Hunger as political tool Rachel L. Swarns The New York Times
Friday, December 13, 2002
Opposition says Zimbabwe denies it
INSIZA, Zimbabwe The cornfields that once flourished here are just
memories now. The surging rivers have become sandy grazing grounds where
goats feed on withered grass. . In this village of parched earth and
wilting crops, more than half of all families need emergency food aid to
survive. It is here, amid the hungry and the vulnerable, that members of
Zimbabwe's governing party stand accused of trying to crush their political
rivals by denying them food. . The militants seized sacks of cornmeal and
peas from a UN distribution site and gave them to their supporters, turning
away others because they were followers of the opposition party. . And
in the days before a local election, the governing-party activists kept bags
of food in polling stations, to make their message plain: Vote against the
party of President Robert Mugabe and you will go hungry. . The United
Nations suspended its operations in Insiza in October, protesting "the misuse
of its resources for political ends," and the government promised that it
would not happen again. But the culprits, though known, have not been
arrested. And, at a time when drought and land redistribution have left
nearly half of Zimbabwe's population at risk of famine,
incidents persist. . It is difficult to determine their frequency; they
seem to occur much more often in the distribution of government-bought food
than international aid. But the willingness of at least some officials to
deny food to the opposition shows how rapidly Zimbabwe has transformed itself
from a promising democracy into an authoritarian state. . Mugabe, 78,
who once won praise for building one of Africa's most prosperous and educated
nations, has after 22 years seen his popularity plummet. In a desperate bid
to hold on to power, he has condoned the killings and arrests of scores of
supporters of the opposition over the past three years. . The withholding
of food for political reasons might seem consistent with such tactics. But
officials say the opposition has yet to prove that these problems are
widespread. A senior official recently told Western diplomats that "lessons
had been learnt from the unfortunate incidents" in Insiza. . Despite such
assurances, however, supporters of the opposition in the capital, Harare, and
in other towns say officials still demand party cards at some government
distribution sites to ensure that only Mugabe's supporters buy grain. Here in
Insiza, some frightened people say they have already stopped supporting their
party publicly, to ensure that they will get food when distribution
resumes. . Zimbabwe's catalog of recent changes under Mugabe includes
curbs on political meetings and threats against judges and journalists who
challenge the government. . White farmers have been forced to give
their land to blacks as part of a government effort to undo the legacy of
British colonialism. But the farm seizures and rights violations have
discouraged foreign investment, which has in turn worsened an inflationary
economy. . Yet of all Zimbabwe's problems, it is the politicization of
food that has been ringing alarm bells in Western capitals recently, with
strong statements of concern coming from the United Nations, Europe and the
United States. . Andrew Langa, the governing-party candidate who won
the parliamentary election here in Insiza, says he understands why political
interference happens during food distributions, although he denies using food
to manipulate the voters. . "No one should politicize aid; I'm quite
clear about that," Langa said in an interview. "I represent everybody, all
the citizens of Insiza, and I know they all need food. "But I also understand
how our people feel," he said. . Speaking of the leading opposition group,
the Movement for Democratic Change, and its perceived colonialist ties, he
asserted: "People see the MDC as a British-sponsored party. They're against
land reform, so people regard them as an enemy. So if I have maize and you
and one of my party supporters come to me, who do you think I would sell to
first?" . Supporters of the opposition, for their part, feel crippled by
such attitudes. "My supporters don't come to me now, because they know I
have nothing," said Mathilda Dube, a local opposition official. "They know we
are not allowed food because we are MDC." . So far, there are no signs
of imminent starvation, no hollow faces or emaciated bodies among the people
lining up for food. But malnutrition levels are rising, because many people
subsist on one meal a day. . Western diplomats say that in the
distribution of relief aid - as opposed to government-bought food - incidents
of political interference have been relatively infrequent.
Mugabe's Egyptian bondage needs to be
reviewed ZANU PF holds its National People's Conference in Chinhoyi this
weekend amidst very serious economic and political problems which we hope
will help temper its celebratory mood after a dubious victory in the
March presidential election.
Of particular importance is President
Mugabe's statement that the party would seek at the conference to consolidate
the "gains" made in the past 12 months.
We believe this review period
should cover the entire bloody patch of post-Independence Zimbabwe from the
February 2000 constitutional referendum up to now. The violence that has
taken place during this period is without parallel and has left the nation
more divided than it has ever been since the Gukurahundi massacres of the
It might be convenient in the heat of political polemics
during an election campaign to skirt issues of human rights violations,
claiming that "noone can teach us anything because we brought human rights"
along with Independence in 1980.
President Mugabe's admission that the
atrocities committed in Matabeleland and the Midlands during Gukurahundi
"were an act of madness which should not be repeated" is a case in point. But
worse things have happened on a wider scale since February 2000 when Zanu PF
lost the referendum on a new constitution. The subsequent parliamentary
election in June witnessed unprecedented violence against anyone perceived or
known to sympathise with the opposition MDC.
Many people were
tortured, harassed or killed in cold blood in violation of the constitution
which guarantees every citizen the right to belong to any association of
their choice. Government condoned or even encouraged the setting up of
illegal torture camps across the country by so-called war veterans who became
a law unto themselves. Since that ignominious election, the pattern of
systematic abuse and torture of Zimbabweans has been relentless while Mugabe
and his government have pretended otherwise.
It is our most sincere
appeal to the few men and women of conscience still left in Zanu PF that they
redeem their party's soiled reputation and fight for the restoration of our
civil liberties at the so-called National People' s Conference in Chinhoyi
this weekend. Zimbabweans have been traumatised by the brutality surrounding
by-elections which have become harbingers of violence throughout the country.
They are hungry and need peace in their search for the means of
We cannot continue any longer to pretend that Mugabe is being
deceived by his spin doctors about the state of political lawlessness in the
country. He is fully aware of the Border Gezi militia and its mandate during
elections. The Zanu PF leadership individually and collectively is
responsible for the institutionalised terror that has gripped the country
since 2000 which they justify on the specious grounds that the MDC wants to
return the country to colonial rule.
Nobody seriously buys the
illusion that nearly half the population are puppets of the Tony Blair
government in the United Kingdom.
If the gathering in Chinhoyi cannot
solve our immediate problems of shortages of almost all basic commodities, it
can at the very least devise better strategies of uniting the people in
addressing the nation's multifarious problems. And they must admit that such
a monumental undertaking is hard to achieve when we have consigned much of
our skilled labour to foreign cities across the globe.
significance of Chinhoyi in the liberation of this country is a matter of
record. But we do not believe that those first shots fired against the
settler regime in 1966 were meant to confer the right to belong to only one
We do not believe that the thousands of young men and
women who responded to the call to arms to liberate their country were in any
way inspired by visions of a glorious future under a one-party state which
delivers nothing but hardship.
That is why we find it incomprehensible
that people should be forced to produce the membership card of a political
party before they can receive food bought using their tax dollars or donated
by well-wishers from far off lands.
We hope Mugabe will use this
historical retreat in Chinhoyi not to bury his head in the caves but to
elicit the finest details of what is happening in the country, what people
want and how we can move forward as a united nation in our cultural and
Mugabe boasts that we have all been transformed into
a nation of his cronies; that the damaging land seizures that have left the
countryside around Chinhoyi desolate were the product of the ruling party's
negative view of the British.
These are shocking admissions. But it is
now time to reflect on productivity and rebuilding the economy.
unconscionable that so many years after the liberation war ended Zimbabweans
should be forced by circumstances of virtual servitude to compare their
predicament to the bondage of the Egyptian pharaohs as their search for the
elusive Promised Land continues.
Let's hear less in Chinhoyi about
Mugabe's bitter private war with the British which has brought nothing but
isolation and national destitution and more about what plans he might have
for getting us out of this mess!
Zanu PF in campaign to export land policies Mthulisi
Mathuthu THE ruling Zanu PF party is involved in an international campaign to
sell its controversial land acquisition programme with a view to sparking
similar seizures across the continent. This has not gone down well with the
South African authorities, the Zimbabwe Independent
It emerged this week that President Robert Mugabe's
party was working with the South African opposition party, the Pan Africanist
Congress (PAC), Namibia's Swapo and local NGOs to mobilise like-minded
movements across the region ahead of a land summit scheduled for June next
PAC secretary-general Thami ka Plaatjie confirmed to the
Independent in a telephone interview from Pretoria this week that there was
an all-out effort to forge alliances with other landless people across the
region to work out a "pragmatic solution" to the land
"From our own research there is obviously much land hunger
in the region," he said. "So we are calling for a regional summit to discuss
regional land problems and to review the Zimbabwe exercise and avoid the
Plaatjie, who has repeatedly rapped the South African
government for its slow land reform programme, was in Zimbabwe a fortnight
ago to consult with NGOs and chiefs on the agrarian exercise. He said they
were working with NGOs in Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland whom he declined to
But Zanu PF sources have said the Inyika Trust, Ibbo Mandaza's
Sapes Trust, and the Institute for Public Policy and Research in Namibia who
have called for an international conference on the land question in that
country, are some of the NGOs supporting the project.
linked to the regional land reclamation drive are Africa Strategy and Davira
Mhere which recently held a conference in the United Kingdom to market
Mugabe's controversial programme.
Plaatjie said the agenda of the
land summit will be discussed at the PAC's 8th Congress in Pretoria tomorrow
which will be attended by Zanu PF and the Landless People's Movement (LPM) of
South Africa. He said they were currently scouting for funding for the
regional summit likely to be held in South Africa.
A Zanu PF
source told the Independent that the LPM's Thato Lesupi has been in the
country before while a representative of the Manenzhe Community in the
Limpopo province was expected soon to meet Vice-President Joseph Msika who
chairs the Land Acquisition Committee.
Both the LPM and the Manenzhe
Community under Chief Takalan have been calling for a land summit and have
threatened land invasions Mugabe-style. Zanu PF sponsors their visits to
Zimbabwe, the source said.
The Independent understands that the
Office of the President in Pretoria is deeply concerned by the way in which
the Zimbabwe authorities are encouraging the landless lobby in South Africa
to undertake an agenda that, while embarrassing President Thabo Mbeki,
provides Mugabe with a regional political support
Officers based at the Zimbabwe High Commission in Pretoria
frequently undertake activities that in any other country would be seen as
incompatible with their diplomatic status.
Chinamasa rejects subpoenas in land-grab case Dumisani
Muleya AS legal battles over land seizures continue, cabinet ministers have
been trying to frustrate challenges from farm owners by resisting subpoenas
to appear in court.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and his
counterparts, Stan Mudenge of Foreign Affairs and Environment and Tourism
minister Francis Nhema, have been refusing to give evidence in a legal
wrangle over Leenfontein Ranch, which government is trying to acquire for
The case, which has been dragging on for sometime now,
recently intensified with sharp exchanges between Justice ministry permanent
secretary David Mangota representing government and Advocate Adrian de
Bourbon acting on behalf of Leenfontein.
Correspondence seen by
the Zimbabwe Independent reveals efforts by ministers to interfere with the
Confrontation heightened on October 22 after Mangota
wrote to de Bourbon telling him Mudenge and Nhema would not be able to appear
in court as witnesses because Chinamasa had been chosen by cabinet to
"Following upon a discussion of the matter, it has
been decided that counsels for respondents who desire to call evidence from
cabinet ministers on matters which pertain to the acquisition of land by
government should subpoena the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs," Mangota said.
He told de Bourbon to issue a fresh set of
subpoenas to Mudenge and Nhema but the veteran lawyer was not
"I am sure that your letter under reply was not intended
to convey the view that your ministry will dictate to litigants the identity
of witnesses who can be called to give evidence in any matter before any of
the courts of Zimbabwe," de Bourbon said.
"Not only would that be
arrogant, but it would be contrary to all laws of Zimbabwe, as well as the
constitutional rights of those litigants, and would in effect amount to state
interference with the process of the courts."
Mangota wrote back on
October 25, saying Chinamasa was chosen to represent colleagues in land cases
because he "is thoroughly conversant with all issues which pertain to the
acquisition of land by government".
He, however, returned the
subpoenas for Mudenge and Nhema and advised de Bourbon to issue new ones
directly to the ministers himself.
The same day, de Bourbon replied
to Mangota's letter saying the Justice ministry was partly to blame for
Mudenge's and Nhema's failure to appear in court. But he said he was pleased
to hear Chinamasa was "thoroughly conversant with issues which pertain to the
acquisition of land by government" since nobody else in power actually
appeared to be.
After the two ministers' failure to appear in court
on October 25, the case was postponed to December 2. But only Nhema
Chinamasa refused to do so. Mudenge simply did not
But Mangota was on November 11 forced to retract his claim that
Chinamasa was familiar with all land cases and represented
He said Chinamasa had "advised that he is not conversant
with any factual issues which are involved in the cases which are the subject
of this correspondence". Mangota said Chinamasa also "declines to give
evidence as your client's witnesses or any witness".
Mudzuri inherits $250m debt Augustine Mukaro/Godfrey
Marawanyika THE Elijah Chanakira-led commission which managed the Harare City
Council ran up a $250 million debt before leaving office in March, executive
mayor Elias Mudzuri has said.
The revelation, carried in a circular to
ratepayers, comes at a time when the Minister of Local Government and
National Housing, Ignatius Chombo, is understood to be mulling recommending
the appointment of governors for Harare and Bulawayo as watchdogs over the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change-dominated councils.
move would further balloon the two councils' wage bills.
plans would require legislative approval. As it is, he is only empowered to
"A minister can only appoint a committee or
commission which reports to him when there is a council in place, but as it
is right now, Chombo cannot appoint governors to oversee the operations of
Harare or Bulawayo," said one legal expert.
Some of the names
being bandied around for governor of Harare include former public relations
manager Leslie Gwindi and James Chitauro who is the husband of Zimbabwe's
High Commissioner to Australia and Singapore and a former deputy to
Yesterday Gwindi said he knew nothing about the
In a circular to residents dated November 5, Mudzuri
revealed that the $250 million debt was mainly due to corruption which
affected the undertaking of capital finance projects.
previous council had plunged Harare into a debt of nearly $250
million. Corruption, inefficiency and favouritism had allegedly become
endemic.," Mudzuri said in the circular to ratepayers.
has not been able to raise capital finance to undertake projects for close to
three years. This means capital development had to be met from the rate
account this year."
Mudzuri said central government was no longer
providing funds for capital development - both infrastructure and
superstructural development - yet it had a constitutional obligation to fund
Foreign currency deficit hits US$660m Barnabas
Thondlana ZIMBABWE'S total foreign exchange requirements for the period April
2002 to March 2003 amount to US$1,14 billion, a far cry from the expected
inflows of only US$486,4 million, a Ministry of Finance report
The resultant deficit of US$660 million would be reflected in
critical shortages of essential inputs and a further build up in external
payment arrears. Government was made aware of the situation in June by then
Minister of Finance, Dr Simba Makoni, in a document entitled "Memorandum on
Foreign Currency Position by the Minister of Finance and Economic
"Zimbabwe's foreign currency situation remains
critical, largely as a result of poor export performance coupled with the
drying up of international balance of payments support," Makoni said. "The
country has no usable foreign exchange reserves and this has adversely
affected the capacity to procure critical imports such as drugs, fuel,
electricity and raw materials. This has been compounded by the need to import
According to his memorandum, from January 1 to June 30
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe inflows from gold, tobacco, 40% export proceeds,
currency swaps and other inflows amounted to US$289,8 million. Payments for
the period amounted to the same figure, US$289,8 million - mostly for grain,
fuel, power, currency swaps, water treatment chemicals, gold producers,
tobacco growers, embassies and government commitments.
foreign exchange clearly outweighs supply," Makoni said.
had also failed to meet its foreign payment obligations, resulting in the
suspension of disbursements of critical project-related loans, thus worsening
the balance of payments position. By mid-June 2002, the total external
payments arrears were US$1,03 billion.
The report said operations at
power utility Zesa had been seriously affected by the acute shortage of
foreign exchange to service a debt of US$33,71 million, part of which
stretched back to 2000. The utility's monthly foreign currency requirements
averaged US$12 million, but the Ministry of Finance could only allocate an
average of US$5,3 million from January 2002 leaving a shortfall of US$6,7
million as at June 30.
As a result, HCB of Mozambique, owed US$6,67,
had decided to reduce electricity supplies to Zesa effective from June 30 due
to non-payment. Eskom of South Africa, owed US$5,07 million, decided to make
Zesa an interruptible customer, "which means our supplies can be reduced at
Air Zimbabwe had a debt of US$22,6 million due to the
Export/Import Bank of the United States which had to be paid between June and
"In the event that Air Zimbabwe fails to pay, its
aircraft will be impounded.and result in an immediate global scramble for
Zimbabwe's assets," Makoni said.
The report said over the years
the RBZ had been borrowing foreign currency from local banks to finance fuel,
electricity, drugs and grain and other essential requirements at the expense
of the private sector.
Census omits millions Augustine Mukaro THE
population census carried out in August left millions of people uncounted,
especially displaced commercial farm workers and the newly-resettled farmers,
it emerged this week.
Over three million people are suspected to have
slipped through the 2002 census net cast between August 17/27, resulting in a
serious underestimation of the Zimbabwe population put at 11,6
Demographers said millions of people could have been left
out of the enumeration because of the maps used, unqualified personnel and
an inflation-eroded budget allocated to the exercise.
used in the exercise did not take cognisance of the displacements taking
place on the commercial farms," one demographer said.
"Over 150 000
farm workers were displaced as farms were designated and that figure is
multiplied by six to include the worker and at least six of his dependants,"
"This effectively means plus or minus 900 000 people were
not counted from the commercial farming area alone. Remember the figure does
not include the farmers themselves who were staying at friends' places in
town and the newly-resettled farmers in unserviced bush," he
Census manager Washington Mapeta conceded there were
discrepancies in the final figure but denied they would make a big
"The maps we used at ward level date back to 1979,"
Mapeta said. "We started upgrading the maps in 1999 to prepare for the
exercise. The maps originated from the surveyor-general as well as provincial
and district offices throughout the country," he
Demographers said the two-and-a-half years of map-updating took
place before the peak of farm invasions, making the whole process irrelevant
since there was massive movement of people.
Mapeta said the
enumerators in all census exercises should ideally be people who knew the
life patterns of the people and the areas they were enumerating to avoid
"One was supposed to be employed in that area to
qualify to be one of the enumerators, which explains why the bulk of our
enumerators were teachers, nurses and Arex officers," he
However, population experts said in the case of displaced
people or resettled farmers, no-one knew the area because the whole process
"We can safely say the census was a non-event
because it was carried out when the country was going through uncontrolled
movements of people," one expert said.
"If the figure of 11,6
million Zimbabweans leaked to the Herald is anything to go by, then the
census would have been a waste of resources and time because that is far from
the truth, even excluding those living out of the country."
said he was not in a position to comment on the figures published by the
Herald since his superiors were handling it.
"I can't comment on the
Herald story, but we will be releasing our preliminary findings by the end of
this month," he said.
Mapeta said the whole process would be
completed in 2005 with analysis of the data being the last stage.
STUDENT leaders yesterday questioned the government's motive
in spending millions of dollars in the so-called national youth
service programme, and not on the needs of students in tertiary
"The government is failing to cater adequately for
students' needs at all levels, but has money to feed the Border Gezi militia
students," the students leaders said in a petition handed to Dr Swithun
Mombeshora, the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education.
Mombeshora was in Mutare to officially open a three-day national students'
"As the intellectuals of the nation, we need
to know what this programme is all about and its relevance, the syllabus and
the effects it has on those who would have decided not to enrol for it," the
The petition was signed by student leaders from the
University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University, Masvingo University
College, Bindura University of Science Education, Seke Teachers' College,
Belvedere Teachers' College and Chinhoyi Teachers' College.
students are viewing this programme with a lot of suspicion and feel it is
being used to brainwash and indoctrinate students," the
Mombeshora declined to commit himself on the
petition. He told the students attending the conference that the officials
responsible for the programme would clarify the matter to them.
An official from the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment
Creation was yesterday scheduled to address the students. Youths from
the Border Gezi youth training centre in Mt Darwin have been accused of
beating up people suspected to be members of the MDC. "We are very
sorry and concerned with what happened to recent graduate nursing students
whose certificates and transcripts were withheld, till they complete national
service," the student leaders said. "It is at least better to introduce this
programme as a module, which is optional, and not to make it compulsory,
assuming there is a need to introduce it at all."
leaders complained that government security agents were victimising students.
They said the siting of police posts at academic institutions was aimed at
instilling fear among the students.
Sir, Over thirty years ago C. Northcote Parkinson wrote about `The Law
of delay.' I am asking if you have encountered Mr. Parkinson's works
and ideas, and will quote the little bit which I think might interest you
and your Learned Council.
`There is nothing static in our changing
world and recent research has tended to show that the Abominable No-man is
being replaced by the Prohibitive Procrastinator. Instead of saying "No" the
Prohibitive Procrastinator says "In due course," foreshadowing Negation by
Delay. The theory of Negation by Delay depends upon establishing a rough idea
of what amount of delay will equal negation. If we suppose that a drowning
man calls for help, evoking the reply "In due course," a judicious pause
of five minutes may constitute for all practical purposes, a
negative response. Why? Because the delay is greater than the
non-swimmer's expectation of life. The same principle holds good in a case at
law. Delays are thus deliberately designed as a form of denial and are
extended to cover the life expectation of the person whose proposal is
being pigeon-holed. Where the urgent matter requires remedial legislation,
delay takes on a new dimension. The judicious pause will
correspond, nevertheless, to the life expectation of the man from whom the
proposal originates. DELAY IS THE DEADLIEST FORM OF DENIAL.'
problem that many evicted farmers are faced with is that they are not sure
how many "Abominable No-men" or "Prohibitive Procrastinators" sit on your
Council. I believe that Mr. Parkinson touched on the core when he wrote
"requires remedial legislation."
Sometime in the future, the farmers will
find out the truth. Sometime in the future a large number of ordinary people
will also find out the truth. Sometime in the future we will see if it is
true that over six million people face starvation (or do not?) in Zimbabwe.
Sometime in the future, there is a chance that some people will ask if the
CFU President and Council were in fact "Prohibitive Procrastinators" - in the
classical sense mind you - when six million starving people `called for
help.' (never mind the farmers when they called for help!)
farmers the `judicious pause' has been about thirty four months,
I think. For the starving people, the `judicious pause' has been long
enough for some to die, I believe.
Mr. President, Sir, please give a
little thought to Mr. Parkinson's words. He seems to have quantified the
immense power of "Procrastination" and a "Judicious Pause." It would be most
unfortunate to have these three words associated with the CFU, or Council, or
yourself - if people die of starvation in Zimbabwe, this year, and
faithfully, J. L.
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WELLINGTON Chibhebhe, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general and eight other union leaders, who were
arrested by the police on Monday while attending a labour meeting, were
yesterday released by the police without being charged.
lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said the State wanted them charged under Section 5
of the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
facts were not in order. It will follow them by way of summons, should it
find anything that is worth charging, but it said they will be charged under
section five of POSA," Muchadehama said.
Section five of POSA,
among other things, says it is a crime to organise or to suggest the
organisation or setting-up of any group with a view to overthrow or attempt
to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means.
guilty the offender is liable to imprisonment for a maximum sentence of 20
years without the option of a fine.
The ZCTU meeting was held on
the eve of a failed national stayaway called by the National Constitutional
Assembly. Chibhebhe and his colleagues came to the Rotten Row Magistrates'
Courts around 4pm in an open truck when the sky was showing that it would
rain at any minute. They were ordered to remain in the vehicle. After about
half an hour they were told to alight and go home.
complained of the conditions they were subjected to while in police
custody."The cells were filthy and we were literally living in human waste.
We were not given blankets and mosquitoes feasted on us,"
He was detained at the notorious Matapi Police
Station in Mbare. The unionists were transferred to Harare Central Police
Station yesterday before appearing in court in the afternoon.
Tuesday, Lovemore Matombo, the ZCTU president, reacted angrily to the arrest
of the unionists.He said they were attending a legitimate workshop on
strategic planning at Adelaide Acres near Boka Tobacco Auction Floors along
the Masvingo-Harare highway when they were arrested.
introduction of price controls has led to a critical shortage of cotton wool
in Mutare. The wool is used by most women, as an alternative to sanitary
Sanitary pads are expensive and beyond the reach of most
women, the majority of whom are hard-pressed for cash in the deteriorating
Craig Hodgson, the managing director of Innsco
Distribution, a Harare-based company that markets healthcare products -
including cotton wool and sanitary pads - attributed the prevailing shortages
to both price controls and a ravaging drought. Hodgson said poor cotton
yields caused by the drought have led to reduced production of cotton-related
He said: "We are entitled to sell 100 grams of cotton
wool at $29,72, yet that is the price we pay when we purchase cotton from our
suppliers - which is impossible for us to run a business."
Currently, 100 grams of cotton wool costs about $250 on the
Hodgson said: "For the last seven months, we
were not selling anything and we have lost millions of dollars during that
He said while the reason the government introduced price
controls, initially in February this year and expanded the products' list in
November, was an attempt to control inflation, the end result had been an
escalation in the rate of business failures - a majority of which cannot
continue to operate unviably.
On 15 November, through Statutory
Instrument 301 of 2002, the government expanded the list of products and the
duration of the price controls regime by six months.
statutory instrument reads: "With effect from the fixed date (Friday 15
November 2002) and for a period of six months thereafter no person shall
provide any service related to the distribution, disposal, purchase and sale
of goods generally at a charge exclusive of sales tax which exceeds the
charge at which he provided at a service or a similar service."
THE government's crackdown on Bulawayo's illegal foreign
currency dealers has hit a snag, as the Vapostori women have abandoned the
streets to operate from their houses and offices in the city
The women, the major players in the business, were easily
identified by their long, white robes. They are no longer seen on the streets
where they conducted their business before the government ordered an end
to foreign currency agencies on 30 November.
The women vowed
then that the police would never stop their operations, and that their
business would still flourish despite repeated arrests and harassment by Zanu
Sibekiwe Ndebele, one of the foreign currency dealers,
said defiantly this week: "Police have long been on the warpath against us,
but they must surely admit we're cleverer than they are.
only thing they have succeeded in doing is to drive us underground. Most of
us are now operating from our houses while some liaise with shop owners in
town to do their business safely."
She said most of the women no
longer wore their usual long, white dresses. She said shop owners were paid a
fee by those they offered rooms in which to do their business.
Another dealer, identifying herself only as Rukweza, said business was still
booming as they received more clients from South Africa and Botswana. "There
is more business these days because people are coming home for Christmas,
especially those working in South Africa and Botswana. Now that the police do
not want to see us on the streets, we now operate safely from our houses, and
our clients are fully aware of that development," she said.
The fuel situation
worsened in most parts of the country yesterday as the long queues of
vehicles which began on Monday could be seen at the few service stations that
had petrol in Harare and other cities and towns.
motorists spent the greater part of yesterday in the queues, with some saying
they had spent the night parked at service stations after being promised
petrol by the suppliers.
"I spent the whole night parked here,"
said Merlba Snell, of Waterfalls.She said she had gone without petrol for
three full days and decided to spend the night at the service station after
learning that there would be deliveries yesterday.
Chisongo, who runs a fleet of commuter omnibuses in Warren Park, said he lost
a lot of business yesterday because of the fuel crisis. "We can't go on
like this. This is a crisis and our government appears to be taking it easy.
Something should be done. The government is to blame," he said.
Most service stations had run out of petrol with only a few
offering diesel.The pattern was the same in Bulawayo, Mutare and
Reports from the Midlands say only one service station,
Mobil Mart, had fuel in Kwekwe yesterday and hundreds of motorists queued for
it the whole day.
There has been no petrol in Mvuma and Gweru
since Sunday and this has greatly affected business.The National Oil Company
of Zimbabwe, Noczim and Amos Midzi, the Minister of Energy and Power
Development have made no statements on the crisis, while motorists and
commuters are worried that they might spend a dry festive season.Meanwhile, a
Harare motorist yesterday survived what could have been a fuel-related death
when a long distance truck rammed into the left side of his vehicle in a fuel
queue along Samora Machel Avenue.
Hundreds of motorists spent
most of the day blocking part of Samora Machel.
constable, who only identified herself as Constable Jura, confirmed the
accident. Joseph Kanguwo, the truck driver with Freightliner Transport of
Ruwa, said the accident occurred when he tried to avoid a car in a fuel queue
at the corner of Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way.
AIR Zimbabwe's recently appointed managing director, Rambai Chingwena, has
set himself very high targets - a money-spinning national airline within the
next six months.
Chingwena said he wanted to ensure that Air
Zimbabwe became one of the elite African airlines which maintained regional
routes and well-equipped maintenance bases.
He said despite
criticism that they had been sending their planes to South Africa for routine
A, B and C checks, it was common practice in the airline business to service
aeroplanes at the best air bases.
"The 15 engineers we hired from
South African Technical are some of the best in the world," Chingwena said.
"We will continue to send our planes to South Africa for maintenance because
they have everything that we don't have. They possess Joint Aviation
Regulations 145, the highest international standard that can be achieved by
any maintenance base under the sun."
He said the South African
engineers had the advantage of possessing Federal Aviation Airways
qualification, an American qualification that is unmatched anywhere in the
Chingwena said the standards of servicing their planes would
be much improved within the next six months once their capacity-building
exercise had been completed.
He said they were training 80
of their new engineers to match the South Africans. He said they had a
training school that produced hundreds of engineers for the airline,
including the 139 engineers who went on strike, before 89 of them were
"We have a serious programme of equipping our
engineers with international qualifications," he said. "The engineers will be
fully geared to carry out A and B checks. Afterwards, we will depend less and
less on the South Africans."
An "A" check is undertaken after a
plane has flown for about 200 hours
and a "B" check is carried out after
flying for about 400 hours. During a "C '"check, a major check, a plane is
stripped and serviced after about 6 000 flying hours.
born on 30 November 1960 at Nyadire Hospital in Mutoko, said he believed in
success and would not accept any failure. Chingwena was born to Boniface
Batanai and Mary Chinhamo, both career teachers.
"I just believe in
being forthright, hard work and treating people fairly," he said. "I am very
dependent on my extended family."He is married to Florence Tafadzwa and has
two children. His hobbies include reading and travelling.
started his primary schooling at Manhemba School and completed his Grade 7 at
Chitimbe School in 1973, before enrolling for his secondary school at
Hartzell High School in Mutare, which he attended between 1974
He said: "Because of the war, l could not complete my
Advanced Levels at Hartzell and did not want to be conscripted into the
Rhodesian Army. I was given a scholarship to complete my Advanced Levels at
Park Lane College in the United Kingdom before l returned to undertake law
studies at the University of Zimbabwe from 1982 to 1985."
after completing his law studies in 1985, Chingwena worked with a Harare law
firm as a legal practitioner until 1988, when he became the senior legal
officer (industrial relations) at the Posts and Telecommunications
Corporation for one year.
In 1986, he was admitted as a legal
practitioner in the High Court. He is a member of the Law Society of Zimbabwe
Afterwards, he became the corporate secretary and legal adviser
at the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe for seven years.
Since June 1996 he has been the general counsel and corporate secretary for
Air Zimbabwe, until his recent appointment.
Chingwena acted as the
chief executive of the national airline between February 1999 and June 1999,
and again between November 2000 and September 2002 before his appointment as
the managing director of the airline on 1 October.
GABRIEL Chaibva, the MDC's shadow MP for Local Government, Public Works and
National Housing, yesterday apologised to the nation and to his colleagues in
the opposition party for being absent from Parliament when he was expected to
move a motion on the water crisis in the Greater Harare area.
Chaibva (Harare South) was outside the House after moving notice to debate on
adjournment on a matter of urgency, the water problem.
in an interview yesterday: "It was a grave error on my part. I shoulder the
blame. It was such an important motion that I should never have left
Parliament, even to go to the toilet.
"As a leader, I have learnt
to accept both victories and setbacks and this was one of the setbacks.
Yesterday (on Tuesday), the devil was with the Zanu PF government and they
were very, very lucky that I failed to move the motion."
regretted that he failed to move the motion after convincing his fellow MPs
in the MDC, without even calling for a caucus of the party's MPs. Edna
Madzongwe, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, on Tuesday called on MPs to take
the business of the House seriously and justify their election, after Chaibva
failed to turn up to move his motion in the House.
supposed to have called on the government to make available foreign currency
for the upgrading of the city's water treatment plant and the procurement of
water purification chemicals, as well as to stop the political bickering over
the water crisis.
Chaibva said the reason for the water supply
problem in Harare was the lack of foreign currency to import the vital
chemicals, as the country was bankrupt due to bad governance.
Harare Executive Mayor Elias Mudzuri has already applied for the equivalent
of $757 829 520 at the official exchange rate in foreign currency from Dr
Leonard Tsumba, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, for the council
to buy the chemicals for next year, he said.
"May I also take this
opportunity to advise you of the city's foreign currency requirements for the
year 2003," reads Mudzuri's letter to Tsumba, dated 15 November
"I hope this will enable you to plan ahead to ensure that
adequate stock levels are maintained for all essential chemicals."
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday addressed Zanu PF's politburo
and central committee, the party's highest organs, ahead of its Sixth
People's Conference to be officially opened tomorrow at Chinhoyi State
The ruling party's annual conference comes at a time
when the country is facing serious shortages of fuel and almost all basic
commodities including the staple maize-meal.
The politburo and
central committee meetings which took place yesterday morning and afternoon
respectively and were addressed by Mugabe were meant to discuss the agenda of
the conference and also to try to find a solution to the rapidly declining
economy.Philip Chiyangwa, the chairman of Mashonaland West province which is
hosting the conference, said 3 000 delegates from Zanu PF's 10 provinces
would be attending it.
Chiyangwa said: "So far things are going
well." He said that the conference would discuss the state of the economy,
the land reform programme, the shortage of basic food commodities, and try to
work out solutions to these issues.
Zimbabwe is facing one of
its worst economic crises ever, with the official inflation rate at 144,2
percent. Economic analysts put it at 300 percent and project that the
inflation rate will rise further next year.
Attempts by the
government to control the prices of basic commodities such as cooking oil,
mealie-meal and bread have failed because the items are scarce and when they
are available, they are very expensive.
Where maize-meal has been
made available, Zanu PF has not been ashamed to deny its political opponents
access to it on the basis that they did not have Zanu PF membership
There have also been accusations that in some parts of
Masvingo, Zanu PF supporters were allegedly forcing civil servants to
contribute money for its conference in Chinhoyi.
controversial fast-track land reform programme has not helped the situation
either, as nearly seven million people are facing severe food shortages due
to drought and the topical land programme.Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, the Zanu PF
spokesperson, said that the issue of Mugabe's retirement would not come up
for discussion because he was elected to lead the party until its next
congress in 2005.The Zanu PF congress, which takes place every five years,
was last held in December 2000. Mugabe and his leadership were elected by the
delegates to lead Zanu PF for the next five years.
and starvation are driving Zimbabweans into marriages of convenience with
refugees at Tongogara refugee camp in Chipinge.
David Mlambo, the
camp's administrator, confirmed this week that several women from the
surrounding villages had married refugees in order to benefit from the food
guaranteed for the exiles.
Mlambo said: "Once they are married and
are accommodated at the camp, there is very little we can do. We can't stop
them from receiving the food relief. It's just impossible. Some refugees have
gone to the extent of paying lobola for the Zimbabwean brides they bring to
live with them at the camp. My hands are tied."
A woman, who
refused to be identified, said she married a refugee after she learnt there
were monthly deliveries of food at the camp.
Asked whether she
loved the man, she said: "Well, I have no choice but to love him. If I do not
show him love, he will simply kick me out of here and I'll starve. Nobody
wants to die of hunger, but the situation is so bad that it's now a game of
About 800 000 people in Manicaland face hunger,
starvation and possible death amid reports that food relief is not reaching
the needy, because it is being distributed among millers, Grain Marketing
Board officials, so-called war veterans, youths from the Border Gezi
training programme and politicians, who sell it on the black market above
the government-regulated price.
Oppah Muchinguri, the Governor
of Manicaland Province, last week attacked police officers she alleged were
involved in shady deals over maize-meal.
Tongogara is home to at
least 800 displaced people from countries such as Somalia, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and Mozambique.
Through World Vision, a non-governmental organisation, refugees receive salt,
sugar, cooking oil, maize-meal and bath and washing soap monthly - all
commodities in short supply in the country. But the refugees have complained
the rations are not enough.
"We need bread," said Aloysie Ingabire
of Rwanda. "Bread is a luxury here. There is no meat so we have to rely on
those who go into the villages to buy beasts and later sell the beef to us.
We do not even know whether the beef is suitable for human
Women with babies strapped to their backs were
loitering around the camp when The Daily News crew visited Tongogara refugee
camp this week. Of every four people interviewed, one turned out to be
Zimbabwean. Some said they lived in the camp with their relatives, while
others said they were married to the refugees.
refugees celebrated a belated World Aids Day and 23 of them volunteered to be
tested for HIV/Aids.
The tests were conducted by officials from the
New Start Centre in Mutare. At least 400 people attended the
Traditional dancers thrilled the enthusiastic crowd.
Children held placards written "Think before you act, Aids kills" and "Stop
pointing fingers, Aids is like any other disease".
has strongly condemned Zanu PF for harassing its mayors and meddling in the
MDC-led municipal councils' affairs.
The party described the
harassment as a "desperate and deliberate ploy to frustrate the smooth
operations" of the councils led by the MDC.
In an interview on
Wednesday, Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC spokesman, said Zanu PF had been on
the warpath against "democratically elected MDC mayors to hinder them from
efficiently delivering services so that the people would conclude that those
mayors are failures and then pass a vote of no confidence in
The MDC, which has a strong base in urban areas, has mayors
heading councils in Bulawayo, Harare, Chegutu, Masvingo and
Most MDC-led councils have been on a collision course
with Zanu PF top officials, with the mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri,
constantly clashing with Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government,
Public Works and National Housing over council issues.
has accused Zanu PF of plotting to oust Mudzuri and Francis Dhlakama, the
mayor of Chegutu, and has called on Chombo to stop interfering in Harare's
City Council operations.
"The pattern is the same; Zanu PF has
launched a desperate and deliberate strategy to thwart all MDC mayors from
operating conveniently so that it would appear as if they are failing to run
their councils, and then lose popularity with the people," said
He urged the public to show solidarity with the MDC, to
remain patient and support their mayors to resist the domination and
interference of Zanu PF in council proceedings.
He said: "People
have to condemn Zanu PF hypocrisy, and help the MDC mayors to fight the
battles they are currently embroiled in against Zanu PF."
should be patient and give the mayors a chance to do the best they
Nyathi described the situation in Harare as "sad" and said
that people's lives were compromised by politicians who wanted to
bring Mudzuri into disrepute.
Since last week, a health hazard
has loomed in Harare as there has been an acute shortage of clean water. The
crisis has reportedly been caused by lack of water treatment chemicals, and
the MDC says the shortage is a "deliberate conspiracy" by Zanu PF and the
chemical manufacturing companies to turn the city residents against the
"The situation in Harare is very sad, and It
is a pity that we have become so compassionless and partisan that
people's lives can be compromised in such a manner," said
He condemned the vicious attack on the Chegutu mayor,
Francis Dhlakama, on 29 November by a mob of Zanu PF youths who held him
hostage for hours.
Meanwhile, the MDC lashed out at the orders
by the government for the mayors to report to district administrators
Nyathi said: "The decision is the most offensive development
that Zanu PF has brought about, and it is contemptuous of the people. It is a
clear indication that the ruling party holds the people in such contempt it
has decided to impose unelected people over duly elected ones.
"In fact, DAs are juniors to mayors, and what Zanu PF has done is an insult
to the people."
THE Zapu president, Agrippa Madlela, has called on the
people of Matabeleland to continue fighting Zanu PF and not individuals, as
debate on the marginalisation of the region continues.
debate on the alleged deliberate marginalisation of Matabeleland by Zanu PF
has been re-ignited by a document, purportedly written by Zanu PF, to review
its alleged Grand Plan of 1979 which sought to deliberately sideline
Matabeleland in economic development and education.
In an interview
in Bulawayo this week, Madlela said as people discuss the document, they
should be careful not to blame it on everyone who speaks Shona but interpret
it as a Zanu PF scheme.
Madlela said: "As we talk about this
document, which sounds authentic to me as I can see most of the things listed
happening every day, people should gear themselves to deal with the system of
governance which Zanu PF has visited on the region since 1980. They should
target the system.
"We have always said that the only way to solve
this problem is by a system of federal governance. That is the only way to
get rid of such problems which really constitute a threat to national
security and coherence."
He said federalism was not a new idea,
as it had been tested in South Africa and other countries with diverse ethnic
groups and histories. "Federalism is the only solution. Anyone who
dreams of holding together a country where one group is being milked of its
resources by another would be fooling themselves.
"In that case,
Zanu PF should just swallow its pride and give Matabeleland autonomy."Madlela
said he viewed Matabeleland as a territory colonised by Zanu PF. "Colonialism
takes away a people's right to control and benefit from their resources. In
Matabeleland, we of Zapu will continue to advocate federalism. People have
this problem of viewing anyone who talks about equitable distribution of
resources as a secessionist, but I think it only demonstrates how
shallow-minded our leaders are. "Can you say South Africa and Nigeria are
tribalistic states because they have federal governments?" he
Madlela accused Zanu PF of behaving like a colonial power
by plundering the resources and killing the identity of Matabeleland. "Zanu
PF colonialism in Matabeleland is as evil as the British colonialism from
which we fought to liberate this country. But we did not liberate it to
deliver Matabeleland into subjugation by Zanu PF.
people like to hear it or not, the truth is that Matabeleland is not
different from the occupied territories of Palestine. Instead of asking who
wrote the document or debating the authenticity of its content, we should
look at what is happening on the ground and find ways of correcting it in as
peaceful a manner as we can.
"We do not want this country to end up
in strife as is happening in Palestine, but if we do not act now, history
will be there to judge us correctly as failures, people who cite -isms, as
reasons for failing to confront our own reality," he said.
the arrest of Paul Siwela and George Mkhwananzi for allegedly calling on the
people of Matabeleland to take up spears and fight Zanu PF hegemony, Madlela
said he could not comment as he was not privy to what Siwela had
"I don't know what Siwela said, but I'm surprised that Zanu
PF can arrest somebody who was hobnobbing and toyi-toyiing with them only a
few months ago."
"Both Siwela and Mkhwananzi have not hidden
their sympathy for Zanu PF and their hatred for the MDC. I feel the party is
using its own cadres to scare people into silence. I do not think the two
have suddenly realised that they were supping with the very devil they are
supposed to fight," Madlela said.
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) yesterday admitted that it had failed
to properly organise Tuesday's stayaway to protest against worsening economic
Lovemore Madhuku, the NCA national chairman, said the
stayaway failed because there was lack of substantive consultations among the
The abortive mass protest action was backed
by the MDC, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Zimbabwe
National Students' Union.
Madhuku said: "It is true that we failed.
The truth, though, is that we succeeded in raising people's hopes for change.
It is hoped that these demonstrations will gain momentum."
he said the failed mass action had exposed the government's fear of a mass
uprising by citizens tired of repression and abuse of
Madhuku said the government panicked and deployed
its repressive machinery in anticipation of the planned
"The panic by the State is what we really desired," he
said. "We want the public to see that the State is no longer confident with
its rule. Zimbabweans saw for themselves that zizi harina nyanga (the
government is not as fearsome as it projects itself to be). That was a
political victory for us."
He said next year they would engage
in confrontational and more organised demonstrations.
said it was ironic for the government to dismiss the protest action as having
been a failure when it had arrested senior trade unionists, and continued to
arrest NCA officials countrywide.
Wellington Chibhebhe, the
secretary-general of the ZCTU, and eight other union leaders were on Monday
arrested while attending a labour meeting in Harare.
Masvingo, Felix Mafa, the NCA provincial chairman, and another official were
arrested for allegedly organising the stayaway. But they were all
released without being charged.
"Our objective is to expose the
government for what it is to the public - a panicking regime, afraid of its
people," he said. "In so doing that will only increase Zimbabweans'
determination to rid themselves of this illegitimate regime that thrives on
force to rule."
The NCA is a coalition of civic organisations,
churches, labour unions, political parties and individuals pushing for a