|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
ROBBED of most of their pensions by government
policy, and too proud to seek
help, Zimbabwe's elderly whites are a small but unique dimension of the
catastrophic impoverishment and famine of the past 3½ years brought about by
President Mugabe's corrupt and ruinous rule.
The estimated 12,000 white pensioners still in Zimbabwe are the
professionals and administrators who migrated here, mostly from Britain and
South Africa, in two waves, to escape the Depression of the 1930s and then
the bleakness of life after the Second World War. They thrived in a
"They are the generation that built this country into the best-run country
in Africa, with the highest standard of living anywhere," the administrator
of an old age home in Harare said. "They worked hard and planned
meticulously for their futures. Mugabe has wrecked everything."
Inflation hit 400 per cent last month and is expected to reach at least 700
per cent by the year's end. The price of fuel has just tripled and earlier
this week municipal rates went up 300 per cent. State policy on pension
funds has also contributed to destitution. By law, pension funds have to
invest 45 per cent of their funds in near-worthless government bonds. "The
Government is funding its overspending by confiscating pensioners' money,"
John Robertson, an economist, said.
One pensioner, William Sydney Rutherford, 87, his back hunched by age,
jutted out his chin and managed large strides for his monthly three-mile
hike to collect his pension from the post office in Harare. The effort was
almost wasted. Zimbabwe's post office, in common with all the country's
financial institutions, suffers a chronic shortage of banknotes. "Sorry, no
cash," the woman behind the counter said. Then, seeing the shock on the
frail Scot's face, she left her cubicle, returning with next month's means
of survival in Zim$100, $20 and $10 notes.
"You can't buy anything with that," she said apologetically, counting out
the pile. His monthly Zimbabwe government pension of Zim$3,386.25 is worth
40p - enough for three loaves of bread and a couple of bananas.
In May Mr Rutherford was rescued by a charity from the servant's quarters of
his suburban Harare home, where he lived alone, surviving mostly on
porridge. "With all this inflation, I was pretty hard up," he admitted. He
spends most days in the male ward at the B. S. Leon Trust, reading books
from the home's library on the Allied campaign in Italy, where he served
with the British 6th Armoured Division. He gets three meals a day and money
for pipe tobacco. If it was not for the B. S. Leon's benefactors, Reg
Griffiths, its administrator, said, Mr Rutherford and the growing number of
other destitutes there would probably die.
Olga Cummings, 89, lived comfortably on her pension when her husband, a
permanent secretary in a Rhodesian government ministry, retired around
independence in 1980.
"Money was money then," she said. Now her monthly Zim$18,000 is worth £2.
The sudden privation has had tragic consequences. In May, Roy Males, 78,
shot his almost-blind wife and then himself in their flat when he could no
longer afford her medication, police confirmed.
An elderly widower in a south Harare home fixed up a trap with a shotgun
when his money ran out and killed himself, even though he was getting three
meals a day. "It's the loss of pride that really gets to them," Ian Helby,
who helps to run an "adopt-agrandparent" scheme for a Harare Rotary Club,
Margaret Dawson said: "My money has just run out and I can't even afford
lavatory paper. If my family weren't helping me out, I would have cut my
"I'm fine, and my health's not giving me a problem, touch wood," said Rachel
Semple, MBE, 93, born in Glasgow and now living down the corridor from Mr
Rutherford. But her broken leather shoes and the tattered old strap that
holds her late husband's watch on her wrist tell a different story. Her
spectacles are scratched, but she cannot afford a new pair and so she cannot
read or watch television. "I live by my radio, and go for little walks," she
Mrs Semple draws a pension from the Federal Rhodesian Government that was
dissolved in 1963, when she worked as a receptionist for Sir Roy Welensky,
its last Prime Minister. Staff at the B. S. Leon Trust say that the pension
is worth almost nothing.
Jean, 89, the widow of a former Royal Air Force officer, refused to give her
full name. "I don't want anyone to think I need help," she said. She lives
in a central Harare flat with her 59-year-old mentally handicapped son, who
has a heart condition. She says that she gets Zim$21,000 (£2.50) for her son
from the RAF Benevolent Fund. Two Chinese vases are almost all that is left
of her heirlooms. The rest were sold last year with the furniture,
television and radio.
She and her son survive on a hamper of food and other basic commodities
delivered monthly by a charity. "I hate to impose on people," she said.
Mugabe to retreat to lavish life on a farm?
August 29 2003 at 09:42PM
By Peta Thornycroft, Independent Foreign
Harare - If President Robert Mugabe does retire, as widely speculated, when
he hits 80 next year, he will apparently not go into exile or live in
retirement as a modest pensioner.
Judging by two big property deals, the octogenarian Mugabe will rather live
as a gentleman farmer, alternating as a dapper man about town, perhaps
pulling the strings of his nominated successor in State House.
He is building a fabulous Chinese-style mansion on about 16 hectares of land
in Harare's poshest Borrowdale suburb. And he has already bought Zimbabwe's
largest dairy, Foyle Farm, through a state agency. Lying in the Mazowe
Valley, 30km north-west of Harare, it was until recently the most productive
dairy in Zimbabwe and among the top 10 in Africa.
'Ian was forced to sell because thugs made his life a misery'
But since Mugabe's new management took over fully in May, production has
dropped by half.
The former owner, Ian Webster, was an internationally recognised dairyman.
A former neighbour, who asked not to be named said this week: "Ian was
forced to sell because thugs made his life a misery. Then he was told the
farm was for someone important, and that that person was prepared to pay for
"He didn't want to go, but he is one of less than 10 white farmers who have
The Zanu-PF government has seized more than 6 000 commercial farms since
February 2000, and has finalised compensation for less than 300.
Webster, who is now living in Harare waiting for the sale to go through
before moving to Australia, refused to discuss the sale of his farm.
A well-placed source in the government's District Development Fund, which
assists new farmers who cannot afford to plough or drill boreholes on land
seized from white farmers, said the fund would drill more than 40 new
boreholes on Mugabe's new farm, at taxpayers' expense.
Grace Mugabe visits Foyle Farm frequently in her 4x4 with darkened windows.
According to former staff at the farm, she plans to replace the two modest
houses on the farm with a new executive residence and enormous gardens.
Members of the Dairy Producers Association, who asked not to be identified,
said Foyle Farm must now be losing money because of the drop in production.
Department of Agriculture permanent secretary Norbert Masoka promised
earlier in the week to respond to faxed questions, but did not do so
August 30, 2003. 9:44pm (AEST)
Opposition accuses Mugabe of rigging local elections
The Opposition in Zimbabwe has accused President Robert Mugabe's party of
rigging local council elections being held on Saturday.
The BBC reports, the elections are being held in urban areas, traditional
bastions of Opposition support.
Zimbabwe's Opposition has alleged massive flaws in these local elections,
allegations that President Robert Mugabe's Government denies.
The Opposition says the ruling party has tampered with voters' lists and
intimidated would-be Opposition candidates in some cases.
These elections will not be policed by any independent body, the county's
High Court has rejected an Opposition request to prevent soldiers and
security officials from staffing polling stations over the weekend.
This opens the door for intimidation of voters.
Zimbabwe's last national elections, which returned Robert Mugabe to power,
were internationally condemned as flawed and undemocratic.
Since then, sanctions have been imposed on the regime but the Government has
continued to run the country in its own way and blames its problems on an
antagonistic international community.
Slow turnout for Zimbabwe's urban council polls
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE, Aug. 30 — Zimbabweans voted in small numbers in urban
elections on Saturday in the face of a deep economic crisis which analysts
say could work against President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.
Officials said voting had begun peacefully but very slowly in 16
towns where the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party are contesting some mayoral posts and 130 council seats.
Analysts said Mugabe's party looked like the underdog because the MDC
had built a strong support base in major towns over the last three years,
thriving on an economic crisis blamed by many on government mismanagement.
The two-day municipal polls are running concurrently with two
parliamentary by-elections in the capital Harare and in Zimbabwe's
northwestern rural Makonde district.
The MDC has emerged as the biggest threat to Mugabe, who has ruled
Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, but analysts said a low
voter turnout in the council elections could favour ZANU-PF.
''The turnout, almost all round, except in Makonde and in Mutare, has
been very low indeed, and we talking here at between 10 and 15 percent of
registered voters in some cases,'' said one voting official.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, free on bail pending trial on charges
of plotting to assassinate Mugabe, cast his vote at a Harare school where
fewer than 200 people had voted in the first three hours of the day.
He told reporters it was clear Zimbabweans were more concerned with
bread and butter issues than voting.
''This is how bad things are... but we hope people will still find
time to vote against bad governance,'' he said.
MDC information secretary Paul Themba-Nyathi said voting had been
marred by violence in some districts, including the stoning of a vehicle
driven by an opposition legislator and assault on some party activists.
Police were not immediately available for comment.
Electoral Supervisory Commission spokesman Thomas Bvuma said the
elections had started off largely smoothly and that the commission would
investigate the complaints.
An opposition victory in the polls would expand the MDC's symbolic
grip on major towns but the government has imposed central control of
municipalities through sweeping powers held by the minister of local
There were hardly any queues at polling stations and numbers at many
were small, nothing compared to the pay-day queues at banks in Zimbabwe's
major towns, where cash is in short supply.
In the run-up to the polls, the MDC accused ZANU-PF of violence,
intimidation and tampering with the voter register, charges the ruling party
Political analysts say ZANU-PF had run a low-key campaign which
appeared designed to allow the government to play down any big opposition
Zimbabwe's major towns have suffered the brunt of a serious economic
crisis which has brought severe fuel and banknote shortages and soaring
inflation, now at about 400 percent.
ZANU-PF retains major support in Zimbabwe's rural areas, home to
about 65 percent of the population.
Cash shortage sees many change lifestyles
CASH shortages coupled with the ever-rising cost of living have forced many
people to change their lifestyles with some luxuries having to be foregone
in place of the basic necessities.
While the shortage of cash has negatively affected most people, the
imaginative and enterprising have managed to make the quick switch to the
world of plastic money, cheques and travellers’ cheques.
"I don’t need to carry cash to survive. My life is now much simpler and I
only use money when there is something that I really want to buy," says
22-year-old graphics designer, Lorraine Madzinga.
She says her spending habits have drastically changed from the days when she
used to carry cash. "Gone are the impulsive buying tendencies such as fast
food lunches, snacks and drinks because I now carry a packed lunch."
However, most Zimbabweans still operate in the environment of a peasant
economy where cash is king and vital for food, transport, paying bills and
Most urbanites in the high density suburbs have to buy their basic
necessities daily such as bread, milk, relish, among other things using cash
as they cannot afford to buy or store perishables in bulk.
By contrast, the well-to-do can buy their groceries in bulk and have
adequate storage facilities for perishables such as meat, milk, bread and so
on using cheques or plastic money as most of the upmarket supermarkets have
point of sale swipe machines and readily accept cheques.
Although most building societies, which handle most low income workers’
banking, now have plastic money cards, there still is a big mismatch between
facilities offering payment by card and the amount of plastic cards owned by
these workers. As a result most of these workers simply use their cards for
cash withdrawals at Automated Teller Machines instead of point of sale
The plastic card revolution is still to have any real meaningful effect on
this social sector.
The result of bank notes shortage has been such that in certain instances
some families have had to forego things such as little toilet paper,
newspapers and other things that require cash which they now preserve for
"We have to choose between buying toilet paper or food, the cash we get from
the banks is not enough for both," said a Highfield woman.
Parents have become strict with such commodities like toothpaste and lecture
their children on how to save.
People wait for hours on end at banks and at other cash dispensing points
and production hours in industries have been cut by almost half as people
wait for cash.
"But you are not guaranteed to get the cash and at times you wait for up to
eight hours to get five thousand dollars which is not enough to cover your
needs," said Mr James Mufore.
A barman with a city nightclub said clubbing was slowly dying as most people
now kept their cash for essential things or other emergencies that might
occur in the home.
"Once in a while, yes, you get crowds in the bar but they start moving out
at around eight and by 10pm it is just me and the waiters without any
customers," said the barman.
Many people that had abandoned opaque beer have now gone back to their roots
and the "cabinets" of yesteryear when people used to gather around mugs of
beer are around again.
In the beer-drinking circles, cash shortages have transformed drinking into
"co-operatives" and sharing of alcoholic beverages is now common.
People have also changed from beer to spirits in a new drinking revolution.
The motorists have been the worst hit by the shortage of cash since most
fuel dealers do not respect travellers’ cheques introduced to mitigate cash
Almost at every service station there are three or four "dumped" vehicles
whose owners failed to get either cash or fuel to drive their cars home.
The Freedom Trains that were mostly for those without cars were reported to
be filling up with motorists that could no longer get fuel.
And the "typing brigade" — a phrase used for pedestrians — had increased
owing to cash shortages as many people went to and from work on foot.
For the young and outgoing, cash shortages have affected lunch dates that
have become few and far apart.
"My boyfriend no longer invites me for lunch as frequently as he used to
when cash was readily available and this has also been compounded by the
fact that food now has just gone up in take-aways," said a University of
Another young woman said her boyfriend was of late pretending to be busy
when it was about lunch.
A snap survey at the popular food outlets showed that business was not as
active while those down-town cafes were beginning to register more clientele
owing to their low pricing of their food.
But some women smiled as they said the cash shortgae kept their husbands at
"He comes home early and watches television with the rest of us. We see him
early these days, its bad there is no cash but it has its own advantages,"
said a Warren Park woman.
Medical experts said cash shortages could result in stress especially to
those with sick relatives who fail to take them to institutions that demand
Tale of widow’s distress over delayed cremation
By Tawanda Kanhema
THREE months after Alexander Ashmall passed away peacefully at 83, his
elderly widow, Jean, has been forced to live with the traumatising memory of
his body bundled and packed away in some local funeral parlour.
The distraught lady has made numerous attempts to have her husband's body
cremated and the ash flown back to their home in Scotland, but all in vain.
First, the delay was due to the shortage of cremation gas and then it was
the city council putting on hold all cremations until they have gazetted new
Alexander died of natural causes on July 13 this year and two days later his
77-year-old widow, had made all arrangements and payments for his cremation.
She was then told, after paying the $11 900 cremation fee, that there was no
petroleum gas used for cremations.
"It is awful and depressing to think that my husband has been lying in a
fridge and has been decomposing for the past ten weeks," she said softly
while wringing her hands.
A devout Christian who is also a Presbyterian, Jean said she would have
preferred to have Alexander's body cremated and the ash flown back to
Scotland where it would be strewn at a local church cemetery.
On Monday this week, she was told that she had to wait for the new prices
again and she said this had lowered her spirits even further.
Burying her husband's body, rather than cremating it would have been her
first option, the elderly lady said, but grass and thicket had buried their
family vault at Pioneer Cemetery.
"I would have had the body buried at our family grave at Pioneer Cemetery
but the cemetery is in such a deplorable state that one cannot decently be
buried in such a place," she said.
Pioneer Cemetery is located in Mbare, opposite Rufaro stadium, and it was
one of the first cemeteries to be established in the late 1800s after the
establishment of Salisbury.
Settler families bought plots and family graves there and the cemetery used
to be a well maintained resting home but standards have fallen, with most of
it turning into bush.
Rampant thefts of coffins, granite ledgers, headstone caps and shrouds from
graves in the cemetery have also turned many people away from burying their
loved ones there.
With a stroke of fading humour, Jean said the grass at the cemetery had
grown so tall that one would "shoot elephants" in its thickets.
The two had no children and their families are in Scotland. Jean had lived
with Alexander since they were young and the fact that his body still hasn’t
rested haunts her.
Thousands of other families have had to live with the bodies of their loved
ones for days and in some cases weeks before burial due to fuel and cash
Cremation has for long been considered as a more favourable option due to
shortage of space and grave costs at local cemeteries, but the shortage of
gas has dealt a major blow to communities who depended on this method of
putting the late to rest.
In Zimbabwe, it is mostly the white and Asian communities that cremate the
bodies of their loved ones, usually for family traditions and customs in the
former and religious reasons in the latter.
Jean has worked for Dr Adrian Lamprecht at the Medical Centre in the Avenues
area for the past 38 years and the doctor observed that she had been greatly
devastated by the situation.
"She is all wound up and has never been like that for the whole 38 years she
has worked for me."
Dr Lamprecht said, "the thought of her husband decomposing in a fridge has
devastated her greatly, the tension has had a bad effect on her."
She tried to liaise with gas importers and they managed to get the gas, but
the city council has put a hold on all cremations while waiting for new
Most people often find themselves stuck with corpses of their relatives
mainly because of family disputes, but when an elderly widow tries to put
her husband's body to rest and fails due to reasons beyond her control, it
is inhumane, the doctor said.
When contacted for comment on the matter, City of Harare public relations
officer Mr Cuthbert Rwazemba said he would consult the cremator for
"worthwhile comment" but later ignored the phone.
The City of Harare ran out of petroleum gas on June 28 and since then,
bodies have been piling up in crematoriums and funeral homes around the
Meanwhile, laying loved ones to rest, a formerly dignified exercise that has
always been conducted with civility and honour seems to have degenerated
into an overnight dumping exercise.
Reports have been made that relatives of the deceased in Kadoma were burying
their loved ones during the night in prepared council graves to evade burial
Even going to the graveyard during the night used to be taboo, but now,
people brave it due to the shortage of space at mortuaries, cash and fuel.
In some cases, this is a result of attempts to evade burial costs.
The customary wailing and singing of traditional funeral dirges formerly
commonplace at the cemeteries has silently died down, as most people now try
to make their burials as brief and cheap as possible.
Opposition denied voters’ rolls
THE Registrar-General (RG)’s Office had by yesterday evening not
provided copies of voters’ rolls to several opposition party and independent
candidates for this weekend’s urban council polls and parliamentary
by-elections, a development the candidates said could facilitate irregular
Copies of the voters’ roll had by last night not
been provided to
mayoral and council election candidates in Mutare, Kariba, Kadoma and
Victoria Falls, with officials of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party saying
they had already engaged lawyers to challenge this in court.
Officials of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
said they were
likely to seek an overturn of some of the results of the elections because
they had not been given a chance to properly audit the voters’ roll for
who are standing as independents in the elections
that begin today said the problem with the voters’ roll was not affecting
only opposition party officials.
Independent candidates in Mutare told the Daily News
that the RG’s
Office had also denied them copies of the voters’ roll.
Independent candidate Virginia Pinto, who is seeking
councillor for ward 12 in Mutare, said several independent candidates in the
city had also been denied copies of the voters’ roll.
However, their ruling party counterparts are believed to
given copies of the voters’ roll.
director Remus Makuwaza said: "Where else in the world
have you seen a candidate going into an election without a copy of the
voters’ roll? It is like a boxer going into the ring while being
"We were denied copies of the voters’ rolls because they knew that we
would unearth the ghost voters that have been planted to enable ZANU PF to
rig the election."
Comment could not be obtained from Registrar General
who has in the past denied allegations of election rigging levelled against
Manicaland provincial registrar
Joyce Munamati, who was accused by MDC
and independent candidates of frustrating their efforts to obtain copies of
the voters’ roll, told a Daily News reporter: "If anyone has a problem, then
that person should come to me and not to you. Are you their spokesman? They
should come in person to my office if they have problems."
MDC elections co-ordinator
Nomore Sibanda said his party had
instructed its lawyers over the matter.
He said the issue was being handled by Ray Moyo, a
lawyer with Gill,
Godlonton and Gerrans, who could not be reached for comment last night.
Sibanda said: "Mudede’s officers have been using
delaying tactics to
deny our candidates copies of voters’ rolls and then claimed to be too busy
to issue out the copies this week.
"They are now saying we can only get copies after the election. Our
lawyer, Ray Moyo, is working on the case."
Meanwhile, opposition party
officials said political violence had
worsened ahead of this weekend’s polls, accusing ruling ZANU PF activists of
waging a campaign of terror against their supporters.
The MDC said in Norton, its candidates for
wards four, five, six,
eight and nine were assaulted and their houses stoned by known ruling party
activists from Norton and Zvimba.
Mutare, a group of ZANU PF supporters is alleged to have carried
out a door-to-door campaign of violence, seriously injuring three MDC
In Kariba, Nathan Makwasha, the MDC candidate
for ward four, said he
survived a petrol bomb that was hurled into his house on Tuesday morning by
known ZANU PF activists driving a vehicle with government number plates.
However, police spokesman Wayne
Bvudzijena said he had not yet
received reports on the alleged Norton and Kariba incidents.
He told the Daily News: "Our position is very clear as the police
force. We will maintain law and order everywhere where elections will be
held. ‘We know and appreciate that emotions by certain groups are very high
as we approach these elections, and we appeal to leaders of political
parties to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner so that they don’t engage
in violent activities." ZANU PF secretary for information and publicity
Nathan Shamuyarira denied that ruling party supporters were involved in
political violence. "I can’t talk of MDC candidates, I will speak about ZANU
PF candidates only and we are not violent," he said. Staff Reporters
Court dismisses MDC nomination challenge
HIGH Court judge Ben Hlatshwayo yesterday dismissed with costs an
application by 11 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidates for
Chegutu urban council elections for the nullification of the ruling party’s
victory in the constituency.
ZANU PF candidates for the Chegutu urban council
polls were declared
the winners of the elections after opposition party candidates failed to
file their papers with the Nomination Court.
The MDC candidates allege that they were prevented from
their nomination papers by violent ZANU PF supporters.
Hlatshwayo indicated that he would give reasons for
his judgment in
due course. However, the ruling means that no elections will take place in
Chegutu this weekend.
Sheila Jarvis of
Atherstone and Cook, who represented the MDC
candidates, yesterday said she was not yet in a position to comment on the
will have to see the judgment first before I can comment on the
ruling or on whether we can appeal," she told the Daily News.
Patience Nyabadza of the Attorney-General’s Office said after
the ruling: "Justice has prevailed."
The 11 MDC candidates had petitioned
the High Court to order Registrar
General Tobaiwa Mudede to consider their nomination papers.
The candidates said they were not protected
by the police and, as a
result, could not present their papers to the Nomination Court.
ZANU PF faces acid test
ZIMBABWE’S ruling party faces a crucial test in urban council
elections this weekend in the face of a deepening economic crisis and an
opposition with strong support in the country’s major towns.
Political analysts say President
Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party goes
into the two-day polls today and tomorrow as the underdog after losing a
majority of the urban seats to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in general parliamentary elections held three years ago.
Since the June 2000 parliamentary elections,
the two parties have
fought several elections, with the MDC winning most of the urban contests
while ZANU PF has retained national control with votes from its traditional
stronghold in the rural areas, home to about 65 percent of the population.
But the MDC charges that Mugabe and ZANU PF,
in power since
independence from Britain in 1980, have cheated and used violence to win
elections in the last three years.
leader Morgan Tsvangirai has a pending court challenge against
Mugabe’s re-election in presidential elections in March 2002, which many
Western powers say were rigged.
Opposition victory in the council polls
would expand the MDC’s
symbolic control of major towns – Harare, Bulawayo, and Masvingo are already
under its wings – but the government has imposed central control of local
municipalities through sweeping powers held by the minister of local
Opposition gains would
also be an obvious setback for Mugabe, who
insists he still enjoys majority support.
The MDC says ZANU PF has been using intimidation to
win some of the
eight mayoral and 130 council seats being contested in 16 towns around the
country. There are also two parliamentary by-elections, one in the capital
Harare and the other a rural constituency in north-western Zimbabwe.
Political analysts say ZANU PF has been running a
which appears designed to allow the government to play down any big
"I think ZANU PF knows very
well that the urban council elections are
very difficult for it because of the economic problems and they will
probably be happy to pick up whatever they can," said Lovemore Madhuku,
chairman of political pressure group National Constitutional Assembly.
Zimbabwe’s major towns have
suffered the brunt of a serious economic
crisis which has brought severe fuel and banknote shortages and soaring
inflation, now at about 400 percent.
"ZANU PF has been using its usual crude tactics,
intimidation and tampering with vote registers . . . but we are still
confident of winning these elections," MDC election director Remus Makuwaza
told Reuters this week.
But ZANU PF spokesman
Nathan Shamuyarira denied charges that the
ruling party was employing violence and intimidation.
"This is a sickening song that we
are subjected to at every election,
and the song is clearly meant to tarnish our image.
"The courts are there to sort out any genuine
grievances, but the MDC
must stop making false claims for their failure to win voters," he said.
By Cris Chinaka
Move to bar MDC candidates thrown out
GWERU – The High Court yesterday dismissed with costs an urgent
application by the ruling ZANU PF for a provisional order to bar two
candidates of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from
contesting this weekend’s urban council elections in Kwekwe.
The matter was
heard in chambers before Bulawayo High Court judge
Justice George Chiweshe. The ruling party had sought a court order to have
MDC candidates Shadreck Tobaiwa and Abraham Mtshena disqualified for
allegedly giving false residential addresses to the Nomination Court, which
sat and accepted candidates in the city last month.
Kwekwe lawyer Martin
Makonese had filed the urgent application on
behalf of ZANU PF, seeking the disqualification of the MDC candidates for
alleged electoral fraud. Another Kwekwe lawyer, Prayers Chitsa, represented
Tobaiwa and Mtshena, the opposition party’s candidates for Wards 8 and 10 in
Justice Chiweshe ruled that there was nothing urgent in the matter
because the Nomination Court, which accepted the candidates as eligible to
contest the election, had sat more than a month ago. In dismissing the
petition, Justice Chiweshe also noted that some of the alleged
irregularities cited by ZANU PF needed oral evidence, hence the need for the
matter to be treated as civil.
In its founding affidavit, the ruling party, represented
district chairman Justin Mazambani, had alleged that the opposition party
candidates contravened the Urban Councils Act by giving false residential
Mazambani said: "All the respondents
unlawfully and falsely gave (sic)
falsehoods in violation of the Urban Councils Act and accordingly should be
disqualified from contesting the elections and their nomination accordingly
null and void.
submit that this matter is extremely urgent in that the elections
are due to be held on 30 and 31 August 2003 and the respondents should be
banned from contesting the elections in the light of the said election
To support its claim, ZANU PF also attached
copies of disclaimer
affidavits allegedly signed by the landlords of the MDC candidates.
The landlords, who were identified as Pana Chitanda
Mavhunga and Sam
Mzembi, claimed in the affidavits that Mtshena and Tobaiwa had never lived
at the given addresses.
Agriculture hit by natural and man-made disasters: Chissano
MOZAMBICAN President Joaquim Chissano yesterday said Zimbabwe’s
agricultural sector had been knocked by natural and man-made disasters, but
urged President Robert Mugabe to forge ahead with his government’s
controversial land reform programme.
opening the Harare Agricultural Show, Chissano said: "The
agriculture sector has suffered natural and man-made disasters which have
threatened economic development and poverty reduction.
"Agriculture is of strategic
importance, the largest contributor to
the GDP (gross domestic product), the main economic factor for growth. It
earns us foreign currency and eradicates poverty."
He urged the government to continue with its land
under which the state has taken over most white-owned land in what it says
is part of a plan to address colonial imbalances.
However, the programme has led to the displacement
of a large number
of black farm workers and is said to have slashed farming output by more
than half since it began in 2000.
seizures are blamed, together with drought, for severe food
shortages affecting the country.
Chissano said of the land reform
programme: "If you know where your
ark is going, you will not stop until you reach your destination."
He said the agricultural show was an
opportunity for Zimbabweans to
strategise ahead of the coming rainy season.
The Mozambican leader said: "The show came at the right
can plan for the new season since our region is prone to unreliable rain.
"Women must have access to land and the
technology to grow cash crops
to improve their lot."
President Robert Mugabe: "Comrade President, Zimbabwe should
remain resolute and aggressive in the fight for food security."
in Zimbabwe is expected to continue for the
foreseeable future because of serious input shortages and lack of financial
and technical resources on the plots the government has allocated to
subsistence and aspiring commercial farmers. The country is battling
shortages of fertiliser, seeds and agricultural chemicals, partly because of
a foreign currency crisis.
Where the inputs are available, they are too expensive
for most of the
farmers resettled on land taken over by the government. The resettled
farmers also do not have the financial resources to buy or lease
Mnangagwa to summon ministers over Bennett
SPEAKER of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa has pledged to summon State
Security Minister Nicholas Goche and his Home Affairs counterpart Kembo
Mohadi to discuss the continued harassment by state security agents of
Chimanimani Member of Parliament Roy Bennett, the Daily News has
The state agents are said to be led by
a Joseph Mwale, a controversial
senior official of Zimbabwe’s main spy agency, the Central Intelligence
According to authoritative sources, Mnangagwa on Tuesday undertook to
summon the two ministers to his offices after Bennett approached him about
his continued harassment by state security agents based in Chimanimani, of
which Mwale is the CIO officer in charge.
Mnangagwa, who is also the
ruling ZANU PF secretary for
administration, might summon the two Cabinet ministers next week, the
Bennett, elected on a
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ticket, has
a farm in Chimanimani that has been invaded several times by ruling party
activists, who, together with CIO officials, have barred him from visiting
The sources said Mnangagwa seemed "shocked" on
Tuesday that Bennett
had been barred from visiting his constituency by state security agents, and
immediately undertook to summon Goche and Mohadi to his office so that he
could ask them to instruct their officers to let Bennett visit his
"Mnangagwa is supposed to summon the
two ministers very soon, probably
next week, to discuss how they can stop their officers from harassing
Bennett. He (Mnangagwa) has not taken kindly to the fact that an MP has been
forced to abandon his constituency because of overzealous intelligence and
police officers," one source told the Daily News.
Mnangagwa yesterday confirmed that he met Bennett on
refused to comment further.
"I had a private
meeting with the honourable MP and the discussions I
had with him remain private. I am not at liberty to discuss the contents of
our discussion," he said.
Bennett also refused to elaborate on his meeting with
saying: "It’s a process that I don’t want to comment on at the moment."
But sources told this newspaper that at the Tuesday
indicated that he was unable to attend parliamentary sessions and portfolio
meetings due to problems involving CIO and police officers in Chimanimani.
According to the sources, the
complaint was raised at a parliamentary
lands and agriculture portfolio committee meeting held on Tuesday this week.
Bennett, the sources said, specifically named Mwale as being mainly
responsible for the problems he was encountering.
"He told portfolio committee members that he
could not attend meetings
from late last year because of the harassment his workers and himself were
getting from Mwale and police officers in Chimanimani," a source said.
The source added: "He explained
how his property was being looted on a
daily basis by security agents and how his employees were being harassed.
Committee members agreed that his matter was of concern and should be taken
to the Speaker, who appeared equally concerned."
Mwale, who is alleged to have been involved in the
murder of MDC
activists Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika in the run-up to the 2000
parliamentary election, was last year barred by the High Court from visiting
Bennett’s Charleswood Estate, where he is said to have disrupted farming
However, reports indicate that Mwale has
continued to visit the farm,
where he has allegedly led a campaign of harassment and intimidation against
Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management last month
also asked the police to arrest Mwale for his alleged role in the poaching
of game at the farm earlier this year.
By Farai Mutsaka
Tampering with meters costing ZESA millions
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) is losing $50
million every month because of clients who are tampering with the power
utility’s meters, according to ZESA Harare area manager Stephen Pieron.
He told the Daily News that ZESA discovered the
prejudice when its
officials undertook door-to-door meter inspections after receiving reports
of irregular meter readings at some premises in Harare.
The power utility is visiting all domestic, commercial,
mining and agricultural installations.
doing stand-to-stand checks for every electricity consumer to
make sure the meter has not been bypassed or tampered with," Pieron said.
"Every single installation will be visited and the sitting tenant or
his representative will be required to sign an affidavit to state that the
installation was checked by ZESA personnel and resealed. All our inspectors
will be carry ing the usual ZESA identity cards.
"These tamperings are caused by poverty and the prevailing
hardships. People are trying to save money through illegal means. These are
mostly unemployed electricians and probably some of our employees. Our new
billing system makes it easy to identify sites where consumption patterns
He said ZESA had so far visited 5
580 houses and had discovered that
550 of them were bypassing electricity meters. About $27 million has been
recovered from the offending customers and their meters have been resealed,
the ZESA official added.
said in order to avoid conniving between the resealing team and
customers, an independent audit team would follow up to verify the status of
inspected installations. In cases where it can be proved that a customer has
interfered with the meter or tampered with wiring in order to bypass the
meter, the client will be billed for the prejudice suffered by ZESA.
Pieron said the inspection and resealing exercise would be completed
"If the installation is found to be tampered with, we
will recover the
lost sales, with the sitting tenant being liable for prosecution and a
possible two-year imprisonment term for such pilferage cases," he said.
Chombo’s interference no excuse for inefficiency
REPORTS by this newspaper this week that some Harare families had to
seek shelter elsewhere after raw sewage from blocked municipal sewer pipes
flooded their homes should be a clear signal to all of how the once
magnificent city is falling apart while the circus at Town House continues.
At least two families had to flee their homes while
another 20 told
this newspaper that each morning they must clear their homes of raw sewage
overflowing from bathrooms and toilets.
in the midst of all this, all the government appears preoccupied
with is how to regain – through the back door – political control of the
capital city is a clear testament of how the cruel and selfish elite ruling
Zimbabwe is ready to sacrifice any and everything just to ensure their
Instead of helping the council mobilise the obviously
resources required to put Harare back on its feet, Local Government Minister
Ignatius Chombo has virtually hampered the operations of council by delaying
granting it permission to borrow money.
Some allege Chombo is deliberately frustrating the Harare City Council
so that when services and public infrastructure in the city collapse, the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party-led council can be
blamed by voters.
That may be so, but that is not the point.
The point is that Town House must just get its act
council collects billions of dollars in rates and other charges every month
and that should be enough to enable it to provide some respectable service
to city residents.
Sitting back, wailing
over alleged interference by Chombo and the
government while the Sunshine City is being turned into one large sewage
pond is inexcusable.
The Harare City Council, and this includes former
Solomon Tawengwa’s discredited administration, used to keep teams of
servicemen on 24-hour notice to respond to emergencies such as the one in
Surely, it was not because of
interference by Chombo, or anyone else
that the municipality’s Department of Works did not respond to several pleas
by Dzivaresekwa residents to come and repair blocked and burst pipes in
It is gross ineptitude by any standards!
And just to show the level of
commitment and efficiency at Town House,
Harare spokesman Cuthbert Rwazemba was not even aware of the situation in
Dzivaresekwa 2 suburb when the Daily News approached him on Wednesday to
hear what the municipality was doing to fix the blocked sewer pipes.
And this was several days after
some of the residents had alerted the
municipal office in Dzivaresekwa about their plight.
The MDC and its councillors must be warned that
they cannot forever
hide their own inefficiency behind the excuse that Chombo is interfering and
disrupting the proper management of the city. Even if this was true.
Far too much is wrong in this city. Garbage is not
Roads and traffic lights are not being maintained and there are no medicines
at council clinics. In fact, the list of residents’ grievances is endless.
The MDC councillors must realise that
they were not voted into council
so that they could become cry-babies over what they say is interference by
take their presence at Town House as an opportunity to
show Zimbabweans the good they are capable of achieving, despite all the
Either they do that or it will be difficult,
if not impossible, for
anyone to distinguish between them and ZANU PF, which they seek to replace
in national government.
ZANU PF’s new slogan: Oh what a tangled web we weave
TWTWTW – That was the week that was.
PF getting itself enmeshed even more than usual in its own
intransigence, boneheadedness, sheer idiocy and lunacy.
While South African
President Thabo Mbeki is trying to get ZANU
PF-Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) talks on the road so he can point
out to the Commonwealth at its December Abuja meeting how wonderful
everything is in Zimbabwe and working to get our country reinstated as a
fully fledged member of that organisation:
- Talks headed for the rocks; ZANU PF dashes hopes; Triumph for hawks
(Financial Gazette, 21 August 2003). Nathan Shamuyarira, ZANU PF’s secretary
for information, told that newspaper: "You are just bothering us, but the
truth is there are no talks at all."
And ZANU PF chairman, John Nkomo, said the ruling party was not in any
way in a hurry to engage the opposition.
Great! Very helpful for Mbeki and his Great Plan.
Meanwhile, our Noble Leader gets his wires
crossed in his Heroes’ Acre
speech, blathering that the MDC must "repent" – perhaps his recent visit to
the Highfields Roman Catholic church left him a tad confused as to who is
supposed to repent.
more indicative of clouds starting to drift across that
tired old mind, referring to "Mbuya Kaguvi" when he meant "Sekuru Kaguvi".
- State hijacks food aid (Daily News, 19 August 2003) –
Minister July Moyo directs non-governmental organisations that they will no
longer be able to select beneficiaries of food aid; all such aid will be
distributed through village headmen at their sole control.
Since almost all headmen are said to be in ZANU PF’s
pocket, "the idea
is to hijack donor food and use it as a campaign tool for the council
elections" (Renson Gasela, MDC shadow minister for agriculture).
"No international donor can tell us that the
government should not be
involved in food distribution when we are the ones who asked for the food in
the first place." Nice try, Moyo, but won’t international donors immediately
cut off aid to hungry Zimbabweans? Only ZANU PF could think they might be
able to get away with that one. Again, very helpful for Mbeki and Zimbabwe.
- Across the world on the
sidelines of a Pacific leaders’ meeting in
Auckland, Australian Prime Minister John Howard branded President Robert
Mugabe an "unelected despot" and said Zimbabwe should not be re-admitted to
the Commonwealth (Daily News, 16 August 2003).
"I don’t think it would be helpful for the
Commonwealth if Mr Mugabe
were to come to Abuja," he said.
And this paper then reported on 18 August: "The 11 South Pacific
members of the Commonwealth condemned Zimbabwe . . . for continuing human
rights abuses, saying no progress had been made to end the country’s
suspension from the grouping."
Doesn’t augur too well for Zimbabwe’s return to
- Meanwhile, closer to home,
the African Commission on Human and
People’s Rights has suppressed publication of the results of its probe on
Zimbabwe to protect Mugabe’s regime ahead of the Abuja meeting in December.
"Part of a wider
cover-up strategy by the AU (African Union) which is
lobbying the Commonwealth to re-admit Zimbabwe in the club," diplomats state
"Reports . . . from Amnesty International and
Human Rights Watch have
been rejected by African states, who accuse the two of Western bias."
Perhaps the proper action for Commonwealth
seniors to take would be to
insist that the re-admission of Zimbabwe would not even be considered in
December unless the AU makes available in advance of the December meeting
unexpurgated copies of the report which they are keeping under wraps.
- And, of course, the country still has no
cash and Finance Minister
Herbert Murerwa issues local travellers’ cheques, printed on scarce security
paper for a one-off transaction which could be used for banknotes with an
indefinite life span. I shakes me head. Inflation is up to 400 percent, the
US$1 is equals to Z$6 000. I shakes it again. ZANU PF’s new slogan: "Oh what
a tangled web we weave". What next? PNR Silversides Harare
The least you can do
If you are a suffering, oppressed Zimbabwean and are tired of your
suffering and oppression, then for goodness’ sake go and vote.
You may have
been too scared to support the Movement for Democratic
Change’s mass action, but the least you can do is to go and vote this
you can’t even be bothered to do that much to help yourself, then
don’t complain about your suffering.