International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: August 6, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Nearly 7,500 executives, business leaders and traders have
been arrested for failing to cut prices as ordered to do six weeks ago,
state media reported Monday.
Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka said 7,495 were arrested, the state-owned
Herald, a government mouthpiece, reported Monday. Most were jailed briefly
and fined, and some were sentenced to community service cleaning government
buildings after magistrate Olivia Mariga declared fines alone were not
proving sufficient deterrent to profiteers.
The official media quoted President Robert Mugabe, away on a trip to
Malaysia, telling Zimbabwean students in Kuala Lumpur there was no going
back on the June 26 order to slash all prices by around half in a measure to
curb runaway inflation. Industry Minister Obert Mpofu said Sunday new
regulations to "fine tune" the price order and control foodstuffs bought in
neighboring countries by Zimbabweans were being prepared.
Official inflation is given at 4,500 percent, the highest in the world,
though independent estimates put it closer to 9,000 percent.
The International Monetary Fund forecasts inflation could rise to 100,000
percent by the end of the year in the economic meltdown that has left
shelves bare of corn meal, meat, bread, eggs, milk and other basics that
sell for at least five times the government price on the thriving black
market. Local beer on Monday was the latest item to have disappeared. Acute
shortages of gasoline have crippled commuter transportation and prevented
manufacturers delivering diminishing stocks to retailers.
Mugabe said he would not back down in the campaign against what he called
"price madness" that had seen prices on the formal market increasing even by
Mugabe said the government would take action against businesses resisting
"Some are ... saying they will not supply goods and services but we say you
will," Mugabe said, state television reported.
Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka said executives of two of the nation's
biggest dealers in building materials and hardware, Astra Building Supplies
and PG Paint and Glass, were charged Friday with defying the price freeze on
taps, pick handles and putty.
Two Harare store managers were arrested over the weekend for alleged
hoarding of goods that have disappeared from shops, including matches, soap,
washing powder, toothpaste and body lotions.
"The arrest of the two seems to suggest that some managers are removing
commodities from the shelves and hiding them to beat the system," Mandipaka
told The Herald.
Mugabe has threatened to seize businesses that either shut down or scale
back their production.
In Malaysia, on his way to an economic summit at the resort of Langkawi,
Mugabe said ordinary Zimbabweans were happy with the price cuts and the
focus now was to ensure goods were made available.
"We just had to take action against businesses that escalate prices, that
were bending the rules," he said, according to the state media.
Mugabe's opponents have criticized the price cuts as a political ploy to
shore up ruling party support.
Businesses argue they are being asked to sell their products at a loss.
By Lance Guma
06 August 2007
Last week Friday Robert Mugabe signed into law the Interception of
Communications Bill, which in principle allows his government to spy on the
private communications of ordinary citizens. As Zimbabweans debate the
implications of the new law, it has emerged that many Internet Service
Providers face possible collapse because of the huge financial costs of
buying and installing monitoring equipment on their platforms. Under the law
ISP's have to meet the costs themselves.
In an interview with Newsreel Monday Shadreck Nkala, the Chairman of the
Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association (ZIPSA), said they had no
option but to conform to the new law. He said they would be meeting
government soon to discuss the cost implications. Any installations will
require huge sums of foreign currency. Nkala said even if they disagreed
with the law, 'we work within a regulated environment and are not in a
position to take a stand.'
Mugabe on Friday signed a total of three bills - The Suppression of Foreign
and International Terrorism Act and the Masvingo State University Amendment
Bill - all joined the Interception of Communications Bill into law. The
Masvingo state university act ratifies the change of name from Masvingo
University to Great Zimbabwe University while the terrorism act has been
dismissed as another smoke screen to justify targeting government opponents.
Although several countries worldwide have similar laws it is the motives and
potential for abuse that differ from country to country. Zimbabwe is going
through a massive political and economic crisis, giving credence to the view
that any legislation of this nature is meant to help the regime deal with
people perceived as problematic.
Despite the new law, experts say there continue to be ways for people to
communicate via secure e-mail platforms that are often free, like Hushmail,
S-Mail.com and KeptPrivate.com among others. It's not yet clear if the
popular Yahoo and Hotmail platforms which connect directly to servers in the
United States and United Kingdom can be tapped into using monitoring
According to the Reporters Without Borders 2005 Handbook for Bloggers and
Cyber-Dissidents, people who own their own computers can install
'annonymising' software that shields their identity from any snooping. Those
accessing their email via internet café's might not be able to enjoy this
technology but can still use secure e-mail services.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Tuesday 07 August 2007
By Farisai Gonye
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's government has deployed over 1 000
feared state security agents into rural Matabeleland to counter a planned
two-month campaign blitz by Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party.
The move follows fears that Tsvangirai planned to send high level
campaign teams in Matabeleland to garner support in an intensive campaign
blitz ahead of next year's parliamentary and presidential elections.
Matabeleland is a hotbed of opposition support with Mugabe's ruling
ZANU PF party struggling to penetrate the region that has consistently
rejected the ruling party at every major election since independence in
The western Matabeleland region bore the brunt of a government
crackdown in the early 1980s that left at least 20 000 ethnic Ndebeles dead.
The opposition is however seriously weakened after a damaging split in
2005 over strategy to confront Mugabe. A smaller faction of the MDC led by
Arthur Mutambara enjoys most of its support in the Matabeleland region.
Sources within the intelligence said Mugabe still realizes that
Tsvangirai, who still draws massive crowds at his countrywide rallies, will
pose the biggest electoral threat next year despite the split in the
The former trade unionist lost by a paltry 400 000 votes in the last
presidential election in 2002 that was condemned by major Western
governments as not free and fair.
A source in the feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) said
the government had set aside close to Z$65 billion (US$1 million at the
official exchange rate) to fight the MDC's Matabeleland campaign.
The said they believed Tsvangirai and his team wanted to descend on
Matabeleland in October following the launch of the party's parliamentary
and presidential election campaign a month earlier.
"Mugabe wants to penetrate Matabeleland taking advantage of the split
since Tsvangirai's group is weaker in those regions," said the source.
"Some of our guys have already been deployed and they are telling of
ZANU PF party structures that are in shambles. But by the time Tsvangirai
arrives here, no villager would be willing to host him.
"Traditional leaders are core in this operation," added the source.
He said the central focus of the strategy was to intimidate
traditional leaders in the region and coerce them to back Mugabe in return
for massive inducements of food and cash.
"It would be a typical case of the stick and carrot. No force or
violence will be used on the village headmen and chiefs. But they will feel
that we mean business. We will leave them with no choice but to co-operate,"
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson said the party was aware of the
CIO's dirty tactics ahead of the landmark elections that some analysts say
Mugabe could lose on the back of an unprecedented economic crisis that has
"We have those plans (rural campaign). We are not sure of the CIO
element because we don't give them our plans and strategies. But it's a fact
that Mugabe has always used state security apparatus to thwart the
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa who is in charge of the CIO,
refused to shed light on the matter.
"Security agents by their nature are there to prevent the disturbance
of peace whether this is in Harare or Bulawayo. But of course I am not aware
of that operation you are referring to," he said. - ZimOnline
Tuesday 07 August 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO - A storm is brewing in the southern province of Masvingo
following reports that senior party officials and traditional leaders who
benefited from a controversial allocation of tractors from the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last June had converted the tractors into pirate taxis.
Disgruntled ruling ZANU PF party supporters in Masvingo say that the
tractors were allocated to undeserving recipients, mostly senior party
officials and traditional leaders, leaving most newly resettled black
farmers in the lurch.
The party supporters accused some traditional leaders of using the
tractors as pirate taxis in rural areas taking advantage of the transport
crisis due to the current fuel shortages. Zimbabwe has grappled a severe
fuel crisis over the past eight years.
In a letter addressed to the ZANU PF provincial leadership in Masvingo
that was seen by ZimOnline, the party supporters demanded to know the
criteria that was used to disburse the farming equipment.
"We note with concern that some beneficiaries (of the agricultural
mechanisation programme) do not have land which warrants them to have
tractors while others are now using them as pirate taxi vehicles.
"While we support the mechanisation of agriculture in the country, it
makes no sense to deprive genuine farmers of the facility giving it to
undeserving people," said part of the letter.
Several senior opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
and ZANU PF officials received the cheaper priced farm machinery last June
under the government's controversial land reforms with political analysts
saying the scheme was an extension of Mugabe's politics of patronage.
But some traditional leaders in Masvingo, who have in the past
benefited from Mugabe's patronage through hefty perks and monthly
allowances, have put the tractors to new use - ferrying desperate villagers.
Among those reported to have converted their tractors into pirate
taxis are Chief Mazungunye whose tractor now plies the Nyika-Matsvange road
in Bikita district.
Chief Tshovani in Chiredzi is also reported to be using his tractor as
a taxi plying the Chibwedziva-Chikombedzi road in Chiredzi.
ZANU PF spokesperson in Masvingo, Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi
confirmed that the tractors had caused "some friction" among party ranks in
the province, a ruling party stronghold.
"We are trying our level best to investigate the allegations and I
hope by the end of this week we will be through," said Mbudzi.
Zimbabwe has grappled severe food shortages over the past seven years
after Mugabe seized land from white farmers and parceled the plots to his
ruling ZANU PF party supporters.
But the new farmers have failed to maintain production resulting in
the southern African country importing food from neighbouring countries as
well as relying on food handouts from international food aid agencies. -
Tuesday 07 August 2007
JOHANNESBURG - President Robert Mugabe on Monday attacked the media
accusing it of tarnishing the image of developing countries.
Mugabe is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to attend the Langkawi
International Dialogue that seeks to develop strategies to growing poverty
in the world.
The Zimbabwean leader who has had frosty relationship with the media,
said journalists had a tendency to write things that are "quite often
deliberately intended to tarnish and mislead".
"Should our journalists really indulge in what they know to be
deliberately misleading stories, and therefore stories that go against
objectivity and the truth?" said Mugabe.
The Zimbabwean government has some of the toughest media laws in the
world that have seen at least a hundred journalists arrested for violating
the country's media laws.
For example, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA) requires all journalists to register with the state's Media and
Information Commission before practising their profession.
Journalists face a two-year jail sentence for violating the tough
The Harare authorities have banned four newspapers over the past four
years including the country's biggest selling daily, The Daily News.
Mugabe has in the past accused journalists of writing falsehoods about
Zimbabwe which is in the grip of a severe eight-year economic crisis
described by the World Bank as unprecedented for a country not at war.
The veteran Zimbabwean leader last week signed the Interception of
Communications Bill that allows the government to monitor and intercept mail
and electronic communication.
Human rights groups and political analysts say Mugabe is tightening
repression in the troubled southern African country in the face of a severe
economic crisis that threatens to sweep him out of power. - ZimOnline
Tuesday 07 August 2007
By Ntando Ncube
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe has lost over 90 percent of its wildlife since the
government began its controversial land reforms seven years ago, according
to a report released by the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF).
Johnny Rodrigues, the chairperson of the ZCTF, said hordes of villagers
resettled by the government on former white farms had decimated the country's
wildlife on former private game ranches.
"Some 90 percent of animals have been lost since 2000, while the country has
seen an estimated 60 percent of its total wildlife killed off to help ease
massive economic woes indiscriminately.
"There's a lot of commercial poaching, there are people on the ground
snaring these animals. This is where most of the destruction is coming
from," said the report.
Poaching has been on the rise in Zimbabwe since landless villagers, with
tacit approval from President Robert Mugabe's government, invaded
white-owned farms seven years ago.
There have also been widespread reports of illegal and uncontrolled trophy
hunting on former white-owned conservancies that are controlled by powerful
government and ruling ZANU PF party officials.
The Harare authorities deny that politicians and ruling party officials are
behind the rampant poaching activities insisting that it still has poaching
According to the report, out of the 62 game ranches around the country, 59
made massive losses last year after villagers killed 9 500 impalas, nearly 5
000 kudus and 2 000 wildebeests.
The report says 75 rare black rhinoceroses and 39 leopards were also killed
over the past year adding that the statistics were estimates as they had to
rely on hazy reports from people still near the ranches.
"The country's economic meltdown has had a wide-ranging and devastating
impact on what is one of Africa's premier tourist draws.
"The numbers help give a rough estimate of the environmental impact of
Zimbabwe's recent descent into economic and political chaos," says the
report. - ZimOnline
SW Radio Africa (London)
6 August 2007
Posted to the web 6 August 2007
We received unconfirmed reports from our sources that the chairperson of the
Commission running the capital, Sekesai Makwavarara has been dismissed by
the man who installed her and has supported her for years, the minister of
local government Ignatius Chombo. It is not clear why she has been fired or
exactly when this took place.
Makwavarara first hit the headlines when she defected from the opposition
where she was a mere councilor, and joined ZANU-PF. Soon after that Chombo
removed the elected the mayor of Harare, Engineer Mudzuri, and the elected
councilors illegally, claiming incompetence and corruption. He replaced them
with a Commission that has run the capital for five years now.
As chairperson of that Commission, Makwavarara quickly made news over her
extravagant spending habits. She was accused of spending council funds for
her personal use and purchased a huge house which belonged to the council at
a ridiculously low price.
Meanwhile service delivery in the capital deteriorated while Makwavarara and
her Commission raised the rates for residents. Chombo refused to organize
elections despite clear guidelines in the Urban Councils Act that call for
elections after the first term of any Commission expires. The local
government minister also defied several court rulings that said the
Commission was illegal.
Became extremely unpopular in Harare over the years, and the Combined Harare
Residents Association has organised several demonstrations calling the
removal of Makwavarara and the Commission. It is safe to say many Harare
residents eagerly await confirmation of Makwavarara's dismissal.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
06 August 2007
The faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction
led by Morgan Tsvangirai said Monday it would lodge a complaint against
police for obliging its organizers and members to end a Harare political
rally after just two hours.
Tsvangirai faction officials said Chief Superintendent Thomsen Jangara, the
officer in command of the Harare South police district, was present at the
rally in Kambuzuma and ordered its termination before scheduled speakers
could take the podium.
The ruling ZANU-PF party and opposition MDC have stepped up campaigning in
the approach to local, general and presidential elections set for early
The MDC last week filed suit against Jangara and two other two officers,
along with Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs Minister
Kembo Mohadi, for allegedly disrupting its rally at Zimbabwe Grounds in
Highfield in February.
Tsvangirai faction Harare Province spokesman and member of parliament for
Kambuzuma Willas Madzimure told Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that a complaint would be lodged with higher
Spokesman Andrew Phiri of the Zimbabwe Republic Police said he had no
information on the alleged termination of the rally. He declined to provide
a number for Jangara.
By Patience Rusere
06 August 2007
Street vendors doing business in the bustling Mbare Musika market on the
outskirts of Harare say they have been forced to register as voters in the
opposition stronghold by youth militia, war veterans and troops though they
reside in other areas.
Vendors from other suburbs such as Sunningdale, Kuwadzana and Mufakose said
the alleged forced voter registration drive started early last week.
Mbare Member of Parliament Gift Chimanikire, a member of the Movement for
Democratic change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai, said the faction's elections
director, Ian Makone, has complained to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
One vendor at Mbare Musika who is a resident of Sunningdale, speaking on
condition that she not be named, told reporter Patience Rusere that ZANU-PF
officials have been providing such vendors with documents indicating
residency in Mbare.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
06 August, 2007
About 300 members of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and
Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) were joined by at least 300 Mutare residents in
a demonstration to protest the food shortages that have resulted from the
government's ongoing price control exercise. The peaceful demo included many
school children and adults who joined in as the group passed through the
poor high-density suburb of Sakubva. Holding placards and singing songs like
"Akuna upfu" (There is no mealie-meal), "Chingwa chiripi?" (Where is the
bread) and "Tofa nenzara!" (Shall we die of hunger), the group danced and
interacted with local residents about the price cuts.
Magodonga Malhangu, a WOZA coordinator, said they were airing their views
about the government exercise that forced businesses to operate at a loss
and left shelves empty. She added that there were no arrests this time and
police did not interfere. "We only saw one police officer and people started
singing "Mupurisa urikuona zvirikuitika? (Do you see what is happening) and
he just walked the other way." said Mahlangu.
The Mutare demo was the continuation of a campaign they started in Bulawayo
a week ago when they delivered an open letter to business owners,
manufacturers and the ministers of Industry and Commerce and Home Affairs.
Mahlangu said they are demanding meaningful economic reforms, instead of the
ill-planned price cuts that produced bad results. She said from the
beginning people on the ground have been very cautious about the price cuts.
Although they were happy to buy basic items at reduced prices, they were
always aware it was a government gimmick to increase support ahead of the
elections next year.
The protest began at TM supermarket, and proceeded through Sakubva township
where the numbers almost doubled as local residents joined in.
Responding to accusations that WOZA and MOZA were targeting the wrong people
by demonstrating at TM and other shops, she said they were not blaming all
the shops, but the few corrupt ones who were selling to police officers and
the uniformed forces who beat up people in the queues and buy the reduced
products themselves. She explained that they wanted the business owners to
bring the people's message to government since they have access to the
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tichaona Sibanda
6 August 2007
The chief of Foreign Affairs in the Tsvangirai led MDC on Monday said events
in the country in the last month should act as wake up call for Southern
African Development Community leaders, to work on a speedy resolution to the
Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro said the slow pace of the mediation talks was
a drawback for all progressive forces in the country and highlighted that
there is a tendency by African heads of state to take note of a crisis only
when there is blood flowing on the ground.
He conceded the SADC mediation talks led by South African President Thabo
Mkebi were progressing very slowly and thereby presenting Mugabe with a huge
advantage over his opponents.
'What is most disappointing up to now is there has not been much progress in
terms of the substantive issues concerning Zimbabwe. When SADC leaders
mandated Mbeki to look at the Zimbabwe issue, there was a real sense of
urgency to contain the total breakdown of the country, but all we see is the
situation getting worse,' Mukonoweshuro added.
He warned SADC leaders if they choose to remain silent on Zimbabwe 'a Rwanda
situation' was waiting to erupt amid rising tensions related to the ever
deteriorating political climate.
Mukonoweshuro added that they would make their presence felt in Lusaka,
Zambia during the 27th SADC ordinary summit of Heads of State at which
President Levy Mwanawasa will assume the chair of the grouping.
Zambia would for the first time host the SADC summit since its inception in
1980. To be held under the theme 'Infrastructure Development In Support Of
Regional Integration' the summit will run from August 10 -18.
'We will try to be highly mobile in Lusaka because we tend to engage all
leaders before the meeting starts so that they will have a correct picture
of events of what is happening in Zimbabwe, apart from what they will hear
from Mugabe,' Mukonoweshuro said.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
BBC WORLD HARDTALK SCHEDULE for Tuesday 7th August 2007
Tuesday 7th August 2007
Arthur Mutambara, Movement for Democratic Change
Interviewed by Allan Little
Synopsis Zimbabwe is in melt-down. The shops have run out of food
because the government has forced retailers to sell at prices lower than
wholesale cost. The UN World Food Programme is currently making plans to
feed over three million people in Zimbabwwe this autumn. With President
Robert Mugabe up for re-election next March the opposition should be poised
to sweep him from office. But the opposition is in crisis spending most of
their energies attacking each other? Arthur Mutambara is leader of one
faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change. He talks to
Originates03:30h GMT on Tuesday 7th August 2007 (not Asia)
Repeats 08:30h GMT on Tuesday 7th August 2007
14:30h GMT on Tuesday 7th August 2007
20:30h GMT on Tuesday 7th August 2007
23:30h GMT on Tuesday 7th August 2007 (not Asia)
Record details: Monday 6th August 2007
Mon, 06 Aug 2007
A Zimbabwean man cashing in on the country's food shortages sold donkey meat
to desperate residents claiming it was beef, a state daily reported Monday.
The unidentified man went around a poor township in Beit Bridge, near the
border with South Africa, with a basket of meat he said was beef, according
to the Herald newspaper.
"This man had an ear of a cow which he was using to hoodwink residents into
believing that it was beef he was selling," a buyer was quoted as saying.
"Initially I had my own reservations as the meat did not look like beef
until he showed me the ear of a cow."
The woman said she realised that it was not beef after a neighbour tipped
her off and the vendor took to his heels after doubtful residents confronted
Butchers across Zimbabwe have run out of meat since President Robert
Mugabe's government ordered businesses to halve the prices of goods and
services, claiming some were colluding with the West to plot his downfall.
Retailers and manufacturers, grappling to cope with an inflation rate now
believed to be well over 5000 percent, had been raising their prices several
times a day until the government order.
There could have be no bigger irony than for delegates at a 3-day
anti-poverty summit in Malaysia to give Mugabe what has been described
as a 'cordial welcome.' The 83 year old is presiding over the worst
in the world, he displaced over 700 000 people in a 'clean up exercise' in
before embarking on a crack down on the business community
this year that has led to empty supermarket shelves and even higher
unemployment levels. And of course he destroyed the agricultural base of the
country which has lead to extreme poverty for hundreds of thousands more.
With elections scheduled for 2008 just round the corner the
distribution of food aid is being
politicised and areas perceived to harbour opposition supporters are
being deliberately marginalised. His guns are still smoking from a blitz he
the opposition beginning March this year, which saw over 600 activists
His colleagues at the Langkawi International Dialogue in Malaysia will
probably not care about such a record. The summit was launched in 1995 with
fostering closer relations between South East Asian countries and resource
but poor African countries. Mugabe was said to be participating in round
alongside other African and South East Asian leaders.
His presence was a source of controversy after some delegates
objected, but the Zanu PF leader is reported to have managed a few 'hugs and
kisses' according to
a Malaysian delegate who spoke to the media. No doubt this could have been
from fellow tyrants
at the conference.
The theme of the summit this year is poverty alleviation and Malaysia
is using the platform to share its experiences on how it transformed its
economy from the 1970's
to the present. Observers say it can only be hoped Mugabe can learn a few
things there on how
economies need a stable political environment in which to thrive. He is
attempting to enforce a command economy in which his cronies in the army
security services control all the resources. In the last couple of months
of the army have been running havoc on white owned commercial farms,
orders and threatening police attempting to enforce
them. - SW Radio AFrica
Comment from The Weekend Argus (SA), 4 August
This week President Thabo Mbeki predicted, somewhat wistfully it must be
said, that free and fair elections will be held in Zimbabwe next March. It
is difficult to see how this scenario is likely, given the increasingly
erratic behaviour of President Robert Mugabe and the deepening political and
economic crisis in that country. Some three million Zimbabweans have entered
South Africa illegally over the past four years. The flow is increasing:
between 6 000 and 10 000 people are crossing the northern border every day.
Others have sought sanctuary further afield, especially in the UK. It is
estimated that a quarter of the Zimbabwean population has now found a haven
elsewhere. Since possibly half of the Zimbabweans eligible to participate in
elections have already made clear their feelings towards the Zanu PF
government by voting with their feet, Mugabe is therefore understandably
reluctant to allow ballots to be cast abroad next year. Yet unless there was
to be the forced repatriation of exiled Zimbabweans - these millions are not
going to return to Zim just to vote - the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change would be deprived of its most solid voting bloc and the one that is
most impervious to intimidation. What is crucially at issue is whether these
Zimbabwean exiles are migrants or refugees. The Zimbabwe government and, it
seems, the South African government, want to define them as would-be
Emigrants choose, for a variety of reasons, to seek a new life elsewhere. To
a greater or lesser degree they transfer their identification from their
home country and, by definition, they would seek their political rights in
their new homeland. Refugees are displaced by hostile conditions at home.
Their primary focus remains where they come from, not where they perforce
have to eke an existence. They tend to feel passionately about changing the
home political circumstances that triggered their exile. The DA has urged
Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to set up refugee camps for
the border-crossing Zimbabweans. In terms of the Refugees Act, in the event
of a "mass influx of refugees", the minister may, after consultation with
the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and various others, designate places
for the "temporary reception and accommodation of asylum seekers or
Home Affairs' response was fascinating. The DA plea had identified the
exodus as having its origin in Zimbabwe's "deteriorating political
circumstances". Home Affairs, in contrast, carefully identified the influx
as being the result of Zimbabwe's deteriorating economic circumstances.
Risibly, Home Affairs claims that refugee centres would, in fact, fly in the
face of the Refugees Act. "Refugees are supposed to be integrated into our
communities and not kept in camps as the DA proposes," said the minister's
spokesperson. "Why does the DA want us to have a separate policy that
discriminates against Zimbabweans?" This semantic egg-dancing by Home
Affairs is significant beyond scoring points against the DA.
The sticking point for the South African government is that refugee and
asylum centres would be an implicit acknowledgment that the Zimbabwean
government is acting in a politically unacceptable manner and that matters
are deteriorating. The Mbeki charade, which must be maintained at all costs,
is that Zimbabwe has a legitimate, democratically elected government that is
merely encountering some temporary economic difficulties. Consequently, the
Zimbabweans coming here are not refugees, nor legitimate asylum seekers, but
economic opportunists. Their sojourn, the South African government pretends,
will be brief - perhaps no longer than it takes to buy some goods to trade
back home - and requires no special action. No democratic election could
have taken place in South Africa in 1994 without the participation of the
hundreds of thousands - not millions, as in Zimbabwe - who had fled the
apartheid state for political reasons. Similarly, no democratic election
could take place in Zimbabwe without the exiled community participating.
Refugee status is - for both the South African and Zimbabwean governments -
the thin edge of a dangerous wedge.
Mail and Guardian
Lewis Mwanangombe | Lusaka, Zambia
06 August 2007 07:20
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
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," Mbangweta said.
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
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 tonnes harvested last year and far
short of the target 340 000 tonnes 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
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 $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% by the end of the year. He said that
neighbouring countries "will not be able to sustain the levels of refugees".
There are an estimated three 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% 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 neighbouring
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 people.
"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. - Sapa-AP
6th August 2007
We are now into our 5th week of price controls and the resultant shortages.
I am becoming increasingly alarmed at the situation and hope that my
misgivings are not misplaced.
Today there is no rice in the urban areas, very little bread and what is
available is being rationed, there is no maize meal, no cooking oil or
margarine, no meat and very little milk and dairy products. I called the
Dairibord today and they had no product to sell - nothing, they said they
were having problems with their milk supplies.
In addition to this situation, public transport is virtually at a
standstill. This has developed following heavy fines imposed last week on
the mini van taxis that provide 90 per cent of urban transport here. People
are being forced to walk everywhere.
The wholesalers and manufacturers are virtually out of stock. There is a
thriving parallel market for everything but even here the supplies are very
short. Maize meal is being sold at Z$250 000 to Z$300 000 for 10 kg's - that
is 4 times the official price, fuel is available but at prices ranging from
Z$240 000 to Z$500 000 a litre.
Hotels are running out of food - I stayed in a local hotel on Friday and
found the staff serving a basic meal of rice with stew and a bit of cabbage
as a salad. The queue stretched out onto the road - the manager said to me
he was not running a hotel but a feeding station. The manger of the hotel
over the road was eating there and said to me he could not even provide the
basics to his clients. They had no beer!
Local business that has a contract to supply the Prison said that they had
4000 prisoners and could not feed them, not from any source. The Army and
the Police are in a similar predicament although the Police have been using
their role in the price control exercise to loot business of goods in short
supply. I hear that soldiers went through Ross Camp (the main Police camp in
Bulawayo) looking for looted stocks.
In addition to this crisis in domestic products nothing is being imported
commercially. This is because the price control authorities are treating
imported goods as local goods when enforcing the price controls. So people
who would normally import products in short supply are holding off and no
imported products are available. That leaves only cross border shopping, as
a means of meeting family needs.
Wealthy people are traveling to Botswana and Zambia for shopping trips and
poorer families are calling their relatives in South Africa for help. For
this reason on Saturday there were hundreds of vehicles from South Africa at
the border - all trying to get up to their families in Zimbabwe, drop off
supplies and then head back to South Africa. The road was littered with
broken down vehicles, as many are old and overloaded.
I see no signs of any response to this crisis in basic food supplies. What
do the international community and the UN system think they are doing? I
hear that when the State tried to stop retailers selling fuel against
coupons purchased with foreign exchange that the UN agencies promptly told
the government that if they did that they would close down and leave. The
government backed down. I heard this morning that many embassies are
considering flying food in for their local Embassy staff, one Ambassador
told me they were evaluating the difference in buying from South Africa or
direct from Europe - great to have options, but what on earth do they think
the ordinary Zimbabwean is doing?
I will tell you what he/she is thinking. It is how do I get a passport, how
do I get to the border or get a ticket to anywhere where sanity prevails?
The exercise to remove up to 3 million Zimbabweans from the country by
simply denying tem the means to survive is well under way. I estimate that
500 000 have gone already to South Africa, with other destinations that
probably means we are up to 600 000 - 20 per cent of the goal, 80 per cent
to still go. That's only 12 000 a day across the Limpopo - an easy target.
No amount of border patrols, no amount of policing or forced expulsions will
slow down or stop the exodus. There is only one way to do that - give
Zimbabweans some hope that they have a future, any sort of future in the
country of their birth.
SADC leaders gather in Lusaka on the 14th August - just one week away. The
future of this country and perhaps others in the region are in their hands.
I must say that does not give me a lot of confidence, if they fail us again
as they have in the past, we may well have to take things into our own
hands, and that could be very nasty.
Mr. Mugabe is in Malaysia staying in a five star hotel with no shortages. He
could not give a damn. His own strategy for the immediate future is being
worked out and he sees no possibility of his efforts being frustrated by
regional leaders. Left to his own devices he will get want he wants by the
year end, hold farcical elections in March 2008 without opposition and
continue as before.
By Patience Rusere
03 August 2007
Zimbabwe's supreme court will hear arguments September 20th in a
constitutional challenge to the results of the 2005 general election filed
by the Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by MDC founder Morgan
The party is challenging the Zimbabwe Electoral Act because it doesn't
provide for an independent court to resolve electoral disputes, among other
Jesse Majome, a member of the party's national executive and legal
committee, said the case could \have a significant bearing on the upcoming
March 2008 elections.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa asked the supreme court in June to throw
out the MDC challenge, saying the opposition had taken too long to file it.
Though the supreme court has decided to hear the case, lawyer Nicholas
Mathonsi of Bulawayo tells reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that the legal challenge comes too late to change much in time for
the 2008 elections.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
06 August, 2007
The Manica Post newspaper reported on Friday that police plan to launch
night raids on businesses and bus companies suspected of operating at night
in order to avoid the government's price controls. The report quoted Brian
Makomeke, the Police spokesperson for Manicaland province, warning those who
try to dodge price-cuts that they would be punished. The paper also quoted
an unnamed source claiming that some of the queues at supermarkets were
artificially-created in order to tarnish Zimbabwe's image.
The Manica Post quoted the police spokesperson as saying: "Desperate
business people say they can't afford to operate at a loss. Some are now
opening their doors only after 5pm when police and price inspectors knock
off for the day." He accused butchers of "selling meat in the moonlight" and
said road blocks would be extended to make sure ensure that no buses charge
more than the gazetted fare of Z$265 000 for the trip between Mutare and
Last month the government ordered all businesses to go along with a pricing
schedule that means they operate at a loss. Many businesses have remained
open but without any products on the shelves after panic buying by consumers
and massive looting by officials who plan to resell the goods at a profit.
Critics and the opposition have insisted the price-cuts are designed to gain
support for the ruling party ahead of the elections next year. But the
serious shortages and business closures that resulted are now making life
extremely difficult for Zimbabweans. Without fuel even more are forced to
walk to work and long queues for just about everything have reappeared.
A more ominous suggestion is being discussed as the reason for the price
cuts. Some observers have suggested that this exercise has been deliberately
planned to remove up to 3 million Zimbabweans from the country, by denying
them the means of survival. If that is the plan then it's working quite
well, as thousands now try to find a way across the border with South Africa
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Sebastien Berger at Heroes' Acre
Last Updated: 2:12am BST 06/08/2007
Not even the staff at his first wife's grave have much to say for
In Heroes' Acre, Zimbabwe's national cemetery on a hillside outside
the capital Harare, Sally Mugabe (1932-1992) lies in a black granite tomb,
complete with a Biblical inscription comparing her to Abraham's wife Sarah.
When both halves of a married couple qualify for plots among the 74
residents here to date they tend to be buried next to each other, and there
are four empty chambers to Mrs Mugabe's left.
But graves are not allocated in advance, so if Zimbabwe's octogenarian
leader wants the slot, an attendant explained, "he has to come quickly".
"We like our president," he insisted, but added: "A lot of people want
him to go. The opposition think it would be better if he left."
Asked for his own views, he said: "I'm very apolitical. I am a
The cemetery itself is emblematic of the ruling Zanu-PF's militaristic
Not only has the party always been allied with Communist Beijing, it
now espouses a "look East" policy, describing China as its most important
The graveyard was planned with the help of North Korean architects and
smacks of the Kim Il-sung school of grandiloquent design.
From above it even resembles the shape of a gun holster.
A central monument to the unknown soldier is overlooked by bronze
murals depicting the Zimbabwean dictator in standard hagiographic style.
"All of the people are coming around him and he is leading them to
liberation," the staff member said of Mr Mugabe's portrayal.
The comrades' tombs themselves curve away in rows.
Those who are to be honoured with a place among the great figures of
post-independence Zimbabwe, such as Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, who led the
seizure of white-owned farms, are not identified ahead of their deaths.
But Heroes' Acre also reputedly tends to be the final resting place of
senior Zanu-PF cadres who dare to challenge Mr Mugabe's rule.
After an alleged military plot against the president was uncovered in
June three generals died in quick succession and were buried here with full
Mr Mugabe presided over the ceremonies to issue denunciations of the
British as "the colonisers and the oppressors of yesterday".
Two of the three ostensibly died from natural causes, while the third,
Brig-Gen Armstrong Paul Gunda, had an unfortunate accident with a train at a
level crossing - an extraordinarily unlucky way to go, given the paucity of
rail services in Zimbabwe.
Public information advertisements on Zimbabwean television have since
warned viewers: "Remember, you cannot win an argument with a train."
With Zanu-PF riven by internal divisions, workers are now installing
more plots at the cemetery.
"We have a lot of heroes," the attendant said.
World Politics Review
Lauren Gelfand | 06 Aug 2007
World Politics Review Exclusive
LONDON -- Alighting from his vintage Rolls Royce limousine with a cursory
nod to the mounted ceremonial guard that escorted him to the steps of
Zimbabwe's parliament July 26, Robert Mugabe was every inch the defiant and
bombastic African leader, telling the West to "go hang" after imposing
another round of travel restrictions and sanctions on his penurious country.
Bearing with him a sheaf of economic bills to support the latest
price-stabilization scheme for a country bare of virtually every necessity
for daily life -- from food to fuel to foreign exchange -- the 83-year-old
president railed against "Western detractors . . . [who] unashamedly
[trample] upon the rights of weaker states while resorting to self-serving
notions of democracy and human rights as a veneer of legitimacy for their
Such fiery rhetoric cannot feed the 11 million people of Zimbabwe, who are
fleeing the sinking country at a rate of 4,000 per day for the greener
pastures of southern neighbor South Africa. Nor can it obfuscate the dire
state of a nation that just eight years ago was a breadbasket for southern
Africa, its massive commercial farms so redolent with grain and produce that
it was able to support a profitable export market as well as provide ample
food for its people.
"It's like a funeral is enveloping the country; the mood is of resignation
and desperation," Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group told WPR
in an exclusive interview.
"When I talk to my mother, who is 76, she asks me, 'where are we going? How
long can this go on?'"
The bills introduced in parliament July 26 are the second phase of an
exercise begun in June to offset the inflation-induced price hikes of the
meagre goods still available in shops around the southern African country.
They were followed July 29 by an announcement by Mugabe that his government
would print more money to fund government projects, thereby insuring the
increasing worthlessness of Zimbabwean currency.
Prices on staples such as rice, cooking oil, flour and canned goods were
slashed in half to curb inflation, estimated at around 6,000 percent on an
official index suppressed by the government.
The latest forecast, released last week by the International Monetary Fund's
director for Africa, Abdoulyae Bio Tchane, shows year-on-year inflation
could hit 100,000 percent by December.
Shopkeepers have taken to leaving price tags off of commodities in
anticipation of daily and sometimes hourly price hikes: One customer told
the Associated Press that while waiting in line to buy bread, the price rose
But the price slashes -- mandated by the authoritarian government and
supervised by baton-wielding police officers -- have sparked panic buying
and fostered a climate of fear among merchants who cannot afford, or refuse,
One gas station owner estimated his losses at over $1.2 million in three
days due to the price cuts, according to the Financial Times, having been
forced to sell fuel at half the price it cost to import.
Others have been arrested and harassed for overcharging: Nearly 5,000,
including the country's top businessmen, have been thrown in jail, however
briefly, joining the few members of the political opposition, led by
longtime activist Morgan Tsvangirai, who dare speak against the increasingly
autocratic and kleptocratic Mugabe regime.
"The lack of political leadership feeds and compounds the paralysis: If this
were a normal country, the situation would be fertile ground for a political
uprising," said Masamvu.
"This economic collapse needs a political response, but that is not
happening because there is a vacuum of political leadership."
The measures announced by Mugabe constitute more of the same blame-slinging
and deflecting of responsibility, designed to capture the loyalties of an
increasingly desperate and skeptical population, by a government whose
often-violent land seizures from white farmers in 2000 are seen by the
international community as the main reason behind Zimbabwe's precipitous
The new laws, expected to be passed by the rubber-stamp parliament by
September, will tighten government control over the economy by forcing the
remaining private companies to sell up to 51 percent of their shares to
In anticipation of this iron-fisted economic regime that would also
establish a National Incomes and Pricing commission that will set prices and
wages across all economic sectors -- even as the formal unemployment rate
crests beyond 80 percent -- two dormant state companies are to be revived to
serve as acquisition mechanisms.
Speaking before the announcement to parliament, Trade and Industry Minister
Obert Mpofu assured the country that his ministry had been allocated "enough
funds to ensure that industry does not collapse," the Financial Times
Such fund allocation is of dubious provenance, coming, no doubt as part of
the central bank's credit creation through the frantic printing of currency
that has financed government spending.
(For comparison's sake: when Mugabe became prime minister in 1980, the
Zimbabwe dollar was worth $1.50. After the introduction last week of a new,
Z$200,000 note, worth about US$1, consumers bitterly note that, with the
price of toilet paper at Z$30,000 per roll, it is cheaper to use paper
"We do not want to kill you but to make your business viable. Once you are
in business and happy, you will also leave us to run the country," Mpofu was
reported to have told businessmen.
"We want to build some kind of an orderly business environment. I will hate
to reach a stage where I will be forced to take over the companies from you,
but if you do not co-operate that is what is going to happen and this is the
position of the government.''
Such a threat bolsters concerns among small business owners and foreign
companies that the government is preparing to take over their interests
under the guise of implementing the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
But since much of the business still functioning in Zimbabwe is within the
hands of a small slice of the elite -- most of whom are longtime members of
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party -- there is little outcry at a further consolidation
of the country's financial interests.
"There is a lot of talk about the internal struggle within ZANU-PF, but the
reality is that it is limited," noted Masamvu. "These people made business
empires out of Mugabe's patronage so there is a line they will not cross.
Their struggle is not born from a need for democratic change: it is to
ensure a new leadership to sustain their business empire."
None of this would be necessary, according to the man who has spent the last
27 years in power and shows no signs of loosening his grip, if Zimbabwe had
not been plagued by drought and aggression from a hostile Britain and her
allies, all of whom have suspended aid and turned their backs on the country
despite the obvious need of its people.
"Our economy continues to face adverse challenges emanating mainly from the
illegal sanctions and successive droughts whose effects in turn are, inter
alia, foreign currency shortages, and erratic energy and power supply
situations," Mugabe said in his speech to open parliament last month.
"In these circumstances, the inexplicable price and rent hikes, which were
apparently welcomed and encouraged by our regime-change proponents
compounded the situation further and thus invited Government intervention."
Optimistic critics of the octagenarian leader suggest that such brash
pronouncements will only hasten the demise of the already fragile economy.
Recently departed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Dell told reporters at the
airport in Harare as he was leaving that there will be a total economic
collapse in Zimbabwe by the end of the year.
In a farewell interview with an independent newspaper in June, according to
the Associated Press, Dell added that the government was "doing regime
change to itself."
Such strong words have not been backed by much international diplomacy. The
African Union has taken its cues from Zimbabwe's largest trading partner and
ally, South Africa, in following a longtime "softly, softly" policy of quiet
diplomacy instituted by President Thabo Mbeki.
"South Africa will be indebted to Mugabe forever, politically, because of
his role in helping to end apartheid," noted Masamvu. "So while South Africa
has more economic mileage, Mugabe has more political mileage. That means
that South Africa cannot do what the rest of the world says it wants to be
done, which is impose sanctions. It really will defend quiet diplomacy even
if it has become mute diplomacy."
And with the opposition cowed into submission through violence, harassment
and indiscriminate arrests, and Mugabe unlikely to brook opposition for the
nomination in elections slated for March, any change in Zimbabwe's fortunes
may come too late.
The impact on the population cannot be understated, even with the exodus of
tens of thousands of civilians each month.
The USAID-funded alert system, Fewsnet, reported this month that there is a
"general consensus" that Zimbabwe's cereal production will have to be
complemented by imports of more than one million metric tons to meet the
country's needs for next year.
Arrangements have been made with Malawi to import 400,000 tons of maize,
with 70,000 tons already received. But without the necessary foreign
exchange reserves to pay for the needed cereals, the country faces a food
crisis of its own creation.
The World Food Program, meanwhile, has launched an urgent $118-million
appeal for emergency funds to feed an estimated 3.3 million people in coming
"People are battling to make ends meet on an hourly and daily basis, so any
election, against this backdrop of human suffering, will only produce a
stalemate," said Masamvu.
"Right now, the biggest opposition to Mugabe is the economy. He can rig the
ballot as he has done for the last seven years, but he cannot rig the
Lauren Gelfand is a freelance journalist and commentator with a special
interest in African issues.
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
6 August 2007
Posted to the web 6 August 2007
TOBACCO Sales Floor has lost more than $4 billion to three suspected
fraudsters who allegedly siphoned the money from its bank account through
Real Time Gross Services (RTGS) transfers while Stanbic Bank lost more than
$2,285 billion in an almost identical scam.
Two of the suspects in the TSF case, Ignatius Mabena and Lovemore Munemo who
worked in cahoots, are alleged to have siphoned $870 million while Murisi
Chirume is accused of defrauding the same firm of $3,762 billion.
Mabena (34), who is employed by Marklight Enterprises, and a friend,
Lovemore Munemo (31), have since been arrested and were remanded out of
custody to August 20 this year on $35 million bail each by a Harare
They were ordered to surrender their travelling documents and not to
interfere with witnesses and investigations.
Chirume's bail ruling will be heard today Mr Tawanda Nyamasoka appeared for
According to the court papers, Mabena held an account with Barclays Bank at
the time of the alleged offence.
It is the State's case that on May 18 this year, the two submitted documents
purporting that TSF had instructed the bank to transfer $870 million from
its account to Mabena's.
As a result of the misrepresentation, the funds were transferred from TSF
and deposited into Mabena's account before the duo withdrew and converted
the money to their personal use.
The company discovered the fraud when reconciling their accounts and
reported the matter to the police leading to the arrest of the two.
Chirume is being charged for fraudulently authorising the transfer of $3,762
billion from TSF's account into his personal account.
In the third case, a Stanbic Bank Samora Machel Avenue accounts executive
was last week arrested on allegations of conniving with fraudsters to siphon
$2,285 billion from a city firm's bank account through the RTGS facility.
Cynthia Mwaibongwe Chizwina (30) was not asked to plead to fraud charges
when she appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Archie Wochiunga.
She was remanded out of custody to August 20 on $20 million bail coupled
with stringent conditions.
Chizwina was ordered to surrender her travelling documents and to report
twice per week at Criminal Investigations Department Frauds Squad.
Chizwina's duties included managing non-bank financial institutions, one of
them identified as Prime Stockbrokers.
She was also responsible for processing RTGS transfers and payments by
verifying signatures and authorising payment.
The State, led by prosecutor Mr Tawanda Nyamasoka, alleged that between July
16 and July 20 this year, Chizwina connived with two fraudsters, who are
still at large, to swindle Prime Stockbrokers.
They allegedly approached three suppliers -- First Pack, Dar-Al-Salaam Agric
and Jeremiah Warikandwa -- from whom they bought bond paper, engine oil and
furniture for which they undertook to pay through RTGS.
The State further alleged that the trio fraudulently filled in three RTGS
forms in the name of Prime Stockbrokers and forged the signatures of the
firm's directors, Mr Guy Mulam and Mr Hugh Strickland.
It was further alleged that the forms were sent to Chizwina who fraudulently
authorised payment to the three companies.
The fraud was discovered on July 23 during a routine bank reconciliation