It is not possible to look too far ahead in
Zimbabwe - conditions are just too unstable and literally anything could
happen any day. I get up every day thinking - is this the day when it all
happens? But whatever happens, the immediate outlook is pretty grim and I
think it needs analysis and description.
If we start by examining the
economic outlook, sector by sector, this reveals a truly alarming situation.
In respect to agriculture, it is now too late to prevent the disaster that is
going to happen this summer as food production and the production of all
export crops plunge to new lows. There is little seed available, no fuel for
land preparation, no chemicals and very little fertilizer. It is now just 85
days away from the critical date for planting and there is just not enough
time left to overcome the present shortages. We are about to see another year
wasted and another year during which Zimbabwe will be another African country
requiring emergency food aid.
In mining the situation is only marginally
better with all investment frozen by hostile government policy decisions and
a poor domestic economic outlook - at a time when for the first time in 50
years, basic commodity prices are rising in real terms. In industry and
commerce the situation is critical - one businessman said to me today - "we
have no coal, no diesel, no chemicals and no sign of any relief". For many,
if not most industrial firms, they are close to closure.
tourism sector, the position is no better - occupancy rates are below break
even, many hotels and resorts are closed and the major hotel groups are all
making losses and being forced to cut back on everything. Recent changes to
the tax regime do not help and a new tax on transactions on the stock market
of 10 per cent on both sales and purchases simply makes it impossible for the
bourse to function. The stock exchange has been virtually closed down since
the Ministers statement on the 18th and once they start operating stock
market valuations will plunge. One broker told me they are holding Z$3
trillion in "sell" orders.
Since he took office the Reserve Bank
Governor, Gideon Gono, has closed down 10 asset management companies, 7
commercial banks and several other financial institutions. These closures
have cost investors and customers many billions of dollars. Now these losses
are being compounded by the huge impending losses of a stock market
Citizens have seen their investments devastated by these
developments and savings have been wiped out by inflation and low interest
rates. Pensioners are living in penury unless they receive help from overseas
or local sources. I doubt if confidence can be re-established in the
financial services industry until there are major political changes in
leadership and policy.
Then there is the inflation outlook. Inflation
rates have risen every month this year and in July they rose at an annual
rate of 10 000 per cent (I am told that this is what 47 per cent in one month
translates into when compounded). August will be worse and I can see no sign
of any slow down in price rises in September. How do we cope with these
massive price rises in a collapsing economy? There is only one possible
outcome - incomes are going to fall even faster and poverty in every sense is
going to become much worse.
Then there is the humanitarian situation.
We have at least 5 million people in need of food aid. This number will grow
exponentially in the next three months and we need to import huge amounts of
food - 120 000 tonnes of maize, 30 000 tonnes of wheat, thousands of tonnes
of vegetable oils and fats and a significant proportion of our protein foods
including milk and baby foods every month.
There is simply no way we
can afford the bill and the State has still not asked for help. If these
bottlenecks were overcome immediately, how do we get that volume of product
into the country on a depleted rail network and a degenerating road transport
system? If we do not get help and if this food does not arrive then the UN
description of Zimbabwe as the worlds "worst humanitarian crisis" will take
on graphic proportions. Unlike Niger and Mali, the television crews will not
be here to bear witness to this failure - only the graves in poor villages
across the country will be there to bear witness and by then it will be too
In the political sphere the news is no better. Mugabe has rejected
the South African emergency loan proposals because of the conditions attached
to them. I have never seen such an intensive media effort to obscure what is
really going on as in respect to this loan debacle. I think even those whose
job it is to confuse us are themselves confused by all that is going on.
Mugabe has rejected the UN's overtures to stand aside and let them help; he
has rejected the UN assessment of our needs and the humanitarian priorities.
He has also rejected mediation by the AU and any independent assessment of
the humanitarian crisis by the AU itself. He has rejected the mediation of
an old friend and ally - Chissano.
Within Zimbabwe the political
crisis evolves on a daily basis. Powerful Zanu and military figures talk to
opposition politicians, seeking assurance and asking what can be done to
break the logjam. Zanu PF itself has fractured into two main factions with
others simply abandoning the Party as a lost cause and retiring to the
sidelines for fear of being hurt. The rape of the country's assets continues
and in fact accelerates as those in power at a local level see no future and
seek to make hay while the sun shines. Mugabe is in his bunker, like Hitler
at the end of the Second World War, imagining the progress of his massed
divisions and giving orders that cannot be obeyed even when death was the
consequence of refusal.
He knows in his heart that he cannot survive -
his circle of friends is now down to a handful of people and countries, even
in Africa he is now seen as a liability, not an asset. He knows he has
failed, failed his people, failed his country and his continent and that
disgrace and banishment are the most likely outcome of this situation. In
some ways I feel sorry for the man - so much to offer, so much to gain, all
lost because of a blind pursuit of power at any cost, even the destruction of
your own country and the complete impoverishment of its peoples.
sense I am glad we are here at last - because it means that the end of this
nightmare is close. But my goodness, what a mess to clean up
[ This report does not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Aug 2005 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwean government's clampdown on informal trade
has dealt a heavy blow to rural communities already struggling to make ends
meet in the wake of another dry spell in the southern Beitbridge
Sikhululekile Makusha, a small-scale farmer in the village of
Chitikwa, about 10 km outside the town of Beitbridge, used to earn more than
US $1 a day selling vegetables, enough to support herself and her three
children. "Now they don't let us sell anything - I have nothing to feed my
children," she said.
Around her the land is parched. A goat nibbles
on a clump of dry grass nearby, while the sun blazes down. There is not a
single patch of green for miles around and the water in the neighbourhood
borehole has dried up.
The leaves on the mopane trees near her hut have
also shrivelled and died, spelling yet more hardship. The mopane worm, a
large caterpillar that feeds on the leaves, is an important source of
protein and income for the rural communities living around
"We have not been able to harvest any mopane worms this
year," said Makusha.
Her family has tea in the morning and maize-meal
porridge ('sadza' in the local language) with vegetables at night. "We have
these two meals only - we cannot afford to buy bread every day," Makusha
"Families used to earn more than US $29 for each 20 litre bucket of
mopane worms, which are normally harvested between April and December," said
a relief worker. Usually at least two bucketloads can be harvested from a
single mopane tree, "but this year there were no rains - the leaves have
dried, and so there have been no worms".
The informal market in
Beitbridge has been cleared out by the Zimbabwean authorities as part of a
national clean-up campaign that began in May; it has become a parking lot
Elekias Zvonumo and three vendor friends had a seven-year
contract with a farmer to sell oranges in the market. Now they sit beside
the highway 15 km outside Beitbridge with over a 100 bags of oranges, hoping
for a lift to Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo.
"At least we can
sell our oranges there, but it [transport] is expensive," said Zvonumo.
Taking the oranges to Bulawayo, more than a 300 km away, by taxi would cost
more than what the total consignment of oranges are worth, he added. "The
situation is desperate at home," said Zvonumo, who supports his family of
The arid Beitbridge district in Matabeleland South, one of
Zimbabwe's poorest provinces, comprises Beitbridge town and about 50 rural
villages where most people are small-scale ranchers or vegetable farmers.
About 139,000 people live in and around the urban centre, with another
49,000 in the countryside. At least two-thirds of the population is believed
to be in need of food aid.
"Very little maize and grain is grown in
the area, while vegetables and fruit are procured locally - everything else
is brought in from outside, which often costs a little more," said a relief
Cross-border trading, another important alternative source of
food, was also wiped out by the cleanup campaign. The staple food,
maize-meal, is not readily available in the rural areas and can cost more
than US $3 for a 50kg bag - the average monthly consumption of a family of
four. "Before, people used to bring bags of mealie meal in and sell it
informally - now they cannot even do that," a vendor pointed
Many other commodities and household items, ranging from soaps to
bed linen, had also been brought in informally. "The authorities are very
strict now, but goods do come in - smuggled in, or by paying hefty amounts
of money to taxis coming across the border," said another relief
Maize-meal is available in the shops and at the local outlet of
the Grain Marketing Board, the state grain-selling monopoly, in Beitbridge
town, but food is available in limited quantities, and availability and
prices are not consistent.
"Prices keep increasing every day - a loaf
of bread now costs between Zim $10 to $14,000 (about 50 US cents), when only
in January it was selling at Zim $4,000 (about 16 cents)," commented a
consumer queuing outside a shop for a loaf of bread.
"I cannot even
remember the last time I saw sugar in the shops," remarked
Fishing, another source of revenue for the rural community
has also been restricted. The authorities have prohibited people without
licences from fishing in the district's dams and rivers. "The situation is
worse than last year - people could at least fish for additional income or
food. How can people afford to live?" wondered another relief
Desperation is driving many Zimbabweans across the border to
neighbouring South Africa and Botswana. Hundreds of Zimbabweans sit by the
highway, waiting for a lift to Musina, the neighbouring South African town,
a mere 12 km away.
Progress, 21, is among the several hundred
Zimbabweans who dream of a job opportunity in South Africa. Since their
mother died last year after a "long illness", Progress has been forced to
look after her two siblings, Chipo, 18, and Sharon, 8.
Her job as a
part-time labourer on a farm 20 km from Beitbridge town used to pay for
their school fees. "Now there is no work at the farm - the orange season is
over. I just sit at home and wait. I want to go to South Africa, but I
cannot leave my sister alone here."
Their grandmother, a pensioner and a
vendor living in town, provides financial support when she can. Their family
could be among the 39,000 that the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) intends
to feed in rural Beitbridge between October 2005 and April
Following a fourth year of drought and low agricultural production,
WFP plans to assist nationally four million people in the year
[ This report does not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwean authorities have hit out at the United Nations,
saying its response to the country's current socioeconomic challenges is
inappropriate and misguided.
President Robert Mugabe's government last
week refused to endorse a US $30 million emergency appeal to provide food
and medicine for 300,000 Zimbabweans hardest hit by his controversial urban
Jan Egeland, the UN Undersecretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs, said on Friday that the lack of an agreement with the
Harare government had put the appeal on hold.
"It's hard to
understand why we can't help these people. The government disagrees with the
wording of the flash appeal, or with our working with certain NGO's, and it
disagrees with the numbers [of people affected]," Egeland said.
that the government would rebuff the UN's offer of help became evident when
Zimbabwe rejected a scathing report compiled by UN special envoy, Anna
Tibaijuka, which had labelled the cleanup campaign a "breach of both
national and international human rights law provisions guiding evictions"
that had created a humanitarian crisis.
"The UN appeal cannot be
acceptable because it is based on Tibaijuka's flawed report. The government
has since responded to it, as requested, and we wonder why the UN has gone
ahead and prepared the appeal without considering the contents of the
Zimbabwe response," Deputy Information and Publicity Minister Bright Matonga
told IRIN on Monday.
Zimbabwe has denied Tibaijuka's findings that over
700,000 people were directly affected by the demolition drive, saying the
figure was "grossly exaggerated". It insisted Operation Murambatsvina
('Drive out Filth') was carried out within the confines of Zimbabwean law
with the aim of addressing "a cocktail of social, economic and security
challenges that were negatively impacting on the country's economy and the
The UN special envoy said a total of 2.4 million people, or 18
percent of the population, were affected by the evictions and the crackdown
on the informal economy that began on 19 May.
Egeland said that
humanitarian agencies had not been informed when evictions took place, and
often arrived too late, or on occasion were not allowed to access sites
where homes had been bulldozed. This had prevented aid workers from being
able to accurately trace where displaced people had moved to.
said that many of those driven from their homes by Operation Murambatsvina
had returned to the countryside, while others were living in urban slums in
conditions much worse than before they were evicted. He noted that only
about 100,000 individuals were currently being assisted by NGOs and the UN
at 50 sites around the country.
Matonga hit back at the accusation the
authorities had abandoned those made homeless by the cleanup campaign. "The
government has not failed to provide for the needy, and there are no
displaced people's camps anywhere in the country. The people have been
resettled somewhere, or given new stands in their original areas."
Monday Security Minister Didymus Mutasa also downplayed the need for
"We do not know of any people as desperate
as described in the UN report and some media reports - those who need care
are not too many, and we can cope. Government-built shelters are going up in
every town - so where is the crisis?" Mutasa asked.
Herbert Murerwa earlier this month said the government was slashing its
reported allocation of $3 trillion (US $300 million) for Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle ('Stay well') - its new housing reconstruction
programme - by two-thirds.
But both Mutasa and Matonga denied that
Hlalani Kuhle was stuttering, with only 5,000 housing units having been
built so far to accommodate the hundreds of thousands left without
Mutasa said the project was being slowed down by material
shortages, but insisted the government would meet its goal of 150,000 new
houses or plots allocated by mid-October.
UN, Zimbabwe agree to keep working on new draft for
humanitarian appeal 29 August 2005 - The United Nations country team and the
government officials in Zimbabwe reached agreement today to establish a
working level joint committee to draw up a new draft of a flash humanitarian
appeal to raise money to help the 700,000 people left destitute by a
government slum clearance campaign, the United Nations humanitarian agency
The UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA) said it expected to have news on the outcome of this process towards
the end of the week.
The arrangement follows a news briefing in New
York last week by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan
Egeland, who said that the two sides could not agree on wording to describe
how many people were affected by the evictions.
two-month-old Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order) urban eviction
programme, described by senior UN officials as an ongoing violation of human
rights, has forced an estimated 650,000 to 700,000 into conditions much
worse in many cases than before they were evicted, Mr. Egeland said.
also said that the world body has been using funding from an earlier appeal
to provide some aid to 170,000 people affected by the evictions. But a much
broader programme is sorely needed to address the larger scale emergency in
the country which has seen life expectancy plummet from around 63 years in
the late 1980s and early 1990s to 33.9 years in 2004.
emergency in Zimbabwe comprises a combination of widespread food insecurity,
high unemployment and a 25 per cent HIV/AIDS prevalence rate.
Zimbabwe Parliament to pass rights-curtailing Bill
today Tue 30 August 2005
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's
ruling ZANU PF party will today use its absolute control of Parliament to
force through the House a raft of constitutional amendments that will take
away some of Zimbabweans' most fundamental rights such as the right to own
ZANU PF, which failed to win an absolute
majority in last March's disputed election but still enjoys absolute control
of Parliament through additional support from Mugabe appointees to the
House, yesterday summoned through state-owned media all its parliamentarians
to be present today to ensure the Constitutional Amendment Bill sails
The controversial Bill described in a statement issued
yesterday by the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) as a "direct and undisguised
frontal assault" on the rights of Zimbabweans will virtually nationalise
agricultural land, banning private landowners from contesting seizure of
their land by the state, while courts will be prohibited from hearing such
The omnibus amendment Bill will allow Mugabe's
government to deny passports to its critics and will also create a 66-seat
Senate, which Mugabe has publicly said he wants to use to appease
disgruntled lieutenants in his ZANU PF party by rewarding them with seats in
the upper chamber.
The proposals sailed through the first stages in
Parliament last week when 61 ZANU PF legislators voted for Parliament to
adopt the Bill while 28 opposition legislators voted against the
Two thirds of Parliament's total150 members must vote in
favour of the Bill today before Mugabe signs it into effective law. ZANU PF
can easily amass the required number of votes.
The party won 78
seats last March and controls another 12 seats occupied by unelected
individuals appointed to Parliament by Mugabe through a constitutional
clause allowing him to do so.
The ruling party also enjoys the
support of the eight provincial governors, who seat in Parliament with full
voting powers. The governors were handpicked to their posts by Mugabe. ZANU
PF can also bank on the support of the 10 chiefs who seat in Parliament and
have since independence voted with the ruling party.
opposition Movement for Democratic Change party has 41 seats in the House
while former Mugabe propaganda chief, Jonathan Moyo, holds the remaining
In its Monday statement the LSZ, which is the representative
body of the legal profession in the country, criticised the constitutional
Bill saying it served to: "trivialize the constitution, which is the bedrock
of the law."
The society called on the government to drop the
Bill and instead open up an all inclusive and democratic constitutional
reform process. ZimOnline.
IMF team extends stay in Zimbabwe Tue 30 August
HARARE - An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team in Zimbabwe
for consultations with the government over Harare's economic policies has
extended its stay by another week, a government official said
Zimbabwe, which is experiencing its worst economic
crisis in years, has struggled to repay its debt to the global lender and
faces possible expulsion.
"We have not concluded our talks,
there is no news at the moment ... when we have news we will let you know,"
Finance Minister Hebert Murerwa told the press.
three-member delegation arrived in the country last week for talks that were
expected to last for about a week, although there was no definite departure
date. A central bank official told ZimOnline the team will now leave on
The visit precedes a September 9 meeting in Washington that
is likely to decide whether to expel Zimbabwe.
crisis-sapped southern African country is negotiating a US$500 million
dollar loan with neighbour South Africa. Part of the loan, if granted, would
be used to pay off the IMF, with the rest going towards vital fuel and food
imports as the country grapples with worsening shortages of both
In July Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe chief
Gideon Gono said the country had stepped up payments to the IMF, repaying
$37 million of its outstanding debt in the previous 18 months. But earlier
this month an IMF official said there had been no payments since
Zimbabwe is sitting on more than US$4.5 billion in foreign
debt which it has struggled to repay since 1999, when it began to face
crippling foreign currency shortages following the withdrawal of
balance-of-payments support by the IMF.
Mugabe's critics say government mismanagement, has led to unemployment of
more than 80 percent and hyper-inflation, causing critical shortages of
foreign exchange, food and fuel.
The IMF and other key multilateral
funders and donor institutions cut support to Zimbabwe over policy
differences with Mugabe, especially his controversial seizure of white-owned
commercial farms to parcel out to landless blacks, which has accelerated the
economic decline. ZimOnline.
US$67 million Iran-Zimbabwe credit facility hits snag Tue
30 August 2005
HARARE - A US$67 million credit facility deal
between Iran and Zimbabwe has hit a snag over fears by Teheran that
cash-strapped Harare will not be able to repay money provided to it under
the facility, ZimOnline has established.
term loan facility provisionally agreed by Zimbabwe's Ministry of Finance
and the state-owned Export Development Bank of Iran last May was for foreign
currency-short Harare to import capital equipment including tractors and
other agricultural machinery as well telecommunications
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Commercial Bank of
Zimbabwe, which is jointly owned by South Africa's ABSA Bank and President
Robert Mugabe's government, negotiated the deal on behalf of
Teheran, vigorously courted by Mugabe as
part of his new "Look East Policy", was initially agreeable to the deal but
was now developing cold feet chiefly because of Zimbabwe's worsening foreign
currency and economic crisis.
Mugabe has turned to the East
after falling out with Western governments that have cut credit facilities
to Harare and imposed sanctions against the Zimbabwean leader and his top
officials who they accuse of human rights violations and stealing
The Iranians unconvinced Zimbabwe will pay back in June
rejected a payment guarantee document submitted by the Ministry of Finance
in Harare and set new preconditions for the loan.
are now demanding that Zimbabwe deposits the equivalent of 15 percent of the
loan amount with their (Iranian) bankers as proof that Harare will pay back
money advanced to it, according to sources privy to the troubled credit
In a letter dated, 27 June 2005, rejecting Harare's
payment guarantee document, Iranian officials wrote: "We acknowledge receipt
of your letter No. Em/Iran/JPM/ng/066/05 dated June 6 2005 enclosed with the
legal opinion of Gambe & Partners as well as the payment Guarantee and
Legal Opinion issued by the esteemed Ministry of Finance and Economic
Development (now ministry of Finance) of Zimbabwe.
would like to draw your kind attention to the point that several
discrepancies have been found to exist in the said documents. Accordingly we
have sent back to you the original copies of the said
A Zimbabwe Finance Ministry confidential document
dated, 25 August 2005 that was shown to ZimOnline yesterday also confirms
the Iranians had rejected guarantees from Harare to pay back the
"The Iranians rejected the payment guarantee that was signed
by the Acting Minister for Finance on 11/05/05, we have noticed areas that
have to be clarified before the (new) payment guarantee can be signed by the
Minister," reads part of the document that was prepared by the Finance
Ministry for the Attorney General (AG)'s office. The AG's office is involved
in the loan negotiations as government chief legal advisor.
was not possible to immediately get comment on the matter from the Iranian
bank, Zimbwe Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa or AG, Sobhuza
But sources said officials from the AG's office
and the Finance Ministry were yesterday locked in meetings to try and bring
the credit facility back on track.
The money from Iran was to
be used to rehabilitate the state-run Agricultural and Rural Development
Authority's ageing fleet of tractors. The tractors were expected to be
imported as kits and were to be assembled in Zimbabwe by another
government-owned company, the Industrial Development
State-owned fixed and cell phone network
operators, Net*One and Tel*One, were expected to also import capital
equipment under the credit facility. ZimOnline.
ZIMBABWE's risk of expulsion from the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) has increased substantially as its fact-finding mission
to the country has been unable to secure any serious commitment to economic
reforms and debt repayment.
The failure of the IMF team, which
concludes its crucial visit to the country today, to make meaningful
progress in its talks with President Robert Mugabe's government has
magnified Zimbabwe's risk of expulsion from the fund in the next 10
Zimbabwe's chance of expulsion is looking increasingly more likely
as financial rescue package negotiations with SA to repay the IMF debt and
pay for critical imports appear on the verge of collapse as well.
senior Zimbabwean government official said there had not been much progress
because the reforms demanded by the IMF needed time and money. "We discussed
the need for fundamental economic reforms but this needs time to implement.
It is fine for us to just agree we will do this or that but it's unrealistic
to expect an immediate economic recovery in this
"The other problem is that in as much as we want to
settle our debt, we don't have the money. We are trying our best but the
situation is difficult."
Zimbabwe's expulsion will have
far-reaching consequences for its crumbling economy and the region. The
collateral damage of Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis on regional
economies is severe because Zimbabwe is the second-largest economy in the
region. An economic meltdown will also affect numerous South African
companies that operate there.
fact-finding mission has already met Zimbabwean Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, among other leading
Sources said the IMF team might no longer meet
Mugabe as initially expected to discuss the debt repayment issue. The matter
was discussed with Murerwa and Gono in the two meetings they had with the
Official sources said yesterday the IMF had told Murerwa and
Gono to sort out the economic crisis and repay the debt as a matter of
urgency or risk expulsion.
The IMF board meets on September 9 on the
Zimbabwe situation after its frantic efforts to get its $295m debt repaid
and its efforts to secure economic reforms in Zimbabwe
While tight-lipped, an IMF source said the fund was not happy
with the progress made in transforming the economy. "They keep promising
they will do this (the reforms) but every time we come back nothing
Besides that, plans to have the IMF debt wiped out with
South African help seem to be faltering as well. Harare has adopted a
hostile approach to Pretoria's attempt to attach political conditions to
Although South African officials have been at pains to
deny the conditions, the reactions by Zimbabwean officials, including
Mugabe, clearly suggest there were strings attached to the
A series of angry outbursts from Mugabe's top
government officials have indicated a growing resentment of President Thabo
Mugabe uses former commander's burial to show disdain of
opposition Mon 29 August 2005
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe
on Sunday used the burial of his former air force commander to showcase his
disdain of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party, labeling them "political stooges, crooks and
Addressing thousands of mostly supporters of his ruling
ZANU PF party gathered to pay last respects to the late Josiah Tungamirai,
who was also a minister in Mugabe's Cabinet, the veteran Zimbabwean leader
said: "Zimbabwe is no home for traitors, for political stooges, for crooks
and political cowards."
Mugabe, who has vehemently rejected
pleas by South Africa and the wider international community to reopen
dialogue with the opposition to find a democratic solution to Zimbabwe's
political and economic crisis, insists the MDC is a stooge of Britain and
Publicly snubbing demands by South African President
Thabo Mbeki and his government to resume dialogue with the opposition in
return for financial assistance from Pretoria, Mugabe two weeks ago said he
would rather hold talks with British Premier Tony Blair claiming he was the
principal behind Tsvangirai and the MDC.
who maintains Britain is using the MDC in a bid to recolonise Zimbabwe,
called on Zimbabweans to jealously defend their sovereignty which he said
was under threat from "treachery from within the country (and from) outside
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a grinding political and
economic crisis that has manifested itself in shortages of food, fuel,
electricity, essential medical drugs, hard cash and almost every other basic
The International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s
board meeting on September 9 could vote to expel Zimbabwe for nonpayment of
a US$295 million debt, a development that would hasten the total collapse of
the southern African country's economy.
South Africa, fearing
Zimbabwe's collapse would trigger off an immense humanitarian crisis that
would spill beyond its northern neighbour's borders, has offered Zimbabwe a
US$500 million bailout loan to pay off its IMF debts and to buy critically
needed food and fuel.
But Mugabe rejected a precondition by
Pretoria to revive dialogue with the MDC before the money could be released,
forcing Mbeki and his government to instead now demand that Zimbabwe
undertakes wider and democratic constitutional reforms to address governance
problems at the root of its crisis, according to authoritative
Mugabe and his government, who had already started using
their absolute control of Parliament to unilaterally change Zimbabwe's
constitution, are said to be amenable to a wider constitutional reform
Zimbabwe intelligence minister threatens police and judicial
officers Mon 29 August 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe's powerful
intelligence minister Didymus Mutasa last week threatened judicial and
police officers with unspecified action if they did not release one of his
"blue-eyed boys" arrested for murdering his political rivals, authoritative
sources told ZimOnline.
In yet another illustration of the erosion
of the rule of law in Zimbabwe, Mutasa last Monday phoned Rusape town
magistrate Tendai Mahwe instructing him to release Albert Nyakuedzwa from
prison and to quash murder charges against him.
Mutasa, who is
also in charge of land redistribution and is one of President Robert
Mugabe's closest confidantes, also phoned Ronald Muderedzwa, the police
commander for Manicaland province under which Rusape falls, telling him not
to pursue investigations for murder against Nyakuedzwa, according to the
The policeman and magistrate however did not follow
Mutasa's instructions and instead reported the matter to their superiors who
are said to have told them to ignore Mutasa and pursue the murder case
against Nyakuedzwa, who was arrested on August 21 for allegedly murdering
another ZANU PF activist, Hatinah Mukono.
"Their bosses told
them to go ahead with the case and to ignore Mutasa," said a source privy to
the matter, who did not want to be named.
Nyakuedzwa, who is in
jail awaiting trial, is said to have led a campaign of violence against
Mutasa's rivals in ZANU PF. According to the sources he organised the murder
of Mukono to punish him for having campaigned against Mutasa in the run up
to last March's parliamentary election.
Both Home Affairs
Minister Kembo Mohadi and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri could not be
reached for comment on the matter last night.
Mutasa, who has
publicly said he wants to be vice-president in a post-Mugabe government,
refused to take questions on the matter telling ZimOnline not to, "drag my
name into this scandal."
Senior ZANU PF and government politicians
have on several occasions been accused of blocking investigations against
themselves or their relatives while Mugabe himself is said to have ordered
police to abandon corruption investigations against Mutasa himself and
former parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa.
denies politicians interfere with the law enforcement and judicial process.
Harare - Rarely does the television news go
to air in Zimbabwe these days without a report on the success of the
government's home-building campaign, launched in the wake of its sweeping
Cabinet ministers can be seen on state television touring
housing projects around the country as construction crews toil away under
Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, or Live Well.
But housing advocates
are questioning whether the reconstruction drive - the first phase of which
ends on Wednesday - is helping Zimbabweans who lost their homes in what the
government described as an urban cleanup campaign that ended a month
Housing minister Ignatius Chombo insists that the August 31 target
of 5 000 new homes has been reached and that Zimbabwe is hammering away at
its next goal of 150 000 new houses or plots allocated by
"If there is somebody who is sleeping out in the cold, I
would like to know why," Chombo said.
"Give them to me and I will
find them a place to stay, so the towns are properly planned."
behind their target
At Whitecliff farm, the showcase of Zimbabwe's
homebuilding campaign, the site manager told Chombo last week that about 110
houses now had roofs, while the foundations for 136 more had been laid - a
far cry from the target of 1 000 homes.
The reconstruction effort was
launched on June 26, when a United Nations envoy arrived in Zimbabwe to
report on the humanitarian crisis sparked by Operation Murambatsvina, or
Drive out Filth, that left 700 000 Zimbabweans homeless.
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has dismissed the
reconstruction effort as nothing more than a gimmick by the government to
save face after the demolitions.
"Operation Garikai was not planned.
They announced it because of the outcry of the people affected and the
international community," said MDC housing critic Jobert
"The government might be able to provide housing to very few
people but not on the scale that is required after Murambatsvina," said Beth
Chitekwe-Biti, director of Dialogue on Shelter, a local organisation
concerned with housing.
Making a 'political statement'
wanted to make a political statement around this. Providing toilets and
water doesn't reek of achievement so they began building houses," said
But as the deadline neared, the government has asked
private entrepreneurs to take part in Operation Garikai and authorised many
of the displaced to start building their own homes.
representative Per Iwansson says the success of the government's housing
policy does not lie in home-building but rather in the allocation of stands,
or plots of land, to provide a permanent home.
Zimbabwe plans epic fuel conservation project August 29
2005 at 10:56AM
Harare - The Zimbabwean government, which is
battling crippling power shortages, is soon to embark on an ambitious
electricity and fuel conservation programme, the state-controlled Herald
newspaper said on Monday.
Power shortages have worsened the
lives of ordinary Zimbabweans in recent months. City and town residents have
to contend with frequent power cuts because of insufficient power
Fuel shortages meanwhile mean only those with access to
foreign currency are able to procure regular supplies of petrol and
Justin Mupamhanga, the permanent secretary in the energy
ministry, told the Herald that consultants had been hired to work out a
programme to conserve electricity and fuel.
hired a consultant to carry out the exercise and (the consultant) is
expected to present the result by mid September," Mupamhanga said.
"We have also engaged a consultant to address conservation in the fuel
sector and will soon develop fuel conservation campaigns including tips on
how to save fuel," he told the newspaper.
are expected to promote the use of solar power to save electricity, finding
alternative sources of energy such as methane gas and blending ethanol with
fuel, according to the Herald.
The state-run Sunday Mail this week
announced that the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority had been given
permission to increase tariffs by 100 percent "to enable the power utility
to remain viable".
President Robert Mugabe's government blames the
shortages on Zimbabwe's chronic lack of foreign currency. - Sapa-dpa
Zim tries power from pig manure 29/08/2005 18:55 -
Harare - As Zimbabweans battle frequent power cuts, local pig
farmers want to apply for funding from the central bank for a project to
generate electricity from pig manure, state-controlled radio reported on
According to Paul Ndiweni, director of the Pig Industry Board of
Zimbabwe, the "technical aspects of the project have already been worked
A team from Zimbabwe visited Belgium earlier this year to see a
research unit on biogas production.
"The project, which will utilise
all by-products of pig rearing has been on the cards since 1996," the report
The board is to approach the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for
funding soon, it added.
Urban residents in Zimbabwe endure frequent
The state- run Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority recently
indicated that the power utility required more than two billion US dollars
over the next five years to avert a power crisis.
On Sunday state
media announced a 100% rise in electricity tariffs in a further blow to
Zimbabwe's struggling consumers.
President Robert Mugabe's government
blames the power cuts - and similar shortages of petrol and diesel - on a
crippling lack of foreign currency.
The state-run Herald newspaper
reported Monday that the government would soon embark on an ambitious
programme to conserve desperately- needed fuel and electricity.
Zimbabwean lawyers on Monday urged President Robert
Mugabe's government to scrap a Bill that will prevent white farmers from
legally challenging land grabs, saying it makes a mockery of the
"This a direct and undisguised frontal attack on the
independence of the judiciary," the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) said in a
statement on the eve of the Bill's tabling in Parliament, where it is
expected to be passed.
"Under the circumstances, the LSZ
urges the government of Zimbabwe to abandon its current moves to remove
protection of the law and oust the power and jurisdiction of the
The Zimbabwean Parliament will on Tuesday vote on
the Bill that, if passed, will also bar people perceived to be
anti-government from travelling abroad.
It will also
disenfranchise all those who have one or more foreign parents and hold
permanent residency status but not full citizenship.
amendment, if promulgated, will seriously erode, if not remove, the
fundamental rights to property, secure protection of the law and freedom of
movement," said the nearly 2 000-member LSZ.
The reforms also
aim to introduce a bicameral Parliament that critics say is meant to boost
Mugabe's hold on the legislature and accommodate more ruling-party
Zimbabwe's land reforms, which began, often
violently, in 2000 after the rejection in a referendum of a
government-sponsored draft Constitution, have seen about 4 000 white farmers
lose their properties.
The land has been redistributed to
landless blacks in a move that the government has said is designed to
correct imbalances created by colonial rule, when the majority of prime
farmland was owned by about 4 500 whites.
Critics say the
majority of the beneficiaries lack farming knowledge and depend on
Human rights lawyers say about 4 000
former white commercial farmers are challenging the seizure of their
For the Bill to be passed, the governing Zanu-PF
needs 100 votes. The party has 107 members in Parliament, including chiefs.
Scores of panic-stricken patients at
Mater Dei Hospital, one of the best medical institutions in the country,
were on Friday night lucky to escape unhurt after fire broke out and caused
extensive damage to the Intensive Care Unit.
However, the fire
brigade reported that one patient suffered burns during the evacuation at
The fire whose origin had not yet been established by the
time of going to press broke out at around 9 pm on Friday evening and was
contained an hour later.
The fire brigade initially concentrated on
evacuating patients and saving equipment and some provisions at the
institution before putting out the fire.
It remained unclear
yesterday why it took so long for the emergency services to respond. The
fire-fighting unit's headquarters is close to Mater Dei hospital but they
only got to know about the fire when it was at roof level.
brigade spokesperson, Linos Phiri, said his team reacted swiftly to the
report but said the fire was already out of hand.
"The fire was reported
to us at 22:29 and we arrived at the scene three minutes later, but when we
got there the roof was already collapsing," Phiri said, adding they were
still trying to establish the cause of the fire.
Most of the evacuated
patients spent the night on the hospital grounds, while the rescue services
were making frantic arrangements to transfer patients to other
Sources who spoke to this newspaper yesterday said
authorities at Mater Dei hospital were negotiating with officials at the
underutilised Ekusileni Medical Centre to arrange transfer of
Ekusileni Medical centre, a brainchild of late nationalist and
former Vice President Joshua Nkomo remains, unused due to disagreements
among the hospital's board of directors.
Relatives of inmates at
Mater Dei Hospital, who spoke to this paper yesterday said they were
impressed with the manner the hospital staff and residents from the nearby
Ilanda and Malindela suburbs handled the disaster.
"Malindela and Ilanda
residents showed co-operation as they helped move equipment and patients out
of the building before the arrival of the fire brigade. That explains why
there were no lives lost in the incident," said a resident, narrating events
to onlookers yesterday morning.
UPI UPI Intelligence Watch By JOHN C.K. DALY Government officials from
46 African countries attended the annual China-Africa Cooperation Forum
(CACF) in Beijing with new promises of Chinese assistance. CACF is now
China's primary mechanism for coordinating its expansion into Africa in a
search for access to African natural resources, especially oil. Other raw
materials of interest to China include natural gas, copper, manganese, iron,
fish and timber. WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- China has been solidifying its
oldest and strongest partnerships with repressive regimes in Zimbabwe and
Sudan. Former U.S. ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria Princeton Lyman
said in testimony in Washington before the US-China Economic and Security
Review Committee, "What is disconcerting is the willingness of China to not
only help but to defend rogue regimes. China has in effect inhibited the
United Nations from imposing sanctions on Sudan and, in Zimbabwe, is helping
to bail out a regime that is repressive and is destroying the
While in the 1960s and 1970s Chinese infrastructure projects
such as stadiums and railways were undertaken in Africa, Chinese influence
subsequently waned during the 1980s because China was unable to match
increased Western aid programs. China's recent emergence as a powerful
economy has produced an increased need for natural resources. In 2003
China's trade with Africa in 2003 was valued at about $10.7 billion; this
year it will exceed $32.3 billion.
ABOUT 60 percent of farmers who accessed Government
agricultural loans under various schemes during the 2004/05 agricultural
season have failed to repay, threatening the continuity of the
This has made it difficult for various agro-lending
institutions to finance new applications and could hamstring the
Government's efforts to finance agricultural activities to achieve food
The Agricultural and Development Bank (Agribank),
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, Grain Marketing Board and Cold Storage
Company are among agro institutions which have been lending to farmers at an
annual interest rate of 50 percent, now reduced to 20
Besides being afforded this rare opportunity to borrow at
concessionary rates and without collateral, farmers have failed to meet
their side of the bargain.
Participants who attended the National
Economic Consultative Forum last week emphasised the need for agricultural
loans to be accessed by farmers committed to production.
expressed concern at the slow rate at which the loans are being
With only a month away from the beginning of the 2005/06
farming season, concerns have been raised whether new farmers who failed to
honour their obligations could be able to access new loans.
latest developments are certain to have far-reaching effects to the revival
of the sector, which has been accorded priority by the Government and the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in terms of funding.
Food importation this year
is expected to gobble millions of dollars in foreign currency as the country
failed to produce enough grain during the last farming
Although the entire Southern African region was affected by
drought, inadequate commitment to production by new farmers who benefited
from agrarian reform had also impacted negatively on the production of the
staple maize crop.
The majority of farmers applied for loans for
rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure but this did not translate into
It is also understood that some farmers, instead of
channelling the funds to agriculture, diverted the funds to non-farming
activities, taking advantage of the absence of collateral security on
About 90 percent of applications by farmers for loans have been
turned down by various commercial banks and farmers have been quick to lay
the blame on banks for being too stringent in their
However, it has since emerged that some of the biggest
challenges to farmers in their bid to acquire concessionary funds are lack
of understanding of application procedures and poor track records.
emerged last week that only $950 billion out of a projected $7 trillion had
so far been disbursed by commercial banks on behalf of the Reserve Bank
largely because most applicants did not understand the application
Poor track records have also seen banks exercise extreme
caution before disbursement, in light of threats by the central bank to
debit their accounts in the event of default by the farmers.
the granting of loans is no longer based on a farmer's ability to provide
collateral, banks have tightened their appraisal systems to ensure the money
ends up in the right hands and for the intended purposes.
That state of
affairs has, consequently, created its own complexities as fears heighten
that the next farming season could be negatively affected.
also being asked why production has continued to go down while the RBZ and
the Government are working tirelessly to made available critical inputs and
funding to farmers.
It has since been suggested strict measures be put in
place to speed up loans disbursement while ensuring risk management systems
throughout the evaluation, monitoring and controlling process are not
Government set aside $150 billion for the 2004/05
Under the scheme, $20 billion was advanced to fund
tobacco production, $60 billion for maize and $20 billion each for
irrigation, livestock and for maize production.
A whopping $7
trillion has been set aside for the 2005/06 season.
SCORES of passengers were stranded at Harare
International Airport yesterday when the mid-morning Air Zimbabwe flight to
London was cancelled at the last minute.
When The Herald visited the
airport, irate passengers could be seen milling around while others crowded
Air Zimbabwe counters trying to get help from flustered junior staff, as the
senior staff was reportedly locked up in a meeting to find a solution to the
Air Zimbabwe manager on duty Mrs Matilda Simboti
refused to comment saying the issue was way above her station and referred
all questions to chief executive officer Dr Tendai Mahachi, who could not be
reached as his mobile was unreachable last night.
Efforts to get
comment from the national airline's spokesman, Mr David Mwenga also
However, a senior official who requested anonymity said the Air
Zimbabwe plane failed to take off from London because of a technical
"There are certain spare parts which needed to be fixed before it
could fly. But we are glad that the spare parts were taken to London through
British Airways this morning (yesterday).
"The plane could not fly
because we wanted to ensure safety for passengers," said the
Frustrated passengers who spoke to The Herald said they had not
been given an explanation as to why the flight was cancelled, and no senior
official even bothered to come to offer an apology.
rife that the plane, which is reported to have failed to leave Gatwick
Airport for Harare on Saturday night, could either have developed mechanical
faults or been impounded over outstanding landing fees.
A passenger, Mr
Elliot Chavhundura, said he was supposed to leave on Friday last week, but
was told that the plane was over-booked.
"I was supposed to leave on
Friday, but when I came to confirm I was told that the plane was full, and
was asked to come today (yesterday), but when I arrived I was told the
flight had been cancelled.
"I have been told to check again on Wednesday
but there is no guarantee since the Wednesday flight is already fully
booked. To make matters worse I have been told that I can not go back to the
hotel where I was staying, but have to look for my own accommodation till
"I am now stranded here with my wife and two kids. I am very
concerned about my youngest child who is not feeling well. Where am I
supposed to find accommodation since I am from Bulawayo? This is the kind of
unprofessional conduct that needlessly tarnishes the image of our country,"
One tearful young lady who refused to give her name said she
was afraid that she might lose her job as she was supposed to have reported
for work on Saturday.
"I was also supposed to leave on Friday, I am
not even sure when I will leave, and I am not sure whether I will find
somebody else doing my job. This is so disappointing," she
The national airline recently leased a Boeing 767-300ER from
Thailand to service its Harare-Dubai-Bangkok-China routes while its Boeing
767-200ER is undergoing C checks till October.
C check is a
comprehensive overhaul of the plane that involves stripping down to check
for structural integrity and mechanical soundness. These are the two planes
capable of enduring the 14-hour long haul flights to London.
three smaller Boeing 737-200s and two MA60 planes can only cover domestic
and regional routes.
OPINION August 29, 2005 Posted to the web August 29,
John Kakande Kampala
TANZANIAN President Benjamin Mkapa's
farewell speech, Democracy with African characteristics: The quest for a new
governance paradigm for Africa, that he delivered to Uganda's Parliament
raised very pertinent issues that Uganda's political leaders ought to take
very seriously particularly as the country reverts to multiparty
President Mkapa did acknowledge the fact that political
governance remains one of Africa's core problems. "Today, from the
experience of the last few decades, we can attribute most civil wars, and
cross-border conflicts, to the legacies of the bigotry, intolerance and
exclusion. The new African democracy I advocate must have at its heart the
politics of tolerance and inclusion, not as a product, but as a fundamental,
deliberate goal and priority," said President Mkapa. Not many leaders in
Africa recognise existence of the governance problem and need for reforms.
Take for instance Zimbabwe, which was once an economically progressing
country now ruined by President Robert Mugabe's misguided policies and
despotism. But Mugabe wants to create the impression that Zimbabwe's problem
is British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Although I concur with
President Mkapa on most of the issues he raised, I am quite skeptical about
his call for what he described as "democratic governance with African
characteristics." The argument that Africa needs its own 'brand' of
democracy was precisely the basis for the single-party system that many
African countries including Tanzania went through for over two decades
between 1960 and 1980. The proponents of the single-party system argued that
African countries could not afford the luxury of the multiparty democracy
where you have a ruling party on one hand and opposition parties on the
other. The single-party system turned out to be repressive and disastrous.
The single-party system eliminated competition in politics and banished
civil and political rights including speech and expression. The freedom of
the press was equally quashed. A few African leaders, notably late President
Julius Nyerere of Tanzania conceded that the single-party system had serious
shortcomings and was unviable. The single-party system was an attempt to
'invent' an African 'brand' of democracy, but the experiment was
The Movement system or what was described as the "no-party
democracy" was yet another attempt to establish a 'Made in Africa' brand of
democracy. Proponents of the Movement system argued that multiparty politics
was unviable in a country that was not industrialised. They argued that
political parties in a non industrialised country like Uganda tend to be
organised on basis of sectarian issues like religion and tribe. They cited
the old political parties - the Democratic Party and the Uganda People's
Congress as typical example of sectarian-based parties. But after close to
two decades of 'no-party' system and with two referendums, it has now been
recognised that the system was fundamentally flawed. Uganda is now
undergoing a transition to multiparty politics.
However, I fully
agree with President Mkapa that having free and fair elections and
multiparty politics per se won't guarantee good governance. Good governance
should not be equated to existence of political parties. There are many
African countries, even within the neighbourhood of Uganda that purport to
be multiparty democracies when in reality they are very repressive.
Multiparty politics should not be used to justify the politics of exclusion
This is why I believe the National Resistance Movement's
new slogan- Tubejjeko (let us rid ourselves of the uncommitted), will be bad
for the country. It could mean the NRM won't tolerate any internal dissent.
But broadly it suggests that the NRM will henceforth practice the politics
of exclusion or the winner-takes-it-all type of politics.
politics of exclusion coupled with political intolerance ultimately breeds
violence. In Africa, leaders in power have sought to 'crush' opponents
physically, politically or financially. This is what has caused the civil
wars and turmoil.
COLUMN August 28, 2005 Posted to the web August 29,
WE were rather startled to learn on
Newshour that the Harare Agricultural Show, on its deathbed and threatening
to breathe its last for the last couple of years, had "got off to a roaring
Patiently we waited for evidence of the roar during the
bulletin. "All 480 stands have been taken," Newsnet claimed, conveniently
omitting to inform us some of the takers had not bothered exhibiting. "The
main attraction for kids and adults alike are two Brahman bulls weighing
750kg each," a reporter continued, showing the proud owner of the two
Then there were the "horse-rides, pomp and fanfare for the kids"
and police displays in the main arena. Full stop.
It was all
exaggeration for effect as is the norm. Truth is the show, rather than
"roaring" to a start, actually got off to a pitiable whimper.
pledged transport to the Show, while commuter timetables were suspended to
ferry those wishing to attend. Now that was probably the easy part. The hard
task was finding passengers for the buses for despite the sexing-up of
reports to arouse the interest of a skeptical public, the show's turnaround
is as mythical as that of the economy.
What was the highlight of Namibian
President Hifikepunye Pohamba's visit? Despite coming to officially open the
Show, it must have been the visit to Vic Falls where there was much more to
amuse him than at the show.
Pohamba "came, saw and was impressed",
predictably drawled the reporter in his booming voice. There was footage of
the Guvnor and Pohamba being taken around, at one time viewing some neatly
arranged maize cobs and small amounts of groundnuts, fruit and the like, in
a half-empty room.
Hardly the stuff to impress Pohamba, but maybe the
booming-voice reporter, for he thundered: "Zimbabwe is a strong agricultural
country no matter what detractors say!"
A pat on the back to Dead BC
for giving the newsdesk a facelift. It is looking much tidier and
decongested. The fidgety, behind-the-scenes crew is no longer visible behind
the news anchor.
We only hope these changes will be accompanied by a
change in news content - and news comprises much more than politicians
promising rented gatherings sweet nothings, or party members and reverends
masquerading as analysts.
In the mailbox is a letter from David
Mupfurutsa who makes the following points:
1. Could someone tell
Studio 263 scriptwriters that, even in these hard times, anger is not the
only human emotion worth exploring. Watching the programme, even a half-wit
can tell that most of the actors look like they need to attend intensive
2. With Doves having recently taken over
sponsorship, the mood on the set of Studio 263 must be very pensive or
sombre as a funeral, with actors probably contemplating which character is
going to be killed-off. Sponsors must after all get mileage. Would the new
sponsors not be digging their own grave if, like the previous sponsors, they
moralised about HIV/Aids or even death?
3. Kudos to Gary Thompson for the
adrenaline-filled programme International Sports, which is in the league of
his yester year's One-on- One. His production is really a breath of fresh
air, showing Midas touch, a far cry from juvenilia dished out by the
4. Judging from his frequent appearance you would
be forgiven for thinking that diminutive Ray Kaukonde from Mash East is the
only governor in the country. Either he is extremely hardworking or just
loves the TV cameras. Remember Chen Chimutengwende? (we do, we do... and
especially miss his rumba gyrations when in full view of the
Yup!: anger and tantrum-throwing are indeed Studio 263's
preoccupation, while happiness is as scarce as sugar, forex, or your
favourite brand of lager. You rarely have two actors in the same room
without an argument ensuing. The petty squabbles are enough to drive you up
the wall and for the angriest dude in the land, the new Jabu gets my
All this is typified by Yolanda, the teenager impregnated by Tom
Mbambo, who's fled overseas - hit-and- run, they call it. Her contribution
to the soap being that of anger, and crying herself silly in just about
every episode for weeks now.
And another from a worried parent,
Heard Terrence Mapurisana reporting from Gwanzura
Stadium the other day. "People from all walks of life have come to BADE
farewell to Cde Chimbetu. Musicians like Cde Chinx are also here to BADE
farewell to our hero."
He went on and on telling us the well-known people
who had come to "BADE" farewell to Cde Chimbetu". My nine-year-old son also
noticed this grammatical error and has now given Terrence the nickname
I wonder if there is no way of teaching these guys the correct
Queen's language lest they poison our children.
Some of the strongest condemnation of the Mugabe regime came
from the UN emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, last Friday.
Egeland expressed dismay that the Mugabe regime had blocked attempts by the
United Nations to appeal for $30 million to purchase food and other relief
for the victims of Mugabe's operation cleanup. Which other regime in
the whole world would turn down an offer for relief assistance for its own
people when it is abundantly clear, as in Zimbabwe, that the country is in a
coma and is economically bleeding profusely? Figures and statistics
supporting this fact are not only coming from NGOs and other agencies but
also from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the ministry of finance , and
central statistics office in Zimbabwe. But this should not come as a
surprise to anyone. This was simply the latest in a series of acts of
repression and crimes against the people of Zimbabwe by the Mugabe
regime. While nothing Mugabe does should not surprise anyone it should
raise serious questions about whether negotiating with Mugabe, or engaging
him in some of diplomatic process to democratize Zimbabwe is no more than an
exercise in futility. There has been a great deal of discussion on
the never- ending acts of repression against the people of Zimbabwe by
Robert Mugabe and ZANUPF. For the past five years civic society leaders and
the MDC, church delegations, and trade unions have tried at different times
to engage Mugabe in a discussion aimed at resolving the crisis in
Zimbabwe. The lineup of delegations that have been in touch with Mugabe
is probably as long as the bread and fuel queues Zimbabweans are
experiencing today. The half -hearted attempts by the African Union
and the SADC leadership to engage Mugabe all fell by the wayside.
Even a loan that purportedly was being offered by South Africa to help
Zimbabwe pay its debts to the IMF has not been picked up by Mugabe as of
August 27. Mugabe is said to be fuming against the conditions that have been
placed on the loan. All of this reflects not only a hardening of
attitude on the part of Mugabe, but a clear sign that Mugabe has lost all
interest, if he ever had any, in improving the lives of the people of
Zimbabwe. That callous neglect of the Zimbabweans was very much in
evidence when acting information minister, Chen Chimutengwende, told Violet
Gonda on SWRA that there was no starvation in Zimbabwe. For Mugabe
the business of repression has been business as usual. He, like Emperor
Nero, has been able to do practically anything he wants regardless of the
adverse consequences on the people of Zimbabwe. If we look at Mugabe's
record, he has been consistent and persistent in his atrocities and crimes
against the people of Zimbabwe. It is almost like all efforts to rein him in
have failed dismally. In as far resolving the central problem, namely,
bad governance in Zimbabwe; Nothing useful has come out of Thabo
Mbeki's quiet diplomacy. Nothing significant has come out of the
targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies. In fact nothing
significant has come out of all those international condemnations and
appeals and statements on the repression in Zimbabwe. Absolutely
nothing has come out of delegations by church leaders' meetings with
Mugabe. Nothing has come out of the United Nations' secretary general's
special envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka's meeting Mugabe and her report about
the so called operation cleanup. Nothing has come out of half-
hearted attempts by former Mozambican leader Joacquim Chissano's offer to
mediate between the MDC and ZANUPF. In fact Chissano did not show any real
interest in this role. He is too close a friend of Mugabe to be an honest
broker. Chissano threw in the towel at the first hint that Mugabe did
not want to talk to the MDC. Imagine back in 1976 if Henry Kissinger in his
shuttle diplomacy in southern Africa had simply given up after John Vorster
and Ian Smith told him there were not interested in talking to the
nationalists? Yet Kissinger engaged in a shuttle diplomacy between the
stakeholders in the region. Until he hammered out a solution. Whether we
liked the initial solution or not the fact of the matter was Kissinger did
not give up after the initial rejection. Chissano has done
absolutely nothing of this sort. It was probably a simple telephone call to
Mugabe that Chissano made from the comfort of some god- forsaken hotel that
Chissano made that effectively ended his efforts. I can imagine the
telephone call with Mugabe probably went something like this " Yo,
Robert Mugabe. This is your best man J.C. No, I am not Jonathan. I am
Joacquim Chissano. Listen. This Obasanjo dude has asked me to mediate some
talks between you and the MDC. You don't want to talk to Tony Blair's
stooges do you?" And from the other end of the line came, "Of
course not. And thanks. Bye." And that was it. And Chissano probably
reported back to his African Union colleagues who were equally nonchalant
about the issue. They want to go down in history as having tried. What they
do not know is that their best was not good enough. The bottom line
is all attempts through diplomacy, quiet or otherwise, have yielded
absolutely nothing. Mugabe has not budged. The question that the
Zimbabweans must face is: Are the people of Zimbabwe going to sit and do
nothing while Mugabe runs the state to the ground? This question has been
asked time and again. The response has been that if Zimbabweans were to
confront Mugabe they would , in fact, be confronted with a well oiled army
that would not hesitate to shoot. Projections are that a single
confrontation with Mugabe could cost hundreds, if not thousands, of
lives. The other response has been that Zimbabweans are too busy
struggling for survival to entertain any thoughts of confronting
Mugabe. These two answers are, quite frankly, an oversimplification and
a cop out. The very same people who offer these responses have not given
suggestions on a way forward toward a democratic Zimbabwe. Even
civic society and the MDC leadership have, despite having such a strong
network and structures in the country, been grossly lacking in strategy. MDC
boasts of well- oiled network and growing numbers of people joining the
MDC. What is that network, and structure and increase in membership
for? I am reminded of one time I was at Msika several years ago. There were
several buses going to my destination. To attract passengers drivers would
rev the bus engines to give an impression that they were about to
leave. I, in my naiveté, rushed into one such bus . But the moment I
got in and took a seat, lo and behold, it was another one hour before the
bus actually took off! Zimbabweans are being attracted to the MDC
by expectations that MDC and civic society will launch a dynamic program of
opposition politics - only to find no one is doing anything, except for
isolated outbursts in a completely ineffective Parliament. MDC and
civic society leadership, on the other hand, argue that attempts at mass
action have been tried with no results. But this is not a reason to
give up. Most revolutions and mass protests around the world did not succeed
on the first attempt. MDC and civic society leadership are right now on
the frontline in the strategies to confront Mugabe. They have masses of
Zimbabweans behind them looking up to them to provide effective
leadership. If the MDC and civic society leadership will be the first
to throw in the mass protest towel, preferring methods that do not work with
Mugabe, then the leadership must tell the people whether they want to
continue to lead the opposition movement or give way to those who
will. There is a saying in the business community here in the United
States. If you are in leadership position you must lead. If you cannot lead
you must get out of the way and let someone else take over the
leadership. There are also suggestions for a third force or third way
or third option - whatever people prefer to call it. Starting a new
structure under the third way or third force will not help Zimbabweans. What
the so called third force or third way need to do is to become a vanguard
movement operation within the structures that have already been established
by the opposition. This group of strategists should right now be
taking a hard look at all options to confront Mugabe. One option that MDC
and civil society leadership can launch would be a campaign of civil
disobedience. It is internationally and historically accepted that when a
government no longer serves the interests of people, and thwarts all efforts
to replace it democratically, the people reserve the right to use whatever
means they see fit to replace that government. In this context a
civil disobedience campaign could be one of the actions the people of
Zimbabwe can take as a prelude to mass action. I want to repeat that it
is not impossible for Zimbabweans to stage an effective mass protest.
Mugabe's army can never subdue a determined protest. It has been proved in
Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Togo, Madagascar, apartheid South Africa and
many other countries.
Business Day reports that
Zimbabwe's risk of expulsion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has
increased substantially after a visiting team failed to secure any serious
commitment to economic reforms and debt repayment. The country faces
expulsion by the international money lender after failing to repay its debt
arrears of US$295 million. According to the report, a senior government
official said the reforms demanded by the IMF needed time and money. The IMF
team's visit ends Monday, while no progress has been reported in
negotiations for a loan from South Africa either.
There will be
an IMF meeting on September 9 in Washington which is likely to decide
whether or not to expel Zimbabwe. It appears Mugabe's refusal to accept
conditions as part of any deal may be causing problems. The regime continues
to be stubborn about accepting any conditions from both the IMF and South
Africa, and has also been difficult regarding efforts by the United Nations
to raise funds to assist victims of its own cleanup operation. Food and
blankets donated by South African churches a month ago has still not reached
the needy families who are living without food or shelter.
why does everyone seem to be babying Mugabe, allowing him to destroy and
then set the conditions when he needs help? Elinor Sisulu of The Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition in South Africa, said regional support for Mugabe has
been the biggest problem. She says when Mugabe first came with the race
card, ranting against white commercial farmers, he got full support from the
region because they like that kind of anti-imperialist rhetoric. But Sisulu
believes the regional leaders are now too embarrassed to withdraw that
Sisulu said she does not understand why it is difficult
for African leaders to apply peer pressure in Zimbabwe, particularly when
Mugabe is in breach of most regional human rights charters and many
international ones as well. There should be no discussion as to what to do
with him. She said even in the ECOWAS region where interference made a
difference, the leaders went only so far before allowing a flawed election
to take place in Togo. Sisulu believes the African Union should have
supervised that Togo election. She also believes that when peer review is
practiced, things will change in Africa.
Impressed with what he saw on the 15,000 hectare Kwara
State Commercial Agriculture Project during a one-day working visit at the
weekend, President Olusegun Obasanjo has invited leaders of the expatriate
farmers pioneering the project for a meeting in Abuja Monday.
meeting, which will also be attended by Governor Bukola Saraki, Minister of
Agriculture, Alhaji Adamu Bello, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),
Prof. Charles Soludo, and chief executives of the major commercial banks in
Nigeria, is to discuss the problem of funding the project in Kwara
Before summoning the meeting, Obasanjo enjoined the farmers to
be patient and not to be discouraged by the attitude of banks to financing
agriculture in Nigeria, saying the few banks that offer loans to
agricultural projects do so at "suicidal interests as high as 20 per
Stressing that any lending higher than single digit rate was "not
good," the President said "government and the banks must come together to
solve the problem."
The President, who inspected two of the key
economic projects of Saraki during the visit, lauded the governor for the
innovative ways he has been addressing the economic problems of his state
since he took over its leadership two years ago.
speaking at a lunch in his honour at the end of his visit, praised Saraki
for his hands-on leadership style and single-minded commitment to the
execution of his numerous projects.
During the visit, Obasanjo visited
the site of project being pioneered by expatriate farmers from Zimbabwe in
Shonga, Edu Local Government area of the state, and the new terminal
building being constructed by the state government at Ilorin International
Airport as part of a project to turn the airport into an international cargo
He commended the foresight of the governor in inviting the farmers
from Zimbabwe at a time they were having problems over land reforms in their
reiterating his position that the know-how and expertise of
the farmers was African-based and should be made available anywhere it is
The President said he was impressed with the level of support and
encouragement that the farmers have been accorded since their arrival in
Kwara State, saying for agriculture to succeed in Nigeria, government at all
levels and the financial institutions must be prepared to give it heavy
"We need to get together, the Central Bank and commercial
banks with people like Governor Saraki who now have the understanding of the
problems confronting agriculture because the problem of agriculture is one
that we can solve and one that we must solve."
He said a 25,000 tons
silo was being constructed by the Ministry of Agriculture, adding, "By the
time your maize is ready for harvest (at Shonga)that silo will be
President Obasanjo also praised the governor for innovating the
international cargo hub project in Ilorin, noting that it would assist
Nigeria's export drive.
He announced that the Federal Government
would build a multi-million Naira cold room at the airport for commodities
to be exported by farmers and others in agro-allied industry.
remarks, Governor Saraki thanked the President for supporting the invitation
of the farmers from Zimbabwe from the outset, noting that the statement made
by the President to the farmers when he received them in Abuja encouraged
the state government tremendously and further assured the farmers that the
project enjoyed support from the highest political level in
He spoke about other agricultural programmes being
undertaken by the state government, stressing however that direct federal
Government support was vital for the success and sustainability of many of
After the departure of the President Friday, Governor
Saraki thanked the people of the state for turning out enmasse to welcome
the President in Ilorin and Shonga, saying the turnout and mood of the
people were overwhelming.
OPINION August 28, 2005 Posted to the web August 29,
Owino Wene Nairobi
Like a sinner who knows he is in good
company, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe stomped the ground at the 25th
summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Gaborone,
Botswana, last week, with inimitable confidence. With what transpired at the
summit, Dr Mugabe, the longest serving SADC leader, must be excused for
thinking that he was at an Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit circa
1984 when the Big Man was really big.
At its most incompetent best,
the defunct OAU was known for its hear-no-evil, see-no-evil and
speak-no-evil posture. The organisation is no more but its infamous policy
of "non-interference in the internal affairs of member states" is being
pursued and sustained most enthusiastically by SADC.
At the Gaborone
summit, new SADC chairman and Botswana President Festus Mogae let it slip
that SADC has rechristened the OAU policy as "live-and-let-live".
believe in a policy of live and let live. Those who want to hold periodic
elections shall have them, those who want multipartyism shall do so, while
those who want to fight shall continue fighting," President Mogae told a
media briefing after the summit.
He categorically stated that Zimbabwe
was never on the SADC agenda at the summit although Dr Mugabe and his
Zanu-PF have run the country to the ground, an issues that should be of
grave concern to the bloc.
More sweet music was to come to Dr Mugabe's
ears from former Mozambican president Joachim Alberto Chissano, the man
chosen by the African Union (AU) chairman, Nigerian President Olusegun
Obassanjo, as special envoy to Zimbabwe. The former head of state admitted
that none other than Dr Mugabe had convinced him that he does not have a job
as mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis.
SADC decided to bury its head in
the sand on Zimbabwe despite loud cries from regional civil society
organisations gathered in Gaborone for the summit. The NGOs made a
passionate plea for the leaders to deal with the Zimbabwe hot potato. But
the die was cast when the SADC leaders announced that Zimbabwe would not be
on the agenda. So why have SADC leaders shied away from taking on
Besides President Mogae's let-sleeping-dogs-lie explanation, Mr
Chissano added another dimension to the sad saga with his pointed question
at a media briefing: "Who are we to judge Zimbabwe and start naming their
problems while we have problems in our own countries?"
President Mogae and Mr Chissano were involved in a classic exercise in
contradiction. If SADC has a hands-off policy on dealing with the internal
affairs of member states, then why did South Africa and Botswana soldiers
storm Lesotho in 1998 to restore order? None other than President Mogae
authorised the sending of Botswana troops on the mission.
Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe also sent troops to meddle in the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
It is obvious that SADC is handling President Mugabe
with kid gloves because diplomacy, especially the African brand is a
veritable theatre of the absurd. It is easy for regional bodies in Africa
like Ecowas - the Economic Community of Western African States - and SADC to
lean heavily on errant small states while the big ones are allowed to
literally get away with murder.
When Liberia and Sierra Leone were
burning in the 1990s, Ecowas did well to send in peacekeeping troops with
the mandate to fight. The same happened with the Botswana-South Africa-SADC
operation in Lesotho. But Zimbabwe is no Sierra Leone. Nor is it a
lightweight like Lesotho or Liberia.
President Mugabe is the enfant
terrible in African politics, but his liberation credentials and past
standing have scared fellow leaders from taking him head-on. He is one the
longest-serving presidents on the continent, the only independence leader
still in power. Thus he can afford to stomp the ground at the SADC summit
with the confidence of a bull in his kraal. He knows the "young men" who
took power "yesterday" have no guts to take on him.
Owino Wene is a
Kenyan journalist working in Botswana
AS power games continue to rock the
MDC, the plot to oust party leader Morgan Tsvangirai thickened after it
emerged that the secretary for legal affairs David Coltart last week made an
abortive constitutional amendment proposal suggesting that presidential
aspirants must be a degree holder. The move immediately courted the ire of
other opposition legislators who saw it as a calculated manoeuvre to elbow
Tsvangirai, who is not a degree holder. This prompted Coltart to withdraw
the draft document on proposed constitutional reforms which read in part: "A
person is qualified for election if he or she is a citizen of Zimbabwe by
birth or by descent, holds a university degree, other than an honorary
degree and is at least 40 years old." Coltart, the MP for Bulawayo South,
later erased the contentious insertion after he was allegedly questioned by
fellow MDC legislators. If the proposed amendment had been adopted, the party
sources said, it would have also affected Tsvangirai's deputy, Gibson
Sibanda and other senior opposition party officials in the now-dissolved
"Top Six", except party secretary general Professor Welshman Ncube.
Tsvangirai has since dissolved the top six following disagreements,
reportedly citing too many centres of power, before he went on to get rid of
shadow ministerial positions and replaced them with parliamentary portfolio
heads. In a 127-page document Coltart supplied to Parliament's Paper Office
last Thursday for tabling in the august House, he had proposed the creation
of an executive authority exercisable by or on the authority of the
President, Prime Minister and Cabinet and its members. Sources at
Parliament said they were surprised when Coltart withdrew the document from
the Paper's Office before it was even tabled. "He came and withdrew the
document. We were surprised as he did not give any reasons why he was
withdrawing the document," the source said. Apart from barring non-degreed
would-be presidents, Coltart also proposed that one can be disqualified from
the office of President on attaining 65 years or has held the same office
for two successive terms. He added: ".or within five years before the date of
election, he or she has been convicted inside Zimbabwe of any offence and
sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more, whether or not the sentence
was wholly or partly suspended or he or she was granted a pardon." MDC
chief whip Innocent Gonese would not comment on the matter yesterday
referring all questions to Sibanda who said he was in a meeting when
contacted for comment. Efforts to reach him later were fruitless while
Coltart's mobile phone indicated it had been barred from incoming
calls. The MDC has been rocked by serious factionalism this year amid reports
two camps have emerged within the main opposition - one backing Tsvangirai
and the other Ncube. Tsvangirai has since dismissed reports of
factionalism in the MDC and was in the media saying he was not aware of any
political machinations to oust his executive. In May, this year a group
of youths, believed to have been acting on instructions from some party
heavyweights, went "beserk" assaulting MDC officials and attempted to
confiscate party vehicles, including one allocated to Ncube. The youths,
who were later sacked from the MDC, have since challenged their
dismissal. Last Thursday, Glen Norah MP Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga
was reportedly assaulted by youths at a meeting at the party's headquarters,
Harvest House. Other delegates were reportedly also attacked by the youths
during the same meeting. Meanwhile, some MDC officials in Glen Norah
reportedly stoned Robert Manyengavana's house in the high-density suburb and
extensively damaged windowpanes. Manyengavana is an official in the MDC's
Harare province. "They came around midnight and stoned Manyengavana's house,
damaging windows. Of those that stoned the house, two culprits (names
supplied) are close associates of Misihairambwi-Mushonga. She is against the
election of certain individuals in the structures of the party in her
constituency and stands accused of hiring thugs to assault her enemies in
the constituency," the source said. The MDC is currently restructuring
all its branches countrywide ahead of its congress expected next
January. "When the incident happened Manyengavana had travelled to his rural
home in Rusape together with his young brother Moses, one of the party
officials who was assaulted at Harvest House on Thursday evening," added the
source. Efforts to get a comment from Misihairambwi-Mushonga were in vain at
the time of going to press last night.
No more press statements on Zambezi Project:
From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo issue date
IN a move likely to fuel speculation about the future of the
multi-billion dollar Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), its chairman
Dumiso Dabengwa says from now on neither him nor members of the board of
trustees will talk to the press about the project. He said they would
rather have the facts speak for themselves while journalists would be
invited to tour the site and write competently and factually on progress
made at the massive venture expected to turn the parched Matabeleland region
into a greenbelt. Dabengwa's statement followed numerous complaints from
analysts and the public about the reported snail pace of construction
work. "I will no longer be issuing statements or comments on this project
because I believe that you should be the eye of your readers," the former
Home Affairs minister said. "Given that, you should be able to drive to
the construction site every now and then so that you see progress made on
the project and inform your readers on what you will have seen there," he
added. Dabengwa explained that their decision was not based on gagging the
press per se, but because it was MZWP policy now to desist from blowing
their own trumpet, which variably made people suspect that the organisation
was trying to cover up for its failures. "We have reached this decision
because some people think that we are blowing our own trumpet. Some believe
our continued presence in the media are efforts to cover for our failures,"
he said. "We are saying to you as the media, go out there and see for
yourself what has happened and tell the people what you have seen." The
project has so far received massive funding from the national fiscus and the
central bank. Recently, the MZWP Trust requested for $4,2 billion it said
would enable it to adequately monitor progress so far made in the important
venture. That request aside, the project also received varying monetary
injections from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe yet it was still to fully take
off the ground. A visit to the site recently revealed that construction
work was yet to start though excavations had been completed.
EC donates food aid to Zim Aug 29 2005
Johannesburg - The European Commission (EC) has
announced it will donate an additional ?4.45m to help the United Nations
World Food Programme (WFP) feed thousands of hungry people in Zimbabwe,
Lesotho and Swaziland over the coming months. The donation follows
a recent plea by Kofi Annan to 27 heads of state, the EC, and the Africa
Development Bank, for urgent assistance to the WFP in southern Africa where
more than 10 million people face food shortages.
In the letter
Annan said that "if we are to avert a catastrophe in a few months' time,
then food and cash must be pledged immediately."
The donation means
the EC and bilateral pledges from the European Union (EU) member states now
cover well over 50% of total food commitments to date in
The EC had already pledged ?20m towards WFP's Regional
Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) that started in January this
The money was made available to procure and distribute maize
and other essential food items in the three countries, but in particular to
help the people of Zimbabwe.
It also brings the combined EC and
EU member states' contributions to WFP's regional appeal to about
This is enough to cover the procurement and distribution of
some 111 000 tons of food for the region, representing about 41% of total
donor pledges to date to the southern Africa appeal.
Harare-based EC Delegation said: "In committing these funds, the European
Commission recognises that food security in the region is of serious
concern, and in particular, that the needs in Zimbabwe remain
"Without the direct intervention of the international
community a significant proportion of the Zimbabwean population will be at
Preliminary results of the Zimbabwe
Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) indicated that an estimated 2.9
million Zimbabweans require food aid this year.
affordability of staple foods by the poorest also remains a serious
WFP plans to distribute 300 000 tons of food in Zimbabwe
through a short-term vulnerable group-feeding programme for about three
In addition, WFP is already targeting about a
million people, mostly children, through school feeding and HIV and
Kevin Farrell, WFP country director in
Zimbabwe: "Thanks to the generous support from donors including the European
Commission and EU member states at the moment we have commitments for about
50% of our needs through to December.
"However, the most
critical time of the year is the lean season which starts in December and
runs through to April so the worst is yet to come and we urgently need
pledges for this period as well."
"The EC and its humanitarian
organisation (ECHO) has made available ?68.6m ($83m) to the region in 2005,
on top of what has been given to WFP."