The Times, UK February 21, 2006
From Jan Raath in Harare
ROBERT MUGABE is 82 today, and the children of the 21st of
February Movement are getting ready to party with a jamboree of cakes and
Their organisation is dedicated to doing good works in the name
of Mr Mugabe's birthday, and the children are deemed worthy of participating
in celebrations for Africa's oldest and longest-serving leader.
The movement gathers but once a year, when its members line up
for an all-day succession of songs and poems in praise of Mr Mugabe. Like
much of modern Zimbabwe, it is dedicated to keeping the President happy.
Today Mr Mugabe, who has been in power for 26 years, will be the
guest of honour in the eastern city of Mutare, where residents have been
ordered to spruce up dilapidated buildings to give the best impression
during the few hours that he will be in town. Enock Porusingayi, a ruling
party youth leader in Mutare, hopes to raise about £550,000 "to mark our
President's birthday with dignity".
Nobody wants to displease the President amid growing signs of
his isolation, and anxiety as Zimbabwe's crumbling economy takes its toll.
In the exclusive Borrowdale Brook suburb of Harare, construction
of Mr Mugabe's retirement mansion continues. Last month neighbours were told
that they would have to sell their houses because the area is "a security
zone". In the meantime, they must brick up their windows that face the
Yet there is no real sense that Mr Mugabe is ready to retire to
his new home. Despite indicating that he would step down in 2008, no
successor has been appointed. In interviews given to mark his birthday, he
said: "One cannot ignore the call of the people because the people are the
ones who make the final decision." Yesterday Mr Mugabe remained defiant,
criticising African leaders for failing to stand up to the West, and the
International Monetary Fund for allowing itself to be bullied by countries
such as Britain. "Our erstwhile coloniser still wants to control us by
remote control," he said.
Even some ministers are expressing concern. Last week Kembo
Mohadi, the Home Affairs Minister, made the first official admission that
the country was seriously short of food. "There is no grain whatsoever. Our
people are actually starving," he said on state radio.
Inflation of 613 per cent gives Zimbabwe the highest rate in the
world. Nearly 30 people have died of cholera in the past two months. In the
past week, state radio has broadcast an anthem that implores God to "bless
President Mugabe, our support and light".
THE people of Zimbabwe have been told to dig deep into their pockets to fund
celebrations for the president Robert Mugabe's 82nd birthday today.
Three million Zimbabweans are short of food, according to independent
estimates, but Mr Mugabe will still hold his biggest ever birthday party
this weekend in the city of Mutare.
Officials from his ruling ZANU-PF party have been ordered to collect
£50,000 from Zimbabwe's ten provinces: a tall order in a country where many
can barely afford one meal a day. Inflation is running at 613 per cent, the
highest rate in the world, and state radio warned yesterday of looming bread
But Mr Mugabe's birthday is the highlight of Zimbabwe's calendar, for his
supporters at least. In Mutare, businessmen have been told to paint their
premises, council workers are repainting road markings and refuse trucks
have miraculously reappeared to clear away rubbish. "The city is expected to
be in a pleasant state," the town clerk, Morgan Chawawa, said.
The preparations came as Zimbabwe's deputy agriculture minister, Sylvester
Nguni, forecast bleak food harvests this year, blaming fertiliser shortages
and technical ignorance among black farmers resettled on formerly
In a rare admission of failures in the land redistribution programme, he
said many new farmers lacked the expertise to produce crops on what he
called a "commercial and even subsistence level".
Last year, Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, produced about 800,000
tons of corn, the staple food. The country consumes about 1.8 million tons a
Such travails appear to have had little effect on Mr Mugabe: in an interview
with state media yesterday he said he "feels like a 28-year-old".
But in an indication that he still aims to step down at the end of his
current term in 2008, he talked about the process of choosing his successor.
Analysts say the party remains beset by tensions following Mugabe's decision
in late 2004 to appoint a relative political lightweight, Joyce Mujuru, as
his deputy - a post seen as a stepping stone for the top job.
In what seemed to be an effort to dampen talk of a possible power struggle,
Mr Mugabe said in his interview the party was "capable of electing a
successor as long as aspirants campaign properly and people rely on leaders
who come through Congress".
Asked about his health, Mr Mugabe replied that he underwent at least two
thorough medical checks annually, including heart and bone examinations.
"The other day they said in Singapore my bones were not exactly of a boy of
26, but they said certainly of someone 30," he joked. "I feel like a
Mr Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe, first as prime minister then as president,
ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe has told President Thabo Mbeki and other
leaders trying to resolve his country's political and economic crisis to
"keep away" from Zimbabwe's internal affairs.
He also said African leaders were cowards for failing to tell western
leaders "to go to hell" when they complained about his disputed re-election
"As for outsiders, they should keep away," Mugabe said in an interview with
state television on Sunday night to mark his 82nd birthday today.
"We have entertained them because we did not want to offend. Some of them
are our friends but really, they have nothing to intervene here about,
nothing at all."
Mugabe was answering a question on what he thought about Mbeki, Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo and other leaders' intervention in the
Mugabe's remarks on SA's intervention came two weeks after Mbeki said he had
managed to ensure the ruling Zanu (PF) and main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) wrote a draft constitution that could have helped to
resolve the country's crisis.
"For those of our friends who intervened, what they should have done is to
teach the MDC what democracy is or what they should do as an opposition
party," Mugabe said.
"Democracy is rule by the people, for the people, and not intervention by
foreigners. But of course, we know all this (intervention in Zimbabwe) was
being worked out, prodded and instigated by (British Prime Minister Tony)
Blair and his government. They have done a lot of mischief in Zimbabwe and
we hope they will stop it."
Mugabe also shed light on why the loan negotiations between SA and Zimbabwe
He said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) wanted to use Zimbabwe's debt
situation and neighbours (apparently in reference to SA) to effect a regime
change in Harare.
He said the IMF was now a "political instrument" and "monster" for regime
SA and Zimbabwe loan negotiations happened in the context of Harare's
struggle to pay off IMF arrears, which it managed to do only last week.
"That's why we decided to find the money ourselves. We did not go out to
find it, we didn't borrow. We could have but we decided to use our own money
from our exporters to pay the IMF."
Tuesday, February 21 2006 @ 12:05 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
Zanu PF officials and government institutions are churning out
nauseating drivel extolling President Robert Mugabe's virtues on the
occasion of his 82nd birthday although he continues to preside over the
world's fastest shrinking economy outside a war zone. So appalling is the
bootlicking that some Zanu PF officials have gone to shocking extents of
suggesting that Mugabe should be Zimbabwe's life president.
"Gushungo, you are a living legend," gushed newly appointed
senate president Edna Madzongwe. Gushungo is Mugabe's totem. Not to be
outdone was political turncoat, now Acting Harare Mayor Sekesai Makwavarara,
who said Zimbabwe would never find a president like Mugabe. "Gushungo, you
are a visionary and unmatched leader," she said. Admittedly Mugabe, who
turns 82 today, has done some good things for the country mainly before the
90s but some of the messages were "nauseating" in their grovelling tone.
State Security minister Didymus Mutasa in a message that
confirmed his appointment depended more on Mugabe's patronage and not merit,
said the despot was the best leader in the world. "Our leader quite honestly
is the best in the world. He must have been sent by the Almighty God to lead
Zimbabwe through changes from colonialism to independence and to guide the
country for 26 years," Mutasa said in an advert that appeared in one of the
government newspapers. Zanu PF Women's Affairs secretary Oppah Muchinguri
appealed that Mugabe be granted "many, many, many, many more years."
"You have proved beyond doubt that you are getting wiser by the
year," Muchinguri said. And Vice President Joice Mujuru joined the bandwagon
of bootlickers saying: "The entire nation cherishes your wisdom, charismatic
leadership and direction. Makorokoto Gushungo (Congratulations)." Policy
Implementation minister Webster Shamu claimed Mugabe was an exemplary
husband and father. "He is also a loving and caring husband and father,"
said Shamu, who led festivities at Mugabe's Highfields house weekend.
Ironically, Mugabe had an extra-marital affair with Grace while his first
wife, the likable Sally. was wasting away on her death bed.
Government institutions, mainly loss making parastatals,
inserted full-page adverts in the government media praising Mugabe for his
"selflessness." Said government bus company Zupco: "Rambai makashinga
Gushungo (Be unrelenting Mr president)." Civil Aviation Authority was not to
be outdone inserting a message saying: "Long live Mr president." And
corruption ridden NOCZIM had this to say: "We wish you many more years of
ZESA, which has been dogged by allegations of mismanagement,
which has plunged the country into darkness said: "ZESA recognizes the
legendary existence of a fearless leader whose vision and selfless courage
guarded our sovereignty and kept Zimbabwe and her people as a harmonious
entity." Many other messages were in similar vein.
Tuesday, February 21 2006 @ 12:03 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
Bulawayo-based giant blanket manufacturing company, National
Blankets has shutdown due to shortages of working capital. Zimdaily heard
that the company was reeling under severe financial dire straits as
evidenced by the management's decision to send them home for the umpteenth
time. The workers said that the management had told them that they should
"come and check on Wednesday" whether there was any job to be done.
"We were told to go home and only come back and check on
Wednesday whether anything would have materialized as yet. We do not even
know our fate as the company is reportedly under probe. To be precise, the
future here is bleak and we are not sure whether we will be able to retain
our jobs after all this. There is a serious rumor that the operations might
close forever," one of the workers was quoted.
The company has been undergoing trying times that have often
forced the management to close down operations in anticipation of assistance
from government. Recently, the company launched a SOS appeal for assistance
and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe reacted swiftly with a foreign currency
injection. The injection did not however take the company's operations
anywhere as only a few weeks down the line, there was another SOS for
assistance. Jeremy Musgrave, the company's managing director has often
dismissed media reports on the future of the company saying the "temporary
setback has been caused by the shortage of basic raw materials that need to
be imported into the country."
He was unavailable for comment this morning as he was said to be
locked up in crucial meetings. Should the company decide to close, the
workers said they doubted if the company would be in a position to pay them
their dues in exit packages as prescribed by the Labour Act.
Tuesday, February 21 2006 @ 12:02 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
President Robert Mugabe has blasted the corruption and
incompetence in Zimbabwe's football mother body ZIFA accusing it of dismally
failing to run the world's most beautiful game. "ZIFA, ZIFA, ZIFA,ZIFA!,"
Mugabe lamented in an interview broadcast Sunday. "ZIFA continues to be in
shambles. I don't know whether we can get the right people to constitute
ZIFA. One hopes that the Sports Commission with the help of the ministry (of
Education, Sport and Culture) get things right. Government is going to be
involved much more in sports," he said.
Mugabe said the Zimbabwe national soccer team had great
potential because the players were world-class individuals. "They won COSAFA
and it was good," he said. "This time they qualified (for African Cup Of
Nations) and it was very good watching them play. They have very high
standards. I think one of these days Africa might have a team that
distinguishes itself and wins the World Cup."
Mugabe raised a hue and cry over the misuse of funds raised for
the Warriors campaign at AFCON. "Even with the fund we had, the problem now
is with how the money was spent," he said. "There should have been a proper
supervision given to the monies. People love soccer, it's a people's game."
The government set up a committee that raised nearly $60 billion for the
Warriors campaign in Egypt but there have been allegations of embezzlement
raised against some of the officials.
Zimbabwean Minister of State for Land Reform and Resettlement Didymus
Mutasa has denied the press reports that the southern African country had
started importing genetically modified foods from Argentina.
Mutasa said in a statement that "To be honest, I have never heard of
that. They would have to consult with me but no one has done so. That policy
(against unmilled genetically modified maize) is steadfast, we continue to
maintain it. It has not been reviewed and the cabinet has not changed its
position," he said.
Zimbabwe and many other countries in the region are suspicious of
genetically modified foods, particularly concerning the health of consumers.
In recent weeks, press reports were saying that the United States was
set to coerce African nations to accept genetically modified foods following
the World Trade Organization (WTO)'s ruling that the European Union was
breaking its rules by barring genetically modified food and seed entry into
Earlier this month, Zimbabwe's National Economic Consultative Forum,
in conjunction with the Biosafety Board of Zimbabwe, held discussion series
on the implementation of biotechnology for enhancing agricultural output,
which featured an American expert on the issue of genetic modification,
Prof. Tom de Gregori.
The outcome of the meeting was inconclusive on whether the country is
to change its stance on genetically modified foods.
By Brian Chitemba
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe has unearthed a massive ticket scam
involving more than 200 workers, who include senior managers, Chronicle
Sources told Chronicle that 190 workers were dragged to a hearing yesterday
while 30 others have already been fired for allegedly abusing the Privileged
The workers allegedly used the privileged tickets on behalf of Zambians in
the process prejudicing the parastatal of billions of dollars.
"The fraud cases are being heard at the Bulawayo Area Headquarters at the
main station," said the source.
They said workers from all departments were caught napping when the
parastatal instituted investigations and it was discovered they were making
a killing by working in cahoots with the Zambians, who use the
BulawayoVictoria Falls train to transport goods to the neighbouring country.
An NRZ employee using the PTO pays a quarter of the total amount for the
goods whose weight should not exceed 350kg. The parastatal charges $136 000
"The workers were working in cahoots with the Zambians whereby they will get
the tickets and then pay a quarter of the total amount, in the process
prejudicing the company a lot of money in revenue. For example if a Zambian
was supposed to pay $40 million, an NRZ worker will just pay $10 million and
then pocket the money. So the workers were benefiting while the company was
losing," said the source.
He said the company started investigating workers in lower grades but the
net was closing in on senior managers.
Contacted for comment, the NRZ public relations manager, Mr Fanuel Masikati,
confirmed that the workers were being investigated for abusing the PTOs.
Although he could not reveal further details on the abuse of the PTO system,
Mr Masikati said if found guilty, the 190 workers would be fired.
"I have said before that more people are likely to be fired as
investigations continue. We will give you the details at a later stage
because revealing everything now will jeopardise our investigations," he
Last week, the parastatal's General Manager, Retired Air Commodore Mike
Karakadzai, warned that thieving workers would be fired.
His comments came after the parastatal had dismissed 20 workers for various
cases of theft. The cleanup at the NRZ is part of its turnaround strategy.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Feb-21
THE Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development,
Ignatius Chombo, has given the Harare City Council two weeks to sort out,
once and for all, its in-house problems and improve the capital's declining
In an interview with The Daily Mirror, Chombo said he was monitoring
developments at Town House closely with a view to restore sanity.
"Some of the wrangling is expected in any environment undergoing changes. At
the moment I believe the situation is returning to normal. I am monitoring
the situation and expect that within two weeks everything would be in order
and services to residents would have improved," the minister said.
Chombo could not comment on any action to be taken, but insisted there would
be noticeable changes in the manner in which the capital was being
administered in a fortnight. Until last week, Harare City Council was rocked
by power struggles between Town Clerk Nomutsa Chideya and Chester Mhende,
the former turnaround strategist.
The Sekesai Makwavarara-chaired commission citing gross insubordination and
fuelling chaos at Town House, later fired Mhende.
Chombo stated categorically recently that Chideya as the capital's chief
executive was in overall charge.
Besides the row, another storm brewed following press reports that
Makwavarara wanted to buy $35 billion worth of property for the mayoral
mansion in the plush Gunhill suburb without going to tender.
The figure has since been revised down to a mere $1,9 billion.
Chombo could also not say whether the government would appoint another
strategist to help Harare implement its long overdue turnaround policy.
"We are yet to decide on that, but if they feel they need help then we take
it from there," he said.
Meanwhile, Chombo launched the local authorities' revitalisation plan in
Masvingo over the weekend.
The programme is already underway in Mashonaland West and the minister said
councils no longer have compelling reasons to fail to deliver since they
were now allowed to charge economic rates and tariffs for services. "The
launch was attended by the leadership from Masvingo, Manicaland and
Matabeleland South," Chombo said.
"The message was that they should not have any excuses for failing to
deliver and we would be monitoring them to see to it that they deliver."