International Herald Tribune
By Michael Wines Published: August 2, 2007
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe: Earlier this month, shortly after President Robert
Mugabe proposed legislation mandating a gradual transfer of ownership of all
businesses to "indigenous" citizens, a Zimbabwean businessman received an
unexpected telephone call.
The caller, a stranger, said that he represented a group of indigenous
investors. The investors, he said, would like to discuss the merchant's
plans for complying with the coming ownership law.
There is a flip side to Zimbabwe's incrementally unfolding human tragedy,
and this is it: as 11 million or more people descend into destitution, a
tiny slice of the population is becoming ever more powerful and wealthy at
No one outside of Mugabe's inner circle, of course, can say with certainty
why he has pursued a series of policies since 2000 that have produced
economic and social bedlam. For his part, Mugabe says Zimbabwe's chaos is
the product of a Western plot to reassert colonial rule.
Among many outside that circle, however, the growing conviction is that
Zimbabwe's descent is neither the result of paranoia nor Mugabe's
longstanding belief in Marxist economic theory. Instead, they say, Zimbabwe
is fast becoming a kleptocracy, and the government's seemingly inexplicable
policies are in fact preserving and expanding it.
"Their sole interest is in maintaining power by any means," David Coltart, a
Bulawayo lawyer and politician, said this week. "I think their calculation
is that the rest of Africa is not going to do anything to stop them, and the
West is distracted by Iraq and Afghanistan. The platinum mines can keep the
core of the elite living in the manner they're accustomed to - just in a sea
Coltart, a member of the Zimbabwean Parliament, is both white and a leader
of Zimbabwe's minuscule political opposition, which may make his opinion
appear both cynical and suspect. And there surely are other views. One
influential member of the ruling ZANU-PF party - the Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front - says that Mugabe, now 84, is rushing to
empower black Zimbabweans before he dies.
This, he said, explains why the government seized thousands of white-owned
commercial farms early this decade, and why Mugabe ordered manufacturers and
merchants this month to slash their prices by 50 percent and more. It
explains why he now proposes to require that every Zimbabwean business be
controlled by native Zimbabweans.
"The old man wants to leave a legacy," said that politician, who insisted on
anonymity. "He's in the twilight of his life, and he wants it to be
remembered that he left something to Zimbabweans."
Yet in interviews in Zimbabwe this week, Coltart's harsh view was widely
shared by blacks and whites alike, many with no political ax to grind. Even
the ruling party politician acknowledged that whatever the aims of Mugabe's
policies, their execution as gone terribly awry.
Zimbabwe's farm seizures destroyed the country's rich agriculture industry,
and vast tracts of land were handed over to party elites in the form of
patronage. The looming takeover of businesses is expected to produce the
"Some of these people, his cronies, are being greedy," the ZANU-PF official
said. "That's the tragedy of this country. Those who benefited from land
reform are also going to benefit from this takeover."
And in fact, the circumstantial evidence that Zimbabwe's decline has become
a zero-sum game, in which one side's loss inevitably is the other's gain, is
not easy to ignore.
Zimbabwe's plummeting currency - 200,000 Zimbabwe dollars now buy a single
American dollar on the black market - has rendered the salaries of working
Zimbabweans worthless. Yet the official exchange rate is not 200,000, but
250. Those with connections to the government's reserve bank are widely said
to ply that influence to buy American dollars cheap, sell them dear and reap
an 800-fold profit on currency transactions.
Mugabe's own government declares currency trading illegal, but regularly
dumps vast stacks of freshly printed bills on the black market, still
wrapped in plastic, to raise foreign exchange for its own needs.
The country's extraordinary hyperinflation, last pegged at 10,000 percent a
year, would seem to benefit no one. Yet after the government ordered
merchants in July to slash their prices in half, cadres of police and
soldiers moved into shops to enforce the new controls, scoop up bargains,
and give friends and political heavyweights preferential access to cheap
Should the price controls continue, they are widely expected to force many
businesses into insolvency. Coincidentally or otherwise, Zimbabwean business
officials say, viable but bankrupt businesses will be prime targets for
well-placed persons seeking to benefit from Mugabe's new law placing
enterprises under so-called indigenous control.
"After all," said the business executive who was approached to sell his
firm, "if you can't make a company viable, you might as well sell 50 percent
of it and make what you can."
From The Times (UK), 2 August
Jan Raath in Harare
Word got out on Monday night that the warehouse on the outskirts of Harare
would be selling a small consignment of cement at the state-enforced price
of Z$150,000 (40p) a sack. When The Times arrived on Tuesday morning, there
was a one-kilometre line of cars. The drivers had spent the night there
waiting for the building supplies. No sooner had a lorry arrived carrying a
cargo of 600 bags than uniformed soldiers and police turned up at the
warehouse. "They took charge. They told people to get in line," one witness,
who gave his name as Willie, said. He recounted how the soldiers distributed
sacks of cement to a few customers at a price of Z$150,000. "Then the
soldiers and police drove their own trucks in and took more than 100 pockets
[sacks] at the same price. They are going to sell on the black market for
Z$1.5 million," he said.
As soon as the men in uniform were gone the staff began to sell the cement
at the higher black-market rate of Z$1.5 million, but only to a select few
who had personal contacts at the warehouse. Not until midday did the queue's
nerve break and the vehicles peel off. The scene was one of the unforeseen
consequences of President Mugabe's month-long attempt to smash inflation by
forcing businesses to halve their prices. Those responsible for enforcing
the price cuts are openly running a black market in the goods. Meanwhile,
ordinary people cannot get goods and prices are going up faster than before.
The last official inflation figures were for April, when the annual figure
hit 3,700 per cent. Data have not been released since, but Christopher Dell,
the outspoken former United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, predicted that
President Mugabe would be forced out of office within six months as a result
of uncontrolled inflation.
The business sector immediately became the new enemy, denounced as "agents
of regime change", forcing up prices deliberately to stoke up discontent
that would spill over into mass street violence. About 6,500 businessmen
have been arrested since "Operation Reduce Prices" began. Shops dare not
openly deviate from official prices that are below procurement costs. This
week magistrates were jailing minibus operators for a week for each
passenger that they charged above the official limit. "Price controls that
are being enforced are likely to exacerbate shortages and, ultimately, fuel
inflation," the International Monetary Fund said this week. If the current
trend continues, "year-on-year inflation could well exceed 100,000 per cent
by year end". Commuter transport has withdrawn from the roads effectively.
For weeks supermarkets have been without maize meal, the national staple,
meat, chicken, eggs, milk and cooking oil. Yesterday even vegetables were
The United Nations food agency appealed for £60 million in expanded food aid
for Zimbabwe yesterday and pledged to assist about 3.3 million starving
citizens. "On top of panic buying, the problem is fuel," a supermarket chain
executive said. Since the Government fixed the price of fuel at Z$60,000 a
litre, fuel imports have dried up. "The manufacturers can't deliver. They
say, 'Come and fetch your orders', but we can't," he said. Despite repeated
declarations that "there is no going back on the war on prices", the
evidence is that President Mugabe is faltering. On Tuesday the central bank
issued a Z$200,000 note, worth 50p at the unofficial rate. Previously the
highest denomination was Z$100,000, which could buy a mug of black-market
On Monday the Government reversed a ban on the import of food-stuffs, an
attempt to control the illegal currency market that would have had dire
consequences for millions of Zimbabweans who survive on cross-border
trading. At the same time it was announced that private abattoirs that had
their slaughter licences revoked as punishment for refusing to sell meat
below the cost they bought it at were going to be relicensed. President
Mugabe is pressing on with another key strategy for economic survival:
printing money. "Where money for projects has not been found, we will print
it," he said last week. "It's like someone with lung cancer smoking 100
cigarettes a day to complement the chemotherapy," a Harare business
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: August 2, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Six Zimbabwean businessmen were sentenced to 105 hours of
community service by a magistrate who noted that fines have not ensured
government orders to cut prices were obeyed, a state-owned newspaper
Magistrate Olivia Mariga's order that the businessmen clean government
buildings was the first sentence to community service in the prices
clampdown. At least 5,000 people, from top corporate directors to street
vendors, have been arrested as police and price inspectors enforced the June
26 order to cut prices of all goods and services by around 50 percent. Most
of those arrested have been fined and quickly released.
An insurance company has been advertising on state television offering
"directors and officers liability cover" against arrest, with fees based on
the level of risk companies faced.
After Wednesday's court session before Magistrate Mariga, two of the
businessmen were overheard "asking court officials if it was possible for
them to hire other people to carry out the community service on their
behalf," the Herald newspaper reported.
Zimbabwe is in its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in
1980, blamed largely on disruptions in the agriculture-based economy in the
former regional breadbasket after the often violent, government-ordered
seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms began in 2000.
The price cuts, meant to tame official inflation of 4,500 percent, have left
many shelves across the country bare of corn meal, bread, meat, eggs, milk
and other staples, with retailers arguing they cannot afford to sell goods
for less than they cost. Many minibus taxi drivers, who provide the main
means of commuter transport and were ordered to cut fares, were staying off
the roads because they cannot afford or find fuel.
A trip town from Harare's township suburbs that should take 30 minutes now
takes up to five hours, most spent waiting, trying to flag down passing
drivers and scrambling onto vehicles that stop. Hitching rides in Zimbabwe
normally involves payment to the driver.
Funeral parlors have even put hearses to work picking up commuters. Police
in the second city of Bulawayo hailed the move as a "public service" but
said the drivers of hearses, trucks and other vehicles should not overload,
state radio said Thursday.
It did not say whether rides were given with coffins aboard.
By ANGUS SHAW
Funeral parlors have put hearses to work as temporary buses to alleviate the
chronic lack of public transport, official media said Thursday, in yet
another illustration of Zimbabwe's economic collapse.
Police in the second city of Bulawayo hailed the move as a "public service"
but warned the drivers of hearses, trucks and other vehicles on the dangers
of overloading when carrying commuters on "humanitarian grounds," state
Transportation licensing laws would not be invoked unless there were fights
to board vehicles, the radio said. It did not say whether rides were given
with coffins aboard.
Under a government decree last month the price of gasoline and commuter
fares were slashed by more than half, leading to acute gas shortages and
forcing many minibuses, the main means of commuter transport, out of
A routine 30 minute trip from Harare's township suburbs now takes up to five
hours, most spent waiting, trying to flag down passing drivers and
scrambling onto to vehicles that stop. Hitching rides in Zimbabwe normally
involves payment to the driver.
Minibus drivers were fined earlier this week for overcharging. One driver of
a 12-seater was convicted for overcharging 18 passengers desperate to get
home crammed into his minibus at the time of his arrest.
In another twist, the Zimnat Lion Insurance Company began showing an
advertisement on state television offering businesses insurance against
arrests of staff. It announced the policy as "directors and officers
liability cover" with fees based on the level of risk companies faced.
At least 5,000 executives, including the country's top corporate directors,
and managers, street vendors and bus drivers have been arrested as police
and price inspectors enforced the June 26 order to cut prices of all gods
and services by around 50 percent.
The move -- meant to tame official inflation of 4,500 percent -- has left
many shelves across the country bare of corn meal, bread, meat, eggs, milk
and other staples.
The state Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece, said Thursday six
businessmen were sentenced to 105 hours of community service cleaning
government buildings after magistrate Olivia Mariga noted that fines were
not proving to be a deterrent to "economic saboteurs" still defying the new
It was the first sentencing to community service in the prices clampdown.
After Wednesday's court session, two of the businessmen were overheard
"asking court officials if it was possible for them to hire other people to
carry out the community service on their behalf," the paper reported.
In another bizarre twist, police appealed to corporate executives -- some
fresh out of harsh and filthy police jails with near freezing temperatures
at night -- to help with sponsorship and funding for a regional police
chiefs' sports gathering for officers and men being hosted in Harare later
this month, state radio said.
Aenias Chigwedere, the education minister and head of a government committee
tasked with attracting tourists to Zimbabwe from among soccer fans headed to
the 2010 World Cup in neighboring South Africa, also went on state
television saying the government could not afford to upgrade facilities for
spillover visitors and asked private companies and sponsors to step in.
Many traditional commercial sponsors are facing ruin in the prices
HARARE (AFP) - Two senior Zimbabwe opposition figures who had defected from
the main camp led by Morgan Tsvangirai returned on Thursday saying only a
united front could end the rule of Robert Mugabe.
Shacky Matake, a founder member of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
and Silas Mangono said they were returning because their splinter faction
had ruled out any prospect of reconciling with MDC leader Tsvangirai.
"I strongly believe that only a united MDC will unseat Robert Mugabe,"
Mangono, who had been education spokesman for the splinter group led by
Arthur Mutambara, told a press conference.
"In the MDC led by President Morgan Tsvangirai there are many values which
resonate with the aspirations of the majority of Zimbabwe and I have no
choice but to go along with my conscience and with the majority of our
"I don't want to be judged harshly by history for having contributed to the
fragmentation of the opposition."
The MDC split into two factions in 2005 over a decision to participate or
boycott senate elections which Tsvangirai said were a waste of money.
The prospects of a united challenge to 83-year-old Mugabe at next year's
elections dimmed last weekend amid further bickering between Tsvangirai and
"I decided to come back after realising that it's important to participate
as a united front in the coming elections," said Matake, who was a
provincial secretary in the Mutambara faction.
Three other opposition MPs did a similar about-turn and returned to
Tsvangirai's camp last year.
August 02 2007 at 08:06PM
By Moabi Phia
Gaborone - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) denied on
Thursday its efforts to end a political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe were
"This is a process and a very delicate one," SADC secretary general
Tomaz Salomao told a news conference in Botswana's capital. "If you have a
problem in one meeting, you cannot say that the whole process has failed."
Leaders of SADC's 14 nations delegated South African President Thabo
Mbeki in March to mediate talks between Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party and
the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The move followed a crackdown on MDC activists which sparked
international outrage and renewed calls on African nations to pressure
President Robert Mugabe to agree to political reforms.
Despite a media blackout on the talks, there are reports that South
African negotiators have struggled to get Zanu-PF representatives and the
MDC to agree on anything of substance in the past five months.
Mbeki will report on the progress of the talks this month at a SADC
summit in Lusaka, South Africa's Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told a
separate press conference in Pretoria.
Scrutiny of the talks has intensified in the wake of a growing refugee
Thousands of Zimbabweans are crossing daily into South Africa, legally
and illegally, to buy food and look for work. The influx has raised fears
that South Africa, the continent's economic powerhouse, will be overwhelmed.
Zimbabwe is struggling with official inflation of about 5 000 percent,
soaring poverty, 80 percent unemployment and chronic shortages of food, fuel
and foreign exchange.
Salomao said SADC was preparing to recommend that fertiliser, fuel and
other energy supplies be supplied to the southern African nation to ease the
crisis. He did not give further details of the proposal.
Thu 2 Aug 2007, 16:14 GMT
By Paul Simao
PRETORIA, Aug 2 (Reuters) - South Africa is struggling to cope with a rising
tide of refugees from Zimbabwe and must take action to solve the growing
crisis, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said on Thursday.
In a briefing with reporters in the capital Pretoria, Pahad said there were
clear signs that the numbers of Zimbabweans entering South Africa, both
legally and illegally, had increased recently, posing a "serious problem"
"We must do more to see what we can do to deal with this influx of
refugees," Pahad said, adding that South Africa had both a moral and
economic interest in helping its northern neighbour avert a total economic
Zimbabweans are struggling with official inflation of about 5,000 percent,
soaring poverty, 80 percent unemployment and chronic shortages of food, fuel
and foreign exchange amid an eight-year depression.
Thousands every day cross illegally into South Africa to look for food and
work. The number, however, has jumped in recent weeks since Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe's government introduced a radical price freeze in a
bid to stem inflation.
The move has led to panic buying and prompted some stores to stop stocking
bread, milk and staple items. Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), has accused Mugabe of driving the economy into
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is trying to broker a political
agreement between Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the MDC, will report on
the talks this month at a Southern African Development Community summit in
Lusaka, Pahad said.
Pahad also expressed concern about a deteriorating political situation in
Burundi, where there are renewed fears of a return to the 12-year ethnic war
that killed some 300,000 people in the central African nation.
Leaders of the rebel Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FLN) have
disappeared from the capital Bujumbura after quitting a joint ceasefire
monitoring team. Many Burundians believe the FLN has returned to the bush
and will resume fighting.
South Africa played an instrumental role in bringing the Burundian
government and rebel forces to the bargaining table, mediation that led to a
peace deal last year. More than 1,000 South African troops are in Burundi to
keep the shaky peace.
Pahad said South Africa would "respond very aggressively" if the FLN
attacked its troops.
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
2 August 2007
Posted to the web 2 August 2007
The lifestyle normally associated with an urban society is fast disappearing
from Zimbabwe's once bustling capital, Harare.
The city's 2.8 million residents are adopting a way of life more akin to the
country's rural areas, where drinking water is drawn from shallow pits and
electricity is all but unavailable, although the metropolitan area's
population density has produced its own quirks, such as untreated sewage
spilling onto the streets.
Nomusa Dube, a night shift nurse living in Chitungwiza, a dormitory town
about 25km from Harare, told IRIN her daily routine started with the search
for water. After queuing for three hours at a shallow well that is also a
watering point for cows and donkeys, Dube finally fills her 20-litre
container with muddy water at 2pm.
She glances anxiously at her watch; she has an appointment at her home, 5km
away, with a supplier who said he would deliver firewood at 3pm, about the
same time a colleague promised to bring her some candles, which have become
much harder to get.
She is in luck: by just after 4pm the firewood and the candles have been
delivered, and she sets off on her two-hour walk to work, telling her
colleagues on the way how successful her day has been.
Dube is just one among millions of city dwellers adapting to the
ruralisation of Zimbabwe's urban areas, brought on by the collapse of
service delivery in an economy once described as one of the most promising
No escape from the decay for the middle classes
In the capital's affluent areas of Chisipite, Borrowdale and Glen Lorne,
erratic power supplies have turned electrical hobs and other appliances into
little more than decorations, and dusk is greeted by clouds of smoke
billowing from suburban homes as the well-heeled residents use wood-fired
ovens for cooking their evening meal.
"With each passing day, we have forsaken and abandoned the basic comforts
and lifestyles associated with living in an urban environment, particularly
a capital city like Harare," said Dadirai Chimuko, who lives in Chisipite.
"It is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish the difference
between living in a rural area and an urban area, because the truth is that
urban areas in Zimbabwe are fast becoming more and more like rural areas."
She told IRIN that she had not had potable water for three months and had
dug a shallow well on her property.
Electricity rationing has reduced availability to four hours a day, even for
those with access to the power grid, since the national power utility,
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), introduced daily 20-hour cuts.
Sarudzai Muzenda, a resident of Glen View, a working-class suburb, told IRIN
that having electricity for four hours a day did not mean they were better
off than others, who received nothing.
The electricity comes in the middle of the night when we are asleep, and
therefore is not of any benefit
"The electricity comes in the middle of the night when we are asleep, and
therefore is not of any benefit because we would have used firewood for
cooking. In fact, the power cuts have come at a great inconvenience to many
families whose household electrical goods have been destroyed as a result of
But it was the small comforts, taken for granted in the past, that Muzenda
missed most, like an evening stroll or visiting friends in the
"Way before we started getting unreliable electricity supplies, the city
authorities were not replacing expired street bulbs because of a lack of
foreign currency," she told IRIN. "But now, at night, it is total darkness,
and those who venture out have to travel in large groups for fear of being
ZESA's energy production relies mainly on thermal power stations, but its
ability to do so is severely handicapped because it does not have the
necessary finance to buy the coal from the Hwange Colliery Company, the sole
supplier, or the foreign currency for spare parts to maintain its power
The power utility is producing less than half its normal output, and
Zimbabwe relies on electricity imports from neighbouring South Africa,
Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo, although shortages of
foreign currency have led to wrangling over payments in a region where
economic demands are outpacing energy supplies.
Zimbabwe is facing severe shortages of just about everything from water to
petrol, and four out of five people are without jobs. According to
international donors, in the coming months more than a quarter of its 12
million people will be living on food handouts.
The government introduced price controls six weeks ago, ordering retailers
and wholesalers to slash their prices by 50 percent. Stock flew off the
shelves, only for the goods to reappear on the parallel market at prices
even more expensive than before the government introduced price controls:
foods like beef and chicken are almost unobtainable on the formal market,
and beer is a rarity.
The attempt to curb hyperinflation resulted only in empty shop shelves.
Inflation is estimated at over 4,000 percent, although some independent
economists put the rate at 40,000 percent; if current economic trends
prevail, the International Monetary Fund expects inflation to reach 100,000
percent by the end of the year.
A Zimbabwean manufacturer, who declined to be identified, told IRIN of the
prevailing mood in the business sector: "We were told to sell our
commodities at near give-away prices, but now we cannot afford to restock,
so we hope the government will come with a rescue package to help us remain
in business ... many have closed shop and many are considering doing the
Mabvuku, one of Harare's high-density suburbs, is pockmarked with shallow
wells, a consequence of potable water not being available in the area for
the past six months.
"It looks like the municipal authorities and the government have abandoned
us. Recently there was an outbreak of diarrhoea and several people died
after drinking unsafe water," Constance Chiminya, a resident, told IRIN.
"Because authorities cannot provide the community with any form of water, we
are now resorting to digging shallow unprotected wells, which we share with
She said the authorities had brought in water bowsers when there were
incidents of waterborne diseases, but once the outbreak was contained the
bowsers were withdrawn.
In Kadoma, a mining town of 80,000 people about 140km south of Harare, 20
people died during an outbreak of diarrhoea in July. The United Nations
Children's Agency (UNICEF) installed water tanks in the town's high-density
suburbs and provided disinfectants to prevent further outbreaks.
Precious Shumba, spokesperson for the Combined Harare Residents Association,
told IRIN that service delivery had collapsed in the capital and the risk of
the waterborne diseases was high.
They now use the bush to relieve themselves ... Unfortunately it is in the
same bushes that shallow wells are dug to provide water for residents
"Many households have gone for months without water so, naturally, residents
are not using their lavatories. They now use the bush to relieve themselves
... Unfortunately it is in the same bushes that shallow wells are dug to
provide water for the residents. This creates a ticking health time-bomb
because, in addition, refuse is not being collected, while burst sewer pipes
are not being attended to on time."
The former elected executive mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri, told IRIN: "You
see, when I was the mayor, we had some twinning arrangements with some
cities around the world. Harare was twined with Munich, in Germany."
Mudzuri, from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, was
replaced by commissioners appointed from the ranks of President Robert
Mugabe's ZANU-PF government. "They [Munich] were ready to assist us with
equipment for managing refuse collection, but they pulled out from the
arrangement, saying they only dealt with elected city leaders," he said.
"It is scandalous that the capital of a country has raw sewage flowing in
some streets, and that people go for weeks without water. How can the
streets of the capital of the country be in total darkness because the
commission managing the city abandons its role of lighting up the streets?"
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
Financial Gazette (Harare)
2 August 2007
Posted to the web 2 August 2007
ZIMBABWE'S agricultural production for 2006 is estimated to have declined by
14 percent due to operational challenges, farmer unions say.
Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) president Trevor Gifford said a number of
issues had contributed to the slump in the sector, the mainstay of the
Gifford said the sector had been affected by dry spells and irregular
rainfall, the high cost and unavailability of inputs. He indicated that the
supply of fertiliser remained perennially erratic, with shortages of
electricity and erratic fuel supplies combining to disrupt operational
activities in the sector.
The livestock industry had been badly hit by a shortage of stockfeed whose
cost is now too high.
Shortages of the main ingredients such as maize, cotton and soya bean
by-products meant that the industry had to rely on imported raw materials, a
factor which had pushed up the price of feeds enormously.
"In addition to the worrying increase in eviction notices, commercial
agriculture is now faced with one of its biggest challenge ever. Recent
legislation introducing imposed price controls is the largest single threat
to the viability of the industry," Gifford said.
While appreciating that the government was working to rein in inflation,
legislating for businesses to sell their products at below cost had serious
implications for sustainability, Gifford said.
Estimates for maize output indicate a drop in production from 945 000 tonnes
in the 2006/2007 season to around 697 000 tonnes this year against a
national requirement of 1 800 000 tonnes.
Approximately 250 000 cows were sold for slaughter, which is 20 percent
lower than the total for last year.
Annual milk production has fallen slightly to around 87 million litres, just
47 percent of the national requirements. Gifford noted, however, that there
was growth in production of soya beans at 26 percent up on last year, while
tobacco output could swell by 25 percent on last year's figures. An
estimated 51 percent increase in cotton production is expected.
The CFU chief also noted that the lack of secure property rights continued
to restrict investment in capital goods and infrastructure development in
The main disincentive remained the threat of expropriation by the state
through application of the Acquisition of Farm Equipment and Materials Act.
Widespread theft and vandalism of equipment and the very high cost of
replacement also served as deterrents to farmers in making meaningful
investments in their businesses.
On a positive note, however, the agricultural sector had been fortunate to
receive funding at a concessionary interest rate of 50 percent per annum
from the central bank's ASPEF facility.
ASPEF has been a vital source of funding for the sector, without which most
farmers would have been unable to finance their crops.
"The prospects for agriculture, in particular commercial agriculture, depend
largely on successfully resolving land tenure issues and creating conditions
which allow for positive growth in the economy. Agricultural production
cannot flourish in an environment of uncertainty and economic turmoil.
Farmers need clear direction on the future in order to be able to invest in
the future with confidence," Gifford noted.
By Netsai Mlilo
02 August 2007
While thousands of Zimbabweans are fleeing the country each week in
desperate attempts to better their lives, many foreign citizens say they're
staying. They say they're confident they'll survive the economic decline and
political upheavals. Several people say despite ongoing economic problems,
Zimbabwe's infrastructure is still intact, making life here better than in
their own homelands.
Voice of America Zimbabwe Service reporter Netsai Mlilo tells us that
Nigerians and Congolese top the list of so-called "easy to spot foreigners"
in Bulawayo. Locals joke that they're usually easy to spot, because of their
accents and flashy clothing.
Josea Katende is a permanent Zimbabwean resident from Lubumbashi, in the
Democratic Republic of Congo. A computer science student at a local college,
Katende says he's been in Zimbabwe for nearly a decade. He explains he left
the DRC with his family, when he was a teenager in the mid 1990s. Initially,
his family lived in Zambia before coming to Zimbabwe. Katende says although
Zimbabwe's economy is collapsing, life is still better here than in the DRC,
"It's bad. The economy is bad right now in Zimbabwe but the difference
maybe, is the infrastructure and that things haven't like collapsed in
Zimbabwe like they are in the Congo. Like right now, the situation is bad
but you can still post a letter and it gets to wherever it must go which in
our countries there it doesn't exist anymore. So at least, there is some
kind of order in Zimbabwe."
Katende says since coming to Zimbabwe, he has watched the number of
Nigerians and Congolese nationals in Bulawayo expand. He argues that's
because there are numerous opportunities in Zimbabwe to make money. Most
foreigners sell popular items like clothes, cell phone handsets and
Katende adds with the money he makes, he can buy a lot more goods here than
he'd be able to purchase in the DRC, "When we came to Zimbabwe, I think I
only knew two Nigerians but now, you know, there is a lot of Nigerians
because they find it easier here. It's hard to make money but its easier
living yet in Nigeria like in DRC you can easily make a lot of money but the
life is just not easy, the comforts that go with it. If you are living in a
place with power cuts, potholes everywhere, you can't really live properly."
Several Nigerians -- who declined to be named or recorded - said their major
misgiving about living here is locals often suspect them of being drug
dealers. As a result, they say they keep to themselves, rather than interact
Katende says although he's better off being in Bulawayo, he still misses
home, "I think it's the food. We have nice food there and just being there,
being with people who are likeminded culturally, and I just wish I had grown
around my relatives, my uncles, I think that's important. But maybe, I
gained in the fact that having lived in all these countries I get to
Katende says he and other Congolese families try to keep in touch and share
traditional meals, in an attempt to keep their cultural links strong. He
adds that Nigerian and DRC nationals meet regularly, for poetry and music
sessions. But he also acknowledges that if things don't improve soon in
Zimbabwe, he may be tempted to move again, as soon as he completes his
Zimbabwe suddenly looks like it has been in a war. The shops are empty,
there is little traffic and everyone is walking around in a daze. People
stop me and ask what is going on? Well just remember Pol Pot. He came to
power in Cambodia in the mid seventies, launched what they called the Khmer
revolution and in a matter of months they reduced the capital city to a
shell occupied by 25 000 people - down from two million.
In the process they had killed hundreds of thousands of skilled and
experienced Cambodians, forced millions into the rural areas where they were
required to undergo re-education and make a living from subsistence
agriculture. It will take Cambodia millennia to recover after this rapacious
and ideologically driven regime was removed from power by military
People outside Zimbabwe have no idea of just what has happened in Zimbabwe
in the past month. Conditions have gone from difficult to impossible. I am
not exaggerating when I say there are no basics - no flour, no maize meal,
no cooking oil, no margarine, no matches, no fuel, no meat, no eggs. On top
of this there are widespread shortages of water and electricity. I simply do
not know how people are surviving.
These terrible conditions are being deliberately created in a Pol Pot style
operation that is supposed to be dealing with run away inflation. Its real
goals lie elsewhere.
We now know that this operation was planned a long time ago - probably as
soon as it became apparent that elections would have to be held in March
2008. This is no knee jerk reaction to inflation, or to remarks by the US
Ambassador about regime change. It began with an exercise to generate a
sudden spurt in inflation. This was achieved when the State started buying
foreign currency on the open market in June, using freshly printed currency.
In a week of frenzied activity the price of the US dollar went from about
Z$70 000 to Z$400 000. Importers and industrialists were forced to raise
prices to cover the replacement cost of stocks.
The State then unveiled its "operation good governance". Under secret
orders, the security forces were instructed to impose price reductions on
all businesses. There was no legal basis for these instructions - just
orders to go into firms on a systematic basis and order them to cut prices
or else. Managers and owners were specifically targeted to intimidate them
into compliance. These have been arrested in their thousands, abused and
held over in filthy, overcrowded cells with ordinary prisoners.
Trillions of dollars of stock values were slashed from prices, no rational
basis for these price cuts were sought or tolerated. Suddenly firms faced
the situation where they could not restock, could not manufacture and sell
for a profit - most of their established products were now being priced into
the market at below cost. The more you produced, the faster your demise.
Fuel was priced at half its landed cost and overnight some Z$400 billion in
stock values was lost as customers scrambled to buy cheap fuel at half price
or less. All imports stopped.
The prices of all staple foods was likewise set at half or less the cost of
production and when stocks ran out there was nothing to sell.
Now many theories have been put out about this operation - it was popularist
is one, "they are preparing for the elections and forcing firms to cut
prices is an attempt to curry favor with voters". Many actually say it was
about time that business was brought to heel - a reaction to the sharp price
hikes caused by the first stage of this operation. It is too early for that
to be the real reason; they see it as one outcome, but with little long-term
value in their strategy.
My own view, based on what I know about the background, is that this is a
carefully planned and ruthless exercise to reduce the urban voting
population, undermine the remaining support base of the MDC and take full
control of the population and the economy in time for the March 2008
The dismantling of the commercial farm industry has reduced the voting
population on commercial farms from 2 million to about 600 000 and all of
them are now under the control of either the State or Zanu PF elements who
can dictate how they vote. These resettled areas are virtually no go areas
for the MDC.
In Communal areas the food supply has been brought under control and
direction, as has all other essentials for survival including the right of
abode. Traditional leaders are tightly controlled by the State and are now
under close supervision by resident CIO operatives who watch their every
action. They have been through three elections and now believe that they can
control the vote in these areas by these means. They are probably right.
So the remaining threat is the urban vote. Now in the majority, with over 6
million people living in urban areas, the towns and cities are the last
remaining centers of opposition. So like Pol Pot, the powers that be, in
this case the small coterie of leaders surrounding Mugabe and the people
involved in the Joint Operations Command, have decided to do some surgery.
When this operation is concluded they hope to have reduced the urban
population by as much as half, destroyed or taken over all major firms in
the private sector and facilitated the takeover of all other surviving firms
by loyal Zanu PF supporters. They are deliberately halting food supplies to
the cities, destroying jobs and the transport industry. They will then take
the pick of the commercial and industrial infrastructure that remains -
intact, almost as if a neutron bomb had been used, and move on from there.
The remaining urban population would then be in the same position as the
population in the rural areas - under tight control and able to vote only
Then Zanu can allow an election to take place - probably in March as
planned, even with observers for the last few days of the campaign and
during the vote itself. Zanu feels confident that it can win a clear
majority - even a two-thirds majority vote under such circumstances. The
only other issue is what happens to the three million Zimbabweans displaced
by this ruthless, but clever scheme.
Most of them will swim the Limpopo or cross the border at Beitbridge. Once
in South Africa, or Botswana, or Zambia or the UK or the USA, they will
settle down, breathe a sigh of relief to be somewhere where sanity prevails
and try to make a living, any sort of living. They will gradually be
assimilated and will start sending small sums of money "home" to keep their
relatives alive in Mugabe's national detention camp. Most importantly, they
will not be able to vote.
What remains of Zimbabwe will be a sea of poverty and subsistence activity
with Party controlled islands of prosperity. A few foreign firms will be
allowed to exploit our resources under close supervision and control and the
output used to support the lifestyles of the new elite who will continue to
enjoy the luxury and pleasures that have become their norm in recent years
on the gravy train. It has nothing to do with price control.
Afrique en ligne
Harare (Zimbabwe) An acute shortage of fuel in Zimbabwe is beginning
to affect the country's education sector, with some schools now demanding
petrol and diesel from desperate parents, APA learnt here Thursday.
One of the leading private schools in the capital Harare, has told
parents that their children's education risked being affected unless they
donated fuel to enable teachers to come to school.
A letter from Gateway School, made available to APA Thursday, said
that each parent of the more than 1,500 students at the school must
contribute five litres of fuel towards the school.
The request for fuel comes barely a month after other private schools
started accepting payments for fees in foreign currency, citing the rapid
depreciation of the Zimdollar for their action.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing acute shortages of fuel since the
government imposed a ban on petroleum imports by individuals and private
companies three weeks ago.
Only the state-owned National Oil Company of Zimbabwe is now allowed
to import fuel into the country, a development that has resulted in the
Combined with constant electricity cuts, the fuel shortage has forced
many businesses to downsize operations because of the shortage of fuel.
African Press Agency
By Bernard Unti
As famine looms for millions of his poorer citizens, President Robert Mugabe
of Zimbabwe has declared open season on one of his nation¹s greatest
treasures characterized his whole career, Mugabe has ordered rangers at
Zimbabwe¹s National Parks to cooperate with rural authorities in the
wholesale killing of wild animals, including elephants.
The expressed goal of the political strongman who has dominated Zimbabwe
since it gained political independence in 1980? To feed a hungry rural
constituency whose support ensured him a majority of seats in Zimbabwe¹s
March 2005 parliamentary elections.
An indeterminate number of wild animals were killed by authorities during
the run up to the March elections, with at least ten elephants barbecued as
part of the March 18 celebrations commemorating the 25th anniversary of
Zimbabwe¹s independence. Four of the elephants were shot by park rangers,
reportedly in the presence of tourists near the Matusadona National Park
bordering Lake Kariba. The others were killed by a farmer at the request of
a local rural council in the Urungwe Safari Area bordering the Mana Pools
Rangers killing elephants is nothing new. They¹ve been shooting a limited
number of these animals for years in an attempt to minimize human-wildlife
conflicts on the borders of Zimbabwe¹s parks, but in the wake of Mugabe¹s
order, these actions have taken on an ominous cast to many observers.
Specifically, Mugabe¹s Operation Nyama, or ³Operation Meat,² which kills
elephants to provide meat for starving villagers, has come under fire for
being nothing more than a front for illegal ivory poaching.
The Politics of Famine
This latest threat to Zimbabwe¹s wildlife is inextricably tied to the
politics of food. Notoriously scornful of western nations, Mugabe has
rejected international offers of food aid and denied the claims of his
political opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), that
Zimbabwe cannot meet the challenge of its food shortage without help. The
MDC has urged the government to seek international assistance.
A recent communiqu&rom the United States Agency for International
Development (USAID) confirms Zimbabwe¹s dire condition. The agency issued an
emergency alert on May 2 saying that Zimbabwe¹s summer grain harvest will
not satisfy the food needs of its residents. The country¹s population
exceeds 12 million, of whom an estimated four million rural poor are
affected by food shortages.
Mugabe has acknowledged that Zimbabwe faces a threat of famine, and has
sworn that he will not let his people go hungry. During the March elections
Mugabe essentially campaigned on a Vote for Us or Starve platform. But
Mugabe faces many crises at the moment: Once the engine of a promising
postcolonial state, Zimbabwe¹s economy is in free fall, with high
unemployment, hyperinflation, and shrinking capital investment. The country
also faces water, electricity, and fuel shortages, and an accelerating crime
Given all the country¹s problems U. S. Congress recently questioned whether
the international community¹s policy of isolating Mugabe¹s government was
the right approach. Members of Congress instead called for a concerted
effort at strategic engagement, with the United States and members of the
African Union, especially South Africa, pressing Mugabe to reform.
Responding to Mugabe's proposal, Andrew Rowan, executive vice president for
operations for The HSUS, sent a letter on May 2 asking that Zimbabwe
reconsider its position on accepting food relief from international
agencies. Rowan's letter to Mugabe pointed out that outside assistance would
help Zimbabwe's people and its animals, preventing further damage to the
nation's wildlife sector and setting the stage for Zimbabwe's future as a
premiere venue for wildlife-related tourism.
Even before Mugabe¹s latest decree, Zimbabwe¹s wildlife was in serious
peril, especially from the controversial land redistribution program
sponsored by his government.
In 2000, Mugabe ordered the confiscation of white-owned farms for
redistribution to peasants and political supporters. This marked the
culmination of two decades of battles over land policy that pitted Mugabe
against white farmers, political opponents, and the United Kingdom, which as
a colonial power once governed the nation formerly called Rhodesia.
With Mugabe¹s encouragement, thousands of black Zimbabweans invaded the
nation¹s farms. The destruction that ensued caused white farmers to flee,
crippled the economy, and ushered in widespread commodity shortages, as the
commercial farming sector, once an important source of exports and jobs, was
The presumed beneficiaries of land redistribution did not fare very well,
either. With poor soil quality and low rainfall, many of the subdivided
properties proved too barren to sustain crops. Thus, thousands of
Zimbabweans turned to poaching as a source of food and income, trapping
animals for their own sustenance as well as for an expanding market in bush
The new settlers were indiscriminate in their killing of animals, but their
main targets were antelopes (kudu and impala), buffaloes, elephants,
giraffes, leopards, wildebeests, and zebras.
The Spread of Dis-Ease
Hunting and wildlife-related tourism were once the source of millions of
dollars annually for Zimbabwe¹s economy; millions of acres of lands too arid
or rocky for farming could sustain wildlife, and proved well-suited for
photographic and shooting safaris. Despite his promise that the compulsory
acquisition of white-owned lands would be limited to agricultural farms, it
was not long before private reserves and conservancies were under siege.
Mugabe loyalists, politicians, police officials, the landless poor and other
parties participated in a virtual invasion of private and state-owned
conservation areas, killing animals for their meat and skins.
By burning grazing lands and chopping down trees along the way, the mostly
impoverished legions decimated Zimbabwe¹s natural environment, even as they
took a fatal toll on their nation¹s wild animal population. After all, the
indigenous savannah woodland that characterized many ranches and
conservancies provided suitable habitat for many rare species, including
African wild dogs, cheetah, black rhino, and roan and sable antelope.
While these game ranches were never perfectly ³safe² for animals, they were
at least guarded by scouts, and animals enjoyed relative safety when not
within the sights of a trophy hunter¹s rifle. What¹s more, during the 1990s,
such ventures enjoyed a measure of protection from the Mugabe regime, which
viewed them as a reliable revenue source.
Making matters worse, once the land invasions began, trophy hunters, biltong
hunters, and illegal safari operators from South Africa and elsewhere took
advantage of Zimbabwe¹s unstable circumstances, bribing their way into
conservation areas at a pittance, to shoot cheetahs, elephants, leopards,
lions, and other animals.
Food or Trophies?
By some estimates, the combined effect of the lawlessness and disorder of
the last few years has been the loss of 80% of the wild animals in
Zimbabwe¹s wildlife conservancies and game farms animals in its national
parks. The grim toll has shaken wildlife protection advocates. Until the
mid-1990s, the relative abundance of certain species in Zimbabwe had given
advocates hope that Zimbabwe could become a haven for wildlife.
Until 2000, for example, Zimbabwe had the world¹s single largest
concentration of black rhinos, approximately 500 in number, having recovered
from a critical two-decade decline. But in 2004, Johnny Rodrigues of the
Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force estimated that only 200 rhinos remained.
The slaughtered rhinos¹ horns, hacked off by poachers and others, are highly
valued in East Asia, where they can bring up to $90,000.
Elephants, too, had been thriving in Zimbabwe until the recent turmoil. In
2001, the Zimbabwe Department of National Parks and Wildlife, together with
the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), placed the number of elephants within
the country at 84,000 justify their ongoing efforts to cull elephants or
ease trade restrictions. For example, in 1999, amidst bitter international
controversy, Zimbabwe received permission from the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to sell ivory to Japan on
a limited and strictly monitored basis.
Mugabe's latest plan, Operation Nyama, may be even more controversial. Some
believe that the campaign to provide elephant meat to starving villagers in
northern Matabeleland is providing cover for an officially sanctioned
poaching ring that moves ivory out of Zimbabwe and into illicit markets.
Operation Nyama was to have ended in December, but in early March, it was
reportedly still going strong.
Zimbabwe already has huge stockpiles of ivory, an estimated 24,000
kilograms. Worldwide demand, were it not hampered by the CITES prohibition
and steady political pressure to maintain the ban, would make ivory a ready
source of foreign exchange revenue for Zimbabwe were the international
markets to open up.
The Wisdom of Elephants
In December 2003, British journalist Michael Durham published a story in The
Guardian about elephant ³refugees² who fled Zimbabwe by wading across the
Zambezi River into Zambia to avoid being killed by poachers, marauders, and
illegal trophy hunters. The elephants¹ movement seemed to exceed normal
rates of seasonal migration and a Zambian game warden told Durham that it
was not a coincidence. Elephants are quite intelligent and can communicate.
They know they are safer on this side of the river.
The wisdom of elephants notwithstanding, it won¹t be possible for the
majority of Zimbabwe¹s wildlife to evade the long shadow cast by President
Mugabe. Should Mugabe¹s orders take hold, Zimbabwe¹s national parks, where
wildlife losses have not been as high as those on game farms and
conservancies, will be in trouble. Dispatching armed rangers into parks with
orders to kill animals for their meat would provide no real answer to
Zimbabwe¹s food crisis or its other problems. It would be a disaster and
should it occur, treasures such as Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe¹s largest
park and one of Africa¹s outstanding havens for wild animals, will become
nothing less than hollowed-out monuments of a nation¹s political, social,
and ecological collapse.
What You Can Do
Please send an appeal to President Robert Mugabe in care of the Republic of
Zimbabwe¹s Ambassador to the United States, Simbi Veke Mubako. Ask President
Mugabe to accept the offer of international food aid, and tell him that his
simple decision will not only help his starving people, but also save
Zimbabwe¹s already imperiled wildlife.
His Excellency Simbi Veke Mubako, Ambassador
Embassy of Zimbabwe
1608 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20009
If you wish, send a copy of your letter or communication to the following
Representative Christopher H. Smith
Chair, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International
The Committee on International Relations
United States House of Representatives
2170 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
E-mail: Contact Secretary Rice via her web form.
August 02 2007 at 04:51PM
Harare - Lawyers for six Zimbabweans facing charges of plotting to
overthrow President Robert Mugabe protested the suspects' detentions on
Thursday, saying there was no case against them.
"There is no evidence against our clients and therefore no reason for
their continued detention," lawyer Charles Warara told AFP after a court
Lawyers were planning to ask the court to dismiss the case at the
hearing, but it was postponed until Monday.
"The case is fatally defective and we are arguing that there is no
reason for them to continue to be inside except for political reasons," he
Warara said the magistrate postponed the hearing at the request of
state prosecutor Joseph Makwakwa, who still had to familiarise himself with
the details of the case.
In June a judge denied the suspects' bid to be released on bail out of
fears they could flee the impoverished country.
The six men, including a retired soldier, Alfred Matapo, have been in
prison for nearly two months over an alleged attempt to topple long-ruling
Mugabe and replace him with rural housing minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa is among those seen as Mugabe's possible successors.
The prosecution said Matapo conspired with the other suspects and
recruited various members of the security forces in preparation for the
Matapo allegedly planned to incite soldiers to take over the
government and later declare himself interim ruler before installing
Mnangagwa as president.
Their lawyers said the suspects were discussing the formation of a new
political party when they were arrested during a meeting in the capital.
Business presents 14-page rescue plan to Mugabe.
02 Aug 2007 16:14
Zimbabwe's fawning business leaders have tabled an ambitious economic
recovery and rescue plan to deal with the country's eight-year-old economic
slump in 90 days.
The confidential 14-page rescue plan was presented to President Robert
Mugabe when he met with business executives. It proposes to reverse the
country's economic slide within three months of implementation. The plan
suggests foreign currency be used to stabilise the country's skidding
exchange rate and all pricing misalignments currently prevalent on the
market be removed.
The document, a copy of which was seen by Moneyweb, also suggests "a primary
budget surplus", be created.
It was reported that Mugabe was likely to give accent to the proposal by the
business leaders because he was evidently feeling the heat in the run-up to
next year's presidential, local government and parliamentary polls.
"He has no other option except to give the entrepreneurs the nod, Mugabe and
his officials within government know that in the past they have tried to go
it alone and this has not worked," said Pattisani Mkandla, a local political
analyst. He added that Mugabe now realises that the solution to Zimbabwe's
economic downturn lies in the economy not his "self imposed but ill
conceived and badly implemented policies of expediency".
The entrepreneurs who met Mugabe stressed the importance of the need for the
implementation of extraordinary measures and unconventional methods.
"Your Excellency, we. seek your advice and guidance so that we deal with the
grave situation out there within the next 90 days. We propose that you
consider setting up a small team of people drawn from government and
business to put together and implement a comprehensive emergency package of
measures designed to rescue, stabilise and eventually turnaround our
economy," the presentation to Mugabe reads.
The business executives are positive that the implementation of the economic
rescue package would significantly reduce the country's runaway inflation,
which at over 5 000 is the highest in the world.
They also hope that the plan will help increase capacity utilisation and
increase confidence in the economy.
Presented during a four-hour long meeting with the president, the plan
proposes the implementation of "a credible, transparent pricing mechanism
that ensures both business viability and affordability for consumers for
controlled and monitored products through the framework from the social
The business captains suggested restructuring of the country's under
performing and undercapitalised public enterprises.
They also suggested other measures to the effect of retaining skills in the
various sectors of Zimbabwe's incapacitated economy. Economic sectors such
as the mining and manufacturing industry have the capacity to turn around
the country's economy should the proposals by the business leaders be
implemented in whole.
Once the internal package of measures achieves traction, the business
leaders would then "seek external balance of payments support on favourable
terms", according to the proposals.
During the meeting, Mugabe is believed to have called for the business
leaders to desist from reaping exorbitant profits from their businesses.
He is also believed to have two items on the list of proposals cited above.
The items added could not immediately be obtained, as they are not on the
original list that was presented to Mugabe and seen by Moneyweb.
Delta Corporation CEO Joel Mutizwa, Zimbabwe Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC)
president Marah Hativagone and the Zimbabwe Confederation of Industries
(CZI) leader Callisto Jokonya are among some of the delegates who were
hosted by Mugabe.
*Tawanda Jonas is a Zimbabwean journalist
The Southern African
:: The Southern African
Thursday, 02 August 2007
LUSAKA - When Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa likened Zimbabwe to a
sinking titanic in March this year, he must have forgotten that he would
soon host President Robert Mugabe, the captain of the "sinking titanic".
From August 10, Mwanawasa is hosting the annual SADC heads of state
summit and suddenly the Zambian leader is faced with the prospect of awkward
moments or even a snub from the Zimbabwean leader.
But, according to the AFP, Mwanawasa has found a timely solution. He
dispatched a special envoy to Harare to repair relations with Mugabe ahead
of the summit.
Diplomatic sources told AFP that none other than veteran diplomat,
Vice-President Rupiah Banda has been sent to do damage control on a
diplomatic discord caused when Mwanawasa made the titanic comment when
reacting to reports of the torture of opposition leaders that sparked an
"Quiet diplomacy has failed to help solve the political chaos and
economic meltdown in Zimbabwe (which is like) a sinking Titanic whose
passengers are jumping out in a bid to save their lives," Mwanawasa said
He added that Zambia had been forced to re-think its position after
"the twist of events in the troubled country", which "necessitates the
adoption of a new approach".
Inevitably, the Zimbabwe crisis will top the agenda at the summit
where a report from President Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the Zimbabwe
political crisis talks, is highly anticipated.
"President Mwanawasa wants to make up with Mugabe before the summit.
He wants to assure Mugabe that he will not use his position to attack
Zimbabwe," a source told AFP.
August 02 2007 at 04:48PM
Harare/Johannesburg - A man was killed in a scuffle about a loaf of
bread in Zimbabwe, where food shortages are worsening, press reports said on
The man, believed to have been an illegal gold panner, was killed on
Thursday on the outskirts of the city of Gweru, central Zimbabwe, the
official Herald daily said.
The report said the man bought a loaf of bread on credit from a woman
running a small shop. Half an hour later, five men, including the
shopowner's husband, confronted the man and his brother and demanded cash
for the bread.
"A misunderstanding ensued over the matter resulting in the five men
assaulting the two brothers with fists, iron bars and stones," police
spokesperson Emmanuel Mahoko said.
One of the men died of his injuries later that night. Police have
arrested the five alleged assailants, according to the Herald.
Bread is in critical short supply in Zimbabwe following President
Robert Mugabe's controversial price blitz early last month. Price inspectors
demand that bread, where available, be sold at just ZIM$22 000 (about R8)
On the black market a loaf of bread fetches up to ZIM$90 000. Flour is
also short supply. - Sapa-DPA
By Lance Guma
02 August 2007.
Instead of celebrating the first anniversary of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign
on the 29th July, Zimbabweans were rocked this week by the withdrawal of the
Mutambara MDC from the platform. The party cited what they felt was bias for
Morgan Tsvangirai and his party. As the dust settles on that episode the
National Students Union (ZINASU) has moved to re-affirm its support for the
coalition. Speaking on our Behind the Headlines programme, Promise Mkwananzi
spoke of the need to unite all progressive forces 'to mount a spirited
campaign against the ills and misdeeds of an illegitimate and brutal Zanu PF
government.' He said students believe the Save Zimbabwe coalition is the
only viable option for people to articulate their demands.
Mkwananzi who sits on the general council of the group said at no point was
it ever agreed that the different groups would support a particular
individual's aspirations. He said 'It is unfortunate and sad that they have
pulled out (Mutambara MDC),' but that 'there was a general understanding we
would promote the concept of one candidate for the forthcoming 2008
elections.' He said those remaining in the grouping will adhere to the
memorandum of agreement drawn up. Mkwananzi said it would have been ideal to
have everyone on board but that even after the withdrawal, the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign 'had enough manpower and stamina to carry the struggle for
Meanwhile Pius Wakatama, a spokesman for the Christian Alliance which
launched and coordinates the campaign, said 'it was business as usual,' and
they would continue in their efforts to liberate Zimbabweans. He told
journalists it was unfortunate Mutambara announced his decision to the media
without discussing his concerns with them. Only recently members of the
coalition, including Tsvangirai, Mutambara, Lovemore Madhuku (NCA) and Paul
Siwela (ZAPU) among others, embarked on a tour of European capitals to lobby
for more pressure on Mugabe's regime. A prayer rally by the coalition in
March was brutally crushed by police with two activists, including Gift
Tandare, being killed by police.
As elections scheduled for 2008 draw nearer commentators are urging groups
in and outside Zimbabwe to forge common platforms to try and work together.
In the United Kingdom, the Zimbabwe Action Group led by Robert Gonouya has
already drawn up a concept paper, listing terms of reference for a coalition
that will unite pressure groups there. 'It is clear that unless we become
more adroit and all progressive forces unite, our effectiveness will always
be limited. The challenges we face as a people demand that we put the need
to effect positive change in our circumstances above personal interests and
pride,' Gonouya said. 'There is no room for tribal prejudices, bickering or
ambivalence. The advantages of us working closely together are obvious,' he
NB: The full interview with Promise Mkwananzi can be heard on our Behind the
Headlines programme, Thursday and will also be available on archives after
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
2 August 2007
Harare (dpa) - As inflation bites and shortages worsen, Zimbabwe's mandarins
have been offered help from a highly-controversial source - the Church of
Scientology, reports said Thursday.
Government officials, including cabinet ministers have all been given free
copies of the book The Problems of Work written by Scientology founder L Ron
The books were handed over by a representative from an international book
distributor, state radio said, adding that The Problems of Work tackles
issues on how to handle exhaustion and confusion.
Scientology is not recognized as a religion in several European countries
including Britain, France and Germany, and the Berlin government considers
Scientology a moneymaking enterprise with a history of exploiting the
The creed however has various high-profile adherents who include Hollywood
film star Tom Cruise.
It was not clear why President Robert Mugabe's government accepted the
Zimbabwe already has its own motivational literature, including three books
by respected author and newspaper columnist Milton Kamwendo. Like many
Zimbabweans, he is also a Christian.
21:25, August 02, 2007
The first group of Zimbabwean students enrolling for a Chinese
language course at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) will graduate Friday, New
Ziana said on Thursday.
UZ acting Director for Information and Public Relations Daniel
Chihombori said a total of 57 students successfully underwent the five-month
"The 57 students are the first group of graduates under this
non-degree course offered by the Confucius Institute. The aim of the
institute is to teach Chinese language and culture and we are the seventh
country in Africa to establish it," he said.
The institute, which is collaborating with People's University
in China, was opened in March.
Chihombori said enrolment for the next group would begin soon,
adding that plans were at an advanced stage for the Confucius Institute to
start offering a degree program.
Chihombori expressed gratitude to the Chinese embassy for its
support to the program.
He said through the embassy's support, the institute was able to
construct in April this year, a state of the art laboratory to facilitate
the teaching of the language.
The establishment of the Confucius Institute followed the
signing of a memorandum of understanding between the UZ and the Chinese
Language Council International in August last year.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
02 August, 2007
The growing number of Zimbabweans flooding into South Africa has clearly
become a serious problem for the government of President Thabo Mbeki, yet
officials there continue to deny there is a problem next door in Zimbabwe.
SABC news reported on Thursday that the department of home affairs said
"Zimbabweans streaming into South Africa cannot be classified as refugees,
as they are not facing persecution in their home country." The report also
said the United Nations High Commission for Refugees agrees with this,
saying it is not yet critical. The evidence on the ground shows otherwise.
The news comes on the same day that 300 protestors marched to the office of
the Premier of Gauteng Province, to deliver a petition for President Mbeki
urging him to reform the government's policies towards Zimbabwean refugees.
Also on Thursday The Cape Times reported that SA Police had called on
farmers near the northern border to stop their vigilante campaign against
Zimbabweans. A Sky News report in the UK on Wednesday had shown the border
farmers hunting down desperate Zimbabweans who are cutting down the farm
fences and killing game for food, as they escape hunger and persecution in
Zimbabwe. And last week three Zimbabweans were stabbed and injured in Port
Elizabeth, in an incident that was attributed to xenophobia.
MP Mark Lowe, the Home Affairs spokesperson for South Africa's main
opposition Democratic Alliance party, said clearly there is a problem but if
the government of South Africa admits this then they will be admitting their
policy of quiet diplomacy has failed. He added: "And they are obviously not
going to do that. So we have this crazy situation where we have thousands of
people coming across the border every day and the government saying there is
no need to provide facilities for them." Lowe explained that South Africa's
Home Affairs admitted Thursday that there are a growing number of
Zimbabweans crossing over, but they are disputing the numbers. He said the
problem has never been numbers, but has always been a humanitarian problem
of providing shelter and care.
Bishop Paul Verryn who shelters hundreds of Zimbabwean refugees at his
Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg agrees with Lowe. He said many of
the people he assists are professionals who escaped from Zimbabwe and prefer
to live under squalid conditions in South Africa. The Bishop asked: "Clearly
something is wrong in Zimbabwe. No right-thinking individual would leave a
decent life, abandon normalcy and choose to come here where they have
nothing and are treated so badly." Verryn helped organise the demo in
Johannesburg on Thursday.
Joyce Dube from the South Africa Women's Institute for Migration Affairs
(SAWIMA), was also an organiser of the Thursday demo. She said the fact that
President Mbeki agreed to mediate the talks between Zimbabwe's ruling party
and the opposition means that he admits there is a problem in Zimbabwe. As
such she believes he has the responsibility to address the issue of refugees
fleeing to his country. The petition that was delivered for Mbeki by the
protestors Thursday urges him to care for the basic humanitarian needs of
Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa. In the meantime SAWIMA has launched a
soup kitchen in Johannesburg that Dube said feeds about 700 refugees every
As thousands of Zimbabweans continue to cross into South Africa every day,
the government there and the UN Human Rights Commission will surely,
ultimately, be forced to act. Their denial is reminiscent of the reluctance
of the international community to state that genocide was taking place in
Rwanda, because that would have meant they had to do something. A report in
South Africa's Business Day newspaper on Tuesday said: "The officially
created disaster in Zimbabwe is the longest-running genocide affecting the
greatest number of any people for more than half a century."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Deterioration in relations between opposition factions likely to hand
ZANU-PF victory on a silver platter.
By Norman Chitapi in Harare (AR No. 124, 2-Aug-07)
The divided opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, has all but
sealed its fate ahead of next year's combined parliamentary and presidential
elections, with the leaders of its two factions in an all-out attack on each
other in the state media this week.
However, analysts are split on the likely impact of the announcement by the
Arthur Mutambara-aligned camp that unity talks between the two factions had
irretrievably collapsed after MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai
recently refused to attend a joint press conference to announce a code of
conduct which had set up a mechanism to reduced tensions between the rival
The analysts predict that a divided MDC will hand the ruling ZANU-PF party
victory on a silver platter in next year's election. They all believe the
opposition will perform far worse in the ballot than it has done since it
was founded eight years ago.
There are also fears that the party could scuttle South African president
Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts after he made it a precondition that he
would only deal with a united MDC.
Mutambara accused Tsvangirai of sabotaging efforts to present a common front
against ZANU-PF. He accused his counterpart of being "weak and indecisive"
and lacking the ability to think strategically.
Mutambara also announced that his faction was pulling out of the "Save
Zimbabwe Campaign", a conglomeration of some 20 civic organisations,
political parties and student and labour unions, which he said was being
used to advance Tsvangirai's personal interests.
While he has made it clear that he is not interested in reunification
between the two factions after the split in 2005, Tsvangirai did not
directly attack Mutambara when he spoke at a rally in the poor suburb of
Kuwadzana on July 29.
"We need unity of all progressive forces in this country," he said. "The
enemy is not Tsvangirai. The enemy is President [Robert] Mugabe."
Analysts said the attack on Tsvangirai by Mutambara was playing into ZANU-PF's
hands without in any way helping the cause of the forces fighting Mugabe's
"We know there is no love lost between the two opposition camps," said a
political observer in Harare, adding that he believed Mugabe was "ready for
the picking" after the worsening economic situation triggered by the recent
onslaught against business. However, pointed out the observer, "One cannot
rule out ZANU-PF's dirty tricks in this whole affair. Why is the state media
suddenly interested in reporting what is happening in the MDC when all along
it has refused to do so? After all, coverage of opposition parties by the
state media is one of the key issues being raised at the stalled talks in
The observer said the fact that the two factions were attacking each other
in public was a clear sign that they were going their separate ways and were
therefore likely to split their vote, which would favour ZANU-PF.
"One of the key conditions of the talks between the two factions was to
present a common front against ZANU-PF. This meant that they would field a
single candidate in next year's presidential election," said the observer.
"What is now happening is that the single-candidate principle they were
talking about is dead and buried. There is no way any of them can turn
around and support the other as the leader of a united MDC."
They would also not likely field candidates against each other in the
parliamentary constituencies, but would instead compete on a proportional
A retired journalist in Harare said Zimbabweans would be the biggest losers
in the war of egos between opposition leaders. He said it was evident to
everyone else that a divided MDC could not win against ZANU-PF - no matter
what the conditions on the ground. But this did not seem to matter to the
"I would be surprised if their combined seats surpass 25 per cent of the
total vote in next year's elections," said the journalist.
At the weekend rally, Tsvangirai announced that his faction would launch its
presidential and parliamentary campaign on September 9 at Zimbabwe Grounds
in the poor suburb of Highfield, the same venue where many civic and
opposition activists, including Tsvangirai, were arrested and severely
beaten in police custody. The crackdown prompted an emergency Southern
African Development Community, SADC, summit in Tanzania, which led to Mbeki
being ask to mediate the crisis.
"Neither faction enjoys any significant support in rural areas and if they
split the vote in urban areas where they have traditionally been strong,
ZANU-PF will pick up those seats again. This is definitely bad news for
Zimbabwe, whatever motives the opposition leaders might have," said the
More significantly, it would be difficult for the opposition to extract any
concessions from Mbeki at the mediation process, he added.
Mugabe has always been reluctant to talk to the MDC, especially meeting
"Now that they have proved unwilling to stand together in defence of their
own interest, it will be more difficult for ZANU-PF to take them seriously,"
said an African diplomat based in Harare. "It will be even more difficult
for Mbeki to argue with ZANU-PF that they are a serious party."
The SADC in March this year mandated Mbeki to mediate in Zimbabwe's
eight-year political stalemate and economic recession, which has seen
inflation spiral to over 4,500 per cent. Unemployment is estimated at over
80 per cent.
The country has been plagued by shortages of almost all basic commodities, a
situation aggravated by a unilateral order by government at the end of June
for products and service providers to reduce prices by 50 per cent. The move
led to a buying spree by consumers, which has left most shops empty.
An MDC member who attended Tsvangirai's rally noted that the MDC was setting
itself up for failure. "Up to now not many people know whether or not the
MDC will be participating in next year's elections. Then you have this
confusion about the format the party wants to adopt in combating ZANU-PF.
Why should these things be happening at the last minute when the party
should be mobilising supporters and urging them to register to vote?" he
"The long and short of it is that the MDC is digging its own grave. Once
they lose next year's election, whatever the electoral conditions, they are
unlikely to recover again. People have given them enough chance and have
been hoping that they would take advantage of the mediation effort by Mbeki
to improve electoral laws, and even get some concessions on a new
constitution. They have blown all that."
He noted that government had removed the ban on political gatherings and
that both factions of the MDC were allowed to hold rallies whenever they
wanted to. Whether government was genuinely trying to accommodate opposition
views was still unclear but it was up to the MDC to test the extent of this
commitment, he said.
"They cannot do this when they cannot put their own house in order first,"
said another analyst. "In all probability, ZANU-PF is just trying to cleanse
itself - to be seen to be improving conditions in the country to win
legitimacy in any future elections. It cannot be blamed for the MDC's
Norman Chitapi is the pseudonym for an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
Monsters and Critics
Aug 2, 2007, 17:35 GMT
Johannesburg/Harare - The wife of the Zimbabwe army chief is to sue
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and independent news services over
claims she assaulted a photographer during a tour of a nearly-empty
supermarket, state radio said Thursday.
Jocelyn Chiwenga, wife of army commander Constantine Chiwenga, told a press
conference convened in Harare that the reports were an attack on her private
life, the radio said.
Websites and private news sites were awash Thursday with reports the
general's wife had slapped photographer Tsvangirai Mukwazi who was
accompanying Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) president Tsvangirai
during a tour of a South African-owned shop in Harare on Wednesday.
Seeing the mainly empty shelves at the store, Tsvangirai is reported to have
criticized President Robert Mugabe's controversial price slash last month.
Mugabe, 83, ordered shops, businesses, hotels, restaurants and schools to
slash their prices by at least 50 per cent, leading to widespread shortages.
The MDC said the move was a political gimmick meant to shore up waning
support for the ruling party ahead of next years polls.
Reports said Jocelyn Chiwenga was enraged to see the MDC leader accompanied
by his bodyguards and journalists in the store, and immediately ordered
guards to close the shop.
Photographer Mukwazi is reported to have been trapped within the
supermarket, where he was allegedly slapped and insulted by Chiwenga, who
was shopping at the time.
State radio said the army commander's wife was furious to hear Morgan
Tsvangirai, who she said had called for sanctions on Zimbabwe, referred to
as the president.
She has announced she will sue the MDC leader and independent news services
that have carried reports on the alleged incident.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
2 August 2007
Posted to the web 2 August 2007
A PRIVATE college in Bulawayo which doubled the price of uniforms after
Government froze prices was yesterday fined $3 million.
Foundation College, represented by Victor Katsholo, the board secretary,
pleaded guilty to the charge of overcharging before Bulawayo magistrate Mr
Prosecutor Mr Jeremiah Mutsindikwa told the court that on Friday last week
members of the price task force visited the college along Herbert Chitepo
The task force discovered that the college authorities had increased the
price of uniforms from $1 million in June to about $2,5 million in July.
Appearing before another court, Matopo Book Centre, situated at Lutheran
House in Bulawayo, was also fined $3 million for selling a packet of candles
above the stipulated price.
The company, represented by John Wesley Ncube, pleaded guilty to the charge
before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Ntombizodwa Mazhandu.
Prosecutor Ms Nonhlanhla Ndlovu told the court that last week on Friday
members of the task force visited the centre and found that a packet of six
candles was being sold for $186 000 instead of the recommended price of $169
John Birch Society
Twenty-seven years ago, with the help of worldwide communism, Robert
Mugabe took control of Rhodesia. He changed its name to Zimbabwe and
instituted a brutal one-party dictatorship that has destroyed the nation's
productivity and brought it back to almost stone-age privation.
With enormous pressure from the likes of Henry Kissinger aided by the
United Nations and other powerful Western leaders, and with horrifying civil
strife supposedly generated to oppose colonial rule, the government of
Rhodesia (called Southern Rhodesia before its Unilateral Declaration of
Independence in 1965) led by Ian Smith capitulated and pro-communist Robert
Mugabe became the nation's leader. He quickly overcame rival revolutionary
Joshua Nkomo, changed the country's name to Zimbabwe in 1980, and
established himself as the supreme dictator.
Previously, Rhodesia had been a prosperous jewel surrounded by a host of
backward African nations. An exporter of food and other commodities,
Rhodesia helped to keep starvation from impacting neighboring nations. But
Mugabe nationalized many of the white-owned farms that had been owned and
managed over several generations by European settlers. In many cases, huge
agricultural operations were confiscated without payment to their owners and
turned over to Mugabe's followers who proceeded to convert prosperity into
More than two million Zimbabweans have fled the country. Approximately
4,000 entrepreneurs have been arrested, fined, and jailed by Zimbabwean
police loyal to Mugabe.
In recent months, the nation's paper currency has become virtually
worthless, hospitals are without basic necessities, shops and manufacturing
facilities are all but closed, and the people face starvation. In typical
dictatorial fashion, Mugabe has devalued the currency, imposed wage and
price controls, and sent his police throughout the nation arresting those
who are trying to survive in the government-directed economic chaos.
Like the emperor Diocletian before him, Mugabe will soon learn that wage
and price controls cannot solve the problems his regime has created, and
that economic laws cannot be repealed. Acting as numerous dictators have in
the past, Mugabe blames the nation's problems on a conspiracy seeking to
reimpose white colonial rule.
There is no doubt that his days as Zimbabwe's leader are numbered. But the
horror his rule has brought about will take generations to correct -
assuming that future leaders have any intention of correcting nearly three
decades of enormous crimes against this once-civilized outpost.
John F. McManus
John F. McManus is President of The John Birch Society.