by Andrew Moyo Saturday 21 February 2009
HARARE - At least 40 farms owned by the few remaining white farmers in
Zimbabwe have been invaded by top government and party officials since the
opposition MDC agreed to enter into an inclusive government with President
Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party, a farmers union has said.
"There must be at least 40 farms that have been invaded in the past few
days," Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president Trevor Gifford told
ZimOnline this week.
The CFU chief said no war veterans were involved in the latest wave of
invasions but members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), officials from
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Members of Parliament (MPs), Senators and
District Administrators had invaded farms owned by white commercial farmers
in the past few days.
"People are working in collaboration with the ZRP, MPs and other influential
officials to invade farms. This will have a serious impact on food
The invasions, together with arrests and continued detention of political
prisoners and rights activists, cast serious doubts on ZANU PF's sincerity
in the recently formed unity government.
Just over a week ago and only a few hours before Mugabe swore in the unity
Cabinet, police arrested MDC treasurer and deputy agriculture minister
nominee Roy Bennett on treason charges, leaving the whole political
agreement on shaky ground as the MDC has protested.
"It has got terrible, the invasion is in total disrespect of the September
15 agreement and the recent (constitutional) amendment number 19," Gifford
The CFU chief added that "at least 100 farmers are being fast tracked to
court on the instruction of the Attorney General, the permanent secretary in
the Ministry of Agriculture and the chief magistrate to make sure they are
evicted by February 21".
Gifford said while the invasions had been countrywide, the most affected
areas were Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, the Vumba area, Chipinge,
Mwenezi, Chiredzi and Masvingo.
The latest series of invasions comes in the wake of a spate of occupations
that has seen a number of white farmers being targeted and attacked by a
number of invaders.
Two weeks ago a group of people led by uniformed Zimbabwe army soldiers and
police invaded one of the country's biggest commercial farms outside Harare,
highlighting the many difficulties in the way of the country's unity
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Interfresh, who own Mazoe Estates, said the
group of invaders moved on to the farm and declared themselves owners of
various plots on the estate.
"Shareholders are advised that on February 7 2009, a group of individuals
accompanied by ZRP policeman and a uniformed ZNA military policeman claimed
ownership of plots comprising Yarrowdale Farm, the crops section of Mazoe
Citrus Estates," Interfresh said in a circular to shareholders.
There was no immediate comment by both police and army spokesmen.
Early this month police arrested three white farmers, in what appeared a
campaign targeting farmers who successfully challenged the government's
controversial land reforms at the Southern African Development Community
The three farmers, Chris Jarret, Godfrey Goosen and Saul Rogers were part of
a group of about 78 farmers that won a ruling at the Tribunal declaring
Mugabe's chaotic and often violent programme to seize white-owned land for
redistribution to landless blacks discriminatory and illegal under the SADC
The Tribunal ordered the Harare administration not to evict the farmers from
their properties and to compensate those it had already chased off farms - a
ruling the Zimbabwean authorities have ignored.
Political analyst Ernest Mudzengi said the developments on the farms showed
that ZANU PF was not prepared to change to suit the new political
"These are the symptoms of a party which shows that it is not changing
tactics. It wants to show that it is business as usual," Mudzengi said.
Analysts say the unity government headed by Mugabe with MDC party leader
Morgan Tsvangirai serving as Prime Minister offers Zimbabwe its best chance
in a decade to end its crisis and begin afresh on the road to sustainable
economic and social recovery.
But many say major differences between Mugabe and Tsvangirai over
fundamental issues such as the highly contentious issue of land reform could
yet derail the unity government.
Both men agree on the need for land reform but differ on the way this should
be carried out.
Mugabe's land reforms that he says were necessary to correct a colonial land
ownership system that reserved the best land for whites and banished blacks
to poor soils, are blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into food shortages after
Harare failed to support black villagers resettled on former white farms
with inputs to maintain production.
Tsvangirai has called for an audit to establish who owns which land in
Zimbabwe before an orderly land reform programme can be implemented but
Mugabe has in the past accused the MDC leader of wishing to return land to
former white owners.
Critics say Mugabe's cronies - and not ordinary peasants - benefited the
most from farm seizures with some of them ending up with as many as six
farms each against the government's stated one-man-one-farm policy.
Government farm seizures, which started in 2000, have resulted in the
majority of the about 4 500 white farmers being forcibly ejected from their
properties without being paid compensation for the land, which Harare has
refused to pay for saying it was stolen from blacks in the first place.
The government has compensated some farmers for developments on the land
such as dams and farm buildings and says it is committed to compensating all
farmers for such improvements. - ZimOnline
20 February 2009 - The mounting death toll from Zimbabwe's devastating
cholera epidemic has reached almost 3,800, with more than 80,000 people
infected, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.
Some 3,759 people have now died from cholera since the outbreak first hit
the besieged southern African country in August last year, with all 10 of
Zimbabwe's provinces having been affected by the water-borne disease, which
has spilled over to neighbouring countries.
WHO noted that South Africa, which has a relatively strong health care
system, has been able to limit the number of fatalities to below one per
cent of people infected by the deadly disease, compared to four per cent in
Zimbabwe last December and between one and two per cent in recent weeks.
A high number of cholera cases have also been reported in Malawi, Mozambique
and Zambia, all countries where the disease is endemic.
There are 365 cholera treatment centres operating in Zimbabwe and WHO has
set up a Cholera Command and Control Centre in the capital, Harare, with its
partner agencies to provide technical support in the areas of
epidemiological and laboratory surveillance, case management, social
mobilization, logistics, and infection control and water sanitation in
WHO warned that containing the rate of infection remains a significant
challenge given the country's dilapidated water and sanitation
infrastructure and a weak health system.
Its priorities now include decentralizing the emergency response,
particularly to areas with no active non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
and strengthening social mobilization within communities to improve access
to health services and earlier treatment. The agency will also focus on
resource mobilization and greater involvement of partners in the field.
by Wayne Mafaro Saturday 21 February 2009
HARARE - A dogfight for the control of Zimbabwe's monetary compass has
ensued, with central bank governor Gideon Gono coming out fighting on Friday
to declare that he alone was the custodian of the country's monetary policy.
In remarks clearly targeted at new Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara
and Finance Minister Tendai Biti -- who have openly rubbished Gono's
policies -- the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor urged the banking
industry to ignore whatever pronouncements were coming from other quarters
that are not the RBZ.
Mutambara and Biti, who in their criticism of Gono have stopped just short
of calling for his dismissal, have on separate occasions declared that the
RBZ chief's monetary policy announced earlier this month should be reviewed.
In addition Mutambara was quoted in the media as having told the business
community to disregard the fiscal and monetary policies recently announced
by then acting finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and Gono respectively
because they would be changed very soon.
On Tuesday, Biti also indicated that adjustments would be made to the US$1.9
billion national budget prepared by Chinamasa with heavy help from Gono.
Gono said regional partners who had "offered lines of credit of around
US$500 million on the back of the recent policy liberalization had
telephoned the central bank seeking clarification on the latest
"Against this background, therefore, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe wishes to
advise all stakeholders locally, regionally and internationally that the
Monetary policy statement as announced on 2 February, 2009 does constitute
the legitimate position in the affairs of monetary Policy management of the
Country," Gono told bankers and journalists in Harare.
"As far as the monetary policy is concerned, which is my jurisdiction, there
has been no change," he said.
He urged banks not to heed Mutambara's call to disregard the monetary
Gono said: "Stakeholders, particularly the banking sector players are,
therefore, called upon to ensure that they do not break the standing
legitimate statutory requirements as is set in the Zimbabwean laws.
"Doing otherwise, for whatever reason, or based on pronouncements radiated
at variance with the dictates of the law will leave the relevant banking
institutions, individuals or corporate in needless breach of standing
legitimate regulations and laws."
Without saying who exactly he was referring to, Gono urged politicians not
to make disruptive statements that could subvert efforts to revive the
"As we work to stabilize the national economy, we advise our principals in
the field of politics to carefully weigh their pronouncements, particularly
in technical areas such as banking and finance that risk destabilizing the
economy," Gono said.
"Engaging in needless brawls, either as a way of proving the mightier among
ourselves, or as a result of ill-advice from those around us should be
avoided in the national interest," he said.
There was no immediate response form either Biti or Mutambara to Gono's
Gono, a top confidante of Mugabe, has in recent years used his closeness to
the veteran leader to control Zimbabwe's finances and is accused by critics
of exacerbating inflation by recklessly printing money to fund political
activities of Mugabe's ZANU PF party.-- ZimOnline
By Richard Lapper in Harare
Published: February 20 2009 02:00 | Last updated: February 20 2009 02:00
Frozen for the past three months, screens at the Harare stock exchange
yesterday flickered back to life as trading resumed - but in US dollars
rather than the Zimbabwean dollars rendered worthless by hyper-inflation.
There was just a single share traded - with business worth about US$30 - and
it will be some time before the fourth-floor dealing room on Kwame Nkrumah
Street will be back to normal.
But it was nevertheless another sign that Zimbabwe's new coalition
government - in which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has
agreed to share power with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF - is at least
addressing the deep economic problems with some urgency.
On Wednesday the authorities began issuing foreign currency vouchers worth
about US$100 (€80, £70) each to civil servants, as they began to make good
promises by Morgan Tsvangirai, prime minister, to pay public sector
workers - including teachers, doctors, nurses and policemen - in US dollars
or South African rand.
But much more will be needed if the government is to reverse a decade-long
decline during which food production has plummeted, gross domestic product
has shrunk by two thirds and the currency has collapsed.
Dollarisation - or the replacement of the Zimbabwean dollar with multiple
currencies - is seen as essential to recovery. But because the government's
reserves are negligible and its export capacity depressed, the move's
success will depend on the willingness of donors and foreign lenders to
All the indications are that the scale of support needed will be immense.
Hyperinflation - which reached 231m per cent in July before spiralling
vertically towards the end of last year - has had a ruinous impact. Many
families have sold assets to support themselves and have little or nothing
to fall back on. But as shops and suppliers start to charge in dollars or
rands, many are facing dramatic increases in costs.
This week, for example, the 21 families that live in Castille Court, an
apartment block in the Avenues suburb of Harare, received a rate demand in
dollars for the first time. "When we paid the bills for security, rates,
water, sewerage and electricity last year it cost less than US$1 in local
currency. Now we are being asked for US$36 just for rates," says David
Gumbo, a 37-year-old former marketing executive. "Not one of us can afford
Clayto Makado, a pastor with the evangelical Church of Christ, adds: "Most
of the people cannot afford to buy staples because everything is in dollars
Aid agencies are helping to some extent. Millions are dependent on food aid,
especially in rural areas.
Expectations are high. Teachers' unions support the MDC but are demanding
more than US$1,000 a month, way in excess of what the government can afford.
Economists question the government's ability to meet even current monthly
commitments - of at least US$60m - to public sector workers, arguing that
European and US donors are bound to remain sceptical about big aid packages
until it is clear that money will not be channelled off by Mr Mugabe and his
John Robertson, a local economist, said the foreign currency vouchers could
go the way of the Zimbabwean currency. "It has every chance of failing
because the government just does not have enough money to redeem the
vouchers quickly. The MDC is going to have to persuade somebody to do a lot
to support this economic recovery."
Published Date: 21 February 2009
By Jane Fields in Mutare
ZIMBABWE'S president, Robert Mugabe, turns 85 today - but nobody wants to
pay for his party.
So far, fundraisers have been unable to raise the £17,500 needed to stage a
party in the central town of Chinhoyi next week.
Mr Mugabe's supporters have arranged a dinner dance at Harare's plush
Rainbow Towers hotel to try to make up a £10,500 shortfall. A pick-up truck
is also to be raffled to raise funds, with state-run ZBC radio running
prime-time adverts urging the public to buy raffle tickets before next
Angry members of the 21st February Movement, which exists solely to raise
funds each year for Mr Mugabe's party, have complained that businessmen and
farmers who pledged cash and livestock to feed party-goers haven't kept
They want an inventory made of all those who pledged cash and 80 cattle, 70
goats, pigs, grain and loaves of bread to the party so they can check up on
defaulters, according to a radio report.
Temba Mliswa, the chairman of the fundraising committee, had promised the
event would be "a thriller". With Zimbabwe bankrupt, Mr Mugabe's supporters
had already been forced to scale down their fundraising targets for this
year's celebrations - ahead of elections last year they raised the
equivalent of £175,000 for the party, held in the southern town of
Mr Mugabe and his family have got used to lavish presidential birthday
parties while the rest of the nation starves, stoking tension in this
This year Zimbabweans are so hungry - and so angry - that seven petty
thieves have been beaten to death in the last few weeks for robbing
neighbours' vegetable gardens and farm plots, according to the official
Seven million Zimbabweans need food aid this month, according to the UN's
World Food Programme. Zimbabwe's total population numbers around 11 million,
although that figure is being eroded by cholera, Aids, malnutrition and the
steady flight of tens of thousands of desperate Zimbabweans, mostly into
neighbouring South Africa.
During last year's party, protesters just across the southern border in the
South African town of Messina hung a banner from a helium balloon saying:
"You've had your cake, now beat it." But Mr Mugabe refused to step down
after his defeat to Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round of presidential
elections in March, instead unleashing a brutal clampdown on Mr Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change that left more than 200 supporters dead.
Mr Tsvangirai has now joined a unity government as prime minister.
The former opposition leader has insisted that this is a transitional
arrangement until the next elections, but Mr Mugabe has other ideas.
"I do not know if the forthcoming elections would produce the same results
like the last time and we would see if the same arrangement can be made in
the future," he told new deputy ministers at a swearing-in ceremony on
Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, was born in poverty on 21
February, 1924 at Kutama Mission north of Harare.
His wife Grace, known scathingly by locals as "Zimbabwe's First Shopper"
instead of Zimbabwe's First Lady, caught Mr Mugabe's eye when she was a
Three children later, she has a fetish for shoes, diamonds and recently posh
handbags: her last acquisition during a family holiday in Hong Kong is
reported to have cost nearly £9,000.
Up to $5bn needed to fix broken economy
REPAIRING Zimbabwe's economy could cost as much as $5 billion (£3.5 billion)
and foreign direct investment would help, Morgan Tsvangirai, the country's
prime minister said yesterday.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said international and regional financiers had
offered Zimbabwe $500 million in credit lines, but were cautious because of
conflicting signals on policy.
Zimbabwe's government, formed between Mr Tsvangirai's MDC party and
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF, must resolve an economic meltdown that
has led to hyperinflation and a virtually worthless local currency. Prices
in the country double every day.
"As for the long-term economic recovery, it has not been assessed . but I
think it would run into billions of dollars, maybe as high as $5 billion,"
Mr Tsvangirai said.
He added: "Obviously as a country that is emerging from such a dire
situation, foreign direct investment is one of the areas of focus. Anything
that is inhibitive for foreign direct investment has to be reviewed."
Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank is looking at currency options. It has repeatedly
revalued its dollar and lopped another 12 zeros off the battered currency
President turns 85 today - but the event will be a pale imitation of
By Daniel Howden, Africa Correspondent
Saturday, 21 February 2009
While all else in Zimbabwe falls apart, one thing endures: Robert Gabriel
Mugabe turns 85 today.
The landmark was met with little celebration in the country which, under his
stewardship, now has the lowest life expectancy in the world - 34 years.
Attempts by his Zanu-PF party to raise funds for a national celebration on
28 February have so far failed to meet the planned cost of US$250,000
(£175,000). The business community, which faces annual threats and extortion
to fund related events, could not provide the money, despite funding past
events to the tune of US$1.2m.
News of lavish celebrations to mark yet another of the autocrat's birthdays
has sparked anger in a country where more than half the population is being
fed by international aid and a crumbling sanitation system has fuelled a
cholera epidemic that has killed more than 3,500 people.
The octogenarian leader's supporters have been busy fundraising for a party
at his rural home of Chinhoyi. But one Harare resident called Milton noted
that there has not been much publicity about the birthday this year. "I don't
believe the party in Chinhoyi will attract the thousands of people we saw in
years past. If I were to go to Chinhoyi it's a matter of just taking
advantage of free food and buses since we are so broke and can't afford to
travel and buy food any more," he said.
"As Mugabe throws parties in Zimbabwe for his 85th birthday, one in 10
children in his country are destined to die before their fifth birthday,"
said Sarah Jacobs, a spokeswoman for Save the Children, one of the foreign
NGOs that has been working to save lives amid the wreckage of Zimbabwe's
crumbling health system. "Most of their mothers won't even live to half the
President's age," she added.
While the veteran leader's controversial wife, Grace, was expected to hold
an exclusive dinner party at the couple's mansion in Harare last night, a UN
assessment team arrived in the country to take stock of the multifaceted
Mr Mugabe's traditional birthday address to the nation was the subject of
fierce speculation last night with fevered reports suggesting that he was
going to resign. Most observers agreed, however, that this was wishful
Senior MDC sources said the battered unity government, which has been losing
credibility with each passing day, was hoping for an amnesty for all
political prisoners to be announced. That would include Zimbabwe's new
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Roy Bennett, who has been in jail for the
past week on terrorism-related charges. Authorities yesterday restricted
visiting rights to Mr Bennett at the remote Mutare prison where he is being
held. The outspoken white farmer, whose property was seized during the
disastrous land invasions, can only have one visit a week.
"[This] is clearly a vindictive move to punish Roy Bennett, by wardens at
Mutare," said Nqobizitha Mlilo, an MDC spokesman. Mr Bennett is being kept
in such "deplorable conditions that one person in his cell died yesterday
and the body is still to be removed".
In addition to Mr Bennett, other opposition activists including the human
rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko have not been released despite the swearing
in of the new power-sharing administration. Last week, the MDC laid out a
number of conditions by which the success of the unity government could be
judged, including the release of political prisoners, the sacking of the
central bank governor and the attorney general. As of last night none of
these conditions had been met.
Despite this lack of progress and continual harassment from hardliners
within Mr Mugabe's party, the new Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, is
attempting to attract foreign investment back into the pariah state. Mr
Tsvangirai was in South Africa in search of US$5bn, the estimated cost of
restoring the ravaged economy. "Obviously as a country that is emerging from
such a dire situation, foreign direct investment is one of the areas of
focus . anything that is inhibitive for foreign direct investment . has to
be reviewed," he said in Cape Town.
Accompanied by his Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, the Prime Minister said
the country would not be adopting its neighbour's currency. This week the US
dollar was used to pay key civil servants, and the Harare stock exchange
began trading in the US dollar. However, Mr Tsvangirai said the country
would adopt a "multi-currency" solution, deepening the confusion over how it
Mugabe's birthday: What the people think
A housewife, Harare
I am not bothered by this birthday. Why should we celebrate one birthday
when millions of people are dying of cholera with no drugs available? Mugabe
is no longer popular now, so his birthday is insignificant. We have better
things to think of, such as food, school fees, shelter and medication.
I have lost everything in the hands of Zanu-PF. People who celebrate Mugabe's
birthday have something to gain at the end of the day: for example looting
and political favours. To me 21 February will remain an ordinary day full of
anguish. This day will only serve to remind me that the worst dictator in
the history of the world is still surviving. I wish God would give him more
years to live so that he experiences hell here on earth. We have had enough
of this old man.
Mobile phone recharge card vendor, Harare
Time is money, I can't afford to lose a day of work at all, because I won't
be able to pay rent. Mugabe was a hero of the liberation struggle just after
1980, but now we can't think of him like a hero. We are not concerned any
more. If he still insists on having a big party for his party, we should
also expect another one for the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.
I am 29 years old, just as old as Zimbabwe, but I haven't seen what the
proceeds from Mugabe's birthday are used for. We have a lot of orphans and
destitutes all over in Harare but it's only Zanu-PF people who benefit. The
world is changing therefore Mugabe and Zanu-PF should also change - just
like Barack Obama said.
Morgan Tsvangirai told to shore up country's ravaged economy and expedite
the release of political prisoners
By Ben Russell, Home Affairs Correspondent
Saturday, 21 February 2009
Britain is ready to increase its aid to Zimbabwe but only if the new
power-sharing government takes steps towards towards economic and human
Gordon Brown has told the new Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, that the
national unity government must pass a series of stringent tests to allow
international donors to treat it as an "ordinary country", and step up
efforts to secure the long-term recovery of the ravaged Zimbabwean economy.
Key measures include the immediate release of political prisoners; moves
towards greater freedom of the press; the opening of talks with the
International Monetary Fund and other bodies about an economic recovery
plan; and a "road map" towards fresh elections.
Mr Tsvangirai was in South Africa yesterday to discuss a recovery package
for his country. He said that Zimbabwe would need US$5bn (£3.5bn) to help to
repair its battered economy.
The Zimbabwean power-sharing government was formed last week after months of
deadlock between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Mr Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
But fears that Mr Mugabe's "hard men" are trying to wreck the agreement
appeared to be confirmed last week when Roy Bennett, Mr Tsvangirai's nominee
to be the deputy agriculture minister, and expected to be one of two white
men in the cabinet, was arrested.
Aid workers have warned that immediate action is needed to stem the spread
of disease, halt food shortages and prevent further collapse of the economy.
The number of people hit by the cholera epidemic will soon reach 100,000 in
a country where, according to the UN, 20 per cent of the adult population
has HIV. The average life expectancy is only 35 years.
There are also warnings that the country will face a major food shortage
within months unless urgent action is taken to stabilise the economy. One
British aid official said: "Zimbabwe is badly broken now. It will get
considerably worse if there is not very rapid progress. If the fundamentals
are not sorted out things will go down very, very quickly." Britain is the
largest supplier of aid to Zimbabwe with a £49m programme delivered through
the United Nations and local groups, and is to send medical supplies into
the country to tackle the cholera epidemic.
Britain and other donor countries have made it clear they will respond to
future humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe. But British ministers have also
indicated that they need a commitment to reform in Harare. Mr Brown has told
MPs that he informed Mr Tsvangirai that "until the government of Zimbabwe
could convince us that there were going to be free and fair elections, and
at the same time that there was going to be the removal of repressive
legislation, including the release of political prisoners, until these
things happen we could not treat Zimbabwe as if it was an ordinary country."
He also said that "obviously we would want to see humanitarian aid getting
to people who are in the distressed position that, for example, the terrible
cholera outbreak has caused". The Prime Minister added: "I hope there will
be considerable pressure by the international community to release political
prisoners, to get in a credible team to deal with the finances and to have a
clear road map to the next elections that will take place in Zimbabwe. These
will be the indicators of change that we will be looking for and I fear that
President Mugabe will still stand in the way of these changes."
The International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, said: "We hope
the new government will bring an end to the country's spiralling decline but
words must now be turned into action.
"The UK stands ready to offer further assistance but we must first see a
change in the policies and actions of the government. The situation for
millions of ordinary Zimbabweans remains desperate and that is why we remain
determined to do everything we can to improve their lives."
The price of aid: Brown's conditions
1. Release political prisoners
Morgan Tsvangirai stipulated in a speech after his inauguration that he
wanted the immediate release of all political prisoners. But even as the
ceremony was under way, Roy Bennett, who was due to be sworn in as his
deputy agriculture minister, was arrested on terrorism and weapons charges.
Contrary to a condition of the power-sharing deal, Mr Bennett is one of 40
political detainees still being held.
2. Press freedom
For the past seven years, tough laws have barred foreign journalists from
working permanently in the country and imposed state permits on local
journalists. Campaigners are putting pressure on the unity government to
guarantee press freedom.
3. Open talks with the IMF
The inflation rate, last officially estimated at 231 million per cent, has
left the Zimbabwean dollar worthless. Mr Tsvangirai is asking foreign donors
for $50m in hard currency a month for six months to pay civil servants who
have been on strike.
4. "Road map" to fresh elections
Mr Tsvangirai's orders are already being contradicted by Mr Mugabe. It has
been difficult to re-establish the rule of law in a split cabinet where Mr
Tsvangirai's ministers are outnumbered by Mr Mugabe's party 16 to 13.
By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, February 21, 2009; Page A08
It was a steamy day, but Kempton Mugova proudly wore a smart sky-blue sport
coat, purchased with the hundreds of dollars a day he reaped as a dealer on
inflation-racked Zimbabwe's black market for foreign currency.
His was a lucrative but short career. Last month, the government approved
the already widespread use of foreign money. That essentially killed the
beleaguered Zimbabwean dollar. And Mugova's market.
"It's now different," said Mugova, 22, who dreams of returning to computer
classes but instead ekes out a living selling gasoline coupons, cornmeal and
dried fish. "At the moment, I'm trying by all means to make money."
Any crisis breeds profiteers. As Zimbabwe's economy eroded in recent years,
rendering Zimbabwean dollars scarce and virtually worthless, money traders
were among the most prominent. A few merchants and companies continued
demanding local cash, even as prices for goods sometimes doubled overnight,
but a rising number wanted more stable U.S. dollars or South African rand.
So everyone swapped like mad.
Mere months ago, fast-talking dealers swarmed a downtown intersection that
serves as a long-distance bus depot called Roadport. They waved handfuls and
bagfuls of cash near the Holiday Inn. They turned a parking lot in a Harare
suburb into a trading floor that became known as the World Bank.
Now those places are quiet, no shops accept Zimbabwean dollars, and many
dealers are broke like most other people in a nation where the United
Nations estimates that just 6 percent of the population is formally
"It was an opportunity which has arisen, and we grabbed it," said Mugova's
friend Diva, 35, who did not want his last name published for fear of
government reprisal. Now back at selling stationery after saving none of his
earnings as a dealer, Diva concluded: "We were not thinking too much."
The death knell for the Zimbabwean dollar came as it does for currencies in
all hyperinflationary markets, said Steve H. Hanke, a professor of applied
economics at Johns Hopkins University.
"That is that people just refuse to use the money. It really is a nuisance.
So it just disappears on you," said Hanke, who recently wrote an online
article for the Cato Institute, where he is a senior fellow, titled "R.I.P.
Officially, Zimbabwe's monthly inflation is an unfathomable 231 million
percent. Economists scoff at that figure as far too minute. In November, the
last time reliable data were available, Hanke calculated it at 79.6 billion
percent and proclaimed Zimbabwe "second place in the world hyperinflation
record books" -- surpassed only by Hungary in 1946.
Meanwhile, the nation is in an odd currency limbo, as its new coalition
government makes plans to rescue the economy and mulls whether to euthanize
the Zimbabwean dollar. Tendai Biti, the new finance minister, has vowed not
to officially adopt the rand, despite encouragement from South Africa's
president and Zimbabwe Reserve Bank Gov. Gideon Gono, the man widely accused
of ruining the currency by printing too much of it in ever more colossal
denominations, such as the $100 trillion note.
At the same time, Zimbabwe seems to retreat from its dollar each day. This
week, the nation's stock exchange reopened after three shuttered months --†
trading only in U.S. dollars. Last week, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the main opposition party, vowed to pay civil servants in foreign
currency. On Friday, he told reporters in Cape Town that Zimbabwe would move
toward a "multi-currency denominated approach."
"We are looking at the U.S. dollar, rand and so on," he said, without
For the money dealers who found riches in greenbacks, it all meant a return
to the Zimbabwean norm of scraping by.
The high life already seems like a distant dream, Mugova and Diva said. Both
worked at a low-slung string of downtown shops that turned into fronts for
dealing foreign cash when the market rose.
Police often raided the place, but they were easily bribed, Mugova said.
Runners from the Reserve Bank stopped by regularly, too, they said -- to buy
up the foreign cash.
By pulling in as much as $300 a day in profit, Diva said he was able to buy
a new sitting-room set and television, eat meat every day and take frequent
trips to his rural home, where he bought food for poor relatives.
Some dealers "even managed to get two wives -- even three!" he said,
smiling. But he acknowledged that he did not save.
"It just comes on a silver platter," Diva said with regret. "If you work
hard for your money, you will use it wisely."
Webster Bhere ditched his job selling tires in 2004 to begin trading under
the trees at the Roadport. Once, he said wistfully, he made $1,300 on a
single transaction, when a religious charity needed to convert $8,000 in
donor funds to Zimbabwean dollars.
Bhere bought a Nissan and built a house. He sold the Nissan and purchased
two Toyota Corollas. He went to nightclubs and helped pay for relatives'
He knew his boom time was coming to an end last fall, when Zimbabwe's rival
political factions signed a power-sharing deal and the government licensed
some stores to charge in foreign currency.
"There's no way we can be making profit when there's a government that can
run," said Bhere, 33, sipping a Coca-Cola at a Harare bar.
Dealers who "used to move around with big cash" now hawk vegetables and
congratulate one another when they meet in the city, he said -- a sign they
could afford the $1.50 bus fare from the townships.
Bhere took his earnings and converted a Corolla into a taxi. Trouble is, he
makes $20 profit on good days, which is not bad in Zimbabwe but still barely
pays for groceries.
But if the dealers reminisce for the glory days, they do not necessarily
wish for their return. Even some teachers and nurses abandoned their jobs
for dealing, Mugova said with frustration.
"It is no way to live. Parents should not hustle," he said. "We just need
formal jobs. Not this informal, illegal economy."
Written by RadioVOP
Friday, 20 February 2009 18:24
Former Zimbabwe Information and Publicity minister, Jonathan Moyo,
predicts that ZANU PF faces inhalation in the next elections.
Moyo, who is hated by the country's media due to tough media law he
put in place while he was in charge of the media before he was fired in
2004, said President Robert Mugabe's recycling of dead wood in the new
cabinet does not augur well for the former ruling party.
He said President Mugabe would find it very difficult to revive
fortunes of ZANU PF which has gone into bed with the two political
formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to form a new
"ZANU PF is now a dead party just waiting to be buried and I believe
the burial will be in the next elections," said Moyo in his address to
journalists at the Quill Club on Thursday night. More was fired from ZANU PF
in 2008 after the infamous Tsholotsho Dinyane meeting in which six ZANU PF
chairpersons allegedly plotted to oust President Mugabe.
Together with the six ZANU PF chairpersons, Moyo was suspended from
the party before he was subsequently dismissed from his job as Information
and Publicity minister.
On Thursday, Moyo laid into his former party.
"Mugabe is on record as saying his past cabinet was the worst in
history but he has resurrected deadwood in the new government," he said.
Moyo said ZANU PF expected to use the transitional government to
revive itself. However, the former minister, said the continued recycling of
deadwood threatened its rehabilitation.
"May be ZANU PF hopes at some point to pull a fast one and do a
Lazarus and rise from dead," he said. Moyo, the independent legislator for
Tsholotsho, dismissed media speculation that he harboured intentions of
being appointed information minister by President Mugabe. He said with the
ZANU PF/MDC coalition government he was now the opposition leader in the
House of Assembly.
"The actual situation in the House is that there are three political
parties which are now the ruling parties. We have moved from one ruling
party to three ruling parties. In fact, I am the official opposition and I
can sustain the claim to be the leader of the opposition in the House of
Assembly," he said.
by Roger Bate
Friday, February 20th, 2009
There is new hope in Zimbabwe, or at least that is what everyone wants to
believe. The opposition has joined a coalition government; formerly exiled
opposition politicians are now in charge of education, finance, health, and
other important portfolios. Yet U.S. and EU sanctions remain on key
political figures, and the floodgates of aid have not yet opened. Cholera
cases are over 80,000; by latest count, close to 4,000 people have died.
While people hope for the best, they expect the worst, and with good reason.
Robert Mugabe celebrates his 85th birthday on Saturday, and unbelievably, he
is still president of Zimbabwe. He and his ZANU PF party have lost every
contested election in the past five years to Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC
party; Mugabe and ZANU PF have overseen a cholera epidemic, the collapse of
the Zimbabwean dollar (all trade is now done in foreign currency), the
closure of all major schools and hospitals, and the exodus of perhaps a
third of the country's population.
A power sharing agreement was reached last month, but it is a weak
compromise at best. Tsvangirai is prime minister, but Mugabe, who is backed
by powerful generals like Airforce Marshal Perence Shiri, oversees all
security forces. The police are supposed to be part-controlled by MDC,
though practical power rests with ZANU PF. Police are still detaining at
least 30 opposition politicians, and last week, they arrested MDC's Roy
Bennett for treason just before he was to be sworn in as deputy agriculture
minister. While this charge has been dropped, Bennett still faces
unsubstantiated charges of "terrorism, banditry and insurgency," and remains
in prison. It is a familiar place for the opposition politician, who was
jailed for 8 months in 2004 for pushing Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa
after the Mugabe crony verbally abused him in parliament.
Still, MDC knows it has limited time to demonstrate leadership before it is
blamed (along with ZANU PF) for failing to restore Zimbabwe's economy or
improve the people's health. MDC recognizes that the country needs outside
assistance, and Tsvangirai is already preparing to meet with South African
President Mothlante to request a $5 billion aid package. He may solicit
Western support as well.
But MDC must tread carefully. In the past, Mugabe artfully used Western
assistance to undermine MDC's perceived legitimacy. When 40 MDC supporters
were kidnapped, arrested, and tortured at the end of 2008, MDC received no
regional help; MDC criticisms were reported almost exclusively in
international media, alongside the denouncements of Western leaders. This
ironically helped Mugabe, who claimed that MDC was simply the stooge of the
West. ZANU PF Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu has shamelessly
described Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak as a "genocidal onslaught on the
people of Zimbabwe by the British." Mugabe has claimed that Britain and the
U.S. are using cholera as cover for an invasion.
Western donors have little assurance, meanwhile, that their resources would
reach people in need and would not merely continue the despotic rule of ZANU
PF. The private sector is wary, and will only engage along its own narrowly
defined interests. To loosen the spigot of foreign aid (and ensure its best
use), Tsvangirai must establish a transparent system for international
donors to contract directly with the ministries he controls.
Post-conflict Liberia provides a model. Like Zimbabwe today, Liberia in the
wake of Charles Taylor's rule had seriously flawed governance structures.
Corruption was rampant. The country was also in dire need of assistance. In
2005, the government of Liberia, along with international partners and
Liberian civil society, created Liberia's Governance and Economic Management
Assistance Program (GEMAP) to offer a system of accountability for incoming
revenue and government expenditures. Internationally-recruited advisors were
posted in the financial offices of several key Liberian institutions; these
advisers were required to cosign with Liberian officials for major
transactions. Despite whispers of "neocolonialism" and slow progress in its
first year, GEMAP has enjoyed significant success.
In April 2008, Antoinette Sayeh, then Minister of Finance for Liberia,
praised GEMAP for helping to improve transparency and the performance of
state-run enterprises ; Tom Woods, a senior official at the U.S. State
Department at the time GEMAP was created, says that "since 2003, the U.S.
has put $750 million into Liberia's recovery and the country is a stable
democracy making steady economic gains."
Now is the time for Tsvangirai to spearhead a Zimbabwean Economic Management
Assistance Program (ZEMAP). A ZEMAP would offer assurance to international
donors and transparency to Zimbabweans eager to realize gains from foreign
aid. MDC cannot afford to rely exclusively on its regional partners, who in
the past showed little resolve in combating the ravages of Mugabe's rule.
And to attract the aid of the international community, MDC must demonstrate
a compelling break with the policies that created those ravages-the
corruption, cronyism, and poor governance of Mugabe rule. A ZEMAP would be a
strong first step.
Roger Bate is the Legatum Fellow in Global Prosperity at the American
February 20, 2009
By James Makuwire
ON 12 February, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe appended a signature to a
document that confirmed the swearing in of Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime
Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
He looked uncomfortable, even bewildered and in his mind, must have been
thinking as he will have been all along, that he would still control events.
Tsvangirai and his MDC are monsters that have refused to go.
Containment is the second line of defence. In this case, absolutely the last
line. But for some reason, Mugabe has fallen in love with Arthur Mutambara.
At the swearing in ceremony, a historic moment recorded for posterity,
watched live by millions across the globe, Mugabe's absent-mindedness, or
carelessness, got the better of him. Some fool placed sensitive microphones
on the table and linked them to the broadcast system and some even bigger
fool forgot to warn the ageing leader that the microphones would be picking
up even the sound of his heart beating.
So, after Mutambara made a fool of himself, and not for the first time, and
he sat down to sign the obligatory documents accepting his appointment,
Mugabe leaned over and whispered, "Waonaka zvinoita kudzidza. Ndizvo
zvakanakira kudzidza". (You see what education can do for you. This is why
it is good to be educated.)
All those who understand Shona fidgeted in embarrassment, much the same way
ministers in the previous government fidgeted at cabinet meetings when the
President dozed off mid-meeting and none of them dared nudge him.
It is fast turning out Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara is the old
enough a son Mugabe didn't have who would take over from him.
Unfortunately, Mutambara has a very short shelf life. His MDC faction is
only being propped up by the GNU. Come next elections and he will be
history. Zanu-PF is beckoning, dear friend. But watch the fight to the death
about to begin between Emmerson Mnangagwa and Sydney Sekeramai. The former
has long since staked his claim on the succession but Sekeramai is no longer
a dark horse. He is the sober face of the internecine fight in the new
Talking about opposition parties, Prof Jonathan Moyo has been telling
everybody that he is now the one-man opposition in Parliament since the MDC
and Zanu-PF are all in government!
Talk of sick minds!
Back to Mugabe. Events have not followed the script since he swore in the
PM. First, as Prime Minister and very much as he was entitled to do,
Tsvangirai went from the ceremony straight to a rally to "explain" it all to
"the people". Tens of thousands turned up to hear him. And they did not have
to be coerced, or made to shut down their market stalls in order to be
there. The terminologies "explain" and "the people" are important.
Tsvangirai banned party regalia and party symbols at the rally. He was
attempting to graduate from activist and opposition leader to Prime Minister
and head of government. The terminologies are important because MDC (and
Zanu-PF) ministers now are obliged to travel the length and breath of the
country holding rallies explaining this GNU animal to the people!
However, Tsvangirai's graduation to statesman had its immediate, albeit
beneficial drawbacks. As Zanu-PF publicly dithered on its list of cabinet
officers, MDC mainstream started wondering for different reasons what was
On the other side of the night President Mugabe was facing his first real
challenge from within. Vice President Joseph Msika had been telling friends
that Saviour Kasukuwere's not-so-privately declared ambition to be president
by 2015 had been "curbed". He would remain deputy minister. And when Saviour's
name and that of Olivia Muchena, among other favorites, failed to appear on
the list of
those summoned by the Cabinet Office to report for swearing in as ministers,
Joyce Mujuru, the other VP of Zimbabwe, was on the blower angrily demanding
to know why her beloved Mashonaland Central, the bastion of Zanu-PF had been
allocated just one minister, Nicholas Goche?
Twice on the night of February 12 Zanu-PF revised its list ending up with
just about everybody from the previous cabinet being recalled.
When Mrs Mujuru rightly asked how the President was going to get away
with it, his answer was simple: only the Cabinet was restricted by the MoU.
He could appoint as many ministers as he liked as long as they did not sit
in cabinet. So he was genuinely surprised when this sleek young lawyer
called Tendai Biti, being the most senior of the MDC man at the swearing-in
ceremony got all his colleagues to refuse to join the Zanu-PF
ministers-to-be who were already lined up, bibles in hand, and happily
rehearsing the Oath of Office.
All this in full view of bewildered guests and adoring family members.
Someone must have secretly phoned the facilitator Thabo Mbeki at his Harare
hotel, alerting him of the unfolding crisis. It was Mbeki who told his
handlers to "take me now to State House." He could not be stopped. At State
House, the new Prime Minister was half-heartedly trying to convince his
ministers-to-be not to embarrass visiting dignitaries. They should go on
with the swearing in and sort out the issues afterwards. They literally told
him he was PM and part of the government. They were MDC and not yet part of
the government and they would have none of this nonsense of trusting Robert
The rest is history.
What part of the story that has not been told is how Arthur Mutambara's
Gibson Sibanda ended up being in the line-up.
Simple. The good professor and his No. 1 Fan, Mugabe, had agreed that
Mutambara would have a minister of state if he supported The Fan's idea of a
few ministers of state of his own. The spoilsports on MDC mainstream argued:
if Mutambara were to be accorded a minister of state, then Thokozani Khupe
would also deserve one being senior to Mutambara. Right? Then the vice
presidents, though supposedly senior, but now quite irrelevant under the
terms of the GNU, would also need their own ministers of state. Right.
This was farcical and the MDC were not going to agree to such stupidity.
Mugabe didn't see it. He was made to see it. He could rightly have his
Minister of State (Security) sitting in cabinet as has been the tradition.
He could have his minister of state for presidential affairs in the same way
that the PM could also have a minister of state in his office.
The fiasco helped Tsvangirai and exposed Mugabe for what he really is.
Tsvangirai grabbed the opportunity to address the Matabeleland
representation which he had truly messed up while at the same showing that
he did listen to his constituencies. But Mugabe cannot say he emerged from
all this holding the lolly pop. He humiliated a whole bunch of people, some
of them elderly, who, though fully deserving of being left out, did not have
to be undressed in full view of all the guests and their own families.
Both John Nkomo and Gibson Sibanda are not in the best of health and this
was simply unfair to them.
The final humiliation was Mugabe refusing to go and tell them in their face
that they could not take the oath after all. He assigned Joice Mujuru to do
that for him. No apologies from The Leader. No explanation. He was already
scheming a way to sneak them back into cabinet through the back door. After
all, the previous cabinet had included such ghost ministers as Timothy
Stamps (famous for his statement before becoming minister that HIV/AIDS was
a media event), Dr Felix Muchemwa and Richard Hove.
As for Mutambara, he was exposed for what he really is: a charlatan, no
less. Whoever called him the luckiest politician on earth was spot-on. Not
Ms Khupe. She beat the both the Zanu-PF and the MDC-Mutambara candidates
Tshinga Dube and, yes, Prof Welshman Ncube hands down. She has always won
her election, that one. She is a woman, a Ndebele and a fighter.
She deserves her position.
Where does all this leave the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono and Zanu-PF?
That's a subject of another submission. Watch this space.
MDC member languishes in prison as Cabinet sworn in
Peter Goodspeed, National Post† Published: Saturday, February 21, 2009
Roy Bennett, treasurer of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
missed getting sworn in as the country's deputy agriculture minister this
week. He was spending his seventh day in jail on terrorism and sabotage
It is not the first time the burly 51-year-old former farmer has been
incarcerated. He spent eight months of hard labour in Zimbabwe's prison
system four years ago, after he was convicted by a parliamentary
disciplinary committee of contempt for a shoving match with Justice Minister
During a debate, Mr. Chinamasa had called Mr. Bennett's ancestors "thieves
and murderers" and taunted the former coffee grower, saying he would never
see his family farm, Charleswood Estate, again.
The farm had been seized three years earlier by a gang of
government-sponsored "war veterans" who murdered two of Mr. Bennett's farm
workers, manhandled his pregnant wife and held her hostage-- she later
miscarried -- and looted and destroyed his home.
Over the next two years, while Mr. Bennett tried to regain control of his
farm through Zimbabwe's courts, the estate was invaded seven times, farm
workers were beaten and tortured and three young female farm workers were
Mr. Bennett reacted to Mr. Chinamasa's taunts by rushing across the floor of
Zimbabwe's Parliament and shoving the Justice Minister to the ground.
That gave Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwean African
National Union-Patriotic Front, the opportunity it needed to drag Mr.
Bennett before a ZANU-PF-dominated parliamentary hearing which stripped him
of his seat in Parliament and jailed him.
If Mr. Bennett had been tried in a criminal court, he probably would have
rated a $15 fine or a conditional discharge.
But the fluent Shona-speaker has long been a thorn in Mr. Mugabe's side. As
a leader of the opposition, he was repeatedly re-elected to parliament with
When he finished his prison term, he toured the world, denouncing Mr. Mugabe
and comparing Zimbabwe's prisons to the country in general.
"In prison you really see the full effect of what Mugabe has done," he said
in Toronto in 2005.
"Virtually every prisoner is in for petty crimes -- the theft of a chicken,
theft of a goat, theft of maize [corn] -- all are survival things," he said.
"They're just trying to live. They are all young, vibrant people with
absolutely no hope."
When Mr. Bennett returned to Zimbabwe, the police accused him of plotting to
overthrow the government. Faced with the prospect of life in prison, he fled
and sought and obtained political asylum in South Africa.
In the three years he was in exile, he served as the MDC's chief fund-raiser
and spokesman, and constantly chided Mr. Mugabe for corruption and presiding
over the destruction of Zimbabwe.
The power-sharing deal that finally brought the MDC into government last
week, making MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai Zimbabwe's new Prime Minister, was
supposed to open the country to new opportunities. But it is rapidly
becoming apparent little has changed and Mr. Mugabe has no intention of
sharing power in a meaningful way.
Mr. Bennett flew back to Harare, ready to be sworn in as a deputy minister,
only to find himself thrown into jail for an already discredited accusation.
Then Mr. Mugabe showed up at the initial Cabinet swearing-in with a long
list of previously unannounced Cabinet appointments for his ZANUPF
By the time he finished yesterday, Mr. Mugabe had sworn in 61 Cabinet
ministers -- from a parliament with only 210 MPs.
The bloated Cabinet, with its 33 full ministers, 20 deputy ministers and
eight ministers of state, has 15 more members than Zimbabwe's constitution
authorizes and is stuffed with former ZANU-PF officials, including Mr.
Chinamasa, who remains Justice Minister.
Mr. Bennett did not make the cut. He is being held in prison, pending a bail
hearing next month.
His wife, Heather, says her husband was offered a chance to have the charges
against him and 30 other jailed MDC activists dismissed, provided the MDC
agreed to an amnesty deal that would protect all ZANU-PF officials from any
prosecutions for their entire 29 years in power.
In the meantime, Mr. Tsvangirai has stood by helplessly, demanding Mr.
Bennett's release, while complaining the arrest is an attempt by hard-liners
in Mr. Mugabe's party to derail the unity government by provoking the MDC to
quit the unity government.
But nothing seems to faze Mr. Mugabe or his supporters.
Today, Mr. Mugabe turns 85 and ZANU-PF members are planning to stage a
US$250,000 birthday party in his honour next Saturday.
The celebration has become an annual event in spite of a massive economic
and humanitarian crisis that has left half of all Zimbabweans dependent on
foreign food aid.
The country is also in the throes of Africa's worst cholera outbreak in 20
years, with the World Health Organization reporting yesterday more than
80,000 people have been infected, while 3,759 have died from the disease.
Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) issued a report this week
that declared the cholera epidemic is only the most visible manifestation of
a much broader crisis, since Zimbabwe also faces food shortages,
malnutrition, collapsed infrastructure, political violence, 80% unemployment
and inflation that is running at an estimated 89.7 sextillion per cent (that
is 89.7 followed by 21 zeros).
Mr. Bennett made much the same point last year, when he led 200 Zimbabwe
exiles to protest Mr. Mugabe's 84th birthday at a South African border
crossing into Zimbabwe.
Then, the protesters wore T-shirts with the slogan, "The party's over." They
also waved a banner reading, "Bob, you've had your cake, now beat it."