International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: August 4, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: The once world-renowned Zimbabwe International Book Fair
wound up with a whimper Saturday, with its only foreign exhibitor - the
embassy of Iran - packing Islamic tracts and political brochures into
"What is amazing is that this fair happens at all," said Kudzi Kaparadza, a
high school teacher visiting from Bromley, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of
Zimbabwe, in its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980, is facing
acute shortages of gas, food and most basic commodities. Official inflation
is given at 4,500 percent, the highest in the world. Scores of businesses
have closed down and state health and education services are short of
supplies, with up to 10 children sharing one textbook.
The three-day fair, which had 84 exhibitors - mostly local publishers,
booksellers, church groups and aid and human rights organizations, was a
shadow of its former self.
After the inaugural fair in 1984, Harare attracted hundreds of agents,
publishers and literary figures from Europe, the United States, Asia,
Australia and within Africa itself. Deals and contracts were signed in a
But Zimbabwe is now isolated from the West and there is little incentive for
foreign publishers to attend the fair as few Zimbabweans can afford to buy
"Whether we are still an international book fair is a vexing question," said
Greenfield Chilongo, executive director of the independent nonprofit
association of organizers.
This time around, writers and academics came from Kenya and regional nations
for workshops, discussion groups and poetry and theater readings, he said.
Brightly colored souvenir T-shirts with the fair's symbol were not produced
this year and the past literary cafe mood at the coffee bar was absent.
"Like everybody, we have had our budget constraints. We have done our best
to survive and our participants and supporters want to see it continue,"
Chilongo said debate in discussion groups called for new efforts, especially
in schools, to bolster the role of books and reading as a bridge toward
healing differences in times of crisis, promoting the love of language and
lifting "constraints of the mind" in a nation of high - though now
diminishing - literacy.
Maverick former politician, guerrilla leader and a ruling party founder
Edgar Tekere arrived a few hours before the closing of the five-day event to
sign copies of his fast-selling autobiography, "A Life of Struggle," now in
its second printing - rare in local publishing circles.
He said he had to "scrounge" for gasoline in his home city of Mutare on the
eastern border with Mozambique to reach the Harare fair.
His autobiography tells of internal struggles within the ruling party and
contains highly critical accounts of the private and political life of
longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe.
Officials of a free-speech lobby group said some visitors, evidently
supporters of sweeping media laws passed by the ruling party in 2003, were
openly hostile and aggressive over their exhibit of literature and fliers on
media repression, arrests of independent journalists and pro-Mugabe
propaganda in the dominant state-controlled media.
In addition to controlling the print and broadcast media, the government is
now intent on monitoring the Internet. The official Herald newspaper
reported Saturday that Mugabe had approved a new law giving authorities
power to monitor and intercept communications on the Internet as well as
fixed and mobile telephones.
There were no violent incidents at the fair. In previous years, violent
scuffles occurred over controversial exhibits and the government one year
banned a display of human and sexual rights literature by gays and lesbians
after Mugabe described same-sex partners as "lower than pigs and dogs."
Ruling party militants trashed the gays' display.
GALZ, the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, took a stand this year but
displayed only a sign and a logo.
Just 500 people passed through the gates in the central Harare park on the
first public day, compared with thousands in previous years.
"I guess people are preoccupied out there searching for food and
necessities," said Kaparadza, the high school teacher. "All the same, I'm
inspired by the hard work of the brave, committed people who put this fair
together against everything that's going on."
But a young man sneered at ornamental African flower pots on one bookshelf.
"In this economy, what's the use? You can't eat flowers, you can't eat
books," he said, cursing obscenely and refusing to give his name.
Monsters and Critics
Aug 4, 2007, 11:59 GMT
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's former information minister and now a critic of
President Robert Mugabe warned Saturday of the possibility of a coup in the
southern African country.
Writing in South Africa's Weekender newspaper, Jonathan Moyo said that
'while a military coup is clearly undesirable in Zimbabwe, it is
nevertheless possible and could even become unavoidable.'
'The national consensus now is that neither Mugabe nor (opposition leader
Morgan) Tsvangirai can take Zimbabwe forward.
'The political economy of Zimbabwe today is pregnant with socio- economic
conditions that have given rise to military coups elsewhere in Africa and
the developing world,' wrote Moyo, who was sacked by Mugabe in 2005 and is
now an independent member of parliament.
Another possible option is 'a sudden and spontaneous uprising, that would
result in chaos.'
Moyo said these possibilities could be avoided in two ways: 'an act of
statesmanship by Mugabe - he would have to retire now - or the emergence of
a united front, bringing together progressive nationalists from across the
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
August 04 2007 at 04:14PM
Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni has hinted that Zimbabwe might be
excluded from the common monetary union planned for southern African
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) aims to have a
single currency by 2016 to promote regional trade.
Speaking during an interaction with parliament's finance committee in
Cape Town on Friday, Mboweni said inflation figures in the SADC region were
encouraging, with the exception of Zimbabwe.
He said the idea that including Zimbabwe in the common monetary area
would help that country's economy was far-fetched.
South Africa currently shares a common monetary area with Namibia,
Lesotho and Swaziland.
"Zimbabwe is out of the question for now.
"The question should rather be: When the SADC countries reach the
point of monetary union, what happens to those countries that don't fulfil
the convergence criteria? The interesting view that is emerging is that the
(SADC monetary union) may not have to include everybody," said Mboweni.
Those countries that did not comply with the criteria would be
Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed. Inflation is about 5 000 percent and
millions of Zimbabweans face starvation because of food and fuel shortages.
South Africa had given enough technical assistance to Zimbabwe
counterparts on what needed be done to rescue the crippled economy, said
"We've sat down with our counterparts in Zimbabwe, we've debated the
issues and we've agreed.
"So the technical issues here are not the problem. The problem in
Zimbabwe is a political matter, which they must resolve.
"We can't implement the technical issues outside of the bigger policy
issues. I'm sure our colleagues will sort things out there," said Mboweni.
He also dismissed media reports that there were plans at government
level of pegging the Zimbabwean currency to the rand.
"That discussion doesn't exist at all it was the figment of some
Mboweni indicated that it might take a while for SADC to have a single
"It's a realistic option, but it's not going to happen soon because
the political leadership has already taken a decision to form an African
Central Bank based in Nigeria.
"Our idea was that we should start on a regional basis and then later
we could move to the continent," he said.
Meanwhile, Mboweni said that South Africa's inflation rate, now at 6.4
percent, was worrying, especially with the rising food and fuel prices.
He warned that plans to produce alternative fuel (ethanol) using maize
could further exacerbate the problem.
"Brazil produces ethanol from sugar cane but the US has taken the
route of using maize.
"That means that a significant chunk of maize is being removed from
the food market into the energy market.
"That is something we should be concerned about. I understand that in
South Africa we are thinking of producing ethanol from maize, I'd like to
counsel against that. KwaZulu-Natal has a lot of sugar cane; maybe we should
go the sugar cane route and not the maize one," he said.
This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria News on
August 04, 2007
Mail and Guardian
04 August 2007 07:04
Police in eastern Zimbabwe will soon launch night raids on
businesses and bus companies trying to circumvent price controls by
operating only in the dark, press reports said on Friday.
Police spokesperson for Manicaland province, Brian Makomeke
warned that anyone trying to dodge President Robert Mugabe's controversial
price-cut campaign would be punished, reported the state-controlled Manica
"Every gap should be closed and the police shall extend night
price monitoring patrols well into the night in order to curb these illegal
transactions," said the spokesperson.
Shortages of basics have been worsening since 83-year-old Mugabe
ordered prices be slashed by at least 50% early last month.
The opposition says the price blitz was a political gimmick
meant to buy the support of Zimbabweans struggling under record inflation
"Desperate businesspeople say they can't afford to operate at a
loss. Some are now opening their doors only after 5pm when police and price
inspectors knock off for the day," said the Manica Post, which, like the
Herald daily, is tightly controlled by the authorities.
'Meat in the moonlight'
"Butchers are offering scarce meat in the moonlight," the paper
"Buses are plying their routes mainly at night, charging between
Z$600 000 and Z$800 000 ($40 and $53 at the official rate of exchange) for a
trip between the border city of Mutare and the capital Harare," the paper
The government says the fare must be less than half that at
"Road blocks will be extended to ensure that no operator charges
ungazetted fares," Makomeke warned.
In a bizarre twist, the Manica Post also carried claims that
queues seen in many supermarkets -- usually for scarce commodities like
bread -- were artificially-created and meant to tarnish Zimbabwe's image.
"The queues at some shops are suspicious. Some of these people
are just a rented crowd," an unnamed source told the paper.
'Everything is better here'
Meanwhile, Zimbabweans are flocking to the South African village
Each day, about 2 000 Zimbabweans are arriving -- either legally
or illegally -- across the border in order to carry out panic purchases of
all those goods which are no longer available in their own country.
In Johannesburg's Methodist church the air is filled with the
stench of unwashed human bodies. Men and women have crowded the hallways,
staircases and various other nooks and crannies of the church building in
their search for asylum.
"Everything is better here than what we have at home," says one
young Zimbabwean man. For fear of repression of his country's secret
service, he declines to identify himself.
Each day, thousands of Zimbabweans are streaming across the
borders to neighbouring countries in a bid to escape the chaos. Zimbabwe is
bleeding to death and the economy is collapsing.
The last official inflation rate figure reported in April was
more than 4 500% -- a world record. International Monetary Fund experts even
believe that by year's end, a realistic prospect is inflation of 100 000%.
Shortages of goods in Zimbabwe are chronic and the suffering of
the population is enormous. Many people have already fled. In South Africa
alone, the number of Zimbabweans -- be they legally registered or illegal --
is estimated at three million.
But now a new mass exodus appears to be getting started.
Even the South African government, which for a long time had
sought to play down the problem, is suddenly alarmed.
"Clearly, we must do more to see what we can do to deal with the
this large influx of refugees," Deputy Foreign Minister Azis Pahad warned on
"If we don't begin to assist the Zimbabweans to solve their own
problems the flow into South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and other neighbours
will increase," he said. "It is in our interest, nationally and morally, to
see what we can do to facilitate."
His candid words stand in contrast to those by the authorities
in the border province Limpopo, who officially say they know nothing about a
crisis on the border.
The United Nations is warning that Zimbabweans could be forced
to take desperate action in order to survive. In the town of Mutare there
was a case in which students, out of pure hunger, slaughtered and ate dogs.
Survival has become a daily struggle taking up all of peoples' energy.
So far, many Zimbabweans have been able to acquire food items in
neighbouring South Africa. But now Mugabe wants to block even this path. In
the future, all imported goods going beyond a certain value are to be taxed.
For South Africa, time is becoming an issue: On August 10,
President Thabo Mbeki is to report to the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) of his mediation efforts with Harare. So far, these do not
hold out any promise of success.
Mugabe (83) who has been ruling Zimbabwe since its independence
in 1980, is steadfastly pursuing his re-election in elections set for March
2008, regardless of the worldwide dismay about the chaos and human rights
violations rampant in his country.
And the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) are so divided that even if their demand for constitutional
changes were met, it is questionable whether they could win the election.
In addition, Mugabe's sharpest critic, Bulawayo Archbishop Pius
Ncube, has been silenced by a character assassination campaign. The
country's state-controlled media have published videos which allegedly
portray the 60-year-old Catholic clergyman in a hotel bed together with a
The erstwhile husband, who had previously separated from his
wife, has just filed damage claims of Z$20-billion -- $1,3-million at the
official exchange rate -- against Ncube. - Sapa-DPA, Sapa
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Tyranny: As Robert Mugabe's nightmare rule pulls Zimbabwe down a vortex, it's tempting to think his end is near. Maybe not. Foreign leaders are buttressing his rule. It's a weapon that must be turned against him.
On the surface, many wonder how much longer the 84-year-old dictator can rule the once-vibrant country he has turned into a smoking ruin.
The country's productive farms, confiscated since 2000, now lie fallow. His recent program to confiscate the country's remaining businesses has triggered huge food shortages and panic. The country's last 500 mines are creaking to a halt.
The country's economy has blown out, with Zimbabwe's currency in ruins. A new 200,000 currency note fresh off the press purchases just $1 worth of goods on the black market amid capital controls. The IMF forecasts 100,000% inflation by the end of the year.
The U.N.'s World Food Program forecasts about 4 million Zimbabweans likely to be in critical need of food aid by 2008. Electricity and water are flickering or gone for half of the 11 million population.
Hospitals cannot even hydrate patients, let alone put bandages on them. The army is restless. Businessmen who refuse to cut prices in half are being arrested.
National Geographic reported 90% of all ranched animals slaughtered, and 60% of all rare wildlife gone. Each month, thousands of Zimbabweans flee to neighboring South Africa.
It's tempting to think this can't go on. Yet it does, just as Fidel Castro's regime does. A tight little party elite keeps itself fed, clothed and loyal to the Mugabe regime, wallowing in luxury. Their only imperative: Stay in power. Three forces help them do that.
One, Mugabe's control of his country's strategic resources.
As hellish as operating conditions are in Zimbabwe, Mugabe has gotten his hands on the only resources of critical value to global industries that always have willing buyers.
Just as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez seized control of Venezuela's oil to secure his power by 2003, so Mugabe is taking over Zimbabwe's platinum mines as a means of securing his rule. These mines generate income of about $700 million a year. Mugabe is calculating that foreigners will buy no matter what he does to his country.
He can go on a long time with this setup, without worrying about what he's doing to his people. That's why, as of now, he doesn't.
The second global force is the poor country's weapon — the threat to send waves of refugees into neighboring countries.
Using the misery of his own countrymen as a weapon, Mugabe's fearful neighbors prop him up at regional conferences and flatter him in the international arena — with U.N. committeeships, for instance.
They're only offering the tyrant tribute in an effort to keep him from playing the refugee card.
Mugabe also is confident nobody is going to come looking for him for his crimes against humanity because he has seen full-fledged genocide two times in the last 15 years on the African continent — in Rwanda in 1994, and now in Darfur — with very little response from Africa or the West.
Third, the Mugabe regime has cultivated the goodwill of other rogue states, like Iran, Venezuela, China and Libya. Petro-tyrannies like Iran and Libya reportedly provide oil in exchange for Zimbabwe's mine output, which no longer attracts legitimate investment. This props up his regime financially, when the free market won't.
Mugabe has mocked those who question his expropriations of investments. He gleefully states that he has plenty of potential for investment, just by dealing with rogue states.
All of this shows a regime that is hardly stupid, even as it runs its economy in the ground. In fact, it's more evil than crazy. Cutting off Zimbabwe's access to global forces is critical to shutting him down.
August 4, 2007 · In Zimbabwe, practicing journalism is forbidden. Reporters
caught working without government permission face beatings, long prison
sentences, or worse. The job becomes especially perilous when the story
about the local police force, focusing on police brutality
So why do reporters like myself take the risk? Some do it for the thrill,
others for the fame. Others do it because they knew Zimbabwe before it
became the police state dictatorship it is today and they feel morally
obligated. I do it because I know a lot of Zimbabweans. They are wonderful
people, who don't have a voice to tell their stories. I also do it because I
Last month, my driver and I set out to cover a women's rights peace march in
the center of one of the largest cities in Zimbabwe. I cannot be more
specific about the location for security's sake. The group is called WOZA,
which stands for Women of Zimbabwe Arise. It is one of the only
organizations that still protest publicly against the current regime. Jenny
Williams is its leader.
"We generally speak out directly about things that they would prefer people
don't talk about. Most of our members feel that if they are going to be
dying, can they not die silently?" said Williams.
She told us that the men and women who dare to join in are often beaten,
arrested and tortured.
"This is a government that does not respect rights. It does not respect a
mother's right to defend her children and call for a better Zimbabwe. So
when we go in the street doing that, they get a little bit peeved at us,"
Following her advice, on the day of the protest we literally dressed for
jail. It is mid-winter in Zimbabwe and freezing, and according to the WOZA
women the police only allow prisoners 3 items of clothing. We made sure what
we wore was as warm as possible. We also took toilet paper, because the word
on the street is that there hasn't been any in jail in Zimbabwe for years.
Everything about the protest was kept secret until the last possible moment,
including the location. Moments before the group began, the streets seemed
completely empty. Suddenly, out of nowhere, hundreds of people assembled
with signs and banners, chanting.
It was a moving scene. The marchers knew what was about to happen but they
kept going and held their banners high. Within minutes Zimbabwean riot
police had broken up the crowds, swinging their batons at anything that
moved or breathed. Women were screaming, police were beating, and suddenly I
was caught up in the mob, and beaten myself.
After it was all over they let me go, perhaps wanting to avoid an
international incident. Still, I felt helpless. I couldn't go to the police
and file a report for fear of being locked in jail, and I couldn't tell the
embassy for fear of being thrown out the country. I could do nothing.
Some women were detained for three days, and beaten much worse than I. One
woman, Rosey, told me days later that the police had beaten her on her
breasts repeatedly in custody. Her breast was completely purple.
"They beat me on the breasts," she said. "Now when I breathe out, I have a
stabbing pain in my chest."
She didn't have anyone to turn to, either. Even her doctor's visits had to
be kept secret.
"I am not going to give up, I'm going to march," she said.
And they all keep marching. I was amazed when I learned that they had
marched the following week in another part of the country.
I find myself asking: "Is it worth it for these courageous women? Does
marching in the streets and getting beaten up really make that much of a
difference? Will Rosey, who can barely talk because she has been beaten so
badly, ever see any justice? Will I ever receive justice? Does anyone
outside of Zimbabwe even care? Will someone, listening to this broadcast, be
moved to do something that could lead to change in Zimbabwe? Or will one of
my interview subjects be tortured by the police for daring to speak to a
member of the forbidden press?"
I still don't know the answers. Perhaps history will one day tell the tales
of the brave WOZA women from Zimbabwe, who dared to stand up for themselves
and their children.
As for me, a forbidden journalist, I have learned some valuable lessons.
Wear more clothing as padding when covering violent protests. Don't take
expensive equipment to a story where I know it might be confiscated. Always
keep the embassy's number in my pocket, just in case, and, most importantly,
remember that what happens to my interview subjects could also happen to me.
I am not exempt simply for being a journalist.
But I lived to tell the story, which is the most important part. It's a
story about a place called Zimbabwe, and a group of women much braver than I
could ever wish to be.
Friday 3rd August 2007
Dear Friends. Here in the UK, summer has at last put in an appearance.
Sunshine and blue skies make even exile seem bearable.
I was walking along in the sunshine last Saturday when I met two British
friends of mine also out enjoying the long overdue summer. 'So when is there
going to be a military coup?' they asked when we got to talking about Zim -
as we always do! They are both educated, well-informed people and they're
familiar with the spate of military coups that have occurred in West Africa
over the years. Naturally enough they assume that something like that will
happen in Zim. The textbooks, after all, tell you that coups occur when the
military dislike the way the country is being governed and decide they could
do a better job. Well, let's face it, anyone could do a better job than this
lot in Zimbabwe with their insane economic policies, their flip-flops and
the right hand not knowing what the left hand's doing! So, naturally, one
would expect some sort of reaction from the military to the rank
incompetence of the Mugabe regime. Instead, despite rumours and
counter-rumours the Zimbabwean military remain firmly in their barracks -
except of course when they come out to beat innocent civilians senseless or
to intimidate the voters at election time.
As I walked away from my friends, I thought about their question and when I
got home I took down Ali Mazrui's book, Nationalism and the New States in
Africa. My copy of the work is well out of date now but there is a Table at
the front of the book which shows Africa's post-independence history. Mazrui
lists all the African countries from Algeria to Zimbabwe, names their
capitals, languages and population figures and even has a separate column
dedicated to military coups. Between 1963 and 1982 by my rough count there
were fifty-five overthrows of civilian government by the military in Africa;
Ghana for instance, has had five coups, the last being in 1981 and Nigeria
has had at least three.
Since military coups are generally followed by periods of intense repression
and violent upheaval, I suppose we should be grateful that Zimbabwe has
escaped the military coup and for twenty-seven years has been ruled by one
man, one party. The truth, however, is that Zimbabwe has in effect already
had a coup, a bloodless coup perhaps but certainly the military have taken
over the management of Zimbabwe plc - everything from the running of
elections to the provision of food and fuel. And it has all been carefully
and deliberately put in place by none other than the wily President Mugabe
himself. Take a look at every parastatal in the country and you will find a
former military man heading the organization. The military are already
virtually in charge of everything. Robert Mugabe has made absolutely sure of
that through his system of patronage and giving top jobs only to military
men. It keeps the generals sweet and it keeps Mugabe in power. The army - at
least not its upper ranks - has no need to mount a coup; the top brass are
not going to risk losing their immense wealth and influence for the sake of
the country and its people.
And it's that failure to put the country first that is the key issue I
believe in Zimbabwe's current situation. While the country waits -and has
waited for the last ten years - for some outside power to come to the
rescue, the suffering of the people has gone on unabated. No one, not the
President, not the ruling party, not the military and I'm sorry to say not
even the opposition parties are prepared to put the country first before
their own greedy self-interest. And while they all argue and criticise and
carp at one another, their Zimbabwean brothers and sisters - and most
tragically the children - die of hunger, of exhaustion and heartbreak as the
House of Stone collapses around them.
So, it was like a reviving breath of hope this week to read, Kofi Annan's
words as he delivered the fifth annual Nelson Mandela lecture. Yes, he could
have said those things while he was still Secretary General of the UN but
let's not carp about that. The fact that he spoke so openly - and in South
Africa too- of the Zimbabwean situation as 'intolerable and unsustainable'
should give Zimbabweans some cause for renewed hope, a tiny flicker of light
at the end of that endless tunnel. What Annan did was to articulate what so
many of us have been thinking for a long time. Africa's failure to condemn
bad governance and human rights abuses is in Kofi Annan's words ' a
pernicious self-destructive form of racism that unites citizens to rise up
and expel tyrannical rulers who are white but to excuse tyrannical rulers
who are black. African leaders' he said, ' must stop shielding each other
Whether Annan's words had any influence on Thabo Mbeki we'll never know but
it was slightly encouraging to hear Thabo Mbeki say this week that elections
in Zimbabwe must be free and fair and 'acceptable by all the people' I say
'slightly' encouraging because it seems curious that it was Thabo Mbeki's
government who declared Zimbabwe's recent elections 'free and fair' despite
all the evidence to the contrary. What has happened since then to alter
South Africa's perception of 'free and fair'? Could it possibly be the
presence of thousands of desperate Zimbabweans crossing the border every day
and putting huge pressure on South Africa's social services, or perhaps
there are other pressures on the South African President? South Africa has
its has own elections coming up and the South African constitution does not
allow Mbeki to stand for a third term. Perhaps Thabo Mbeki like Tony Blair
before him is worried about his legacy? At least Blair can justifiably claim
that peace in Northern Ireland was a successful legacy. But time is running
out for Thabo Mbeki and his shameful near-silent diplomacy. While he
continues to shield Robert Mugabe from the world's condemnation, Zimbabwe
continues on its downward spiral into darkness and despair.
Could any human being with a conscience claim that as a successful legacy?
Ndini shamwari yenyu. PH
Niagara Falls Review
Editorial & Opinion - Saturday, August 04, 2007 Updated @ 6:45:00 AM
Over a thousand years ago, according to ancient English tradition, King
Canute set his throne on the shore and ordered the tide to stop rising. Just
over a month ago, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe took an equally bold
stand, ordering inflation to stop forthwith or else he would send those
responsible to jail.
Canute ended up with the waves sloshing round his knees, but at least he had
the satisfaction of teaching his courtiers a lesson on the limits of royal
power (for he didn't really think that his words could stop the tide).
Mugabe will end up drowning in the inflation his own policies have created,
but it will probably come as a great surprise to him, for he doesn't seem to
understand that he can't just order it to stop.
"I believe inflation will hit 1,500,000 per cent by the end of 2007 if not
before," said Christopher Dell, the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, in an
interview with the "Guardian" in late June. "Prices are going up twice a
day, in some cases doubling several times a week. It destabilizes
everything. People have completely lost faith in the currency and that means
they have lost faith in the government that issues it. By carrying out
disastrous economic policies, the Mugabe government is committing regime
change upon itself."
It was a succinct if undiplomatic summary of the state of play in Zimbabwe
in late June, when there was still some hope a sane solution to the crisis
could be found.
Zimbabwe's neighbours in southern Africa, almost all competently led
democratic countries whose economies are flourishing, are desperate not to
be dragged down by the one conspicuous failure in their midst.
The governments of the Southern African Development Community are already
struggling with a wave of economic refugees from Zimbabwe, and they are well
aware that the Masters of the Universe in far-away stock markets cannot tell
the difference between one African country and another. If Zimbabwe
dissolves into chaos, they will all pay a heavy price in terms of lost
foreign investment and higher interest rates on foreign loans.
By early last month, South Africa was putting together a proposal to stop
the hyper-inflation by pegging the Zimbabwean dollar to its own currency,
the rand. Its huge foreign currency reserves would enable Zimbabwe to go on
importing essential goods, the flow of economic refugees into South Africa
would not become a tsunami, and gradually the internal situation might
stabilize. The price, however, was agreement by Mugabe to key reforms that
would restore democracy in the country.
But that would ultimately mean surrendering power, something that is
inconceivable to the 84-year-old autocrat who has ruled Zimbabwe for the
past 27 years. Indeed, the country's rapid descent into poverty and chaos
only began when Mugabe's rule was challenged. For the first two decades
after the end of white minority rule, the Zimbabwean economy grew steadily:
children went to school, people ate well, and the future seemed bright. But
then, to Mugabe's horror, Zimbabweans voted no in a 1999 referendum that
would have made him president-for-life.
He felt threatened, so he came up with a policy that appealed to popular
anti-white prejudices and also rewarded his closest supporters and kept them
loyal. In 2000, he began confiscating the white-owned farms whose crops
provided most of the country's foreign exchange, handing most of them over
to his own political and military cronies - who had no idea how to run them.
Inevitably, the economy went into a steep decline, so Mugabe started
printing money to bridge the gap in state revenues, and inflation took off.
The economy has shrunk by half in the past seven years and by last month the
Zimbabwean dollar (official rate 250 to the US dollar) was trading on the
black market at 300,000 to the U.S. dollar.
Three million of Zimbabwe's 11 million people have fled abroad to seek work,
mostly in South Africa. The money they send home is the only reason most
Zimbabweans eat at all, since unemployment at home is 80 per cent. The
average lifespan in the country has halved in 15 years. But the most urgent
problem for Mugabe is that his own security forces cannot feed their
families because their huge pay rises still cannot keep up with inflation.
If the security forces turn against him, he is finished, so early last month
he decreed deep price cuts for all consumer goods and sent the troops out to
enforce them. The idea that you cannot simply impose lower prices, he
scoffed, is mere "bookish economics." But if it costs more for bakers to
make bread than they get for selling it, then they stop baking.
A month later, the shelves are bare of staple foods like sugar, flour and
cooking oil throughout Zimbabwe. Rural people, most of whom fell out of the
cash economy some time ago, can scrape by somehow, but people in the urban
areas are getting truly desperate.
Mugabe has played his last card, and he will probably be gone by the end of
the year. The pity is that the prosperous country he built in his first
twenty years of power, when he could win the elections more or less
honestly, is already gone. It will be hard to bring it back.
Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are
published in 45 countries.
BY WALTER MARWIZI
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai did not "flee" from Jocelyn Chiwenga,
wife of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces' Commander, witnesses said yesterday.
In fact, the two never came face to face as reported in the state
media last week.
Tsvangirai was reported to have fled after being confronted by the
controversial Harare businesswoman who once assaulted Gugulethu Moyo, a
lawyer then working for ANZ, publishers of The Daily News.
Chiwenga gave an interview on State television last week, claiming
Tsvangirai bolted out of the Makro Megacentre.
Tsvangirai was on a tour to assess first hand the effects of the price
blitz which has created widespread shortages in the shops.
But workers who witnessed the drama said yesterday nothing of the sort
They said they saw and heard Chiwenga shouting inside the store as
Tsvangirai's entourage was leaving.
She was nowhere near the opposition leader, they said.
"We wonder where Chiwenga carried out her heroic exploits," said one
of the workers who preferred anonymity for security reasons.
"She appears to have exaggerated her story," said another. "I am sorry
to say I saw her screaming at some people and Tsvangirai was definitely not
Tsvangirai's spokesperson, William Bango, said yesterday he was
surprised to read reports that Tsvangirai had fled from Chiwenga. She was
quoted last week as saying she would beat the opposition leader in a fist
Bango said Tsvangirai had finished his business and was leaving Makro
when Chiwenga confronted photographer Tsvangirai Mukwazhi.
"She hurled insults at Mukwazhi and slapped him. She was so frail that
if Mukwazhi had bothered to slightly push her, there would have been
disaster. I am surprised that in her state (of health) she could claim that
Tsvangirai fled from her. It's the usual propaganda that does not bother
Bango said Tsvangirai did not see Chiwenga in the building.
"Chiwenga wanted to attract the attention of a soldier who was
guarding her. She wanted him to think that she was under attack so that he
could respond," Bango said.
Kumbirai Mafunda, one of the journalists who witnessed the drama, said
yesterday it was not true that Tsvangirai fled from Chiwenga.
"Tsvangirai was already in the car when Chiwenga charged at Fidelis
Mhashu and other officials outside Makro. Tsvangirai and others were leaving
for a press conference to be held at Harvest House," Mafunda said. Chiwenga
could not be reached for comment.
By Davison Maruziva
HARARE working mother, Aisha Morgan was beside herself last week. With
schools closing, she had bought poultry. This, she reasoned, would be enough
to see her children through the holidays. Then her area lost electricity.
The problem would take five days to rectify, she was informed.
Morgan is just one of many whose households have learnt to lower their
expectations about the frequently unavailable power.
A month ago industry warned that power cuts were one of the top three
constraints facing the manufacturing sector.
The retail sector says it is undertaking a full assessment of the
impact and cost of the disruptions.
In June and July, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa)
abandoned all pretence at adhering to any load-shedding schedules.
The projection is gloomy. Zesa won't say when consumers might expect a
"return to normal". The problem was forecast decades ago. Knowledge that
demand peaks during winter is no great State secret.
Zesa says Harare, Munyati and Bulawayo thermal power stations are not
generating electricity due to shortage of coal.
Fullard Gwasira, their group public relations manager, says the winter
peak period has always posed a challenge because Hwange Power Station
occasionally failed to generate to capacity because of a shortage of coal.
Other problems faced by Zesa Holdings include theft and vandalism of
Gwasera will not admit that the real cause of Zesa's spectacular
failure to meet customer expectations is that for decades nothing was done
to anticipate growth in demand and that the years went by with no new power
stations being built.
Asked why Zesa was allowing consumers to spend more time in the dark
than with electricity, Gwasira said:
"Zesa Holdings is in the business of generation and retailing of
electricity, and as such, when there is load-shedding, Zesa is actually not
transacting. The organization strives to provide its customers with
electricity at all times. But with the current power shortages faced by the
Southern African region, Zimbabwe is not exempted from the 2007 challenge.
"It is only now that the reality of this shortage is dawning on
everyone and Zesa Holdings encourages its customers to go out of their way
to save electricity so that the effect can be minimized."
And there are even some nuggets: "The customer is actually not paying
more for less. What happens is that when there is load shedding or any power
outage for that matter, our electricity meters are not moving, therefore
customers pay only for that electricity that they have consumed.
"If you look carefully at your electricity bill, you will realise that
there is a fixed charge and the rural electrification and development
levies. Whether one had electricity or not, these items have to be paid
While the demand for energy in the region has risen, Zimbabwe's
neighbours are not suffering the same adverse conditions.
Gwasira blames Zesa's problems on the lowest tariffs in the region,
which make electricity in this country the cheapest.
Gwasira says: "Zesa is operating at sub-economic tariffs which make it
very difficult for the utility to meet its operating costs and required
maintenance. However with economic tariffs, Zesa Holdings is able to raise
its own money for maintenance of its infrastructure."
Zesa insiders told The Standard years of neglecting investment in the
energy sector were finally being felt and that consumers should not be
surprised if they are subjected to weeks or months without consistent power
supplies. No new power station has been built since independence.
It is this blasé attitude that last week riled Vice-President Joice
Mujuru, who oversees parastatals. Mujuru spoke of the government's
"disappointment" with parastatals' performance generally. "This is August,
they have not done anything since March," she fumed.
Parastatals' tardy approach to their mandate has already claimed the
scalp of the head of the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda).
Whether other heads will roll following Mujuru's anger remains to be seen.
Past experience is that the government's bark has always been worse
than its bite.
One of the myths peddled by Zesa is that households and industry are
suffering during these periods because the agricultural community is
receiving preferential treatment.
But farmers at last week's congress of the Zimbabwe National Farmers'
Union in Harare responded bitterly, saying Zesa was being economical with
the truth. Many farmers, they said, had failed to plant the available
hectarage for wheat, while others were ploughing their crop under - thanks
to Zesa's unreliability.
Asked when consumers could expect current electricity disruptions to
ease, Gwasira preferred to address why they were load-shedding, what
households should do and long-term investment in the energy sector.
The truth? Zimbabweans should prepare for more power black outs.
By Vusumuzi Sifile
THE Interception of Communications Act, signed into law by President
Robert Mugabe last week, is unconstitutional and can be successfully
challenged in the courts, legal experts said yesterday.
The government will find it difficult to adequately monitor
communications, particularly e-mails and other internet communications, they
The law authorises the government to set up an interception centre to
eavesdrop on telephone conversations, open mail, and intercept e-mails and
But legal experts told The Standard yesterday the law was an
unwarranted infringement on people's rights.
David Coltart, secretary for legal affairs in the pro-Senate faction
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said the law was
unconstitutional and will have serious repercussions on people's rights and
freedom of expression.
"There is no independent review of any interception of a person's
communication," said Coltart. "It (the law) is an unjustifiable invasion of
a person's rights."
He said the government would have a tough time implementing the law.
"There are practical difficulties in implementing the law," he said,
"especially in the current environment when there is no foreign currency in
the country. The equipment to monitor communications has to be imported, and
I doubt if the service providers have the capacity to do so. They will find
it difficult to adequately monitor communications, particularly e-mails. "
The president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Beatrice Mtetwa, said
the law could be challenged in the Supreme Court.
She said: "They had been intercepting before the debate, and what this
law simply does is to legalise what they have already been doing".
The spokesperson of the Morgan Tsvangirai anti-Senate faction of the
MDC, Nelson Chamisa, condemned Zanu PF for using Parliament to deprive
people of their liberties.
"Instead of expanding people's freedoms, we are restricting them,"
said Chamisa. "This is an anti-technology, anti-people and
anti-modernisation law. This is a state of paranoia and panic by this
regime. Nobody is safe - the church, the media, workers' union, opposition
parties and civil society. The law will be used to crucify whoever is
perceived to be of a different political view to those in power."
Chamisa sits in the parliamentary portfolio committee on transport and
communications. He said yesterday that during public hearings on the law
only soldiers overwhelmingly supported it.
"We need to put to finality this madness of using Parliament to
rubberstamp this crescendo against the people. This is clearly a war against
the people. What is left now is for them to legalise the setting up of
gadgets in people's bedrooms," said Chamisa.
Chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe
Chapter, Loughty Dube said Zimbabwe did not need such laws which stifled
freedom of expression. He said prying into people's conversations was
"simply an indication of a government that is afraid of its own citizens".
Under the law, Internet service providers (ISPs) have to install
equipment to facilitate interception "at all times or when so required" and
ensure that the equipment allows full-time monitoring of communications.
An official with an ISP in Harare, requesting anonymity, said they did
not have the capacity to implement the requirements, and - like shop owners
in the ongoing price blitz - could be forced out of business.
"This law is too expensive for Zimbabwe. All the equipment has to be
imported, and we do not have foreign currency for that. Most ISPs would be
forced to close shop," he said.
Last year, the Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association (ZISPA)
told the parliamentary portfolio committee on transport and communications
that the law (then a Bill) "is very vague in its provisions and extremely
broad in scope".
ZISPA also warned that "private and confidential personal information
could be intercepted and misused by officials who obtain access to it".
"This could include communications between lawyers and clients,
doctors and patients, priests and their flock, journalists and their
sources", wrote ZISPA.
Yesterday ZISPA chairperson Jim Holland was said to be out of the
The government says the law is necessary to protect the country from
international terrorism and espionage, and is not unique to Zimbabwe.
BY OUR STAFF
MASVINGO - Civic organisations have added their voice to mounting
opposition to the proposed harmonisation of the Presidential and
Parliamentary Elections, widely seen as a ploy by President Mugabe to
prolong his stay in power.
The proposal has divided Zanu PF after some provinces refused to
endorse it at last year's conference in Goromonzi.
The proposal, which would allow Mugabe to rule until 2010, has been
referred to the provinces where it is being debated.
In his 83rd birthday interview on State television, Mugabe indicated
his party would go ahead with the proposed harmonisation plan, claiming that
it would be cost effective. This was in spite of it not having been endorsed
by the party.
Speaking at a workshop organised by the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisation (NANGO), civil society leaders said they would
join calls by opposition parties to provide a "granite resistance" to any
extension of Mugabe's term.
The groups said they would not "fold their arms" as Zanu PF amended
the constitution to suit its own interests.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Masvingo provincial co-ordinator, Mabel
Sikhosana said it was not Zanu PF's mandate to decide "for the people" when
elections would be held.
The constitution stated clearly that presidential elections should be
held early next year.
"The people of Zimbabwe should not allow one party to decide elections
for them when it is clear in the Constitution," she said. "The Constitution
states that Presidential elections should be held after every six years. So
they must go ahead next year. What Mugabe is trying to do is like trying to
extend the pregnancy from its usual nine months to 12 months, it's
Others felt that if harmonisation was geared towards cutting costs, it
meant there was more sense to having the elections next year, than in 2010.
Zimbabwe Liberators' Platform provincial chairperson, Ray Muzenda
said: "It's a ploy to make Mugabe president for life because if people
accept this harmonisation, in 2010 the ruling party will simply say we don't
want to disturb the World Cup in South Africa by holding elections. They
would further postpone them to 2012 and they would find another excuse again
in that year."
Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavarasha
Zhou said harmonisation should be separated from the extension of Mugabe's
term of office.
"The constitution of Zimbabwe entails that there are presidential
elections in 2008 and only the generality of Zimbabwe should determine if
they want to extend such an election beyond the stipulated period. PTUZ
urges all Zimbabweans to ensure that there are presidential elections in
2008 under a democratic constitution and harmonisation of elections should
be separated from extension of Mugabe's term of office," he said.
By Kholwani Nyathi
BULAWAYO - The $20 billion adultery lawsuit against Archbishop Pius
Ncube's (pictured) has taken a new twist - adultery claims have been
According to fresh High Court papers seen by The Standard last week,
plaintiff Onesimus Sibanda's lawyer, Munyaradzi Nzarayapenga says he would
make an application to amend the original summons at the pre-trial
conference or "any time before trial".
The amendment does not contain any adultery claims against Ncube, a
fierce critic of the government's human rights record.
In the original claim, Sibanda, a soldier attached to the National
Railways of Zimbabwe, said he wanted $20 billion from the prelate for
allegedly having an intimate relationship with his wife, Rosemary.
He said $10 billion was for adultery damages, $5 billion for loss of
consortium, and $5 billion for loss of contumelia (loss of comfort).
But in the latest application, Sibanda does not mention damages for
adultery and instead wants the figure broken down to $10 billion being loss
of consortium and $10 billion for contumelia.
This follows an application by Ncube's lawyer, Advocate Nicholas
Mathonsi, for Sibanda to clarify how the alleged adultery was committed and
also to justify how the claims were arrived at.
On Friday, Nzarayapenga said the amendment only sought "to correct
mistakes that were made in the summons and declaration. Otherwise the claim
remains the same at $20 billion".
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
AS the transport crisis caused by an acute fuel shortage escalated,
three people were seriously injured when they were knocked down at Mbare
Musika by a bus they tried to board.
The Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) bus was in motion as
scores of stranded passengers jostled to board it.
There were chaotic scenes at the largest bus terminal in the country
where stranded travellers have slept in the open for days.
The injured three - a woman and two men - were quickly rushed to
Harare General Hospital, where they were treated and discharged on the same
Eyewitnesses said as the bus arrived at the terminus scores of people
rushed to board it resulting in the three being knocked to the ground.
"After they had fallen down, they were trampled upon by hordes of
people still pursuing the bus," said Tinashe Madamombe, a witness. "It was
The Harare hospital's casualty department yesterday confirmed it had
treated three people knocked down by a bus in Mbare.
When The Standard visited Mbare Mu-sika, there were thousands of
people desperate for transport. Most said they had spent three days waiting
"I have been here since yesterday but with this pressure, I don't
think I will travel home today either," said Lucia Mapako who intended to
travel to her rural home in Nyamapanda. "My child is hungry but I can't buy
anything because I am left only with money for bus fare."
Fifty-two-year-old Rosewitta Dumbu, who had travelled from Masvingo
and intended to go KwaBhora, about 50km from Harare, appealed to President
Robert Mugabe to solve the transport crisis.
"Look, I have these grandchildren," she said. "Where do you think I
will go and sleep tonight? Mugabe should help us."
The President is now in Malaysia for a conference.
Dumbu said the transport problem had become a national crisis that
needed urgent high-level attention before next week's Heroes' and Defence
As she travelled from Masvingo, she said, scores of people were
stranded along the highway. Even getting a bus to major cities such as
Mutare, Masvingo, Gweru and Bulawayo has become a nightmare.
For short distances of 20km or less, some people were walking.
But those who could not walk, were sleeping in the open, some with
children as young as two years, exposed to the chilly night weather. Some
have run out of money to feed the children because of the prolonged stay at
Stranded travellers said bus operators were taking advantage of the
crisis to hike fares. Some buses were charging as much as $700 000 from
Harare to Mhondoro, a distance which would normally cost $200 000.
By our staff
TSITSI Matope, a senior journalist at the government-owned Herald
newspaper, is ruing the day she called the Deputy Minister of Health and
Child Welfare, Edwin Muguti.
Matope wanted feedback on a health review meeting that had just ended
in Bulawayo, and to inquire about challenges facing the sector.
But she got more than she bargained for.
The call on 23 July sparked a harsh exchange, during which Muguti
allegedly told Matope that she was "uneducated" and had a poor command of
the English language.
The award-winning journalist hit back, by telling Muguti that he was
"possibly drunk", and that his behaviour did not resemble that of a
An angry Muguti wrote a letter to the paper's management, accusing
Matope of having offended him.
On Monday last week, Herald editor, Pikirayi Deketeke, and Matope went
to Muguti's office to resolve the matter, but before they could apologise,
Muguti allegedly ordered them out.
He told The Standard on Thursday he had resolved the issue with the
Muguti said: "For me the matter is over. Zimpapers have apologised and
I have accepted their apology, but she refused to apologise. The matter has
But sources maintained later the case was far from over. They said
Matope's superiors were "under pressure to fire" her.
Matope would not comment other than to say: "I have been traumatised
enough by Muguti, but I cannot comment on it. You have to talk to my boss,
The editor was said to be out of the office when The Standard called.
His mobile was not reachable.
Zimpapers chief executive officer, Justin Mutasa was said to be out of
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists has issued a statement to
"express disgust and disapproval" on the matter.
ZUJ said: "A few misguided government ministers have developed a
tendency of ill-treating and abusing journalists carrying out their duties.
"It has become too common for some ministers to deride and abuse
journalists at conferences, meetings and in public," read part of the
statement, "for asking questions or merely asking ministers to clarify
issues in the public interest.
"The journalism profession in this country demands mutual respect of
each other's roles."
This is not the first time Muguti has had problems with journalists.
On 15 September last year, four journalists from both the private and
public media walked out on Muguti as he addressed an "urgent" Press
conference to redeem himself from statements he had made two weeks earlier.
He had accused the National Aids Council of "under-performing and
The deputy minister made an about-turn, shifting the blame to the
media, which he said had "blown the issue out of proportion".
Muguti insisted that by the time the scribes walked out of the
meeting, he had already finished his address.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - Two tertiary institutions could have been prejudiced of
millions of dollars after police officers allegedly siphoned fuel from staff
buses parked overnight at their police station.
The National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and the
United College of Education (UCE) used to park their staff buses at Luveve
police station to cut expenses.
Most of their workers, drivers in particular, stay in the high-density
suburbs and the decision to use the police station was designed to cushion
them from the high transport costs.
But sources told The Standard the arrangement was abandoned abruptly
after the tertiary institution authorities raised concern over fuel being
"drained" daily from the vehicles.
"The police argued the buses were parked at the owners' risk," said
the source, "and they were not responsible for what happened to them at
But the suspicion persists that the thefts could be "inside jobs", as
ordinary thieves would have to be very daring to steal fuel from a vehicle
parked at a police station.
The two colleges were reportedly told to stop using the overnight
parking facility after they threatened to "take up the matter with police
Bulawayo police spokesperson, David Nyathi, was not immediately
available for comment as he was said to be in Harare and was not reachable
on his mobile phone.
UCE deputy principal, identified as Mhaka, could neither confirm nor
deny the allegations against the police, saying only "we have started
parking our bus at our premises". He refused to explain why they had stopped
parking them at the police station.
Busani Bafana, the NUST information officer, said he needed time to
verify the information.
Several police officers have been arrested in the past few weeks on
allegations of corruption, most of it committed during the ongoing
government price blitz.
The average monthly pay of an ordinary police officer ranges between
$2.5 million and $3 million, far below what the Central Statistical Office
(CSO) has calculated is needed by a family of five to survive - $5.5
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
DESPERATE residents of Kambuzuma Section 5 were last week forced to
pay $20 000 each before being allowed to buy beef at a local butchery that
had received a rare supply of meat.
Taking advantage of the scarcity of beef and the desperation of the
consumers, some unemployed youths, who hang around the shopping complex,
started charging the customers - mostly women and children - an "entrance
fee" into the butchery.
The customers said the amount the youths demanded depended on the
quantity of beef they wanted to buy.
Others paid as much as $80 000, an amount most of the high-density
suburb residents could ill afford.
But management at the butchery denied they had hired the youths and
said the youths did not surrender any money to them.
"It was their (the youths') own initiative and we had no control over
what they were doing, as it was outside the shop," said one of the workers.
Since the price freeze imposed by the government a few weeks ago, beef
has virtually disappeared from the supermarket and other shop shelves in the
country. But it's not just beef which is being hunted on a daily basis by
The price controls have worsened the scarcity of basic commodities,
bolstered the black market and seriously threatened the livelihoods of many
people, The Standard has observed.
A snap survey last week established the price freeze has caused misery
among most Zimbabweans who are fast becoming "modern-day hunters and
gatherers" of basic commodities.
This development makes a mockery of the government's price control
project, which economists described as "unsustainable and ill-advised".
Sugar, cooking oil, maize-meal, beef, chicken, washing soap, bread and
milk have completely disappeared from the supermarkets.
This scarcity has literally given the black market a new lease of
While the government set the price of a loaf of bread at $22 000, it
is going for $50 000 on the parallel market and a 750ml bottle of cooking
oil for $250 000 instead of about $96 000.
Some bottle stores now sell a pint of beer for $45 000 although the
gazetted price is $30 000.
In most cases, they sell the beer, currently in short supply, only to
regular customers for fear of being snagged in a sting by the crack team of
Even butcheries are selling beef, chicken and pork on the black
market, using the back entrance to avoid detection by law enforcements
Independent economic analyst, John Robertson, predicts even worse
shortages of commodities as companies incur billions in losses due to price
He said hundreds of workers were likely to lose their jobs.
"At the end of the day it is the ordinary person who suffers because
he will lose his job, and buy goods at the black market at exorbitant
"The livelihood of most people will continue to fall while those who
can leave the country will do so."
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Marah Hativagone said
the organisation had not carried out an audit but said many workers were
likely to be affected by the price controls.
She said companies in the plastic business had indicated they might be
forced to close shop if they were not allowed to increase their prices or
provided with foreign currency by the government.
"Certainly, there are going to be casualties but most businesses are
not willing to proffer information about their companies," Hativagone said.
Food World general manager, Denford Mutashe, said the chain store had
not retrenched any workers, despite the price controls.
By Nompu Siziba
BEAUTY Ndlovu* (47), from Zimbabwe, longs to lay eyes on her new
grandson, born earlier this year. However, as sole breadwinner for five
individuals, including two sons in their late 20s and her new grandson, she
resigns herself to remaining in South Africa.
Ndlovu forms part of legions of Zimbabwean women who have decided to
battle through the borders, with the view that it is better to be apart from
family, providing some daily bread, than sitting at home all together with
In recent weeks, the economic decline in Zimbabwe has accelerated,
with last official figures placing inflation at 4 500%, with unofficial
estimates putting the figure around 10 000%. Many are depending on relatives
outside the border to survive.
After being laid off from her job of 20 years as a textile checker at
a clothing manufacturer, Ndlovu tried her hand at self-employment, baking
bread, making ice-lollies and jam, which she sold to the local community.
Like many Zimbabweans facing an economy with an unemployment rate of
about 80%, food and petrol shortages, in 2005 Ndlovu took the hard decision
to leave her children and father, in search of better prospects.
Finally, after about 18 months of piece jobs in Johannesburg, she
landed a live-in domestic worker job where she is paid R1 200 a month. A
steady income now enables Ndlovu to send regular food provisions to her
family in Zimbabwe.
The constant flow of goods across the border has created new services
to satisfy the needs of those supplying families back in Zimbabwe.
Enterprising individuals, normally called Malayitshas, specialise in
transporting goods to Zimbabwe, for a fee.
"After saving for a few months, I recently sent big shopping home
(sugar, flour, maize-meal, cooking oil and soap amongst others) which
weighed about 160 kilogrammes," explains Ndlovu. "The guy asked me to pay
R800, but he accepted R600."
Just a few weeks ago, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe introduced
"Operation Price Reduction", commanding all businesses to cut their prices
by half. The consequence of this has been a complete buy-out of essential
This resulted in the arrest of several business owners, for allegedly
not complying with the price reduction order. Economics commentators within
Zimbabwe and beyond have warned the continued programme of price cuts will
see manufacturing production come to a halt, rendering the whole value chain
Trevor Ncube, a Zimbabwean businessperson, publisher of the Mail &
Guardian newspaper in South Africa and outspoken critic of Mugabe's regime,
commented that the recent policy in Zimbabwe would culminate in an economic
end game for the country - the final death nail in the country's economic
coffin, so to speak.
"The Romans tried to impose price cuts by threatening to chop off
heads, but even that was not a sufficient deterrent to prevent people from
not dropping prices. Forced price cuts don't work," he said.
Thato Ndlovu, Beauty's sister who lives in Ireland, told of her recent
visit to Bulawayo, saying that shops were completely shut in some instances,
because there was no stock.
"My sister told me there is no meat in the shops. You can't even buy a
chicken's wings!" she laughs. This is a sure sign of desperate times in
Zimbabwe - a country that once considered the breadbasket of Africa and
arguably boasted the best beef in sub-Saharan Africa.
Her sister also noted the fuel situation in Zimbabwe had worsened to
the point where there were no longer queues for petrol, because there is
none available. Suited and booted businesspeople that formerly cruised the
streets in their 4x4s now walk to work, along with those of lesser means.
Ndlovu worries about the tensions building up in Zimbabwe, predicting
that if people take to the streets, violence and death will break out. "The
young stock is going to come flooding here in South Africa," she says. "Only
the older people will stay behind."
Ndlovu clutches the one and only photograph she has of her grandson,
saying she would love to return home. "If things come up nicely at home, I
would definitely go back - of course. We are here because of the economic
situation. We don't want to starve."
She dreams of saving enough money to buy equipment to set up a hair
salon in Bulawayo. "As I get older I would love to have my own business, so
that I can relax. When you're sitting at home doing nothing, it's no good.
When you have your own things (a business), you can pay your rent and buy
food - you can survive."
* Not her real name
Nompu Siziba is an economics researcher at SABC in South Africa. This
article, produced during a GL "Business Unusual" training workshop, is part
of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service that provides fresh views
on everyday news.
By our staff
A GROUP of individuals guided by the Zimbabwe Medical Association
(ZIMA) has launched the Zimbabwe Health Access Trust (ZiHAT) to raise funds
on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in an effort to
provide quality health service delivery at government hospitals.
The ZiHAT is an initiative of ZIMA, groups of Zimbabweans in the
United States of America, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Canada aimed
at restoring high standards in the health sector.
Once the envy of many countries in Southern Africa, the health
delivery system has deteriorated since the early 1990s due to shortage of
foreign currency and the prevailing economic problems.
There has also been reduced funding from the international donor
community, while the government's commitment to the health sector has been
This under-funding over the years has resulted in poor maintenance of
health infrastructure, chronic shortage of essential medicinal supplies and
drugs, vaccines and a massive brain drain in the public health sector as
health professionals seek greener pastures outside the country or in the
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday last week, ZIMA president
and ZiHAT chairman Dr Paul Chimedza, said the trust would ensure that
ordinary Zimbabweans benefit through access to better and affordable health
Chimedza said: "Today the Zimbabwe public health system requires a
united and urgent input to continue to provide basic services to those in
greatest need. There is a clear recognition that Zimbabwe is endowed with a
huge resource base in terms of infrastructure, as well as skills and
"Zimbabweans have at their immediate disposal an overwhelming capacity
to equip Zimbabwe's solid structures and turn them into state of the art
health care institutions. As people we each have a responsibility to
safeguard the health of our nation. We are individually and collectively
responsible for developing and maintaining a health system to serve our
Some of the board members include Supa Mandiwanzira, Douglas Mamvura,
Susan Mutangadura (vice-chairperson), Eugene Mlambo and Chipo Mutasa
(treasurer). These members are tasked with helping ZiHAT work by helping to
raise funds for health institutions.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - The government has been blamed for "quickening" the
collapse of the mining industry, by demanding a share of mines' profits,
despite declining productivity.
A mine manager said the government's "love for corporate tax" was
"choking" the industry.
Allan Mashingaidze, the manager of How mine, was presenting a paper on
The Impact of Current Fiscal and Monetary Policies on the Minerals Sector at
the Mine Entra 2007 in Bulawayo.
How Mine is owned by Metallon Zimbabwe, which produces close to 50% of
the country's gold.
Their mines include Arcturus, Mazowe and Penhalonga.
According to mining regulations, the companies must estimate their
quarterly profits before paying tax in advance.
Mining companies make quarterly tax payments of 10%, 25%, 30% and 35%
of their annual profits.
"The mining sector is being fleeced by the government," said
Mashingaidze, "which continues to demand tax of estimated profits, yet
production has gone down and the same companies are not making any profits
due to unfavourable mining laws."
He said the future of the sector still remained bleak due to "suspect"
key monetary issues, such as the payment system for gold deliveries against
Mashingaidze said gold mining would continue to struggle as the
government "payment system where 50% for gold deliveries is paid within four
days with the balance paid after 21 days, makes cash flow planning
"Key monetary issues like an unstable retention policy, reluctant
acknowledgment of exporter status of gold producers, coupled with the
unfavourable payment system, has resulted in the under-capitalisation of the
minerals sector, decline in productivity, failure to import spares, flight
of skills, hyper inflation driving up production costs . . ."
He said to revive the industry; the government had to lower taxation,
give miners freedom to manage foreign currency, investment incentives and
security of tenure, among other issues.
The government has said it is in the process of introducing new mining
laws enabling it to take over 51% ownership in foreign-owned firms.
The proposed law has triggered uncertainty in the sector, generating
fears that investors would be reluctant to bring their money into the
A total of 57.3 million kg of flue-cured tobacco valued at
US$134.6 million were sold at the country's three auction floors, according
to figures obtained from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB)
The figures show that on the 68th day of trade last Tuesday, since the
selling season began on 24 April, the new figures are higher than last
season's total sales of 55.5 million kg, six weeks before the season comes
ends in September.
Of the three auction floors, Burley Marketing Zimbabwe had sold 7.69
million kgs valued at US$18.366 million; Tobacco Sales Floor had sold 8.4
million kgs valued US$20.3million; Zimbabwe Industry Tobacco Auction Centre
has so far sold 7 million kgs with a value of US$17.2 million; and contract
tobacco farmers have 34 million kgs with a value of US$78.66 million. The
selling season has also seen an increase in the price, which averaged
US$2.34 from US$1.96 in the previous season.
Industry experts say the increase in the tobacco support price to $55
000 per kg from the initial $40 000 is meant to lure farmers to sell the
crop as the nation braces to achieve the 80 million kgs target set at the
beginning of the season.
Central bank governor Gideon Gono last week said the top-up benefit
would be made on a pro rata basis with every kilogramme that fetches US$1.50
receiving $55 000 as top-up.
Dubbed the golden leaf, Zimbabwe's tobacco output has plummeted over
the years to 55.5 million kgs last year from a peak output of 236 million
kgs in 2000.
The tobacco output has been on a free fall since the government
embarked on a controversial, violent land reform programme in 2000. The new
breed of farmers that took over vast tracts lacked the skills and capital to
engage in successful tobacco farming.
BY NDAMU SANDU
MINES and Mining Development Minister Amos Midzi and his
Indigenisation and Empowerment counterpart Paul Mangwana could be headed for
a clash over the implementation of the Cabinet-approved empowerment stake in
white metal producer Zimplats Holdings Limited.
In 2004, the Cabinet approved the empowerment group Nkululeko
Rusunguko Mining Company of Zimbabwe (NRMCZ)'s purchase of a 15% stake in
Zimplats ahead of Needgate Investments and National Investments Trust.
According to Zimplats, the white metal producer would issue 13 390 423
ordinary shares to the empowerment group, representing 15% of the equity
securities on issue prior to the Implats take-over offer of 30 June 2003.
Information gathered by Standardbusiness indicates that Mangwana had
said the transaction had to go ahead, irrespective of proposed amendments to
the Mines and Minerals Act.
In a letter dated 15 May 2007 to Zimplats chief executive officer Greg
Sebborn, Mangwana said the platinum producer had to negotiate directly with
NRMCZ on the acquisition of the 15% indigenous stake.
Mangwana wrote: "I hereby wish to advise and reconfirm with you that
Cabinet, at its 22nd meeting held on 13 July 2004, approved Nkululeko
Rusununguko Mining Company of Zimbabwe is the approved consortium of
indigenous Zimbabweans to acquire the 15% equity stake, earmarked for
indigenous entreprenuers in Zimbabwe Platinum Mines Limited in terms of your
"This decision by Cabinet still stands and therefore your company is
expected to negotiate directly with Nkululeko Rusununguko Mining Company of
Zimbabwe on the acquisition of the 15% indigenous stake."
Midzi told Standardbusiness last week the consummation of the deal had
to wait for the outcome of the proposed amendments to Mines and Minerals
Act, as well as finalisation on Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
"My answer is we have to wait until the amendments to the Mines and
Minerals Act and until the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act is passed,"
"We have to wait for new laws."
Mangwana disagrees: "Amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act increase
what must be the stake for indigenous people. They (amendments) only
increase black participation from 15% to 51%."
Mangwana said the latest position regarding the 15% stake was that it
had not been taken adding: "There has been no agreement between Zimplats and
A meeting held in 2005 on the implementation of the Cabinet approved
15 percent equity in Zimplats said NRMCZ had the first priority to acquire
the stake, irrespective of the proposed amendments to the Mines and Minerals
The meeting was chaired by Dr. Desire Sibanda, then Principal director
Policy Implementation, Thabani Ndlovu, Ministry of Mines permanent
secretary; Ozias Hove, principal director for Indigenisation and
Empowerment; and directors of NRMCZ.
Deputy director Policy Implementation, a Mr. Zengeni, and Policy
Implementation research officer, a Miss J. Kaserera, also attended the
meeting while a Mr Madamombe from the President's Office sent his apologies.
"Although Zimplats in the meantime were willing to offer 30% for both
government and indigenous companies, Mr Ndlovu indicated that the first
preference would be given to Nkululeko and its 15%, no matter the outcome of
negotiations with Zimplats," read minutes of the meeting.
The minutes dismissed the notion of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)
that would accommodate all interested bidders as unnecessary.
Standardbusiness broke the story in 2005 that Midzi had proposed an
SPV that would accommodate NRMCZ and losing bidders Needgate and NIT. He was
told to put his proposal in writing, which he failed.
Contacted for comment Zimplats said: "No comment."
Alex Manungo, NRMCZ managing director promised to return calls made to
him by Wednesday afternoon.
He had not done so as of Friday.
BY LUNGILE ZULU
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's cement manufacturing giant, Portland Holdings
Limited, has slashed workers' salaries by about 40%, apparently due to
declining profits against production costs.
It has been reported this is a direct consequence of the government's
price blitz, which came into effect last month.
The workers in Bulawayo and the PHL subsidiariy in Colleen Bawn in
Matabeleland South, were shocked last week to find their salaries had been
They said most of them were normally paid between $6 million and $7
million: this time they were shocked to receive between $3 million and $4
Standardbusiness established that company profits had declined after
the government ordered the price of a bag of cement to be cut from $1.5
million to $170 000.
"Life has become tough for us after our salaries were cut this month,
without notice," said one employee. "There are indications the salaries
might be cut further if we fail to meet the targets set by the company,"
Workers' committee members who refused to be named confirmed the
"The company has registered losses and is operating at a loss, with
the management saying it could not sustain the wage bill against high
production costs and the losses," said one member.
Savious Mbedzi, the chairman of the workers' committee said: "The
salaries, referred to as monthly bonuses, can be cut but I am not in a
position to give any answers.
"Our policy is that all matters are handled by our managing director,
Trevor Barnard as he is the one responsible for the salaries, I really
cannot say much on the matter."
Barnard had still not responded to questions sent to him on Wednesday.
On Thursday, he promised to "get back to Standardbusiness while on Friday he
was said to be on a tour of company factories in Bulawayo and Matabeleland
His secretary on Friday said that "Barnard will not be able to respond
to your questions this week, as after that he will be travelling to the two
factories in Bulawayo and Colleen Bawn".
The "salary freeze" follows recent reports the company had stopped the
manufacture of cement for the local market in protest over the price cuts.
PHL, which is part of Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC), is said to be
hampered by high input costs and unrealistic prices which have led to a
temporary stoppage of operations at one of its subsidiaries, Colleen Bawn.
As a result, a number of contract workers at the manufacturing plant
have been laid off as operations have been suspended due to lack of clinker.
There are fears some workers may lose their jobs.
Colleen Bawn is now supplying clinker to PPC in South Africa for the
manufacture of cement. Zambia is also being supplied with the product.
WEEKS after the government basked in its new-found popularity - based
on an ill-thought-out decision that forced shops to slash prices - the shops
are increasingly displaying empty shelves. Others carry signs that they have
closed. Yet others show signs of having been vacated.
If the price slash campaign was part of electioneering, the chickens
are coming home to roost as widespread shortages abound. Discordant voices
are beginning to be heard. They ask what benefit the exercise has brought
when virtually everything has to be queued for and people spend more time in
queues than at work.
They ask: why should we vote for people who have removed the staple
food and meat from our tables, sugar from tea, oil from our vegetables, soap
to bathe with, fertiliser to grow crops with, diesel from buses for
transport; and jobs from workplaces.
They ask, too, what good are price slashes when the goods to buy have
all but disappeared from the market.
And the few that are still fortunate to have something they call a job
are frustrated when police appear to single out commuter buses taking people
to work, in the process delaying an increasingly threatened species that is
keeping the wheels of the fastest-shrinking economy turning.
They also ask why when the shelves are empty the government should be
barring people from going to neighbouring countries to shop for basic
requirements. It is as if the whole country has been turned into one huge
open prison, with the State acting as its correctional services board.
Neighbouring countries must love our rulers for the business they have
created for traders across our borders, who are recording profits that are
denied Zimbabwean companies. Local companies could do a roaring business by
setting up shop on the other side of our borders to cater specifically for
When a government subverts the efforts of its own citizens and when it
forces job losses it is declaring itself to be anti-people.
But perhaps the government believes when people are traumatised the
way they were in 2000 under Jambanja and in 2005 under Murambatsvina their
minds will have been so numbed they will not know what to think or do.
The government should be warned those queues have become fertile
grounds for debate around discontent with the status quo. The government has
done wonderfully well by providing people an opportunity to critique its
record on handling the crisis in Zimbabwe just as the fuel queues did in
But perhaps the strategy is to frustrate as many Zimbabweans into
leaving well ahead of next year's parliamentary and presidential polls. At
the rate of 5 000 - 7000 voters fleeing the country each week, this will add
up to several legislative districts and provide justification for government's
efforts to create more constituencies.
But ever the wily master of deceit, the government could just be
ensuring that people will put the task of searching for food ahead of
voting, resulting in only its supporters turning out to vote in any numbers.
Whatever the outcome, the government could pay heavily for its blunder-prone
approach to running this country. A reduced voter turnout cannot strengthen
its claims to legitimacy because that would amount to a boycott of the
SADC leaders at the Lusaka Summit next weekend need, for once, to put
their foot down and reject excuses from Harare on why there has been no
significant movement in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis since Dar es Salaam.
sundayview by Judith
ONE hectic morning in August 1985, while I was attending to a group of
supplicants and knowing there was another lot still to come, a tall, thin,
elegant man came and stood outside my office door and looked at me. When the
first group left, he walked in. By now I was on the telephone.
"Would you mind if I sit down?" he asked in a nondescript voice.
"Not really," I said, "but I have a couple of urgent calls to make."
"That's quite all right," he said, making himself at home.
Before I finished dialling, he asked: "Do you mind if I smoke?"
"Not at all," I said.
While speaking on the phone, I looked at him. His face was in profile,
and he was smoking and chewing the spent match at the same time. He looked
very interesting, but, I thought to myself, my word - this man has problems.
Eventually he introduced himself as a member of a co-operative at
Beitbridge that had long been trying to get assistance. They had sunk their
demobilisation money into a supermarket and exhausted their funds before the
building was completed.
They applied for Z$10 000, and we hard-heartedly said no. If we gave
them money to complete the building, what on earth would they use for stock?
It all seemed like an open drain.
He explained the members of his co-operative had asked him to come and
see me, as he was now quite often in Harare. "You see," he said, long after
making his request, "I am now one of the new boys in parliament."
"What?" I asked. "Are you the member of parliament for Beitbridge?"
"Yes," he said, and put out his hand. "Kembo Mohadi."
He hadn't seen all the letters on file, as some had been written after
his detention following the murder, "by dissidents", of the local Zanu PF
Senator Ndlovu. He had been one of the group against whom magistrates in
both Gwanda and Beitbridge had rejected charges on account of the torture
they had undergone.
Mohadi told me he hoped to be back in Harare within a fortnight. I
asked why, as parliament had risen for two months. He said there was a lot
of suffering in Beitbridge and he wanted to see the Minister of Home
Affairs, Senator Nkala, on behalf of his constituents.
I was constantly amazed by the sheer, naked courage of those who
seemed most under threat. I accompanied Mohadi to the lift, and he mentioned
that he might be in a bit of trouble when he returned to Bulawayo. Could I
recommend a lawyer there? I said he should talk to the people in our
Bulawayo office. I learned later that he never had the chance to do so.
When he reached his Bulawayo base en route to Beitbridge, he found an
order to report to the police. To make sure he obeyed, a relative had been
picked up and taken to Bulawayo Central police station and would be released
when Mohadi turned himself in, which he did.
Little did I guess that it would be under Mohadi's hapless watch as
Minister of Home Affairs some 20 years later that I was to lose my passport,
my citizenship of Zimbabwe, and thus the substance of my life? He was still
Minister of Home Affairs after the 2005 elections, when the police in
concert with other State forces unleashed murderous attacks on civilians and
destroyed the homes and properties of the informal business sector in
settlements throughout the country. This was Operation Murambatsvina -
"clear out the human excrement".
Under Mohadi the police continued the open, flagrantly illegal use of
the hostage system they had first learned about from Mohadi himself when he
was its victim. Mohadi had personally learned grim lessons about the cost of
opposing the wishes and designs of Robert Mugabe in any way. He had learned
the lessons by heart.
The ex-combatants who came after Mohadi that morning had been warned
off many times, as they were happy-go-lucky, hated working and owed us a lot
of money. They never lived up to their promises, and I had asked them to get
lost, but here they were again, because three of their members had been
The difference between members of Zipra whom I had seen that day and
former members of Zanla, like Eduardo Castro, was profound. Former Zipra
were on the run, whereas for many former Zanla the future was shining.
Sharlottie, wife of Cephas Msipa, was related to Lookout Masuku, who
was still locked up in Chikurubi Prison with Dumiso Dabengwa and others. A
couple of months after the 1985 elections, she told me that, for the first
time, Lookout and Du were in bad shape: depressed, very thin, sleepless and
Lookout was suffering from hypertension. She had been to see Minister
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who said he would put a case to Prime Minister Mugabe
for the release of Lookout, but that Dumiso was in forever.
Their misery and insomnia were fully understandable. They had been
valiant, triumphant warriors against the Smith regime. Under the Mugabe
regime they were helpless prisoners, unable to lift a finger in defence of
the thousands of their fellow Zimbabweans who were being smashed into the
ground by Zanu PF's "structures".
There was hardly anyone who had stood for what were now abusively
termed "minority parties" in the most recent "free and fair elections" who
hadn't been detained or beaten up, or had their property burned and their
family life destroyed.
When I heard of the detention of Nevison Nyashanu, unsuccessful
candidate in Harare Central for PF Zapu against Minister of Finance Dr
Bernard Chidzero, I rang the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and
said this was obviously a case where we could enlist Chidzero's help, as he
would feel terrible if he knew his opponent had been detained. The director
said: "No, Judy. What is going on is organised from the highest level. We
feel sick and powerless."
As early as 1985, knowledgeable and far-sighted people like him were
becoming too scared to mention Mugabe's name on the telephone.
When people were "picked", they were moved around so quickly that
their lawyers, family and friends did not even know where they were. Stephen
Nkomo disappeared from Chikurubi Prison and even his brother Joshua did not
know where he had been taken.
The same thing was happening with Zipra ex-combatants. My heart
clenched in horror when someone from Tsholotsho told me that white Land
Rovers and white Peugeots - government vehicles - were moving around without
number plates, collecting people who were not arrested as such, but were
disappearing for good.
I started sending messages to a handful of friends, such as the writer
David Caute in London. Writing helped me to get some of the burning out of
my blood . . .
Thursday 19 September 1985
I have been feeling miserable about friends like Edward Ndlovu MP
picked up this Tuesday at 5AM and also the confirmation that Kembo Mohadi MP
is in too, no one knows where. When I tried to ring Edward's wife, Mary she
wasn't there. Their little daughter Zanele answered the phone. She wept and
said her mother was OK but "daddy has been picked, and we don't know where
Zimbabwe's venerable and valiant Edward Ndlovu picked, like a ripe
tomato! It turns out that Edward is being held at Stops Camp in Bulawayo,
one of the worst for torture, but I don't think they'll dare to torture him
physically as he is so ill, anyway. So many people - high blood pressure as
Excerpt from Judith Todd's latest book, Through the Darkness, A Life
in Zimbabwe, available from www.zebrapress.co.za.
MDC's Tsvangirai is indecisive, confusing
IT only takes an ignorant fool not to realise that Zimbabwe is going
through both a political and socio-economic crisis; characterised by hunger
and starvation, acute shortage of fuel and foreign currency as well as gross
human rights violations.
It is also a fact beyond reasonable doubt that, the causes for this
crisis are deep-rooted in Zanu PF's well-organised system of intolerant and
Indeed, President Robert Mugabe is public enemy number one by virtue
of being the architect and guardian of this Zanu PF system that has overseen
the country's collapse.
There is no doubt that Zimbabweans have suffered enough and want a
change in government that will bring in a new regime to replace Mugabe.
Since 2000, Zimbabweans have been looking up to the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) as the party that will remove Mugabe and deliver them from this
socio-economic and political quagmire.
There is no doubt that given a level field, the MDC is more popular
than Zanu PF and this is why Mugabe will never allow free and fair
elections. Zimbabweans pinned their hopes on Morgan Tsvangirai as the man
who could lead the MDC and replace the Zanu PF government.
But despite all the support, Tsvangirai has managed to display empty
charisma. Whenever Tsvangirai speaks, he does so with a lot of force and
confidence, but the man does not calculate and is inconsistent.
Tsvangirai has now and again announced to the public that his faction
is going to boycott the 2008 elections, but he turns around and urges the
masses to vote for him in the same elections. Everyone knows that the
elections will not be free and fair, but the last thing we want to hear is
that our leader is confused as to whether he will contest or not.
Instead, we want to be wondering how our leader plans to wrestle power
from Mugabe given these electoral conditions, rather than wondering if he
will be contesting or not. Given that voter registration is going on and
will soon be closed, indeed we cannot afford to be confused as to whether
Tsvangirai will be in or out.
Tsvangirai has also been announcing to the masses that the 2008
elections are already rigged and Zanu PF will win. Everyone knows that
Mugabe is determined to cling to power, and will do anything to achieve his
goal. Rigging elections is one of the most obvious ways.
We also know very well that Zanu PF has always been rigging elections
and will rig the next one. What we expect to hear from our leader are
strategies he has put in place to ensure that, despite the attempts to rig,
we will win.
As a leader Tsvangirai is supposed to be innovative enough to lead us
to victory, but that seems to be far from reality obtaining from him. The
struggling people of Zimbabwe are being frustrated by Zanu PF, and the last
thing they need is to be demoralised by their own leader, who tells them
that the elections have already been won by the enemy-Zanu PF!
Rather what we need is a leader who can rejuvenate us and give us
confidence to go and register as well as turn out in thousands to vote is
such a way that Mugabe cannot easily retain power.
After the famous Save Zimbabwe Campaign, Tsvangirai announced that he
wanted an opposition coalition that would face Zanu PF in the next
elections. Indeed we felt rejuvenated that finally we were closer to
victory. But this time when we are registering to vote, Tsvangirai turns
around and tells us that he no longer wants coalition and he can go it
alone. Sometimes, I really wonder who advises this man, and if that person
is not a Zanu PF implant!
Tsvangirai, Mutambara under siege
THE failure of the two MDCs to unite at this crucial time in Zimbabwe's
history is indeed sad and disappointing. Many activists have sacrificed life
and limb for their beloved country, the common man is experiencing
unprecedented suffering while the Zanu PF fat cats continue to benefit from
this quandary. Our only hope lies in the two men who are at the helm of the
main opposition in Zimbabwe, Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai.
Unfortunately, the two have been besieged by a very dangerous yet
influential coterie of bootlickers who thrive on the politics of patronage
which is synonymous with the Zanu PF way of attaining recognition from the
party leader. This group of people from both camps is only self-serving and
thrives on posturing. These are individuals who lack the gravitas that
Mutambara often refers to when it comes to moving the country forward. They
are a liability to the democratic struggle and should be dealt with if the
opposition is to move towards the right direction.
These political sycophants are not capable leaders but pretenders. The
crisis created overnight politicians without the pedigree to lead. They are
opportunists manipulating the leaders of the opposition because of kinship
ties or a false sense of political achievements and experience gained before
and after 1999 when the MDC was formed.
Zimbabweans should expeditiously liberate these two men first from
this band of pretenders before we focus our attention on Mugabe. It is a
fact that Mutambara and Tsvangirai need each other right now and they know
that. Parallels can be drawn with the situation existing in Zanu PF
currently. An equally influential group has contributed to Mugabe's
paranoia. It is therefore a culture now characterising Zimbabwean politics
and if we are to achieve a new dispensation this should be nipped in the bud
as a precondition for success.
Charles M Mutama
Can Zesa explain 'back-feeds' scheme to everyone
THANK you for highlighting our plight in your newspaper edition of the
22 July 2007.
In a small part of Harare's Hatfield residential area between
Kilwinning and Elgin roads residents have been without electricity for a
full month. Residents were initially told that the loss of power was due to
a burnt out high voltage fuse on the transformer.
Later the story changed to "a rumbling transformer" which needed
"slight attention". However it took three weeks for Zesa to move the
transformer to their workshops as officials claimed they could not secure a
crane for lifting. Apparently two are in service with one having been sent
Soon after publication of your article residents were informed that a
replacement transformer had been found and would be taken to site the same
day as the crane in operation was on its way to Chitungwiza. That was Monday
23 July. To date the transformer has not been moved and as for the
Chitungwiza bit one can only guess.
What has been happening, however, since that fateful day when our
globes faded into candle light and eventually extinguished, is disturbing
and needs investigation. Although initially there were about 70 houses that
were affected by the black out, a few are being reconnected through what
Zesa calls "back-feeds"- some say after payment of back handers to the
Thus, whilst the majority of homes have been turned into villages, the
well-connected neighbours have no problem watching news, eating fresh foods,
having warm baths, reading newspapers and their children doing homework at a
time when many gather around small fires counting the night stars and
wondering what meal to prepare, where the next candle is to be found.
For the majority of residents as long as there still are rich pickings
by Zesa's corrupt employees the crane will continue to keep its safe
distance until the promised transformer finds another "more deserving "
location among the ruling party faithfuls, a deserving prize indeed in the
run up to the 2008 elections -remember the Sithembiso Nyoni case?
I am absolutely incensed at the news piece on Zimbabweans crossing the
border into South Africa that has just been shown on Sky News. Not the
content, because it is the sad tragic reality of the situation.
What makes me angry is the white Afrikaans racist mentality that still
prevails today in South Africa. "Don't try to escape again," he says in his
broken English to two terrified and traumatised Zimbabwean women. Have they
nothing better to do than hunt the border jumpers like rabid jackals?
Where is their compassion? Why don't they get on to their local MPs to
kick-start President Thabo Mbeki into doing something to stop the
humanitarian crisis and therefore this mass exodus?
I want those farmers to answer me one question. If that was their
family trying to escape from a genocidal tyrant, would they condone such
head hunting? I don't think so. They are a disgrace to the SA nation.
JOC anathema to civilian order
REGARDING the Joint Operations Command (JOC)
involvement in running the country, particularly its various military-style
"operations", and the problem with involving the military in governance
issues is that they are trained to think in terms of "acceptable civilian
casualties" during any military operation.
This is also known as "collateral damage" in the sort of euphemism
commonly used in the military.
So if Operation Reduce Prices leads to no maize-meal in Matabeleland,
as is being reported, and to associated deaths - the military will ask
itself: "Well, what is the acceptable collateral damage - half a million?
Perhaps one million?"
Normally this sort of Auschwitz thinking is restrained by civilian
authority, even in a war. The JOC knows no such restraints. That is why the
army should be kept in barracks, not beating people in the streets and in
police cells and that is why the serving military should be kept out of
It is also the reason why police officers should be properly-trained
in civilian policing methods - not in degrees of "bashing". This disgraceful
term, introduced into the language of national discourse by someone who
should know better, is another euphemism. The correct term is assault - or