|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
August 28, 2003
Posted to the web August 28, 2003
The deregulation of the petroleum oil industry could see further
inflationary pressure adding to the financial travails of ordinary
Zimbabweans, an analyst told IRIN on Thursday.
The official newspaper The Herald quoted Minister of Energy and Power
Development Amos Midzi as saying that as from yesterday "all the registered
oil companies will source their own foreign currency, import petroleum
products and sell directly to the members of the public at economic prices
through approved outlets".
However, fuel imports by the parastatal National Oil Company of Zimbabwe
would be distributed to government departments, institutions, public
transport operators and the agricultural sector at the state controlled
price of Zim $450 a litre for petrol and Zim $200 a litre for diesel.
The two-tier system means that private sector motorists would pay the new
pump prices for petrol of Zim $1,170 per litre and diesel at Zim $1,060 per
litre announced by the oil companies yesterday.
"This means diesel has gone up about 500 percent and petrol by about 160
percent," said economist Tony Hawkins.
He told IRIN that "there will be an inflationary effect, but part of it has
already been felt in that most people have already been paying the higher
prices for fuel on the parallel market".
Hawkins cautioned, however, that the fuel price may well rise further as the
two-tier pricing structure was based on the government's stipulated exchange
rate of Zim $3,000 to US $1.
"The current parallel rate is between Zim $5,500 and Zim $6,000 for US $1.
So you have to ask where the oil companies are going to find foreign
currency at that [official] rate. I've spoken to banks who are saying if we
have to buy US dollars at a rate of Zim $5,500, how can we then sell it to
the oil companies at Zim $3,000?" Hawkins noted.
This could well force the oil companies to sell their imported fuel at
higher prices than those announced on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe's new fuel policy could ease shortages
August 28, 2003, 03:36 PM
Zimbabwe's embattled government might ease a critical fuel shortage in
scrapping price controls and opening up imports to the private sector, but
the move could also stoke political tensions, analysts said today.
President Robert Mugabe's government is grappling with the country's worst
political and economic crisis since independence in 1980, which many critics
blame on controversial policies and general mismanagement.
Yesterday the government relented to pressure from private oil firms and
removed some price controls. It also officially relaxed the state monopoly
on fuel imports to help fight a shortage that has gripped the country since
Analysts said while this was likely to improve supplies, it would also
trigger a round of price increases, making life harder for ordinary
consumers and the government unpopular.
"The new policy should help the situation in terms of supply if it is
allowed to work and all the parties are faithful to it," said James Jowa,
chief economist at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC).
Transport prices already up
Zimbabwe's media reported today that some public transport operators had
already raised fares last night in response to fuel price increases.
"I think it's fair to expect that while supplies may improve on one hand, on
the other, political tension is going to be rising if consumer prices keep
on rising beyond the reach of people," said a political analyst at the
Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies (ZIDS).
Zimbabwe's economic crisis is deepening with severe fuel, foreign currency
and banknote shortages, along with inflation of nearly 400%, one of the
highest rates in the world.
Masimba Kambarami, the chairperson of the Petroleum Association of Zimbabwe,
said the decision to allow private companies to import fuel and sell it at
market rates would help meet the country's needs and stifle a thriving black
"The oil companies have the capacity to import adequate supplies and to
supply the market as long as the question of viability and sustainability is
handled," he said.
The government said it had adopted a dual fuel system under which its
national oil importer NOCZIM would supply fuel to state departments and
public transporters at a discounted price.
Private oil companies had already agreed on a new pump price of Z$1,170 a
litre for petrol and Z$1,060 for diesel, it said.
The new petrol price is about three times the old tariff, which was pegged
by the government in April. Fuel has been commanding much higher prices of
about five times the previous official rate on the black market.
Zimbabwe's fuel woes have worsened since a trade deal with supplier Libya
collapsed last November, a visible sign of the economic plight of a country
Mugabe has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980. - Reuters
Hunger as a weapon
Originally published August 28, 2003
OVER THE PAST 23 years, President Robert G. Mugabe's mismanagement has
reduced Zimbabwe from a Southern African bread basket to a deadbeat nation
teetering on collapse. The economy is in ruins; once-thriving farms are
fallow. Now this tyrant is trying to hijack international food aid to his
According to a recent ultimatum from Mr. Mugabe, international donors must
end independent food distribution in Zimbabwe. Instead of using their own
networks of churches and civic organizations, they must channel all aid
through Mr. Mugabe's government and political machine so that it can be
directed to supporters and he can claim the credit.
This cynical blackmail is part of the 79-year-old Mr. Mugabe's desperate
effort to cling to power amid growing gloom.
Zimbabwe is so badly in arrears on its debt payments that it is on the
blacklist of both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which
have frozen cooperation. Shortages of all kind - from fuel to electricity -
are common; inflation is running at 400 percent a year and soaring; the
national budget is in chaos.
All this, Mr. Mugabe insists, is the fault of domestic saboteurs and their
international sponsors, particularly Britain, which once ruled the country
That's humbug, of course.
A trickle of oil from Libya, courtesy of credit from strongman Muammar el
Kadafi, is about all that keeps Zimbabwe afloat these days. In the past,
Zimbabwe has reportedly paid for that oil with farms confiscated from white
In recent months, Zimbabwe has experienced difficulties in paying Libya. If
it gains control over aid distribution, tons of donated corn and rice could
be simply diverted to Libya as payments for oil, or so critics fear.
Mr. Mugabe's hijack attempt must be prevented.
With other donors, the U.S. government ought to talk sense to Mr. Mugabe,
who has yet to implement his ukase. Washington, after all, has pledged to
contribute nearly half of the emergency aid needed to feed some 5 million
starving people in Zimbabwe before the next harvest comes this winter.
The United States must also intensify contacts with South Africa to force
Mr. Mugabe into retirement. If he stays in power, this doctrinaire Marxist
may well end up destroying his country.
Zim: Fresh land grab wave
28/08/2003 19:18 - (SA)
Harare - About 50 white commercial farmers in Zimbabwe have been
their land in a fresh wave of farm evictions around the southern African
country, the head of the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said on Thursday.
"There are at most 50 farmers affected, mostly from Mashonaland and
Manicaland provinces. In a couple of cases, some farmers were attacked by
settlers or gangs," CFU president Doug Taylor-Freeme told AFP.
"These evictions are illegal. Farmers will protect themselves through legal
means," he said.
Land reforms completed
While the Zimbabwe government says it has successfully completed its
controversial fast-track land reforms, white-owned farms continue to be
listed regularly for compulsory acquisition.
Two weeks ago, the latest list of 152 properties which the government
intends to seize was published in the state media.
The new list came out after it was revealed at an annual congress of a small
group of embattled white farmers still remaining in the country that
agricultural production levels have fallen by over 50% in Zimbabwe over the
last few years.
The eviction of white farmers has been partly blamed by aid agencies and
critics for Zimbabwe's worst famine in living memory which left about two
thirds of the 11.6 million people facing severe food shortages.
Taylor-Freeme said most of the farms affected in the latest seizures were
To date, the government says it has resettled 210 000 peasant farmers and 14
880 commercial farmers on 11 million hectares of formerly white-owned land.
An estimated 400 white commercial farms remain in Zimbabwe, out of about 4
000 when the land invasions started in 2000.
From The Cape Times (SA), 28 August
Want to visit SA? That'll be Z$300 000
Harare - The South African
government has imposed stiff visa requirements on
Zimbabweans wanting to visit South Africa, demanding a deposit of Z$300 000.
The South African High Commission also demands that people applying for
visas produce a "letter of invitation" from the person they will be staying
with in the country and proof of accommodation. The move, which has been
criticised by many Zimbabweans, was introduced because the South African
government has grown weary of "fake documents" produced by Zimbabweans. An
official in the South African High Commission denied that everyone applying
for a visa would be made to leave a Z$300 000 deposit. "It's only those who
fail to meet the other visa requirements," Kennedy Shisvo said "What we've
had is up to 60 or 70 people producing letters inviting them to South
Africa, all written by the same person at the same address. That's
regular business visitor to South Africa complained that he had
been told to leave a Z$300 000 bank guaranteed cheque with the High
Commission. Speaking on condition of anonymity because he feared his next
application would be refused, he said: "It's all very well, but while you're
out of Zim your cheque loses about two percent of its value for each day
you're out of the country because of inflation." Shisvo said the main
culprits forging documents to enter South Africa were the thousands of
cross-border traders who roam between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Many sell
goods at Johannesburg flea markets before returning to Zimbabwe with
electronic goods and food, both of which are sought after in Harare. Beit
Bridge, less than 20km north of Musina, is Africa's busiest border crossing
where hundreds of people wait for hours every day under the blistering
lowveld sun for their papers to be processed
Police raid Mahomed Mussa Wholesalers
POLICE yesterday raided Mahomed Mussa Wholesalers in search of cash
as the law enforcement agency cracked down on people and institutions
suspected of hoarding cash.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told the Daily
News last night that
the police were enforcing
regulations which made it criminal for anyone to keep any amount of
money exceeding $5 million in cash. He said that the police would carry out
frequent raids on suspected individuals and companies in a bid to eliminate
any deliberate hoarding of cash, adding that the operation would also focus
on areas outside Harare.
“We have a warrant to search his (Mahomed Mussa’s)
conformity with the requirements of the new regulations,” Bvudzijena said
The police official added: “He
has been refusing to open particular
offices and he has brought his lawyer.”
When the Daily News visited the Mahomed Mussa
late yesterday afternoon the police were out in full force, searching for
cash within suspected units of the wholesale’s building in central Harare.
Business came to a halt at the wholesale with all customers being
referred to another section of the
giant outlet which attracts thousands of customers a day.
forced the wholesale’s officials to close shop at around 4
pm instead of the usual 6 pm.
Furious officials of the wholesale tried hard to thwart efforts by the
Business Daily to take a photo of the explosive arguments between themselves
and the police.
The owners of the
wholesale refused to speak to this newspaper and
were busy trying to convince the
police that there was no cash within the multi-million-dollar
Mahomed Mussa is one of Harare’s biggest wholesale chains.
Zimbabwe has been battling
shortages of cash in the past four months,
with local bank notes now being sold at a premium amid widespread reports
that large wholesale chains were hoarding cash which they would later sell
at a premium to banks and other institutions.
The shortages of local currency have resulted in most people spending
a large part of their time queuing for cash.
By Stanley Taderera
None but ourselves
TORMENTED Zimbabweans will again face starvation in the 2004-to-2005
period because the government has predictably failed to do basic planning.
Barely two months
before the onset of the main agricultural season,
Zimbabwe does not have fuel or fertiliser, two of the most critically needed
resources – other than land – to ensure successful food production.
And when the two vital
commodities are available, prices -- which
according to the Herald newspaper went up by about 75 percent last month –
are beyond the reach of poor villagers, or as the government calls them,
"new farmers", resettled on farms seized from white commercial producers.
Needless to mention the
thriving black market where unscrupulous
traders levy extortionate prices for fertiliser and fuel.
And yet the government could, and should
have, foreseen the crisis
coming and taken adequate measures to ensure that farmers would be able to
produce enough food for Zimbabwe.
The foreign currency crisis, the real reason why manufacturing
companies are failing to produce enough fertiliser – because they are unable
to import chemicals and other materials needed to produce the commodity –
has been with us since the government launched this country on the path to
ruin four years ago.
Galloping inflation, now pegged at an all-time high of
should have been another clear indicator to Agriculture Minister Joseph
Made, if he cared, that the price of fertiliser would rise be beyond the
reach of the "new farmers".
The government should
also have ensured that some of the very little
foreign currency trickling into the country was not wasted on trips
attending useless summits and conferences on this or that issue, but was set
aside to pay for fuel for farmers to till the land.
The basic point is Made and his colleagues should have planned ahead.
They should have
mobilised whatever farming inputs were needed to
ensure the country was able to produce enough food when there was still
ample time to do so, and when prices were much lower than they are now.
For President Robert
Mugabe to be running around to Malaysia and other
places – literally at the eleventh hour – in search of fertiliser, merely
confirms what many Zimbabweans know already: that this country has been
mismanaged to the point of betrayal.
For the lack of proper planning, Zimbabwe, which
faces famine this
year unless donors chip in with 700 000 tonnes of food aid, must endure
hunger again next year and beyond even if the country receives enough rains
in the coming farming season.
Just like all the
other plagues afflicting Zimbabwe, shortages of
local currency, essential medical drugs, electricity and several other
crises could have been prevented only if the government had stopped to think
and plan before acting.
But more importantly, Zimbabwe could have been saved
from collapse if
only Zimbabweans themselves had stood up to the excesses of a power-drunk
And no one else but Zimbabweans
can salvage this once prosperous and
proud nation from further disaster.
The international community, no matter how well
meaning, can only
offer solidarity and support. But the ball is really in the court of every
one of the 11,6 million Zimbabweans.
Sewage forces Dzivaresekwa families to abandon homes
At LEAST two families in Harare’s Dzivaresekwa Two high-density
suburb have been forced to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere
because of raw sewage flowing into their homes from blocked municipal sewer
Another 20 families in the crowded
suburb told the Daily News
yesterday that every morning they have to clear their houses of raw sewage
overflowing from bathrooms and toilets.
“We have had to remove some of the furniture from the
house as it
might get damaged as every morning the house will be almost flooded with raw
sewage,” one of the residents, Elina Chisale, told
a Daily News crew that visited Dzivaresekwa yesterday.
Chisale said while she and her family were still
living in the suburb,
some of her neighbours had send their children away for fear they could
contract diseases from the raw sewage water gushing
out of broken and blocked pipes every day.
She said: “If we had somewhere to go we would have left this area
until the situation is resolved. We are being forced to live under these
unhealthy conditions and we fear that there could be a
serious outbreak if the situation remains like this.”
Some of the roads in the
suburb are almost impassable as they are
flooded with the raw sewage, while swarms of green flies could be seen
flying in and around homes.
The city needs at least $6 billion to refurbish and
dilapidated sewerage system.
Harare City Council
spokesman Cuthbert Rwazemba would not comment on
the matter when
contacted by this newspaper yesterday.
He said he was unaware
of the situation in Dzivaresekwa and said he
would only comment
on the matter after visiting the suburb.
Rwazemba said: “I am
not aware of the situation there. I will have to
visit the site and then make an informed comment.”
But some of the residents interviewed by
this newspaper said they had
reported the blocked sewer pipes to the city’s department of works but the
department, in charge of maintaining the city’s collapsing sewer system, was
still to respond to their pleas for help.
“We have been having constant breakdowns of the sewer
tanks for some
time but this is just too much and to make matters worse the city council is
not even bothering to come and monitor the situation,” said another
resident, who spoke on condition she was not named.
Burst and blocked sewer pipes have become a common sight in several
Harare’s overcrowded high-density suburbs such as Dzivaresekwa.
The cash-strapped Harare City Council says it
requires $6 billion to
refurbish a sewer system that has virtually collapsed under the weight of a
population far bigger than its designed capacity.
By Lawrence Paganga
Region stands by troubled
Dar es Salaam – South African President Thabo Mbeki and his
Zimbabwean counterpart President Robert Mugabe held talks late into the
night – presumably to discuss the latest developments in Zimbabwe – after
the first day of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) leadership
officially declared their solidarity with Mugabe on
Tuesday, despite a heated debate on the handling of the Zimbabwe issue and
the negative impact it could have on the region. At certain times, they were
apparently very emotional and divided on the issue.
The members of SADC maintained that the
United States of America and
the European Union should rather enter into constructive debate with
Zimbabwe than institute sanctions. At the end of the second day of the 23rd
SADC summit in Tanzania, the leaders agreed that sanctions negatively
affected not only the citizens of Zimbabwe, but also the entire region.
They stressed that SADC would not be divided by
the Zimbabwe issue,
which could mean that the countries that voted for reform were in the
The SADC leaders expressed their
commitment to assist Zimbabwe in
finding and implementing solutions. They planned to build on the positive
developments “that are taking place at present” in the search for lasting
developments probably referred to negotiations between the
ruling Zanu PF party and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change. – Reuter
Fresh farm evictions reported
THE few white farmers still remaining on the land yesterday accused
the government and suspected ruling ZANU PF supporters of launching a fresh
blitz of evictions against them in the last two weeks.
Some of the
farmers interviewed by the Daily News yesterday said the
new wave of evictions appeared aimed at driving the about 400 remaining
white farmers off the land.
Lands and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made could not
be reached for
comment on the matter by the time of going to print last night.
But Made told the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting
yesterday that the government was still acquiring more farms for
redistribution to landless blacks despite the government announcing in
August last year that it had completed its controversial and chaotic land
Both the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) and
the Justice for
Agriculture, (JAG), which represent the country’s remaining white commercial
farmers, yesterday said that close to 200 farms had been listed in the last
The two groups also said that
disruption of farming operations had
picked up during the last fortnight, with some farmers reportedly forcibly
driven off their properties.
The new wave of evictions and destabilisation would
derail preparations for this year’s tobacco planting season, which is
expected to begin next Monday.
CFU president Doug
Taylor-Freeme said, “There has been a serious
intensification (in evictions) in the past two weeks. Over a hundred farms
are being listed each week but there seems to be more of this jambanja
(violence) element involved.
“A lot of farmers are being given less than 24 hours
to leave their
farms. We are also aware that some senior government officials are involved
behind the scenes to push farmers out completely using this renewed
jambanja. All the Mashonaland provinces are affected, and pockets of
Manicaland as well.”
JAG director Hart Wynand said: “We
understand that the operation (to
evict farmers) emerged from the top offices and is code-named Clean Sweep
and it has affected farmers who already have a crop on the ground and those
who were just about to plant.
“Most farmers who were supposed to prepare for the tobacco season have
had to put everything on hold
because of the high activity taking place. They want to kill off
predicted a sharp fall in tobacco production this
season, saying some growers of the golden leaf had abandoned preparations
for tobacco planting after being driven off their farms.
The CFU boss said this year’s crop was likely to fall below 50 million
output has been in freefall since the government began its
controversial land reform programme in 2000 and has plummeted from over 200
million kgs three years ago to a paltry
85 million kgs last year. Tobacco is hard-cash-starved Zimbabwe’s
biggest foreign exchange earner.
“Unless a miracle happens and all this
violence is stopped this week,
then we are going to miss the next (tobacco) season.
“We are fast coming to a situation where agriculture is being driven
into irrelevance as far as this country’s economy is concerned. The
government should immediately remove all this conflict from agriculture, if
we are to salvage this sector.”
Stop the rot
NOTHING more aptly demonstrates the implosion in the country’s
higher and tertiary education sector than reports that less than half of
this year’s potential graduates of the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) will be
According to the UZ’s Students’ Executive Council, only 3 500 out of
possible 10 000 graduands will graduate today.
Because yet again, a crisis that most people saw developing
several weeks ago was allowed to deteriorate until it got out of hand.
unsuccessfully trying to engage the government on their salaries
and working conditions, lecturers have thrown in the towel in disgust and
have not been reporting for duty since early this month.
They stress that
they are not on strike. They simply cannot afford to
go to work, where they are needed to mark students’ examination scripts and
Despite attempts by the Ministry of Higher and
Tertiary Education to
entice them back to work by promising to increase their salaries, most of
the lecturers seem to be taking the attitude that this is too little too
The implications of this stand-off on
final-year students are clear
for all to see. At a time when jobs are so hard to come by and every
advantage must be exploited, many UZ students could be forced to delay going
out to seek employment.
certificates they should have been awarded by the university would
certainly have given them an edge over other job seekers. But God only knows
when these students are likely to finally get these important pieces of
Of course, this debacle will also do nothing for
the image of the
country’s premier institution of higher learning.
This at a time when the image of Zimbabwe’s education
already been dealt a body blow by the scandals and corruption charges that
have dogged the Zimbabwe Schools’ Examinations Council, an institution that
has become the butt of jokes because it has been known to award bogus
certificates to people who have not even seen the inside of an exam room.
Clearly, if Zimbabwe continues to take its education
lightly, the gains made in the past 23 years will be eroded beyond
Indeed, it will not be surprising if
foreign schools and universities
resort to asking Zimbabwean students to take extra exams to demonstrate
after all, protect their own standards and there are
indications that ours have plummeted to alarming levels.
It is time that parents and
civic groups began to insist that the
government stems the rot in Zimbabwe’s education sector.
It is time that all stakeholders began to
demand increased funding for
education and the provision of adequate resources so that public schools,
colleges and universities can retain competent staff.
It is unacceptable that Zimbabwe should continue to pay its educators
starvation wages, or that students should be expected to learn when they do
not have books, let alone basic necessities such as chalk and pencils.
With regard to the UZ lecturers, the government
must ensure that it
seriously engages these disgruntled and clearly disillusioned people in a
bid to resolve the crisis that is facing Zimbabwe’s main university.
That the government would choose to proceed
with today’s farce of a
graduation ceremony is an indication of the arrogance that is partly
responsible for the economic crisis that has led to the lecturers’ strike.
Such attempts to pretend that everything is
fine when things are, in
fact, falling apart, will resolve nothing but will just aggravate an already
It is time problems with serious national consequences were treated
with the respect they deserve.
Imprudent to issue threats that cannot be sustained
ZIMBABWE is in a state of suspended equilibrium or “precarious
balance”, some would say.
It stands dangerously on the edge of a steep precipice and a slight
push in the wrong direction will tilt it over, to the common ruin of
There is a
palpable air of frustration, fatigue, nervousness and a
deep sense of hopelessness and foreboding.
Zimbabweans are living each day as
it comes and planning is now a
futile exercise whether in domestic of corporate affairs. The only
predictable thing about Zimbabwean socio-economic and political life is its
disillusionment now run deep in the masses and the
political leadership of both the political establishment and the opposition.
The masses yearn for some kind of credible assurances from their leaders
that the current syndrome of crises is a temporary aberration and not a
permanent feature of our troubled country. In short, that there is light at
the end of the tunnel and that the tunnel is short.
The prospect of
a serious dialogue process provided such a rare
occasion for hope for the otherwise hopeless. The ZANU PF hawks have
extinguished whatever light was at the end of a tunnel that is getting
longer every day.
is a sense in which hopelessness is the mother of irrationality,
in politics and elsewhere. And this brings us to the position of the MDC
with respect to its adversary, the ruling ZANU PF party.
I strongly suspect a
disturbing sense of exasperation in the MDC and
an indication that its search for viable options of achieving the envisioned
democratic change has reached exhaustion point.
To understand this, one needs to situate the MDC’s stance in the
context of the shifting ZANU PF strategies in its dealings with the MDC.
Since the emergence of the MDC as the
only opposition party with a
real and credible chance of capturing power on a national scale and,
therefore dislodging, ZANU PF from State House, the latter reacted by
seeking, not only to contain the MDC, but annihilating it from the Zimbabwe
It engaged in the
political game of “wipe out”, in which one player,
in this case ZANU PF, insists on total domination and when that player
confronts resistance (in the form of the MDC), it employs brute force to
wipe out the enemy.
The appeal is to the use of force, even as a first
resort, to win the
game in the fierce gladiation for power. The alleged violent involvement of
war veterans, party militants, the “Green Bombers” and the formal
instruments of state violence can be viewed in this light.
In this game of power politics, the opponent must
surrender or be
wiped out! One is reminded of the Greek historian Thucydides in his History
of the Peloponnesian War, which is about the savage war between two mortal
political enemies. The Athenians (the strong state) declare candidly to
their enemy: “You know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is
only in question between equals in power . . . The strong do what they can
and the weak suffer what they must.”
then this strategy is not only motivated by might is right – it is
also crude, overt, visible and costly materially and in terms of the
domestic and international image of the perpetrators. Few governments can
sustain a heavy and concerted campaign of negative publicity, thus the
government’s determined attempts to repackage itself and counter the adverse
This appears to explain its shift from a
strategy of “wipe out” to
that of “wear and tear”. While as the former strategy and its grisly outputs
can be seen with the naked eye, the latter strategy is silent, subtle,
covert, and more politically efficient than the crude “wipe out”.
ZANU-PF’s hide-and-seek game with the
churchmen on the dialogue
process is in all likelihood part of this new strategy. It entails wearing
down and psychologically tearing your enemy without seeking its
The relatively peaceful
campaign for the forthcoming two by-elections
and council elections is evidence of this new thrust. It does not
necessarily mean that “wipe out” has been abandoned, but that it is now a
strategy of last and not first resort; it has been subordinated to that of
wear and tear.
does not appear to have a coherent and credible response to it
this shift in the strategy of the ruling party.
TALK OR ELSE This was most
starkly revealed over the weekend when the
MDC leader addressed his Gweru supporters in his “Let’s talk or else” speech
(Daily News 25 October, 2003). Morgan Tsvangirai’s comments clearly betrayed
a deep sense of frustration not only at the blocked dialogue process, but
also an incapacity to articulate a workable option. “Let’s talk or else” has
an in-built threat, a threat of negative sanctions in case of
Threats, in politics and in war, must be credible and doable to be
taken seriously. It is highly dangerous to issue threats that cannot be
activated should there be non-submission to the threat. A dog that always
barks but never bites can be worse than one that does neither; the former
lulls its owner into a false sense of security. Tsvangirai’s answer: “If
there are no formal talks by 1 October, then the window of opportunity which
we had opened will be closed and we will shift our focus to the presidential
election court challenge . . . ” This is the first leg of the MDC’s
But how can this be a credible threat when it has already been
activated and ZANU PF itself has challenged the MDC not to withdraw the
court case? Then there is the second leg of the threat: “We have not
abandoned mass action as an option. We will revisit it if there are no
formal talks by the beginning of November . . . ”.
I find this threat implausible given the recent history of attempted
organised mass action in this country, the latest in June this year. I have
said it before, and I restate the point that present-day Zimbabwe does not
have a critical mass of citizens that can support and sustain an organised
You cannot have mass action without mass activists. Zimbabweans are
heavily inclined to passive resistance and not a frontal assault on the
state. When aggrieved, Zimbabweans can at best withdraw from the state but
not combat it. This is the harsh reality that ZANU PF has long realised and
taken full advantage of. The MDC has to contemplate ways of confronting the
government, minus mass action; they have the parlous state of the economy as
It is in this light that I find Tsvangirai’s “Let’s talk or else”
speech problematic if not dangerous. It is dangerous in that threats that
are not capable of being activated create a false sense of confidence that
is quickly deflated once the deadline arrives and passes without any “or
else”. This generates a dangerous crisis of expectations that can quickly
mutate into a crisis of confidence in the political leadership.
These are the dangers inherent in threats that lack credibility in the
practical world of politics to which all politicians must descend.
Eldred Masunungure is the head of the University of Zimbabwe’s
political and administrative studies department.
RBZ to monitor foreign currency flows daily
BANKS are now required
to furnish the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
information on foreign currency inflows and outflows, amid worsening
hard cash shortages, it was learnt this week.
Banking officials said the measures had been put in place “by mutual
consent” between financial institutions and the central bank.
The officials said the new directive altered an earlier one, under which banks had to disclose
information on hard cash inflows and outflows on a weekly basis.
It was not possible yesterday to secure comment from acting RBZ
governor Charles Chikaura, but an official with the Bankers’ Association of
Zimbabwe (BAZ) told the Business Daily: “A week is a long time in the
“The measures were effected by mutual consent and we hope the
development will create better understanding between us and the central
He said the directive was
issued about 10 days ago.
The BAZ official added that bankers believed the requirement to
furnish the Reserve Bank with foreign currency information “more often”
would enable them to prove that they were not hoarding hard cash so that
they could trade it on the parallel market for forex.
Financial institutions have been accused of being major players on the
illegal black market, where the bulk of
Zimbabwe’s hard cash transactions take place.
Bankers said at a meeting held on Monday with the central bank,
Chikaura reiterated that financial institutions found illegally trading on
the parallel market would have their licences revoked.
The Reserve Bank has in the past imposed hefty fines on banks involved
in unofficial forex trade, and has threatened to take tougher action if the
Zimbabwe, in its fifth year of economic recession, has been critically
short of foreign exchange due to poorly performing exports, which have
dipped by more than 50 percent.
The hard cash crisis has contributed to shortages of fuel, and has
made it difficult for Zimbabwe to import the special ink and paper needed to print bank notes, leading to a cash
Bankers said at this week’s meeting, the continuing cash shortages
were discussed, with the central bank asking banks to “incentivise deposits”
and ensure as much local cash flowed into the system “by whatever means,
even it means increasing interest rates”.
The cash crisis has forced banks to ration money, with some financial
institutions allowing their clients to withdraw as little as $1 000 a day.
A large number of people are being forced to spend a significant
amount of their time in winding queues for cash.
Talks should focus on handing power to MDC
IT IS a measure of the desperation of Zimbabweans that the political
parties’ “talks about talks” had initially been greeted with so much energy
Sadly, however, this is simply dangerous, misleading nonsense. The
country knows full well –
and to its enormous cost – that in dealing with ZANU PF, the time for
talking has not begun, but, in fact, ended a long time ago.
Does anyone in their right mind really believe that the ZANU PF
leopard has changed its spots? That the party which prides itself that “ZANU
is bloody” and has “degrees in violence” will seriously sit down and
negotiate any “free and fair” election which would only secure its exit from
Of course not.
ZANU PF is nothing but a bunch of thugs and thieves, and like any
violent bully, understands only two things – action and the threat of
action. That ZANU PF is even rumoured to be considering negotiation is only
because of the very pressure brought to bear by the forces of opposition. It
is thus reassuring to note that in the letters columns in the independent
Press, the realists have been hitting back. Thankfully, those who had been
vilified as “MDC hard-liners” for opposing talks with ZANU PF have pointed
out the sheer inanity of such criticism.
In particular, the cheap, easy allegations that it was “irresponsible”
and “selfish” for the two major political antagonists to maintain their
conflict completely ignored – with breathtaking stupidity – that we are not
dealing with a question of equals here.
The very reason why
MDC – and indeed the whole opposition and
pro-democracy movement – came about in the first place was due to the
overweening corruption, kleptocracy and arrogance of ZANU PF – a party
which, daring to call itself “government,” turned to the brutal repression
of innocent people once it realised its future was doomed.
Just how can one compare equally the party of “Green Bombers”, “war
veterans” and associated riff-raff with the non-violent, reasoned,
The South African government, and other African and Arab states, might
wish to perpetuate this myth for their own self-serving purposes, but
Zimbabweans have had ample, painful experience to know better.
Apply whatever metaphor you wish, but “supping with the devil” will
never produce the liberation of Zimbabwe from ZANU PF.
Let us just say if – and this is a big “if” – the negotiations do
indeed lead to a commitment from ZANU PF to fresh elections . . . even under
the much-needed international supervision, is it not obvious that ZANU PF’s
interest in such talks would only be to once again gerrymander the usual
deceitful results for itself?
In fact, the talks should not even be about fresh
rather the handing over of the keys to the MDC president who is – as
everyone apart from certain South African “observers” knows full well – the
rightfully elected President of Zimbabwe as of March 2002. In other words,
we should be demanding the hand-over of power, not letting ZANU PF off the
hook to fight again!
Which brings us back to the original contention – that there is no
point in talking at all unless and until ZANU PF is willing to concede, not
negotiate. And even if they are prepared to concede, this would from their
side only be on condition that their hides be spared. Given the track record
of ZANU PF’s human rights abuses, the MDC should also be tough here. There
are those who say that ZANU PF is indeed a necessity in a post-ZANU PF
government, to preserve the function of multi-party democracy. This is
another serious mistake.
A democratic plurality is indeed a desirable thing, but not with ZANU
PF. In the same way that post-1945 Germany had to be de-Nazified and
present-day Iraq de-Baathified, the ZANU PF edifice should be utterly
You cannot negotiate with an animal that’s out of control – it has to
be finished off once and for all. In the same vein, the criminal should be
punished for his evil ways, not rewarded!
As for those who have suffered enough and desperately cry for a deal
with the animal to relieve the pain, this is indeed a tempting, sympathetic
thought, but does not stand up. There will be no relief from the suffering
as long as ZANU PF is in any form still present as an actor in the drama.
There will simply be none of the crucial support from the
international donor agencies and monetary institutions and no investor will
confidently support the country while the animal is still alive, kicking and
It may sound a tough, unyielding approach, but to carry the struggle
through to its final, logical conclusion is the only way. So much sacrifice
has already been made that it would be letting down those who have fallen,
been maimed, tortured or raped – and indeed the people as a whole – if the
movement were to soften its stance at the last hurdle.
NEGOTIATE NOW The MDC’s mass action did not fail
Robert Mugabe had men of violence ready to mow down protesters. It failed
because Mugabe knew that the people were afraid of him. And it is for the
very reason that he knows in his heart that the moment that fear goes will
spell his end that he is prepared to negotiate now. Don’t let him get away
with it. But when Tsvangirai calls again for action, we must be there with
him. If not, the only result will be a pointless compromise which will not
allow Zimbabwe to breathe again as a free nation – free from ZANU PF.