The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Mugabe's cohorts begin the final land grab in Zimbabwe

February 26, 2009

Jan Raath in Harare
President Mugabe's leading henchmen have mounted a final offensive to drive
Zimbabwe's remaining white farmers off their land in a direct challenge to
the authority of the new unity Government.

More than 100 farms and 50 smallholdings have been raided - many at
gunpoint - since the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai struck a
power-sharing deal with Mr Mugabe. In the past week the invasions have
gathered pace, with regional governors, MPs, senators and high-ranking
officials - all linked to the Mugabe regime - marching on to productive
farms and telling their white owners to leave.

Mike Campbell, 76, received his uninvited visitors at his farm in Chegutu,
about 100 kilometres west of Harare, at 1.30pm yesterday. The group was led
by the nephew of one of the Politburo members in Mr Mugabe's Zanu (PF)

Mr Campbell was given ten minutes to pack all his belongings and get out of
his house, said Ben Freeth, his son-in-law. "They said they didn't care
about the law or the police. 'We are taking over', they said, and promised
to be back at 5pm." Police were contacted immediately but said that they
could do nothing, Mr Freeth said.

Related Links
  a.. Archbishops condemn regime in Zimbabwe
  a.. White Zimbabweans face impossible decision
It was not the first time that the Campbells have had trouble with
gatecrashers. In June last year Mr Campbell, his wife, Angela, and Mr Freeth
were abducted by a group of so-called war veterans and savagely assaulted
for six hours.

They tried to force Mr Campbell to sign an undertaking that he would
withdraw a crucial land case before a Southern African international court
that sought to ban the Mugabe regime's land grabs and to assert white
farmers' rights. Mr Campbell was unable to sign because the visitors had
smashed his fingers. The regional court backed Mr Campbell's appeal at the
end of last year but to no avail - Harare said that it would take no notice
of the ruling.

Now the land invasions are in full swing across Zimbabwe's most fertile
regions. "It's definitely a final assault," said Trevor Gifford, chairman of
the predominantly white Commercial Farmers' Union. "There are so many cases,
it's unreal. This is a planned agenda. The Attorney-General is involved,
with support from the ministries of justice, home affairs and lands. It is a
complete breakdown of the rule of law."

The Home Affairs Ministry, which controls the police, is one of the
power-sharing portfolios in the new Government, nominally controlled by a
minister each from Zanu (PF) and Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic

Mr Tsvangirai was outraged by the latest outbreak of violence and sought
yesterday to assert his authority, ordering both ministers to "bring the
full weight of the law down on the perpetrators".

"No person in Zimbabwe is above the law," he declared.

The Campbells hope that the Prime Minister is right. "We have moved
 nothing," said Mr Freeth. "We are going to sit it out and hope we don't get
a repeat of what happened in June. We have lived with stress for nine years.
It's nothing new." There was no sign of the visitors last night, but they
are expected to be back today.

And the "sponsors" of the unity government are deafening in their silence.
Their pro-Mugabe agenda is obvious. Mugabe has flouted the terms of the
agreement on many points. The sponsors (SA and SADC) must insist on the
terms of the agreement being respected if they are to retain any

David Ashton, Bathurst, Australia

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Robert Mugabe's supporters attend lavish gala for president's birthday

Scores of President Robert Mugabe's supporters attended a gala dinner in
Harare on Wednesday night to raise funds to celebrate his 85th birthday, as
party organisers struggled to approach the lavishness of past celebrations.

By Sebastien Berger and Peta Thornycroft
Last Updated: 11:28PM GMT 25 Feb 2009

The Zanu-PF leader, who has run Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, marked
his anniversary at the weekend privately, but a public commemoration is due
to be held in Chinhoyi, north of Harare, on Saturday.

In years gone by the celebration, organised by the 21st February Movement, a
youth group in Zanu-PF, has been a feast for thousands.

But now that the unity government with the Movement for Democratic Change
has been formed, the militants of Zanu-PF are finding businessmen no longer
as keen to open up their wallets as previously.

As an emergency moneymaking exercise, fund-raisers were holding the $100
(£70) a head fund-raising dinner at the Rainbow Towers hotel.

A staff member at a motel in Chinhoyi said the management had been asked to
prepare US$25,000 of snacks for the party, but so far the money had not
arrived, and it was now "probably too late" to organise it.

"This is the first time in ages we haven't been hassled," said one farmer.
"No one has been near us. People in Chinhoyi say they are not being harassed
about attending either. Normally they get orders that they have to attend
any Zanu-PF function, so the people are feeling a bit relieved."

One source said that instead the department of national parks has ordered 16
buffalo and six elephant to be killed to provide meat for the party.

At one point a dubious list of suggested contributions, among them 4,000
portions of caviar and 8,000 lobsters, was taken to wealthy figures in

One businessman said: "They may have got a few hundred dollars out of this,
but not a lot more." Another added: "These two came to me asking for
US$40,000, but I just told them to go. They were extremely rude. So I called
a contact in the government who said they were bogus and that they would be
picked up." Absalom Sikhosana, the head of the 21st February Movement,
denied the list was genuine - "I don't even know what these things that you
are talking about are," he said when asked about the lobsters - but the fact
that the businessmen felt able to defy the requests for money is a symptom
of a sea change in the atmosphere in Zimbabwe.

As an emergency moneymaking exercise the group is holding a USD100-a- head
fund-raising dinner tonight at the Rainbow Towers hotel in the capital.

Ibbo Mandaza, who heads the Sapes Trust think-tank in Harare and is also
chairman of the Rainbow Towers group, said businessmen did not feel obliged
to buy Zanu-PF's favours any more.

"They are pleased they no longer they no longer have to," he said.

"They will have difficulty raising the money.

"Once these parties go out of power or are perceived to be no longer in
power their fortunes begin to fall. They are expected to get worse as we go
down the road." Ends

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mnangagwa's grand succession plan on course

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Zimbabwe's new Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa's succession star
is shining brightly again.
Authoritative Zanu (PF) sources have told The Zimbabwean that
Mnangagwa's grand plan to succeed President Mugabe as Zanu (PF) leader is
firmly on course, with his appointment to head the crucial Defence ministry
paving the way for him to take over as Zanu (PF) leader at the party's
elective congress in December, senior party officials claim.
Mnangagwa, affectionately known as "Ngwena" (the crocodile), has been
demoted and promoted by President Mugabe to senior positions in both the
Zanu (PF) party and the government for a record four times in a political
career characterised by deft political skullduggery.
In all instances he suffered demotions, Ngwena had displayed his
ambitions to take over from President Mugabe a bit too openly and too soon.
Mnangagwa's latest appointment as Defence minister has raised
speculation that he has been annointed the "heir apparent" by Mugabe.
Sources said it reveals Mugabe's plan to step down as Zanu (PF) leader
at the December congress but continue ruling as the inclusive government
President until the expiry of the life of the GNU.

Most powerful
Mugabe, who turned 85 last Saturday, has given Mnangagwa the most
powerful post in government, and refused that Mnangagwa be deputised by an
MDC minister.
Dr Tichaona Mudzingwa, who was intially scheduled by MDC leader and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to be Mnangagwa's deputy, was reshuffled to
the Transport deputy ministerial job a day before the swearing-in ceremony
of deputy ministers at State House last Thursday.
Mnangagwa's sole control of the Defence ministry was traded in with
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti's sole control of the Finance ministry,
where he will have no Zanu (PF)deputy.
A senior Zanu (PF) central committee member said Mnangagwa was being
rewarded for his contribution in helping direct Zimbabwe's 1970s war of
independence, his role as the  the country's spy-master during the 1980s
civil conflict, and his role as President Mugabe's election agent during
elections last year.
While Mnangagwa was not immediately available for comment, he denied
to this reporter last year at his hotel in Redcliff widepread reports that
he headed the Joint Operations Command, as it planned and executed the
terror campaign that followed Zanu (PF)'s devastating loss to the MDC on
March 29.

Chief election agent
Mnangagwa was Mugabe's chief election agent and now heads a powerful
faction in Zanu (PF) that includes Reserve bank governor Gideon Gono,
Justice and legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa, Attorney General
Johannes Tomana and a number of judges.
"Ngwena has spread his tentacles in all crucial sectors. He is ready
to take over," said the Zanu (PF) central committee member. "He has a long
history with the President, remember he was his personal assistant during
the liberation struggle. More recently, he has played a crucial part in
keeping mukuru (Mugabe) in power."
Despite Mnangagwa's spirited remonstrations, sources insist that he
and a clique of Zanu (PF) hardliners pulled the strings behind the scenes in
directing President Mugabe's blood-soaked presidential election run-off
campaign strategy.
Impeccable sources say Mnangagwa and his team worked with Mugabe's
loyalists within the Joint Operations Command (JOC) and in the party in a
bid to ensure he wins the run-off by fair means or foul.
Service chiefs and top commanders, including General Constantine
Chiwenga, police chief Augustine Chihuri, prisons commissioner Retired Major
General Paradzai Zimondi, army chief of staff Major General Martin Chedondo,
and Brigadier General David Sigauke had vowed that they would not work under
Tsvangirai if he defeats Mugabe.
Most of them, including Mnangagwa, have since backed down, except
Chiwenga, and pledged loyalty to the inclusive government.

Richly rewarded
The Zanu (PF) central committee member said Mnangagwa was being richly
rewarded for reversing the president's stunning loss in the March elections
in a strategy that involved witholding election results for five weeks,
unleashing a terror campaign that left 200 dead and more than 200,000
internally displaced.
Mnangagwa's new job is a hefty reward, a "big thank you," said our
In the previous administration, he was a mere minister of Rural
Housing, a relative backwater after spells as minister of National Security
and Speaker of Parliament.
His undulating political career has distinct ups and downs.
In 2005, he lost his post as Zanu (PF) secretary for administration,
which had enabled him to place his supporters in key party positions. He was
reassigned to head the Legal Affairs department in Zanu (PF).
This followed reports that Mnangagwa, 62, had been campaigning too
hard for the post of vice-president, backed by his close ally, former
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.
Mugabe sacked Moyo from both party and government but retained
Mnangagwa albeit in a junior post, but seems to be back in the president's
good books.
The president has instead reportedly become alarmed at the activities
of Joice Mujuru, who got the vice-president's job, and her powerful husband,
former army chief Solomon Mujuru - also eager to take over the presidency.
Mujuru's chances at the Zanu (PF) presidency have been dashed because
of executive allegations that he engineered the ill-fated Mavambo project,
headed by presidential aspirant Simba Makoni - leaving Mnangagwa as the
front-runner for the party's presidency in December. Its a stunning reversal
of his earlier waning fortunes.
Before his 2005 demotion, Mnangagwa was seen as "the architect of the
commercial activities of Zanu (PF)", according to a UN report in 2001.

Looting in Congo
This largely related to the operations of the Zimbabwean army and
businessmen in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Zimbabwean troops intervened in the DR Congo conflict on the side of
the government and, like other countries, it was accused of using the
conflict to loot some of its rich natural resources, such as diamonds, gold
and other minerals.
But despite his money-raising role, Mnangagwa, a lawyer who grew up in
Zambia, enjoys comparatively low approval ratings by the rank and file of
his own party.
One veteran of Zimbabwe's war of independence, who worked with him for
many years, puts it simply: "He's a very cruel man, very cruel. But, he also
has a disarming personality. He can be overly affable. He is a shrewd
Another Zanu (PF) official poses an interesting question when asked
about Mnangagwa's prospects: "You think Mugabe is bad but have you thought
that whoever comes after him could be even worse? The December congress is
elective. The president has clearly shown who he wants to take over.
Assigning him to the Defence ministry allows him to take over the reins
The MDC candidate who defeated Mnangagwa in the 2000 and 2005
parliamentary campaign in Kwekwe Central, Blessing Chebundo, would also
agree that his rival is not a man of peace.
During a bitter campaign, Chebundo escaped death by a whisker when the
Zanu (PF) youths who had abducted him and doused him with petrol were unable
to light a match.
Mnangagwa's fearsome reputation was made during the civil war which
broke out after independence between Mugabe's Zanu party and the Zapu of
Joshua Nkomo.
As National Security Minister Mnangagwa was in charge of the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO), which worked hand in glove with the army to
suppress Zapu.
Thousands of innocent civilians - mainly ethnic Ndebeles, seen as Zapu
supporters - were killed before the two parties merged to form Zanu (PF).
Among countless other atrocities, villagers were forced at gun-point
to dance on the freshly-dug graves of their relatives and chant pro-Mugabe
Despite the 1987 Unity Accord, the wounds are still painful and many
party officials, not to mention voters in Matabeleland would be reluctant to
support a Mnangagwa presidential campaign.

War vet support
In fact Zapu claims it has pulled out if the 1987 Unity Accord and
formed a new party under the leadership of Dumiso Dabengwa, an intelligence
supremo in the Zapu military wing, ZIPRA.
Mnangagwa, though, does enjoy the support of many of the war veterans
who led the campaign of violence against the white farmers and the
opposition from 2000.
They remember him as one of the men who, following his military
training in China and Egypt, directed the 1970s fight for independence.
He also attended the Beijing School of Ideology, run by the Chinese
Communist Party.
Mnangagwa is a close confidante of the powerful central bank governor
Gono, who has been lucky to kep his job in the inclusive government amid
mounting MDC clamour for his remioval. The continued presence of Gono in the
inclusive government, although with his sweeping powers massively clipped,
consolidates Mnangagwa's position, according to our source.
Mnangagwa's official profile says he was the victim of state violence
after being arrested by the white-minority government in the former Rhodesia
in 1965, after he helped blow up a train near Fort Victoria (now Masvingo).
"He was tortured severely resulting in him losing his sense of hearing
in one ear," the profile says.
"Part of the torture techniques involved being hanged with his feet on
the ceiling and the head down. The severity of the torture made him
unconscious for days."
As he was under 21 at the time, he was not executed but instead
sentenced to 10 years in prison.
He was born in the central region of Zvishavane and is from the
Karanga sub-group of Zimbabwe's majority Shonas.
The Karangas are the largest Shona group and some feel it is their
turn for power, following 29 years of domination by Mugabe's Zezuru group.
He told me in Redcliff on the sidelines of a Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists workshop that he was now a church pastor.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SA wants Gono to go

Wednesday, 25 February 2009
 What happened to our R300 million? . and the Global Fund ?

Five prominent Zimbabwean bankers have emerged as front-runners to
succeed Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono, as tough new
conditions from the donor community have increased momentum for his removal
from the helm of the central bank.
Initially Gono had been assured of keeping his job in the inclusive
government, albeit with his wings massively clipped, but fierce resistance
has emerged from the donor community and heightened calls for his ouster.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and new Finance Minister Tendai Biti,
who were in South Africa last Friday for talks with President Kgalema
Motlanthe and Biti's counterpart, Trevor Manuel, to see how the regional
powerhouse can help, said Gono's issue would be dealt with soon.
"In due course, we will evaluate his performance and his role,"
Tsvangirai told reporters, adding, "at the appropriate time a decision will
be made."
A source said Tsvangirai was seeking US$5 billion in aid, and South
Africa was prepared to take the lead in any financial rescue package as long
as Gono was removed.
South Africa had reportedly raised the issue of the embezzlement of
R300 million donated by the South African government to fund the 2009
agricultural season and the disappearance of the US$7,3 million donated to
the RBZ by the Global Fund to buy ARV drugs last year.
Authoritative sources told The Zimbabwean this week that South
African-based economist and investment banker Wellington Chadehumbe, and
Kingdom-Meikles Africa Limited (KMAL) group chief executive Nigel Chanakira
were among the leading contenders for the RBZ top job, key to reviving
Zimbabwe's battered economy.
Also in the running are Time Bank of Zimbabwe Limited (Time) founder
and managing director Chris Takura Tande, University of Witwatersrand
Business School director Professor Mthuli Ncube, and current deputy RBZ
governor Edward Mashiringwani.
But Chanakira told The Zimbabwean: "I am comfortably setting up a team
at Meikles at the moment. I have not been approached neither have I have
expressed any interest," while Ncube declined to discuss the issue in a
telephone interview from South Africa.
"The in-coming team (MDC) and the donor community have stated in no
uncertain terms that they do not want to work with Gideon," said the
authoritative official.
"So, Chanakira, Chadehumbe, Mthuli Ncube and Chris Takura Tande of
Time Bank have all been touted as potential candidates. I must also say that
Mashiringwani is in the picture.
"These guys are not only home-bred bankers, who fundamentally
understand how the financial services sector functions, but would also
restore it owing to their relevant qualifications, leadership skills and
experience gained at their own banking projects," said the official. But, he
added, it would not be easy, though, to dislodge Gono, given his cosy
relations with Mugabe.
Ncube and Tande appeared on a "final four-man shortlist" for the
central bank governor job in late 2003, but lost out to Gono, who was
appointed by Mugabe to replace outgoing governor Leonard Tsumba.
Gono, who has presided over the world's weakest currency, highest
inflation and worst performing economy, is a self-professed friend of the
President and his personal banker.
Another official close to the developments said the net was being cast
wider to include expatriate bankers, although there was widespread
preference for locals, who will be helped by a supporting technical team,
including even a foreign deputy governor, to ensure skills transfer.
"With such a structure, one hopes that the in-coming person will stick
to a consultative and inclusive approach to economic management strategies,
which includes incorporation of divergent views as opposed to the customary
unilateralism (at the RBZ)," said the government official.
While Chadehumbe is a founder of Triumph Venture Capital (Private)
Limited, Chanakira has an impressive portfolio of companies in the region
and owns Kingdom Bank. He is an economics masters' degree holder with ample
central bank experience. He also has investments in the sprawling Kingdom
Meikles Africa Limited group.
Ncube and Tande have banking experience as founding executives of
Barbican Bank Limited (Barbican), and Time, respectively.
Ncube is a finance professor, who served at institutions such as South
Africa's Investec Bank, while Tande is a Masters of Business Administration
graduate, economics degree holder and banking diploma associate.
In an ironic twist of events, the officials now in the running for
Gono's job had their banking projects dismantled by the central bank chief
under a so-called financial sector clean up in 2004.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Gono announces audit

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will, next month, embark on an
audit of the Farm Mechanisation Programme to ascertain if the equipment is
being used productively. RBZ Governor Gideon Gono announced the follow-up
audit, due to start on March 1, under which every beneficiary's productive
record would be audited to assess the impact of the programme.
The Anti-Corruption Commission would also be part of the audit, which
is expected to flush out any ghost farmers who may have benefited from the
programme and prosecute them.
The first phase of the Farm Mechanisation Programme was launched by
President Mugabe on June 11, 2007 in Harare, farmers welcomed the programme
describing it as a welcome intervention at a time when Zimbabwe was reeling
under the burden of sanctions.
Through the RBZ-run programme, farmers in A1, communal, resettlement
and A2 categories benefited through receipt of tractors, combine harvesters,
ploughs, fertilizer spreaders, generators, grinding mills and various
animal-drawn implements.
"Right from the start of this initiative, we made it very clear to
stakeholders that the equipment was not coming as free gifts from Santa
(Claus), but rather objective privileges that came with rights and
obligations on the part of recipients," said Gono. "We are following up to
ensure that this equipment is being put to good productive use, as well as
to ensure that no such equipment has been resold by the recipients."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

We must re-unite - MDC Veterans

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

JOHANNESBURG - The Movement for Democratic Change Veteran Activists
Association (MDC VAA), a Johannesburg-based group representing exiled
opposition activists, says that its ultimate goal is to re-unite the party's
two factions. The MDC VAA, which was launched last year to provide material
and psychological support to activists, most of whom find themselves
stranded in foreign lands, after fleeing persecution by state security
agents and supporters of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF), says that
without abrogating its main role, it is also committed to seeing the MDC
become a strong force that it was when it was formed in 1999.
"We as activists do not believe in the split, because we know that it
did not come from the grassroots, but the top," said Solomon Chikohwero, the
organisation's chairman, last week. "As the VAA, we are focusing on uniting
the grassroots first, and then taking a bottom-to-top approach of re-uniting
the party, so that we can concentrate on one grand goal - that of removing
Mugabe and re-building Zimbabwe."
The organization, which is composed of members of both MDC formations,
also praised the "unifying", but stillborn gesture recently made by the
leader of the party's mainstream faction - Morgan Tsvangirai, when he
appointed Abednico Bhebhe of the Mutambara formation into his cabinet.
"The President showed all and sundry that he also shares our views
that the party should see beyond the split, which has not benefited us as
the MDC, but Zanu (PF), and we wish that the other faction would have
appreciated that, as it would have given us a starting point towards that
unification," added Chikowero.
Bekithemba Sibanda, the MDC VAA's Secretary General, said the
organization still believed that the MDC would be united before the
country's next elections, and vowed that they would work towards that.
Without mentioning names, he attacked some people that he accused of fanning
divisions within the party, which paid the price of the split, as it was
denied what would have been a landslide victory in both the Presidential and
Parliamentary elections last year, had it still been united.
"We stand for unity within the MDC and whoever shares those values
will get respect and service from us. Those who stand for divisions have no
place in VAA and they cannot stand with us. "To us, the MDC leaders of 1999,
who we elected into power, will remain our respected leaders, until we are
sure that they are the one propagating the divisions.
"Both Morgan Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda are still our leaders
because we elected them into power when the party was formed, and we believe
that they are one day going to be re-united to fight one common enemy - Zanu
(PF)," said Sibanda.
Constitution breached by exceeding ministerial quotas
The recent inter-party wrangling has resulted in compromise in the
appointment of ministers that significantly departs from the provisions of
Article 20 of the inter party agreement.
41 Ministers have been appointed instead of the 31 specified in the
agreement, 20 Deputy Ministers have been appointed instead of the 15
The constitutionality/legality of too many appointments is obviously
questionable. The parties seem to have acted on the basis that Article 6,
being part of an agreement, can simply be changed by further agreement
between the parties. However, Article 6 is no longer just part of an
When Constitution Amendment No. 19 became law on February 13, Article
was incorporated into the Constitution in Schedule 8. The notion that
a constitutional provision can be flouted simply by agreement between
political parties goes against all established tenets of constitutional
democracy.  This lays the actions of the inflated government open to
challenge in the High Court or Supreme Court.

An executive excess

The Executive currently numbers 67. In addition to the Ministers and
Ministers there is the President, two Vice-Presidents, the Prime
Minister and two Deputy Prime Ministers.  This is a large burden for a small
country to bear.
There is a total of 43 cabinet members, 42 of whom are voting members
and the Attorney-General, a non-voting member. In the cabinet there is the
President, two Vice-Presidents, the Prime Minister, two Deputy Prime
Ministers and 36 Ministers.

Unconstitutional size?
The Cabinet consists of four ex officio members and Ministers
appointed by the President. According to the inter party agreement and the
Constitution, there should be 31 Ministers. As 36 have been appointed this
makes five appointees unconstitutional.
It is difficult to ascertain what five members these are, some legal
opinions suggest that, as Deputy Prime Ministers are not specified as ex
officio members of Cabinet, their appointments should come out of the total
31 Ministers, leaving only 29 Cabinet seats for other Ministers. This makes
seven of the present 36 Cabinet Ministers unconstitutional. - Veritas

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Much to be fixed before rescue can begin

February 25, 2009
John Robertson

ROBERT Mugabe's policy choices for Zimbabwe are widely blamed for the food
scarcities and the spectacular collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar. While these
are some of the more obvious effects, a huge number of other casualties of
Mugabe's policies will be haunting Zimbabwe for years to come.

Many thousands of people are already making plans to breathe life back into
the piece of Zimbabwe's economy that matter to them, but they are all
discovering how many other things have to be fixed before their own plans
can succeed.

Zimbabwe's inflation rate stands out as one of its more glaring failures,
but it was only a symptom of much more deeply seated problems. Even though
the slide is often thought to be Mugabe's decision to launch the Land Reform
Programme in 1997, his damaging ideas can be traced back to his repeated
declarations in the early 1980s that Zimbabwe was a Marxist-Leninist state.

Mugabe's management style has a lot to answer for. On the appearance of the
first of the inflationary pressures, his ministers could have arrested it in
its tracks. Instead, they were obliged to reaffirm the policies that caused
the effect. Their obligation to their leader was never ever to challenge his
policy decisions and always to take every step necessary to make them work.

They usually didn't work, but Zanu-PF soon acquired the habit of describing
what did happen as the intended result. These results therefore became
irrefutable evidence that the policies were working. In those cases when the
effects were clearly undesirable, they were blamed on others, such as
economic saboteurs, dissidents trying to illegally overthrow the government,
or hostile governments that were applying illegal economic sanctions.

Such thinking provided the ideal breeding environment for bad ideas, so
before long Zimbabwe was suffering a plague of them. But because they
delivered political advantages to a few, the same few that continually
expressed admiration for Mugabe's brilliance, the policies were kept in

The daunting task at hand now is to identify them, repair the damage and
restore the positive linkages that used to place Zimbabwe among the
best-developed countries in the Third World. But the problem was that very
nearly every deviation from acceptable practice was backed by people
wielding the deadly combination of too much authority, too little integrity
and total indifference to the needs of all but their loyal supporters.

But when ideas were found to be faulty, instead of abandoning them for
better ones, decisions were taken to bolster them with yet more deviant
provisions to make the bad ideas work a little better. Usually, they didn't.
The once handsome face of Zimbabwe is now covered with ugly scar tissue that
will need to be peeled away so that the original flaws can be uncovered and
given the proper treatment.

Failing to distinguish flaws from beauty spots might be where the problem
began. Zimbabwe's highly productive commercial farming sector had become the
country's largest employer, largest supplier of inputs for commercial as
well as manufacturing companies, most important export revenue earner and
the primary source of the government's tax revenues. But it was defined as
the ugliest of blemishes.

Why? Because these big, successful capital-intensive farming companies
claimed ownership of about 30 percent of the farmland in the country, while
their numbers made up only half of one percent of the country's farmers.

To top that, their claimed land ownership rights stemmed from colonialism
and totally disrespected indigenous Zimbabweans' traditional belief that no
individual could claim ownership rights over God-given land.

And to cap it all, most of these farmers were white, successful and
influential. For these reasons, different answers can be offered for the
"Why?" question. Robert Mugabe's followers were primed with unequivocal

.    Whites don't belong on the land, or even in the country;
.    Clearly the whites took the best land. We must take it back;
.    Their influence comes from ownership rights. If we remove these rights,
we remove their influence; and
.    What they spent years building at great expense, we can take for
nothing, now that we can legalise our right to dispossess them.

Each of these is a severely flawed argument. Yes, the country was colonised.
So was just about every other country, many of them many times over.
American citizens of European origin today have no greater claim on their US
citizenship and on their US property than Zimbabweans of European origin
still have on theirs.

Whites did not select "the best land" but the money needed to look after it
was available from the banks because of their property rights. So it became
the best land. But not for nothing. Mugabe empowered his supporters to take
it for nothing. He simply revoked the white farmers' property rights.

Along with their rights, these farmers lost investments and commitments of
several generations, but the Mugabe mind-set prohibited any recognition that
his actions had also broken the back of the system that had brought success,
not only to those white settlers, but to the whole country.

Mugabe caused the astonishing downhill ride that has become the worst
economic collapse in world history for a country not at war.

The loss of production, jobs and exports caused scarcities and inflation.
Falling business activity caused tax revenues to slump. Previous foreign
borrowings could not be repaid, placing new foreign loans out of reach.
Locals were compelled to lend to government, but at deeply negative real
rates of interest that soon wiped out the country's entire savings base. The
printing press became government's only source of spending money, but the
resulting inflation was soon destroying just about everything that was left.

Zimbabwe's physical infrastructure and social services are now in tatters,
manufacturing, mining, banking and tourism are a fraction of their former
size, millions are hungry and people seeking work have to emigrate.

But Mugabe is still defending his policies and his supporters are still
squabbling over the spoils.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Minister says schools will be fully functional next month

by Patricia Mpofu Thursday 26 February 2009

HARARE - Education Minister David Coltart on Wednesday said he expected
learning to have resumed at all schools across the country by early next

In a statement to the media, Coltart said an agreement had been reached
after protracted negotiations with the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA)
and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) to get all schools
functioning again.

"We jointly expect all teachers to report for duty by the 2nd of March 2009
and that all the schools will be fully functional by 9 March 2009," he said.

Coltart disclosed that his ministry and the two teachers unions agreed on
seven points, chief among them being that teachers who have been absent from
duty due to the industrial action be given amnesty and that the quantum of
the March 2009 salaries and allowances would be agreed upon through

He said it was the medium and long-term goal for the new government to bring
teacher's salaries in line with regional standards.

"It is agreed that to facilitate the return of teachers we will recommend as
a ministry to the Public Service Commission that there should be an amnesty
for teachers who have left the service through force of economic
circumstances or disruption of all education systems between January 1 2007
and March 9 2009," reads part of Coltart's statement.

He said it has been further agreed that the 2008 educational year would not
be revisited, adding that the ministry intended regularising the 2009
calendar as soon as possible.

"In this regard, the 1st term and 2nd Term will end as originally advised.
The 2nd Term will begin earlier on Tuesday 5 May instead of 12 May. The 3rd
Term will begin 2 September instead of Tuesday 8 September," he said.

Very little learning took place at public schools in 2008 as teachers spent
the better part of the year striking for more pay or sitting at home because
could not afford bus fare to work on their meagre salaries.

There has been virtually no learning at public schools since the new term
officially began on January 27 because teachers were either on strike or
unable to come to work.

The collapse of the education sector along with that of the public health
system have come to symbolise the decayed state of Zimbabwe's key
infrastructure and institutions after a decade of acute recession.

Once a model African economy Zimbabwe is grappling with an unprecedented
humanitarian crisis seen in acute shortages of food and basic commodities,
amid an outbreak of cholera that has killed nearly 4 000 people since last

A new unity government formed two weeks ago by President Robert Mugabe and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has raised hopes the country could finally
emerge from its crisis.

But the success of the Harare administration hinges on its ability to raise
financial support from rich Western countries that have however said they
will not immediately help until they are convinced Mugabe is committed
genuinely share power with Tsvangirai. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Civil servants push for US$600 minimum salary

by Nokuthula Sibanda Thursday 26 February 2009

HARARE-The Public Service Association (PSA) is pushing for a minimum salary
of US$600 to improve  living conditions of civil servants, an official said
on Wednesday.

Executive secretary Emmanuel Tichareva said that the association had already
met Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to discuss salaries for public workers.

"We met the Prime Minister on Tuesday to discuss the issue of salaries in
foreign currency," he said.

"More meetings will be held with the relevant ministry and we are very happy
with government response so far," he added.

Government this month paid US$100 allowances to civil servants and efforts
were underway to ensure availability of more funds to pay salaries in hard
currency starting next month.

"The minimum of $600 is our position now but we appreciate the challenges
facing government and we are prepared to be constructive by giving support,"
added Tichareva.

He said the association had tried to meet the new government earlier but its
attempts were overtaken by events on the ground when the new allowances were

Payment of allowances in foreign currency has brought renewed hope in civil
service as most workers have started reporting for duty.

Inadequate salaries resulted in frequent strikes by civil servants that
crippled government operations. - ZimOnline.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Leaders Match Wits in Power Struggle

Published: February 25, 2009
JOHANNESBURG - Two weeks after Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, was sworn in as prime minister and joined President Robert
Mugabe in governing, the archrivals are openly matching wits and wiles in a
struggle to dominate the political landscape of a country whose people
endure hunger, cholera and political repression.

A senior official in Mr. Tsvangirai's party, Eddie Cross, wrote recently
that this contest is playing out "building by building, street by street,
close combat between two forces."

So far, Mr. Mugabe and hardliners in his party, ZANU-PF, have remained true
to form, ruthlessly claiming the prerogatives of power. But Mr. Tsvangirai
and key opposition ministers - especially for finance and education - have
shown a willingness to confront them and seize the initiative where they

Mr. Mugabe, the 85-year-old patriarch who vowed during the election last
year that only God could unseat him after nearly three decades in office,
made a typically daring power grab on Wednesday through the state media that
is still his mouthpiece. He had The Herald post a list of the senior civil
servants he had unilaterally picked to head each ministry, something
expressly forbidden in the power-sharing agreement he and Mr. Tsvangirai

Within hours, Mr. Tsvangirai, who is supposed to manage the day-to-day
operations of the government, called a news conference in Harare and issued
a statement saying the move violated the agreement, declaring it "null and

But their skirmishes have sprawled far beyond the halls of government. Even
as Mr. Tsvangirai has vowed to restore the rule of law, militias associated
with Mr. Mugabe's party have sought to take over white-owned farms, though a
regional tribunal of judges recently ruled the owners are entitled to keep
their land under the terms of a treaty that Zimbabwe and other southern
African nations have adopted.

The violent, chaotic seizure of thousands of white-owned farms from 2000 to
2003 helped destroy Zimbabwe's commercial farming sector and contributed to
the collapse of food production, economists say.

Mr. Tsvangirai said on Wednesday that a new wave of illegal land seizures
must stop and told the ministers of home affairs - one from his party, one
from Mr. Mugabe's - to "bring the full weight of the law down on the

But Mr. Tsvangirai has made the same demands privately to Mr. Mugabe and so
far the shared control of the Home Ministry and the police force it oversees
has evidently left Mr. Tsvangirai unable to exert control.

On Wednesday, Mike Campbell, the farmer who originally challenged the
government's seizure of his farm in the regional tribunal and won - though
only after he and his wife were viciously beaten during a land invasion in
June - found his farm, Mount Carmel in Chegutu, again under threat. A group
of invaders associated with a powerful ZANU-PF official who wants his land
came demanding he leave.

Mr. Campbell, 76, and his wife, Angela, 66, departed for Harare, but their
son Bruce and son-in-law Ben Freeth stayed on to guard the place. Mr. Freeth
said in a telephone interview that the family had requested police
protection in the afternoon, but by evening none was forthcoming.

"We will try to sort out anything that comes," said Mr. Freeth, whose skull
and ribs were fractured during the attack by invaders in June.

Mr. Tsvangirai has also failed to win the release of human rights and
political activists who have been abducted by state security agents. Even
Roy Bennett, a white farmer and one of his closest allies, and his choice to
be deputy agriculture minister, remains in a fetid, overcrowded prison cell
in the eastern city of Mutare on what the opposition says are trumped up
terrorism charges. Mr. Tsvangirai has personally guaranteed he will appear
in court and though a judge Tuesday ordered his release on bail.

But Mr. Tsvangirai and his combative finance minister, Tendai Biti, have
managed to come up with enough money to give each soldier, policeman,
teacher and civil servant an allowance of $100 in foreign currency. The army
has been plagued with desertions and most schools in the country have ceased
to function because hyperinflation has made teachers' salaries so worthless
they don't even cover bus fare to work.

Mr. Tsvangirai, who had announced his intentions to pay public employees in
foreign currency in his inaugural address, has begun to show the civil
service that he will try to deliver for them, Western diplomats say.

Over the past two weeks, a raft of opposition politicians who have been
perennial outsiders have suddenly found themselves on the inside - and
confronting the rot that has hollowed out Zimbabwe's public services.

David Coltart, the new education minister who belongs to a splinter faction
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, described arriving at the
18-story education ministry building in Harare for his first day on the job
and finding women civil servants in office attire with buckets of water
balanced on their heads, waiting for the elevator. The building has had no
water for four months - and they had become water carriers so they and their
co-workers could flush the filthy toilets.

Two million of Zimbabwe's three million school children are now out of the
classroom, Mr. Coltart reckons. And this week, he convinced the teachers to
go back to work, though they have gotten only the token $100 for the month
of February, with no guarantees for the future. Mr. Coltart made a
passionate plea to western donor nations for tens of millions of dollars in
aid - an appeal that Western diplomats say they will not answer until
Zimbabwe shows it is taking steps to restore the rule of law and adopt
sensible economic policies.

Nonetheless, leaders of the two main teacher unions said in interviews on
Wednesday that they are convinced of Mr. Coltart's sincerity - and have
asked the 62,000 teachers they represent to go back to work.

"We are banking on the hope and trust that the minister will deliver on the
promises that have been made," said Tendai Chikowore, leader of the Zimbabwe
Teachers Association.

For now, Mr. Tsvangirai finds himself caught between Mr. Mugabe and highly
skeptical donors who have deep pockets, but are leery of reaching into them
until they believe Mr. Tsvangirai can deliver change.

Mr. Tsvangirai again Wednesday said the new government must quickly replace
the Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, whose hyperactive printing of
Zimbabwean dollars has driven the inflation rate to crazy heights, and
Attorney General Johannes Tomana, a Mugabe loyalist whose prosecutors have
kept Mr. Bennett and other activists locked up.

He also acknowledged the uphill battle ahead, saying "we still have a long
way to travel until we are truly free, democratic and prosperous."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

British minister's bank propped up Robert Mugabe, says Foreign Office

Standard Chartered, a British bank that was run by Lord Davies, the trade
minister, has been accused by the Foreign Office of 'propping up' President
Robert Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
Last Updated: 11:24PM GMT 25 Feb 2009

Internal Whitehall emails seen by The Telegraph show the concern at the
Foreign Office about the involvement of Standard Chartered Bank in Zimbabwe.

Lord Davies of Abersoch was chief executive and then chairman of the bank
until last month when he became a trade and investment minister. Standard
Chartered is among a handful of foreign banks operating in Zimbabwe. It
employs 860 people and has 24 branches there.

However, an internal Foreign Office briefing document accuses Standard
Chartered of diverting money to the Mugabe government.

The documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act, say that
Standard Chartered had been "diverting" cash to the regime through a loans

The email, dated Aug 25, 2008, says: "Standard Chartered risk real
reputational damage if seen as passing funds to the Government of Zimbabwe.

"Understand that Standard Chartered has been diverting money to the GoZ due
to a legal obligation to do so. But must realise the repercussions of giving
money to those responsible for this crisis."

A further email from July last year accuses banks operating in the country
of "propping up" the state Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

It even suggests that Standard Chartered should close its operations there.
"It could be argued that the banking sector is propping up the RBZ and that
companies such as [name withheld] and Standard Chartered should close," the
email says. It goes on to suggest that Standard Chartered and the other bank
"are aware of the reputation at risk" and should review their operations in

"We should ask the companies to take a long hard look at what they are doing
and with whom," it says. "Any opportunity to minimise contact with, and even
incidental support for, the regime should be explored within the limits of
practical business (and politics)."

The revelations are especially embarrassing for the Government because Lord
Davies was chief executive of Standard Chartered between 2001 and November
2006, and the bank's chairman from November 2006. He stood down as chairman
on Jan 14, when he became trade and investment minister, replacing Lord
Jones of Birmingham.

According to the documents, Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe is 100 per cent
owned by Standard Chartered, which means that its operations are not
governed by European Union sanctions.

The documents state that Standard Chartered was "at great pains to explain
that they were compelled to hand over these funds. They also iterated that
they had a number of employees in Zimbabwe who depended on their salaries
and would suffer if they were any pull out by Standard Chartered".

Norman Lamb, a Liberal Democrat MP who obtained the emails, said: "These
emails demonstrate that UK banks operating in Zimbabwe are indirectly
financing the government - through the purchase of government bonds. It
beggars belief that Gordon Brown should, in these circumstances, appoint the
chairman of Standard Chartered to be a trade minister and place him in the
House of Lords."

British banks were able "to circumvent sanctions by operating through
locally based companies", he said, adding that the revelations "demonstrate
just how weak and inadequate the sanctions rules have been - and the
hypocrisy of the Government".

A spokesman for Standard Chartered confirmed that Lord Davies was aware of
the company's operations in Zimbabwe when he ran the bank.

The spokesman declined to comment on the claim that the bank was "propping
up" the regime. He added: "We made a conscious decision to stay in the
country where we have 860 staff. We concluded it was the right thing to do
to look after our customers. In every country where we are operating we are
required to deposit certain amounts of capital with the central banks."

Lord Davies declined to answer a series of questions about Standard
Chartered's involvement in Zimbabwe.

However, a source close to the minister said: "The bank has made it very
clear in its report and accounts why it has remained in Zimbabwe.

"The company has made clear what its views on Zimbabwe are. It was a
decision taken at board level to remain there. It was a commercial matter
for the company."

Last year another British bank, Barclays, was accused of providing "personal
banking services" for up to four members of Mr Mugabe's regime who had
benefited from the controversial land-grabs from white farmers in Zimbabwe.

A Barclays spokesman said at the time: "Barclays is compliant with EU
sanctions regarding Zimbabwe. Barclays always seeks to conduct its business
in an ethical and responsible manner.

"Barclays has been in Zimbabwe since 1912 and is deeply committed to
supporting its 150,000 customers in the country in what is clearly a
difficult operating environment. Our 1,000 Zimbabwean employees are
providing an excellent service and, as a major employer, we are fully
committed to their welfare."

Under European Union sanctions imposed in 2002, bank accounts and funds of
131 members of Mr Mugabe's government were frozen.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Cross-Border Trade Thrives Amidst Zimbabwe Crisis

25 February 2009

The Zimbabwean economy is reeling under an economic disaster characterized by hyper-inflation, 80 percent unemployment and shortages of food, fuel and other basic goods. But despite the virtual collapse of the formal economy, business is booming in certain areas.

Bags of fruit, ready to be driven across the border into Zimbabwe
Bags of fruit, ready to be driven across the border into Zimbabwe
Judging by the volume of traffic passing between Zimbabwe and South Africa, the economic crisis in Zimbabwe seems unreal.

In Zimbabwe, the shelves in most stores are empty. There are shortages of food, fuel and other basic goods. And few people have money to buy what is available.

Yet millions of dollars worth of goods cross the border from South Africa each week. The South African government, according to official statistics, last year supplied one-half of Zimbabwe's imports, some $2 billion worth.

But it is the unofficial trade born of necessity that is most noticeable here.

Zimbabweans walk towards the Beitbridge Border Post after shopping in Musina, South Africa (2008 photo)
Zimbabweans walk towards the Beitbridge Border Post after shopping in Musina, South Africa (2008 photo)
Just outside the border post, a man sells bananas from the back of a truck. Vendors along the sidewalk sell fruits, vegetables and bags to carry them in.

Zimbabweans, some of whom have crossed the border just for the day, are their primary customers. Some come to South Africa to shop just for their families. Each individual is allowed $100 worth of goods duty-free.

Others can be seen lugging heavy jute-sack bags through the border post or driving up with trucks loaded down with goods. For these people, it is a living.

Webster Chibobo is lounging with a dozen other traders in the shade at a mini-bus stand a few meters from the border post.

Webster Chibobo runs a trading business with goods from South Africa
Webster Chibobo runs a trading business with goods from South Africa
They are waiting until tomorrow morning to cross, hoping they can make it to their homes in Zimbabwe by nightfall.

Chibobo has been doing a thriving business buying goods in South Africa and selling them at home. But he says everyone in Zimbabwe now is trading in foreign currency, or forex, because the inflation-battered Zimbabwean dollar is worthless.

"The economy has just gone down," said Chibobo. "That's why we are now using forex [foreign exchange] because the Zim dollar, we can't even use. You can't pay anything with it usually."

Most Zimbabweans, especially in rural areas, are dependent upon donated food
Most Zimbabweans, especially in rural areas, are dependent upon donated food
But poor people, especially in rural areas, do not have foreign currency. So they are suffering the most. More than one-half of the population of 12 million needs food aid.

In Musina, a South African town 12 kilometers from the border, the streets are filled with stores catering to Zimbabwean traders.

The Messina (sic) Factory Shop is a large warehouse sitting off the main street. Inside, shelves reaching to the ceiling are piled with crates of maize meal, canned goods and paper products.

Manager Imtiaz Seedat smiles as shoppers fill carts with goods. He says his clients range from small buyers to wholesale traders. Business is booming.

The Factory Shop does a substantial business with individuals and traders buying in Musina and taking goods back across the border to Zimbabwe
The Factory Shop does a substantial business with individuals and traders buying in Musina and taking goods back across the border to Zimbabwe
"It's a big amount," said Seedat. "We've got some guys coming to buy 100,000 [Rand worth], 200,000. It depends. It depends on the individual. Some guys by a basket for 1,000 Rand at a time."

Zimbabwe's formal economy has basically collapsed and there is widespread hunger in the country. Many hospitals and schools are closed. And public water and sanitation services have deteriorated, leading to a cholera epidemic that has killed 3,800 people.

But Seedat says this can be misleading.

"There's a lot of money in Zimbabwe," he said. "I don't understand it when people say there is no money in Zimbabwe. There is money. But the banks haven't got money. The people's got the money."

He notes that the Zimbabwean government recently began allowing businesses to trade in foreign currency. As a result, some big outlets in Zimbabwe are now stocking their shelves. The competition has brought prices lower and his business has slowed somewhat.

Outside the store, people load crates of goods onto cars, trucks and trailers, most with Zimbabwe registration plates. When the vehicle is full or they have run out of money, they begin the long ride home.

Zimbabweans hope the new power sharing government which was inaugurated this month will revive the economy, but most Zimbabweans believe the task will be long and difficult.

In the meantime, the cross-border trade continues to thrive in spite of the crisis, or rather because of it.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

WFP food helps cholera patients recover

Thousands of cholera patients and their caregivers in treatment centres across Zimbabwe are now benefiting from WFP food, which helps them fight the deadly disease.

"Food assistance is of great importance because it means a quicker recovery," says Dr. George Mapiya, a district medical officer in the northern district of Mt Darwin, where hunger and malnutrition are rife. View photo gallery

The meals, which are cooked in the treatment centres, consist of the staple maize porridge and beans. Dr Mapiya says he believes that the WFP food provided to the caregivers helps to motivate them to continue their difficult work.

There is no end in sight to the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, which has already claimed over 3,500 lives and infected tens of thousands more.

Harvest still a month away

Meanwhile, the food crisis in Zimbabwe has reached its peak.

WFP is aiming to provide monthly relief rations to 5.1 million of the most vulnerable people in both February and March – the two hardest and hungriest months before the annual maize harvest starts in April.

WFP and its NGO partners have so far managed to prevent the crisis from becoming a disaster thanks to the generosity of donors around the world. USA remains by far the largest donor to WFP's activities in Zimbabwe.

Food keeps children healthy

WFP has been forced to reduce the cereal ration to ensure that every beneficiary receives some assistance. But each bag will still help a hungry family to survive this peak crisis period. See operational update.

"My children were suffering from hunger and could not go to school because there was nothing to eat at home," said Tamburai Chifamba, a mother of five. "But with this food, my children are getting healthy."

A team of senior UN officials, including WFP's Deputy Regional Director, are in Zimbabwe this week to assess the UN response to the cholera epidemic and food shortages.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

WFP in Zimbabwe - Facts & Figures

The food situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated more drastically than expected – due to worsening economic conditions, the cash crisis and also because the government did not import as much food as anticipated.

While critical, it is not a "famine" (there are no mass deaths, no mass migration). February and March are the two hungriest, most difficult months of the year – before the main harvest in April.

- WFP aims to provide food assistance to 5.1 million people across Zimbabwe in February - the highest number of beneficiaries in a single month since the regional crisis began in 2002. In January, WFP assisted 4.3 million people.

- In order to reach as many people as possible, WFP has been forced to cut cereal rations from 12 kg to 5kg per person per month.

- Reduced rations will help millions of hungry people to survive until the April harvest but they will be more vulnerable and more susceptible to disease

- C-SAFE, three US-sponsored NGOs which also distribute free food assistance in Zimbabwe, will assist another 1.8 million beneficiaries – taking the total to around 7 million in February and March (over 50% of the population of 12 million.)

- Cholera patients have received WFP food in treatment centres. A daily ration of 400 g of cereal, 100 g of beans and 20 g of vegetable oil provides some 20,000 patients with nutrition to speed their recovery.

- Donors have been generous to WFP in Zimbabwe – providing more than US$240 million for operations in 2008 and 2009. The UK has given $17.8 million; other recent donations include USA ($33 million), China ($5 million), Russia ($2 million).

- In the worst affected communities, people are surviving on reduced food aid rations and wild foods – as well as resorting to other desperate measures such as selling remaining household assets or using tree bark or soil as a cereal supplement. Soon people may be forced to start consuming "green maize" (picking it far too early).

- A recent WFP survey found that nearly one in five households – including those receiving food assistance – had sold assets in the past three months and that more than 70% had done so in order to buy food; 12% of households had not eaten the previous day.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

JAG open letter forum - No. 605 - Dated 25 February 2009


Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject

To subscribe/unsubscribe to the JAG mailing list, please email: with subject line "subscribe" or "unsubscribe".


1.  Innocent Victims - Cathy Buckle

2.  Andrew Meldrum - global post

3.  Genocide - Dagga Boy

4.  The Spanish Train - Craig Dunlop

5.  A Happy Man - Gulliver


1.  Innocent Victims

Dear Family and Friends,

I am delighted to be able to tell you that my new book: "Innocent
Victims," has just been published by Merlin Unwin Books in the UK.

Innocent Victims is the story of how Meryl Harrison rescued thousands of
animals stranded on farms during Zimbabwe's land invasions. In her
sixties and with a heart condition, Meryl travelled with one or two young
SPCA Inspectors and together they faced mobs of men who were often
drugged or drunk and almost always armed with weapons ranging from sticks
and stones to guns, knives and whips. Meryl drove thousands of kilometres
to remote and abandoned farms; she and her colleagues went into "no-go
areas" and faced war veterans, secret police, army and youth militia;
they dismantled road barricades and went to places which even the Police
said were dangerous and unsafe. There wasn't an animal too big, small,
slippery or furry for Meryl and she rescued cats, dogs and goldfish. She
and her team caught pigs, sheep, cows, goats and chickens. They saved
horses and ponies, duikers and sable antelope and intervened on behalf of
lions, hippos and ostriches.

For some the heart of Innocent Victims will be in Marmalade, the cat
rescued from under the bath; for others it may be in Bokkie, the dog on
Roy and Heather Bennett's farm who won an award for "his exceptional
bravery and loyalty to his owner and his family and his courageous action
that saved their lives." Or maybe it will be the little un-named piglet
which Meryl popped onto the floor of her truck while mobs of men raged,
shouted and threatened all around her.

All of the stories in Innocent Victims are the original first hand
accounts taken from Meryl's personal diaries. Some of the rescues are
gruesome and heartbreaking but others tell of great courage, ingenuity
and joyous reunions. All tell of the extraordinary dedication and deep
passion shown by one woman for the lives of many thousands of animals.
Innocent Victims is the story of an unsung and reluctant hero in Zimbabwe
darkest of times.

Innocent Victims can be ordered from my website: or from the publishers at: .

Thank you for your support of my writing and for reading this letter,
love cathy. 22nd February 2009.


2.  Andrew Meldrum - global post

Dear Editor,

Hawaii independent's report on Mugabe's responsibility for the cholera
epidemic is wonderful. We just hope the protest moves quickly, to arraign
him before the ICC for infringement of human rights, and genocide, and
multiple murders. Or maybe Mugabe's demise from ill- health/old age may
happen first. Albert Einstein once said "the world is a dangerous place
to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the
people who don't do anything about it."

We are many concerned ex- residents who would support any such move. Good
on yer Desmond Tutu. !!

Name withheld


3.  Genocide - Dagga Boy

Dear Jag

I got this from a friend, this is a must do.

Gerry Whitehead

The trial of the perpetrators of genocide and other atrocities during Pol
Pot's tyranny in the 1970s in Cambodia has just begun. Their Zimbabwean
counterparts must also face justice regardless of how long it will take
to bring them to book. The cycle of impunity must be broken in every
country where innocent citizens have been brutalized by abusers of state


4.  The Spanish Train - Craig Dunlop

 Dear Jag

The situation in Zimbabwe at the moment has a chilling resemblance to the
famous song and lyrics by Chris De Burg ' The Spanish Train '.  For those
who are not familiar with this great piece of lyrics the song is about
God and the Devil and their game of 'poker' to win over the souls of the

As the lyrics go "Joker is the name, Poker is the game " epitomises the
very situation at present, 'Who will be the King of this place ' rests
on who wins the game!

Lets hope that MDC has a wary eye for that "Ace" which the Devil slips
from 'beneath his cloak' and the ' Train ' remains on time!

' Viva le Liberate '


5.  A Happy Man - Gulliver

Dear Jag

Greetings all from a New Zimbabwe?

I had to but my first Herald in 8 years as the headline caught my eye.

Our outgoing Minister of Health saying he leaves a happy man! These
people are stunning!

Here are his achievements:

All hospitals in the country closed.

NO medical care available to the people.

The lowest life expectancy in the world (Around 32 years) NO drugs in any
town or rural clinics (except those donated by NGO's) A major Cholera
epidemic that has affected 60 000 people and killed more than 3000 One of
the highest


6.  The Beachhead Expanded  - Eddie Cross

Dear Jag

The situation in Zimbabwe is really difficult to read right now. I have
journalists and analyst friends who are watchers with a lifetime of
experience and knowledge and they simply cannot make out what is going

One of my early ancestors fought with Robert the Bruce in Scotland
against the English and I can just imagine what that must have been like
- thousands of men with simple arms running at each other and doing
battle. From the sidelines the men in command would be watching and I am
sure that it would not be clear for some time, who was winning.

When the Allies landed at Normandy, even though they had prepared
meticulously and used deceit and guile to confuse those defending the
beaches of Normandy, they could not have guaranteed what the early
outcome would be. The smoke and confusion, noise and the inevitable
muddles that accompany such an operation would guarantee that progress
could not be reported on for many hours - maybe days.

So it is in Zimbabwe. MDC has opened a beachhead in hostile territory
that has been under Zanu PF control for 29 years. Anyone who thought that
those who did not want this would give up and lie down, are naïve. Many
argued that we should never have gone in - should have waited until
the collapse in the country beyond the beachhead would soften up the
opposition. Our problem was that our invasion fleet was already at sea
and turning back was not an option, we had to take our chances on the

The opposition had been trying for a couple of years to get us to abandon
the landings. They tried every ruse in the book, even holding some of our
troops for ransom and exerting every provocation. When we eventually went
in, they were taken by surprise and were then forced to fight back. By
then it was too late for them - we were on their territory and were
well prepared and equipped.

What we found when we landed was a seriously disillusioned population and
a force whose rank and file no longer had the stomach for the fight.
Although their elite forces and many senior officers were still loyal and
had some resources and weapons, they are greatly outnumbered by those who
quickly changed sides.

The opposition elite have a great deal of cunning and experience and have
reformed what is left of their forces and are fighting back. Like all
such conflicts it eventually rests on logistics - who can fight on
longest and who has the better reinforcement capability. In 1944/5 that
rested with the USA even though the majority of the troops on the ground
were European. It was the factories of the US that actually eventually
gained ascendancy at Normandy, although it was the courage of the men on
the beaches that caught our attention and won our admiration.

The key to understanding what is going on in this fight lay in six chairs
that were empty at Morgan Tsvangirai's swearing in at State House
10 days ago. Their occupants were invited, came and left before the
ceremony. They meet daily, in secret to plan their fight back and have
financial and civilian support. The beaches are found in the Courts of
the land where Bennett and Mukoko and their lawyers do battle, in the
government buildings of Harare and out on the farms where skirmishes

We know where their funding is coming from and who their foot soldiers

We know who the key players are and what they are doing; we are not
deceived by their seeming acquiescence in meetings with our team on the
beaches. We also have two huge advantages, we are on the right side of
history, are fighting to defend our own freedoms and values and our cause
is just.

They seek to defend tyranny, corrupt and inept administration and vast
secret abuse of basic humanity. That they are good fighters is not in
dispute, that they are ruthless and willing to go to extreme lengths to
get their way, is also not disputed. It's just that they have
nothing but greed and power to defend and in the end that is not enough.

Another lesson from the beaches of Normandy and perhaps my ancestors is
that the men in the battle knew they were winning before it became
apparent to the commanders on the hills. When they secured the beachhead
and then climbed the cliffs, they found only light armour and resistance
- the hard battle reinforcements were still critical days away.
When they gained a village or a town and were greeted with joy and
happiness by those who had cowed and cooperated with the occupation
forces, the men on the ground knew they were winning.

Battles still to fight ahead and another year of conflict before Hitler
died in his bunker, but they were on their way and eventually they knew
victory was certain. They mourned the casualties but honoured their
courage and determination. Most important of all, they knew the factories
at home were working and they were not alone.

I feel the same way. Those watching from the hills cannot see what is
happening on the ground - it's covered by smoke and dust. We
are beyond the beachhead and are encountering resistance but nothing that
we cannot handle.

As we fight inland, further from the beach we watch anxiously to see if
the logistics are working - because we are using our ammunition and
food rations fast.

Right now the international community are watching from the hills and
saying they will wait and see who wins before they send additional
supplies. They are giving us the basics, but that is not enough to win.
Our regional friends are coming to our aid but they do not have the
capacity to really push us into a commanding position. It's time
for faith and courage. They should put their faith in our ground troops,
after all we have been at it for ten years - twice as long as in
the Second World War and I think we have proved our commitment to the key
principles of freedom and democracy. They must exert the courage of their
convictions and back us in this fight.

As for us, we are in this for as long as it takes. I can remember an
interview with Golda Meier after the Six Day War in the Middle East. She
was asked what the secret of the Israeli Army was. She replied, "We
have nowhere else to go". What a privilege to be a part of the
landing that brought freedom, democracy, the rule of law and justice to
our own country at a time when it really mattered. Final victory is still
a long way off, but at last, we are on our way.

Eddie Cross


All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

Back to the Top
Back to Index