August 28 2007 at 06:42PM
By Felix Mponda
Harare - Despite putting on a brave face at the annual Zimbabwe
Agricultural Show, farmers in Africa's one-time bread basket face a bleak
future as they battle power cuts, fertiliser shortages and drought.
Hundreds of farmers from across the country have been gathering in the
capital since Monday for the showpiece agricultural event, which will be
formally opened by Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema on
In previous years, the event has served as a showcase to highlight the
vibrancy of the agricultural sector which formed the backbone of
But since veteran President Robert Mugabe embarked on a controversial
land reform programme in 2000, which has so far seen about 4 000 white-owned
farms expropriated, the farming sector has become a shadow of its former
Thomas Millar, a white cattle farmer based to the south of Harare, was
among the visitors to the capital on Tuesday with a healthy-looking
herd that he is hoping to sell.
It was the first time that Millar had attended the show since 2000.
The intervening years have seen a dramatic change in his circumstances
as he fell victim to the farm expropriations.
"We used to have to 220 holsteins cows, but we are now down to 80,"
said Millar, who began farming before independence in 1980 and is now in his
"We used to have about 620 hectares of land, but we are now just left
with about 20," he added. Parts of the were given to 34 new farmers.
The Mugabe regime has refused to compensate the white farmers for
their land, which was earmarked for landless blacks but often fell into the
hands of ruling party cronies.
Much of the land has since been neglected by its new owners. Those who
have toughed it out have had to cope with shortages of machine parts, of
electricity, seeds and fertiliser.
Reports in the state media earlier this week detailed how three
semi-governmental fertiliser firms had been unable to operate since
last month. Management cited persistent power cuts and a lack of
foreign exchange as the government grapples with an inflation rate of more
than 7 600 percent.
Mildred Chitada, who grows sugar beans and maize, had come to the show
in search of fertiliser. She was likely to return home empty-handed, she
"There is nothing for us here. No fertiliser, no seeds... It's been a
letdown," Chitada told AFP.
"The organisers should have at least tried to organise just the
fertiliser for us. The government should be supporting us, the newly
established farmers, because we have nothing."
Zimbabwe's power utility company ZESA Holdings dispatched
representatives to the show to brief customers on the problems it had
generating electricity - vital for irrigation farming.
ZESA spokesperson Fulland Gwasira said Zimbabwe was only generating
hydro power: its two coal-fired plants were not functioning due to coal
"Power touches every aspect of the economy and it is in our interest
that power issues are addressed with our stakeholders," Gwasira told
Before 2000, Zimbabwe was a net exporter of maize to countries such as
neighbouring Zambia and Malawi but the state-run Grain Marketing
Board said this month that it was to import 300 000 tonnes to avert
The government has said a drought following four years of poor
rainfalls is to blame, rather than its policies.
Chris Looker, the show's chief organiser, said the event should boost
confidence and demonstrate that Zimbabwe was not "on the brink of collapse".
"The show will help the economy as people will see things that they
can buy," he told AFP. - Sapa-AFP
Tue 28 Aug 2007, 9:44 GMT
CANBERRA, Aug 28 (Reuters) - African nations, particularly South Africa,
need to do more to encourage Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to hold fair
elections, Australia's foreign minister and Zimbabwe's opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai said on Tuesday.
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki and leaders of the 14-nation Southern
African Development Community (SADC) have been muted in their criticism of
Mugabe, who has suppressed opposition in Zimbabwe and is accused of rigging
Tsvangirai, whose campaigning against Mugabe saw him brutally beaten by
Zimbabwe police earlier this year, said it was crucial for African nations
to pressure Mugabe to ensure elections due in March 2008 were free and fair.
"I think it is very important for the credibility of the African leadership
to start demonstrating that when one of their own has...gone off the rails,
that you be brought in line by the Africans themselves," Tsvangirai told
reporters after talks with Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.
Australia has been an outspoken critic of Mugabe's regime, imposing
sanctions against his government and leading the push for Mugabe to be
suspended from forums of British Commonwealth nations.
In May, Australian Prime Minister John Howard banned the Australian cricket
team from visiting Zimbabwe.
Downer said Australia would continue to support the people of Zimbabwe,
announcing an extra A$3.5 million ($2.9 million) in aid through the United
Nations World Food Programme, but said African nations needed to stand up
more against Mugabe.
"We hope that the southern African countries -- in particular I'll single
out South Africa here -- can have real success in helping to ensure that
there are free and fair elections," Downer told reporters.
"If the expectations of the SADC countries is for free and fair elections
and they make that position strong enough and clear enough -- and I think
they are moving in that direction -- then that's going to be a very
important component of getting a good outcome."
Mugabe, 83, has ruled Zimbabwe since winning power in 1980, after decades of
British colonial rule and a bitter civil war.
But in recent years, the fiercely nationalist Mugabe has overseen his
country's economic collapse amid accusations of human rights abuses and a
crackdown on political and media freedoms.
Tsvangirai is due to hold talks with Australian Prime Minister John Howard
later this week.
SW Radio Africa (London)
28 August 2007
Posted to the web 28 August 2007
Continuing their media campaign about non-existent sanctions on Zimbabwe,
the state controlled media reported Tuesday that MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai "is in Australia where he is celebrating the hurting sanctions
that Australia and other Western countries have imposed against Zimbabwe."
The government has been promoting the notion that the deterioration of the
country's economy is due to these sanctions, instead of taking
responsibility for the failed policies, corruption and mismanagement by the
Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, the MDC secretary for international affairs,
denied the reports in the state's Herald newspaper that Tysvangirai was
celebrating sanctions. First he clarified the sanctions issue, saying:
"There are no economic sanctions on Zimbabwe of a mandatory nature. What is
there is simply a travel ban by the countries that do not welcome Mr. Mugabe
and his associates, as a demonstration of their disapproval of his human
rights policies in particular, and domestic programme in general."
As for the idea that Tsvangirai was celebrating, Mukonoweshuro said this was
not true. He explained that the MDC leader was in Australia to visit
Zimbabweans in their structures and brief them on the situation on the
ground back home. He added: "These are also black Zimbabweans mind you, who
left this country on account of Mr. Mugabe's policies."
As for the government's accusations that Tsvangirai lobbies the
international community for sanctions against Zimbabwe, Mukonoweshuro said
there are no statements by the MDC leader or the party's policies in general
that support what he referred to as "that warped view". He added: "What is
happening is that countries throughout the world, through their own internal
legislative processes of which we have no control over, decide to determine
what kind of relationship to have with Zimbabwe. And that's not an MDC
In Australia, Tsvangirai also told reporters that getting rid of Robert
Mugabe is not necessarily the solution to the Zimbabwe's problems. He
explained that there is a political culture of abuse and corruption that
needs to end in order for there to be a democracy. He is quoted saying: "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".
From The Cape Argus (SA), 28 August
President Thabo Mbeki's political mediation in Zimbabwe is bogged down over
the opposition's demand for a proportional representation voting system in
next year's parliamentary elections. The Morgan Tsvangirai faction of the
split Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) wants proportional representation
voting in which a party gets the same proportion of seats in parliament as
its share of the overall vote. But the ruling Zanu PF party is insisting on
retaining the current winner-takes-all, Westminster constituency system in
which the party which wins the most votes in each of the constituencies wins
that constituency and the losers' votes count for nothing. Tsvangirai's MDC
wants the proportional representation system be-cause the system favours
smaller parties, giving them more parliamentary seats than they are likely
to get in the constituency system.
In the latter system a party can theoretically lose each constituency
contest by one vote and end up with no seats in Parliament even though it
gets only slightly less votes than the winning party overall. South Africa
has used the proportional representation system since the first democratic
elections in 1994 and it has given many small parties a voice in parliament.
It is understood that the other MDC faction, led by Arthur Mutumbara, is
prepared to concede to Zanu PF on this issue, to focus its energies on
winning other concessions which it considers more important, such as getting
a truly independent electoral commission to run the elections. Some analysts
believe that Tsvangirai's insistence on proportional representation is a
sign that he already knows the MDC is not going to win the elections and
that he is now looking for as many parliamentary seats as possible for his
These analysts believe the Tsvangirai faction has been less willing than the
Mutambara faction to form an election pact which would have given the MDC a
good chance at victory. A Westminster-style election will make the split MDC
even more vulnerable than it is now, because the split MDC vote will allow
Zanu PF to win more constituencies and will then waste the votes of both MDC
factions in such constituencies. In a proportional representation system,
Zanu PF could theoretically win more votes than either of the two MDC
factions, but they might win more seats than Zanu PF combined and would then
be able to form alliances in parliament to outvote Zanu PF on specific
issues. The next meeting in the negotiations is expected to take place on
September 8. Tendai Biti, secretary-general of Tsvangirai's faction, is
leading its delegation in the negotiations. Welshman Ncube,
secretary-general of the Mutambara section, is leading its faction. Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche are leading
the Zanu PF delegation.
The Namibian (Windhoek)
28 August 2007
Posted to the web 28 August 2007
The entry of cheap and low-quality Chinese goods into the Zimbabwe market
"devastated the Zimbabwean economy," an academic from that country says.
While China was exporting quality goods to the European Union, which had
high quality standards, China dumped its "cheapest and lowest quality"
products in Africa, including Zimbabwe, Professor John Makumbe from the
University of Zimbabwe said on Thursday.
Makumbe is presently in Namibia and was a panellist at a conference with the
theme 'G 8 Countries and Africa - Partnership and mutual Responsibility',
organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. "The flood of Chinese goods
destroyed the textile industry in Zimbabwe, which contributed to
unemployment and poverty," Makumbe told the conference.
"Zimbabwe used to have its own factories to manufacture clothes, shoes and
electrical appliances, but these industries collapsed totally since the
arrival of these Chinese products." As examples he cited textile factories
that used to produce school uniforms for millions of schoolchildren in the
country and also manufactured blankets.
These factories are now standing idle, he said. "The Chinese impact on
Zimbabwe escalated unemployment," Makumbe said.
Makumbe was supposed to give a lecture at the University of Namibia on
Wednesday night, but Unam cancelled it a few hours before it was supposed to
start. The co-organising Namibia Institute for Democracy (NiD) then changed
the venue from Unam to a Windhoek hotel. Makumbe talked about poverty and
daily life in Zimbabwe and the social crisis unfolding there. Zimbabwe has
some 9 million inhabitants and approximately 3 million citizens living in
Zimbabwe now has an annual inflation rate of 7 634,8 per cent, the highest
in the world, and is plagued by food and fuel shortages.
SW Radio Africa (London)
28 August 2007
Posted to the web 28 August 2007
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has criticised what it
calls the lack of any real progress at the just ended Southern African
Development Community (SADC) summit meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.
The meeting was supposed to have discussed measures aimed at resolving
Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis but COSATU took exception to the
lack of transparency in the way heads of state discussed the issue. The
union says 80 percent unemployment, inflation officially pegged at over 7600
percent and shortages of basic commodities are having a devastating effect
on ordinary people. Thousands are fleeing the poverty, hunger and political
repression affecting the country and yet the regional bloc ignored all those
Speaking to Newsreel on Tuesday Patrick Craven, the COSATU spokesperson,
said although they are yet to get the full details of the deliberations,
they felt the recommendations made by the regional bloc were out of sync
with the actual reasons for the crisis. A letter by South African President
Thabo Mbeki in the ANC Today newsletter talks about the SADC meeting
approving initiatives to assist Zimbabwe's economic recovery. COSATU say
there 'is little in the President's letter to suggest the sort of radical
measures that the situation demands.' SADC itself seems to have accepted
Mugabe's mantra about sanctions hurting Zimbabwe's economy.
Craven said the main reason for the lack of investment and extension of
credit lines for Zimbabwe was not sanctions 'but chronic economic
instability and brutal political repression, which the SADC report ignores
entirely.' The South African labour body also noted the lack of any real
progress by Mbeki to broker a deal between Zanu PF and the MDC. COSATU say
although ultimate responsibility lies with the people of Zimbabwe, SADC
governments have to take a much tougher line with the Zanu PF government,
because the crisis is affecting them directly.
August 28, 2007
Harare - The Zimbabwe government recently received $7 million (R49.9
million) from a global fund to finance health programmes in the
cash-strapped country, reports said Tuesday.
The recent donation was part of the $65 million in grants to Harare
announced by the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and
Malaria late last year.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa told the state-controlled Herald
newspaper that $30 million in grants were still due to be paid out.
He said in addition to buying anti-Aids drugs the money would be used to
train doctors and nurses involved in Aids programmes, buy laboratory
equipment and upgrade hospitals.
The latest grant comes despite claims by President Robert Mugabe's
government that it is reeling under the effects of Western-imposed
State media complained grants for Zimbabwe were vastly lower than those
given to other countries in southern Africa.
The donors are giving Zimbabwe only $14 per person for HIV and Aids response
programmes yet its neighbours in the region got up to $240 per person, said
the Herald, a government mouthpiece.
But privately aid workers say the reason the grants are much lower to
Zimbabwe is mainly because of Harare's massively overvalued currency.
The Zimbabwe dollar is officially pegged at 250 to the greenback, but on the
widely-used parallel market for hard currency the US dollar fetches at least
200 000 Zimbabwe dollars.
Funds go much further in countries that maintain a more realistic exchange
rate, aid workers say.
Zimbabwe is critically short of foreign currency to buy medicine, fuel and
power. Only 80 000 people out of 340 000 people in need of anti-retroviral
drugs are receiving treatment under a public-funded programme, said the
Food shortages are likely to worsen following reports this week 3 fertiliser
firms had shut down due to incessant power cuts, jeopardising future yields.
Mugabe's government and its supporters claim the targeted sanctions imposed
on the 83-year old president and his ruling party and government associates
by Britain, the US and the EU have resulted in the drying up of
international donor assistance.
However, humanitarian aid continues to flow in. Both Britain and the US are
major donors towards food aid, with the British government this January
channelling aid worth 3 million pounds through the World Food Programme
The WFP said this month that the US alone had provided $45.8 million towards
the agency's operations in Zimbabwe in 2007, with the EU donating $10.7
million. - Sapa-dpa
UN News Centre
28 August 2007 - Almost 500,000 school children in Zimbabwe are expected to
benefit from a United Nations-backed initiative to train 1,500 primary and
secondary school teachers in new and practical ways to help stall the spread
of HIV and AIDS.
The week-long training that began yesterday is supported by a $500,000 grant
from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and will focus on teaching life skills
for HIV prevention, addressing the gender dimensions of HIV, combating
sexual gender-based violence, and providing psychosocial counselling.
Teachers will then be able to share vital information with the children so
they can protect themselves against infection and continue Zimbabwe's
successes in reducing the national HIV rate. In 2005 Zimbabwe became the
first country in southern Africa to record a decline in HIV, with the adult
rate falling to approximately 20 per cent today.
According to the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the drop can be
attributed to delayed sexual debut for young people, faithfulness between
sexual partners, and increased condom use.
"This is a remarkable achievement," UNICEF country representative Festo
Kavishe said. "However, the country still has one of the highest HIV
prevalence rates in the world and we must continue to reach young
Zimbabweans with clear and relevant information. That's what this training
The training is being conducted by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education,
Sport and Culture, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and
VVOB-ZimPATH, an HIV/AIDS project of the Flemish Office for Development
Cooperation and Technical Assistance.
It will also help teachers in understanding and dealing with their own
vulnerability to HIV and looks at issues of prevention, care and support,
and anti-retroviral drugs.
The training follows successful efforts in 2006, where 1,200 teachers from
18 districts were trained. This year's instruction is being held at seven
teachers training colleges in Harare, Masvingo, Mutare, Mutoko and Bulawayo.
ZIMBABWE is facing an import shortfall of 600MW after regional suppliers
reduced or stopped supplying power due to failure by the economically
embattled Southern African country to settle debts.
For a long time now, Zimbabwe has been running outrageous loadshedding
schedules sometimes going up to 20 hours a day as the financially strapped
parastatal, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) failed to source
foreign currency for imports.
At the onset of the winter season, the parastatal, together with its parent
ministry, the ministry of energy lied in state media that load shedding was
to worsen due to a programme that prioritised the supply of power to winter
It has however since emerged that the country will this year have the worst
wheat harvest since the land reform programme was implemented in 2000 due
to, among other reasons, unreliable power supply.
The country supplements its local power needs by importing more than 750MW,
about 35 percent of national electricity requirements from neighbouring
countries among them Mozambique, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of
ZESA Holdings Group Stakeholder Relations Manager Mr Fullard Gwasira said
HydroCabora Bassa of Mozambique had reduced supply from 350MW to 150MW while
ESKOM of South Africa stopped supplying power to Zimbabwe altogether.
Said Gwasira,"Of the 150MW (from HCB), only 50 MW is on a firm agreement,
the other 100 is nonfirm and is mainly dependent on the availability of
supply. Arrears have, however, built up due to foreign currency
He claimed ESKOM cannot afford firm supplies as it was also failing to
produce enough for the South African market.
"With ESKOM, there are no firm agreements.We get power only when they have
it and we know that currently they do not have excess power and they have a
shortfall bigger than ours, thus they are not exporting. Their power station
at Quebec has a shortfall of 900MW".
He said the contract between ZESA and SNEL of the Democratic Republic of
Congo was still running although some power was being lost along the way due
to vandalism.SNEL provides Zimbabwe with 100MW.
"The line is too long and hardly reliable, some of the power is lost along
the way through transmission loss and is also susceptible to vandalism, thus
the chances of us getting the maximum are very low. However, we are getting
power despite not paying because of foreign currency constraints".
ZESA is among other parastatals which have been hardest hit by the country's
eight year economic meltdown,set on the sliding plane by the government's
chaotic land grabs of 2000-CAJ News.
Zimbabwean journalists took to the streets of Harare in May 2006 to mark the World Press Freedom Day. (Photo: STR / AFP-Getty Images)
Barely a month since President Robert Mugabe signed a wire-tapping bill into law, government goons are busy at work, targeting perceived "enemies of the state" with the revelation that they have drawn up a list of journalists and Web sites for monitoring. Worldpress.org is among those that have been blacklisted.
The authenticity of the list has been verified by sources close to the dreaded spy agency, the Central Intelligence Organization (C.I.O.). It reportedly includes 41 Web sites — most which have published news deemed adverse to the government. In addition, a hit list names 25 journalists for "elimination," of which 10 are employed by the government press.
A report in the privately-owned Zimbabwe Independent (Aug. 10) indicated it was at a recent meeting that the ruling party's Politburo discussed the secret list containing online publications, including Web sites for the Cable News Network (C.N.N.) and the United States Embassy in Harare. The newspaper said the list included more than 20 sites created or run by exiled Zimbabweans, along with international human rights and news online publications such as Amnesty International, the Washington Post and the I.P.S.
Close sources have told Worldpress.org that the government began eavesdropping on telephone conversations and monitoring conventional mail long before the Interception of Communications Act was crafted. Some of the monitored e-mails have been made available to select journalists in Zimbabwe as proof.
"I was shocked when one of the C.I.O. produced a number of stories l had written for a foreign Web site, in some instances with alternations made by the C.I.O.," said one journalist, who suspected his name was on the list. "You are safer talking to someone face to face than on the telephone or communicating to them on e-mail, especially when you work for a government institution."
The source said, for example, that Zimbabwe's central bank is thought to have installed an e-mail monitoring software several months back. The software blocks certain words that may be linked to politics, democracy or opposition figures.
With its uncanny reputation for rubberstamping even the most unconstitutional of laws, it came as no surprise that Zimbabwe's majority Zanu-PF lawmakers voted overwhelmingly for a new law legalizing state-sanctioned eavesdropping. What many have long feared has happened.
Zimbabwe's government has long itched to end the press freedoms it blames for the country's bad international image. The independent press, civil and human rights activists and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change are viewed as "enemies of the state." The new law is the final nail in democracy's coffin. Without an outlet to tell the world what is happening in Zimbabwe, Mugabe and his cronies have no reason to lose sleep about what will be on the 'net or in international newspapers about their excesses. Most comforting of all is that the new law, perfectly disguised as a deterrent against terrorism, gives the government carte blanche to wiretap conversations without shame.
While some people remain skeptical about the government's ability to effectively eavesdrop on telephone and e-mail, in terms of having the right equipment and personnel to do so, those in the know have warned journalists and opposition activists to watch their backs because "they being watched and are easy targets for framing." In truth, the law is designed to instill fear among journalists and human rights activists that "Big Brother" is watching and listening, in a country where making a joke about the President is a punishable offence.
The Interception of Communications Act allows government authorities and agencies to open post office mail and electronic mail as well as demand that internet service providers (I.S.P.s) provide details of such without seeking warrants from the courts. I.S.P.s will also be required to install software for intercepting e-mail messages for forward transmission to state authorities. In addition, the government will be able to listen to all fixed and mobile phone conversations at will.
The Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association (Z.I.S.P.A.) has indicated that the legal requirements of the Act mandated them into buying the equipment, a requirement most cannot afford. Z.I.S.P.A. said it would be a battle for its members to buy intercepting equipment, some of it pegged at $1 million, to comply with the law. Chairperson Shadreck Nkala told the press that I.S.P.s were in a fix because they could not afford to buy and install the spying equipment without going bust, but by not doing so risked being on the wrong side of the law.
"The government has to contribute funds for the equipment," Nkala is quoted as stating in the private weekly The Standard (Aug. 12): "We engaged Potraz and the Ministry of Transport and communication on the matter and they have to play a role as well. We will meet with the government soon to chart the way forward."
Meanwhile, information technology experts are convinced that the government, aware of the financial implications of installing monitoring equipment, made it mandatory for the I.S.P.s to bear the costs of installing the equipment, saving it the trouble and the money.
The eavesdropping law, political analysts posit, will serve President Mugabe well, especially in the run up to the 2008 presidential and parliamentary polls. Mugabe, no stranger to political demagoguery, could well use the Act to "talk down" his political opponents and manipulate the polls in his favor.
Zimbabwe's minister of information and publicity, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, could not have described the law better when he told the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (C.P.J.) that it was aimed at "imperialist-sponsored journalists with hidden agendas."
The passing of the Act is a slap in the face to past court rulings such as that of the Zimbabwe Supreme Court in 2004 which declared unconstitutional Sections 98 and 103 of the Posts and Telecommunications Act because they violated Section 20 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Section 20 of the constitution provides for freedom of expression, freedom to receive and impart ideas and freedom from interference with one's correspondence. But the government does not care about this infringement of constitutional rights. The Act — already widely condemned by journalists, civil rights and political groups — states that the process of interception should be such that "neither the interception target nor any other unauthorized person is aware of any changes made to fulfill the interception order."
Moreover, the Act empowers the chief of defense, the director-general of the C.I.O., the commissioner of police and the commissioner general of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to intercept telephonic messages passed through fixed lines, cellular phones and on the Internet. State agencies are empowered to open mail passing through the post and through licensed courier service providers. The minister of transport and communications is authorized to issue a warrant to state functionaries to order the interception of information if there are "reasonable grounds for the minister to think that an offence has been committed or that there is a threat to safety or national security of the country."
The law also enables government to set up a telecommunications agency called the Monitoring (and) Interception of Communications Center from where spy units will operate facilities to pry into messages from both fixed and mobile phones. It is understood that plans are underway to import equipment to be installed at monitoring centers in the capital Harare and the second city of Bulawayo, thanks to strong diplomatic and investment ties with the People's Republic of China, which has perfected eavesdropping on the Internet.
Unconfirmed press reports suggest that Chinese instructors have trained 45 state security operatives in eavesdropping and at least 10 of them have been deployed at the Mazoe Earth Satellite station outside Harare, which serves as the portal for Internet traffic in and out of Zimbabwe via satellite connectivity to Intelsat, the world's largest commercial satellite communications services provider.
In the past, China has been credited with helping the Zimbabwe government with jamming radio signals of independent radio stations such as the United States-based Voice of America's Studio 7 and the United Kingdom-based SW Radio Africa. The latter offers news headlines via SMS to a growing audience of about 5,000 mobile phone users and circulates transcripts of interviews via e-mail to Zimbabweans.
"This surveillance law further cuts Zimbabwe off from the world and creates an even more oppressive environment than ever for the press," said C.P.J. Executive Director Joel Simon, adding that, "The international community needs to be aware that Zimbabwe is attempting to suppress any remaining press freedom in its country. Urgent action is required."
Freelance journalists, especially those writing for international publications, online radio stations and Web sites would be affected by the new law. Independent news sites have blossomed outside Zimbabwe's border by providing alternative, up-to-date and incisive news about events at home, circumventing the country's tough media and accreditation laws. Under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, journalists operating without accreditation from the state Media and Information Commission face up to two years in prison. Outside the law they face worse scenarios. They are targets for violence and assault as award-winning freelance photojournalist, Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, found out or face death like one former state television cameraman.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is mulling challenging the law in court, according to its acting director, Irene Petras, as soon as it has done enough research on the technical issues surrounding the law.
SW Radio Africa (London)
28 August 2007
Posted to the web 28 August 2007
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) says it will not rule out
the possibility of strike action if teacher's salaries are not increased to
Z$15 million a month.
The basic pay for teachers is around Z$2,9 million with a net pay of around
Z$2,5million after deductions. Oswald Madziva, the National Coordinator of
the PTUZ, told Newsreel that government is reneging on the Tripartite
Negotiating Forum (TNF) position of ensuring salaries are above the poverty
datum line, currently pegged at Z$8,2 million a month. The union is already
consulting its membership on what action to take if their demands are not
In early August the state media heralded the signing of the Incomes and
Stabilisation protocol but labour unions insisted it was just mere
signatures on paper with nothing coming out of it. Most employers, including
government itself, are not pegging salaries to the poverty datum line as
agreed. Farm workers are said to be getting Z$350 000 a month while domestic
workers recently had a new minimum wage of Z$120 000 a month gazetted by
government. The highest paid domestic will get Z$142 336 a month.
This year the country was rocked by several strikes in different sectors as
doctors, nurses, teachers and others downed their tools demanding higher
wages. The hyper-inflationary environment has however ensured that all those
who got increments have lost any gains made or are now worse of than before.
At the beginning of August teachers unions were demanding Z$8,5 million per
month. As September approaches that figure has now been upped to Z$15
million. Little wonder a heated provincial meeting of the PTUZ in Harare
this month saw teachers demand salaries in foreign currency to cushion
themselves from inflation.
Mail and Guardian
28 August 2007 02:07
Hundreds of hard-line supporters of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe
will stage a show of strength in support of the veteran president in the
capital, Harare, on Wednesday, organisers said.
"The solidarity march is in support of President Robert Mugabe
and his policies," said Joseph Chinotimba, vice-president of the Zimbabwe
National Liberation War Veterans' Association.
"We, as war veterans, do not know any other leader besides
President Mugabe. The solidarity march will be a seal of his policies as he
has done everything for this country, full stop," Chinotimba added.
Mugabe, leader of the former British colony of Rhodesia since
independence in 1980, has often used the so-called war veterans to
intimidate opponents to his rule, and they were at the vanguard of farm
occupations during his controversial land-reform programme, which began in
While some of the veterans did take part in the war against the
all-white regime of Ian Smith, many were not born before 1980.
Zimbabwe's economy is currently in meltdown, with inflation
running at more than 7 600%. Mugabe has blamed the country's woes on a
limited series of Western sanctions imposed after he allegedly rigged his
re-election in 2002.
Many observers have traced the start of Zimbabwe's economic
troubles to Mugabe's decision to cave in to demands from the veterans in
1997 for improved pensions and benefits.
Some pretenders posing as war veterans cashed in on a flawed
vetting system and benefited from the government compensation fund.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe government recently received $7-million
from a global fund to finance health programmes in the cash-strapped
country, reports said on Tuesday.
The recent donation was part of the $65-million dollars in
grants to Harare announced by the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight Aids,
Tuberculosis and Malaria late last year.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa told the state-controlled
Herald newspaper that $30-million in grants were still due to be paid out.
He said in addition to buying anti-Aids drugs, the money would
be used to train doctors and nurses involved in Aids programmes, buy
laboratory equipment and upgrade hospitals.
State media complained grants for Zimbabwe were vastly lower
than those given to other countries in Southern Africa. -- Sapa-AFP, dpa
SW Radio Africa (London)
28 August 2007
Posted to the web 28 August 2007
A number of Zimbabweans were up in arms after it was reported that a survey
by the World Health Organisation claimed that 40 percent of Zimbabweans
suffer from "mental disorders."
The principle author of the study, Dickson Chibanda who is a consultant
psychiatrist with the Ministry of Health, has said there is no national
survey that has ever been carried out on common mental disorders in the
He said his findings had been "distorted" saying the survey was only carried
out in Harare's Mbare high-density suburb. He said: "We are not actually
saying 40% of people are mentally ill. No what we are saying is that 40% of
those who are coming into the clinics are at risk of having common mental
disorders and this whole thing has been taken out of context. It's quite
The psychiatrist was quoted in South African papers and Zimbabwean online
websites last week saying: "In Zimbabwe latest data on common mental
disorders indicated prevalence close to 40 percent. Operation Murambatsvina
caused a lot of mental disorders to those who were forced out of their
But Independent MP for Tsholotsho Professor Jonathan Moyo told the
NewZimbabwe.com website: "This wacky claim is not only a typical example of
the common and always nauseating feature of exaggerated commentary on the
situation in Zimbabwe from certain desperate quarters with malicious
interests, but it also scales a new ludicrous height in that regard."
Moyo went on to say: "Otherwise you don't need a rocket scientist to realise
that the intended subtext of the bizarre claim is that there will be no
reform led by Zimbabweans ostensibly because nearly half of them have left
the country and 40% of those remaining have gone mad while their country is
steadily becoming a total mental asylum."
Another MP Nelson Chamisa from the Tsvangirai MDC is quoted by the same
online publication saying: "While it is true we experienced negative
consequences from Operation Murambatsvina and other crazy government
projects, it is an exaggeration that we have gone mad as a nation.
Observers believe that it's because of this negative reaction and possible
government influence that has resulted in the psychiatrist making a u-turn.
Experts say the reactions show the general misconception of what mental
disorder is, because people assume that it means a person is 'mad'. The term
'mental' disorder refers to stress and depression related issues, and you
could say that stress and depression are perfectly normal responses to the
tragic situation in Zimbabwe.
In a country where people are routinely arrested, tortured, beaten,
harassed, abducted and generally threatened by the state, it is hardly
surprising that we now have a population that lives a constantly fearful
The last seven years have seen social structures and families being
destroyed. It has become survival of the fittest in Zimbabwe, leaving people
desperately trying to find coping measures. The country has seen a huge
increase in the numbers fleeing to neighboring countries. Many of those who
remain are flocking to churches to find solace, while many others are
drowning their sorrows in beer. Delta Beverages general manager George
Mutendadzamera said in a statement: "We have witnessed an unprecedented
demand for our lager beer products. Average sales are rising fast and
approaching 300 000 litres per day level."
He is quoted in the Star Newspaper saying this is a "worrying trend of
alcohol abuse. This is an unacceptable trend with potentially serious
consequences on our society."
Ordinary Zimbabweans are trapped in a country that has virtually run out of
food, fuel, water, electricity and water. Most people are forced to walk to
work because they can't afford the high transport costs while others are
literally killing each other in food queues as they wait for much needed
food. And let's not forget the more than one million AIDS orphans. Children
alone and struggling to cope in a hostile climate.
Even statistics published by the Herald newspaper recently show that murder
cases have gone up in the country. The paper said nearly 50 people were
murdered in Masvingo -- mostly at beer drinking places -- in the first half
of this year. This is a lot of murders for a small town.
Experts say people are in denial about the many aspects of mental disorders,
when they should show empathy and concern. The question for these experts is
how to rebuild people's mental health, when the crisis finally ends.
BY CHIEF REPORTER
Zimbabwe holds a crucial local government vote in three months time expected
to gauge President Robert Mugabe's control of his traditional rural power
The polls will pit the ruling Zanu (PF) party against the two shards of the
opposition MDC, United People's Party, Zapu FP and Zanu, who all
collectively accuse Mugabe of stealing previous elections.
The nationwide council polls, expected to prelude the crunch harmonized
March legislative and presidential polls, come amid a deepening economic and
crisis in the southern African country and opposition charges of
intimidation and violence by ruling party supporters.
The opposition says thousands of its voters failed to register in the just
ended eight-week mobile voter registration exercise through intimidation and
While the opposition is largely expected to retain urban council seats
across the country's metropolis where opposition mayors have been kicked out
and replaced by inept ruling party commissions, political analysts say Zanu
(PF) has hatched a broad strategy to bar the opposition from rural areas,
the government's traditional power base.
''Its strategy is to maintain a strong control there, and that is why they
have been more vicious there,'' said University of Zimbabwe political
scientist. ''They have lost a number of key urban areas to the MDC during
previous local government (polls). For Zanu (PF) to lose the rural council
elections would be like a confirmation that Mugabe will definitely lose the
presidential elections in March,'' he added.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has rejected opposition allegations the
ruling party was using intimidation and violence in the run-up to the
January vote. He also dismissed opposition allegations of disenfranchisement
in the just-ended voter registration exercise, saying opposition supporters
were still free to register and cast their ballot because the Registrar of
Voters was still accepting new names on the voters register.
The MDC currently has full municipal control of all cities across Zimbabwe,
and contends it could have won even rural constituencies if the campaign had
been free of political violence.
But Zanu (PF) officials say the MDC is no longer the political force it was
seven years ago because Zimbabwe's majority black people see it as a front
for minority white interests.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa says his party would defy tough restrictions on
rallies and urged labour and civic groups to join a new defiance campaign
Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 28 August
David Sanders, Ben Cousins and David Moore
Most media coverage of Zimbabwe unthinkingly repeats and reinforces a
Western and neoliberal perception of the history and causes of that country's
political and economic crisis. The dominant view is that "socialism"
explains Zimbabwe's economic collapse and political repression. The version
perpetrated by Robert Mugabe, on the other hand, and uncritically reproduced
by many pan-Africanists, is that he is waging a noble and just struggle
against Britain and its proxies, white farmers and the MDC. Both these
analyses are simplistic, superficial and ahistorical.
Let us first consider political repression. This is not a new development -
in fact, it has been a pattern in Mugabe's rise to power and the evolution
of Zanu PF. In the mid-1970s, before Mugabe went to Mozambique to join the
struggle, a new political and military force arose - the Zimbabwe Peoples
Army. Zipa, whose leaders identified themselves as socialists, had attempted
to unite soldiers from both Zanu and the Zimbabwean African People's Union.
Early in 1977, Mugabe persuaded Frelimo to arrest and imprison the Zipa
leaders. Hundreds of their supporters in the camps were tortured and killed;
the rest were warned that Zanu's axe would descend on dissenters' necks. In
1978, more "dissident" Zanu PF cadres were tortured and imprisoned. This
history is not widely known.
What is widely known is the notorious assault by Zanu PF's 5th Brigade on
Zapu cadres and ordinary residents of Matabeleland from 1982 to 1987, which
resulted in an estimated 20 000 deaths. But the British and American
governments turned a blind eye to these events, supporting a fledgling
government that remained in their sphere of influence - anti-Soviet and
ambivalent in its support of the ANC. The beginning of Zimbabwe's economic
meltdown is usually ascribed in the media to farm invasions ordered by
Mugabe in February 2000, after losing a referendum on his attempt to revise
the Constitution. This led to a sharp decline in (mainly) foreign
exchange-earning export crops. (It is important to note that, since
independence, Zimbabwe's economy has remained capitalist.) To blame the farm
invasions for the economic crisis, however, is to ignore the consequences of
the 1991-96 structural adjustment programme, which led to increased
unemployment, social stresses, government corruption and a growing parasitic
While the economic and food crisis is usually attributed to the occupation
of white commercial farms, the key role of Zimbabwe's small-scale farmers is
generally ignored. After 1980 the proportion of both total and marketed
national maize output contributed by small-scale farmers rose from under 10%
to over 60%. Since independence smallholders have produced most groundnuts
and sorghum, and almost all vegetables sold in local markets. By 2000
smallholders were producing over 80% of the total cotton crop and most
burley tobacco. Meanwhile, large-scale commercial farmers, with increasing
numbers being black, retained their dominant position in export-generating
flue-cured tobacco, dairying and specialised crops, and switched from maize
to intensive horticulture. Some ranchers moved into wildlife. These
subsectors all demand high levels of capital investment.
Replacing white commercial farmers with the beneficiaries of "fast-track"
land reform has not in itself been the main cause of declining food supplies
since 2000. Declining agricultural output since 2000 is partly due to the
effects of the economic crisis, together with factors such as drought and
inadequate government support to land reform beneficiaries. Rising
unemployment has hurt smallholder farmers, since wages from family members
in town are used to purchase agricultural inputs. This is not to deny that
the "fast-track" has been violent, corrupt, destructive of farm
infrastructure and poorly supported by government agricultural services. It
has led to massive displacement of farm workers, causing untold hardship and
contributing to joblessness. It has also resulted in falling export levels,
resulting in an acute shortage of foreign exchange needed to purchase fuel
and raw materials. The current reporting on Zimbabwe is not only superficial
but also misleading. It also limits any discourse about the lessons for
South Africa's evolution that Zimbabwe's experience provides. Most South
African commentators suggest that, in light of their "analysis", socialism
has failed in Zimbabwe. On the contrary, it has never been tried.
David Sanders is director of the School of Public Health, and Ben Cousins is
director of the Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies, both at the
University of the Western Cape. David Moore teaches politics at the
University of KwaZulu-Natal
From Bulawayo Morning Mirror
It is Sunday morning in Bulawayo..... there is no power, there is no water.
We have had
water for two days out of the last seven days......
Its a gloomy day and I have just read the Economist which tells me that over
people have left Zimbabwe over the last few years....
What are we still doing here people often ask ? We are not economic
prisoners like so may
folk, we are not unable to leave because of our nationality, we just seem to
linger on like
that poor old Frog in the Boiling Pot....
Outside the coucal is calling softly. It is the first time we have heard him
since he left for
goodness knows where during the winter.
The Heuglins Robin had us fascinated yesterday with a new call he had
his holiday. We spent a few minutes looking for this "new bird on the block"
only to find
him calling cockily, a beautiful new melody specially to welcome in the warm
We found some rump steak yesterday... it was a glorious exciting moment,
during a secret meeting in an alley, it cost an arm and a leg on the black
market, but ooh
it was worth every delicious glorious decadent mouthful !!
Happiness comes in different guises in Zimbabwe.
Happiness is a birthday present comprising a bag of flour from my friend
is the barter deal I did with Tracey, tea bags in exchange for a decent loo
roll !! Happiness
is the pound of butter Ceddy and Maureen brought us back from South Africa
Happiness is when we turn on the tap and its our turn for water !!
Life is never dull here. Every morning starts with a "Hunting and Gathering"
hunting for basic food items, hunting for fuel, hunting for kind people who
wonderful donations for a Frail Care Centre that we fund-raise for.
Spring is here and the scent of jasmine is overpowering. I saw moon flowers
there are a few brilliant red poppies manfully struggling through. Anything
that one came
keep alive with the bath water is flowering brilliantly.
We watched a fabulous rugby game yesterday at Hartsfield where our own Zim
defeated Limpopo resoundingly, and there was a festive after party in the
Kudu Bar where
a couple of daring players dared to emulate the Leeurloop !!
Our simple pleasures are clouded however as we make our way to the Orchid
Show, as we
watch hundreds of people queuing for food, queuing for transport, queuing at
which are usually empty by this time on the weekend.
There is a shift in the wealth however as those who are unemployed have time
endless days in queues and buy the basic foodstuffs at prices way below an
Those who have the initiative, can queue non stop with granny and six
children home from
school, one can buy a bag of meal at 50 thousand and sell it at two hundred
could pass through several hands and eventually end up on some fat cats
table at one
point two million dollars for the same bag !!
There are pluses too ... door to door deliveries have resumed again. There
is a constant
stream of folk who arrive at the gate with contraband for sale. I can shop
for bread, sugar,
oil, eggs, meal and flour just by walking to the gate ... saves a fortune in
fuel !! The price
is high, but its worth it if one does not have to queue !!
Another plus is the distances we have o deal with. Heehoo leaves for the
office at ten to
eight and gets there by eight (if he misses the five minute school traffic
He comes home for lunch every day too.. how many first world wives have the
finding their husbands something to eat every single lunch time !!
When the sprogetts were still at home, he would be home by 4.30 to play with
know other families whose Dads leave at 6 a.m. and return home at 7 p.m. !!
Sadly all bread and milk supplies seem to have now dried up totally .... we
need 100 loaves
a week for our Frail Care Home, which caters for 78 lovely "Oldies" of all
races colours and
creeds... but we know that our very precious Matron will somehow "Make a
She always does !
28th Aug 2007 18:27 GMT
By Dennis Rekayi
The trial of Gift Phiri who is facing charges of contravening Section 79 (1)
of the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA) which opened at the Harare Magistrates Court Monday and was expected
to continue today has been postponed to 30 August 2007.
Detective Inspector Rangwani, one of the arresting officers who allegedly
assaulted Phiri following his arrest in Harare was expected to give evidence
in court today. He, however, failed to turn up as expected as he was said to
be off-duty leaving Harare Magistrate Stanley Chimedza with no option but to
postpone the matter.
At the commencement of the trial, the defence team of Beatrice Mtetwa and
Harrison Nkomo together with MISA-Zimbabwe Legal Officer Wilbert Mandinde
raised the issue of the outstanding investigations into the torture and
detention of Phiri as ordered by the remand court on 5 April 2007.
He was allegedly severely assaulted by the police while in custody following
his arrest in Harare on 1 April 2007.
Phiri, whose charge relates to practicing journalism without accreditation
between August 2006 and April 2007 pleaded not guilty to stringing for The
Zimbabwean when the trial opened.
Prosecutor Editor Mavuto has so far led evidence from Academy Bvumai
Chinamora who is the Principal Research, Investigations and Monitoring
Officer with the state-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC).