|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
From The Star, 5 August
SA man free after being held on Zim farm
A South African citizen was on Sunday allowed to leave a farm in Zimbabwe after being refused exit by a group of war veterans for two days. Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa confirmed that Graham Coleman, a South African vacationing in Zimbabwe, had by Sunday afternoon left the farm, situated approximately 100km east of Harare. So-called war veterans had invaded the farm - leased by Coleman's brother Eric - on Friday. Coleman had been visiting his brother.
Mamoepa said the South African High Commission in Zimbabwe had been in contact with representatives of the war veterans and the police to ensure the group left the farm, and that no-one was harmed. "We express our sympathy with them and are happy that they have left the farm... we are satisfied with the work done by the High Commission." The Zimbabwe police were periodically visiting the area to ensure the situation was under control, he said. The Democratic Alliance said in a statement earlier on Sunday that Coleman had sent a message to the party's leader Tony Leon after apparently being unhappy with the efforts of the High Commission. DA official David Maynier, who had been in contact with Coleman, told Sapa he (Coleman) believed the commission had not taken enough steps to ensure his safety. Maynier was not sure how Coleman had got the message through to Leon.
From The Norway Post, 5 August
Norway's mission to Zimbabwe under surveillance
The offices of the Norwegian Directorate of Development in Zimbabwe is reported to be under surveillance by the country's authorities, according to The Financial Gazette. The reason is supposedly President Robert Mugabe's fear that the nation's political opposition will be given foreign assistance. According to the newspaper, the homes of some of the personnel of the embassies and foreign aid missions to Zimbabwe are also under surveillance. Norway's Charge d'affaires, Tom Eriksen at the embassy in Harare has sent a report on the matter to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Oslo, Dagsavisen writes. President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party, in May pushed through a bill in Parliament, making it illegal to support Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party, MDC. Embassies and aid missions which break this ban risk being expelled from the country, The Financial Gazette writes. Norway's Charge d'affaires deny that any Norwegian development aid is given to political parties.
From The Star (SA), 5 August
Naartjie and chocolate pull hiker through
Harare - A 22-year-old Israeli tourist survived for two weeks in the bitter cold and rain in a remote Zimbabwean mountain range, thanks to a 100 gram chocolate bar, a naartjie and spring water, the country's media reported on Saturday. The independent Daily News said Ifat Madar was found on Thursday in the south-eastern Chimanimani mountains, suffering not much more than swollen feet. Madar said she saw no-one during the fortnight in the mist-shrouded mountains until a rescue party found her on the Mozambique side of the border that straddles the range.
Mozambican officials took her to the town of Chimoio about 100km north of Chimanimani for immigration formalities before she had an ecstatic reunion with her father, Ammon Madar, back in Zimbabwe. "It's good to be back," the Daily News quoted her as saying. "It was like a bad dream from which I desperately wanted to wake up." Her discovery ended a massive search operation mounted by national parks officers, the army, an air force helicopter, a private aircraft and many volunteers, including a rescue expert flown in from Switzerland. "All these days we were actually looking for a body," said Guy Cary, director of Outward Bound, a mountain training school in the range. "It was raining and bitterly cold up there," Madar added.
From The Daily News, 4 August
Reserve Bank officials in alleged $1,4bn scam
Mutare - Three senior officials at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) are said to have been asked to step down amid reports that $1,4 billion in proceeds from jewellery sales may have disappeared. The jewellery was manufactured by Aurex (Pvt) Limited, a subsidiary company of the RBZ, sources in Harare said this week. The Aurex jewellery consignment was sold to an undisclosed foreign country - most likely the United States of America - but proceeds from the sale never found their way into either Aurex or RBZ coffers, the sources confided.
The matter is understood to have been investigated by the anti-corruption unit of the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF), a quasi-government, multi-sector body set up about three years ago to help spearhead the country’s economic revival. The NECF, according to our sources, recommended that the three senior RBZ officials step down for their respective roles in the transaction. It was not immediately clear what roles they played. The three officials, who were all said to be out attending workshops and could not be reached for the past five days, are reportedly resisting measures to remove them.
Other officials at the RBZ, Aurex and NECF were not forthcoming when contacted for comment, amid suggestions within financial and political circles that the matter was being kept firmly under the carpet to protect the image of the central bank. Aurex, which has undergone a restructuring exercise and announced a new board of directors on Thursday, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reszim Investments (Pvt) Limited, which in turn is wholly-controlled by the RBZ. The company, based at Ruwa outside the capital, manufactures jewellery for export to the US, which earns it an average of $55 million (US$1 million) a month in foreign currency earnings.
Both John Dhliwayo, the managing director of Aurex, and Ignatious Mabasa, the RBZ spokesman, said they were unaware of the matter. Nonetheless, the pair suggested this newspaper submit questions in writing. At NECF, the chairman of the anti-corruption unit, businessman and politician Phillip Chiyangwa, denied the quasi-governmental body had investigated such an issue. "I’m hearing this for the first time from you," said Chiyangwa, referring further questions to Nhlanhla Masuku, the NECF’s chief spokesman. Masuku did not return messages left at his office. "There have been all sorts of rumours going around about that, but there is no substance to it," Lovemore Chihota, the chairman of Aurex, said on Thursday. He then suggested the newspaper visit him for a face-to-face interview over the allegations.
In advertisements flighted in issues of yesterday’s newspapers, Aurex said it had appointed new directors as part of a restructuring programme that would culminate in the marketing of machine-made and hand-made jewel products to Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. "Currently, Aurex is producing and selling jewellery to the American market only," the company said in the advertisement. "The exports are earning the country an average of US$1 million a month in foreign currency." At the official exchange rate, that is $55 million a month, or $660 million a year.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 3 August
Fast track to take 15 years
Government’s fast-track land resettlement programme will only achieve its full productive potential in 15 years, a World Bank-sponsored study on land reform says. The study sought to examine the impact of re-allocating five million hectares of commercial farmland to the peasantry. The report acknowledged that the land reform programme was economically viable if carried out in a manner that allowed resettled farmers to make the investment necessary to achieve productive potential. The analysis shows that the viability of the land reform exercise depends on support from government during the first five years of resettlement. The report said: "Results seem to be equally promising in terms of production and employment, assuming that the farmers throughout these periods would belong to the high-performance group."
According to Roger van den Brink, the World Bank resident representative in Zimbabwe, the report is the first in a series, and only looks at the effects of land reform on the beneficiaries. In subsequent reports an economic model will be developed to capture the effects of land reform on key economic variables such as production and employment in the entire agricultural sector, as well as other sectors of the economy. The study comes at a time when hordes of war veterans and ruling party supporters have intensified their commercial farm invasions. In some cases they have burnt crops such as tobacco, wheat and export grass. Critics blame government for a skewed resettlement programme where people are being dumped on farms without proper infrastructure.
"Government administration costs include all types of costs necessary to smooth the process of resettlement," the report said. The researchers estimated that the administration costs include both costs specific to the resettlement (US$200 per farmer in the first year) and farmer support costs of US$50 a year. It said the infrastructure costs covered electricity, water, sanitation, farm road construction, building schools, clinics and animal health facilities. Economists and agricultural experts have pointed out that none of the inputs or support network vital to the success of the scheme have been put in place and the World Bank-sponsored study therefore remains academic.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 3 August
Gonarezhou still occupied
Despite government assurances that the Gonarezhou National Park will not be occupied under the fast-track land reform programme, resettlement in the park continues unabated, the Zimbabwe Independent has been told. The latest invasions have resulted in some parts of the natural habitat being destroyed by fires. This comes hard on the heels of Zimbabwe's claim at a meeting in Harare last month of the Ministerial Committee of the Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park that there were no invasions in the park.
Government this week admitted people were settling in the park but said authorities were in the process of finding alternative land for the invaders. Deputy minister of Environment and Tourism Edward Chindori-Chininga said alternative land had to be found for the people who had moved into the park area. "Basically you cannot settle people in the national park," Chindori-Chininga said. "Whatever circumstances resulted in those people going into Gonarezhou National Park, they must be reversed and re-addressed. We have sent out teams to find out whether people are actually in the national park. We have now come to a conclusion that there are people in the national park and what we have now done as a ministry is that alternative land has to be found," he said.
The situation has generally remained unchanged in Gonarezhou since May when the Independent revealed the park was being demarcated for land resettlement. Most of the people resettling themselves are from the Chikombedzi area, which abuts the park. On Saturday new settlers were busy clearing tracts of land. Their fires could clearly be seen at night. Only last month people from Matibi 2 approached the Warden for Chipinda Pools, asking to be allocated portions of land in the park.
The latest wave of invasions follows a meeting, which was held at Masvingo provincial governor Josiah Hungwe's office on July 19. The meeting was attended by National Parks officials, war veterans, Cattle Producers Association representatives and officials from the Veterinary Department. Sources who attended the meeting said the governor was more concerned with the possibility of a foot-and-mouth outbreak than the environmental disaster unfolding in the province. The latest round of invasions raised fears that Zimbabwe was in breach of the Transfrontier Agreement it has signed to much fanfare with regional neighbours. Zimbabwe told its regional partners in the Transfrontier project that all moves to resettle people in the park had been stopped. Chindori-Chininga said: "If we allow what is happening in Gonarezhou to continue, people in Hurungwe can also go into Mana Pools, Nyakasikana, Hurungwe Safari area and Chewore North or South."
From New Vision (Uganda), 5 August
UN Ponders Buying Weapons From DRC
Bafwasende, DRC - The UN Security Council is considering a proposal to buy weapons from the renegade armies in the DR Congo as part of a peace initiative, a UN official said here on Sunday. Under the Lusaka protocol 11 agreement, the UN is mandated to commission a project to work out a programme for demobilising the renegade armies from the region, including the possibility of an amnesty. "One option being considered for disarming the negative forces is by purchasing rifles from them," he said in an interview. The non-government forces operating in the DRC, which are to be disarmed include, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the former Uganda National Army (FUNA), the Interahamwe genocidaires and the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF). Others are the former Rwandese Army (Ex-FAR) and the Burundian Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD).
A special task force made up of elements from the belligerent forces, who are signatory to the Lusaka Accord shall be formed for the purpose of mobilising manpower and resources to track down any renegade forces which may be unwilling to surrender. The Joint Military Commission shall designate the assembled forces to bases and location identified by it. The UN will then set up a mechanism for screening, with aview to apprehending, trying or punishing all mass killers, perpetrators of crimes against humanity and related criminals.
Meanwhile, Captain Johan Potgieter, the Kampala-based senior military liaison officer for the UN Peace Mission in the DRC Congo, on Saturday flew to Bafwasende to oversee the withdrawal of the UPDF. The withdrawal from the northeastern Congolese town of Bafwasende has been slowed down by heavy rain and impassable roads. Potgieter said he got clearance from MONUC Kinshasa, to visit the UPDF base. "The withdrawal is going on well although slightly behind schedule," he said. He was accompanied by the deputy director of Military Intelligence, Lt. Col. Fred Mugisha, army spokesman Lt. Col. Phinehas Katirima, the co-ordinator of Operation Safe Haven, Lt. Col. James Musinguzi and Lt. Yerinde Tumwebaze.
Katirima and Mugisha addressed hundreds of Congolese civilians who urged the UPDF not to leave. Some of the equipment is stuck and food supplies are being sent after an interval of two weeks. The troops walking a distance of 520km from Bafwabwoli are expected in Beni by the end of this month. Mugisha informed the Congolese of the peace efforts in the region and the implementation of the Lusaka Accord. All individual debts were paid off prior to the arrival of the team there. Other institutional UPDF debts amounted to US$740 for medical bills and 800 litres of fuel. Alobe Litolombo, who spoke on behalf of the Congolese community, said their security was not guaranteed with the departure of UPDF.
From The Independent on Sunday (UK), 5 August
Mugabe plot to rig election exposed
President's 'war veterans' to get more than one vote - and weapons training
Harare - Plans by Zimbabwe's President Mugabe to rig next year's presidential election have been exposed, just as his beleaguered nation begins gearing up for the crunch ballot which he is expected to lose. His plot hinges on the multiple registration of ruling-party supporters in different constituencies to allow them to vote several times; the second part of the strategy involves relocating more than 500,000 unemployed urban dwellers to commercial farms now being confiscated from whites without compensation.
Mr Mugabe, 77, who has been in power since independence from Britain was achieved in 1980, announced that he would run for another six-year term next April, despite his government's massive unpopularity. The business and financial newspaper the Financial Gazette described his rigging plans last Thursday. Mr Mugabe aims to outflank the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) by moving the hundreds of thousands of unemployed and other desperate urban dwellers into farming areas under the controversial fast-track land resettlement exercise.
The relocation of registered voters from urban to rural areas - in exchange for their pledged votes - will bolster the ruling Zanu-PF party's rural support. Mr Mugabe's party traditionally enjoys support in rural areas. The relocated people will get slices of land from the farms the Zimbabwe government has been seizing from whites. They will then be expected to transfer their votes to a rural constituency where they have been resettled. The plan was tailor-made to fit Zanu's overall presidential election strategy. A pilot phase proved successful in the recent parliamentary by-election in Bindura constituency, where 4,000 mainly Zanu supporters and "war veterans" were moved from surrounding towns registered as voters in the constituency. Zanu won the by-election by 5,000 votes.
Government officials admitted that Mr Mugabe was not leaving anything to chance and would do all he could to ensure he won the presidential election. He has vowed never to let the MDC, which he calls a British puppet, rule Zimbabwe. The president is known to have contracted an Israeli company to supply $20m-worth of riot vehicles and water cannons for the police force, which he has often used to intimidate opposition supporters. The Home Affairs permanent secretary, Mike Matshiya, assured the Israeli arms firm, Beit Alfa Trailer Company, that the Zimbabwe government would strain every nerve to raise the foreign currency needed to purchase the equipment. Zimbabwe is in the midst of a desperate hard-currency shortage. Fuel supplies are exhausted and the price of basic goods is rocketing.
The opposition complains that it is immoral of Mr Mugabe to spend large sums of money on arms purchases at a time when the country cannot feed itself. The Finance Minister, Simba Makoni, has said that Zimbabwe has no money to import food. Information about plans to equip the police coincided with reports that groups of "war veterans" - Mr Mugabe's shock troops in his brutal campaign against white farmers - are undergoing training in gun-handling at the police's Morris Depot in Harare. Sources at the depot say veterans from all over Zimbabwe are undergoing training in batches of 50, in preparation for their deployment in the election campaign.
From ZWNEWS, 5 August
By a Special Correspondent
Violence wins in Bindura: but for Mugabe it may not be so easy
Stephen Madzimure, a 27-year-old supporter of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change, is still sporting a black eye and nursing a swollen left arm, two weeks after being attacked by ruling Zanu PF party supporters. "I'm one of the lucky ones because I still have all my limbs,'' says Madzimure. ``Some of my colleagues in the party were almost beaten to death. You are attacked after rallies or followed to your homes which is what happened to me.'' Madzimure is among hundreds of victims of the latest wave of state-inspired violence in the run-up to a key by-election in his home town, Bindura, 80 kms northeast of Harare.
For President Robert Mugabe, Bindura, the seat of a top Cabinet minister Border Gezi who died in a car crash in April, was one Zanu PF just couldn't lose. The party literally went on the warpath - maiming opponents, beating others senseless, drafting in supporters to the rolls. The bloodshed paid off. Electoral officers announced July 30 that the Zanu PF candidate Elliot Manyika had defeated the MDC's Elliot Manyika by 15 864 votes to 9 4564, a substantial increase in the government's majority. The success of ZANU-PF's month-long brutal political campaign in Bindura has aroused fears of even worse violence in another landmark by-election, at Chikomba, 140 kms south of Harare, in September. Chikomba was the seat of the architect of ZANU-PF's reign of terror, Chenjerai Hunzvi, the self-styled Hitler who was the leader of veterans of the war which led to independence in 1980. He died of suspected AIDS June 4.
For Zanu PF, Bindura provided a vital endorsement of violence as a strategy for survival, which Mugabe adopted after the massive rejection in February last year of a constitution which sought to widen his powers and provide for the seizure of white-owned farms without compensation. Many fear that violence will now escalate in every poll - from local to presidential elections. Thousands of farms have been invaded by Zanu PF supporters, at least 50 people, including political opponents, white farmers and their employees have been killed, and national elections in June last year, which Zanu PF won narrowly, were wracked by violence. The economy teeters on the brink of collapse, food shortages loom, and streams of Zimbabweans, black and white, have left the country.
Outside Zanu PF, however, many see Bindura - and perhaps Chikomba - as a one-off where the ruling party was able to focus its terror machine on one district. That will be less easy to do in presidential elections which must be held by April next year. "All we need to do is to ensure that the presidential election is relatively free, which is difficult to do with by-elections,'' commented MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose motorcade was stoned and came under fire when he campaigned in Bindura. Emmanuel Magade, law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said the result did not tell "us much about the future.'' ``They won in their stronghold and they did not change their campaign tactics,'' he added.
Few, however, are safe from political violence. Philip Marufu from Mount Darwin, 156kms north-east of Harare, recently told a court how he was abducted by Zanu PF supporters before the June elections, and held for a day in a storage tank with his 12-year-old son. The perpetrators, said Marufu, later brought their girlfriends to the closed tank and forced him and his son to listen to noisy sexual intercourse. Bindura magistrate Reyi Gweshero Tito had his house surrounded by Zanu PF youths after he convicted 17 party supporters of waging a campaign of violence in Mashonaland West. The youths sang revolutionary songs and forced the magistrate's wife to accept the post of treasurer of the youth wing. Among those sentenced by Tito was a brother of Chief Chiweshe, a local leader involved in the violence. The chief tried to stop people attending an MDC supporter's funeral, and ordered the destruction of granaries before he was beaten up by members of the MDC. Minister of Education, Sports and Culture Samuel Mumbengegwi and Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge reportedly told principals and student leaders during a recent visit to the Masvingo province that they could be killed for supporting opposition parties. On July 30, some 100 army recruits rampaged through a nightclub and two bars in Masvingo, charging patrons with supporting the MDC, ransacking a till, and vandalising the premises.
From The New York Times, 4 August
Zimbabwe groups call on Mugabe to end violence
Harare - Zimbabwe's main civic groups called on President Robert Mugabe on Saturday to end a violent campaign by his supporters ahead of presidential elections next year or risk more trouble. At the end of a one-day conference on "Crisis in Zimbabwe'' some 500 delegates from development agencies, professional associations, church and human rights groups, labor and student unions urged Mugabe to set a program that would guarantee a free and fair poll. They demanded the establishment of an independent electoral commission, a new voters' register at least three months before the presidential election, a political code of conduct for the elections and media freedoms.
"The political climate must improve significantly if we are to have a free and fair election, and this means the government must bring to an end the political violence that its supporters are perpetrating on the opposition,'' they said in one resolution. "If the president and the government refuse to act on these fair demands, we reserve our democratic right to engage in civic action, including civil disobedience,'' they added. The conference said it supported land reforms in Zimbabwe, but insisted it was opposed to Mugabe's controversial seizures of white-owned farms that have been accompanied by a wave of violence. "We fully accept the need to end inequities in land ownership, but land reforms must be properly planned and executed,'' the conference resolved.
Brian Raftopoulos, an associate professor at the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of Development Studies, said in a report that Mugabe appeared bent on using violence to destroy the opposition. "The future of Zimbabwe is balanced on a knife-edge, as an aging and increasingly unpopular nationalist leader struggles to secure his political future,'' he said. "The test of a political transition is upon us as a nation, and the failure to deal with this challenge could lead to a heightened civil conflict within the next year,'' he said.
A spokesman for Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party, Nathan Shamuyarira, dismissed Saturday's conference as a non-event. "These people survive on foreign funding...and they are just saying what their masters want to hear,'' he told Reuters. Mugabe acknowledges in broad terms that Zimbabwe is facing an economic and political crisis, but he blames both on sabotage by domestic and Western opponents seeking to oust him for his drive to seize white farms for blacks. The former Rhodesia -- which Mugabe has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980 -- plunged into crisis in February last year when self-styled war veterans, encouraged by his government, seized hundreds of white-owned farms across the country. The land chaos and violence against the opposition left 31 people dead before last year's general parliamentary elections. Political analysts say Mugabe, 77, faces an unprecedented challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in presidential elections that must be held by April.
Comment from The Chicago Tribune, 4 August
Gloomy days in Zimbabwe
Hope appears to have gone on a long hiatus in Zimbabwe. A country that once offered a promising glimpse of Africa's future now limps along on a 50 percent unemployment rate. The annual rate of inflation tops 60 percent. One-fourth of the population is infected with HIV. Some 500,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS. Drivers sit in long lines to purchase rationed gasoline. Corn, formerly a major export, is in short supply. Construction projects abandoned by overseas investors stand frozen in place.
President Robert Mugabe's response to all this misery is to point blame elsewhere, particularly at white farmers. Whites comprise less than 1 percent of the country's population of 12 million, but own half of its arable land. Yet, for all his threats, Mugabe has avoided land reforms - outside of encouraging mob action against white farmers. He would rather have the scapegoats.
Once the world had reason to have higher hopes for Mugabe. He reached out to his country's white minority and presented a mostly pragmatic image to the world after Zimbabwe succeeded the breakaway British colony of Rhodesia in 1980, and Mugabe took over from Ian Smith's white-minority government. But post-apartheid South Africa under Nelson Mandela's wise leadership drew investments and attention away from Mugabe in the 1990s. As Mugabe has become more isolated, he has turned to his rogues gallery of friends, including Moammar Gadhafi, who recently came roaring into oil-starved Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, in a gas-guzzling 100-car motorcade.
Is it too optimistic to think that Mugabe's reign could end in the near future? Mugabe suffered a serious political setback in elections last year, when he barely held on to a legislative majority. A coalition of unions, church groups and farmers called the MDC won 57 of 120 contested seats in that election, and poses an unprecedented threat to his chances for re-election in 2002. This has made Mugabe more stubborn, even more tyrannical. South Africa, which fears an influx of refugees spilling out of an unstable Zimbabwe, has urged America, Britain and the IMF to lend a hand to ease Zimbabwe's shortages of goods and to promote land reform. Unfortunately, that might also help to promote Mugabe.
Mugabe could have learned a great deal from Mandela about human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. Instead, he seems to have become more determined to rule by violence and intimidation and hope that no one outside Zimbabwe pays serious attention to his abuses of his own people. He's worked that ploy before. Three years after taking power, he launched his 5th Brigade, trained by North Korea, ostensibly to quell rioting in the territory of his principal rival. More than 10,000 of the minority Ndebele tribe were slaughtered while the world looked away.
The world is looking now. During his trip to Africa in May, Secretary of State Colin Powell was sharply critical of Mugabe's tactics and signalled that it was time for the leader to step aside. It can't happen soon enough.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 3 August
Govt seeks fuel from Sudan
Government is locked in negotiations to import petroleum from Sudan, Africa's biggest country wracked by decades of civil war, to ease the chronic fuel crisis ahead of next year's presidential election. Official sources said plans for the arrangement were at an advanced stage. It is understood authorities were anxious to seal the deal before year's end. Zimbabwe is currently surviving on makeshift deals with different fuel merchants. The Independent Petroleum Group of Kuwait is the main supplier. Numerous fuel contracts signed before have collapsed due to financial constraints.
Sudanese deputy ambassador to Harare, Osa ma Ahmed Abdelbari, this week confirmed talks were in progress. "We are still negotiating and we expect that by December an agreement will have been reached," Abdelbari said. "We have very good relations with Zimbabwe and we want to help." But Mines and Energy minister Sydney Sekeramayi professed ignorance of the deal, saying: "I'm hearing it for the first time." Abdelbari said private companies were also keen to import fuel from Sudan. He said his country exported 500 000 barrels of crude oil a day, but had the potential to sell more.
There are at least 14 big private companies holding commercial fuel licences in Zimbabwe while 246 small private firms as at June 30 had direct fuel import licences. It is understood the number of direct fuel import permits had since dramatically increased due to a huge fuel black market. Government officials and cronies are deeply involved in the illicit trade. Diplomatic sources said the Sudan oil arrangement was likely to spark a row with the United States which was opposed to petroleum deals involving Khartoum. This week Washington vehemently objected to a fuel deal between Sudan and Kenya.
Zimbabwe, which is harbouring Sudanese rebel leaders, wants to join countries like China and Malaysia - its main allies in the scramble for Sudan's vast oil reserves. The move is likely to cause serious ructions in the international community. The US is opposed to the fuel trade involving Sudan because it says the Khartoum regime is using oil revenue to fund its military campaign against John Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its military wing, the SPLA. The SPLM/SPLA, which has offices in Harare, has been fighting Khartoum since its formation in 1983 but the civil war has been rumbling on since Sudan's independence in 1956. There is now a global campaign to force international companies and countries tapping Sudan's huge oilfields to abandon operations because the industry is fuelling the war.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 3 August
Chinotimba's credentials questioned
Retired General Solomon Mujuru this week questioned the war credentials of Harare province war veterans' chairman Joseph Chinotimba, following complaints from Zanu PF politburo members that Chinotimba was a loose cannon interfering in the internal affairs of other provinces, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt. The politburo, which met on Wednesday, unanimously agreed that Chinotimba had to be advised to act in consultation with the provincial leadership of respective provinces he intended visiting.
Sources said Mujuru, who was a Zanla military commander during the liberation war, told the politburo that he did not know much about Chinotimba's revolutionary history. Mujuru was reportedly concerned about the elevation to senior party positions of people without clear liberation war credentials. "The general was very concerned that Chinotimba was amassing so much power to himself and taking certain initiatives without prior consultation with the party authorities," a source close to the meeting said.
Mujuru questioned why Chinotimba had a Cherokee Jeep allocated to him, when other top party officials were using their own resources to campaign for the party. Mujuru told the Independent yesterday that he was not prepared to discuss the matter because the paper was in the habit of writing stories without prior consultation with him. "Go and ask those sources of yours for more information," Mujuru said.
The governor for Manicaland, Oppah Muchinguri, reportedly complained at the politburo meeting that Chinotimba visited Manicaland last month and assumed authority in the fast-track land redistribution. "Muchinguri complained that Chinotimba just came to the province and did whatever he wanted as if he was the national chairman of the war veterans," the source said. Muchinguri was yesterday said to be in Harare when the Independent contacted her office in Mutare for comment. Chinotimba also raised the ire of the party leadership in Matabeleland when he went to Bulawayo in June to kick-start the mayoral election campaign without consulting the war veterans' leadership there. The party's acting secretary for the commissariat, Sikhanyiso Ndhlovu, reportedly warned Chinotimba not to assume too much power for himself in the province when he was just a Harare provincial war veterans and party member.
Contacted yesterday Chinotimba said those raising complaints against him were Movement for Democratic Change supporters. "I are (sic) busy campaigning for the national chairmanship post. Tell those people that I can be anywhere at any time. Let them come forward," Chinotimba said. "I will be standing (for the war veterans' chairmanship post) and I do not need to tell anyone where I will be going." Chinotimba refused to disclose his liberation war history. "You want to give that information to the British. No, I don't want," he said.
From today’s Sunday Times (SA)
ECONOMIC disaster in Zimbabwe is crippling once-bustling Messina, South Africa's northernmost town.
Starved of cross-border trade, the town is dying. Retail trade has dropped 65% in the past four months as traffic from Zimbabwe slows to a trickle, and 16 shops will close at the end of this month.
"There's no money over there, which means they can't come and spend here - it's as simple as that," said Jayson Rana, chairman of the Messina Business Association.
"Messina is facing a crisis and we don't know what to do about it."
On Friday, an emergency meeting of business and government representatives was held in Messina to discuss ways of reviving trade, and a committee was established to consult the Zimbabwean government about re-opening the passenger train terminal at Beit Bridge, which was closed last year - a move considered vital in getting Zimbabweans back into SA shops.
In the last three months, Zimbabwean buyers have almost disappeared off Messina's streets, affecting everybody from fruit sellers to furniture dealers.
Although latest monthly immigration figures are unavailable, last year's 1.7 million border crossings were significantly down from the 2.2 million recorded in 1996.
In that time the town's retail sector also shrunk: butcheries decreased from six to two, auto-spare shops from five to one and shoe chain stores from five to two. In contrast, bottle stores increased from five to seven as people drink their troubles away, shop owners say. "I don't know where the people have gone," said Messina fruit seller Lawrence Makgoro, who hawks bunches of bananas and 50-cent naartjies out of a shopping trolley.
"Suddenly it all went dead," said shop owner Christo Swanepoel.
"We were just beginning to recover from last year's floods when Zimbabwe struck us. Now the recovery phase has been totally damaged by the war veterans," he said, adding that tourism to the area had also dried up since tour buses began dropping Zimbabwe from their itineraries.
The taxi industry, hawkers - even the sex industry - have also been knocked for a six.
Truck drivers complain that a prostitute now costs around R150 - almost three times as much as before when there were more paying clients.
Taxi owner Hans Ratshilele and street trader Mohammad Ahmed Dinad, both based at the Beit Bridge border post, said the combined effect of high import tariffs and the black market exchange rate of Z30 to the rand meant Zimbabweans earning rands preferred to spend their money at home.
"[Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe is killing us," said a café owner at Beit Bridge. "We can't carry on like this for much longer."