August 05 2007 at 03:10PM
Harare - Zimbabwe's wheat harvest will this year be the worst since a
controversial land reform programme was launched seven years ago, state
media said Sunday.
Farmers groups have predicted a harvest way below the 78 000 tons
produced last year, said the official Sunday Mail newspaper.
The country needs more than 350 000 tons of wheat a year for local
The farmers placed the blame for the poor yields on the country's
struggling power company, which declared itself broke earlier this year,
resulting in frequent countrywide blackouts.
Erratic power supplies meant irrigation cycles on farms were
disrupted, and many electric irrigation pumps on farms were damaged, the
Wheat crops wilted in the fields from lack of irrigation, according to
Wilson Nyabonda, President of the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union, one
of four farmers groups in Zimbabwe.
"This is where things fell apart as electricity was only available in
the first days of May," Nyabonda told the paper. "From there onwards it
became a nightmare for farmers."
Edward Raradza, an official from the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, which
represents mostly small-scale farmers, said members were forced to abandon
crops because of the power crisis.
"Things like seed and fertiliser went down the drain, he said.
The announcement is yet more bad news for a country already reeling
under acute bread shortages, as well as shortages of most basic commodities.
Last week the UN's World Food Programme launched an appeal to donors
for money to scale up the supply of emergency food aid to more than 3
million Zimbabweans, or a quarter of the population.
Bread is an important part of the Zimbabwean diet. But state- imposed
controls on the selling price have caused shortages, as bakeries no longer
want to produce bread to sell at a loss.
Long queues have become the order of the day in supermarkets baking
Government officials warned earlier this year that the wheat harvest
would be dismal. They said only 30 000 hectares of wheat was planted ahead
of the May 31 planting deadline, out of a target of 76 000 hectares. -
By Tony Hawkins in Harare
Published: August 5 2007 18:23 | Last updated: August 5 2007 18:23
A new law in Zimbabwe allowing the state to tap private phone conversations
and monitor faxes and e-mails is unconstitutional and impracticable, said
local lawyers, opposition politicians and internet service providers.
Lawyers said they are confident the government's Interception of
Communications Act which became law last week can be challenged successfully
in the courts.
The act empowers President Robert Mugabe's government to establish an
information centre to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, open mail and
intercept faxes and e-mails.
The government said it is justified by the need to combat domestic and
international terrorism as well as "economic sabotage". The law merely puts
its anti-terrorism legislation in line with international practice, it says.
The act requires ISPs to purchase and install equipment to spy on their
clients' communications "when so required". ISPs must also ensure that they
have the capacity to monitor communications full-time.
One ISP executive, who did not wish to be named, said: "All the equipment
has to be imported, and we do not have foreign currency for that." Most ISPs
would have to close if the authorities enforced the legislation, he said.
Media houses believe the government will use the law to curb critical
reporting of the country's rapidly worsening social and economic crisis. The
authorities are particularly anxious to clamp down on online news services
that are read increasingly widely in Zimbabwe, government critics said.
David Coltart, secretary for legal affairs in the Mutambara wing of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said the law was unconstitutional
and "an unjustifiable invasion of a person's rights". He said lack of
foreign currency meant the government did not have the capacity to
implement the legislation.
But Beatrice Mtetwa, president of the Zimbabwe Law Society, said she
believed the government had been intercepting communications before the bill
became law. "The act simply legalises what they have already been doing,"
In a separate development the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper said on
Sunday that Zimbabwe's wheat crop was likely to meet only 20 per cent of
national requirements. The production target for 2007 is 338,000 tonnes but
output is unlikely to exceed much more than 70,000 tonnes according to
Farmers said production had been disrupted by last season's drought which
hit the irrigation of the winter wheat crop as well as "constant power cuts"
and vandalism of irrigation equipment.
Some farmers had been without power for four days at a time.
Zimbabwe is already desperately short of food, with the United Nations'
World Food Programme warning that as many as 4m people - or about 40 per
cent of the population - will need food aid in the first half of 2008.
August 05 2007 at 11:25AM
Zimbabweans trying to survive food shortages, lengthy power outages,
lack of fuel and other economic and social pressures have found a way to let
the world know of their suffering - regular emails to friends and family
This despite threats by the Zimbabwean government that all emails and
phone calls are to be monitored.
All the emails tell the same story: "Things are really not good at
Viv from Bulawayo reports there is major looting going on, with
officials she calls government price commissioners - police and intelligence
officers - doing most of the grabbing.
"Basically, they go round all the businesses and decide that they are
charging too much.
"They force a rather arbitrary and paltry price for most of the goods
in the shop, then buy up the lot or let their swarm of friends in to buy the
"They make sure that all stock is packed out on the shelves and is not
Viv tells how stores were made to sell plasma-screen television sets
for about R100, and how shelves have been emptied with no hope of being
"Manufacturers can't possibly supply goods to be sold at a fraction of
She had been unable to buy welding rods to make a pushcart to
transport buckets of water, but this was no longer necessary because her
neighbour was now demanding cooking oil, sugar and wheat - "all gold dust
here" - in exchange for water.
"We have just managed to swop 15 litres of diesel for 5 000 litres of
water so we should be okay for a while," she says.
While there are intermittent water cuts, Viv and her family regularly
go without electricity for longer than a week.
It is not only the people who are suffering. Many residents have had
to put down their pets because they could not bear to see them hungry.
Of concern, she says, is the fact that cross-border shopping will be
stopped at the end of the month, which means that all residents will have to
obtain permits to import meat, cooking oil and other essentials. Many were
already having their groceries confiscated at Beit Bridge border post.
Viv recounts how two store managers she knows were arrested and
detained in excrement-filled police cells in Bulawayo for not adhering to
government-imposed price controls.
"The people who are being arrested are only being kept overnight or
for a weekend. They then pay a fine of ZIM$28-million (about R800) and have
to plead guilty."
A Harare resident, who did not want his name mentioned, celebrates the
fact that he has survived another week, despite having a run-in with the
"green bombers" (police).
"There were about 20 shoppers in the car park, all with shopping
trolleys of paid-for goods, when the green bombers swept in in a truck,
jumped off and proceeded to run around helping themselves to whatever they
wanted from the trolleys. It was all over in five minutes and then they were
Several of the man's business associates have been arrested, he says,
adding that "many folk" are fleeing the country.
Referring to a friend's hijacking in Johannesburg, the writer points
out at least he managed to escape unharmed.
"I have power cuts of up to 11 hours for six days a week and
invariably the power is on when I am at work. I know that tonight I will be
reading by candlelight again," the writer says.
Another resident expresses thanks in her e-mail for being able to find
six loaves of bread and 12 eggs during last week's rush for food when prices
"Thankfully, my pantry and freezer are full of food. Living in a
country where shortages are common, you tend to bulk-buy in fear of a coming
shortage. Just as well, because the shop shelves now stand empty.
"The prices are fantastic though - everything has been slashed by 50
percent. Pity there isn't anything to buy," says the woman.
She details how police and "war veterans" moved from shop to shop
during Operation Price Control to force store owners to drop their prices or
"In some cases, bags of cement have sold for the equivalent of R5.
"It seems that yet again the government has taken a desperate measure
to 'control' the country, but with very little foresight.
"The saying goes - where you find a plague of locusts, hunger will
"This is with no doubt where Zimbabwe is heading in the next couple of
"Shops cannot afford to restock their shelves and the Zimbabweans are
finding themselves in an incredibly desperate situation."
The resident says the past two weeks have been fairly challenging -
they had visitors from South Africa.
"Thankfully, they brought some food up with them, but I can assure you
it has been extremely difficult to feed them.
"Who knows what will happen here in the next few weeks. I do know that
the country has come to a standstill.
"The roads are quiet due to massive fuel shortages and the shops are
empty - people are hungry.
"The tension is building up in Zimbabwe. We have decided to get police
clearance for our vehicle so that, should we need to evacuate the country in
a hurry, we can get through the border quickly.
"We've also got an emergency tank of diesel, should we need it," she
This article was originally published on page 10 of Tribune on August
Saturday 4th August 2007
Dear Family and Friends,
Every day that price controls continue, the discontent amongst Zimbabweans
rises. Everyone, everywhere is now affected and it doesn't matter if you are
a political heavyweight, a soldier, policeman or ordinary member of society,
everything is either in very short supply or just not available at all. In
one big supermarket this weekend there were 78 empty shelves on a busy
Saturday morning and the goods most plentiful were wine, cleaning products
and toilet cleaner. Walking along one empty aisle after another with my 15
year old son, home for the school holidays, we were looking for soft
drinks - any colour, flavour or make would have done but there was nothing
at all to be had. We both stood open mouthed at the sudden scrum that
developed right in front of us. From an internal storeroom a man emerged
with a shopping trolley which was half full with small, 375 ml, bottles of
cooking oil. From all over the supermarket, and the doorway and outside on
the pavement, people ran, pushed, shoved and shouted as they scrambled to
get to the trolley and grab one of the small bottles. Even security guards
on duty at the exits joined in and it was frightening to witness the
dramatic changes in people from calm and dignified to squabbling,
scrabbling, pushing and out of control.
Even though he is a teenager and almost taller than me, I looked first to my
son, was he OK, out of the way of the madness, and then to a friend I'd
seen, an 82 year old man who had gone white as a sheet and seemed rooted to
the spot, not sure what was happening or which way to move. I put an arm
round him and he was shaking and I couldn't believe he hadn't been knocked
over in the stampede.
Outside in the car park the conversation was not about empty shelves, the
lack of essential food stuffs or the sudden and complete disappearance of
even soft drinks. It wasn't about the lack of meat or eggs, flour, sugar or
rice or the daily water cuts, instead it was about beer. Now Zimbabwe has
run out of beer it seems and for many this has been the anaesthetic which
has dulled the pain of this time of madness. Outside the main beer
distribution warehouse in the town cars and trucks lined both sides of the
road, their vehicles piled high with empty crates. A bread truck was stopped
at a small garage where petrol and diesel haven't been available for some
weeks and perhaps a hundred people lined up each to be allowed to buy a
single loaf. These are scenes I have seen in documentaries about the second
world war and they are almost impossible to comprehend in our country which
until so recently was a land of plenty.
You really do have to see these scenes, walk amongst the people and witness
these shocking scrambles for food to understand why Zimbabweans are crawling
under razor wire and climbing over barbed wire border fences to get out of
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.
Mail and Guardian
Ade Obisesan | Musina, South Africa
05 August 2007 09:14
It took two days of trekking through the bush, before navigating
a crocodile-infested river and then scrambling underneath a barbed wire
fence for Peter Nkomo and his family to make good their great escape from
the meltdown of Zimbabwe to South Africa.
"When you have poverty and hunger staring you in the face you
are left with only your survival instincts -- that is flee Zimbabwe," says
32-year-old Nkomo from the relative safety of the South African border town
"That's what I have been doing over the last two days, hoping to
have a new beginning in South Africa."
With 80% of the population now living below the poverty line,
thousands of Zimbabweans are trying to make it across the border every day
and join their two million-plus compatriots who have already made it down
But while all hope that they will find a better life in Africa's
richest country than in President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, they often find
that life on the other side of the border is equally cruel and dangerous.
Nkomo, who comes from a village near Zimbabwe's main southern
city of Bulawayo, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that he had arrived with
his wife and four-month-old baby boy with little more than the clothes on
They have no money, no food and their baby has developed an eye
infection which was growing angrier by the hour in temperatures of 27C.
Visibly exhausted, Nkomo said that the worst part of their
journey had been their overnight trek across the Limpopo River.
"They are lucky that the Limpopo has virtually dried up now,
otherwise these Zimbabweans ... would have been eaten up by crocodiles,"
says Abram Luruli, manager of the Musina municipality.
The normally tranquil Musina has been flooded with refugees in
recent months, with Zimbabweans everywhere to be seen both in town and on
the 10km road which leads to the official Beit Bridge border crossing.
Japhet Mashuga, who spoke to AFP as he trekked along the
Musina-Beit Bridge road, said he had been ready to do what it takes to leave
behind a life of misery in the Zimbabwean capital Harare.
"It was a question of life and death. We could not be bothered
about the risks we faced," he said as he also recounted his journey
"The desperation of a hungry man knows no bounds," he added.
Mugabe's order for retailers to slash prices in June was
officially meant to help Zimbabweans afford basics such as bread and cooking
oil but the net result has been more empty shelves as producers can no
longer cover their costs.
The United Nations's World Food Programme announced this week
that it planned a
10-fold increase in the number of beneficiaries of its food aid
in Zimbabwe in the next eight months in order to avert the threat of what it
called widespread hunger.
But for many Zimbabweans, South Africa represents their best
chance of avoiding starvation even if only as a source of goods that can
then be consumed or even hawked back home.
Mother-of-six Ophadube Davies said she often sneaks over the
border to buy food but her latest trip has been caught short after she was
picked up without papers by border guards who are generally overwhelmed.
Davies (58) told AFP as she was marched back to Zimbabwe that
she was trying to put bread on the table for her jobless husband and 10
grandchildren left in her care after their parents died of HIV/Aids and
"I managed to cross yesterday to buy some groceries in Musina to
feed my hungry children and sell some at home to make money, but today,
security men stopped me from crossing the border. I feel like dying," she
"At my age I should not be playing pranks at the border but the
situation at home is very hard for people."
A South African immigration official at the Beit Bridge border
post said that he had every sympathy for the Zimbabweans but that a
free-for-all could not be allowed.
"We pity the situation of Zimbabweans but we cannot allow them
to enter our country illegally," he said on condition of anonymity. -
Murambatsvina! That was our first impression when we arrived outside the
Zimbabwe Embassy. The paving stones between our four shady maple trees had
been torn up and a noxious smell wafted from a nearby drain - reminiscent of
the streams of sewage in Chitungweza. Unlike our suffering families in
Zimbabwe we expect reality to return next week when Westminster Council
hopefully complete their work. As it was, squeezed by the barriers, we
nevertheless managed to put our case across to passers-by, along with
singing, dancing and drumming, in a concentrated space despite the
temperature being in the high 80s.
Part of what we try to do, with pictures and laminated newspaper reports, is
show how serious the situation is in Zimbabwe. One of our supporters, Edwin
Dube, testified at first hand to the decline of the Zimbabwean health
service. He said his mother had died on Tuesday after being admitted to
Harare Hospital last month when a cough developed into pneumonia. He said
the hospital had been unable to offer her any real help beyond putting her
on a drip and giving her mild painkillers. The family even had to organize a
private ambulance to take her elsewhere for X-rays.
We were pleased to welcome 5 more people to the Vigil Co-ordinatng Team.
They are Chipo Chayo who looks after the Vigil merchandise, Luka Phiri who
advises on asylum issues, Moses Kandiyawo and Bie Tapa who will liaise with
student and youth groups who want to become involved with the Vigil, and Sue
Toft who manages the Vigil table.
Next week we are devoting the Vigil to highlighting the SADC summit in
Lusaka where President Mbeki is expected to deliver a progress report on his
attempt to mediate an agreement on Zimbabwe so that there can be free and
fair elections next March.
For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/
FOR THE RECORD: 99 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
- Monday, 30th July 2007, 7.30 pm, Central London Zimbabwe Forum.
The Forum will discuss the fate of Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa.
Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London WC2
(cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John
Adam Street, turn right and you will see the pub).
- Friday, 10th August 2007, 1 - 3 pm. The National Union of
Students is joining with Zimbabwean youth organisations outside the
Zimbabwean Embassy in a soldarity demostration with students in Zimbabwe.
- Saturday, 18th August 2007, 12 - 2.30 pm. Kate Hoey MP will be
joining the Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign at their Vigil outside City Hall,
Belfast. All supporters welcome. As agreed with Ian Paisley Jnr, our
Belfast friends are presenting a petition to Stormont on 10th September.
They plan to do a presentation to the assembly members in the long gallery
and then get as many members as possible to sign the petition in front of
the press. They are trying to get some high profile campaigners along to
raise the profile of the campaign.
- Saturday, 1st September 2007, 12 noon - 10 pm. Zimfest 2007 (food,
sports, music). Venue: Prince Georges Playing Fields, Bushey Rd, Raynes
Park, London, SW20 9NB. For more information, check; www.wezimbabwe.com
- Weekend of 7- 9 September 2007. Friends in Yorkshire (including
Albert Weidemann who came to the Vigil last week) are planning a weekend of
events to highlight the suffering of Zimbabweans.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
by M. Jegathesan
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and other African
and Southeast Asian leaders are meeting in Malaysia this week to draw up a
plan to fight poverty and bolster economic ties.
Mugabe's presence at the gathering on the island resort of Langkawi is
already causing some controversy.
But Malaysia's foreign minister said the meeting, which will be hosted by
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was non-political.
"I have heard that there have been some rumblings, but we must remember that
the Langkawi dialogue is to discuss development," Foreign Minister Malaysia
Syed Hamid Albar told the New Straits Times.
"It's a non-political forum. We will not be discussing politics but
"Whichever country is in need of development and can learn from the
experience of others, they should be encouraged to participate," he said.
The gathering, dubbed the Langkawi International Dialogue, will bring
together some 16 African and Southeast Asian leaders and more than 260
The forum is the brainchild of Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir
Mohamad and was launched in 1995 in an attempt to foster close economic and
political relations with poor but resource-rich African countries.
Mahathir, who retired in October 2003 after 22 years in power, was an ally
of Mugabe's, with the two men sharing a love of anti-Western rhetoric stoked
by a history of British colonialism in both countries.
Syed Hamid said an ambitious action plan would be produced at the end of the
three-day meeting, which starts on Monday.
"Poverty is still a fundamental issue worldwide. In many countries, there
are people earning less than two US dollars a day," he said.
Mugabe established an independent Zimbabwe in 1979. He has since come to be
regarded by many as a tyrannical dictator whose rule has been marked by
intimidation, violence, fraud, and robbery.
The octogenarian president has also been slammed for leading the once-model
economy into ruin. Inflation in the southern African nation is now running
at more than 3,700 percent.
Malaysia is Southeast Asia's third-largest economy. Its major exports
include oil, electronics and electrical products and it is the world's
largest palmoil producer.
Other leaders taking part in the meeting include Lesotho's prime minister,
the Namibian and Zambian presidents and King Mswati III of Swaziland.
Leaders from four Asian countries -- Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia and
Thailand will also attend for the first time.
Syed Hamid dismissed criticism that the gathering was an expensive "talking
shop" for Malaysia.
"It will help promote trade and investment. And during multilateral
gatherings, these countries tend to support Malaysia because we are good
friends," he said.
"At the same time, we have invited Southeast Asian countries. If our
neighbours become rich, we can have better trade."
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: August 5, 2007
LUSAKA, Zambia: Zambian immigration authorities are struggling to cope with
a sudden upsurge in Zimbabweans crossing the border to shop for basic
products as the economic crisis in their home country bites deeper and its
coming wheat harvest is expected to be the worst in years.
The immigration department in the southern border city of Livingstone said
the number of Zimbabweans crossing into Zambia daily had risen from 60 to
1,000 persons, with long lines forming at the border post every day.
Immigration Public Relations Officer, Mulako Mbangweta, said they feared the
situation was spiraling out of control in Livingstone - a tourist hub
because of the nearby Victoria Falls.
"We now fear the security risks that can be posed by this swollen influx,"
She said most people crossed into Zambia to buy goods such as bread, corn
flour and milk that are now unavailable in Zimbabwe and then returned home.
South Africa and Botswana also have an upsurge in cross-border shopping.
Zimbabwe's Sunday Mail, a government mouthpiece, confirmed the expectations
of many, saying experts predicted the wheat harvest would be the worst in
years, below the 78,000 tons harvested last year and far short of the target
340,000 tons because of electricity shortages, which prevented farmers from
irrigating the crop.
"In some areas farmers could go for four consecutive days without
electricity. It became impossible to irrigate and complete the required
cycles, resulting in the crop wilting," the president of the Zimbabwe
Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union, Wilson Nyabonda, told the newspaper.
Maize, rather than wheat is the staple diet of most Zimbabweans, but the
disastrous wheat crop is likely to worsen bread shortages and serves to
highlight the economic woes of southern Africa's former breadbasket.
The World Food Program appealed last week for US$118 million to help more
than 3.3 million Zimbabweans - more than a quarter of the population -
facing severe food shortages.
Zambian immigration officer Mbangweta gave no estimates of the number of
Zimbabweans sneaking into Zambia illegally and staying. But there is
mounting concern among Zimbabwe's neighbors that they will be swamped with
destitute refugees as Zimbabwe's crisis worsens.
Aziz Pahad, South African deputy foreign minister, on Thursday voiced alarm
at predictions by the International Monetary Fund that Zimbabwe's inflation
may hit 100,000 percent by the end of the year. He said that neighboring
countries "will not be able to sustain the levels of refugees." There are an
estimated 3 million Zimbabweans in South Africa, most of them illegally.
Farmers on South Africa's northern border have started a vigilante campaign
against the illegal immigrants, accusing them of theft and of scaring away
foreign tourists in game lodges along the border.
In a bid to tame the price increases, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's
government ordered sweeping price cuts of up to 50 percent in June. But that
merely worsened the shortages.
In rare welcome news for Zimbabweans, the Sunday Mail said that the
government had repealed proposed legislation to limit the amount of products
including cooking oil, flour and beef that Zimbabweans could import. This
would have cut an increasingly important lifeline to desperate Zimbabweans
who flock to the borders each day to shop in neighboring countries
A 57-year-old Zimbabwean woman, Selina Nkhoma of Victoria Falls Town, said
she had no choice but to shop in Zambia.
"Zambians should not be annoyed with us. We are only coming here to buy
goods which are not available in our country in order to survive," said the
mother of seven.
Immigration official Mbangweta said she was worried about the numbers of
"We foresee a situation where there will be a lot of people on the streets
such that we may face problems if people continue coming in such large
numbers," she said.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has raised the price it is prepared to pay for
the country's gold output to Z$3 million per gramme - up from Z$1 million
per gramme set only a week earlier in a move to rescue gold mining companies
teetering on the verge of collapse.
Author: Tawanda Karombo
Posted: Sunday , 05 Aug 2007
At a time when the global price for gold has surged back over $670,
Zimbabwe's central bank has made an extraordinary decision to again increase
the price for gold deliveries remitted to Fidelity Printers to US$472 an
The actual gold support price was raised from the previous week's level of
Z$1 million per gramme, to Z$3 million which loosely translated to US$472.
This effectively means that from April 26 to May 31 the gold support price
was Z$350,000 per gramme and from June 1 to June 30 it was Z$1 million.
It has now been increased to Z$3 million per gramme effective July 1, which
was the price announced during the week.
Those that had opted to receive 60 percent of their proceeds in foreign
currency but now want to be paid in local currency may do so at $3 million
Announcing the new gold support price, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor
Dr Gideon Gono said the move was meant to rescue gold mining companies
teetering on the brink of collapse.
He said the new pricing structure could significantly improve operations but
analysts say the price - still far below global gold prices - might fail to
breathe life into the gold mining sector, which desperately requires foreign
currency for critical imports.
Gold mining experts said while the move by the central bank to review the
gold price was positive, the bank should now move to make quick payments for
gold deliveries from gold miners for obligations under which they are
entitled to make foreign currency payments.
This, said a senior chamber of mines executive, "would significantly boost
confidence in the sector" and would also give assurance to the industry that
the central bank will honour its obligation for future gold deliveries on
The new price was backdated to July 1 for miners with documented evidence of
delivery to the RBZ.
Gono said escalating operating costs had necessitated the price review.
"Gold remains a strategic reserve mineral to the economy, given its general
acceptability as a medium of exchange and store of value in global financial
markets. As a country, our gold production levels have lately fallen victim
to escalating operating costs, as well as elements of indiscipline,
side-marketing and smuggling."
Announcing the fresh support scheme for the gold deliveries, Gono said he
wanted to enhance viability in the gold mining sector.
Zimbabwe's gold mines are operating far below capacity mainly due to power
supply problems and late payment for gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers
and Refineries, a subsidiary of the Central Bank.
The Chamber of Mines last month indicated that the situation in the sector
was dire, requiring urgent attention from the Central Bank.
Under a new dispensation created for the sector by Gono, gold miners are now
classified as exporters and therefore qualify to receive a portion of their
proceeds from the central bank in foreign currency.
Gold miners are paid 40 percent of their proceeds in Zimbabwe dollars, with
the rest of the payments being made in foreign currency.
It has been the foreign currency payments that have presented the Central
Bank with problems. An acute foreign currency shortage has meant that it
has to scrap for limited foreign currency supplies to meet urgent government
commitments, but this has left gold miners in a very unenviable position,
with no foreign currency.
Forecasts are that gold output in 2007 will come in at around 8.7 tonnes, a
huge fall from 11 tonnes last year.
Zimbabwe's gold mining companies have failed to capitalise on firming global
mineral prices due to a myriad of inflationary and viability problems. Power
outages of up-to 15 hours a day by the country's power utility ZESA Holdings
have compounded the sector's woes.
Monsters and Critics
Aug 5, 2007, 13:31 GMT
Harare - A Zambian rhino poacher who was caught after a shoot-out with
Zimbabwean game rangers has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for attempted
murder and other offences, reports said Sunday.
A magistrate in the western coal-mining town of Hwange, close to the
world-renowned Hwange National Park, sentenced 24-year-old Morris Kakwezhi
to 10 years in jail for attempted murder, said the state- controlled Sunday
He received an additional five years for possessing an unlicensed weapon, as
well as three one-year jail terms for poaching, illegally possessing
ammunition and unlawfully entering the country, it added.
Hwange Magistrate David Johnstone-Butcher said he took into account when
passing the sentence that poachers were prepared to commit murder to sustain
the trade in rhino horn.
The maximum sentences permitted by statute are unfortunately insufficient to
reflect the gravity of the offences committed, the paper quoted him as
'Accordingly, none can be reduced or suspended even if suspension of a
sentence on a foreign criminal could be considered appropriate, which is
The Zambian poacher was arrested on May 17 when he and three accomplices
were confronted by three game rangers in Hwange National Park.
The game rangers are reported to have fired warning shots into the air, to
which Kakwezhi responded by firing at the game rangers, before dropping his
rifle and fleeing the scene. He was later captured, but his three
accomplices got away.
The poacher, who pleaded not guilty to the charge of attempted murder, did
not have a lawyer.
Zimbabwe's rare rhinoceros population is under severe threat from poachers
who covet the animals' horns for sale to middlemen based in the region. The
horn is used to make dagger handles in the Middle East, and in traditional
medicine in Asia.
The southern African country has lost at least 40 black rhinoceroses in the
past three years to poachers.
In May the authorities, in collaboration with the Worldwide Fund for Nature,
launched a massive operation to cut the horns off the country's 780
remaining rhinos to deter poachers.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
by Ade Obisesan
MUSINA, South Africa (AFP) - James Diop rings up another sale and then
contemplates his good fortune to work in a supermarket in South Africa as
the stores across the border in Zimbabwe grow emptier by the day.
"We've had a 300 percent increase in sales since June which is unprecedented
... and so we don't want the good times to end," he said.
"We really are laughing all the way to the bank."
Like many others whose livelihoods depend on the volume of trade in the
sleepy border town of Musina, Diop has found that the economic meltdown
north of the Limpopo river is a cloud with a silver lining.
Since June, when veteran President Robert Mugabe ordered sweeping price
cuts, stores in Zimbabwe have virtually run dry of the basics such as
cooking oil, sugar and bread as producers can no longer cover their costs at
a time when the annual rate of inflation is believed to have run into five
While some Zimbabweans have turned to the underground market, others have
headed southwards where such stocks are still readily in supply and can
bring in a handy profit.
The owner of a grocer's shop in the town of Louis Trichardt, the next stop
down the road from Musina, said he was struggling to keep up with demand.
"I am selling four times of what I normally sold three months ago," said the
trader, who declined to give his name.
At a nearby "Mr Price" supermarket, three trucks from Zimbabwe were being
loaded with milk, sugar, bread, cooking oil and other household consumables.
Musina is experiencing the immediate economic and social impact of the mass
exodus of Zimbabweans into the country.
Abram Luruli, manager of the Musina municipality, acknowledged that some
locals were making hay as a result of the troubles across the border.
"There is no doubt that the economy of Musina is booming in terms of
Zimbabweans buying groceries and other goods as a result of shortages in
their country," Luruli told AFP.
But he also warned that the sudden influx was having a negative impact as
well, with increases in petty crime and unemployment.
"Most of them come into South Africa illegally, they do not do fingerprints
to facilitate prosecution, they offer cheap labour and make South Africans
lose out in employment," he said.
Signs of resentment are clear.
When an AFP correspondent spoke with Joyce Sithole, a 27-year-old Zimbabwean
who is trying to eke out a living by selling sculptures and pottery from her
homeland, she was soon confronted by a South African who accused her of
stealing her roadside patch underneath the shade of a baobab tree.
"Such clashes happen frequently here. The South Africans are getting angry
that Zimbabweans are creeping in and gradually displacing them in all fronts
and snatching from them their means of livelihood," said an elderly man who
stepped in to settle the dispute.
Senior prosecutor Edward Pusula said the courts were rapidly filling up with
Zimbabweans who had stopped over in Musina on their way down to the major
South African cities such as Johannesburg and Durban where most exiles end
"Sixty-five percent of all offenders in Musina regional court are
Zimbabweans who allegedly engage in crimes such as rape, robbery,
housebreaking, shop lifting and smuggling," Pusula told AFP.
Provincial police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Moplafela Mojapelo,
downplayed the security concerns however and insisted the situation was
"We have made some arrests (of illegal immigrants) this year. Once we
arrest, we deport them to their country," he told AFP without giving
"There are challenges but the situation has not reached a crisis point yet."
From The Weekender (SA), 4 August
With the situation reaching critical levels, the country needs to act,
writes Jonathan Moyo
As president Robert Mugabe delivered his address opening the third and
apparently last session of the sixth parliament last week, he appeared
determined to keep his head when everyone else across the nation had long
lost theirs due to the national crisis that is deepening every day. That
Mugabe can still keep his head means he is yet to grasp the gravity of the
crisis. So endemic is it that national attention has moved from how to
define the problem to how to resolve it. And there are four options
available to the nation to resolve the crisis, namely:
a military coup; an act of statesmanship by Mugabe to save both the country
and his legacy; a coming together of nationalist progressive forces under a
united front; or a spontaneous and, therefore, chaotic uprising.
There is no doubt that one of these choices must be made if Zimbabwe is to
move forward to a different dispensation. Since March 30, there has been an
amazing, if not shameful, display of conspicuous deceit by patronage-seeking
Zanu PF individuals and groups. They have been falling over each other to
further endorse Mugabe's self-serving re-election bid on the back of a
central committee endorsement that never was. Based on his tortuous 2002
campaign experience, it is obvious that Mugabe hopes to yet again use the
military, national intelligence and police forces, along with the government
ministries and departments, traditional chiefs and their headmen to win
re-election next year. But even so, he needs to be forewarned not to be too
trusting, because everyone who matters in officialdom knows that Zimbabwe
will remain in dire straits if he remains in office.
Indeed, Mugabe must remember with some trepidation how, even with the
establishment's support, he almost lost that election. And that was before
the country's situation had deteriorated to its present hopeless levels.
Therefore, a Mugabe electoral victory in March next year - whether achieved
by fair or foul means - would be bad news, and would simply worsen the
hardships faced by Zimbabweans. Another false choice being peddled in
opposition circles is that Morgan Tsvangirai's faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) can, or will, win the presidential election. The
Arthur Mutambara faction of the MDC is realistic enough to see that its
chances of a victory next March are fading fast. While Tsvangirai has shown
commendable courage as an opposition leader over the years, this has been
negated by his poor leadership and general lack of strategy or sound
The mere fact that he personally presided over the split of his own party
demonstrated his poor leadership skills and put paid to the only chance he
had to be a national leader. The damaging consequence of the MDC split in
electoral terms was leaving Tsvangirai without critical votes in
Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces. Previous election results show that
outside Harare, he has not been able to get much support in the Mashonaland
provinces. The same is true in the Masvingo and Manicaland provinces, where
his support has dramatically declined since 2002. While Mugabe is weak in
Matabeleland, he has more support than Tsvangirai in the Mashonaland
provinces. The public's lack of confidence in Tsvangirai as a result of the
MDC split, plus the fact that he can no longer be sure about the extent of
his support in Matabeleland, makes one wonder how anyone can foresee a
Tsvangirai victory in the election next year . Where will the votes come
In any event, while some partisan interests might find this hard to swallow,
the truth is that in the scheme of Zimbabwean politics, Tsvangirai has
become as inflexible and as polarising as Mugabe. While MDC supporters
cannot vote for Mugabe under any circumstances, Tsvangirai is unlikely to
benefit from this. The national consensus now is that neither Mugabe nor
Tsvangirai can take Zimbabwe forward. The feeling from across the political
divide is that both need to put Zimbabwe first ahead of their own personal
interests. The political economy of Zimbabwe today is pregnant with
socioeconomic conditions that have given rise to military coups elsewhere in
Africa and the developing world. The basic cause of military coups in
history has invariably been the inflexibility of the ruling elite , through
their inability or unwillingness to accommodate dissent as an enlightened
strategy of preserving their own interests.
While a military coup is clearly undesirable in Zimbabwe , it is
nevertheless possible and could even become unavoidable. In the desperate
circumstances gripping the country, the only way a military coup can be
avoided is not by wishing it away or condemning those who talk about it, but
by institutionalising flexibility in our constitution to get everyone -
especially those in power - to put Zimbabwe first. Another possible option
is a sudden and spontaneous uprising, that would result in chaos . This
choice, which Zimbabweans can make by default through inaction , is as
undesirable as a military coup. But it is very possible. A spontaneous
uprising would recall the biblical adage that where there is no vision, the
people perish. In recent African history, the lack of a vision has resulted
in devastation for ordinary people in Rwanda, Somalia, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire and Darfur.
The possibilities of a military coup and a spontaneous uprising in
Zimbabwe - both of which would certainly move things forward, even if in
undesirable ways - can be avoided through the adoption of one of the other
two choices : an act of statesmanship by Mugabe - he would have to retire
now - or the emergence of united front, bringing together progressive
nationalists from across the political divide. If he could understand what
it means to put Zimbabwe before partisan interests as he urged others to do
in his parliamentary address last week, Mugabe would step down before March.
He could use the proposed 18th constitutional amendment to facilitate his
exit and allow for a transition that would safeguard his legacy, secure his
immunity after leaving office and enable him to appoint his successor
through parliament. Zimbabwe would regenerate and move forward into a new
dispensation with international support. This is a possible and desirable
choice in Mugabe's hands. But there is more than enough reason not to leave
the fate of our bleeding country in Mugabe's hands, because he cannot be
trusted to act like a statesman, given his penchant for self-interest. There
is no doubt that one of these choices must be made if Zimbabwe is to move
forward from its troubled past and current stalemate to a different
From The Weekender (SA), 4 August
Zimbabwean publisher and political commentator Trevor Ncube said something
quite startling at a panel discussion hosted by the Platform for Public
Deliberation at Wits on Wednesday night. The key to the Zimbabwean crisis,
he argued, may well lie with the military. Ncube suggested that as far as he
could tell, Zimbabwe is run by something called the Joint Operations
Command, made up of heads of the military, the intelligence and the party.
He dismisses both factions of the MDC and argues instead that the solution
is likely to come from within Zanu PF. Ncube's argument is "better the devil
we know", and that this is the only practical deal possible. After the
discussion, I read liberation hero Edgar Tekere's autobiography A Lifetime
of Struggle. What do I find but an expansion of Ncube's thesis by scholar
Ibbo Mandaza in the introduction to Tekere's book. In fact, the introduction
is so brilliant, that no one should ever be allowed to talk or write about
Zimbabwe without reading it. Mandaza points to militarism as the fundamental
problem in Zimbabwe's political culture. This militarism starts with Herbert
Chitepo in 1966 and is consummated with the total dominance of the party by
Josiah Tongogara in the 1970s. Tongogara was so powerful that he became
known as the Chef (" Chief" in our parlance). His behaviour during the
Lancaster House talks was such that it was clear "he would play no second
fiddle to anyone once he got home" - and that specifically included Robert
What Mandaza does not explore is how Tongogara met his death, and whether
Mugabe had any role in it. But here's where things get really interesting.
When Mugabe and Tekere left to join their comrades in exile, they were so
distrusted that they had to be kept under house arrest in Quelimane in
Mozambique in 1975. The man who secured their release was none other than
Solomon Mujuru (popularly known by his nom de guerre, Rex Nhongo). It is
worth quoting Mandaza extensively to see if Mujuru or Mugabe are the real
deal: "Rex Nhongo (Mujuru) would have been more facilitative and supportive
of the political leadership - especially Mugabe himself - than Tongogara had
been, preferring, to this day, to play his political cards in the background
than occupying the limelight in which his predecessor revelled. And if the
argument is that the military - and Zanla (the Zimbabwe African National
Liberation Army) in particular, has remained a central and dominant feature
in the Zimbabwean State, then one cannot overlook Mujuru's position and
influence in that regard." But are we dealing with the right people in
Zimbabwe, or have we lost the plot entirely? However, while the generals may
be the ones who could pull Zimbabwe through, they may be profiting so much
from the crisis - as traders of scarce goods - that resolving it may just
not be in their best interests.
From The Star (SA), 4 August
It's amazing how time smoothes over the unpleasant cracks in your memory.
Until I opened the musty yellowing clipping files of my work from 1983, I
had forgotten how the pungent, sweet smell of death sticks in the back of
your throat, how it settles in the membranes of your nose. And how, no
matter how many beers you drink or how many showers you have, it still
lingers. I had found the bodies by smell. Six young men, piled together,
probably in indescribable terror in their last seconds as AK-47 bullets
ripped into them from close range. I had been told I would find them just
off the main Bulawayo-Plumtree road in the Zimbabwean province of
Matabeleland. I had rough directions, starting from a kilometre marker on
the road. But still it took some time - time I didn't have, because my car
was parked in full view on the side of the road.
Not a desirable position if the soldiers returned. Not difficult to find a
young white man in jeans and T-shirt in the scrubby bush. Not difficult to
put a bullet in his brain and get rid of a witness. With the battered office
Pentax camera, I squeezed off a few frames. Then I vomited. Half-digested
cheese omelette, bacon and toast meet reality. Later - the same day, the
same week, I can't remember - I found another execution site. How many died
there was difficult to tell, because the bodies had been piled up, set
alight and burnt to ashes. But bones require immense heat to destroy, so one
ghostly white femur lay, half sticking up. For weeks in the early months of
1983 I traversed Matabeleland, recording ever more horrifying tales of the
destruction wrought by Robert Mugabe's North Korean-trained Five Brigade.
Mugabe had unleashed the troops on the province - stronghold of his
political enemy, Joshua Nkomo - late in the previous year.
The unit was known by its Shona name, Gukhurahundi, which means "the wind
which blows away the chaff before the rains". Clearly, Mugabe regarded the
Ndebele people as just such chaff. Five Brigade was not a conventional
military force, but more of a political killing machine. Reports of the
numbers of people who died go as high as 20 000. Apart from the bodies, I
saw burnt huts, and people with stab, hack and bullet wounds. I spoke to
women who had seen their husbands bayoneted in front of them; to old men who
hid under beds when they heard the noise of our cars because they thought it
was the soldiers returning; to shy, bruised girls who spoke in a quiet,
roundabout way through gentle translators, about being gang-raped by drunken
soldiers. I didn't speak to many young men; most were either dead or had
fled to Botswana or South Africa.
Re-reading the files, I was amazed by what I had forgotten - or buried away.
(After my sister reminded me, I relived my brief detention at the police
station in Gwanda, for allegedly illegally interviewing Joshua Nkomo on one
of his farms which had been seized by the government.) I was put briefly in
a cage for captured "dissidents" (before the friendly station commander
invited me to share some strong Tanganda tea with him prior to letting me
go) but had other things on my mind in 1983, as an intense four-year
relationship with a woman ended badly. I'm a bit ashamed now that that is
clearer to me than genocide. I've long since healed, but Matabeleland still
grieves. What was launched upon the province's unfortunate people has since
been replicated in various ways on the rest of the people of that
long-suffering country. And now, as I see stories of people flooding across
the border, I share the pain of these people, my people (I was born in
Zimbabwe and will always be, at heart, a Zimbabwean). Please, please,
please, South Africans, show these poor people some sympathy and dignity if
you come across them.
Monday 06 August 2007
By Justin Muponda
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has signed a tough law allowing state
agencies to pry into private mail and telephones, raising the stakes against
opponents in a clear signal that the veteran leader is tightening repression
as agitation grows against his rule that is largely blamed for plunging
Zimbabwe into economic chaos, analysts said.
The government has defended the Interception of Communications Act
saying it was in line with international trends to fight crime and ensure
But analysts said Mugabe, who faces increasing pressure at home and
abroad over his controversial economic and political programmes, was
targeting local opponents he has labelled puppets who are working with his
Western enemies to topple him.
"In essence Mugabe wants to emasculate all opposing views and by
eavesdropping into people's mail and telephone conversations he believes he
can deal with all democratic forces, but he will fail," said Lovemore
Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) civic
group that is fighting for a new, democratic constitution for Zimbabwe.
"That is why our daily struggle is for a people-driven democratic
constitution which will not allow anyone to dream up laws like these when
faced with growing opposition. But we are not surprised because Mugabe's
strategy is to do everything within his power to remain in power," Madhuku
The new law provides for the establishment of a centre to monitor and
intercept communications and also gives unfettered powers to the chiefs of
police, national security, defence intelligence and Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority to order the interception of communications.
Postal, telecommunications and internet service providers are now
required to ensure that their "systems are technically capable of supporting
lawful interceptions at all times."
The ageing 83-year-old Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for 27 years and
plans to seek another five-year presidential mandate next year, which if he
completes will see him hold power for more than 33 years.
Critics say Mugabe's politics, especially the seizure of white-owned
land from whites to give to landless blacks is at the heart of the economic
crisis, while deep-rooted official corruption has helped push the country
toward the brink of collapse.
With a world high inflation rate of 4 530 percent last May, a jobless
rate above 80 percent and crippling shortages of foreign currency, fuel and
food, analysts said Mugabe was afraid of growing disenchantment against his
"This is purely the actions of a dictatorship and a classic case of a
police state," John Makumbe, University of Zimbabwe political science
"This government will go to great lengths to make sure it continues to
weigh heavily on all the remaining dissenting voices," Makumbe, an arch
critic of Mugabe's policies said.
Political analysts said the law would complement a controversial
Constitutional amendment last year that allows the State to seize passports
of suspected saboteurs or those who denigrate the government while abroad.
The analysts said the Interception of Communications Act was targeting
mainly the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders, labour
groups, human rights groups, non-governmental organisations suspected of
working against the government and the private media.
"These are the groups that will be in the firing line," said Makumbe.
But the government denies the law will trample on the freedom of
citizens arguing that it was a necessary instrument to fight crime. The
government has in the past been accused of selectively applying laws in a
bid to hamstring opponents.
"This (signing into law) marks an important chapter in our fight
against crime especially technology-based crime. It is the norm globally and
all law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear," Chris Mushohwe, the
Transport and Communications Minister said yesterday.
Mugabe denies allegations of misrule and says the West has slapped
sanctions against Harare as punishment for the land seizures.
The veteran leader also says the sanctions have hurt Zimbabwe's
capacity to secure credit lines needed to help farmers but has also
acknowledged that some of the beneficiaries of the land seizures have let
the country down by failing to produce. - ZimOnline
Monday 06 August 2007
By Patrcia Mpofu
HARARE - A bodyguard to Zimbabwe police commissioner Augustine Chihuri was
allegedly gunned down in the Zambian capital, Lusaka last week in unclear
Sources within the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) said Assistant
Superintendent Christopher Ngapala was found dead with gun shot wounds in
his hotel room at Taj Pamodzi Hotel last Friday.
The sources said he had allegedly been last seen by his fellow police
officers picking up a sex worker on Thursday night.
Chihuri, together with several other senior Zimbabwean police officers, were
in Lusaka to attend the annual general meeting of the Council of Ministers
of Southern Africa Region Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO)
annual general meeting at Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
The Zambian police authorities have however sought to downplay the incident
insisting that preliminary investigations had ruled out any foul.
But sources within the Zimbabwean police said they had last seen Ngapala
picking up the sex worker adding that the woman could have pulled the
trigger on Ngapala following some misunderstanding in his hotel room.
Ngapala's semi-naked body was found on Friday afternoon. The body was taken
to the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka for a post-mortem.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment on the
matter last night. - ZimOnline
Enoch Hungwe’s long walk to what he thought would be a better life ended in
the arms of burly white South African farmers. After five days of walking from
Zimbabwe, he tried to make a run for it close to the border but his exhausted
body failed to respond. Instead, as he dropped a plastic bag containing all his worldly possessions,
he was caught by members of the volunteer border patrol force. “Don’t run away,
there’s no point, we’ll just get you next time,” said Andre Nienaber, who runs a
game hunting farm for wealthy European tourists, as he marched the 23-year-old
illegal immigrant off to a pickup truck to join half a dozen of his compatriots.
Enoch meekly held out his wrists to be bound with plastic cable ties. They
were then threaded through a hoop on the back of the pickup to prevent him
making a run for it. Tired, hungry, demoralised, he sat disconsolately and watched as two of the
group of four “illegals” that he had been walking with scampered over a barbed
wire perimeter fence and made off into the veld [bush]. “They will wait until we have gone and then come back to the road,” shrugged
Marie Helm, regional organiser of the local farmers’ union. “We only apprehend a
tiny fraction, but the name of the game is visibility. Everyone supports us –
the local black population the most, they are affected by the insecurity created
by this influx.” As conditions in Zimbabwe – where inflation is about 5,000 per cent and
unemployment 80 per cent – reach meltdown, the daily influx into South Africa,
the continent’s wealthiest country, has reached proportions described as a
“human tsunami”. No one knows exactly how many come each day, estimates vary widely from
hundreds to several thousand. But one thing is certain: the authorities are
completely overwhelmed. Most try to get work on local farms, others turn to
crime and petty theft to survive. A handful makes it to the big cities to join
an estimated three million Zimbabweans now living in South Africa. All tell the same story of unbearable hardship back home and vow to return if
deported. “I have been walking for five days. In Zimbabwe things are very bad,
so I was coming here to look for work. I just want food and work,” Enoch said.
Others crammed on to the back of the pickup. “We are running from hunger. We
have no money to buy food, no jobs, and things are getting worse every day. Our
children are crying, Zimbabwe is crying. I was praying to find a better life
here,” said Goodwill Maposa, 35. The farmers, all of them white and wearing the telltale uniform of the
Afrikaner farmer – tight shorts and khaki shirts, pistols at the waist – are
members of the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU). They have formed military-style units, known as Plaaswag [farm patrols], to
police the border. They say that they are there to protect themselves from crime
but critics say that they are little more than white vigilante groups trying to
reassert their dominance. “We are not a vigilante group, we are not here to take
away the rights of people just to protect ourselves. The TAU looks after our
members because we feel that the security forces are not [doing] the job,” said
Ms Helm. The farmers blame the Zimbabwean influx for at least 30 per cent of the
crimes which take place in the area and say that in the absence of government
action they have no choice but to make citizen’s arrests and protect their
interests. In two days at the border, The Times saw only two police vans and no
official border patrols, but several dozen illegal immigrants. “We are here because the state has no political will to sort out this
problem. I don’t want to do this, I am a farmer, I want to farm,” said Gideon
Meiling, the head of the TAU’s security and safety unit. Statistics of attacks
on white farmers in the Limpopo border area trip off his tongue. “Zimbabweans were responsible for the death of Sue Bristow a few months ago,
she was killed with a pitchfork. I live on a farm 39 kilometres (24 miles) from
the nearest police station. If I call them, they don’t even come, but the other
farmers do,” he said. The farmers hand over their daily catch to the local police who deport them –
most of whom simply slip over the border again a few days later. The farmers
often sympathise with their plight and buy them milk and bread before handing
them over. “This is a human tragedy, they are not criminals just illegals, but we cannot
just sit back and do nothing. We are filling a void created by the state’s
irresponsibility,” explained Ms Helm. The Government admits that more needs to be done to thwart the influx. Aziz
Pahad, the Deputy Foreign Minister, said: “If we don’t begin to assist the
Zimbabweans to solve their own problems the flow will increase.” he said. Human rights groups are enraged by the farmers’ actions, which technically
fall under the Government’s own description of community policing. Only 13 years
after the end of apartheid, the sight of white Boer farmers speeding around the
country arresting black people touches a raw nerve. Jody Kollapen, of the South African Human Rights Commission, said that the
farm watch initiative was little more than a paramilitary organisation behaving
in a racist manner. But one police officer, who happily took possession of seven Zimbabweans,
told The Times: “This is very good, this is community policing at its very best,
we can’t do this on our own.” Troublesome neighbour — A loaf of bread costs 50 times more in Zimbabwe than it did a year ago — Zimbabwe’s GDP shrank by an estimated 42 per cent between 1998 and 2006
— It is estimated that 3.4 million Zimbabweans – a quarter of the population
– have now fled the country — South Africa sends more than 4,000 illegal migrants back to Zimbabwe every
week Sources: CIA World Factbook; avert.org; hungercentre.org; capetown-online.de
Enoch Hungwe’s long walk to what he thought would be a better life ended in the arms of burly white South African farmers. After five days of walking from Zimbabwe, he tried to make a run for it close to the border but his exhausted body failed to respond.
Instead, as he dropped a plastic bag containing all his worldly possessions, he was caught by members of the volunteer border patrol force. “Don’t run away, there’s no point, we’ll just get you next time,” said Andre Nienaber, who runs a game hunting farm for wealthy European tourists, as he marched the 23-year-old illegal immigrant off to a pickup truck to join half a dozen of his compatriots.
Enoch meekly held out his wrists to be bound with plastic cable ties. They were then threaded through a hoop on the back of the pickup to prevent him making a run for it.
Tired, hungry, demoralised, he sat disconsolately and watched as two of the group of four “illegals” that he had been walking with scampered over a barbed wire perimeter fence and made off into the veld [bush].
“They will wait until we have gone and then come back to the road,” shrugged Marie Helm, regional organiser of the local farmers’ union. “We only apprehend a tiny fraction, but the name of the game is visibility. Everyone supports us – the local black population the most, they are affected by the insecurity created by this influx.”
As conditions in Zimbabwe – where inflation is about 5,000 per cent and unemployment 80 per cent – reach meltdown, the daily influx into South Africa, the continent’s wealthiest country, has reached proportions described as a “human tsunami”.
No one knows exactly how many come each day, estimates vary widely from hundreds to several thousand. But one thing is certain: the authorities are completely overwhelmed. Most try to get work on local farms, others turn to crime and petty theft to survive. A handful makes it to the big cities to join an estimated three million Zimbabweans now living in South Africa.
All tell the same story of unbearable hardship back home and vow to return if deported. “I have been walking for five days. In Zimbabwe things are very bad, so I was coming here to look for work. I just want food and work,” Enoch said. Others crammed on to the back of the pickup. “We are running from hunger. We have no money to buy food, no jobs, and things are getting worse every day. Our children are crying, Zimbabwe is crying. I was praying to find a better life here,” said Goodwill Maposa, 35.
The farmers, all of them white and wearing the telltale uniform of the Afrikaner farmer – tight shorts and khaki shirts, pistols at the waist – are members of the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU).
They have formed military-style units, known as Plaaswag [farm patrols], to police the border. They say that they are there to protect themselves from crime but critics say that they are little more than white vigilante groups trying to reassert their dominance. “We are not a vigilante group, we are not here to take away the rights of people just to protect ourselves. The TAU looks after our members because we feel that the security forces are not [doing] the job,” said Ms Helm.
The farmers blame the Zimbabwean influx for at least 30 per cent of the crimes which take place in the area and say that in the absence of government action they have no choice but to make citizen’s arrests and protect their interests. In two days at the border, The Times saw only two police vans and no official border patrols, but several dozen illegal immigrants.
“We are here because the state has no political will to sort out this problem. I don’t want to do this, I am a farmer, I want to farm,” said Gideon Meiling, the head of the TAU’s security and safety unit. Statistics of attacks on white farmers in the Limpopo border area trip off his tongue.
“Zimbabweans were responsible for the death of Sue Bristow a few months ago, she was killed with a pitchfork. I live on a farm 39 kilometres (24 miles) from the nearest police station. If I call them, they don’t even come, but the other farmers do,” he said.
The farmers hand over their daily catch to the local police who deport them – most of whom simply slip over the border again a few days later. The farmers often sympathise with their plight and buy them milk and bread before handing them over.
“This is a human tragedy, they are not criminals just illegals, but we cannot just sit back and do nothing. We are filling a void created by the state’s irresponsibility,” explained Ms Helm.
The Government admits that more needs to be done to thwart the influx. Aziz Pahad, the Deputy Foreign Minister, said: “If we don’t begin to assist the Zimbabweans to solve their own problems the flow will increase.” he said.
Human rights groups are enraged by the farmers’ actions, which technically fall under the Government’s own description of community policing. Only 13 years after the end of apartheid, the sight of white Boer farmers speeding around the country arresting black people touches a raw nerve.
Jody Kollapen, of the South African Human Rights Commission, said that the farm watch initiative was little more than a paramilitary organisation behaving in a racist manner.
But one police officer, who happily took possession of seven Zimbabweans, told The Times: “This is very good, this is community policing at its very best, we can’t do this on our own.”
— A loaf of bread costs 50 times more in Zimbabwe than it did a year ago
— Zimbabwe’s GDP shrank by an estimated 42 per cent between 1998 and 2006
— It is estimated that 3.4 million Zimbabweans – a quarter of the population – have now fled the country
— South Africa sends more than 4,000 illegal migrants back to Zimbabwe every week
Sources: CIA World Factbook; avert.org; hungercentre.org; capetown-online.de