Obasanjo and Mugabe are kindred
12/11/2002 8:10:05 AM (GMT
I met Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, the secretary-general of
the Pan African Movement based in Kampala, Uganda, in the late 1990s at the
Art Gallery in Bulawayo.
His stance on human rights issues was
straightforward and unflinching and, though journalists from Zimbabwe's State
media tried to extract partisan statements by asking leading questions, he
At the Art Gallery, Abdul-Raheem spoke about the
Gukurahundi massacres, the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),
its implications on Zimbabwe, and about many issues affecting the
He predicted the war in the DRC would end in
a stalemate with leaders of belligerent armies looting the DRC of minerals
and timber. He was prophetic.
He has been vindicated.
His arrest at the hands of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo's security
agents mirrors broadly the treatment of activists by African governments. By
rightly stating, "the majority of African presidents are not leaders but
rulers, camouflaging themselves in civilian attire while running military
regimes", Abdul-Raheem has invited the wrath of many dictators. True, towards
election time, many African rulers become patriotic
For those of us in Zimbabwe, Abdul-Raheem's
arrest is no surprise. The Nigerian and Zimbabwean governments are both the
same - no tolerance towards those who do not sing praises.
It is for this reason that Obasanjo rendered the 9-11 March 2002 presidential
election in Zimbabwe "legitimate", despite overwhelming evidence to the
The Chairman of the Commonwealth Observer Group, former
Nigerian President Abdusalami Abubakar, had the opportunity to talk to
many Zimbabweans, witness the ashes of homes burnt down by Zanu PF militia at
St Peter's Pumula, interview victims of the militia and Central
Intelligence Organisation, the refusal by the government to obey a court
order to open polling stations to voters, and the Zimbabwean army surrounding
the MDC offices in Harare and Bulawayo in the aftermath of the
Laden with more evidence, Abubakar had to let his
conscience declare the elections "not free and fair", for no amount of
intimidation and killing of MDC supporters will change that
The arbitrary arrest of Abdul-Raheem in Nigeria does not
change in anyway the Nigerian people's yearning for genuine civilian rule,
nor does it change at all the resolve of other Pan-Africanists.
Instead, for those of us in Zimbabwe, it highlights the stark similarities
Obasanjo's administration has with Zimbabwe's. Both of them are dictatorial
This unfortunate incident
reminds me of the arrest of Professor Welshman Ncube, the secretary-general
of the MDC, at the Plumtree border post on 11 March 2002.
hearing of Ncube's arrest we arrived at Plumtree Police Station at 1:18pm in
the company of two journalists from the South African
Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) - Desmond Dladla and Donald
Three police officers clad in riot gear and armed with AK47
rifles were about the yard, probably hallucinating a rescue attempt by the
When we inquired from two officers the whereabouts of Ncube,
we were rudely told: "We do not know him."
We insisted that we
had information from his lawyer that he was being detained at Plumtree Police
Hearing this, one officer pretended to peruse a black
book, after which he declared: "He is not in the detention book (DB), so we
don't know him." But Ncube was there, in one of the rooms frequented by
plainclothes police officers.
Seeing that no police officer was
interested in stating the reason for Ncube's arrest, SABC reporter Chauke
phoned police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, more
than seven times to get clarification. Bvudzijena referred SABC to Job Moyo,
the publicity representative for police in Plumtree. Moyo, in turn, referred
the SABC to Bvudzijena contending he had neither authority over Ncube's
arrest nor the right to allow SABC to film the Zimbabwe flag and the front
Despite efforts by lawyers Josphat Tshuma and Nicholas
Mathonsi to get the State's charge against Ncube, nothing was forthcoming
except the State media's obsession with the lie that Ncube had been arrested
while trying to flee to Botswana.
It became clear to us that
Ncube's arrest had been ordered by high government officials. As in the case
of Abdul-Raheem at the hands of the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha's
forces, Ncube's passport has to this day been withheld by Zimbabwean
Such is the folly of dictators whose failure to see
that denial of their citizens' right to movement, by imprisonment and
confiscation of travel documents, is not synonymous with imprisonment of the
mind. No one can imprison the mind. The mind will always seek
Fellow activists who mooted the idea that Obasanjo was not
interested in condemning President Mugabe over the 2002 presidential election
because he sought to copy Mugabe's ways were very correct.
of them are filthy dictators, and the world's hope in Obasanjo playing
conscience to Mugabe is terribly misplaced.
LOVEMORE Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
on Monday evening castigated the international community for misleading
Zimbabweans into believing they would give them moral and material support in
the face of government and Zanu PF repression.
Addressing a meeting
in Harare organised by the Mass Opinion Public Institute (MOPI) to review
events in 2002, Madhuku said it was unfair for the international community to
pretend they were in full support of Zimbabweans fighting against
post-independence State-inspired violence against all democratic
"There are some Zimbabweans out there who really believe in
the propaganda being spread in the Western media," Madhuku said.
"We, Zimbabweans, should not allow those foreigners to be in the forefront
of articulating our problems. "Zimbabweans should take the lead to
liberate themselves from this autocratic regime."
Madhuku said in
July 2001, the country celebrated when the United States of America passed
the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act which barred the USA from
funding any government programmes.
The Act sought to promote civil
society, the opposition and other organisations engaged in democratic
challenges to the status quo. "Civic organisations have received nothing
since that piece of paper became law," he said. "The NCA has not received any
cent since its enactment. Today, I urge all people in this country not to be
fooled that something will come out from the Americans and European
countries. There is very little for them here."
people attended the meeting. Madhuku said the solution to Zimbabwe's
problems, where people were being killed every day for expressing their views
about the government, could not be expected to come from the international
He said the major handicap facing the struggle was that
most people believed they should be paid before they engaged in any
"Seek ye democracy first and everything else will follow.
It is only in a democracy that you can get an accountable government that
respects human rights. To all forces who believe in change, let us confront
this regime because this argument about whether President Mugabe is
legitimate or illegitimate will not help us. Let's engage in small actions
that will build into something big."
Other speakers included
Brian Kagoro of Crisis in Zimbabwe, and MOPI's Charles Mangongera.There was
tension during question time when speakers from the floor took turns to
attack Kagoro for his anti-NCA and anti-MDC statements.
situation at the moment points to the crumbling of major MDC pillars of
support, if you analyse the results of the September rural elections," said
Kagoro. "Zanu PF was in danger of collapsing before the Febru-ary 2000
referendum. During 2002, Zanu PF re-created its structures by the use of
violence. Demonstrations are not sufficient to sustain a
In response, Madhuku said: "These meetings
should not be personalised. Some people speak their personal prejudices
instead of their professional thoughts."
One man asked: "What is
your Crisis in Zimbabwe doing and how many are you in that small organisation
of yours? There is a serious crisis in that organisation. We have only seen
you at gatherings like these and nothing else. You don't have a membership,
neither have you done anything for the cause of the revolution. You are not
Kagoro had criticised the NCA leadership for seeking
newspaper publicity but achieving nothing on the ground. Other speakers
criticised the NCA for placing so much authority in one leader - Madhuku.
YESTERDAY'S mass job stayaway failed because of poor timing and lack of
co-ordination. It is doubtful whether there was wider consultation.
There was poor timing because either this week or next, many industries and
factories will close for their annual two-week shutdown.
workers are waiting to get paid before they can go and do their Christmas
shopping. This is something that the organisers should have taken into
account before the hastily called mass action.
There appears to
have been a last-minute decision, especially as the meeting which decided on
the stayaway was held on Monday. Two weeks of intensive planning would have
It is difficult to understand why the organisers
were in such a hurry, when with more careful planning and consultation, the
results would have been far-reaching.
But this is the second
time a proposed mass stayaway has failed to take off, and it raises serious
questions either of the foresight of the planners or possibly of
infiltration, with the resultant effect that organisers are deliberately
sidetracked while they are unaware they are being driven into a strategy that
is doomed to fail before it even takes off.
The other factor
contributing to the failure of yesterday's mass stayaway is the planned
three-month shutdown by industry to consider various strategies for surviving
what is an increasingly hostile operating environment, which threatens to
throw out onto the streets nearly 400 000 workers.
also discordant voices coming from the mining sector, threatening the
shutdown of the country's biggest mining companies. This is the bigger
picture than the one-day stayaway, which in comparison looks like a
While industry has not described its proposed action as a
stayaway, it amounts to the same thing. This is the most profound statement
of discontent ever to come from the business sector in this
A three-month shutdown will have far-reaching consequences
than yesterday's one-day wonder. Already industry is in a wind-down mode
and yesterday's action would have disrupted their plans.
suggestion, therefore, must be that there was no consultation between the
organisers of the stayaway and the business sector.
such consultation had taken place, the organisers would have been informed
that yesterday was not the right time.
But there is also the
problem of being a Zimbabwean. This is a condition that drives many into
believing that, while the situation is tough and there is need to confront
the government in order to force it into addressing problems facing the
nation, this war must be fought by others, so that the rest can live to enjoy
Unwittingly people become party to their own
oppression. The government is aware of this.
In March a stayaway
organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) was unsuccessful.
The same ZCTU said it supported yesterday's failed action. It is frightening
to think that they have not learnt anything from their last
In reviewing failures, there is normally an evaluation of
the strategies used, consultations on the method and style used to
implement the strategies and new approaches emerging from
This does not seem to be what has happened in the
process of planning yesterday's failed stayaway. It may be time to change the
planners and organisers of any future stayaways because the current team has
failed - twice.
Perhaps this recognition needs to start with the
organisers themselves. They have been planning and organising failures,
perhaps it's time to call it a day. Let new blood take over.
of the reasons why not many people heeded the call for mass action was that
they doubted the ability of the organisers to make a success of it, even
though the current hardships present fertile ground for discontented people,
who should be eager to vent their anger against the authors of the problems
If the groups organising the mass stayaway have
been infiltrated by government fifth columnists, then they need to suspend
operations until the moles have been neutralised.
EDNA Madzongwe, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament,
yesterday called on MPs to take the business of the House seriously and
justify their election.
She said this after Gabriel Chaibva, the MP
for Harare South (MDC), stayed outside the Parliament building after having
moved notice to debate on adjournment on a matter of urgency, the Harare
water crisis."Let's take the business of this House seriously, otherwise we
will get nowhere," said Madzongwe, in a voice in which she barely concealed
"How can an MP stay outside when he has a motion to
move? We have to adjourn to next Tuesday because we have no more business
MDC MPs who were in the House tried to buy time by debating
with Madzongwe for about 10 minutes, hoping that Chaibva, the MDC's
shadow minister for Local Government, would return to move his
But Madzongwe was having none of that.After the adjournment
of Parliament yesterday, most MDC MPs, unable to disguise their
disappointment with Chaibva's behaviour, surrounded him outside the House,
demanding an explanation.He said he had gone out to switch off the lights of
But one of his disappointed colleagues said: "So you
expect people to respect you as a government-in-waiting when you cannot take
Parliament seriously? This was the only opportunity which we could have used
to have a better understanding of the current water problems in
Harare City Council is struggling to obtain foreign
currency to buy vital chemicals to purify the city's water before it is
released to residents for consumption.
Some suburbs have had no
water for days, threatening the city with a health catastrophe.MPs, mostly of
the MDC and a few from Zanu PF, have a tendency of staying in the House for a
few minutes before going out, resulting in debates and motions being
discussed and passed in their absence.
Some MPs come in when the
bells start ringing to signify that the House is about to be divided. Such
MPs return to the House hurriedly and end up voting for something they would
not have debated or heard being debated.
For example, yesterday the
Zimbabwe-Democratic Republic of Congo trade agreement sailed through because
most MDC MPs were not in the House.
But last week MDC MPs were
against the passing of the pact, insisting they needed more information on
trade between Harare and Kinshasa from the government.
Domestic debt rose to an all time high of $319,4 billion
by the end of October this year, leaving the country's macro-economic
stability in deep water, says the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
In its Weekly Economic Highlights released this week, the
central bank said the level of domestic debt had unhealthy consequences on
"The size of the national debt has grown
unsustainably, leading to macro economic instability, low savings, reduced
investment and retarded growth," said the RBZ.
figure reflects a sharp rise in the domestic debt overhang in the past 12
years. In 1990, the country's domestic debt stood at $6,7
The composition of the outstanding domestic debt
transformed in the period under review from long-term debt instruments
towards the more expedient but costly short-term
The RBZ said the share of treasury bills in total
domestic debt rose from 5 percent in 1990 to more than 95 percent by October
Very little financial support has been coming from
multi-lateral and bilateral creditors owing to Zimbabwe's depressed credit
worthiness rating, and the adverse effects of the country's human rights and
The widening foreign resource gap,
occurring against the background of declining activity has led to the
increased reliance on domestic sources to fund persistent fiscal
Fiscal deficits in the past dozen years resulted from
revenue and expenditure mismatches.
The Zimbabwean government
has been criticised at home and abroad by multi-lateral creditors for its
fiscal indiscipline that has been manifested in
Herbert Murerwa the Minister of Finance and
Economic Development admitted last month during his presentation of the 2003
National Budget, that the national budget deficit status was unhealthy at
He said: "The revenue shortfalls coupled with higher
expenditures have increased the total domestic borrowing requirements for the
2002 budget from $87,4 billion to $136,3 billion."
continued borrowing patterns from domestic sources has resultantly entrenched
debt distress as a key feature of the economy. On debt distress, the
Reserve Bank said the feature "is reflected by rising interest on debt, as a
share of the total government expenditures, from 10 percent in 1991 to 31,7
percent in 2000."
An increasing proportion of revenue collected was
thus being channelled towards debt servicing.
The $319,4 billion
domestic debt level recorded at the end of October amounts to 33 percent of
gross domestic product (GDP).
The economic implication therefore is
that out of every dollar of the country's GDP, 33 cents was committed to
According to RBZ statistics, interest payments on
average consumed more than 58 percent of government revenue.
advised that the burdensome domestic debt could be reduced through fiscal
consolidation, that is, a combination of restrained public expenditures and
increased revenue collection.
The central bank said: "Fiscal
requirements should be consistent with existing economic and financial
"Further, increasing the proportion of domestic debt
channelled to non-monetary institutions such as insurance companies, pension
funds and individuals would reduce the adverse effects of domestic debt on
IN one of the rare cases set to woo the public and boost
the country's dwindling revenue base, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)
last week reportedly paid a whistle blower $7 million.
further details could be provided, Zimra said it was set to pay more as the
whistle blower continued to volunteer more information.
client confidentiality, Charles Jaure, a Zimra tax investigations officer,
said the government department was getting valuable tips and information from
members of the public on tax evaders.
He said: "Last week we paid a
whistle blower who volunteered vital information some $7 million and we are
likely to pay him more as he divulges more information."
told participants to the annual Budget tax conference in Harare that among
the top whistle blowers were employees and rivals.
raise revenue against a backdrop of a collapsing economy, the government is
tightening the grip, enforcing stringent mechanisms
Although nobody was willing to put their neck on
the block, it is widely believed in financial circles that Zimbabwe is
virtually bankrupt and some of the measures the government is implementing
are a sign of desperation.
The net is closing in on the few
surviving companies and workers as the tax base continues to
Recently, the government announced that landlords would now
be subject to tax. The government is in the process of compiling a database
for collecting the tax from landlords.
The much-talked about
vision of hope, the informal sector, would by next year start contributing to
the national cake as they are now subject to tax.
Jaure said his
organisation was legally armed to raid any business concern without prior
notice in search of what he termed "valuable information".
said the country's tax laws gave Zimra officers the powers to access any
Jaure said: "Next year will see tax evaders and
other culprits pay heavily and so we urge every taxpayer to
Zimra said it was in the process of adopting an integrated
system that would help it to hook up with most organisations throughout the
country, on the continent and beyond.
A six-year prescription
period has been put in place in an effort to come up with track records of
various companies on tax payments.
However, Zimra conceded that
policing people to pay tax was not the best way forward and said every
government's objective across the world was moving towards voluntary
Jaure said his organisation was confident that Zimra
would raise the $540 billion needed for the 2003 National
"We will certainly surpass the target for the coming year
as everything else is in place," he said.
Economic analysts and
business leaders attacked government for prioritising revenue collection at a
time when industry was faced with a bleak future.
At least 370
000 people were likely to lose their jobs owing to company closures
To date 32 companies in the manufacturing and
export sectors had closed shop as the economic climate got hotter.
300 resettled families face starvation in
12/11/2002 8:13:36 AM (GMT +2)
Correspondent in Masvingo
More than 300 families are facing
starvation in Chiredzi after the three water pumps they use for irrigation
broke down four months ago. Farmers in Chilonga irrigation scheme who had
planted a variety of crops, including maize, said the government had failed
to repair their pumps, which had resulted in their crops wilting because of
"The crops we planted for winter have already
wilted and this has affected our farming," said one farmer. "We appealed to
the government to help us, but nothing has been done so far."
The farmers said that their irrigation pumps had been taken to the Zimbabwe
National Water Authority (ZINWA) for repair but had not been returned to
Felix Chiramba, another farmer said they rely on this
irrigation scheme, especially during dry periods and if the pumps are not
repaired it is a disaster for them.
The farmers said the
situation was likely to be worsened by the erratic distribution of maize by
food aid organisations. "We hardly receive food aid from local and
international organisations, so we only rely on the crops we grow. So if our
pumps are repaired we can survive," he said. The farmers complained that the
Grain Marketing Board depot in their area was supplying maize-meal to Zanu PF
councillors and officials only at the expense of other ordinary
ZINWA admitted they had failed to repair the irrigation
pumps because there was not enough money. "We have failed to repair the pumps
due to lack of foreign currency," said Albert Mare, ZINWA area
"The pumps are big so we were actually trying to get
foreign currency to import a number of parts required to repair them," he
said. Mare said their board had recently acquired the foreign currency needed
to repair the pumps and would soon repair the pumps and return them to the
owners. At Chilonga irrigation scheme more than 300 farmers occupy
about 141 hectares of land under irrigation.
The farmers grow
maize, cotton, groundnuts, vegetables, tomatoes and other crops for
commercial and subsistence purposes.
Long and winding fuel queues resurfaced in major cities and
towns yesterday as government and the State-controlled media remained adamant
that the situation was under control.
By yesterday most filling
stations in and around Harare had run dry. Most dealers said the situation
was likely to get worse without any solution in sight.
Ambassador Amos Midzi, the Minister of Energy and Power Development, could
not shed any light on the situation. Midzi said: "I have decided to do more
work and talk less."
The sales manager at the National Oil Company
of Zimbabwe (Noczim), a Mr Manduku would not comment either. He said: "I am
not the right person to comment. These are sensitive issues. It is only the
minister who can issue statements on such matters."
the fuel industry were not helpful either. Most were engaged in negotiations
to procure their own supplies and could not comment for fear of
A manager from BP Shell, who refused to be named, said:
"We don't have figures at hand on the levels of fuel available in the
country. Whatever we receive from Noczim is all that we sell. Noczim or the
Ministry of Energy would be in a better position to assist you."
In the city centre, most taxis were grounded while a sizeable number were
queueing for fuel. The same applied to commuter omnibuses. At
Saviour Kasukuwere's filling station in Harare Drive, Marlborough, there
were two-kilometre long queues on all sides of the premises. Kasukuwere owns
the Comoil dealership in Zimbabwe. Commuter omnibus drivers spent the night
in the queues but by yesterday morning they still had no hope of filling
Fani Kangondo, Comoil's corporate communications manager, said
local players in the fuel industry were still waiting for the "affirmative"
fuel allocation system in favour of indigenous distributors, to be
He said: "Contrary to the misconception that indigenous
distributors receive greater supplies of fuel, at Comoil we have been
receiving, in recent days, as little as 10 000 litres a day. That allocation
is supposed to be distributed to the 13 Comoil filling stations dotted around
the country, an expectation we cannot practically meet."
said: "Under normal circumstances we should receive at least 200 000 litres
to service all our clients, both retail and corporate."Kangondo said the
anomalous fuel supply situation had forced Comoil to serve only retail
clients "who would have spent the night in fuel queues". Fights erupted as
tempers flared with drivers accusing each other of queue-jumping.
One commuter omnibus driver said: "I don't have any hope of getting fuel.
There has been no fuel delivery for the past 12 hours that I have been in
this queue. I don't think the indigenous fuel suppliers are able to cope with
demand although they are being given first preference by
"The NCA need not have called for a stayaway at
all. If there is no fuel, there will soon be a spontaneous stayaway. It
doesn't have to be called for, or organised by anyone. The country will soon
grind to halt, whether Zanu PF likes it or not."Another driver said: "This is
definitely going to be the worst festive season in living memory. No fuel, no
bread, no maize-meal, no meat, no end in sight to the political and economic
turmoil this country is going through. We definitely need divine
intervention, otherwise we will all perish."
A severe foreign
currency crisis has hit the country for the past three years as the
international and donor community expressed discontent at the on-going fast
track land reform programme and general disrespect for the rule of law.
Harare has suffered isolation from the international community, dealing a
huge blow to the economy
Meanwhile, filling station owners in
Musina in the Limpopo province of South Africa were up in arms over petrol
bought in Zimbabwe which was being sold cheaply across the border on the
black market, at Beitbridge and Musina.
Some Zimbabweans bought
petrol in their country and then crossed into South Africa at the Beitbridge
border post to sell it at reduced prices. 20 litres of petrol cost R87,40 in
South Africa but one can get it on the streets for R50. Local motorists and
taxi operators were only too happy to oblige. Most of the taxis that operated
between Beitbridge and Gauteng were dependent on Zimbabwean fuel. The petrol
from across the border was being carried in motor tanks and then drained into
20 litre containers for resale on the streets. The dealers said they were
trying to make a living. Three trips a day were enough to put bread on the
table, they said.
Local motorists also crossed the border into
Zimbabwe to fill up their tanks at a much lower price. However, local garages
were losing business, as the Limpopo Shell Ultra City was only able to get
enough customers when the supply line from Zimbabwe ran dry.
Anel Theunissen, manager of the filling station is concerned about
"It is affecting us quite a lot, we heard that the
people are bringing in the petrol and diesel from Zimbabwe across the border
and selling it on the bridge. But at this stage we can't do anything about
the situation as we don't know who these people are," said
BRUCE Wharton, the spokesman for the United States Embassy
in Harare, said yesterday Zimbabwe is yet to benefit from the incentives
offered by the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act 2001 because it
is still far from observing the rule of law.
Zimbabwe had much to benefit from the Act, which was condemned by Jonathan
Moyo, the government spokesman, when it was passed into law by the US
Wharton was responding to questions on the progress made
more than a year since the Act was passed. He said since July 2001, several
churches, mission hospitals and various non-governmental organisations had
received funding to help them implement their HIV/Aids, education and
"There are millions of incentives to be
realised, if only Zimbabwe returned to the rule of law, respect human rights
and private property," Wharton said.
"Unfortunately, none of it
is coming because there is no rule of law at the moment."Section 4 Subsection
(d) (1) of the Act says there should be certification under this subsection
transmitted to the appropriate congressional committees of a determination
made by the President that: "The rule of law has been restored in
Zimbabwe, including respect for ownership and title to property, freedom of
speech and association, and an end to the lawlessness, violence and
intimidation sponsored, condoned or tolerated by the government of Zimbabwe,
Zanu PF, and their supporters or entities."
Wharton said: "We
are supporting certain civic organisations in Zimbabwe but I am not revealing
how that funding is being used. The main thrust of the Act is not to provide
funding for civic organisations in the country but to provide assistance to
the government of Zimbabwe to return to the rule of law and engage in a
transparent, equitable and legal land reform programme."
Zimbabwe's main opposition group has
called on the international cricket community to boycott the country and
refuse to play any World Cup matches there.
member of the Movement for Democratic Change said yesterday that political
violence, doubts over the security of players and spectators and the policies
of Robert Mugabe's regime made Zimbabwe an inappropriate venue for a major
Welshman Ncube, the MDC's secretary general, said: "A
boycott of World Cup matches would send a clear message that the
international community will not tolerate Mr Mugabe's illegitimate regime,
and would serve to further isolate him."
Zimbabwe, which was suspended
by the Commonwealth following intimidation and political violence during
elections earlier this year, will host six games in the first stage of the
tournament, including matches against England, Australia, India and
Ncube continued: "Given that seven million people - half of the
population - are on the verge of starvation it is inappropriate that a
major international sporting event should be held in the country.
is also the case that the security of those attending the tournament cannot
be guaranteed. Political violence is commonplace and militia roadblocks are
in place in both rural areas and the towns."
The MDC also fears that
Mugabe, who is patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, will try to make
political capital out of the event, particularly the match against England,
scheduled for February 13.
"Mugabe would use event for political
propaganda purposes and seek to convince the world that Zimbabwe operates in
accordance with democratic principles. He must not be given this
opportunity," said Ncube.
The British foreign secretary Jack Straw has
been fiercely critical of the Mugabe regime's treatment of the MDC. Yesterday
Denis MacShane, the foreign office minister for Europe, hinted that England
should not play in Zimbabwe.
He told the House of Commons foreign affairs
committee: "I hope that the England cricket team take cognisance of the fact
that, if they go to Zimbabwe, they will go in very odd circumstances that may
not reflect to their credit."
His statement appeared at variance with
the sports minister Richard Caborn, who had said earlier in the day: "If all
the conditions are right for it to take place, as far as the ICC is
concerned, then that's the governing body, they make the decisions, not
Yesterday a foreign office spokesman said it was waiting to
see the contents of the report by an International Cricket Council delegation
that visited Zimbabwe last month to examine security arrangements. The
report, due out this week, is not expected to raise any objections to
Zimbabwe hosting matches.
The delegation informally sought the views
of MDC officials in Harare and Bulawayo, the cities that will host the
matches. A senior ICC source said these officials indicated support for the
tournament, which the report may reflect.
If the ECB unilaterally
withdrew without the British government's intervention, it would face ICC
sanctions including points deduction and large financial penalties.
Should Britain's Cricket Team Play in Zimbabwe? VOA Sports 10
Dec 2002, 22:13 UTC
A junior Foreign Office minister suggested on
Tuesday that England's cricket team should not play in Zimbabwe, where
president Robert Mugabe is engaged in a political stand-off with the
Zimbabwe is due to host six first-round matches
of the 2003 cricket World Cup in Harare and Bulawayo in February, but fears
have been expressed over player safety due to political upheaval in the
country. England is scheduled to play Zimbabwe in Harare on February
Zimbabwe has been plagued with violence in the wake of
Mugabe's controversial land reform program, leading to calls for the cricket
World Cup to be moved to South Africa. Malcolm Speed, chief executive of
the International Cricket Council (ICC), said late last month that
countries whose teams refuse to play in Zimbabwe could face legal
Australia and England have shown the most concern about playing
in Zimbabwe. India, Pakistan, Namibia and the Netherlands are also due to
Mwanawasa, Mugabe to open Chirundu bridge Lusaka -
President Mwanawasa and his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe are this
Thursday expected to officially open the new Chirundu Bridge.
statement to the Zambia News Agency this evening said the new Chirundu Bridge
was constructed with a grant from the Japanese government to Zambia and
The statement says on the day of official opening, the Chirundu
Bridge Border Post would remain closed to travelling public from 06:00 to
15:00 hours to allow for the ceremony.
Information and Broadcasting
Permanent Secretary David Kashweka has since announced that although the
border will temporally close, it will however re-open and would remain open
up to 19:00 hours after the ceremony.
The two neighbouring countries have
invited ministers, diplomats and different stakeholders including the local
population to celebrate the official opening.
Harare - A Zimbabwean
labour leader and other union officials remained in prison on Tuesday for
allegedly organising a general strike over food shortages and economic
hardship, while the work stoppages failed to take hold.
Chibebe, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU), had been arrested on Monday evening along with eight other union
The strike over severe food shortages and economic difficulties
in the southern African country was organised by the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an alliance of rights groups, unions,
opposition parties and churches.
However, the one-day job stay-away,
also intended to press for constitutional reform, was largely
Lawyers for the imprisoned leaders were frantically trying to
seek their release late Tuesday "because there is no case to answer",
according to ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo.
"They have not been
released yet. Their lawyer is trying to make an urgent application for their
release," Matombo said.
The ZCTU backed the strike but did not call for
it, he said.
Most businesses, including banks, supermarkets and
manufacturing plants, were open for business as normal. Fuel queues stretched
for kilometres at some fuel stations as motorists scrambled for the scarce
Many people appeared ignorant of the strike while others said
they could not afford to stop working when they were hard-pressed to buy even
the most basic food supplies, as the cost of living spirals upward on a daily
Inflation is officially pegged at more than 144% but analysts say
it is much higher.
But organisers of Tuesday's
strike claimed a 30% success rate.
"Our assessment is that there has been
about 20 - 30% response in Harare, but in other towns it has been quite
poor," NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku said.
"We (however) are not
disappointed, we are actually happy that some people took heed of our call,
given the political culture of intimidation in this country," he
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), based
in Belgium, condemned the arrests as "a chilling reminder of the repression
and intimidation faced by all those who do not support the policies of
President Robert Mugabe".
The strike was declared illegal by the
Several other people were arrested in the
capital's working class suburbs for barricading roads and burning a bus,
according to police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena.
"A bus has been
burnt and others have been stoned and we have made several arrests today,"
"We have indications that some people were paid by the
MDC (opposition Movement for Democratic Change) to carry out those attacks,"
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he supports
the work stoppage.
"The call by civil society for a day of protest ... is
a welcome move, which is long overdue," Tsvangirai said in a
"The deteriorating economic situation has reached alarming
levels," he added.
Zimbabwe's economy has been plunged
into a deepening depression in recent years. At least 80% of the population
now live in poverty.
For nearly a year there have been critical shortages
of basic commodities, resulting in a thriving black market where prices are
anything up to 10 times the official rates.
The strike was also called
to push for a new, democratic constitution for the southern African
Madhuku said there were plans to call for another strike before
the end of the week. - Sapa-AFP
"WE NEVER thought it would be as bad as it is," said former farm worker
Albert Chanetsa, a veteran tractor driver.
Nor did anyone else,
including the foot soldiers who ran the land revolution for President Robert
Mugabe. "There is no planting. There is no farming here," said Chanetsa , and
a few former colleagues, now refugees, sitting on a ledge outside an old farm
kitchen nodded in agreement.
The air was thick with the promise of
rain and frangipani blossom, but the conversation was as depressing as the
deserted farm yards. "They won't let us plant," said a health worker from
another former commercial farm in the area.
They, are of course,
some war veterans and ruling Zanu (PF) supporters who have taken over the
farm. In the most fertile cropping province, Mashonaland West, along many
kilometres of council and private roads, fields are bare and weeds the only
greenery. Hundreds of hectares of young coffee is abandoned, and citrus
orchards were burned in September and the blaze melted the drip irrigation
pipes which watered the trees.
Footage shot from a light aircraft
over the rest of the central provinces in the past three weeks is an equally
bleak record of the results of nearly three years of agrarian reform. In
place of mechanical maize planters which put down 20ha of seed a day, thin
old women bent double are planting pip by pip, about half a hectare in the
Many of Mugabe's storm troopers have neither seed nor
fertiliser. They are hanging about scratching at the soil here and there, and
At Lions Den, about 150km north west of Harare, there is
an exception to the desolation, 50ha of young maize, at present overcome with
weeds, planted by higher education minister and president of the Zimbabwe Red
Cross Society, Swithun Mombeshora. Mombeshora, assisted by police from
the provincial capital, Chinhoyi, finally chucked the owners off last
He had an easy start to the season, free land, free
irrigation equipment, plentiful seed and fertiliser.
said: "I don't know about planting in the rest of the province, but I am
Ormeston, the farm he took, has for decades reaped 750ha
of maize and soyas, 80ha of tobacco, and 15ha of export flowers, and in the
winter season just ended, 600ha of wheat.
Contrary to what
Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge told South Africans a couple of weeks ago that
land reform was complete a productive farmer is chased off his land almost
every day, including some who planted summer crops.
It is 33
months since Mugabe launched some veterans of the liberation war onto
white-owned farms. There is nothing to show for it but destruction. The
drought was, in the scheme of things, a sideshow, as Zimbabwe has weathered
But what of the doughty, overcrowded communal farmers
who are capable of producing 800000 tons of maize in a year?
communal farmers are weakened by inflation, which will hit 200% by year end,
and by shortages of inputs. They are also hungry, and their families are
diminished by HIV AIDS. They have no access to dams or irrigation, and
prospects for decent rain this season, are dim.
farmers in Mashonaland West are largely businessmen or politicians who bark
orders down the phone to managers from their suburban homes in the
In the Mazowe Valley last week, west of Harare, is first lady
Grace Mugabe's farm, which she wrenched from a frightened old couple. She
is growing a few hectares of maize, government tractors were ploughing for
her last weekend at a dirt cheap price, and Mugabe's sister, Sabina, is
trying her hand at seed maize on one of several farms she has taken. But none
of them will in the foreseeable future produce enough food, or enough
foreign currency to import what was grown before.
Next year will
not be better. SA maize was trading at R1840 a ton recently. In Zimbabwe, the
monopoly trader, the government's Grain Marketing Board is paying the
equivalent of R220 a ton to local producers who won't grow enough to feed
even a quarter of the population, even in the unlikely event of normal
Thornycroft is a Harare-based journalist.
of the farmers are going to produce enough food, or enough foreign currency,
to import what was grown before
Dec 10 2002 07:33:40:000AM Peta
Thornycroft Business Day 1st Edition
THE government has intensified the price controls policy
by outlawing the rebranding, renaming or repacking of goods specified in
price freeze regulations.
The enabling statutory instrument (SI)
has, however, caused deep confusion among retailers. In the Control of Goods
(Price Freeze) (Amendment) Order (SI 314C of 2002), published last week in an
Extraordinary Government Gazette, the government extended the price freeze
regime to a range of additional target products.
consumable products including beef types, aerated beverages, sugar, salt,
cooking oil, margarine, milk and milk products, wheat flour, yeast, and yarn,
were all frozen last week.
Also frozen were prices for soaps,
washing powder, industrial yarns and waste, window frames and building
Besides widening the list of "controlled goods", the
government introduced a new provision of price control regulations, to clamp
down on the evasion tactics that have been applied by manufacturers
and distributors in their battle for viability.
In the months
after the introduction of the controversial price controls, shortages of
goods on the formal markets became common. The scarce products would,
however, be readily available on the informal markets, but at exorbitant
In supermarkets and other formal purchase centres, the
products were occasionally available, but under new brands and/or sizes, not
appearing on the price control lists. The sellers could then dispose of their
controlled products at higher prices, arguing that the brands and packaging
sizes availed were not controlled.
SI 314C/ 2002 is designed to
counter the evasion strategy.
Section 2 of the Order amends the
original price control SI to read: "No producer or manufacturer of any
service related to the distribution, disposal, purchase and sale of goods
generally which is affected by this order may manufacture, produce or provide
any such good or service under a new name or brand, or in units (whether of
weight, volume or otherwise) not previously offered for sale, except with the
written authority of the Ministry or any person."
provision was blasted by the business people who were contacted for comment
yesterday. They said it entrenched price controls, a policy that had
seriously affected the viability of many businesses.
The Order was
also heavily criticised for the confusion it created for traders. SI
314C/2002 contains numerous mix-ups that defy basic logic. For
instance, the Order pegs the retail price for a 400 gramme 1st Grade Cheddar
cheese packet at $2 539,12. A 200g packet of the same product however costs
more, at $2 590,04; 400g of Gouda (rindless) will cost $2 351,65 but a 200g
packet will cost $2 462,67. According to the same Order $2 284,95 will be the
price for Gouda Wedge, while 200g will cost $2 491,00. Mozzarella is billed
to cost $2 066,73 at 400g, while 200 grammes of the same product is said to
cost $2 161,52.
Prices for numerous other milk and milk products
appear to be mixed up too. An official with the Ministry of Industry and
International Trade said she believed that the pricing anomalies emanated
from "genuine typing errors". "I am sure the cases you have raised are a
genuine mistake. In fact, we also received many calls from people who were
confused about the Order. We are in the process of revising that particular
Statutory Instrument," the official said.
She could not,
however, shed light on the prices that would be valid in the duration between
yesterday and the time of the correction of the mixed-up prices.
"The person who can comment on that issue is currently in a meeting. He will
call you after the meeting to respond to your questions." By the time
of going to press yesterday, the ministry official had not contacted The
Daily News. Shop owners complained that the failure by the ministry to
announce a more reasonable regime on the legitimate prices of goods left them
in a dilemma.
"It does not make sense for me to sell greater
quantities of products at prices that are lower than those charged for lesser
quantities. How shall we explain this to monitors who come with their
non-negotiable price lists?" said a trader in Harare who refused to be
The three price monitors contacted yesterday professed that
they had no knowledge of the contents of the troublesome Order in question.
They refused to answer questions on how they could monitor prices in
ignorance of the relevant pricing laws and regulations.
said the Ministry of Industry and International Trade's failure to respond
meant that "in the meantime confusion will prevail".
Economic turmoil may lead to political uprising, warns
12/10/2002 8:57:56 AM (GMT +2)
Gwari Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE is on the verge of an uprising and
the risk continues to grow by the day as the economy deteriorates further, an
economic consultant has said.
Speaking in an interview with The
Daily News at the sidelines of an annual Budget conference being held in
Harare, Dr Eric Bloch said violence was regrettable and unwelcome, but seemed
much apparent as more and more people become desperate.
"Violence is the last thing we would want, but the risk for an uprising is
growing each day." Bloch said there was no way out for the ruling Zanu PF
government, but to restore the rule of law and once again get on board the
international and donor community.
The economic commentator
predicted that at least 500 000 people, mostly children in the rural areas
would starve to death in the next six months if no immediate intervention was
sought. He said the future was bleak and with the disastrous Budget announced
last month by Dr Herbert Murerwa, the Minister of Finance and Economic
Development, more company closures, marking the total collapse of the
economy, were looming.
At least 250 000 Zimbabweans would lose
their jobs if the government did not swallow its pride and make a shift
towards a total policy change taking into cognisance the needs and
expectations of all key stakeholders comprising business and
Bloch said no less than three million more people across
the country would be forced into destitution as retrenchments and company
closures become the order of the day. Experts suggest that an estimated 60
percent of Zimbabwe's companies would close down by May next year as the
situation becomes worse.
"There is nothing else the government
can do except to restore the rule of law and, most importantly, investor
confidence," he said. David Harrison, a consultant, said price controls, just
as they failed anywhere across the world, would not bear the intended
results. He wondered how government would control prices of end products
without taking into account the cost of production.
said: "Honestly there is no industry that can be expected to run when it is
making losses, companies would just but close due to a hostile
Zimbabwe has been hit by the worst
socio-economic-political crisis ever, mainly characterised by galloping
inflation officially pegged at 144,2 percent, a shortage of foreign currency,
basic commodities and fuel.
Economic analysts have blamed the
appalling state of the economy on the government's arrogance, fiscal
indiscipline and poor policy implementation and co-ordination.
Fearing the risk of growing unpopularity after the 2000
constitutional referendum, the ruling Zanu PF government spearheaded the
chaotic land reform programme.
Despite condemnation both at home
and abroad, President Mugabe's government has defended its stance insisting
it was meant to redress colonial imbalances.
monitoring and surveillance indicates that the country may be headed for yet
another severe drought in the 2002-3 season. Bloch said: "I have been
and remain an advocate for a sustainable, equitable land reform
The economic commentator said in 1958 he presented a
paper to the then Rhodesian government advocating for a just and fair land
reform, but his efforts were rebuffed.
Bloch castigated the
government's programme saying any agrarian revolution did not have to destroy
Poor rains herald bad harvests for countries in southern
12/10/2002 8:56:07 AM (GMT +2)
Mujokoro in Bulawayo
THE Famine Early Warning Systems Network
(FEWSNET) says the poor rains recorded this season could result in another
bad harvest for the southern African region next year.
Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Lesotho and Swaziland more than 14
million people need food aid because of poor harvests in the past farming
While there are wet conditions this week, most parts of the
country have had a dry spell for the past month, with early planted crops
reported to be suffering from moisture stress.
According to the
latest FEWSNET food security report, most of the region had recorded only
between one and 10 mm of rain with "substantially inhibited" rainfall over
parts of South Africa, Zimbabwe and central and southern
The rainfall deficit also covers South Africa's maize
triangle, which usually supplies surrounding countries with the staple grain,
and contributes to relief agencies' stocks. Zimbabwe survived on maize
imports from South Africa at the height of the food crisis early this
So far, there has not been enough rain to plant the maize,
wheat, sunflower, sorghum and soya in South Africa, FEWSNET said. "There has
been no planting in the western Transvaal region, and planting in the east
was weakened by poor rains," Fanie Brink, an official in the South African
grain industry told a South African news agency last week.
northern Mozambique had received rain and made preparations ahead of its
flood season, rainfall in northern Sofala and southern Zambezia in central
Mozambique had been low throughout November, says the report.
not good for next year, it could be potentially very bad," said Owen Calvert,
World Food Programme (WFP) official said. In Malawi, there are similar
concerns and rains were only received during the last week of November. "We
still have the first half of December to plant and after that it will be too
late," said Abdelgadi Musallam, a WFP spokesperson in Malawi.
Predictions from the South African Weather Service were grim. "Rainfall is
definitely going to be below normal, so the prospects for this season are not
good," Shaumani Mugeri, a meteorologist for the South African Weather Service
"What aggravates the matter is that we do have an El Nino in
the region, even though it is moderate, it is going to have an impact on
The Department of Meteorological Services warned this year
that the country would receive normal to above normal rains during the first
half of the season, October to December, while there are chances of receiving
normal rainfall biased towards below normal during the second half of the
season, January to March 2003.
Poor rains in the second half of
the season are associated with the El Nino weather phenomenon, which causes
dry weather conditions in Zimbabwe.
Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing, deceived the nation when he said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
had given Harare City Council US$500 000 (about Z$28 million at the official
exchange rate) for vital water treatment chemicals, said the Executive Mayor
of Harare yesterday.
Chombo, in an interview with the government
newspaper, The Herald, accused the mayor, Elias Mudzuri, of "politicking and
playing politics" over the water crisis in the capital.
challenged Chombo to a live public debate on TV so that Zimbabweans could
judge for themselves who was to blame for the water crisis.
Mudzuri said it was Chombo who was politicising the water issue. He
said his council only received confirmation that the money was available late
on Friday last week.
According to a fax received by the council
from the RBZ on Friday at 5:32pm, the value date of the money, to be used to
buy ecol 2000 to kill algae in raw water and for disinfecting, is only today,
The city applied for the foreign currency on 16 September
2002, and now owes the South African supplier of ecol 2000, Aqua Pro Vitae,
the equivalent of about $32 million in hard currency for previous
"So what did Chombo want me to do within a day?" said
Mudzuri, saying the government itself was struggling with the food shortages
when it was projected long beforehand that there would be a
Mudzuri said even if Chombo were to sack him, he would
leave a happy man knowing he did the right thing in trying to provide
services to the residents.
The council has now issued a
statement inviting all residents, the Combined Harare Residents' Association,
other residents' associations and their affiliates, the business sector,
civic organisations and any other interested people to a public meeting to
hear "the truth behind the current water problem".
will be held at Town House today at 5pm.
Mudzuri said yesterday:
"If they are serious that I am politicising the water issue they should drag
me before national television and ask the residents to question
"I want it to be broadcast live. If they want, I can even
address the nation now, instead of just politicising the situation - and I
want Chombo there.
"He is the minister who should oversee our
success, but he appears to be doing us down."
But the mayor
thanked the President's Office, through Dr Charles Utete, the Secretary to
the President and the Cabinet, for responding quickly to the city's plea for
assistance in securing the foreign currency. The municipality, he said,
required more foreign currency.
Mudzuri said Chombo was to blame
for the water problem.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---- Europe
has the money and the markets the ACP group needs IF THE European Union's
Glenys Kinnock, wife of the former leader of Britain's Labour Party, who lost
to Tony Blair, was ever known for her diplomatic flourish, she isn't any
As an EU MP and co-resident of the parliamentary assembly in which
EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) MPs discuss aid and trade
benefits under the Cotonou Agreement, she handed the Mugabe government a
sensational diplomatic victory last month.
She did this by forcing the
ACP-EU body to split over a procedural matter concerning Zimbabwean
Among the recriminations, anguish and accusations of
neocolonialism, the Zimbabweans were able to hold out the incident as an act
of unanimous solidarity for their own racist policies, which is patently not
The ministers concerned, Paul Mangwana (public enterprises) and
Chris Kurineri (finance and economic planning) are recipients of confiscated
farms and much else besides, and their presence in Brussels was repugnant to
Instead of the EU seeking the support of the joint
EU-ACP assembly in preventing their entry to the EU parliament, Kinnock
announced a unilateral ban.
This enraged the ACP group. An unfortunate
precedent was being created. Many ACP delegates come from countries with
dubious democracies and poor human rights records. Some, like Haiti, Cuba and
Togo, feel they are particularly vulnerable to European censure. They do not
want in future to find that their delegates are individually subject to
The joint executive committee of the joint assembly
(the bureau) met several times, but neither side put forward any serious
compromise. So none was possible.
Further meetings may now be in
jeopardy. For the EU has made it clear that it is in no mood to compromise
where blacklisted Zimbabweans are concerned, regardless of the
The Cotonou agreement itself is not in danger. It is an agreement
among governments subject only to the scrutiny or oversight of this
But negotiations of various regional agreements of great
importance to small countries (especially those in the Southern African
Development Community) that flow from the main agreement may now be harder to
The ACP countries left the meeting in a blaze of
self-righteous indignation, claiming a monopoly on morality, righteousness
and justice. But this victory may be shortlived. The Europeans have the money
and the markets that the ACP countries need.
In the sober light of
their return home, indignation may well turn to recrimination and the road
back to the joint assembly may be filled with more humiliation.
the EU and Mrs Kinnock have certainly sent out a very robust message: any
contact with blacklisted Zimbabwean recidivists will not be countenanced even
if trade relations have to be disturbed and regardless of income disparities
that this may cause between north and south.
But while the question of
Zimbabwe cries out for a solution, it also demands "smart" diplomacy, which
in turn means concentrating on recalcitrant democrats like Thabo
The introduction of a "smart" peer review to take care of ACP
delinquents might not be without merit.
Beginning a process that might
deny a large part of the third world vital sustenance is not a smart way of
forcing Zimbabwean compliance.
For the latter remains oblivious to logic,
suffering or equity while the former will be alienated by an increase in its
own suffering and humiliation.
A STAYAWAY organised by the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA), the Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu), and the MDC to
protest against economic hardships and State repression begins today,
the spokesperson of the coalition, Dr Lovemore Madhuku, said
Madhuku, the chairman of the NCA, said the group agreed
at its meeting yesterday to have a one-day protest today and continue to have
other civil disobedience activities thereafter.
He said: "The
call is to express the people's anger at the deteriorating economic
conditions in this country. It is also a call for an open democracy in our
"We have said it openly that there is an urgent need for a
new constitution that will lead to new elections and we are not compromising
on these key national issues."
Madhuku said the protest action
was supported by many civic organisations, but some had refused to be
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC president, said his party
supported the stance taken by the coalition as it was long
Tsvangirai said: "The MDC supports the people in their
quest for a better future. Mass action is a universal and basic right. The
deteriorating economic situation has reached alarming levels.
"We demand, as a way of correcting glaring anomalies, that the regime desists
from politicising food distribution and allow many actors to procure food and
make it available, at affordable prices, to all."
He called on Zanu
PF to negotiate itself out of "this mess and force Robert Mugabe to
Tsvangirai said the MDC was prepared to support a
resolution of the political impasse through the establishment of a
transitional authority to stabilise the situation, rebuild confidence and
inspire confidence in the political process.
Madhuku said the
stayaway was a just cause and his partners were not worried about the likely
consequences of State repression against them, "because we have been arrested
before and we cannot allow the police to stand in the way of democratic
processes that will also benefit them".
He said today's stayaway
would be thoroughly reviewed and another one will be carried out later this
Lovemore Matombo, the president of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU), said his union supported the stance taken by the
three organisations because the economic situation was deteriorating
He said his organisation was still consulting its
structures through the labour forums but warned that if the government
refused to address their demands, they would resort to the
Matombo said: "Life is difficult for everybody and we
cannot continue to pretend that things are well."
He said the
labour union was asking the government to immediately resume the tripartite
negotiations where the workers were demanding that the minimum wage to be
raised from $8 925 to $31 000.
Matombo said the ZCTU wanted the
government to cut taxes to allow the workers to have better disposable
incomes and to increase the pensions because the pensioners' incomes were
being eroded by the rise in inflation.
The stayaway is likely to be
supported by the employers whose companies face an uncertain future because
of the economic meltdown largely caused by the government's failure to manage
In the past the government has used the Public Order
and Security Act to thwart any protests against its policies and human rights