International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: February 21, 2008
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: The collapse of President Thabo Mbeki's
mediation to resolve the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe was a
disaster that had failed to achieve one of its main aims — an uncontested
election, the troubled country's main opposition said Thursday.
The Movement for Democratic Change lifted the lid on talks which collapsed
last month when President Robert Mugabe unilaterally proclaimed a March 29
date for general elections.
"Sadly and regrettably, the dialogue has failed and failed beyond reasonable
doubt," said Tendai Biti, lead negotiator for the main MDC faction led by
Mbeki was mandated by the South African Development Community in March to
facilitate dialogue between the MDC and Mugabe's ZANU-PF party following a
crackdown on opposition activists.
Mbeki, who has been criticized for his policy of "quiet diplomacy" toward
Zimbabwe, had given repeated assurances that conditions would be in place to
ensure elections would be free and fair.
However, with talks shrouded in secrecy, the South African government was as
late as last week insisting that Mbeki's efforts had been a success and that
the election date was a sign of this.
"We take exception to the suggestions that our participation in this
election is proof of the success of the SADC (mediation). It is possibly
proof of the failure of that process," Biti said.
Biti, who was accompanied by Welshman Ncube, chief negotiator for the
smaller MDC faction led by Arthur Mutumbara, gave a detailed account of the
negotiations and how ZANU-PF had reneged on agreements to implement a new
constitution and make legislative reforms before an election was held.
The opposition itself is divided and will be contesting the elections
separately. Although Mutumbara has indicated that he will throw his support
behind former finance minister and ZANU-PF loyalist Simba Makoni who
announced his plans earlier this month to challenge Mugabe for the
Mugabe, who turns 84 on Friday, has led Zimbabwe since independence from
Britain in 1980. Opponents blame him for an economic meltdown since 2000
that has left Zimbabwe with acute shortages of gasoline, hard currency food
and most basic goods. The official rate of annual inflation in Zimbabwe has
rocketed past the 100,000 percent barrier, officials said Thursday.
Biti said they had been "cautiously optimistic" about the talks and had to
"pinch themselves" to believe some of the concessions ZANU-PF negotiators
However, he said negotiations began to fail in early December as Mugabe was
leaving for the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon, Portugal which British Prime
Minister Gordon Brown boycotted because of the Zimbabwe's president's
presence and which was hailed as a triumph by Zimbabwean media.
Negotiators for ZANU-PF insisted elections take place in March 2008 and any
reform happen after that.
"It became clear that ZANU-PF was now treating the dialogue as an exercise
... that had no bearing on elections," Ncube said.
Mbeki attempted to resolve the deadlock when he visited Harare in January
but failed and it was "agreed that no useful purpose would be served by
continuing" with the dialogue," he said.
Attempts to get comment from chief ZANU-PF negotiator Patrick Chinamasa were
not immediately returned.
Ncube emphasized that the breakdown was not caused by Mbeki or his team of
facilitators being incompetent.
"We think that the facilitating team always believed that ZANU-PF would
realize what is in the national interest and would respond positively to
rational persuasion. In that they were mistaken," he said.
The MDC said in a joint statement that the disputed elections would not
"yield a legitimate outcome" and called for greater intervention by SADC.
"The failure of this dialogue has had the effect of undermining all those
who believe in dialogue" as a way of resolving Zimbabwe's political crisis,
Mbeki's spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said local government minister Sydney
Mufamadi who headed the facilitation team was expected to issue a statement
by early next week at the latest.
"Suffice to say that the MDC statement is indicative of the need for
dialogue and not the other way around," he said.
by Charlotte Plantive Thu Feb 21, 11:17 AM ET
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party announced Thursday the
end of its dialogue on political reforms with President Robert Mugabe's
ruling ZANU-PF ahead of elections it said would be flawed.
"The dialogue mandated on March 2007 is dead," said Welshman Ncube,
secretary-general of one faction of the Movement for Democratic Change
"That dialogue was about creating the conditions for free and fair elections
and uncontestably the dialogue has failed."
Ncube was flanked at a press conference in Johannesburg by Tendai Biti,
leader of the main faction of the MDC, whose talks with the ruling party
were mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
In a statement handed to journalists after the briefing, the MDC said
legislative and presidential elections set for March 29 "cannot by any
stretch of the imagination yield a legitimate outcome".
Biti is secretary-general of the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, who
will challenge Mugabe for the presidency.
Ncube's faction, led by Arthur Mutambara, has thrown its weight behind the
candidacy of former finance minister Simba Makoni.
Mugabe, who celebrated his 84th birthday Thursday, is hoping to secure a
sixth term of office as leader of the former British colony he has ruled
since independence in 1980.
Mbeki was appointed last March by the 14-nation Southern African Development
Community (SADC) to mediate between the MDC and ZANU-PF on political
conditions necessary for free and fair polls.
The South African leader has repeatedly come under fire for his "softly,
softly" approach towards Mugabe.
Mbeki's spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga rejected the MDC's assertion, saying:
"The dialogue is not dead... President Mbeki is in regular and ongoing
contact with both parties."
Continued negotiation was the only way of solving Zimbabwe's political woes,
"In our view the best way to resolve the challenges in Zimbabwe is for the
political leadership to talk ... therefore we think that the process needs
"The MDC statement is an indication that there is a need for more and not
Zimbabwean political analyst Augustine Timbe described the MDC's declaration
as a "sad development" so close to the election.
"This is going to induce a sense of frustration among Zimbabweans ...," he
Chris Maroleng, a senior researcher at the Pretoria-based Institute for
Security Studies, said the ruling party was to blame for the breakdown but
re-engagement was crucial.
"... the MDC had really no choice (but to) say that at this stage it looks
quite clear that ZANU-PF has no intention of honouring the mediation," he
"Unless the dialogue is encouraged and unless (there is) engagement between
the two main political parties, we'll return to a situation that is similar
to that prior to 2002. We are moving backward, and not forward...
"In essence, I agree with the (South African) presidency that what we
actually should be calling for at this moment is for those parties to
re-engage each other in some kind of mediation ... but it will be very
difficult to see them (MDC) coming back into talks."
The elections are to take place against a backdrop of economic meltdown in
Zimbabwe, which has an official inflation rate of more than 100,000
percent -- the highest in the world.
Unemployment stands at around 80 percent, even basic foodstuffs are scare,
and the general infrastructure is rapidly crumbling.
Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who was part of the
negotiating team for ZANU-PF, said he would only comment once he had seen
the MDC statement.
Zimbabwe's last elections, won by Mugabe in 2002, were dismissed as rigged
by western observers and the opposition.
Mail and Guardian
Mail & Guardian reporter
21 February 2008 11:59
All three main candidates in Zimbab-we’s presidential race
launch their campaigns this Saturday, taking the race into top gear.
But the excitement in the campaign contrasts sharply with the
massive administrative chaos that is dogging preparations for the elections.
Five weeks ahead of the March 29 date, the average voter still
has to plough through a maze of confused messages coming from the Zimbab-we
Electoral Commission (ZEC), the state body in charge of elections in
This will be the first time Zimbab-weans vote in four different
elections at the same time and the sheer scale of the exercise has caused
massive administrative bottlenecks that could lead to chaos at the polls on
Each voter will get four different ballots, each a different
colour, for elections for local government, the two houses of parliament and
president. And with a new localised voters’ roll, voters will be required to
vote at prescribed voting stations. However, the ZEC has yet to publish a
full list of the polling stations.
In general, information on the election has been slow to get
out. ZEC spokesperson Utoile Silaigwana told the Mail & Guardian that the
commission could not find enough staff to deploy as voter educators; this is
not too surprising, given that the job only pays Z$10-million per day, the
equivalent of R8 at the black market rate.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN), the country’s
largest independent observer group, has issued a sharply critical report
detailing serious deficiencies in preparations so far. ZESN says that two
weeks after voter registration ended, the ZEC has yet to provide a final
report on how many people are registered. This week, even as its own voter
education campaign failed to get off the ground, government barred the ZESN
from carrying out its activities.
There are reports that Zanu-PF is already taking advantage of
the chaos to inflate its numbers. ZESN reports that in one urban
constituency in Masvingo, in southern Zimbabwe, a Zanu-PF candidate had 50
people registered as members of his family, all living at the same address,
which turned out to be a hair salon.
Meanwhile, as the chaos spreads, there are still no accredited
observers on the ground to blow the whistle.
This week, government announced tough rules for foreign observer
groups and journalists. Foreign observers and journalists will be allowed
into the country, but they will need an “invitation letter” from the
ministry of foreign affairs. The government did not say how such a letter
could be obtained.
In addition, journalists will need accreditation from the Media
and Information Commission -- which still regulates the media despite new
legislation replacing it with a new body -- before the ZEC will authorise
them to cover the elections.
Journalists and observers from outside Africa will be required
to pay $300, while the fee for observers and journalists from the region has
been set at $100.
The terms are no easier for local observers, who will need their
own letter of invitation from the ministry of justice.
A senior foreign affairs official said this week that the
government was “still finalising” a list of foreign observers. He declined
to give details of how international monitors would be chosen, but Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said that the government will bar observers
from countries that “do not have an open mind” and whose observers “sow the
seeds of confusion, disunity and ultimately bloodshed”.
The foreign affairs official said invitations would likely be
sent to SADC countries, SADC itself, the African Union and selected
countries in the Caribbean and possibly Russia, China and India.
Mugabe is unlikely to invite observers from Western governments,
which claim he rigs elections and intimidates voters. In 2002, his expulsion
of a top European Union (EU) envoy, Pierre Schorri -- who he claimed was a
spy and not the elections monitor the EU said he was -- led to personal
sanctions against Mugabe and members of his government.
Amid the election chaos, Zimbab-we’s annual inflation vaulted to
100 580,2% last month to set a new world record.
“The year-on-year inflation rate for the month of January 2008
as measured by the all-items consumer price index stood at 100 580,2%,
gaining 34 367,9 percentage points on the December rate of 66 212,3%,” the
government’s Central Statistical Office said in a report shown to
independent news provider ZimOnline.
by Wayne Mafaro Friday 22 February 2008
HARARE – A Zimbabwe teacher’s union on Thursday said ZANU PF militants
sexually assaulted and abused two women who were among a group of nine union
activists kidnapped and tortured by the ruling party supporters earlier this
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general
Raymond Majongwe, who was among the abductees, said the ZANU PF militants
beat and kicked the women in their private parts with booted feet and stole
cash and cell phones from their victims as punishment for not supporting
President Robert Mugabe.
“We were indiscriminately beaten by seven groups of about 15 people
from 1050 to 1230 using iron bars, logs, booted feet, bottles and anything
that they could lay their hands on,” Majongwe said at a press briefing in
“Some female members who were abducted with us were kicked on their
private parts,” said Majongwe, who showed reporters his back that was
pitch-black from the severe beatings.
Some of the union leaders passed out more than once but their
assailants would just wait for them to come to before the beatings started
all over again, according to Majongwe.
The ZANU PF activists abducted Majongwe and his colleagues as they
distributed flyers on the streets of Harare denouncing the collapsed state
of education and urging teachers not to report for duty until their salaries
Majongwe said their assailants accused them of supporting main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and of receiving funding and aid from the British government to
Zimbabwe holds local government, parliamentary and presidential
elections on March 29.
Churches and human rights groups say a relentless wave of political
violence over the past 12 months and in which police and other state
security forces played a major role has rendered a free and fair contest
Majongwe said police officers called in later to investigate the
matter surprisingly turned against the PTUZ officials charging the flyers
that the injured teachers distributed violated a tough government law
prohibiting distribution of information subversive to the state.
The police officers allegedly demanded the PTUZ officials’ identity
documents and bank account details so they could check whether the union
leaders were not receiving money from the British government, said Majonwge.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena accused the PTUZ leaders of
provoking the ZANU PF supporters. He however rejected suggestions the police
were biased in their handling of the case.
Bvudzijena said the police had promptly reacted to the case and
arrested some of the ZANU PF militants.
“There are ZANU PF people who have been arrested in connection with
that incident and are being charged with assault . . . we do not condone
violence,” he said.
Politically motivated violence and human rights abuses have
accompanied Zimbabwe’s elections since the emergence in 1999 of the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as the first potent threat
to President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF’s stranglehold on power. - ZimOnline
by Simplicious Chirinda Friday 22 February 2008
HARARE - Former finance minister Simba Makoni is waiting to see the
government’s reaction to his programme to seize power from President Robert
Mugabe to be able to gauge whether next month’s elections will be free and
fair, his spokesman said Thursday.
Makoni, who sat in ZANU PF’s inner politburo cabinet, earlier this month
shook Zimbabwe’s political establishment to the core when he announced that
he would challenge Mugabe in the March 29 presidential poll to be held
together with parliamentary and council elections.
Spokesman Godfrey Chanetsa said Makoni and his camp – he claims to be
working closely with other senior leaders of ZANU PF fed up with Mugabe’s
rule - remained confident of victory but hoped the political environment
will be free and fair.
“At the moment we remain reserved and only wait to see what will happen once
we start rolling out our campaign. We only hope that the political
environment will be free and fair,” said Chanetsa.
He said Makoni, who has so far restricted his activity to statements issued
in the safety of hotel conference rooms in Harare, would “soon” start
rolling out his election campaign across the country.
Chanetsa said there had been no attempts so far by the police and state
security agents – known for harassing Mugabe’s opponents - to interfere with
or stop Makoni’s camp from carrying out its political work. But he added:
“Not as yet but it is only proper to wait and see.”
ZANU PF expelled Makoni for challenging Mugabe while war veterans have
labeled the former finance minister a sellout and called for him to be
The veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war are hardliner supporters
of Mugabe whom he has used in the past to intimidate opponents. The war
veterans led Mugabe’s controversial farm seizure programme, beating and
killing several white farmers in a bid to force them to surrender their
Makoni has undoubted appeal to several influential players across the line
but analysts say he lacks grassroots support of his own and his decision to
leave it until almost the eleventh hour to announce his entry into the
presidential race may not work in his favour.
Mugabe, who routinely organises rallies and public marches by supporters to
showcase his popularity, has promised a landslide victory in March to once
again prove he has the backing of ordinary Zimbabweans. – ZimOnline
by Thenjiwe Mabhena Friday 22 February 2008
HARARE – The British embassy in Harare on Thursday dismissed as nonsense
statements in the state-controlled Herald newspaper that London was stepping
up efforts to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
The Herald, which reflects the opinion of government, said in a Wednesday
report that Britain had increased funding to non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) as part of its effort to unseat President Robert Mugabe.
The newspaper alleged that the UK had increased funding for groups such as
the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights
and the Law Society of Zimbabwe to demonise Harare.
“The Herald’s allegations about regime change are part of the usual nonsense
we associate with that newspaper. The right to change the regime belongs to
the people of Zimbabwe.
“Our only concern is that they (Zimbabweans) get the chance to freely and
fairly exercise their constitutional right (to choose a government of their
own choice),” said Keith Scott, the British embassy spokesperson.
Relations between Harare and London have been since 2000 when Mugabe began
expropriating white land for redistribution to landless blacks.
The veteran Zimbabwean leader accused the UK of reneging on an earlier
commitment agreed at the Lancaster House talks that gave birth to Zimbabwe
in 1980 to fund land reforms in the southern African country.
Britain also accuses Mugabe of violating human rights and stealing elections
in a bid to hold on to power.
Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence 27 years ago, however denies
the charge accusing Britain of pushing to oust his government as punishment
for embarking on the land reforms eight years ago. - ZimOnline
by Tanonoka Joseph Whande Friday 22 February 2008
JOHANNESBURG - There is a raging battle about what is going on in Zimbabwe.
Because of its undisputed importance in the region, the happenings on the
Zimbabwean political landscape are of interest to many people, in and
There is undeserved euphoria about Simba Makoni, a ZANU-PF prodigal son who
clearly owes his political identity to Robert Mugabe, the dictator he seeks
to replace today.
Makoni’s challenging of Mugabe will not benefit the people of Zimbabwe in
any way, if anything, it is retrogressive.
Die-hard ZANU-PF members and senior Mugabe loyalists, including once
disgraced ones, are reportedly extending encouragement and support to Makoni
and there is a reason for that.
Decidedly, this is Mugabe’s swansong, his last hurray. Most of ZANU-PF’s top
brass now supporting Makoni are looking for protection in a post-Mugabe
All these people have grave cases (pardon the expression) to answer and
explanations to give, including Makoni himself, and they are trying to band
together to shut out possibilities of trial.
Then there are people like Mutumwa Mawere who can’t believe their luck on
seeing Makoni on the ballot.
Mugabe and ZANU-PF are sitting on Mawere’s business empire and are slowly
dismantling it regardless of what a British court ruled last week. Mawere
would rightfully want to have his property back.
Having been so ill-treated by his former ZANU-PF buddies, I think he
believes he stands a better chance with a ZANU-PF Makoni government than
with an MDC government who might want to delve into his empire a little too
Zimbabweans are being taken for morons on all levels. Even reporters like
Peta Thornycroft cannot help to put their journalistic credibility on the
line and write slanted views in favour of their favourite candidate Makoni.
Alarm bells are already ringing. Thornycroft’s venture to promote Makoni for
whatever reason is a dangerous undertaking, one that gives credence to
Mugabe’s ridiculous rantings about ‘white’ people out to destroy his
government and reporters working for certain interests.
Thornycroft apparently believes that in the absence of a truly free and
vibrant independent press in Zimbabwe, she can mislead the world with her
treacherous comments. That time is passé.
Who said Makoni is a people’s choice? Who really is saying that Makoni is
well respected across party lines and even outside? What poll was taken,
where and when?
Who is telling us that this failure is “respected by the international
financial community” and what is that based on? It is only those people who
want to use Makoni as a shield.
These ZANU-PF people have been sidelined for very long and now want a go at
the national cake too. But above all, they are really worried about their
security since they are already ticking off Mugabe’s numbered days.
And that is why only ZANU-PF people, who know their crimes, are looking for
a hiding place by promoting Makoni. Makoni wants to be my president for the
He wants to use my faith in him to protect people who stole our nation’s
faith. Using my faith and my vote, Makoni wants to protect Mugabe, his
mentor, and those who murdered Zimbabwe and its people.
I am a Zimbabwean and I care about who my president should be. Last time I
checked, I was still looking. I do not know what all the fuss about Makoni
The forthcoming elections are a contest between old warrior Morgan
Tsvangirai and the seasoned despot Robert Mugabe. Zimbabweans are being
invited to take sides in a ZANU-PF domestic squabble.
Makoni is to ZANU-PF what Arthur Mutambara and his shameless kittens are to
the MDC. Mutambara, like Makoni, can’t tell people what they stand for and
anyone who does not stand for something will end up falling for anything.
And they have already fallen for Makoni. Yet only two weeks ago, they wanted
a joint effort with Tsvangirai. They change positions more frequently than
What Makoni and Mutambara have in common is that they are momentarily both
newsworthy only because they left, at critical points, organizations they
did not found. Big deal!
Yet I strongly believe that Zimbabweans from around the country should
aspire to lead their nation. The country is crawling with presidential
But we seem to believe that party leaders and presidents should only come
from Manicaland. Now the nation watches as a group of homeboys scratch each
other’s eyeballs out to lead the country.
I wonder what would really have happened had Edgar Tekere and Rekayi
Tangwena not done us the disfavour of ‘leading’ Mugabe to Mozambique where
he usurped party leadership with the help of Samora Machel.
Anyway, Matabeleland, both north and south, where are you? And is Masvingo
now in ruins? Is Emerson Mnangagwa the only ambitious person in the
Midlands? Mash Central must give us a better possibility.
Come on people, there are a lot of potential presidents everywhere in
Surely, the Look East Policy is not meant for politics too, I thought it was
just for bad business! I must admit that our eastern province did produce
brilliant and some not so brilliant leaders.
From Ndabaningi Sithole to Herbert Chitepo through Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur
Mutambara and Makoni himself.
But this look-east policy is narrowing the field to our disadvantage and
Zimbabweans from all our land must show an interest in the leadership of the
nation. Run for the presidency, Zimbabweans, run!
My quest is to extinguish the lack of interest on the part of citizens. We
don’t even take elections seriously anymore. And that is painful to me. A
nation and its people can only take so much.
A nation and its people can only flee so far. However, I am appalled by
Makoni’s backers. The same old guard that presided over our demise and
humiliation are now changing vehicles to deliver the same message.
What does our nation expect from John Nkomo, Solomon Mujuru, Joseph Msika,
Joyce Mujuru, Ibbo Mandaza, etc? We are talking about the very top ZANU-PF
Makoni’s arrival is actually more dangerous than the current situation where
we are watching Mugabe’s last hurray.
Makoni, surrounded by the ZANU-PF architects of our misery, wants to follow
the same path and protect the same perpetrators.
Are we going to make ourselves pay the price? I have no intention of
slipping on the same banana twice.
Makoni’s candidature does not offer, as Mutumwa Mawere claimed in a rambling
3 500- word article on ZimOnline, “the only available option.”
Mugabe is cornered and the ZANU-PF vultures have started circling. Fair
enough. But what choice do we have? Or is it none of the above? We have a
very simple choice here.
We are being asked to vote for four quarters from two halves. One half is
the MDC whose little sister is looking for shelter from the other half of
ZANU-PF. Shall we vote for ZANU-PF Mugabe or shall we vote for ZANU-PF
Mugabe and Makoni? Why am I reminded of mentors and protégés? Papa and Baby
Doc Duvalier. Fidel and Raul Castro.
Then there is the perennial question: Why does the MDC always participate in
flawed elections? This Zimbabwean election, like others before it, does not
meet SADC or any international standards.
What Mawere calls the “MDC’s strategy of participating in a race while
openly acknowledging that the vote will be stolen” is real cause for
Or, maybe, there is money to be made from chaos. I need a break.
*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean writer.
By Chris Gande
21 February 2008
The Zimbabwean government has increased military salaries by more than 300%
in a move seen as buttressing army support in the approach to national
Salaries of junior officers rose to Z$1.2 billion (US$600) a month from
Z$400 million, irking other public employees including teachers, many of
whom have been on strike since early January and who now receive some Z$400
million dollars a month. The union representing most teachers is demanding a
base wage of Z$1.7 billion.
Military sources said the pay raise looked like an effort to mollify
discontent within the military ahead of the March 29 presidential, general
and local elections.
Observers said uncertainty as to the loyalty of the military increased with
the entry of former finance minister Simba Makoni into the presidential
race. The influential retired army major Kudzayi Mbudzi is said to be one of
Makoni's key supporters.
Independent economist Rejoice Ngwenya told reporter Chris Gande of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the army pay hike will fuel inflation that has
been officially pegged at over 100,000% - though some economists put it at
twice that rate.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
21 February 2008
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has called meetings with state and private
sector media organizations to offer what it calls “election guidelines,"
irritating journalists who see the ZEC initiative as condescending and
intrusive in equal parts.
The commission has told journalists one of its responsibilities is to
monitor whether the national media are even-handed in covering the election,
therefore it is issuing instructions on how media should proceed with
One editor with a private-sector publication said he and other editors met
with staff of the commission last week, remarking that it seemed that the
ZEC believed the media did not have adequate standards of its own for
covering elections. He said that his publication provided the commission
with a draft it hoped would be useful.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists Secretary General Foster Dongozi told reporter
Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the country's
journalists have covered many elections and he sees no need for guidance
from the election commission.
Submitted by SHNS on Thu, 02/21/2008 - 16:36.
An editorial / By Dale McFeatters, Scripps Howard News Service
It takes economic incompetence of a high order of magnitude to accomplish
this, but Zimbabwe has managed to achieve an inflation rate of over 100,000
percent. That's the official figure, but the International Monetary Fund put
it at 150,000 percent.
Once they had one of Africa's most vibrant economies, and now the people of
Zimbabwe are reduced to barter because the money is so worthless. The
one-time breadbasket of Africa is starving.
Zimbabwe's dictator, 84-year-old Robert Mugabe, precipitated this crisis by
confiscating the country's largely white-owned commercial farms and turning
them over to cronies incapable of operating them.
As the economy worsened, he turned to price controls, which immediately
produced shortages and black markets, and then threw the presses into
overdrive to print money in a ruinous chase to catch up to the rising
prices. The government also resorted to the confidence-shattering measures
of currency recalls and exchanges.
The Associated Press reports that the price of 2.2 pounds of chicken, if you
can find it, is 15 million Zimbabwe dollars, about $2.15 U.S. But hurry, the
prices go up almost hourly and some employers pay their workers twice a day
so that they have an opportunity to buy at least some food before their pay
is totally worthless.
To put that 100,000 percent in some kind of perspective, the U.S. Federal
Reserve gets all twitchy when the inflation rate goes over 2 percent and
starts heading for 3 percent.
There has been worse inflation, but it has usually been in war-impoverished
countries saddled with burdensome debt, like the Weimar Republic after World
War I. According to inflation-tracking Web sites, postwar Hungary holds the
record for inflation -- 41,900,000,000,000,000 percent in July 1946, when
prices were doubling every 15 hours.
Zimbabwe is unique in that there's nothing really wrong with the country --
except its leadership.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)
By Tererai Karimakwenda
February 21, 2008
This week the Central Statistical Office released figures that showed that
annual inflation is now officially over 100,000%. On Thursday, Robert Mugabe’s
84th birthday, state radio announced that the fundraising committee for his
celebratory bash had raised over Z$3 trillion. While most Zimbabweans cannot
afford to pay for transport to go to work, the man responsible for this
economic disaster will be feted at a lavish affair in Beitbridge on
This clearly shows the attitude of those in power in Zimbabwe today towards
ordinary people. It was Mugabe who once said; “….let them eat potatoes.”
Harare based journalist Jan Raath said even in Zimbabwe dollars, three
trillion is a lot of money. He explained that there is no accountability in
the fundraising process for Mugabe’s birthday. State radio only mentioned
that donations had come from some business people in the country.
Figures released by the Central Statistical Office showed that the monthly
inflation rate between December and January was 120%. This means prices for
basic commodities more than doubled in one month.
According to Raath there has been an increase in the availability of some
basic goods in the shops. There has been beef, fish, milk and other daily
essentials, but the recent price increases mean most people cannot afford to
Raath said the National Pricing and Income Commission (NPIC) recently
approved price increases that made it profitable for some businesses to
order more stock. But with inflation at these unmanageable levels, Raath
expects it will only be a few weeks before serious shortages are back again.
Speaking about the presidential elections due next month, Mugabe said he is
"raring to go”. If only he knew how most Zimbabweans interpreted that
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Sydney Morning Herald
Sebastien Berger in Johannesburg
February 22, 2008
ROBERT MUGABE woke up to his 84th birthday yesterday with a damning present
from Zimbabwe's government statisticians - official inflation figures of
more than 100,000 per cent.
With Harare's shop shelves bare of basic essentials and prices rising daily,
it is a wonder inflation can be calculated at all. However, the Central
Statistical Office's work is a marvel of precision.
"The year-on-year inflation rate for the month of January 2008, as measured
by the all-items Consumer Price Index, stood at 100,580.2 per cent," it said
in a statement on Wednesday. The figure is an increase of 34,367.9
percentage points over December's 66,212.3 per cent, it added.
Independent observers believe the true figures are even higher. A single
cigarette now costs $Z500,000 ($18.58).
Mr Mugabe blames hyperinflation on exploitative businessmen who are part of
a Western plot to destabilise his country. His critics point instead to
economic mismanagement, corruption and the Government's policy of printing
ever more money to satisfy its needs.
"It's going to get worse because they have to print even more money to pay
the army and to pay for the elections," said Dr Daniel Ndlela, an economist
based in Zimbabwe. "The economic instability will increase every day."
At independence in 1980 the Zimbabwe dollar was one of the strongest
currencies in Africa. But even with a revaluation a few years ago, when
three zeros were knocked off the currency, the fall is astonishing.
On Tuesday the rate stood at $Z8 million to the US dollar. On Wednesday
morning it was $Z9 million. By the afternoon it had reached $Z10.5 million.
But for Mr Mugabe and his cronies in the ruling ZANU-PF party the foreign
exchange market is a source of riches. They are allowed to exchange
Zimbabwean dollars with the central bank at the official rate of 30,000 to
one, giving them a handsome profit.
The results can be seen in the wealthy Harare suburb of Borrowdale Brook,
where vast mansions are under construction.
The destruction of Zimbabwe's finances dates from 2000, when Mr Mugabe and
his party officials began seizing white-owned farms, crippling commercial
agriculture, the mainstay of the economy in a country that was once a
Mr Mugabe was expected to mark his birthday quietly with his family.
Tomorrow comes the official, lavish celebration, in the border town of
Beitbridge. He is confident of victory in presidential elections next month,
saying he is "raring to go, raring to fly".
Thursday, 21 February 2008 13:31
HARARE - A severe mealie-meal shortage in Zimbabwe has led to scuffles
among the hundreds of people queuing outside a Harare shop for the staple
Police guarded the doors of a store downtown Harare Tuesday to prevent
it being swamped by a swelling crowd after it received its first delivery of
mealie-meal for several days.
Supermarket managers said most shops received their last deliveries
two weeks ago and more crowds were expected once stocks were replenished.
Police allowed small groups of people inside the store at a time, and
rationed each person to one 10kg bag of meal, about a three day’s supply of
the staple food for an average family of six, until the shelves were bare.
The shortages have been caused by violent disruptions of farm
production since 2000 that have triggered the country's worst economic
crisis since independence in 1980.
Zimbabwe has usually been self-sufficient and a food exporter but now
need to import 800,000 tons of maize to make up for shortfalls in domestic
Acute hard currency shortages, which have already caused severe
shortages of petrol, electricity, water, medicines and other essential
imports, are expected to hinder food purchases further.
The World Food Programme has indicated it is expanding its aid effort
in rural Zimbabwe with more 500000 people being drafted into the feeding
By Mary Revesai
Last updated: 02/22/2008 03:41:44
A STUDY conducted in the United States more than a decade ago estimated the
cost to the American economy of alcohol abuse and alcoholism at $246
The study was conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol
Abuse, which took into account such factors as loss of earnings, health
consequences and cost of treatment, burden on employers and households and
With queuing having become an almost enforced addictive activity in
Zimbabwe, where ordinary people spend hundreds of hours in queues to do
things that are routine in other countries such as shopping, depositing or
withdrawing money from the bank etc, it would be interesting to quantify its
impact on productive pursuits.
This is because as the shortages of almost everything, but particularly
cash, worsen, there is a new twist to the art of queuing. In the past,
people have resorted to leaving their cars in petrol queues or paying touts
to keep their places in queues for various services so that they could do
other things in the meantime. They may need to revise their strategies
because queuing has become more complex and time consuming of late.
Now Zimbabweans have to queue to queue! How so, the un-initiated may wonder.
This is because the shortages, especially of cash at banks, have become so
dire that crowd control techniques are called for. Security guards now issue
pieces of paper with numbers to forestall queue-jumping and other frustrated
behaviour with a potential to ruffle feathers among people with frayed
nerves and short tempers caused by the indignity that now accompanies the
business of living from day to day.
What this means is that upon arrival at a bank, a foreign currency outlet or
a supermarket, one has to join a queue to be issued with a number before
joining the actual line in which to be served. In other words, people now
have to queue in order to join a queue! This is an extremely stressful way
of life and a scientific study would definitely establish how this is
affecting people’s health and how much productive time is wasted and other
A description of how my day panned out last Saturday will give an idea of
what an ordeal it is to live in today’s Zimbabwe. I got up early with the
intention of getting into town before banks opened. I needed to withdraw
some cash from my bank and, therefore, got up at the crack of dawn.
My plans were forestalled before I even got out of the house. A plan to fill
the bath while I made the bed gave me the first indication that all was not
well. Not a drop of water was coming out of the taps and so it meant I had
to solve the problem of how to bath and make breakfast.
There is a tap in my neighbourhood that has a time lag allowing it to
continue spouting the precious liquid long after the rest have dried up.
Bucket in hand, like a rural dweller on her way to the nearest borehole, I
rush out confidently thinking I am the earliest bird. My heart drops upon
realising I have not beaten anyone – the queue is already a mile long and
soon the tap runs dry too.
One can get by without eating but bathing is another matter. I have a
brainwave – rush to the neighbourhood shop which opens early, to buy some
bottled water. I reckon that if I get at least two bottles containing two
litres each, I can get a decent wash. But, horror of horrors! As I approach,
I meet some similarly affected residents already coming out of the shop with
their emergency supplies of expensive water.
My plans to get four litres soon fly out of the crowded shop’s windows. At
about $12 million per bottle, I realise I have to settle for one bottle of
two litres and invoke the miracle of Cana when Jesus changed water into
wine. Only this time, I needed the amount increased so that I had enough for
a bath. Mission somehow accomplished, I rush into town to a branch of my
bank in the “third world” part of the central business district of Harare
that is usually quieter.
I cannot believe my eyes. A longer queue is snaking round the block with a
shorter one forming in another direction near the door. This is the line for
getting a number to join the proper queue. I am number 177 and despite hope
springing eternal in the human breast, I realise the odds are
insurmountable. I nevertheless join the queue and persevere for half an hour
during which I barely move. What happens at smaller branches is that when
the cash runs out, tellers wait for depositors to complete transaction
before they can serve withdrawers. But in today’s Zimbabwe, when one needs
bundles of notes to buy a few items, very few people can make substantial
I decide to take a break from the queue and try to establish whether there
is any place in downtown Harare where I can find water to fill a couple of
bottles I have brought. It may be hard to believe, but the whole of town has
no water. By the time I return to the bank, it is almost closing time but
the queue is still as long as it was earlier.
It means all of us will spend the weekend without any money to buy basic
necessities. When I get home in the evening, there is still no water and I
join millions of other frustrated residents in cursing under my breath at
the ineptitude of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) which has
taken over the management of water affairs from city councils.
Then there is a bombshell on Sunday. The state newspaper, The Sunday Mail,
carries a story headed “ZINWA TO CUT SUPPLIES FOR ONE WEEK”. The statement
is issued by the general manger of the parastatal, Lisbern Chipfunde, who
explains that the problems are due to power cuts at the main waterworks.
Zimbabweans have endured all kinds of deprivation but a lack of water in the
whole of the city threatens to be a new ball game. The government of
President Robert Mugabe, however, remains supremely relaxed and confident
that despite this untenable state of affairs, which is replicated in every
town and every sector, it will win the forthcoming elections resoundingly.
But with the level of discontent simmering throughout the country that can
only happen because as expected, the polls will be rigged.
Mary Revesai is a New Zimbabwe.com columnist and writes from Harare
Thursday, 21 February 2008 13:10
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is concerned by the continued harassment
of voters and aspiring candidates by election officials presiding over some
voter inspection centers.
ZLHR is aware that several people wishing to check the voters’ roll in
preparation for their nomination as candidate during the 29 March 2008
elections have been denied their right to do so. ZLHR is also aware that
some Zimbabweans, born in Zimbabwe, to foreign parents, have also been
frustrated in their seeking to register their names for the elections or
inspect the voters roll.
ZLHR is aware that two prospective candidates, one for local council
elections in Ward 7 Mt. Pleasant constituency, and the other in
parliamentary elections for Mt. Pleasant Constituency were denied their
right to inspect the voters’ rolls within their constituencies. On the 6th
and 7th of February 2008 Mr. B Chiwola and Mrs T. G. B. Stevenson Dickey
were both denied inspection of the voters roll at Tomlinson Depot, Alexander
Park Primary School and Belvedere Sports Club.
Section 21 (1) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) clearly provides that
every voters roll shall be a public document open to inspection to any
member of the public, free of charge, with the right to make any written
notes of anything contained therein during office hours. This right was
denied the two despite the fact that their success in being nominated to
contest as candidates during the elections requires them to ensure that they
are nominated by voters registered in their constituency. Mr. Brighton
Chiwola was refused this right despite the fact that his lawyers were
present with him and cited relevant enabling provisions in the Electoral
Act. Mrs. Stevenson was told by the elections officer at Belvedere Sports
Club that she would not be allowed to check the voters roll to confirm her
nominators’ registration despite the enabling section in the Electoral Act
because the elections officer had been directed that it be so, by the
Registrar-General of Zimbabwe in his capacity as the Registrar-General of
Letters of complaint addressed to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have
also not resulted in any relief for the two nominees. With only five days
left till nomination day on 15 February 2008 it is clear that the continued
refusal to allow the two nominees to check the voters roll violates their
right as provided for in Section 3 (b) of the Electoral Act, namely the
right to participate directly in the governance of their country through
standing as candidates.
While ZLHR is in the process of trying to assist the two nominees remedy the
violation of their rights, it strongly condemns such conduct by the
electoral authorities and failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to
act against such violations. ZLHR therefore calls upon the electoral
authorities to immediately allow all Zimbabweans the enjoyment of their
democratic rights as prescribed by the Electoral Act.
February 21 2008 at 03:55PM
Harare - "Paragon of magnanimity, consistency," read a tribute in the
state-owned Herald newspaper on Thursday to veteran Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe on the occasion of his 84th birthday.
Another, accompanied by a picture of Mugabe with raised fist - a
ruling party symbol of strength - proclaimed: "Born with invaluable
Despite presiding over a crisis-ravaged economy with the world's
highest inflation rate at over 100 000 percent, Mugabe was showered with
praise and happy wishes from his supports on Thursday as he celebrated his
State radio constantly played the chorus of the 1980s hit song "God
bless President Mugabe/ he is our beacon", while the Herald dedicated 18
pages to congratulatory messages and pictures of the continent's oldest
"We wish you many more years and personal good health as well as all
success in all your endeavours to direct the affairs of the state under very
challenging circumstances," the foreign ministry said in its message.
"Having spent many years of incarceration in Rhodesian prisons and
leading the struggle for independence from outside, you have deservedly
lived to champion the empowerment of Zimbabweans and consolidation of
national sovereignty," said the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
China's ambassador to Harare gave Mugabe a framed drawing as a
"Your excellency, you are a great revolutionary in the world, the best
friend of the Chinese people," ambassador Yuan Nansheng said after
presenting the work to Mugabe.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, winning
re-election in 2002 in a vote that western observers and the opposition said
He had said that he would be ready to step down when his term ends
this year but will stand again in general polls in March to seek a sixth
He faces a challenge from his former finance minister Simba Makoni and
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction leader Morgan
Mugabe's chief secretary Misheck Sibanda praised Mugabe's "unwavering
and principled determination to free this country and its people from
colonial bondage and the shackles of neo-colonialism, in the face of
multi-faced machinations by imperialist forces and their lackeys as well as
A birthday party is planned for Mugabe in the southern border town of
Beitbridge on Saturday, when he is expected to launch his election campaign.
Mugabe has come under criticism in recent years for presiding over a
failed economy characterised by the world's highest inflation rate, around
80 percent unemployment and chronic shortages of goods like fuel and the
Sokwanele Article: February 21st, 2008
By any of the normal indices by which one judges the success of a leader of
a modern nation state, he is a failure, and an abject failure at that. Yet
still, after 28 years of disastrous rule, he remains at the helm and,
incredibly, at the age of 84 he is putting himself forward again as a
candidate - ZANU PF's only official candidate - for a further term as
President of Zimbabwe. Such is the overwhelming arrogance of the man, Robert
Mugabe. And that, with such a record of shame, he should have even the
remotest prospect of prolonging his tenure in office, is testament only to
the experience and expertise his regime has acquired in defying the
At independence in 1980, Zimbabwe seemed poised on the threshold of an era
of great promise. That independence was won at the cost of a bitter and
protracted civil war, but now the proud nation was bursting with new
confidence. Robert Mugabe was widely acclaimed as a hero - a revolutionary
leader who had committed to the cause of reconciliation and the path of
pragmatism. Western governments were falling over themselves in the rush to
provide offers of aid. In the general euphoria then prevailing Julius
Nyerere of Tanzania counselled Mugabe: "You have inherited a jewel. Keep it
28 years on that precious jewel of Africa lies in ruins, giving an ironic
twist to the name of the country which is derived from the ancient ruins of
the stone fortress, dzimba dza mabwe, or "house of stone".
Officially Zimbabwe now ranks fifth on the World Failed States Index, after
such countries as Somalia and North Korea. In truth by whatever index the
country's performance is measured, it must be counted as either a failed or
Starting with the economy, a few statistics give the measure of that
failure. To mention but a few of the key indices: the current (official)
year-on-year rate of inflation is in excess of 66,000 per cent (nearly
double that of the Weimar Republic in 1923); between 1998 and 2006 the GDP
shrank by 42 per cent, making Zimbabwe's the world's fastest shrinking
economy outside a war zone; at a conservative best estimate four out of five
Zimbabweans are unemployed - and following the cascade of desperate
Zimbabweans leaving the country in search of work, it is now the case that
75 per cent of Zimbabweans with a job are employed outside the country; and
an estimated 80 per cent of the population is now living below the poverty
One could go on, and to put these mind-boggling figures into perspective, it
should be remembered that at independence in 1980 Zimbabwe had the second
largest economy in southern Africa and the third highest GDP per capita.
Furthermore between 1980 and 2001 the International Monetary Fund, the World
Bank and the Africa Development Bank pumped a combined 2.4 billion US
dollars into the economy.
Disastrous economic decisions driven by a short-term political agenda, have
brought a once buoyant economy to the brink of collapse. And those trying to
rescue it have found themselves on the wrong side of "Mugabe law" - like the
28,000 business executives and captains of industry who in 2007 were
arrested, detained or charged by the police, their "crime" being to fail to
comply with an edict slashing prices to below the cost of their products.
The result of course was simply to empty the shelves of most supermarkets
across the country.
One could go on - to mention the tourist industry which has been turned
around from one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy with an
average annual growth rate of 18.5 per cent between 1989 and 1998 to an
industry showing a decline in revenues of 84 per cent over the years 1999 to
2004. Or one could mention the 80 per cent of wildlife on commercial farms
and conservancies which has been wiped out. The evidence of economic
vandalism is everywhere about us.
Agriculture was always the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy and here, under
Mugabe's tenure of power, we have seen the country plunge from breadbasket
of the region to a basket case.
The UN Food and Agriculture Year Book of 1975 ranked the then Rhodesia
second in the world in terms of yields of maize, wheat, soya beans and
groundnuts, and third for cotton. In the combined ranking for all these
crops the country ranked first in the world.
Zimbabwe was the world's second largest exporter of flue-cured tobacco and,
together with exports of maize, soya beans, cotton, sugar, coffee, tea,
fruit, flowers and beef, agriculture was the country's greatest foreign
currency earner, providing more employment than any other industry.
Today up to 70 per cent of commercial agriculture has been destroyed and 90
per cent of the country's arable land lies fallow following Mugabe's
disastrous land-reform. Of the 4,300 large-scale commercial farmers
operating in Zimbabwe in 2000, only between 350 and 400 now remain on the
land. Other once-productive farms now lie derelict, the homesteads occupied
by Mugabe's political cronies - from the Chief Justice to a disgraced bishop
of the Church, with a thousand other opportunistic individuals in between.
Meanwhile an estimated 500,000 former farm labourers and their families have
been chased off the land, to become homeless and destitute in a country that
has not a semblance of any social safety net.
Agricultural experts estimate that the production of maize and soya beans
has fallen by more than 50 per cent, with tobacco and coffee production
falling by more than 75 per cent. Wheat production has declined by almost 90
per cent, and the commercial beef herd is now a mere 20 per cent of what it
From breadbasket to basket case, a once-vibrant agricultural industry has
been plundered and looted in order to sustain Mugabe's vast system of
As a direct result of the catastrophic decline of agriculture and the
economy the nation's food security has been shattered. The UN World Food
Programme has named Zimbabwe as one of the Global Hunger Hotspots. It
estimates that 4 million people are now threatened with hunger and
starvation, and has increased its own food distribution from 2.5 million in
December to 3 million this month. Oxfam's assessment is that between 30 and
40 per cent of all households are now in need of food aid. Aid agencies,
battling to respond to an escalating crisis, are now faced with the stark
reality that 45 per cent of the population is already in various stages of
Faced with such widespread and acute food shortages across the country, the
meltdown of the economy and massive unemployment, is it any wonder that an
estimated 4 million Zimbabweans, or one in four of the population, have
taken refuge outside the country ? They have joined the ranks of the huge,
and still growing, Diaspora.
In 2006 it was estimated that 70 per cent of the 18 to 65 age group were
living outside the country. This represents the biggest proportional mass
movement of a population in peacetime in modern history. Moreover this mass
migration is itself having the most profound negative impact upon almost
every aspect of the nation's life. Already we can see the near destruction
of Zimbabwe's middle class, the disintegration of family life and the
undermining of many of the nation's core religious and cultural values.
Zimbabwe is undoubtedly within the world's top tier of countries devastated
by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Official statistics for 2001 put the number of
those infected with the virus at 24.6 per cent of the adult population. The
problem is compounded by the severe food shortages, and by the
understandable reluctance of donor countries to commit to a radical
programme of anti-retroviral treatment (as elsewhere on the continent)
because of the regime's record of tampering with aid programmes.
An estimated 3,500 Zimbabweans therefore are dying each week through a
combination of poverty, malnutrition and AIDS. The average life expectancy
in the country has now plunged to 37 years for men and 34 years for women -
these figures being even lower than for Sierra Leon, one of the poorest
countries on the face of the planet which is still recovering from a period
of bloody civil war.
Zimbabwe has the highest number of orphans per capita in the world -
something in excess of 1.6 million, or one in four of all children. At this
rate it is approaching the historic levels set in Rwanda after the genocide
Faced with this gargantuan challenge the country's health delivery system is
in a state of virtual collapse. Hospitals and clinics, which once offered an
unparalleled service to the nation, can no longer afford even the most basic
drugs. Starved of the resources required to even begin to face the
challenge, health officials have witnessed a steady haemorrhaging of nurses
and doctors to countries in which they can at least sustain a tolerable
standard of living. According to its own figures the Ministry responsible
has been able to fill fewer than one in four posts for doctors. In 2006 the
UN World Health Organisation gave the number of doctors at one per 10,000
In short, under Mugabe's trusteeship healthcare in Zimbabwe now rests
somewhere between the high dependency unit and the mortuary.
In the early years after independence Zimbabwe recorded spectacular advances
in the provision of education at all levels. The country's educational
system was then considered among the best in Africa. But here again all the
earlier gains have been reversed.
According to the United Nations children's agency, UNICEF, vastly fewer
children are now enrolling in school and of those who do many are forced to
drop out. In the early 1990s the free schooling provided in state schools
was replaced with a fee structure. As the economy has gone into freefall
schools have been forced to raise their fees, and increasingly parents have
been unable to keep up with the rising costs. Even with the fees raised
state schools have found themselves grossly under-resourced and unable even
to sustain the most basic maintenance programmes. Once-smart school premises
now resemble derelict warehouses, and basic text-books have become
unaffordable luxuries for all but a few.
Meanwhile the 61 private schools that had hitherto provided a quality
education for the children of parents who could afford the fees, now find
themselves locked in endless battles with the Ministry responsible which
imposes totally unrealistic fee-capping measures. To comply with the
Ministry's directives would very soon send the private schools into
bankruptcy, turning further thousands of children out onto the street.
Rule of Law
So much for the basic services which it is the fundamental responsibility of
any government to provide. Plainly and on any reckoning the Mugabe regime
has failed shamefully on every count. But what of the no less important
function of government in crime prevention and providing security for
Here again we see a spectacular failure on the part of those responsible,
for apprehending criminals and protecting the innocent. Yet this should
occasion no surprise at all. Indeed it was bound to be so, given that the
state itself under Robert Mugabe has deliberately subverted the rule of law.
The independence of the judiciary, crucial to safeguarding the human rights
of all citizens, has been deliberately sabotaged by executive intervention.
This was achieved partly by naked coercion, as in securing the resignation
of the former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, and partly by co-option, using
the vast powers of patronage Mugabe has at his disposal to reward compliant
judges, such as the Chief Justice appointed to succeed Gubbay. At the fiat
of the dictator, the constitutionally enshrined principle of the separation
of powers has been most seriously compromised. It is this separation of
Executive, Legislature and Judiciary which is the ultimate guarantee of the
constitutional rights and freedoms of the subject. Little wonder then that
it has come under sustained attack from Mugabe's totalitarian regime.
A part of this attack was in the form of the politicisation of the police,
the army and the civil service. When the separation of powers is respected
each of these arms of government is able to retain its professional
integrity, but under Mugabe's rule all have succumbed to the overweening
power of the Executive. The loss to the professional standing of each has
been profound, and with the most far-reaching consequences for the freedoms
Along with the subversion of the rule of law and politicisation of
government services has gone a huge increase in corruption which is now
endemic in the Zimbabwean body politic. In 2003 Transparency International,
an independent organisation that monitors global corruption, ranked Zimbabwe
the 77 th most corrupt of the 130 countries assessed. By 2005 it had slid to
130 th out of 163 countries, and today it is deemed to be "very corrupt".
Judith Todd recalls her father, Garfield Todd's, last comment on Robert
Mugabe: "What I cannot forgive is how many people he has corrupted."
The corruption has ensured that Mugabe and his sycophantic entourage have
been able to protect themselves from the ravages of their own destructive
policies. They live in a kind of "bubble" in which they are isolated and
protected by their obscene wealth from the appalling suffering of their
fellow Zimbabweans. Once again Mugabe himself has given the cue to the
favoured few. He has recently had completed, north of Harare, his own
mansion which boasts no fewer than 25 en suite bedrooms and was built at a
cost in excess of 26 million US dollars. (This in a country in which the
average wage - for those fortunate enough to be in employment - is the
equivalent of eleven dollars a month). And this is the third luxury
residence Mugabe has had built for himself, and the fifth he has owned since
coming to power.
In 2003 and with the assistance of police, soldiers and youth militia,
Mugabe's wife, Grace, seized the magnificent Iron Mask farm in the Mazoe
valley. The owners, an elderly white couple, were given 48 hours to vacate
Human Rights Abuses
The gross human rights abuses systematically perpetrated by the Mugabe
regime are on a scale to warrant detailed consideration by an international
court of justice. Indeed it must surely be the aim of all those who believe
in freedom and justice to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to
justice and the appalling cult of impunity, first introduced in colonial
days and applied routinely under Robert Mugabe, be ended once and for all.
Within a few years of Mugabe's accession to power the appalling Gukurahundi
massacres were underway, resulting in the brutal murder by state agents of
more than 20,000 victims in Matabeleland and the Midlands. Indeed so great
was the scale of this atrocity that today it is reckoned that one in twenty
people in Matabeleland over the age of 30 are the survivors of torture.
20 years later in 2005, forces again under Mugabe's control carried out the
brutal military operation called Operation Murambatsvina (meaning literally
"remove the shit") in which, as a subsequent United Nation's investigation
established, the homes and livelihoods of over 700,000 Zimbabweans were
destroyed. The operation was targeted at some of the poorest of the poor.
In sheer scale these were the most conspicuous of the human rights abuses
perpetrated by Mugabe and his agents, but the careful records maintained by
human rights monitors show that such abuses have continued throughout the
years of his rule. In recent years and as the dictator has felt his power
more seriously challenged, the frequency has increased, until now torture is
almost routine. The regime's attempts to conceal these abuses have varied
but increasingly of late the abuse of power has been quite blatant and
"Until they are stopped"
Such has been the rule of Robert Mugabe. His team of ministers and other
functionaries, the ruling elite, have delivered a dazzling display of sheer
incompetence. But it is worse than that. The coterie of sycophantic
officials and political dinosaurs Mugabe has surrounded himself with are
indeed profoundly incompetent; but far worse, they and the one whom they
blindly serve are indifferent. They are totally indifferent, as he is, to
the huge damage and indescribable suffering they are inflicting upon the
nation. They simply do not care what price the people of Zimbabwe have to
pay in the execution of their personal political agenda. The bottom line of
that agenda, of course, is that Mugabe will never voluntarily surrender
As the renowned former ZANU freedom fighter Wilfred Mhanda said in an
interview in October 2005:
"The MDC leadership totally underestimated Mugabe. They believed the
struggle for democracy would be hard, but they never understood that he was
prepared to destroy everything - them, the economy, the institutions, the
infrastructure, the whole country and everything in it - to survive."
To borrow the title of an address given by Judith Todd to the Cape Town
Press Club: "They will not stop until they are stopped."
In conclusion, Robert Mugabe might dress with sartorial elegance but the
smart suits from Savile Row and the customized shoes from Italy should fool
no one. This man's soul is still clothed with the military fatigues of a
guerrilla leader, for he is still fighting - and until he draws his last
breath, will be fighting - a guerrilla war. In the years before independence
that war was being waged against an oppressive colonial regime, but now that
Robert Mugabe has himself taken on the mantle of the colonial ruler, it is
being conducted against his own people. Only Zimbabwe's new oppressor has
vastly more power at his disposal, and is far more ruthless in his obsession
with holding onto power than ever his predecessor was.
It follows that the international community must consider now and as a
matter of urgency what action to take in the event that Mugabe should
attempt to steal the presidential election scheduled for March 29. When he
and his party rigged the previous presidential ballot (and the parliamentary
elections of 2000 and 2005) the international response, even from those
countries which accepted it was a fraud, was somewhat hesitant. If the 2008
elections are rigged, or if the Mugabe forces stage a coup in defiance of
the will of the people, we cannot afford another such tepid response. Rather
let those nations that have a heart for Zimbabwe's much abused people and a
mind to support them in their courageous bid for freedom and democracy,
brace themselves for the necessary action. At the very least this will
include the following:
a.. An intensification of the international pressure on Mugabe and those
who are still supporting him in resisting a return to the rule of law
b.. A recognition of the courage of those who have dared to challenge the
dictator, even belatedly,from this point in time
c.. A substantial increase in the support given to those working for
democratic change in Zimbabwe
d.. An increase in the level of humanitarian aid made available to the
starving people of Zimbabwe through the United Nations (it being understood
that UN agencies will strenuously resist every attempt of the regime to turn
that aid to its political advantage)
e.. A very serious engagement with the SADC governments to build a
consensus in the region to end the appalling suffering without further
If Mugabe and his cronies are aware of such measures in advance, so much the
Thursday, 21 February 2008 14:08
Youth Forum Offices Closed As Police Detain Board Treasurer Moyo.
Youth Forum board treasurer Isheunesu Moyo has been detained this
afternoon by plain clothes policemen following a swoop at his Belgravia
offices hardly 15 minutes after the police ordered the Youth Forum
secretariat to vacate their offices within 24hrs.
Mr. John Mutonono of Chadyiwa Legal Practitioners who has been
battling throughout the whole day to secure Moyo’s release said the Youth
Forum Board Treasurer has been arrested for malicious injury to property
following a report that has been made to police by our proprietor who has
been battling to evict us from his premises in order to secure office space
for the ministry of policy implementation in president Mugabe’s office. This
move has been vindicated since early this year by numerous visits to our
offices by men in dark glasses with different vehicles and at times driving
vehicles with no registration numbers whom we have largely believed to be
members of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) notoriously
infamous for abusing President Robert Mugabe’s political opponents.
We strongly believe that this coordinated daylight assault on the
Youth Forum and its Trustees is well calculated and targeted to pacify
dissention ahead of the crucial joint election following numerous press
adverts and public awareness campaigns by the Youth Forum which warned the
government from stealing the coming election lest Zimbabwe will degenerate
into chaos following massive unrest by the youths.
Meanwhile, the police have removed all the posters which were on the
walls at our offices and have vowed to use this as evidence in court against
Moyo in a case involving malicious injury to property which is set to be
heard in court this Friday.
The Youth Forum has since hired a private company to remove all its
office equipment and furniture for safe keeping. This follows advice from
our lawyers that the rogue regime in its worst desperate state since
independence may plant guns and other weapons at the offices in an attempt
to fix us.
Youth Forum Information and Publicity
+263 23 353 291
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Skilled workers forced to abandon their careers in order to make ends meet.
By Yamikani Mwando in Bulawayo (AR No. 157, 21-Feb-08)
In the face of hardship, Zimbabweans from all walks of life have learnt
creative survival skills which a few years ago would have invited ridicule.
From standing for hours in the long, winding queues for basic commodities to
hawking all sorts of wares, Zimbabwean professionals have grown used to
doing just about anything - except the jobs for which they were trained - to
get that extra dollar to see them through the day.
Everybody seems to be buying and selling something, as nurses, artisans and
teachers join other vendors in making journeys to remote rural areas to buy
items like dried fish and mopani larvae - a traditional African delicacy -
for resale in the city.
“This has enabled parents to send children to school. But this is something
I would never have imagined doing,” said Frank Ndebele, a teacher who quit
his rural school this year and now sells mopani larvae.
“I buy a few bars of soap which I trade in for the fish and mopani larvae.
The rural people have no way to afford the prices of these commodities and
it makes sense for all parties - I leave with fish and they get the soap.”
Ndebele also keeps a small chicken run in his backyard where he is trying
his hand at poultry farming.
Zimbabwe’s recession has seen underpaid professionals ditching their jobs
for the informal sector, where many now spend their time chasing shady deals
and ducking law enforcement officers.
In the past, women would earn extra cash by forming “clubs” where funds
would be pooled together each month and deposited into the bank account of
one member. The money would gather interest and members would then share
savings accrued at the end of the year.
But with Zimbabwe’s voracious inflation having massively dented people’s
savings, most clubs have now ceased to function. However, some enterprising
women have found new ways to beat inflation and keep their clubs going.
“Instead of putting the money in the bank, we now buy foreign currency which
does not lose value like the local dollar. At the end of the year, we either
change it into the local currency so we give members what is due to them or
we send someone across the border to buy our groceries,” said Sandra Nyoni,
who is the brains behind the scheme.
“This country has taught us how to survive or else our children would surely
Few people in this city of about two million are willing to carry out
transactions in the volatile local dollar. Currencies from neighbouring
Botswana and South Africa now dominate all forms of monetary transactions,
from buying a mobile phone to paying rent.
While the authorities say this practice is illegal, this has not stopped
trade in foreign currency. In their pursuit of much-needed foreign exchange,
the Reserve Bank and cash-strapped power utility Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority, ZESA, are splashing billions of so-called bearer cheques on the
informal market, allegedly fuelling the fall of the Zimbabwe dollar even
The millions of Zimbabweans without access to foreign currency feel the pain
of hyperinflation the most. Those managing to get by have found ways to make
ends meet from black-market trade.
Thabani Shoniwa buys a 50 kilogramme bag of maize meal directly from the
Grain Marketing Board, GMB, at a subsidised price of about 20 million
Zimbabwe dollars (about three US dollars on the black market). He then makes
up small five kg packets of meal that he sells for anything up to 15 million
Nearby, in the city’s oldest suburb of Makokoba, a notorious haven for
criminals, a vendor siphons cooking oil from a 750 millilitre bottle to a
tiny 250 ml one - just enough to prepare one meal for a family of six -
which she sells for a million dollars (a street value of about 16 US cents).
The Zimbabwean government accuses black market traders of fuelling
inflation - which official statistics now put at 66,212 per cent. However,
the ongoing economic decline means that basic commodities are only available
on the streets at exorbitant prices.
As national elections loom, President Robert Mugabe - who turns 84 this
month - continues to display his trademark resilience and shows no intention
of stepping down. But observers warn that deepening poverty and disease are
igniting an anger that might just see the country turning into another
Kenya, which saw an eruption of violence following disputed presidential
elections at the end of last year.
A sociologist who teaches at Hillside Teachers College, Bulawayo, told IWPR
that the high levels of frustration being experienced by young people in
particular could erupt with the slightest provocation.
“The frustration we are seeing is dangerous as we approach elections,” he
warned. “All these people seem to know who has caused them this much misery,
and because of the elections, we can only hope that the outcome won’t
trigger the anger that has been building up for years now.”
Yamikani Mwando is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Many ruling party members are seemingly too scared to declare support for
By Meshack Ndodana in Harare (AR No. 157, 21-Feb-08)
The ZANU-PF heavyweights expected to back Simba Makoni’s presidential bid in
next month’s election in Zimbabwe have failed to come out in support of him
because they fear President Robert Mugabe will turn on them.
Former finance minister Makoni was expelled from ZANU-PF earlier this month
when he announced his intention to stand against Mugabe in the upcoming
presidential and parliamentary elections in March.
Makoni, who predicts that he and his fellow independent candidates will win
the elections in a landslide, has said his immediate priorities on being
elected would be to resolve shortages of food, power, fuel and water, and
abolish the various exchange rates that fuel black-market currency trading.
He has also announced plans to establish a non-partisan organisation to haul
the country out of its current economic crisis, which has left the country
with an inflation rate of 66,000 per cent, high unemployment and food
shortages, and a collapsing infrastructure.
Although 73 candidates have so far joined Makoni’s camp and nominated
themselves as independent candidates in next month’s elections, most of them
are political lightweights.
Analysts say that fear of reprisals by the ruling party machinery has
deterred those ZANU-PF stalwarts who were reported to be contemplating
standing with their expelled colleague as independents.
The party is known for punishing defectors, and those who are thrown out
have found it hard to recover their former glory, even after being
readmitted. According to the ZANU-PF constitution, a party member loses
membership if he or she stands as an independent.
Mugabe has wasted no time in delivering a body blow to the Makoni project.
Makoni’s biggest backer, retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru, is
now under investigation for various cases of corruption concerning his vast
The charges were leveled at the general, who according to reports may now be
under house arrest, immediately after it emerged that he was fronting Makoni’s
According to media reports, Mujuru has already been called in for
questioning on corruption charges which were presented by the Central
Intelligence Organisation to the police for investigation.
Some of Mujuru allies, such as Zimbabwe’s attorney general Sobusa
Gula-Ndebele, have already felt Mugabe’s wrath.
Gula-Ndebele has since been removed from office and is facing charges of
misconduct related to a case involving former banker and close Mujuru ally
James Mushore, who is accused of breaching the country’s foreign exchange
Although Gula-Ndebele is alleged to have abused his office to help Mushore,
commentators believe the case against him is politically motivated. Mugabe
suspended the attorney general last month and appointed a tribunal to
investigate allegations of his alleged misbehaviour.
Guruve North MP David Butau, who was in charge of finances for Mujuru, has
now fled to the UK amid allegations of exchange control violations.
The charges waged against these men have been interpreted as attempts by
Mugabe to deal with those he believes are trying to oust him.
Only a few brave people - mostly those who have already been marginalised in
ZANU-PF - presented their nomination papers on February 15, when the courts
sat to receive candidates for the crucial elections.
However, no big names put themselves forward. A number of senior figures in
Mugabe’s party are believed to support Makoni’s challenge but are thought to
be waiting to assess his prospects closer to polling day before openly
Makoni has not revealed any major supporters in ZANU-PF since he announced
his decision to contest the election. Sources in his camp said although the
heavyweights will not come out in the open, they will continue to campaign
for him behind the scenes.
The candidate urged his supporters not be intimidated.
“I invite the many Zimbabweans who share the vision I have ... to join me
and stand as independents in the forthcoming election under our banner.
Please enter the race,” he said.
The Makoni camp was busy at the weekend checking which of the registered
independent candidates had submitted their names in support of the
ex-finance minister. As of late February 18, a total of 62 independent
parliamentary candidates and 11 aspiring senators had joined his project.
However, so far only a couple of prominent ZANU-PF members have taken up
Fired former legislator and publisher Kindness Paradza, whose newspaper The
Tribune was shut down by the government, and former education minister Fay
Chung, are among those who have joined Makoni to fight the election.
Margaret Dongo, a former legislator and the first woman to rebel against
Mugabe and form the Zimbabwe Democratic Party, is also backing Makoni and
contesting the election as an independent candidate in Chikomo.
Other politicians standing as independents include the apparent brains
behind the Makoni project Ibbo Mandaza, who is going for the Mazowe West
parliamentary seat. ZANU-PF founding member Edgar Tekere is vying for
Mutare, while Major General Kudzai Mbudzi is standing for the Masvingo West
The independent candidates will fight it out in the parliamentary elections
with candidates from ZANU-PF, as well as from the main faction of the
opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, headed by Morgan
Makoni has also forged an alliance with Professor Arthur Mutambara’s smaller
MDC faction. The opposition leader will back Makoni, and in return, he is
expected to urge his supporters to vote for contestants in that faction.
Makoni’s camp is contesting most constituencies, with the least support
expected from Mugabe’s home province of Mashonaland West and the Midlands
provinces, from where Mugabe’s preferred successor Emmerson Mnangagwa hails.
A source in Makoni’s camp told IWPR the day before nominations that not as
many independent candidates as hoped had been fielded in the above home
provinces of Mugabe and his closest ally Mnangagwa.
“There is a lot of fear felt by our supporters in those provinces, although
there is interest. It seems the people in Mashonaland West feel they might
be punished more and have more to lose since they have gained the most from
Mugabe’s patronage. They also understand how ruthless the man can be,” said
Meshack Ndodana is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
National Post, Canada
Rw Johnson, National Post Published: Thursday, February 21, 2008
The entrance of the former finance minister, Simba Makoni, into the
Zimbabwean presidential race has suddenly created the extraordinary
possibility that President Robert Mugabe could be defeated at the polls.
Until then, Mugabe, 83, President since 1980, seemed bound to win, not only
because elections in Zimbabwe are rigged, but because the two rival
fractions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led
respectively by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, had failed to agree
on a united front for the elections on March 29.
Currently Makoni is being treated to the full battery of abuse and threats
which face anyone who challenges Mugabe. He has been summarily expelled from
the ruling Zanu-PF; he has been physically threatened by the war vet leader,
Joseph Chinotimba, who has said that "Traitors should know Zanu-PF has a
history of dealing harshly with their kind," which basically means being
horribly tortured to death; and he has been passionately denounced by
Mugabe's press as the willing stooge of Anglo-American imperialists who want
to turn Zimbabwe back into a colony. But Makoni, 57, seems unperturbed,
pointing out that he has been a lifelong member of Zanu-PF and a member of
its Politburo till this week, and claiming that he had consulted widely
within Zanu-PF before launching his candidacy. The implication is that he
has large-scale support within the ruling party, so he is really a rival
Zanu-PF candidate to Mugabe. Crucially, however, Makoni disagrees with
Mugabe's assertion that Zimbabwe's economic meltdown is caused by the
imperialists and lays the blame squarely on the Mugabe government. "Of
course we need change," says one of his backers, Wilfred Mhanda. "The old
man wants to be in charge for the rest of his life, regardless of how much
further the country falls. He does not care how much anyone suffers." Makoni
himself promises, "I will bring a new dawn of democracy, accountability and
integrity." Given that Mugabe has reduced Zimbabwe to a state of 90%
unemployment and 26,000% inflation, with no goods in the shops and mass
starvation forcing millions to leave the country, the idea that a Makoni
victory could turn everything around makes him an arresting candidate for
many within the ruling party.
Mugabe has cancelled the Zanu-PF Politburo meeting and seems flummoxed.
Normally, he would set the war vets to beat, torture and kill the supporters
of any would-be opponent, but the problem is that he doesn't know who
exactly within Zanu-PF is supporting Makoni -- and setting the war vets on
his own party would, in any case, be asking for trouble. Secondly, he has
relied on a crooked voters' roll, on large-scale electoral fraud in the
rural areas and on the fact that all the counting is done by Zanu-PF
stalwarts, most of them military. But with rumours flying thick and fast
that Makoni has large-scale support within the police and military, it seems
possible that Mugabe may not even be able to rely on the loyalty of the
Thus far all Mugabe has said is that he will allow any result but one: He
will not allow Zimbabwe to be turned back into a colony. Given what his own
press say of Makoni, let alone about the MDC, this means he won't allow
anyone but himself to win. But his intelligence organization, the CIO, has
warned him to postpone the election, saying he could lose.
Makoni has had an undistinguished ministerial career and his reputation as a
technocrat is not really deserved, but that is not the point. As everyone
knows, once Mugabe goes, whoever succeeds him will immediately be offered
aid by the EU, Britain, the U.S. and international institutions -- in return
for sweeping political reform. The result would be to turn the economy
around completely, and whoever was president would end up doing pretty much
what the donors dictate. But if this were done under Tsvangirai or
Mutambara, the corrupt and powerful interests grouped within Zanu-PF might
all be swept away. Makoni, on the other hand, might be able to gain all the
benefits of such a turnaround while leaving Zanu-PF in power and all those
interests undisturbed. It is an alluring prospect for everyone except Mugabe
Tsvangirai has launched his campaign and seems determined to run, but the
(much weaker) Mutambara faction is clearly happy to back Makoni. There is no
doubt that South Africa's ruling ANC would also be delighted to see Makoni
win: Its main objective is to keep Zanu-PF in power and it has felt for some
time that Mugabe was endangering that objective.
Mugabe knows all this and is clearly cornered.
The stakes are extremely high. Makoni is breaking the spell whereby members
of the ruling party repeat Mugabe's refrain that all the country's woes are
caused by the imperialists. If Makoni wins, then the blame for all the
suffering will rest solely on Mugabe and he would probably not feel safe to
stay in the country. Makoni, on the other hand, would also have to leave the
country if he lost the election, for he would run a high risk of
One alternative for Mugabe would be to delay elections and use the CIO to
try to ferret out who exactly within Zanu-PF supports Makoni and who are the
true Mugabe loyalists. Already Mugabe is trying to get rid of Zanu-PF MPs
whom he suspects of being Makoni supporters. But this is an uncertain
exercise: Many will swear undying loyalty to Mugabe while quietly preparing
to ditch him. The real question is what Mugabe will do if the election is
held, and despite all his efforts, Makoni is declared the winner. Will
Mugabe simply try to annul the result and stay in power regardless? Or, if
he thinks there is any possibility of such a thing happening, will Mugabe
simply cancel the elections altogether?
It seems clear that Mugabe will not just bow out, but all the ways in which
he can try to stay in power amount to a virtual coup. Whatever happens, it
seems certain that all these scenarios end up with the question of where the
loyalties of the police and army will lie and how they will react. -
RWJohnson is emeritus fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and Southern
Africa correspondent for The Sunday Times.
THE VANGUARD ALERT
ZINASU condemns the continued abuse of state resources ...as an additional
481 zanu pf aligned students enjoy a flawed Mugabe scholarship programme On
Saturday 16 February 2008, the 'outgoing' president R.G Mugabe officially
dispatched his last batch of the Government sponsored scholarship programme
to Colleges and Universities in South Africa at a flamboyant reception held
at the state house. The majority of the beneficiaries, if not all, are kids,
friends and relatives of ZANU PF's top officials. The money used to finance
481 students heading for South Africa should have been used productively to
improve on education systems in the country for the benefit of the majority.
We condemn, in the strongest of terms, the use of state resources for
To the receiving country South Africa, President Mbeki and President Zuma,
we urge you to take the stance taken by other progressive nations by
deporting students studying in South Africa on Zimbabwe state resources. Are
you going to stand silent and watch as the geriatric dictator disadvantages
the whole nation just to reward his lieutenants? Are you going to betray the
suffering people of Zimbabwe only in the spirit of brotherhood and
solidarity? History will judge you harshly, if you do nothing about the
Zimbabwe National Students Union is shocked to realise that the South
African government has the audacity to assault, arrest, detain and deport
innocent Zimbabweans who seek refuge in South Africa from the political,
social and economic harsh environment that is a culmination of Mugabe iron
fist rule. We urge you to deport all students studying in South Africa on
Zimbabwe state resources and have the taste their father's medicine. They
must go through the suffering and pain of studying at a Zimbabwe tertiary
state institution together with us all the Zimbabwean Students. We urge the
two presidents, Zuma and Mbeki to immediately revoke student's visas of all
the children of the ruling Zanu PF elite currently studying in South Africa.
Failure to do so will be a betrayal of the suffering students of Zimbabwe
and the citizenry at large.
Another disturbing development is the announcement of exorbitant tuition
fees for tertiary education that has been pegged at ZW$1,4billion (USD4,
700) per semester. ZINASU urges all students in Zimbabwe to boycott paying
these ridiculous and exorbitant tuition fees. We urge all students to
vehemently denounce the satanic and diabolic fees structure.
To Robert Mugabe, if you rebel against students, the students will rebel
back Little by little, Freedom shall come, For and on behalf of the union,
Clever Bere President
The Information, Communications & Research Department Zimbabwe National
53 Hebert Chitepo Ave,
20th February 2008
ZANU (PF) MEMBERS ATTACK TEACHERS IN HARARE
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) condemns, in no uncertain terms the
brutal attack on nine (9) members of the Progressive Teachers’ Union (PTUZ)
at noon on 19th February 2008 at the ZANU (PF) Harare Province Headquarters
at the 4th Street Bus Terminus in Harare.
Members of the PTUZ were engaged in a peaceful ‘Save our Education’ campaign
in the streets of Harare. When they approached the 4th Street Bus terminus
they were apprehended by, as yet unidentified , youths from the ZANU (PF)
building. The 9 teachers were taken inside the building and subjected to all
manner of brutalization including but not limited to assaults with clenched
feet, open palms, booted feet and assaults with iron rods. Female teachers
among the victims were subjected to verbal abuse of the most degrading and
inhuman nature. One female teacher was stripped naked in full view of her
male colleagues and assailants alike and had her genital area repeatedly
trampled upon. During the course of these assaults and inhuman and degrading
treatment, the victims were being accused of being MDC activists and were
ordered to sing political songs ridiculing and insulting opposition leaders.
It is alleged that an anonymous call was made to the ZRP and it immediately
reacted and descended upon the ZANU (PF) headquarters aforementioned. The
Police took all the victims to Harare central police station and laid them
along an office corridor at CID Law & Order Section where they were still
lying and writhing in visible pain at the time lawyers deployed to attend to
them eventually found them at around 1400hrs. Lawyers were initially denied
access by THE OFFICER IN CHARGE OF CID LAW & ORDER SECTION HARARE CENTRAL
POLICE STATION namely; one DETECTIVE CHIEF INSPECTOR MANJENGWA. One lawyer
was forcibly escorted from the victims as he tried to do a physical count of
them and hand-over medication to one of the victims MR. RAYMOND MAJONGWE.
Offers to ferry the victims to a hospital were turned down by the police.
The victims were eventually taken to what was initially declared to be
Parirenyatwa General Hospital in an open B1800 Mazda pick-up truck
notwithstanding their dire medical condition. This was now at around
15:00hrs. Lawyers and other teachers with medication and concern on the
plight of the victims followed to what eventually turned out to be Harare
Central Hospital in Southerton much further away from the nearer and more
convenient Avenues Clinic requested by the victims and suggested by their
lawyers and fellow teachers.
Upon arrival at Harare Central Hospital at around 15:45hrs the victims could
not be treated on account of several reasons ranging from the overcrowded
casualty room, shortage of staff and broken down equipment such as the X-Ray
machine which had allegedly run out of film. Negotiations with the Police to
take the victim to an alternative medical facility were fruitless as the
Police guard indicated that it had to wait for instructions from superiors.
Eventually the superiors came in person and the victims were eventually
taken to the Avenues Clinic where they were all admitted.
Lawyers returned to CID Law & Order to ascertain why the victims who had
been viciously assaulted were being treated like accused persons yet they
were in fact or apparently the victims in a most heinous assault case. The
Officer Commanding CID Law & Order one CHIEF SUPERINTENDANT MADZINGO advised
that in fact the injured teachers were complainants in a case of their
assault but also accused persons in an alleged case of contravening sections
of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act [Chapter 10:28] outlawing
the distribution of pamphlets, placards etc in public places and or
Meanwhile and at the Avenues Clinic and as at the period extending from
19:00hrs to 22:00 hrs lawyers had to attend again as Police descended on the
casualty ward and hinted at taking into their custody all persons discharged
from the hospital with a view to detaining them at Harare Central Police
Station. As at 22:00hrs no one had been taken into Police custody though the
latter maintained a visible presence.
Of particular concern in this case to ZLHR is the apparent harassment of
legitimate human rights defenders who were simply airing the dilapidated
state of the country’s education sector.
It is of further concern to ZLHR that the Police would seek to turn
complainants into accused persons in a situation where they are seriously
injured and had been denied access to urgent life saving medical attention.
It is further disturbing to note that the officers at Law & Order are
unrepentant in their erroneous reading of the law regarding access by
lawyers and indeed medical practitioners and relatives to detained persons.
The Law & Order section persists with its misguided position that lawyers,
doctors and relatives can only see detainees at the pleasure of the police
and in any event after having been so summoned by the police. This is a
disturbingly wrong interpretation of the law and the Law & Order section
would do well to familiarize themselves with Section 13 (k) of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe (1980) (as amended in October 2007).
In this respect, ZLHR urges the Police to be stern and professional in
dealing with such incidents of unprovoked political violence especially in
cases where it is directed towards innocent civilians.
ZLHR urges the ZRP to recall the inviolability of human life, the integrity
of the person and the right not to be treated in an inhuman and degrading
manner by either denying injured persons access to medication and or medical
attention/taking injured complainants and or accused persons to ill equipped
and or understaffed medical facilities well out of time.
ZLHR challenges the ZRP to ensure that, as promised in the Commissioner
General’s pre-election message to the nation, all perpetrators of political
violence are dealt with in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe regardless of
political inclinations. Anything less than the above amounts to a travesty
of justice which also has the unfavourable consequence of bring the
administration of justice into disrepute a well as eroding public confidence
in the law enforcement agencies of Zimbabwe in particular and justice
officials in general.
By Fikile Maphala
Last updated: 02/21/2008 22:25:46
ZIMBABWE’S opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will this weekend
launch its manifesto which details plans to appoint a Truth and Justice
Commission within 100 days of assuming office to investigate all
perpetrators of gross human rights violations since 1980.
The MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai which is set to launch its election
campaign in Mutare on Saturday, says those who have committed human rights
abuses in the past will face prosecution under an MDC government.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the Mutare rally will see the opposition
party launch its manifesto, election campaign and unveil its candidates for
the joint presidential, parliamentary and local government polls pencilled
for March 29.
Chamisa said: “All the top leadership of the party will be in attendance
including all MDC candidates for the forthcoming election. The manifesto is
a brilliant document which has taken the party two years to draft. It
summarises the findings of the party on what needs to be done to bring back
stability to the country.”
The opposition says there are five key priority areas which an MDC
government will target to bring back normalcy to the country, namely
economic stabilisation, reconstruction, national integration, restoration of
law and order and a new constitution.
The MDC manifesto -- leaked to New Zimbabwe.com -- says the truth and
justice commission will focus on “four main periods of gross human rights
violations” between 1980 and 2008.
Top on the agenda of the commission will be investigating crimes against
humanity committed during the Gukurahundi genocide, a military incursion
into the western parts of the country which human rights groups say left 20
000 people dead between 1982 and 1987.
The commission will also bring to book perpetrators of human rights
violations during the fast-track land reform programme which led to the
killing of white land owners and several farm workers as well as the
unlawful occupation and destruction of properties on more than 10 000
commercial farms since 2000.
An MDC government will also investigate crimes committed during Operation
Murambatsvina in 2005 – a government blitz on unplanned urban structures
which left close to a million people homeless, and thousands others without
The MDC faction says it will also investigate and bring to book culprits
behind the violence and destruction of property during “the struggle to
restore democracy in Zimbabwe between 1998 and 2008, particularly around the
periods when elections were held.”
The MDC claims that during the period in question, several opposition
activists were murdered in politically motivated violence while others were
maimed, brutally assaulted or tortured by state agents and Zanu PF militias
who have never been prosecuted.
The 175-page MDC manifesto refers to these past events as eras of gross
human rights abuses and promises to grant them justice as soon as possible.
The manifesto reads: “The MDC is committed to dealing with the needs of the
victims of these four instances in a holistic and comprehensive way. By this
means, it is hoped to give those affected by the abuse of their rights the
satisfaction of knowing that the truth about what happened has been revealed
and that the culprits have been brought to justice.”
The opposition party says it is necessary to address these matters to avoid
a repeat of such crimes. The Commission, which will be open to the public,
will identify culprits to the criminal incidents being investigated and
recommend further investigations by the police before the matters are
brought to the courts.
It will publish detailed records of these incidences to ensure “that the
memory is retained and that this sort of abusive activity by the state is
not repeated in the future.”
The MDC says in the event of people who committed atrocities not
volunteering to come to offer their side of the story to the commission, the
commission will direct investigation by an impartial police force that will
proceed with criminal prosecution were there is evidence that an atrocity
The document also says an MDC government will set up compensation courts
around the country to deal with financial prejudices that may have occurred
in each and every case brought before the commission.
Where personal prejudice has been incurred -- such as physical disability or
the death of bread winner -- the commission will be empowered to direct the
courts to compensate the victim or victims, says the MDC.
The MDC, which accuses President Robert Mugabe’s government of sanctioning
gross human rights violations and politically motivated killings of
opponents since Independence, says the 84-year-old leader should face trial
for crimes against humanity.
Four names will be on the ballot paper for presidential elections on March
29, but analysts say the real battle will between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and
former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, who is running as an independent.
Makoni has rejected any suggestion of putting Mugabe on trial.
He said: “I am not doing this against anyone (running for president); I am
doing this for the people of Zimbabwe. President Mugabe is a citizen of
Zimbabwe at this point in time, the number one citizen of Zimbabwe. There is
space here for him to continue his life without fear or worry.”
Thursday, 21 February 2008 13:45
JOHANNESBURG-SEVERE power failure that is currently wreaking havoc in South
Africa's economy has forced the country's power utility to look north to
Zimbabwe for answers.
Eskom is to import more than 45 million tonnes of coal from Zimbabwe per
annum. Due to the electricity crisis in South Africa, Eskom is set to
fork-out a whopping R11 billion (about 800 million pounds) as an emergency
move that is destined to lessen the outages.
According to Eskom Executive, Mr Brian Dames the 45-million tons would be
enough to settle Eskom's running requirements.
He argues that the amount of coal could be added systematically over the
next two years in a bid to raise coal reserves at power stations to at least
20 days' supply.
Eskom is presently importing Zimbabwe's coal at a give away price of R100
per tonne. Under this price regime, Eskom would attain its desired
45-million additional tonnes from Hwange Colliery at the tune of R11
The power shortage in South Africa might in turn come as a huge sigh of
relief to Hwange Colliery, the sole producers of coal in Zimbabwe that has
been seriously experiencing viability problems owing to critical shortage of
Hwange Colliery has been battling for years now to source the much-needed
foreign currency to source spare parts for its outdated machinery.
Zimbabwe is experiencing a biting shortage of foreign currency as reserves
have dwindled in a development blamed on the President Mugabe
administration's land reforms, impractical revival plans as well as poor
political and socio-economic policies
Thu, 21 Feb 2008
Two regional power utilities and a mining company are courting Zimbabwe's
Zesa Holdings for a possible take-over of operations of its small thermal
power stations, the state-controlled Herald reported on Thursday.
Government sources told the newspaper that Eskom of South Africa, through
its investment vehicle Bay Harbour, had proposed to refurbish the
non-operational Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare thermal stations.
The thermal stations have not been operating for sometime now due to erratic
coal supplies and equipment that has generally outlived its life-span, the
Separate bids have been lodged by three possible suitors.
Also Botswana Power Company has proposed to revive Munyati and Bulawayo
while Anglo Platinum is looking at bringing back Harare thermal station.
"Sources within government this week said Eskom would inject between
$15-million and $25-million in Hwange Colliery Company Limited to boost coal
production," the Herald said.
This would ensure uninterrupted coal supplies at the small thermal stations.
In turn, half of the power generated from the three stations would be
exported to South Africa while the remainder would be for Zimbabwean
From The Nyasa Times (Malawi), 21 February
Maize crisis! Malawi which was hailed by donors as a success story having
turned around the chronic famine that was compounded by natural disasters
and poor agriculture policies, is running short of maize to feed its 12
million plus population, sources have said. A senior official in the
Ministry of Agriculture headed by President Bingu wa Mutharika has confided
that Malawi maize stocks held by the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) is
not enough to meet the current demand. Maize is only available for two
months if exports to Zimbabwe are not cancelled. "The Ministry of
Agriculture got it all wrong in its estimate of the 3.1 million tonnes
harvest. There is also a problem in estimating the size of our population
and level of domestic maize consumption for the grain. "NFRA has maize that
is less than 40,000 metric tonnes and government officers including
ministers are not telling the nation the truth about stock holdings. The
stock can only last two months," said the official, who added that
government was overzealous by focussing on gaining international
The source's revelations concur with the sentiments expressed by Rafiq
Hajat, executive director of Institute for Policy Interaction who doubted
the government's claim of a surplus. "One thing about statistics – they can
be used to show whatever you want them to show. I think the annual
requirement for Malawi is 2.5 million (metric) tons. We have already sold
about 400,000 (metric) tonnes to Zimbabwe. That means that we no longer have
that surplus. If you do your math, you may probably find that we have half a
million tons left. After spoilage and so on, I wonder how much really would
remain in our silos," Hajat told VOA. Two weeks ago the General Manager of
NFRA Mr Edward Sawelengera while giving local journalists a tour of the
silos at Kanengo in the capital Lilongwe, said that maize stock was standing
at 50, 000 metric tonnes. "The fact is that the maize we are exporting is
not coming from government silos but coming direct from the farmers," said
Sawelengera without elaborating which farmers.
Finance Minister Dr Goodall Gondwe addressing a political rally in Kasungu,
one of the hard hit districts, said NFRA stocks stood at more than 60,000
metric tonnes. "Government has over 60,000 metric tonnes at its maize silos
in Lilongwe which is more than enough to serve people of the country,"
Gondwe said at Traditional Authority Chidzuma headquarters. The UN World
Food Programme (WFP) says Malawi needs 2 million tonnes to feed its 12
million population per year (12 months) and a recent report by the Malawi
Vulnerability Assessment Committee said four of the country's 28
drought-affected areas were being watched closely. "Some 520,000 people in
four districts which were affected by drought are on close watch as they may
face risk of food shortages before next year's harvest," said Matthews
Nyirenda of the WFP citing Karonga and Mzimba in the north, Ntchisi in the
central region and Mulanje in the south. Ntchisi has already registered two
deaths and there is a rise of both child and adult malnutrition.
Many families in the country have also lost their food stocks due to
flooding which have hit many parts of the country with the Lower Shire
districts, Karonga, Nkhotakota being the worst affected. People are living
on relief handouts from the religious based organisations. Leader of
opposition, John Tembo has demanded government to stop exporting maize to
Zimbabwe. "We ask government to stop exporting maize to Zimbabwe with
immediate effect," Tembo said. But Mutharika defends the emerging food
crisis saying: "Even when we say there is food security, there will still be
some people who will go hungry," Mutharika said when he opened an annual
meeting of the newly-formed Farmers Union of Malawi. Malawi government
exported 300 000 tonnes of maize to Robert Mugabe government and is yet to
fulfil a 100,000 tonnes export in three months time to cover the required
400,000 tonnes. Malawi is obliged to deliver the maize in three months
following the contract agreement it signed with the Zimbabwe Government,
which includes a US$10 million line of credit
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
President continues to confound those who believe the odds are stacked
against him remaining in office much longer.
By Nonthando Bhebhe in Harare (AR No. 157, 21-Feb-08)
While the vast majority of Zimbabweans are struggling to survive, President
Robert Mugabe still has a strong support base which is willing to risk
everything, including their lives and businesses, to ensure that the
octogenarian leader remains in power.
Though many have prophesised his imminent demise, Mugabe has remained
resolute and continues to defy conventional political wisdom.
Predicting Mugabe’s downfall is a risky business. When many people,
including local and international observers, thought he had lost control of
his party and would not be endorsed as its presidential candidate in next
month’s elections, he has proved that he still had unwavering support from
Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku told IWPR that Mugabe’s supporters
were not imaginary.
“Mugabe still has a lot of supporters and if you look at the election trend,
you will find that he has maintained the same number over the last three
elections. I also meet with [the ruling party] ZANU-PF - he has a lot of
supporters, like it or not. The support he has is real and not fiction.”
Despite resentment of Mugabe's prolonged stay in power mounting among senior
ZANU-PF officials, they have not managed to remove him from the helm of the
party. In fact, party officials suspected of favouring his ouster have
risked alienation from grassroots supporters, who see them as traitors
trying to destroy the liberation movement party.
Many people have wondered why and how Mugabe has continued to survive,
considering the country’s deepening poverty and economic crisis.
Didymus Mutasa, the powerful national security minister and ZANU-PF’s
secretary for administration, said in early December that Mugabe had done
"so many wonderful things" for Zimbabwe that it was likely that delegates to
the party conference would appoint him president for life.
"There is a realistic chance that someone among the delegates or one of the
provinces could come up with a proposal that he remains the party's
presidential candidate," said Mutasa. "He has done so many wonderful things
for this country and its majority population and he is not showing any signs
of tiredness. So if it is raised, as I am sure it will be, why not?"
That is the general feeling among his staunch supporters, who are quick to
laugh off any suggestions that this election would signal the end of his
But what wonderful things has he done that make his supporters want to
declare him life president?
Mugabe has created so much fear among his people that no one has the guts to
stand up face-to-face against him.
No one, said one politburo member, would dare to stand up and register his
or her opposition for fear of reprisals - as happened in 1998 to Dzikamai
Mavhaire, a feisty politician from the southern Zimbabwe town of Masvingo,
who moved a motion in parliament calling for a review of the constitution
and advocated limited presidential terms. And said boldly, “Mugabe must go!”
Mavhaire was suspended from the party and consequently suffered financial
ruin. As a member of parliament, he had been assured of a vehicle and free
fuel as well as help for his farm. These benefits disappeared, as did any
chance of government contracts.
Ever since, other ruling party deputies have been too frightened to discuss
anything to do with the constitution, lest the presidential axe fall on
Mavhaire's confidant, the late Edson Zvobgo, was dropped by Mugabe from
government and party office in 2000 for his criticisms of the head of
state's ruling style and for suggesting he retire. Zvobgo, who never hid his
own presidential ambitions, died a heartbroken man in 2004 at the age of 68.
He was a founder member of ZANU- PF and had served in several government
posts, including that of minister of justice.
Another ZANU-PF official, who asked that his name be withheld, said Mugabe
had over the years perfected divide-and-rule tactics that fuelled
factionalism in the party.
He said Mugabe had been switching support over the years among his touted
successors, who include rural housing minister and party legal secretary
Emmerson Mnangagwa, Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, ZANU-PF national
chairman John Nkomo and Vice- President Joice Mujuru, wife of the powerful
General Solomon Mujuru.
The official said Mugabe has undoubtedly used the confusion he created over
the succession issue to convince his supporters of the need for him to
continue as president to ensure a smooth handover of power.
With what happened in Kenya, where more than a thousand people died after
the December elections, still vivid in people’s minds, many ZANU-PF
supporters and other ordinary Zimbabweans are reluctant to dump the
84-year-old leader, who probably has the strong backing of the army and
other security agencies.
Breaking away from Mugabe is not an option for many who have benefited from
his patronage and do not want to risk losing everything by opposing him.
Because of this reason, many ZANU-PF senior officials backing independent
presidential candidate Simba Makoni have chosen to support him
clandestinely, while pledging Mugabe’s support publicly.
“Why risk losing my farm and everything that I have gained by breaking away
from ZANU-PF? Many of my colleagues have started jumping ship and going back
to Mugabe’s camp. We are reminded constantly of what it means to break away
and the picture does not look very good,” said another politburo member, who
asked for anonymity.
It is not only the ruling party’s supporters that want Mugabe to remain at
the helm but also some powerful businesspeople, who are pumping billions of
Zimbabwe dollars into Mugabe’s re-election campaign.
IWPR met with a group of ten such businesspeople at an exclusive club, where
they were plotting what support they could give to ensure that Mugabe
remains in office.
Some of them, particularly those that emerged during the country’s
worst-ever economic crisis, say normalising the economy would be detrimental
to their businesses.
“Personally, I want the old man to continue. I like the old man because I
owe him everything that I have amassed. Look at me and look at how rich I
have become because of the opportunities that opened up when the economy
started crumbling,” said one the group.
“I will vote for him and put my last dollar to ensure that he wins the
Another said, “If the situation normalises, a lot of men will cry and lose
everything. So we can’t afford that. We would rather pump money into
President Mugabe’s campaign so that the situation remains abnormal.
“Zimbabweans have developed a culture of getting a quick buck and I know
most people will not be able to go back to formal employment and wait for a
pay cheque. People will find it difficult to cope when the situation
Zimbabwe has experienced a precipitous economic decline since 2000, when the
government started seizing white commercial farms. Since then, unemployment
has run riot at nearly 85 per cent, with the world’s highest inflation rate.
Nonthando Bhebhe is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.