Mon, 05 Dec 2005
Police arrested two Zimbabwe national cricket team players and an official
on charges of violating foreign exchange regulations, a state daily reported
The Herald newspaper said long-serving national cricket team manager
Mohammed Meman and national team players Vusi Sibanda and Waddington
Mwayenga were arrested on Saturday.
"Sources within Zimbabwe Cricket said last night they had been informed that
the police were also interested in questioning at least six more players
over their offshore foreign currency accounts and transactions," the
The paper said the arrests followed investigations by Zimbabwe's central
bank into the cricket league's financial affairs.
Problems at Zimbabwe Cricket led to the resignation two weeks ago of
national team captain Tatenda Taibu.
Taibu and other national players had earlier teamed up with the country's
seven provincial chairmen in a bid to have national chairman Peter Chingoka
sacked and the ZC managing director Osias Bvute suspended pending an
investigation into the financial activities of the cricket body.
Zimbabwe cricket has been in crisis ever since and their performances have
been so poor that both England and Australia have refused to play Test
matches against them.
Mon 5 Dec 2005
JANE FIELDS IN HARARE
THE United Nations' emergency relief co-ordinator, Jan Egeland, was due to
hold talks today with Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, on the country's
worsening humanitarian crisis.
Mr Egeland will first tour a housing site in the south of the capital,
Harare, and what is left of Hatcliffe Extension, where hundreds lost their
homes during "Operation Drive Out Trash".
Police started bulldozing shacks and market stalls in May, leaving at least
700,000 people homeless, according to the UN. Mr Mugabe said it was a
much-needed "urban renewal" campaign; the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change said it was a bid to drive its supporters into the countryside.
Mr Egeland's trip comes days after the UN was criticised for its
"softly-softly" approach towards Harare.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said local UN agencies had been reluctant
to confront the government over its "blatant disregard of the human rights
of the displaced".
The authorities in Zimbabwe claim they are in the throes of a massive
construction programme that will see 250,000 houses built each year until
However, the total number of houses built in the capital so far is "in the
hundreds", not the thousands, according to the Combined Harare Residents
In the central town of Chinhoyi, at least 20 new houses were so shoddily
built that they were washed away by the first rains.
Recently, the government quietly accepted the UN's offer of temporary
housing for the displaced. Last week, it also agreed to let the World Food
Programme distribute food aid directly to three million Zimbabweans.
Posted 12/4/2005 5:07 PM Updated 12/4/2005 8:12 PM
MBARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - The smell of sewage and rotting garbage wafts
into homes. Acrid smoke hangs in the air where families have tried to burn
household waste. Dysentery, food poisoning and diarrhea break out.
Two children pick up rotten eggs from a heap of garbage Friday
in a township south of Harare.
With no foreign currency for gas and equipment, garbage collection is
the latest casualty as Zimbabwe's economy crumbles.
The start of seasonal rains means the effects are becoming unbearable
in this poor township in the capital, Harare. Trash is piled waist-high in
the narrow streets, and reeking water stagnates in potholes, blocked sewers
"It is symptomatic of general decline and the national crisis as a
whole," said Mike Davies, an official of the Combined Harare Ratepayers
Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence
from Britain in 1980, blamed largely on the often-violent seizure of
thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to blacks. Four
years of erratic rainfall also have disrupted the agriculture-based economy,
leaving up to 4 million people in need of food aid in what was once a
Before Zimbabwe's financial crisis began to really bite two years ago,
garbage was collected weekly. Spiraling inflation and shortages of hard
currency for spare parts have taken a toll on service. A boycott by people
refusing to pay their utility bills because of poor service has added to the
Last December, the government fired the opposition-dominated Harare
city council for alleged mismanagement and appointed a state commission to
run municipal services.
Three waste management firms have since withdrawn collection services
across half the capital, citing acute shortages of gasoline, spare parts and
equipment, and saying they get too little in fees from the city.
Most of the city's own garbage trucks have broken down. The few that
are left service hospitals, shopping centers and areas close to the city
center, Harare authorities said in a report Wednesday.
Already, there is concern about disease spreading in the city of 2
million people. Last month, health authorities reported outbreaks of
dysentery and food poisoning blamed on frequent water and power outages that
cause toilet and sewage blockages.
In Mabvuku township, in eastern Harare, residents scooped water from
open drains during a seven-day outage earlier this month.
Hundreds of diarrhea cases have been reported in recent weeks,
including at least 12 children who died of dehydration, said a Harare
physician, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution in the
increasingly autocratic state.
Executives at a Harare food processing factory told staff to filter
and boil water after tests showed an increase in harmful bacteria. City
authorities are believed to be using insufficient purifying chemicals in the
drinking water due to shortages of hard currency needed to buy the
Plumbing firms say blockages in the ailing water system have worsened
due to the use of sand and soil as household scourers. The price of cleaning
materials has increased about six-fold this year.
Faltering garbage collection is just one of the ways the economic
crisis has hit daily life in Zimbabwe.
At public hospitals, families of patients are asked to bring their own
drugs. In the maternity wing at the main hospital in Harare, expectant
mothers are asked to bring their own umbilical clips. If they cannot get
them, midwives use string to seal the umbilical cord.
The sale of wheelchairs and prosthetics for handicapped Zimbabweans
has come to a standstill.
Court cases have been postponed because there is no gasoline to take
the accused to court or money to buy food for witnesses.
The long-lamented lines to buy fuel at Zimbabwe gas stations have
disappeared, however. There has been no fuel at all for at least 10 days,
even at hard currency gas stations. The only fuel on sale is on the black
market at exorbitant rates.
AIRLINES flying into Zimbabwe are now carrying their own extra fuel to avoid
being grounded in a country reeling from a long-running fuel crisis.
The move demonstrates the regional effect of Zimbabwe's fuel shortages as
well as the contagion of the country's economic problems.
Airlines flying to Harare such as British Airways (operated by Comair in SA)
and South African Airways (SAA), and also small carriers such as SA Airlink
and kulula.com, are now relying on contingency plans to avoid being grounded
Although it was not possible to get official comment from Comair yesterday,
air hostesses told passengers bumped off the flight to Harare yesterday
afternoon that the airline was now being forced to place passengers on
"stand-by" to accommodate extra fuel.
SAA general communications manager Onkgopotse JJ Tabane confirmed the
national carrier was also carrying additional fuel, but insisted it was "not
affecting our (SAA's) operations".
"We do carry fuel to provide for situations where there may not be enough
fuel on the other side (Zimbabwe), but this is not affecting our
operations," he said.
"We usually do this under normal circumstances, so it doesn't affect us."
Zimbabwe's national airline, Air Zimbabwe, grounded all its planes and
cancelled flights to Johannesburg, London and Dubai on November 22 due to
fuel shortages. Although the airline resumed flights the following day, it
is now relying on fuel procured from abroad.
Zimbabwe has been gripped by fuel shortages since 1999 due to lack of
foreign currency, which has in turn caused the scarcity of other imports.
The shortage of foreign currency has been caused by poor export performance,
lack of balance of payments support and drying up of financial aid.
Passengers claimed yesterday they had been told Air Zimbabwe had again
cancelled its regional flights, for the second time in two weeks, but the
airline said its flights were on.
An Air Zimbabwe spokesman at Johannesburg airport, Harry Senda, said the
airline was operating. "As we speak our flight to Harare is half(way)
through the trip, and it's about to land," he said. "It's unfortunate that
some passengers sometimes rely on hearsay and say malicious things designed
to tarnish our image."
Air Zimbabwe, seen widely as emblematic of the country's national failure,
has been run down by extended periods of mismanagement and lack of capital.
Commandeering of planes by politicians has also contributed to its decline.
The airline, which had 18 planes 25 years ago, now has only five.
Mon, 05 Dec '05
Basket-Case Country Has A Basket-Case Airline
Consider Air Zimbabwe. No, not for a trip -- we value our readers. Just
*think* about Air Zim for a minute. Some flag carriers seem to instantiate
their nation's character, and some (like, for instance, bankrupt Swissair)
seem to contradict it. Air Zimbabwe is one of the former: a perfect
projection of the dysfunctional Robert Mugabe regime into the aviation
world -- it does everything wrong and still seems to muddle through.
The latest word from the flag carrier of the onetime "Switzerland of Africa"
is that it's flat broke and can't buy fuel. It has long since exhausted the
good credit it began with 25 years ago as the successor to Air Rhodesia;
even Nigerian spammers aren't sending email to Air ZImbabwe's offices any
The seven jets of Air Zimbabwe have spent more than one day in the last few
weeks sitting on the ramp at Harare, with flights to all destinations
cancelled. The terminal is reported to be teeming with angry passengers --
or perhaps we should say, would-be passengers.
A Johannesburg, South Africa paper quoted a statement from Air Zimbabwe
Vice-Chairman Jonathan Kadzura: "The board would like to sincerely apologize
to all its valued customers for the inconveniences."
Some flights have resumed, using fuel from the Zimbabwe Air Force, but that
force does not have sufficient stocks to sustain the airline for more than a
day or two, even at the expense of all it holds. Other fuel is only
available for cash in advance, due to the firm's habitual non-payment of
Air Zimbabwe pays its flight crews in US Dollars, cash, in London, and has
burnt enough bridges with vendors that it has to pay cash for fuel and
catering almost everywhere it goes. Air Zimbabwe planes have gone without
cleaning, catering and even maintenance at overseas airports as a result of
Air Zim is in even deeper trouble than the service interruption would
indicate. It is in debt almost beyond calculation -- it owes twice as many
dollars as bankrupt Delta, but fortunately that's in nearly-worthless
Zimbabwe dollars. It hasn't been maintaining its Boeing 767-200ER jets, and
hasn't been able to pay its insurance bills since 2001; the nation's civil
aviation authority has been picking up the slack. As the degree of financial
mismanagement became clearer, CEO Tendai Mahachi was summarily sacked, along
with corporate secretary Tendai Mujuru.
It turns out that the politically-connected Mahachi was hired despite coming
in fifth of five job interviewees, and Minister of Transport Christopher
Mushohwe is now denying he had anything to do with hiring Mahachi. he had
never met Mahachi before the appointment. "I had nothing to do with his
The airline once was prosperous, bringing tourists from Europe to see the
wildlife and scenery of Zimbabwe, including breathtaking Victoria Falls. But
with the government on the outs with most of the civilized world, it now
prefers to fly to places that receive Perma-President Mugabe well -- a few
holdout communist countries, and some Arab sheikdoms.
Yet, despite its bad reputation, and the visibly deteriorated condition of
its aircraft, Air Zim actually has a decent safety record. They have never
had a fatal or hull-loss accident, since becoming Air Zimbabwe; the two
losses they inherit were forerunner Air Rhodesia's planes, brought down by
the terrorists of Joshua Nkomo, who were purged from the Zim government by
the terrorists of Mugabe in the 1980s.
Nobody's shooting at the Air Zim planes today. Mugabe might be twice the
dictator Ian Smith was, but he's evidently a more effective dictator, at
least in security terms.
The government ministries have ordered one another to produce the fuel, but
the problem for the Zim ministries is that the fuel comes from outside the
country via multinational oil companies, and they learned long ago that the
only way to deal with Zimbabwe government entities is cash-up-front.
Foreigners don't fly Air Zimbabwe these days, but for Zimbabweans there may
be no other choice. Every other airline flying to Harare rejects the wildly
inflated, non-convertible Zimbabwe dollar, and foreign exchange is
unavailable to ordinary people.
The Zimbabwe crisis goes far beyond the airline. The state railway has also
broken down, and fuel is unavailable to ordinary citizens. The entire
economy collapsed after President Mugabe seized commercial farms and
distributed them to political supporters or broke them up into small,
subsistence farms in 2000. The farms once produced all of the nation's
foodstuffs and almost half of its foreign exchange.
Does the FAA consider it a safe airline? They duck the issue.
"As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and
Zimbabwe, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed
Zimbabwe's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international
aviation safety standards."
Now, would we at Aero-News fly on Air Zim? Let's put it this way. The only
reason to fly on Air Zimbabwe is if you're going to Zimbabwe. And no one in
his right mind would leave a civilized country to go to Zimbabwe -- the
ablest Zimbabweans are going the other way, if they can.
It's a moot point anyway... they're on the ground until the government, or
South Africa, which has been providing vast humanitarian aid, kicks them
some convertible currency. Does that answer your question?
FMI: www.airzimbabwe.com (you can book a flight there. Don't say we didn't
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 12/05/2005 10:39:09
ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe has demoted another top bodyguard in an
ongoing purge against his protectors.
Moses Chihuri, who was Mugabe's second choice bodyguard by virtue of having
been next in line to Assistant Commissioner Winston Changara, the then head
of the Police Protection Unit (PPU), has been demoted.
The demotion comes months after Changara, Mugabe's loyal aide de camp for
years, suffered the same fate. His ouster was unexplained, although there
has been claims that he had tried to hit it off with Mugabe's wife, Grace.
Police sources said following Changara's demotion in June this year, Chihuri
had taken over in an acting capacity as the head of PPU, and Mugabe's chief
protector, only to be demoted without explanation.
The police sources told New Zimbabwe.com that they believed Chihuri had been
discarded because of having been privy to Changara's alleged acts of
misconduct, but kept quite.
"Chihuri has joined Changara at the Commissioner's Pool," said a police
source. "His position was taken over by Assistant Commissioner Kwainona.
Mugabe just woke up and said he no longer wanted the bodyguard.
"No reasons were given for the demotion which was by word of mouth. But we
believe that he is being punished for having sat on information to the
effect that Changara was trying to make a pass at the First Lady, Grace
"There are also allegations that he knew that Changara was diverting fuel
from the PPU for his private use, but did nothing. Some of the fuel is said
to have been recovered at his Marlborough house," said the source.
Sources said Sunday that Mugabe first noted a change in Changara when he
started assigning his juniors to guard him when he was in the country,
preferring to do so only when Mugabe was going out of Zimbabwe.
Speculation about Mugabe's wife and her affairs is rife on Zimbabwe's rumour
mill. There are undenied claims that she dated businessman James Makamba and
has been secretly dating a minister.
No comment was immediately available from the President's Office last night.