Thu 1 December 2005
HARARE - A white safari lodge operator is suing Zimbabwe's army and
the police for allegedly looting property worth US$25 000 from his lodge
during chaotic farm invasions between 2000 and 2004.
The case being heard in High Court Judge Tedius' Karwi's chambers
today is the first time that any of Zimbabwe's about 4 000 expelled white
commercial farmers, game and safari operators has sued security forces for
theft of property during government farm seizures.
There have been countless reports in the past in which police and army
officers were accused of either standing by while President Robert Mugabe's
supporters looted farm equipment and household property from white farmers
or actively participated in the theft of property themselves. The security
forces have however denied such reports.
In the case before Karwi, Wally Johnson, claims that members of the
army, police, secret service and officials of the government's Agriculture
and Rural Development (ARDA) on several occasions illegally evicted him from
his Mwenje Lodge which he operated on a portion of former opposition
legislator, Roy Bennett's Charleswood estate in Chimanimani district.
Johnson, a Zimbabwean-born British national, had a High Court order to
remain on the property and on each of the occasions he was forced out, would
return to continue with his business.
But Johnson claims the security and police officers as well as the
ARDA officials would each time they forced him off the property take
advantage of his absence to loot the lodge.
He told ZimOnline: "The claim is against the police, army and ARDA for
theft of my possessions from the lodge which amounted to about US$25 000."
It was not possible to immediately get comment from Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri or the Ministry of Defence and ARDA who are
all cited as respondents in the matter.
Johnson, who was a chief superintendent in the police force of Ian
Smith (prime minister of Rhodesia before it became independent Zimbabwe),
temporarily left the country two years after the 1980 independence from
He said when he attempted to return several years later, he was told
to first invest US$125 000 in the country through the Zimbabwe Investment
Centre which he promptly did by building his Mwenje Lodge. The lodge is now
state property after the government finally took control of Charleswood
estate after it controversially amended the constitution to bar courts from
contesting the seizure of their land by the state.
Under the new law, the courts can however still hear appeals
contesting the amount of compensation regarding improvements such as
buildings, roads and dams built on farms.
Mugabe has said the farm seizures were necessary to ensure that
previously disadvantaged blacks also got some of the best arable land which
successive former colonial governments had reserved for whites. But the
failure by Mugabe's government to support newly resettled black farmers with
skills training and inputs has seen food production declining by about 60
percent since the farm seizures, leaving Zimbabwe dependent on food aid. -
Thu 1 December 2005
HARARE - For 26-year old Lovemore and his wife Rhodah Bususa, the
birth of their baby would ordinarily have been a joyous moment, a
fulfillment of a long cherished dream.
But after the "hell" they went through over the past nine months, and
the amount of debts they have incurred borrowing money to pay antenatal
bills and costs, this young couple insist they will think again before
deciding to have another baby.
"I am no longer enthusiastic about a second baby because the cost is
just beyond my reach," Lovemore says, as he gently swings in his hands his
two-week old son they have named Tanyaradzwa, a Shona name which means we
have been consoled.
Nine months ago, Rhodah together with her husband, began the long
process of preparing for the birth of their son. Little did they realise
that at the end of it all, they would be left battling to keep afloat in the
quicksand of mounting debts because of soaring maternity costs.
After realising that she was expecting, Rhoda's first port of call was
a clinic in the poor suburb of Kuwadzana where the couple stays.
But all was not well at the run-down government clinic as nurses were
on industrial action to press for more pay and improved working conditions.
Strikes by nurses and doctors at public health institutions - the
source of health services for the majority of Zimbabweans - have become
routine as the country's six-year economic crisis bites harder.
The economic crisis, which critics blame on mismanagement by President
Robert Mugabe, has spawned hyperinflation of beyond 400 percent, acute
shortages of food and just about every basic survival commodity to make life
unbearable for most Zimbabweans.
For the Bususas, the nurses' strike was only a harbinger of worse
trouble to come. For starters, the admittances clerk at the clinic told them
they would need to pay a $500 000 admittance fee, a massive figure given
that the money was only for Rhoda to be admitted into the clinic on her due
date. She would have had to pay more to receive any treatment or service.
The couple left the Kuwadzana clinic in search of a better deal
But they were in for a shock when they visited a private clinic famed
for its excellent services. First they were told that they needed to part
with a whopping $4 million in shortfalls on their medical aid policy in
addition to paying an initial $500 000 admittance fee.
All this would be in addition to various amounts of consultation fees
to be paid each time Rhoda would visit the gynecologist for regular
"Every time my wife visited the doctors, we would be required to pay a
certain amount towards medical aid shortfall, because medical aid societies
do not fully cover the costs," said Lovemore.
In addition to the various sums the private clinic required, the
father-to-be was given a long list of requirements for maternity patients
that the clinic said were necessary in keeping with its high standards.
These included several sets of high quality diapers, vests, baby oils
and jelly all costing beyond $10 million.
Added together the total bill at the well-equipped private clinic
would amount to more than $15 million or more than five times the three
million dollars Lovemore takes home as a government administrative clerk.
The other option - which is what Lovemore and his unemployed wife had
to settle for - was to simply put the fate of both mother and unborn child
in God's hands, take the risk and go back to the government clinic in
The safety of the mother and baby would definitely be at risk given
the shortage of essential medicines at the government clinic and a
But such is the hard choice many of Zimbabwe's expecting mothers have
to make as the country's six-year economic crisis cripples the public health
sector, the source of health service for most people, while driving costs at
the better equipped private clinics even further beyond the reach of the
poor. - ZimOnline
Thu 1 December 2005
HARARE - The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an application by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) seeking a review of an Electoral Court
ruling last March allowing a jailed opposition politician to contest a
parliamentary election held that month.
In a judgment that immediately drew the ire of President Robert
Mugabe, Electoral Court Judge Tendai Uchena said main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change party member, Roy Bennett, could represent the
opposition party in Chimanimani constituency even though he was a prisoner.
Bennett, then Member of Parliament for Chimanimani, was completing
serving a one-year jail term imposed on him by Parliament for violently
shoving Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa during debate in the House.
An angry Mugabe publicly criticised Uchena's ruling calling it an act
of "madness", forcing the judge to make a U-turn, announcing a few days
later that he was suspending his own ruling, a decision which effectively
made it impossible for Bennett to stand in the poll.
Bennett's wife Heather, went on to contest the Chimanimani
constituency on an MDC ticket but lost to ZANU PF's Samuel Undenge.
The ZEC, clearly worried by the precedent set by Uchena's judgment
that prisoners could contest elections, had however still appealed to the
Supreme Court, the country's highest court, to review the finding of the
Electoral Court judge.
Throwing out the ZEC appeal, the court said the matter was improperly
brought before it because as a final Court of Appeal, it could not be
approached as a court of first instance in an application for review.
"Accordingly the application was ill-advised and not properly before
us (the Supreme Court Bench). In the circumstances, no consideration of the
merits of the application is possible and it is therefore struck off the
roll," the court said.
The Supreme Court ruling will however have little political
significance especially because it will not lead to a re-run of the
parliamentary poll in Chimanimani. - ZimOnline
Thu 1 December 2005
KAROI - Armed police in the small farming town of Karoi, 204km
north-west of Harare, went on the rampage on Monday beating up residents a
few days after President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party won a
controversial senate election marred by widespread voter apathy.
The residents who included some vendors, say they were beaten up and
forced to roll in mud at gunpoint at the hands of the police who have been
accused of serious human rights violations in the past.
It was not immediately clear why the police beat up the residents but
one policeman was heard questioning one of the residents why they had not
bothered to vote during the Saturday senate election.
The senate election was marred by serious voter apathy as most
Zimbabweans heeded calls by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to boycott
the election which he said was a waste of resources for a country facing
"I am surprised why this is being done two days after the senate
election," said Ratidzo Tazvitya whose brother was among those arrested.
Another resident, Tobias Bakasa, said: "I had to pay an admission of
guilt fine after being subjected to inhuman treatment by the police
But Karoi police spokesman Paul Nyathi denied the police had assaulted
residents saying officers had been deployed on the streets only to clear
vendors off the streets who had started returning since their removal during
a controversial government city clean-up campaign last May.
At least 700 000 people rendered homeless after their homes and shacks
were destroyed during the campaign which Mugabe said was necessary to rid
cities and towns of squalor.
Another 2.4 million people were also directly affected by the clean-up
which was condemned by the United Nations and major Western governments as
a violation of the rights of the poor.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and other
civic groups accuse Zimbabwe's police of harassing and ill-treating the
government's political opponents. The police deny the charge. - ZimOnline
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 12/01/2005 08:04:09
ZIMBABWE'S warring opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party on
Wednesday sought a court interdict against its leader restraining him from
conducting business on behalf of the party.
The MDC has been rocked by factional fighting, culminating in last week's
suspension of Morgan Tsvangirai by the party's seven-member disciplinary
committee. Four members of that committee came up with the decision.
Tsvangirai now has 10 days to show cause why a final order should not be
issued against him -- barring him from representing the party at any level
and compelling him to surrender all MDC property.
The court action followed Tsvangirai's defiance of his suspension announced
in a letter by his deputy and chairman of the party's disciplinary
committee, Gibson Sibanda.
Sibanda said Tsvangirai had "acted in wilful violation of the MDC
constitution" and was suspended from conducting any party business.
Tsvangirai was also instructed to hand over all MDC property and relinquish
MDC sources told New Zimbabwe.com last night that Tsvangirai had planned to
file his own court petition on Wednesday, objecting to being prevented from
entering the party's Harvest House headquarters or using MDC cars.
Tsvangirai's camp appeared to have noted that there could be a technical way
out of the suspension because all MDC properties are registered in the names
of two directors -- Ian Makoni and Reverend Tim Neil of the Anglican Church.
All the properties, however, are owned and maintained by the MDC.
Tsvangirai's arguments are now likely to be heard within the next 10 days
during which he has to oppose the granting of a final order.
Tsvangirai, through his spokesman William Bango, has claimed that the MDC
constitution did not provide for the suspension of the president, although
this has been rejected by the party's legal affairs secretary, David
Bango has also suggested that Sibanda is an interested party who has already
taken a position in the conflict, thereby disqualifying him from acting as
an impartial judge on the matter.
The MDC split was dramatised by differences over the Senate, a newly created
legislative body whose elections were held at the weekend.
Sibanda and other senior colleagues say Tsvangirai breached the party's
constitution when he went against a vote of the party's national council
supporting participation in the senate elections.
Sibanda's group fielded 26 candidates out of a possible 50, and gained seven
seats in the MDC's traditional stronghold of Matabeleland.
Analysts say while Sibanda's camp has an upper hand on the legal front,
"Tsvangirai controls the political temperatures" and his position enjoys
Some among Tsvangirai's camp are openly talking of starting a new group
called the Resistance Movement to wage a democratic struggle against
President Robert Mugabe's autocratic administration.
East African Standard
By Makau MutuaBlack Africa, unlike its North African or Middle East
neighbours, has made epochal strides in building open societies.
The decade of the 1990s witnessed unprecedented political progress in
virtually all sub-Saharan African states. Military dictatorships and
authoritarian one-party states were either swept aside or forced to adopt
democratic reforms by popular upheavals.
Even so, democratisation in black Africa has in recent years either
stagnated or witnessed serious reversals. The euphoria of change has not had
a lasting effect on the political cultures of many African states.
Regrettably, recent success stories of democratic reform are turning into
tragedies. The future hangs perilously in the balance unless there is a
dramatic shift in the culture of governance.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni, long a darling of Washington and
who has been in power since 1986, rammed through parliament a constitutional
amendment to remove term limits so that he could run for a third time. In
Ethiopia, governed by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (dubbed by former
President Bill Clinton as among the new democratic breed of African
leaders), scores of peaceful demonstrators protesting the outcome of
elections in May were killed by government forces.
Democratic reforms derailed
Even in Kenya, the pivotal East African state that in 2002 underwent a
historic and peaceful regime change since independence in 1963, democratic
reforms have been derailed. The government of President Mwai Kibaki is rife
with corruption. It has reneged on all key reforms. Last week, it
resoundingly lost a referendum on a divisive draft constitution.
Kenya's star has dimmed amid ethnic tensions, a government in
disarray, and a despondent population. Tanzania, once an oasis of calm in a
turbulent region, has been rocked by violence as protesters have clashed
with security forces in Zanzibar, its autonomous archipelago nation. The
opposition disputes an election that was won by the ruling party. Zimbabwe's
Robert Mugabe has completely run his country into the ground. He has quashed
a democratic movement, ordered land invasions, and isolated Zimbabwe from
And in Liberia, soccer-star George Weah has refused to concede defeat
to Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the Harvard-educated former World Bank economist.
President-elect Johnson-Sirleaf will be the first woman African head of
state with an excellent opportunity to end Liberia's string of despotic
Elsewhere on the continent - in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of
Congo, lawless Somalia, and the Ivory Coast - dysfunctional or failed states
continue to tear the fabric of society apart. Despair among the population
is increasing in countries with more stable states such as Nigeria, Ghana,
Senegal, Malawi, Botswana, Zambia, and even democratic South Africa.
Paradox of multipartyism
What has gone awry so soon after a decade of democratization?
Meaningful political and economic reforms will remain elusive unless Africa's
traditional political class is exorcised from the landscape.
This will require both a complete renewal and a broad expansion of the
political elite. Second, politics must be detribalised. One ironic paradox
of multipartyism and open political competition has been the tribalization
of politics. African political parties - the only vehicles through which
modern democracy is practised - are barren receptacles for tribal barons and
ethnic demagoguery. Political parties must be national vehicles grounded in
political ideologies and economic philosophies. Third, democratic
development is not possible without the demarginalization of women and their
full inclusion in the public square. In African states, the female gender is
the voice of the powerless. Women till the fields, raise families, and
nurture society. Yet, their voices remain excluded from political
The West must play its role to help Africa overcome the barriers to
development and democracy. Fairer terms of trade are better than aid. So are
debt forgiveness and more equitable terms for loans. Nor should protest
diplomacy be abandoned. It is reasonable that the United States should
express its concern when Kenyan legislators pay themselves more than members
of the US Congress in a country with a per capita income of less than $300.
But the future of black Africa rests squarely in the hands of
Africans. African leaders must understand that societies are only as great
as their elites. Politicians must develop a national sense of the mission of
government. Africa's first liberation overthrew colonial hegemony. The
second liberation swept away blatant dictatorships. The third liberation
must consolidate and deepen democracy.
*The writer is a professor of law and director of the Human Rights
Centre at the State University of New York at Buffalo
Wall Street Journal
Despite Economic Misery, Mugabe Divides His Foes in Election
By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
November 30, 2005;
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Zimbabwe's economic crisis has gotten so bad
that even the national airline was grounded by fuel shortages last week, as
the country's 411% inflation rate -- one of the world's highest -- shrank
the market value of the Zimbabwe dollar, worth more than its American
namesake in 1980, to one-thousandth of a penny.
But the autocratic regime of President Robert Mugabe, which sent the economy
into a tailspin beginning in the late 1990s by cracking down on dissent and
expropriating thousands of white-owned farms and businesses, seems to be
defying the odds. Instead of weakening under pressure, it is consolidating
Even as the U.S. and its Western allies intensify sanctions against
Zimbabwe, Mr. Mugabe has scored a major political victory in recent weeks:
He managed to divide and weaken his only credible opponent -- the Movement
for Democratic Change. Authorities also pushed through constitutional
amendments that make a peaceful transition to democracy more difficult by,
among other things, letting the government strip critics of their passports
and allowing expropriation of property without recourse in the courts.
Economic misery has driven millions of Zimbabweans -- including many
opposition supporters -- into exile, while many of those who have stayed
behind are too cowed by police brutality and hunger to mount an effective
resistance. This year, Mr. Mugabe eliminated potential pockets of urban
unrest by razing shantytowns around the capital, Harare, and other main
cities, and deporting hundreds of thousands of inhabitants to their
ancestral villages in the countryside.
The MDC, led by former labor-union activist Morgan Tsvangirai, was the
strongest opponent of Mr. Mugabe's government and, despite vote-rigging by
the regime, came close to winning parliamentary elections in 2000. But the
party was blindsided this year by a constitutional amendment that formed a
new chamber of parliament, the Senate, where some seats are guaranteed to
presidential appointees and loyal tribal chiefs.
Mr. Tsvangirai campaigned for a boycott of Senate elections, which were held
Saturday, arguing that participation would only give a patina of legitimacy
to a vote that couldn't be free or fair under the current regime. But 26
leading MDC members insisted on standing as candidates. For weeks, the two
camps have been trading accusations of corruption that are amplified with
delight by Zimbabwe's state-controlled media.
The split deepened after Saturday's election. According to preliminary
results, MDC candidates who defied the boycott secured just seven of 50
elected Senate seats. The party's disciplinary committee, headed by a
supporter of election participation, then suspended Mr. Tsvangirai from the
party; Mr. Tsvangirai rejected the suspension.
"The final nail has been put in the MDC," said Ephraim Masawi, spokesman for
Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.
Government opponents say the infighting in the MDC has been caused by Mr.
Mugabe's regime all along. "It's his work splitting the MDC," said Pius
Ncube, the outspoken Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's
According to independent observers, voter turnout Saturday was below 30% --
the lowest since Zimbabwe became independent from Britain in 1980. Mr.
Tsvangirai described this stay-away from the polls as a victory for his
approach. "We have been vindicated," he said.
Still, it is unlikely that such a silent protest will impress Mr. Mugabe's
regime, now in its 25th year. "The regime is governing without the consent
of the people -- but many people have been intimidated into silence," said
Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, a
Zimbabwean pro-democracy group.
Turning up American pressure on Zimbabwe, President Bush last week signed an
executive order to block all property and financial holdings in the U.S. by
128 people and 33 institutions in Zimbabwe that are linked with Mr. Mugabe
and his associates. Zimbabwe's "government continues to suppress opposition
groups and civil society, undermine the independent media, ignore decisions
by its courts, and refuse to enter into meaningful negotiations with other
political actors," President Bush wrote in a letter to U.S. congressional
leaders. "Additional measures are required to promote democratic change."
While the European Union and some other Western nations have embraced
similar sanctions, comprehensive international pressure is unlikely because
of the support Mr. Mugabe enjoys among fellow African leaders, most notably
in the region's economic and political powerhouse, South Africa. This month,
South Africa's and Zimbabwe's intelligence ministers signed an agreement to
cooperate on security and defense, in a deal Zimbabwean officials said
includes sharing information on nongovernmental organizations that may
oppose Mr. Mugabe's regime; Zimbabwe also agreed to train South African
"We have very strong ties with our neighbor and we are indebted to our
neighbor for achieving freedom and liberty," said South Africa's
intelligence minister, Ronnie Kasrils, upbraiding a reporter for questioning
Zimbabwe's human-rights record during a news conference.
Mr. Mugabe's defiance of the West and appeals to African nationalism have
struck a chord with many African politicians frustrated by what they see as
a condescending attitude of Western aid donors and Western support for
pro-democracy groups in their countries.
President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania summed up this sentiment on a recent
visit to Zimbabwe, declaring: "A new leadership is emerging in Africa that
cannot accept tutelary relationships with our erstwhile colonizers, a new
leadership which should rather listen to its elders such as President
Mugabe, thus being faithful to the counsel of Africa."
Such anticolonial rhetoric, however, doesn't appeal to many Zimbabweans who
have experienced Mr. Mugabe's leadership firsthand. "Everything that could
go wrong here is going wrong," said John Makumbe, a political scientist at
the University of Zimbabwe. "The future will be bleaker and bleaker until
the people of Zimbabwe say that they have nothing to lose but their pain,
and that it's time to throw out the dictator."
Write to Yaroslav Trofimov at firstname.lastname@example.org
URL for this article:
Former South African President F.W. De Klerk brought the curtain down on the
'Leaders in Dubai' international leadership summit with a determined
resolution that Robert Mugabe has to leave power in Zimbabwe.
And the nobel peace prize winner whose policies dismantled apartheid in
South Africa, said his country's current Government needs to exert much more
pressure to ensure Mugabe does not remain in power.
'The sooner Mugabe goes the better for Zimbabwe, the better for South
Africa, the better for Southern Africa and the better for Africa. He must
go!' the former premier told delegates when questioned.
De Klerk said there were three ways of ensuring Mugabe's departure, two of
which - military intervention and economic sanctions were popularly opposed.
'The third option is to exert effective pressure, which people say yes to.
'If I was the President of South Africa today I would have exerted pressure
much earlier and much stronger pressure than the present South African
government has. There is too much velvet in the glove now and too little
iron in the fist.'
De Klerk also said the modern generation of leaders in South Africa face
'many serious challenges' - among them he cited unacceptable crime levels,
unemployment and the scourge of poverty and AIDS.
Asked what advice he could offer to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, de
Klerk called for more conciliation on land division. 'It is fundamentally
important that neither of the two ask for too much,' he said.
'The Israeli government holds the power. It has one of the strongest armies
in the world, it is in the driving seat. My advice to the Israeli government
is to develop a package which is reasonable, which no Palestinian can say no
to because it is fair. My advice is don't play a chess game with
De Klerk also had praise for the leadership of Dubai which, he said, had
transformed the emirate from a little known trading and fishing village to
one of the most dynamic and exciting commercial centres in the world.
'All that you see around you results from the vision of people who have the
ability to imagine a vision and the leadership which turns those dreams into
reality,' he said.
De Klerk brought to a close two days of international leadership debate in
an annual summit which is now a key fixture on the global leadership scene.
Meanwhile, IIR, which is organizing Leaders in Dubai 2006, which will be
held at the Dubai International Convention Centre from November 28-29 next
year, has announced that Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan will feature among
next year's stellar line-up.
Citigroup Private Bank, Emaar Properties, Etisalat, Nokia, MasterCard
International and Saudi Oger were headline sponsors of 'Leaders In Dubai.'
Official partners were Dubai Municipality, ETA Star, Global Investment
House, Kuwait Financial Centre Markaz, Octara, Prime Limousine and TCS
Express Worldwide. Audi is the official car partner and HP the official IT
partner. Media partners included CNN, Al Arabiya News, Al Hayat, AME Info,
Gulf Business, Gulf News and Oman Economic Review.
Mail and Guardian
01 December 2005 07:21
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday blamed former
colonial ruler Britain for "compromising" his country's battle against
HIV/Aids by trying to block anti-Aids funds from global organisations.
However, Mugabe paid tribute to the Geneva-based Global Fund to
Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria for releasing funds to Harare in May
"We have suffered further setbacks through the unjustified
British-led international demonisation of our country, which has seen some
international donors and multinational agencies withholding their
humanitarian support," Mugabe said in a speech broadcast on state television
to mark World Aids day on Thursday.
"I must commend the global fund for rising above cheap political
considerations and seeing humanitarian value in assisting out programmes to
control the HIV and Aids epidemic," said Mugabe.
Earlier, the government said that about 7% of about 280 000
people in need of anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/Aids are receiving the
treatment, a figure it hopes will rise next year.
Mugabe said efforts to roll out such drugs have been hampered
not only by their increasing cost and a shortage of foreign exchange, but by
Britain's "demonisation of our country".
Britain, which ruled what was known as Rhodesia until
independence in 1980, regularly condemns Mugabe for what London terms
rampant human rights abuses.
Mugabe regularly responds by insisting Britain is seeking to
reimpose its control over his country by unfairly encouraging international
criticism. -- Sapa-AFP
IN THE dingy halls of a Hillbrow hotel, a staffer is talking on the phone.
"Tau has been killed," he says. "I cannot tell you who did it, but Memo
discovered the corpse."
The deceased woman was a prostitute. She is in the room she used, barely
covered by a quilt, a telephone cord wound around her neck. She appears to
have been stabbed several times, fresh blood staining her blouse.
Soon, five women dressed in tight, faded jeans saunter into the hotel and
ask what has happened.
"Who has killed her?" asks one of them. "We want to know whether she is a
member of our group or not."
When it emerges that they do not know her, the women seem relieved and speak
to each other in Ndebele: "Girls, she is not one of us. She is not from
Another Zimbabwean woman is dead in dangerous Hillbrow and no one seems to
care. She was probably one of the millions of illegal immigrants in SA - and
as she became involved in an illegal trade, there is very little likelihood
that the police will make much effort to trace her killer.
There are differences and deep divisions between Zimbabwean women forced
into prostitution in Hillbrow, and most will only assist and protect women
in their own groupings.
An estimated 2,5-million Zimbabweans have crossed the South African border
in the past decade, sometimes bringing ethnic tensions along with their
A Zimbabwean prostitute who asks not to be named, says some Ndebele migrants
accuse their Shona counterparts of ruining Zimbabwe by perpetually voting
for President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu (PF).
A Ndebele man who lives in Hillbrow had similar observations: "I hate
Shonas. We cannot work together ... Not at all!"
Ndebeles bitterly remember the Gukurahundi. This Shona term means "the early
rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains"; but it is also a
euphemism for the actions of the president's Fifth Brigade and other forces
in the Ndebele provinces of Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 1980s.
During this period, the brigade engaged in the indiscriminate killing of
thousands of Ndebele people. The massacres started the wave of illegal
immigration to SA. Since then, many more have followed - prompted by
political persecution and Zimbabwe's economic decline.
However, only 8000 applications for political asylum have been filed by
Zimbabweans to date, according to the home affairs department - while only
about 90 people have received asylum in SA.
Home affairs official Richard Sikakane says the application process has been
slowed by a 130000-strong backlog of cases. An amendment to the Refugees Act
is in the pipeline to speed up asylum applications.
Often, Zimbabweans have found their new home scarcely more hospitable than
Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula admits that refugees and
asylum seekers are frequently mistreated by the police. SA's high levels of
unemployment have also led to increasing xenophobia.
Some migrants claim they are paying regular bribes to police officers to
avoid being taken to the Lindela Repatriation Centre before being deported.
According to immigration official Mantshele Tau, about 300000 migrant
Zimbabweans have been deported in recent years.
And so, says Hillbrow prostitute Julie Ncube (not her real name): "We're on
the horns of a dilemma - to go and face starvation in Zimbabwe or face abuse
by the police in SA."
She says many of her friends living in Johannesburg had become "unofficial
wives" for policemen.
National police spokesman Superintendent Ronnie Naidoo could not confirm
"In the end, it's either you pay them, or submit to sex, or both," Ncube
says. "Life in Johannesburg is hell on earth; it is not as rosy as we were
meant to believe."
Nonetheless, she says, people who remain in Zimbabwe have high expectations
of those who leave for SA, many to support their families.
"It would help if my fellow countrymen if people back home appreciated the
difficulties we have to endure here," Ncube says.
"For anyone to send home R500 a month, for instance, is a very big
For other Zimbabwean refugees, the South African experience has been more
Jeremiah Gwaze is better off than many of his peers. Unlike those who
continue to battle for existence on the streets of Johannesburg, Gwaze - a
graduate of Harare Polytechnic in Zimbabwe - works for an electrical company
in northern Gauteng.
The tall, energetic man sits in the well-decorated living room of his
Yeoville flat, smiling as he recalls the harrowing years of starting a new
life in Johannesburg.
"I had no money when I arrived here. I used to sleep on the streets and most
Sundays I sat outside churches begging," he says.
Zimbabwe is in its sixth year of a bitter economic recession that has seen
fuel, food, electricity, essential medicines and other basic commodities in
short supply because there is little foreign currency to pay suppliers from
Critics blame the economic meltdown on mismanagement and Mugabe's repressive
However, the ageing head of state ascribes Zimbabwe's woes to sabotage by
Britain and its western allies.
This, he says, was in return for his campaign started in 2000 to seize land
from whites - allegedly for distribution to black Zimbabweans, who were
deprived of land during colonialism and its aftermath.
By Martin Takawira
Last updated: 12/01/2005 13:10:21
TODAY is World AIDS Day.
We remember all those killed, living and also affected by this disease. I,
like many of you have been affected by HIV. In Zimbabwe, 1 in 4 people is
HIV positive and 500 people die daily due to AIDS related illness.
My question today is: Are we doing enough to prevent further infections both
from a government and individual perspective? My 12 years experience of
working in the British National Health Service (NHS) tells me NO.
The Zimbabwe government recently claimed that the number of new infections
had gone down..This was meant to be praise to health promotion initiatives.
Rewind a few weeks back, the same government admitted that kits for HIV
testing were in shot supply due to foreign exchange shortages. To me this
contradicts the first point about reduction in infection rates.
How can the government possibly say the rate of infections has gone down
when people still have to pay to have an HIV test and by their own
admission, testing kits are in short supply? Common sense dictates that the
majority of people are not going to have tests as they don't have money. At
whatever cost, it is too expensive for people to have to pay for any HIV
test. Many people would possibly not have tested anyway due to the lack of
provision of HIV drugs. If the government was truly serious about HIV, this
is the first thing that should have been done in the fight against the
The accessibility to HIV drugs is out of reach to many back home due to cost
factors. I agree possibly the government can do very little if there is no
foreign currency, but why don't we have foreign currency? Maybe the answer
is in the American Ambassador's speech three weeks ago. It is a failure of
the current administration.
Swaziland a much smaller country than Zimbabwe but with possibly more HIV
deaths than Zimbabwe is able to provide first line treatment to its
citizens. The treatment of HIV in Swaziland is centralised to the big cities
but people have transport cost reimbursed to travel to the city for their
treatment. They don't pay for the drugs. Botswana is another country were
things have taken off. Most people from Botswana on completing their studies
are quite happy to go back besides the threat of HIV. This is so because
they have a system that can look after them.
This paper reported that the price of condoms had risen to unaffordable
levels. If I remember right the price was $250 000 for a pack of three. In
the same article it was pointed not only the price was an issue but also the
availability. The Herald, in its wisdom said NO, the price of condoms was
actually $100 000!!!
The right price for condoms is zero cents. In a country where 1 in 4 is HIV
positive, and there is a busload of cabinet ministers, common sense suggests
that a certain percentage of that Cabinet is infected. Why is it that no one
has come out and said they were HIV positive, like Chris Pattern in Tony
Blair's Labour government or Kaunda's two sons? What these admissions do is
to give people confidence to have a test and a sense of realism that HIV
does not only affect Joe Public.
Swaziland and Botswana have enjoyed a fair degree of success in the fight of
HIV because their governments have admitted that they have problems and
I am aware there is paranoia running riot in the Zimbabwean government that
we are in danger of being re-colonised hence we should accept minimum
outside help. The limiting of NGO's is an example.
Perhaps the point that the Zimbabwe government is in denial is best
illustrated by the ruling Zanu PF party's manifesto for the last general
election. There was nothing about HIV. I have to say as well that the
opposition MDC was no better.
There has been a brain drain of healthcare staff to other countries. The
reason for that is not that we want to live in cold countries but purely
that we don't recognise our country anymore, and the government is not
setting its priorities right.
Whilst to some extent I would understand the reason for not having a test
back in Zimbabwe, I find it inexcusable that Zimbabweans in Western
countries still refuse to test themselves of the disease. Many of my
countrymen just live in denial.
I had a test back in 1995, having to wait for the results was painful. The
day I went to collect the results I ended up in a pub without the result. It
took two weeks to finally get the results. I was starting a new relationship
so it had to be done. If I was to have children then it was important that I
put my fear and anxieties second to the well being of those kids.
Within the last 18 months, whilst in Leeds, I have diagnosed so many women
whose husbands have not turned up for a test. The message is very clear
guys, this ain't going away, please do get a test. The biggest problem
within African communities with regards to HIV is late presentation to
hospital. At the point of presenting to hospital, the person is very ill,
too ill to fully recover.
I have seen a lot of my countrymen and women presenting with TB in hospital,
then refusing to have an HIV test. In every 10 TB cases (in Africans), nine
are HIV related, and that is a fact.
Susan (not her real name) was diagnosed HIV positive last year when she got
pregnant with her second child. She had a negative result three years back
in Zimbabwe. She is a very educated lady with a top job. She has been going
out with Fanuel (not his real name) for the last 2 years. When she got her
negative result in Zimbabwe she tells me she swore she would never put
herself at risk again.
So what happened? Tears in her eyes, she said she trusted Fanuel. They lived
together and she knew Fanuel's movements and was confident he had never been
unfaithful. She ignored that Fanuel had a past.
How does this compare with Tambu's case. Tambu had a negative test in Leeds
a year ago. Now Tambu left school after Grade 7 and doesn't have a very good
job. She met Martin within the last six months .She is now HIV positive.
What happened? She thought since Martin was well built and not loosing
weight he was HIV free.
I fail to understand why people who would be fully aware of the risk of
contracting HIV practice safe sex back home, but when they get to Beeston or
Harehills, Luton, Slough etc take the risk? Is this denial? Tambu and
Susan's cases show that HIV infection happens to everyone of us,
irregardless our educational backgrounds or standing in society.
Today is World AIDS Day.
If you have lost anybody to HIV, don't let their death go to waste, do
something to help another person or yourself.
If you are HIV positive, be proud you know your status, you are better off
knowing. It's not enough that you know your status. Please help save another
life by sharing your experience with someone and encourage someone to test.
If you think you are negative, and have not had a test, then that is not a
true negative! HIV does not happen next door alone, people must actively
seek to have Aids tests before it's late.
To the following I have lost to HIV:
John - sorry I was not there for you when you were not well. Urindwindwi.
Knox - Thanks for the high life and the beers when I was at school.
Lovemore - why did you not tell me? I could have helped. Thank you for being
so honest and looking after my affairs in Zimbabwe. You could have used the
funds to get treatment.
Berts - Thanks very much for my first mortgage, you bent all the rules to
make sure I did not lose my flat when I came to the UK.
Tsano - How could you have introduced me to playboy Nite Club?
Ricardo - What can I say.
Sekai - Thanks for the Viceroy bottles you used to send me .You were a
To all those living with HIV who came into my life through my work, friends
and relations, keep fighting. You are all amazing people with so much
courage and much to give.
Martin Takawira is Clinical Nurse Specialist on HIV/AIDS. The views in this
article are his and not necessarily shared by my employers. People's names
and location have been changed for confidentiality. Contact Martin: