remembered by, the second
democratically elected President of South Africa after Mandela. He needed
big feet to fill Mandela's shoes. Where Mandela excelled as a world
statesman Mbeki's foreign policy still has to do anything of note to leave a
lasting impression of Mbeki's tenure other than his denial of AIDS. With
such ambitions to leave an equal lasting legacy like that of Mandela he
wants to solve the Zimbabwean issue rather quickly without addressing the
core problems that are blighting Zimbabwe. Mbeki does not have interests of
Zimbabwean people at heart, its not the 6 million that are experiencing food
shortages that are compelling him, neither is it the record breaking
inflation of 4000 that Mugabe refuses<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]--> to
officially announce, its his legacy at stake. Also pressing is the issue of
World Cup that South Africa is due to host in 2010, if the situation does
not change in Zimbabwe then the meltdown will certainly affect South Africa.
Mbeki is keen to see political stability to ensure success of hosting the
World Cup.

Before anything can be done, before the preliminaries or whatever form
Mbeki's mediation is going to take it should be made clear to him that the
Presidential elections and if the harmonisation goes ahead then also the
Parliamentary elections cannot take place without a people driven
constitution. The current field of political play favours Mugabe and there
is no way the MDC will even contest the aforesaid elections without a new
constitution. Secondly all political prisoners must be freed, given access
to medical attention, the beatings, abductions and arbitrary arrests of MDC
members must cease immediately, the militarised youth wing of Zanu PF must
be disbanded then we can sit down and talk about a transitional authority
that will take charge before elections that will also allow people like us
in the Diaspora to vote. If the conditions can no be met then it will be a
futile exercise for MDC to partake.

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In solidarity with Zimbabwe

Kenya Business Daily

Written by Koni Benson

28-August-2007: The dominant story in the mainstream Press these days
is that the South African poor act out of desperation when migrants and
refugees are violently attacked.

That the "problem" is competition for scarce resources and that SA
must first get its house in order, and solve the poverty crisis, and then
desperate South Africans will stop lashing out at desperate asylum seekers.

This story of displaced frustration and resentment does not fairly
represent the range of opinions, and even more importantly, organised
actions of the poor and working class in South Africa, who invest precious
resources in directly supporting refugees and migrants, especially in the
case of Zimbabweans right now.

In fact, new research is showing that while xenophobia is rampant and
often played out amongst the poor in South Africa, it is also precisely some
of the poorest South Africans living in shack and townships who have been
the most sympathetic to the struggles of Zimbabweans worst effected by the
current crisis.

South African movements of the working class have mobilised around the
politics playing out in Zimbabwe right now. In fact, the issue of Zimbabwe
has captured the attention and has been prioritised by grassroots activists
in South Africa.

These are groups of people many of whom are unemployed and cannot
often find taxi fare to meet, and struggle with the challenge of solidarity
within the same neighbourhoods and same city to fight for basic survival
like water, housing, electricity, and health care. Yet, they are taking a
stand on Zimbabwe. Why?

At the recent Towards an Africa Without Borders Conference in Durban,
one Bulawayo debt cancellation activist argued for solidarity between the
poor in South Africa and in Zimbabwe because our interests are in the same

South African activists at the conference likewise argued that "we see
our problem as rooted in poverty and elite deal making, which sees no
international boundaries."

In this view, President Mbeki and his SADC counterparts will not act
against the Mugabe regime in defence of the Zimbabwean people - rather, they
are angling for an "elite transition" similar to the ones in South Africa,
Namibia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where those who
have the backing of the rich and powerful, work out among themselves how to
divide the power and money.

From this perspective, the majority of the people are excluded from
the process and inevitably the resulting system leaves them at the mercy of
oppressors and exploiters and trapped in the associated poverty and social

In Cape Town, for example, women from a range of grassroots
organisations came together after the March 11 violent attacks on women
activists in Zimbabwe to analyse the relationship between state and domestic
violence and speak out on the way elite politics were being played out
across women's bodies.

They argued that: "We see no distinction between domestic and state
violence, or between Zimbabwe and South. In fact, South African poor are
arguing that the melt down in Zimbabwe shares its roots with the same forces
rapidly entrenching poverty across the region.

It is precisely this support by struggling South Africans for
Zimbabweans who are attempting to organise for an alternative Zimbabwe that
is being ignored in the press and falling further and further off the radar
of the South African imagination of the poor who are continually painted as
inherently xenophobic.

Benson is a researcher at the International Labour Research and
Information Group in Cape Town.

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Mugabe's Zimbabwe: Printing more money is not a viable solution

New Straits Times


By : RASHAAD JATTIEM, Cape Town, South Africa

PLEASE permit me to respond to the letter of the Zimbabwe Ambassador L.P.
Tavaya ("Question deserves honest answer" - NST, Aug 23) wherein the
ambassador criticised Rehman Rashid's article - "Robert Mugabe has a
question" (NST, Aug 17).

I am a descendant of the Malay-speaking prisoners who were forcibly removed
from what today is known as Indonesia and Malaysia, and taken to the Dutch
Cape Colony. During the apartheid era (1948-1992), South African citizens
who were classified white had total political and economic power. Citizens
classified non-white, that is blacks, the Cape Malays, coloureds Indians and
Chinese, had no political rights.

The oppressed of South Africa found hope in the decolonisation of Black
Africa and welcomed the triumph of Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo in
Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Their victory was seen as a precursor for our own
liberation from white tyranny.

Alas, our joy was to be shortlived. Almost as if programmed to do so, the
new black leaders (and not just in Zimbabwe) started to act as if they were
determined to prove that the white racists were right all along when they
claimed that "the black races are quick to wallow in, and enjoy the
trappings and material benefits of political power. But they cannot, and
will not absorb and embrace the values and responsibilities of democracy".

How sadly prophetic for Zimbabwe! Mugabe, who has been president since
independence in 1980, inherited a country which had an economy that was the
envy of many other states in Africa.

In the meantime, the ruling party leadership became corrupted by political
power. Their greed was too ravenous for them to relinquish political
control. So they resorted to the "tried and trusted methods of exercising
African democracy".

Opposition parties were banned; leaders detained and tortured; workers'
trade unions were banned; and all political opponents were branded as
traitors. (Sounds familiar, doesn't it?)

The economic collapse of Zimbabwe was triggered by several desperate and
inappropriate acts.

White-owned farms were seized, ostensibly for distribution to the black
workers and landless citizens. However, it was soon found that the
beneficiaries of the farm seizures were government ministers and the ruling
party comrades.

White farmers were forced off their farms and fled to neighbouring
countries; food production plummeted to all-time lows; farm workers became
unemployed and streamed into the cities in search of jobs and food, and to
add to Zimbabweans' woes, inflation had started to spiral out of control.

President Mugabe thinks that the problem of high inflation can be solved by
printing more money. And this is exactly what he has done!

Ambassador Tavaya rightly asserts that successive droughts have led to poor
harvests. But he fails to mention that the crippling effects of the droughts
were compounded by hasty and unwise economic and political actions.

No, Mr Ambassador, you cannot put all the blame for your country's woes on
the drought, or on Britain, or the USA and the European Union. A far greater
problem is said to be Mugabe's mismanagement of the country.

Many people believe that Zimbabwe is on the brink of collapse and that
Mugabe is making contingency plans to flee the country.

When he appeared on the political scene, Mugabe was hailed as the saviour of
Black Africa. But sadly over time, he has betrayed the trust not only of his
people but also of many of his admirers.

What we want is for Mugabe to resurrect the reform programme to which he
dedicated himself when he first took political office more than 20 years

A measure of success of his programme is in the benefits received by his
people, and not the rhetoric which he and his cronies are so fond of
engaging in as a defensive measure.

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JAG open letter forum No. 498

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Seventh Spring
Saturday 25th August 2007

Dear Family and Friends,
The view from Zimbabwe's window is absolutely gorgeous this week.
of spring and renewal is all around us. The sky is cloudless and blue, the
temperatures are rising and the blue headed lizards are out basking in the
sun again. The indigenous woodlands that have survived the army of winter
woodcutters are breathtaking as the Msasa trees go from red and burgundy to
caramel and a shiny butterscotch colour before finally preparing to shade
our land for another year. After nearly two months of government price
controls and the ugly mess they have created, the beauty and warmth around
us is the only thing keeping many people sane in this seventh spring of
Zimbabwe's turmoil. This week, after a long silence, government inflation
figures were announced and, as expected, the price controls have not helped
at all - exactly the opposite in fact. Inflation which stood at 4530% in
May, soared to 7634% in July.

I went to visit an elderly couple this week and we exchanged delights about
the season and the climate and then they showed me the letter which had just
arrived. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the news about their
pension. The letter was from a senior executive in one of the largest
pension fund companies in the country and read as follows:
"We confirm that you are entitled to a monthly pension of $0.85 cents.
pension is currently suspended. As the monthly pension has now been eroded
by inflation, the company has now decided to pay out the balance of your
pension as a lump sum. The lump sum payable to you is: $2.9 million

I can't think of words that adequately describe the outrage of this. A
monthly pension representing a person's working life and the result of years
of payments being now worth just 85 Zimbabwe cents. There is not a single
thing you can buy for eighty five cents in Zimbabwe, not even one match
stick; in fact there aren't any coins in circulation in the country anymore.
The couple told me they had agreed to accept the lump sum payment because
they really had no other option but they knew that even this amount would
only pay for 4 days of their board and lodge.

Young or old there is just one way to survive these bleak times in Zimbabwe
and that is one day at a time. We have all been forced into short term
thinking and even shorter term planning as we try and keep food on the table
in these days of government induced famine. There is still almost no food to
buy in our shops - no oil, margarine, flour, rice, pasta, maize meal,
biscuits, cold drinks or sugar. No soap, washing powder, candles or matches.
No meat, eggs, dairy products or confectionary.

In a weeks time our children go back to school but even this fact does not
seem to inspire our government into action. How do they think schools are
going to feed the children who stay for lunch or are boarders? How do they
think that parents who have been forced to run their businesses at a loss
for the last two months are going to be able to even pay school fees? How do
they think pensioners can survive on eighty five cents a month? There are no
answers to the questions at any level.

Even more worrying is that glorious as the weather is, it is almost planting
time again and yet there is no seed to buy in our empty shops and our day at
a time thinking caused by our governments day at a time planning is
condemning us to even harder times ahead. It hardly bears thinking about and
so we try not to and hope and pray that there may be an end to this, just an
Until next week, thanks for reading , love cathy.

Received from S. Schoultz

I would just like to say here! here! To Mavis Makunis’ article in the  ZW
News of 24th August 2007 for those who read it too. I fully agree with her
on this. Perhaps Senator Aguy Georgias who opposes the smart selective
sanctions and is challenging the UK Govt in court, should come and live in
Zimbabwe for a while then he can give his opinion.

Nothing irritates me more than narrow minded people who give their opinions
without experiencing and seeing things with their own eyes!!

Ps. I’ll get off my soap box now.

Received From Robert Kerswell


Ex Zimbabweans in New Zealand, whose parents farmed in Melsetter many years
ago, have asked me to try and find long lost friends of the family.

Liz Murray (maiden name) is looking for Chloe and/or Nevan Lees May who may
still be in Zimbabwe – or may have moved.

We would be very grateful for any help in locating this family. Please email
me with any details.
Many thanks.
Judy Kerswell

Received from S. Schoultz

I have read the Zimbabwe news today and it involves the government passing
through legislation that will allow the take over of foreign owned
businesses and is likely to include Zimbabwean white owned businesses. The
aim is to empower and give them to so called indigenous Zimbabweans we are
lead to believe. Whatever happened to the Affirmative Action Group that was
supposed to allow black people a better chance at having a stake in the
economy? Has that failed and if so, what makes Mugabe think this new crazy
idea is going to make Zimbabwe boom?

I would like to know how they categorise disadvantaged people before 1980!
There are far more disadvantaged people now since the year 2000 than before
independence. Everyone was housed and people had food on their tables and
those with electricity had electricity; not like now! We have urban
westernized cities looking like rubbish dumps with no water supplies and
sewerage running down  the roads in high density areas.

Please could someone from Zanu-PF explain to me who the indigenous people
really are? Correct me if I am wrong but the Ndebele people came from South
Africa, and the Shona people derive from north of Zimbabwe and that the true
indigenous people are the Khalahari Bushmen whom were driven out by these
tribes prior to the white settlers arriving.

It seems the current regime is worse than the old Smith regime. The Smith
regime has been accused of being a racist one etc but this government is
both racist and tribalist, has corruption at heart and is at war with its
own people. If people were given a choice as to which regime they were
better off with, I wonder what the result would be. I am in NO FAVOUR OF
EITHER REGIME don’t get me wrong. But, I just wanted to make a point that
the latest action which has sidelined the re-licensing of white owned
abattoirs proves that some people in government are as good as some of the
previous white people in the Smith regime, if not worse. This makes me feel
good in a way because for years we have been accused of being racist etc and
now we have the scenario of the pot calling the kettle black.

Well I pray for a good rainy season ahead in Zimbabwe and, as always, my
thoughts are with all those suffering in Zimbabwe. At least we have some
decent sunshine here in mu-island.


All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of
the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for

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