|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Wetherell, editor of the privately owned Zimbabwe Independent, says he
stands by the story that landed him and two reporters in jail for the
The men were released on bail on Monday. They were arrested after printing a
report that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe had "commandeered" an Air
Zimbabwe plane to go on holiday.
Wetherell (55), news editor Vincent Kahiya and reporter Dumisani Muleya were
granted bail of Z$20 000 by Harare magistrate Kudzai Tongogara. They
appeared on charges of "criminal defamation" against Mugabe.
“It is essential that President Mugabe is accountable to the Zimbabwe
public. That’s the whole point. We will continue to examine how much he
spends, and where and when. We will continue to follow him in terms of
public accountability,” Wetherell told the Mail & Guardian Online on
Wetherell said a remand hearing had been set down for January 29, but he had
no idea when the trial would start.
Wetherell was charged under a criminal defamation law that he said had been
struck down by courts in most Commonwealth and former Commonwealth
He said the law’s jurisdiction was incompatible with democratic practice and
had recently been revoked by Ghana and Sri Lanka.
“It is regarded as an anomaly and has been used by colonial governments to
deal with outspoken critics in the press. It lurks in the armoury of the
He said the conditions in the Harare Central prison had been “pretty awful”
and said he would not recommend an overnight stay. He said conditions had
been crowded at times, but that on the whole, they had been treated well.
Wetherell said there was no material difference in the facts reported by the
Zimbabwe Independent and those supplied by the state.
“We’re all in agreement. The plane was taken and used by Mugabe.”
Asked about press freedom in Zimbabwe, he said: “It’s not dead yet -- we
wouldn’t even say it’s dying."
He said his paper fulfilled an important role in ensuring that there was a
measure of diversity in the media.
He highlighted the fact the state has contemptuously ignored court orders in
keeping the Daily News off the streets.
“Mugabe is effectively acting extra-legally. It’s a continuing worry the way
in which the state refuses to obey court orders. The rule of law is being
steadily eroded. The voice of the press is being trampled by a rogue state
with no respect for the law,” he said.
The three were arrested on Saturday after the newspaper reported on Friday
that Mugabe last week "commandeered" an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767 to fly him
and his family around Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore on his annual
The state claimed that the story was "false and criminally defamatory of the
On Saturday, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the report was
Emerging unshaven from the brief hearing, Wetherell said: "We certainly
stand by our story and any suggestion that it was false we reject. We will
be putting up a robust defence.
"This clumsy attempt to silence us by locking us up for 48 hours,
prosecuting us over a story where much of the facts are agreed, will do
nothing to silence the voice of the Zimbabwe Independent." -- Sapa
Zimbabwean minister's SA getaway up for sale
January 13, 2004, 06:55 PM
A house in South Africa belonging to Jonathan Moyo, the Zimbabwean
Information Minister, will be auctioned off at the end of this month. This
follows a Johannesburg High Court order. The house is situated in Saxonwold,
The minister is in arrears with his bond repayments to Nedbank. The bank is
mum over the exact amount. The house has four bedrooms, and is valued at a
couple of million. Moyo also owes money to a South African television
Zimbabwe $ cut 80% at auction
By Tony Hawkins
Published: January 13 2004 4:00 | Last Updated: January 13 2004 4:00
The Zimbabwe dollar depreciated by an effective 80 per cent yesterday
as a new foreign exchange auction came into operation, falling from Z$824 to
the US dollar at the official rate, to a new market rate of Z$4,196.5.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said US$5m (£2.9m,
€3.9m) had been on
offer at the twice-weekly auction, with bids ranging from Z$4,000 to
The RBZ said the highest bids of Z$4,900 had been rejected. However,
the devaluation was broadly in line with market expectations and the new
auction rate remains significantly stronger than that on the parallel
market. Tony Hawkins, Harare
Zimbabwe's Auction Rattles a Few Cages
January 13, 2004
Posted to the web January 13, 2004
Rob Rose, Financial Services Correspondent
ZIMBABWE's first foreign currency auction took place yesterday as the
country's Reserve Bank tried to curb the black market for foreign money, but
the auction could get buyers for only 10% of the $5m on offer.
The auction came as the country struggled to tackle a crisis that threatened
to cause a meltdown in its banking sector, partly caused by some banks
speculating on the parallel markets for selling currency.
This parallel market means that while the official exchange rate is Z824 to
the dollar, the rate on the thriving black market is between Z4500 and Z5000
to the dollar a huge gap that Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono wants to
Gono was hoping to short-circuit the black market through this auction,
which would provide Zimbabwean businesses that need foreign currency with
access to dollars without having to use the black market.
But the response at yesterday's first currency auction underlined the extent
to which the official exchange rate of Z824 to the dollar does not come
close to reflecting the market value of the Zimbabwean dollar. The average
bid was placed at Z4196,58 nearly six times the official exchange rate but
in line with the black market rates.
In all, $5m was put on offer but only $477557 was bought, representing a
lukewarm response to the first such auction.
Standard Bank economist Robert Bunyi said the fact that less than 10% of the
available dollars were bought indicated the Reserve Bank appeared reluctant
to accept bids that were too high.
"The Zimbabwe market could also have adopted a wait-and-see attitude to the
auctions, or possibly the administrative process of securing foreign
exchange control clearance was too slow, (but) I would expect the demand at
the auctions to pick up," he said.
At first the Reserve Bank wanted to hold daily auctions, but it would now
hold them twice a week. Gono has nonetheless succeeded in rattling the cages
of black market currency traders.
Sources in Zimbabwe said that black market trading was down markedly last
week in anticipation of this auction, which represented a chance for
business to get foreign currency through legal channels.
Until last week, R1 cost as much as Z900 on the black market, but this has
fallen to about Z500 a major drop that could continue under the new regime.
While in the past, some of the banks had speculated on the currency by
buying and selling dollars through the parallel markets, Gono's recent
efforts to crack down on errant behaviour have made it harder for the banks
to continue doing this.
One banker said the market was "desperate to see the system work", and the
banks would be supporting the auctions.
"This is now a legitimate way for business to get foreign currency. We fully
expect to see the black market system take a knock with the auction," he
But other commentators were less convinced, noting with concern that the
Reserve Bank had turned down the higher bids at the auction. Analysts said
unless the auctions were able to deliver exchange rates consistently similar
to those available on the black market, the parallel system would remain
very much alive.
Political, Social Woes Blamed for Zimbabwe's Banks Crisis
Business Day (Johannesburg)
January 13, 2004
Posted to the web January 13, 2004
Rob Rose, Financial Services Correspondent
AS ZIMBABWE's banking sector struggles to prevent liquidity problems at six
of their 17 banks from infecting the rest of the banking system, ratings
agency Global Credit has blamed the crisis on the country's socioeconomic
and political woes.
With concerns that the crisis could hit South African banks and have an
effect on sentiment towards African banking stocks, analysts are keeping a
close eye on whether newly appointed governor Gideon Gono can resolve the
In a report released yesterday, Global Credit said the socioeconomic and
political crises that had emerged over recent years had contributed to an
environment in which certain banks engaged in "speculative activities".
According to the ratings agency, many banks had tried to take advantage of
the parallel exchange rate, in which the official exchange rate of Z800 to
the US dollar contrasted starkly with the unofficial parallel rate of Z6000
to the dollar, to make money.
Global Credit pointed out that "certain banks also were tempted to ... hold
large foreign currency positions" on these parallel markets.
At the same time, there was a sharp mismatch between the interest rates of
about 100% and an inflation rate higher than 600%.
Investors and banks tried to preserve value by taking debt at comparatively
low interest rates to buy assets with quantifiable value, such as property,
vehicles and equities assets that soon gained in value due to the rocketing
Some of these banks allegedly used the reserve bank's concessionary funds,
which are available for banks to use in certain circumstances, to fund this
Gono said he would target institutions involved in funding such "nefarious
activities". His efforts to crack down on inappropriate activities last
month led to fallout as some banks were locked into assets or speculative
positions in the parallel market, causing a sharp increase in interest
As liquidity problems became evident, Global Credit said that "loss of
public confidence resulted in a significant flow of funds from those banks
perceived to be in difficulty to those perceived to be strong ... (which)
culminated in a number of banks failing to meet their commitments and being
excluded from the clearing house."
By last Friday, the reserve bank had suspended six of the country's 17 banks
from settling interbank debt due to concerns they could not pay the other
Overall, the Global Credit report paints an ugly picture of an industry that
has been under-regulated in the past few years, positioned in a contracting
economy in which economic anomalies could be exploited for the benefit of a
few individuals. But illegal activities also complicated the situation .
Last year, the banks felt heavy
competition from a rash of new asset
management companies which sprang up many of which made lots of cash because
asset managers were unregulated . Gono brought asset managers into the
regulatory net , and his efforts to get tough on banks and asset managers
have been hailed by most analysts as a step in the right direction.
Global Credit director Dave King says Gono's actions at the weekend to stem
the crisis should play a major role in arresting any further contagion
effect which could jeopardise the rest of the sector.
Mail and Guardian
Zimbabwe 'apologist' cracks the whip
13 January 2004 15:00
after a Zimbabwean editor and two reporters were released from jail,
they found themselves threatened by the government again, this time for
A letter from Tafataona Mahoso, the head of the Media Commission which is
the government's press control body, accused the privately owned Zimbabwe
Independent weekly of racism after the newspaper published a letter saying
Zimbabweans were as docile as "a herd of wild beasts".
He said the letter was "typical of the worst expressions of racism from the
former slave territories of the United States, from apartheid South Africa,
and from the days of (white minority) Rhodesia".
Mahoso, whose organisation controls the licences for journalists to
practise, said: "All publishers and editors in Zimbabwe should consider this
statement as a warning to them as well, and not just to the Zimbabwe
Independent editor Iden Wetherell said that Mahoso's threat was linked to
the commission's ability to "manipulate the issue of licences to
On Monday Wetherell and reporters Dumisani Muleya and Vincent Kahiya were
released on bail after being accused of "criminal defamation" for a report
last week that said President Robert Mugabe had "commandeered" one of the
national airline's planes to take him on holiday to the Far East.
Wetherell said he rejected the charges and would mount a "very robust
defence" to the case against them.
The letter denounced by Mahoso, signed apparently by a black Zimbabwean,
said Zimbabweans were "a stupid lot" and compared them to "a herd of wild
beasts" who stand and watch while one of their number is caught and killed
by pride of lions.
The letter was complaining about Zimbabweans' failure to defend themselves
against the repression of Mugabe's regime.
Mahoso said the alleged racism in the letter was "absolute and sweeping."
Wetherell said: "We do not accept his view that writers are necessarily
being racist when they say Zimbabweans are docile in standing up to tyranny.
That is a view in the national discourse, whether we as a society are doing
enough to fight the depredations of the Zimbabwe regime.
"Mahoso is an apologist to the regime and he won't allow criticism of the
regime. He is dressing it up as racism."
He referred to a recent report by the Media Monitoring Project in Zimbabwe
last month that accused the government media of "hate mongering" and
"inciting violence," and said they were was copying of the propaganda
strategy of Radio Machete, the "hate" radio station in the Rwanda genocide
"It is shocking that Mahoso has never acted on these issues, or on the
unprofessionalism of the state media," he said. - Sapa
ZIMBABWE: NCA calls for "people-driven" constitutional reforms
HARARE, 13 Jan 2004 (IRIN) - Lobby group the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) has vowed to frustrate any talks on constitutional reform
between the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition.
It argues that only Zimbabweans - not political parties – have the right to
decide on the matter.
NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku told IRIN he would consider negotiations on
constitutional reforms between the two parties an "illegitimate process",
even though the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had its
roots in the NCA and the labour movement.
"Political parties could only discuss the modalities on how to involve the
people," he said.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, on a visit to Zimbabwe in December, and
the church, have both urged ZANU-PF and the MDC to negotiate a solution to
the country's deep political and economic crises.
While the MDC has denied that any talks have so far taken place, it has
insisted that the focus of any dialogue should be on constitutional reforms,
to ensure future elections are free and fair.
The NCA, an umbrella civic organisation, successfully lobbied in 2000 for
the rejection by referendum of a controversial draft constitution by the
government-appointed Constitutional Commission.
After that defeat, President Robert Mugabe said the country would stick with
its original constitution, which has been much criticised for the power
vested in the presidency.
The NCA proposes "people-driven" reforms, based on a national consultative
ZIMBABWE: Anthrax outbreak continues
HARARE, 13 Jan 2004 (IRIN) - Three people have died and close to 200 have
been infected by an outbreak of anthrax as Zimbabwe struggles to contain the
disease, which affects both humans and cattle.
The outbreak, at present confined to the southeastern province of Masvingo,
has so far affected 191 people and caused the deaths of more than 60 head of
cattle since it emerged last month.
Masvingo provincial medical director, Tapiwa Magure, said the largest number
of people affected was recorded last week with 50 new infections.
"The number of cases of anthrax affecting people continues to rise at
alarming levels. We are also concerned about the effect it is having on
livestock," he was quoted as saying.
The causative agent of anthrax is the bacterium, bacillus anthracis, the
spores of which can survive in the environment for years. Humans generally
acquire the disease directly or indirectly from infected animals. Control in
livestock is therefore the key to reduced incidence, according to the World
The veterinary services department had launched a vaccination exercise in
the province to try and contain the disease, while awareness campaigns had
been launched. "We have dispatched more officials to Bikita, the hardest hit
district in the province, to try and contain the disease," Magure said.
Zimbabwe's lack of foreign exchange to buy the vaccines had hampered the
government's efforts to control anthrax, as well as an epidemic of
foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) that was threatening the country's beef
industry. Lucrative beef exports to the European Union were suspended in
2001 after the first signs of a serious FMD outbreak.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made and the director of vetinary services have
reportedly travelled to Iran to source anthrax and FMD vaccines.
The outbreaks have been linked to the uncontrolled movement of cattle by new
settlers benefiting from the government's land redistribution programme.
"There is no way cattle diseases can fail to thrive when cattle are being
moved without permits from one part of the country to another," said a
senior official in the veterinary department, who preferred anonymity.
Mail and Guardian
Former Zim farmers bring jobs to Mozambique
13 January 2004 15:37
White Zimbabwean commercial farmers have created more than 4
000 jobs in
neighbouring Mozambique, where they settled after being ousted from their
land back home, a regional governor said on Tuesday.
"The Zimbabwean farmers with about 1 000ha of land each have so far
generated a total of 4 118 new jobs," said Soares Nhaca, governor of the
central Mozambican province of Manica, where the farmers settled.
Nhaca said there are about 100 Zimbabwean farmers in the fertile districts
of Manica province, growing traditional cash crops such as tobacco, cotton
Most of the new jobs are on tobacco farms, the governor said, adding that
some farmers also grow mangoes and millet for export to South Africa.
The majority of the Zimbabwean commercial farmers have been alloted land in
the two districts of Barue and Sussundenga, near the border with Zimbabwe.
Mozambique has taken a cautious approach to requests from white farmers for
land, hoping to avoid replicating Zimbabwe's inequitable pattern of land
ownership, in which the tiny white minority owned more than one-quarter of
the nation's land.
In 2000, the Zimbabwean government accelerated a land reform programme under
which land was seized from white farmers and redistributed to landless
Since then, more than three-quarters of Zimbabwe's 4 500 white commercial
farmers have been expropriated of about 11-million hectares.
All land in Mozambique belongs to the state and cannot be sold.
The Constitution only allows land to be leased.
Manica province, which borders Zimbabwe, is the most sought-after by foreign
Nhaca said his government has also received land requests from South African
The whole of central and northern Mozambique possesses land with almost the
same characteristics as those in Manica -- good soil and climate. --
Date for Public Hearing on Land Acquisition Amendment Bill set
The Herald (Harare)
January 13, 2004
Posted to the web January 13, 2004
THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water
Development, Rural Resources and Resettlement will on Thursday conduct a
public hearing on the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill that seeks to repeal
some provisions of the Land Acquisition Act.
The Bill that is before the Parliamentary Legal Committee for consideration
seeks to consolidate the gains of land reform by removing bottlenecks in the
In a public notice, Parliament said views ga- thered from the public hearing
would be analysed and considered by the portfolio committee in their
deliberations on the Bill.
"The committee will come up with a report that shall be tabled in Parliament
with possible incorporation of the views in the Bill," read the public
Written submissions could also be submitted to Parliament by tomorrow.
One of the major amendments the Bill seeks to make is the abolition of the
requirement that the preliminary notice of acquisition should be served
personally upon the owner of the land to be acquired for resettlement and
the holder on any other registered real right in that land.
The preliminary notice of acquisition was supposed to be served by the
acquiring authority personally under Section 5(1)(b) of the Land Acquisition
"This provision has proved difficult to implement under the land reform
programme because often the employer no longer occupies the land and cannot
otherwise be located," reads the memorandum introducing the Bill.
Judicial Officers Granted Bail
The Herald (Harare)
January 13, 2004
Posted to the web January 13, 2004
PROMINENT Harare lawyer Wilson Manase, provincial magistrate Caroline-Anne
Chigumira and prosecutor Blessmore Gorejena, accused of irregularly granting
bail to a suspect in the $7,7 billion Trust Bank fraud, were yesterday
brought before a Harare magistrate court to answer allegations of
The three were not asked to plead when they appeared before magistrate Mr
Simon Kachambwa. They were remanded to February 13 on $500 000, $100 000 and
$300 000 bail respectively.
They are also required to report once to the CID Fraud Squad at Harare
Central Police Station and reside at their respective Harare homes until the
matter is finalised.
Charges against the three who were arrested over the weekend arose after a
key suspect in the Trust Bank fraud involving $7,7 billion, Witness Mahata,
was granted bail in chambers. Mahata initially appeared in court on December
23 last year facing charges of fraud and money laundering.
He was remanded in custody to Christmas Eve for his bail application and he
appeared in court and his application was postponed for a month to allow
police to continue with investigations.
The police and prosecution were opposing the granting of bail to Mahata, who
was represented by Mr Alex Mombesasa of Kantor and Immerman, the State
On December 31, it is alleged, at around 1 pm Mahata appeared in court
represented by Manase and Mr Mombesasa for a bail application. In an
application for the bail, the State alleges that they misrepresented to the
court that they had liaised with the investigating officer in the case,
Assistant Inspector Ambrose Mandovha, and that he had consented to bail.
According to the State, this was false as Asst Insp Mandovha had not
consented to bail. As a result of the alleged misrepresentation, Mahata, who
the police had difficulties in arresting, was released on $6 million bail
coupled with stringent reporting conditions. The State alleges that it was
not in the interest of justice that he was granted bail.
In making the misrepresentation, the lawyers were aware that their conduct
might defeat or obstruct the administration of justice, the State alleges.
Ghana Home Page
Why Are We Where We Are?
It is a face-glaring fact that we have not developed at a fast pace as we
should. Given our immense endowment of human, natural, agricultural and
mineral resources Africa and Africans are still wallowing in abject poverty.
We still live in squalid conditions of hunger and desperation. This is not
the result of our stupidity or lack of intelligence.
Individual persons of African descent are able to master every complex
concept and excel when given the opportunity in different environments. Why
could we not display such excellence in our own environment?
The structure and the institutions of governance and modern states are alien
to us. We did not have the time to internalize the art of modern state-hood
at the time independence was granted. We lacked and still lack the
traditions and ethos of nation-hood. These traditions and ethos evolve with
time. These structures were never tried nor tested. Though our founding
fathers would like us to believe that we were ready for independence, an
objective analysis reveals that we were not. Yet we admire them for fighting
for independence for the white man would not have surrendered power at his
own volition. Like soldiers however, because we were ill-trained for
independence, we are in danger to ourselves and our comrades or in this
metaphor, to our citizens and neighbors.
We are not poor intellectually. Africans and Ghanaians when given the right
system function creditably anywhere. The classic examples of Kofi Annan and
Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollenu (of NASA) are adequate proofs. Besides Kofi Annan
Ghanaian trained medical practitioners, nurses, accountants and a host of
others with critical skills are selling their skills the world over. It is
simple because the system in which they are employed outside Ghana works.
Individual Ghanaians are like skillful and talented soccer players with a
lot of potential. Because well managed football teams do not exist, let
alone proper national soccer leagues, they display their skills elsewhere.
What Ghana needs are the teams and the professionally managed leagues, the
players would come home. In Ghana now a citizen can obtain a driving license
without stepping in any motor vehicle department. It takes for ever to
register a land. These occur because there are no operative systems in
Even when the system exists, it is regularly subverted because of
corruption. Here in the USA one can obtain a passport by picking an
application form from a post office, mail the filled form with the
prerequisite documents to the nearest passport office. Bingo the passport is
received in the mail. This is because there is system that works and
officials are accountable for delays.
We need to acknowledge that the systems as they exist in our respective
countries are not working. This is not a poor reflection on our abilities.
It took the British many years (since 1215) to establish parliamentary
democracy. As intelligent as we are, it would take us more than 50 years to
internalize such practices. Even Haiti which has been independent for more
than 200 years has not tried and tested good governance. Same can be said
about Liberia, Ghana and Zimbabwe. But when Haitians arrive in the USA, with
little command of the English Language, they not only survive, but triumph
as well because the system works in the USA. Time per se is not the most
critical variable, the willingness and commitment of our political leaders
and elites is more critical. If time alone is so critical, Haiti would have
been more stable than Botswana or Liberia more developed than Zimbabwe.
It is not time to change the past. We in Ghana at least are on the right
course. We need to establish systems that would stand the test of time so
that a typical Ghanaian can perform in Ghana as he does in Australia or
Japan. The NPP Administration under President Kufour has introduced a
feature to Ghanaian political landscape. This is the so-called Peoples
Assembly. This concept and idea needs to be nurtured and expanded. District
and Metropolitan, Township and Village Assemblies, Traditional Councils and
Regional House of Chiefs should all open their gates and encourage ordinary
citizens to observe and ask questions. Such a feature could be Ghana’s
answer to the weekly Question Time of the British Prime Minister in
Parliament. I live in a small town in New Jersey. I have attended council
meetings on numerous occasions when council members listen to the pros and
cons of allowing certain businesses to establish in the town. The views of
affected property owners are actively solicited before the Council takes a
We are not lazy. Neither are we stupid. It is our system and character that