|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
THE view from the pick-up truck rolling through the Zimbabwean countryside was grim. Field after field that should have been prepared for planting was idle and choked with weeds. But the farmer driving the truck—let's call him “Dave”—had no time to stop and grieve. He had an appointment to get his tractors back.
As part of President Robert Mugabe's programme of “land reform”, Dave's big farm had been carved up among half a dozen members of the ruling party, ZANU-PF. These middle-ranking cronies had in turn been thrown off by a big shot, a former brigadier with his own militia, who grabbed the lot for himself.
Under Zimbabwean law at the time, black would-be farmers allocated plots of formerly white-owned land were supposed to take only the land. The crops, cows and combine harvesters were deemed still to belong to the people who had sown, reared or bought them. But when Dave tried to salvage his moveable possessions, the brigadier's bodyguards blocked his way. So Dave got himself a court order and a promise of an armed police escort to help him reclaim this modest fraction of his life's accumulated assets.
He arrived at the local police station at the appointed hour, with some friends to help and your correspondent, incognito, to observe. The armed escort did not show up. The police chief shrugged and mumbled excuses. Then the brigadier stormed into the police station to complain that someone (possibly the farmworkers he had evicted) was stealing “his” crops at night. The police immediately dispatched a car and four officers to assist him. It was a striking vignette of how selectively the law is applied in Zimbabwe. Property rights are secure only to the extent that you enjoy the favour of those in power.
Land reform was supposed to benefit the poor, and indeed some 134,000 people have been allocated plots. Mr Mugabe promised the new farmers seeds and fertiliser, but delivered almost none, partly because he has evicted the farmers who used to grow the seeds. Few of Zimbabwe's new farmers know much about farming, so yields have plunged. Half the population now depends on food aid, which the ruling party shamelessly tries to reserve for its own supporters. There is a harsh partisan logic to this. Didymus Mutasa, ZANU's foreign-affairs secretary, once said the country would be better off with only half its current population, “with our own people who support the liberation struggle”.
Sub-Saharan Africa (hereafter, “Africa”) is the world's poorest continent: half of its 700m people subsist on 65 US cents or less a day. Even more worryingly, it is the only continent to have grown poorer in the past 25 years, despite the explosion of technology and trade that has boosted incomes in other regions. Not even Africans want to invest in Africa: an estimated 40% of the continent's privately held wealth is stashed offshore. This survey will ask two questions. Why is Africa so poor? And what are Africans doing about it?
The short answer to the first question is “bad government”. As recent events in Zimbabwe show more vividly than any economics textbook could, rulers who respect neither property rights nor their own laws swiftly impoverish their people. No other African country has regressed as fast as Zimbabwe has over the past five years, but several have made similar mistakes in the past from which most have yet to recover. Only one African country, Botswana, has been consistently well governed since independence. Not coincidentally, average incomes in Botswana have grown faster than anywhere else in the world in the past 35 years, from bare subsistence to over $3,000 a year. But only one African in 400 lives in Botswana.
The short answer to the second question is that many individual Africans are working hard to better their own lot, but their rulers are prone to getting in their way. Too many governments are predatory, and not enough are competent. On the plus side, the continent has grown more democratic since the end of the cold war, raising hopes that African governments will become more responsive to their people's needs. That is very welcome. But, as Africans say, you cannot eat democracy. The real test is whether democratic governments will be able to lay the foundations for economic growth.
A few African countries are growing rapidly. Leaving aside those that have enjoyed sudden oil windfalls, the best performers are Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda, which notched up growth rates of 12%, 9.7% and 6.2% respectively in 2002. All three countries have been doing well for a decade or so, and all three can plausibly claim that this is a result of better governance. The catch is that all three are growing from the lowest base imaginable, having suffered cataclysmic civil wars. All three have been given torrents of aid—between 50% and 70% of the national budget—to help them rebuild. None has yet regained its (modest) pre-war prosperity, and Rwanda's growth slowed in 2003.
Some African presidents, led by Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, are promoting a grand pan-African plan to promote better governance, attract more aid and boost growth. Most of the proposals obviously make sense: who could be against less corruption or better telephone links? But the plan will work only to the extent that individual African governments take it seriously.
Power in Africa today resides with national governments. Africa's nation-states may be artificial creations of the colonial era, but no one has the stomach to re-draw Africa's borders, so the continent is stuck with them. Progress, if and when it comes, will come country by country. The best-governed places will probably grow fastest, so African politicians must get the basics right: spend within their means, pass sensible laws and see that these are enforced even-handedly. Until they do, nothing else will move.
(AP)--The European Parliament called on European Union governments
to toughen sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Thursday,
saying existing restrictions have done little to change Mugabe's human
In a joint resolution adopted by 66 votes with four against and two
abstentions at the end of the session, the E.U. assembly urged E.U.
governments "to adopt a more active and urgent approach to the Zimbabwe
disaster, to include renewal of targeted sanctions."
The parliament, meeting in Strasbourg, France, called for an extension and
tightening of existing travel bans on Mugabe and his ministers.
It said a more "vigorous enforcement" of the restrictions and demanded
European countries strictly enforce the visa ban. The vote also called for
widening sanctions to include those who financially supported Mugabe's
political ZANU-PF party.
"Conditions in Zimbabwe are now spiraling out of control," said U.K.
conservative Geoffrey Van Orden. "Mugabe and his ZANU-PF cronies have
systematically pillaged and brutalized the once prosperous country of
Zimbabwe ...We need to set the people of Zimbabwe free."
The parliament also criticized last years visit of Mugabe to Paris, France,
on the invitation of French President Jacques Chirac, who asked for a
suspension of the travel ban on Mugabe to E.U. nations, so the Zimbabwean
leader could attend a Franco-African summit there.
The resolution comes as E.U. foreign ministers prepare to reassess their
sanctions against Zimbabwe which are due to expire Feb. 20.
Last year, Paris threatened to bloc the extension of sanctions against
Mugabe if it did not get an exemption for the Zimbabwean leader to travel to
The issue caused deep divisions between London and Paris over how strict the
E.U. sanctions against Zimbabwe should be.
The U.K., the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden have all pushed for tougher
sanctions against Zimbabwe and are expected to back stricter ones this time
E.U. nations slapped diplomatic sanctions against Mugabe two years ago,
imposing an E.U. visa travel ban on Mugabe and other Zimbabwean officials
and an arms sale ban on Zimbabwe. They also froze Zimbabwean assets in
Europe after failing to get Mugabe to improve human rights and reverse
policies that have created a massive food crisis in a country that was once
southern Africa's breadbasket.
Mugabe has cracked down on the independent press, the judiciary, opposition
officials and human rights workers in recent years.
Dow Jones Newswires
UN News Centre
UN joins forces with US to prevent water-borne disease in Zimbabwe's capital
15 January – In a bid to avert the spread of water-borne diseases in
Zimbabwe, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has teamed with
the United States to provide a steady supply of clean water to the capital,
Harare, and outlying areas.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA), Zimbabwe's economic crisis had made it impossible to purchase
adequate water purification chemicals and as a result, the city could not
provide a regular supply of clean water.
A $200,000 grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID),
channelled through UNDP, has allowed the purchase of chemicals needed for
water purification and made it possible for Harare to increase its clean
water stocks to as many as four days' worth. The city had problems in
maintaining a constant water supply to all its residents due to inadequate
chemicals because of foreign currency shortages.
In the long-term, however, the supply of clean water to Harare remains a
concern, OCHA said. The city's two main reservoirs, which are downstream
from the area's industry, are susceptible to pollution. Zimbabwe's dire
economic situation, meanwhile, makes it nearly impossible to fund repairs
and maintenance of the capital's infrastructure, leading to the rupture of
pipes carrying treated water. Aggravating the situation, the water system
requires an upgrade to serve the city's growing population.
What began in 2002 as a food crisis in Zimbabwe has grown into a major
humanitarian emergency, with people suffering the effects of a deteriorating
economy, HIV/AIDS, depleted social services and policy constraints,
according to OCHA. As the country enters its fifth successive year of
economic decline, Zimbabwe faces critical shortages of foreign exchange to
maintain essential infrastructure and inflation has soared.
In addition, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is ravaging the country. Recent estimates
indicate that around 34 per cent of Zimbabweans age 15 to 40 is infected,
and more than 2,500 people die every week of AIDS-related causes. Delivery
of health, education, social and public services has been undermined by a
lack of finance and the loss of human resources to emigration and AIDS. One
result is that malaria, tuberculosis and cholera cases are on the rise.
Another is that Zimbabweans face a severe food security crisis in 2004. An
estimated 5.5 million people will require food aid there during the coming
Zimbabwe Human Rights Group Condemns Detention of Legislator
15 Jan 2004, 15:35 UTC
The group Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights has condemned the continued
detention of a ruling party legislator, whose release was ordered by
Zimbabwe's High Court Sunday.
Zimbabwe's human rights lawyers have stepped in many times before to condemn
police for what they consider unlawful detentions. But, in the case of
Philip Chiyangwa, this is the first time they have intervened on behalf of a
wealthy, ruling party member of parliament.
He is being jailed in connection with the collapse of an asset management
company, whose directors are now charged with serious fraud.
Through his lawyer, Mr. Chiyangwa has argued that his arrest was politically
motivated and that police have abused their powers. The police opposed any
attempts to free him for fear he would interfere with their investigation.
But the High Court sided with Mr. Chiyangwa and ordered his immediate
Despite the order, police are keeping Mr. Chiyangwa in custody, saying the
court order was incomplete and was not served upon them properly.
So far, Zimbabwe police have arrested three more investment bankers and
closed down another three asset management companies. Police spokesman Wayne
Bvudzijena said Thursday that the police would be continuing investigations
in the financial sector for some time.
Zimbabwe: More Than 1,000 Malaria Deaths
UN Integrated Regional
January 15, 2004
Posted to the web January 15, 2004
More than a 1,000 people died of malaria in Zimbabwe during 2003, according
to a report published by the UN Relief and Recovery unit in the capital,
Harare. Confirming the figure, World Health Organisation (WHO) official
Jasper Pasipamire said the high number of deaths was a "cause for concern."
Pasipamire said one of the major factors influencing malaria mortality rates
in the country was the failure to detect malaria cases at primary health
care centres. A total of 682,855 cases, with 1,099 deaths, were recorded by
the end of the year and confirmed by Zimbabwean health authorities.
The situation was exacerbated by the level of HIV infection. With ravaged
immune systems, people with HIV and AIDS were more susceptible to
contracting diseases. About 27 percent of Zimbabwean adults are HIV
Stanley Midzi, head of Zimbabwe's Malaria control programme at the Ministry
of Health said Binga, Hwange, Lupane and Nkayi districts in the southern
province of Matabeleland North were the worst hit. "A majority of the
communities in these districts are settled in far-flung areas, which are not
accessible for spraying insecticides," said Midzi.
People in these areas were too poor to afford preventative measures such as
mosquito nets and insect repellents.
The government's spraying programme had been hampered by shortages of
chemicals and, in some cases, inadequate fuel, the UN report found. To make
the best use of existing resources, provinces had targeted districts with
the highest risk of malaria.
WHO would be launching a programme to develop the skills of primary health
care personnel and laboratory scientists in Zimbabwe at the end of this
month, and take steps to ensure there was an adequate supply of medicines in
all primary care centres in four key provinces, said Pasipamire.
In neighbouring Namibia, between 300 and 1,300 people also die of malaria
annually, while in Mozambique the disease was the main cause of death last
year. Malaria is reponsible for a total of 200,000 deaths each year in
From The Guardian (UK), 15 January
Mugabe arrest bid fails
An application for a warrant to
arrest and extradite the Zimbabwean
president, Robert Mugabe, on torture charges was rejected by a British court
yesterday. The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said he had hoped to
bring President Mugabe to justice through the British courts under
international human rights laws because his repressive regime protected him
from prosecution at home. Mr Tatchell had cited the example of the former
Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested when he visited
Britain for an operation in 1998. But District Judge Timothy Workman,
sitting at Bow Street magistrates court in London, said he could not issue a
warrant because the president had absolute immunity to prosecution as a head
of state. "Whilst international law evolves over a period of time,
international customary law, which is embodied in our Common Law, provides
absolute immunity to any head of state," he said. "I am satisfied that
Robert Mugabe is president and head of state of Zimbabwe and is entitled
whilst he is head of state to that immunity." Had the warrant been granted,
the Zimbabwean leader could have been extradited to Britain from more than
100 countries. Mr Tatchell, who has tried to carry out a citizen's arrest on
the president, said the judgment denied justice to thousands of Zimbabweans
and allowed heads of state to torture with impunity. "What is the point of
having laws against torture if the main abusers, heads of state, are exempt
from prosecution?" he asked.
Mr Tatchell has most thoroughly and
carefully prepared this application for
a warrant for the arrest of Robert Mugabe on allegations of torture in
Zimbabwe. He has provided me with a wealth of information both factually and
on issues of international law. I have read Mr Tatchell’s submission and the
supporting documentation. I have also considered the case of Pinochet and
the International Court of Justice ruling in The Democratic Republic of
Congo versus Belgium including the separate and dissenting opinions in that
The issue to which
I have directed my mind is whether President Mugabe has
immunity from prosecution as a Head of State. It is accepted that he is
presently the Head of State of Zimbabwe. Me Tatchell has argues persuasively
that the doctrine of State immunity is not one which sites comfortably with
the State’s obligation under International law to prosecute grave crimes of
universal jurisdiction. Mr Tatchell has sought to persuade me that the
principal of universal jurisdiction should be extended to override the
immunity afforded to a Head of State.
Whilst International law evolves over a period of
customary law which is embodied in our Common Law currently provides
absolute immunity to any Head of State. In addition to the Common Law our
State Immunity Act of 1978 which extends the Diplomatic Privileges Act of
1964 provides for immunity from the criminal jurisdiction for any Head of
State. I am satisfied that Robert Mugabe is President and Head of State of
Zimbabwe and is entitled whilst he is Head of State to that immunity. He is
not liable to any form of arrest or detention and I am therefore unable to
issue the warrant that has been applied for.
Tim Workman, Senior District Judge, 14th January 2004
Zim paper manager walks free
15/01/2004 19:09 - (SA)
Harare - Charges of criminal defamation were dropped on Thursday
general manager of an independent weekly which printed a story allegedly
insulting President Robert Mugabe.
However, the charges have been maintained against one of the paper's
The state withdrew the charges against Raphael Khumalo in Harare
magistrate's court before he had entered a plea, but not against journalist
Itai Dzamara, arrested with Khumalo on Wednesday.
The charges against the newsmen arose from a story run in the Independent
newspaper last week alleging that Mugabe had commandeered a Boeing 767
aircraft from the national carrier Air Zimbabwe for a vacation in Asia.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said they feared the move "might be
preparatory steps, on the part of certain elements within the state that are
fighting to muzzle the press, to forcibly shut down the paper".
Released on bail after two days
"ZLHR is concerned that if such a tragic trend is to continue, it will be
impossible for journalists to continue carrying out their mandate to keep
the public informed," the group said in a statement.
Dzamara was the co-author of the story in the Independent newspaper with
Dumisani Muleya, who was arrested on Saturday and released on bail two days
later with editor Iden Wetherell and news editor Vincent Kahiya.
Dzamara was freed on bail of Z$20 000 Zimbabwe (about R36) and the case was
postponed to January 29.
The country's most popular daily, the Daily News, was shut down in September
last year and attempts to re-open it through court orders, have repeatedly
been thwarted by the state.
The lawyers said the fresh arrests were a "deliberate and calculated attempt
to muzzle the press" and would "compromise the independence and entrenched
freedom of the press".
"ZLHR criticises in the strongest of terms such blatant disregard of the
independent press and demands that the press be left to freely perform its
core function," said the lawyers.
Banks Agree to Clear Cheques After Intervention By RBZ
January 15, 2004
Posted to the web January 15, 2004
SANITY returned to the banking sector this week when some commercial banks
agreed to clear cheques of troubled banks following a timely intervention by
the central bank.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has through the Troubled Bank Fund met the
clearing and settlement obligations of six banks, which had been ring fenced
due to liquidity problems.
Different retail shops and other firms said they were advised to start
accepting cheques from the troubled banks.
"We are now accepting cheques from the banks that had been black-listed.
"This has been communicated to us by our management and we are reliably
informed that some mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that we would
recover our funds in the event that any of the respective banks collapses,"
said a cashier at one of the retail outlets in the capital.
In a statement, the central bank said the institutions, which were facing
liquidity problems, would be 'ring-fenced' and will operate under the
supervision of the central bank.
"With this arrangement in place, the general public and the rest of the
banking institutions are advised that cheques drawn on these clearing banks
will receive final and irrevocable settlement at the Reserve Bank, as is the
case with other clearing banks.
"The general public are, therefore, reassured and urged to treat all cheques
drawn on clearing banks as good and accept them without exception," said the
There has been speculation as to the causes of the illiquid position of
banks with some analysts saying they were heavily exposed after the issuance
of Grain Bills last year.
This has however been shot down with market watchers saying that the issue
of liquidity was a result of the speculative activities, which had come to
characterise the banking sector.
"One should realise that the illiquid banks are not only those which have
been involved in the raising of funds through grain bills.
"It is entirely a result of the failure of the management at the respective
banks to see beyond the acquisition of property thinking that the situation
would continue as it was," said one analyst.
Most of the banks which had been ring-fenced were either heavily involved in
speculative activities or were preoccupied in non-core business activities.
A war had erupted in the country's banking sector last week with the
traditional commercial banks introducing strict requirements when settling
The restrictive requirements were introduced on Wednesday and it has emerged
that the 'big fish' in the financial sector are refusing to co-operate with
the latest entrants arguing that the latter were not liquid. The respective
banks refused to credit clients' accounts before a cheque has been cleared
which led to the refusal of cheques by some of the retail shops from the
This caused a lot of inconveniences for the banking public, as they were now
required to settle bills through cash.
Making Africa smile
Jan 15th 2004
From The Economist print edition
Bad leadership has crippled Africa. But there
are, at last, signs of
“BLASPHEMOUS” was how the
information minister described an article in the
Zimbabwe Independent complaining about President Robert Mugabe's habit of
commandeering commercial passenger jets for his own use. It was a revealing
choice of adjective. Mr Mugabe's henchmen do not really think their leader
divine, but they often suggest that he is infallibly righteous, and that
those who defy him should be smitten. The Independent's blaspheming scribes
were perhaps lucky to be released on bail this week.
Zimbabwe provides a dramatic illustration of how statist economic policies,
corruptly enforced, swiftly impoverish. In the past five years, Mr Mugabe's
contempt for property rights has made half the population dependent on food
aid, while his cronies help themselves to other people's land and savings,
and build helipads for their own mansions. But Zimbabwe's curse is also
Africa's. The main reason the continent is so poor today is that
Mugabe-style incompetent tyranny has been common since independence (see our
survey). The most important question for Africans now is whether Mr Mugabe
represents not only their past, but their future as well. There are
encouraging signs that he does not.
Consider first the advance of democracy south of the Sahara since the end of
the cold war. In the 1960s and 1970s, no African ruler was voted out of
office. In the 1980s, one was. Since then, 18 have been, and counting. That
still leaves a lot of countries where polls are rigged and dissidents
disappear, but it is surely a sign that some African governments are
becoming more accountable to their people.
Africa's media, too, are shaking off their shackles. Under most of the
military regimes of the 1970s and 1980s, independent newspapers and radio
stations were simply not allowed. Today, they are as numerous as they are
irreverent. Television is still largely state-controlled and journalists are
still persecuted—occasionally in most countries, systematically in places
such as Zimbabwe and Eritrea—but, overall, the mighty are subject to greater
scrutiny than before, which makes it a bit harder for them to abuse their
In the past couple of years, Africa has also grown more peaceful. During the
cold war, the great powers fought a series of proxy battles on African soil,
arming and aiding each other's clients' enemies with scant regard for the
African lives their meddling cost. With the collapse of the Soviet Union,
Africa's strategic importance waned. Its wars, however, did not. Without
their superpower backers, some states crumpled, leading to new and
exceptionally bloody struggles in countries such as Congo and Liberia.
Fortunately, several of these conflicts seem at last to have run their
course. Angola and Sierra Leone are at peace. The pointless border clash
between Ethiopia and Eritrea has stopped. Congo's war, the worst anywhere
since the second world war, is formally over. Liberia's warlord, Charles
Taylor, has been driven into exile. Even in Sudan, which has known only 11
years of calm since 1962, government and rebels are on the verge of signing
a power-sharing deal.
This sudden outbreak of tranquillity has various causes. Angola's war
stopped because one side won. Others have ended because both sides were
exhausted, or because outsiders cajoled them into putting down their weapons
and starting to talk. If Sudan's rulers make peace this year, it will be
largely because they are terrified of what George Bush might do to them if
they do not.
A long trek ahead
It is too early to say that Africa has turned a corner, however. Sporadic
but brutal fighting continues in Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, eastern Congo and
western Sudan, among other places. There is still a risk that new wars may
begin, or old ones reignite, for many of the causes of Africa's instability
have yet to be resolved.
Because political office is a quick route to wealth in Africa, people fight
for it. Since most Africans feel more loyal to their tribe than to the young
and artificial nation-states of which they are nominally citizens, it is
often easy for unscrupulous leaders to win support by appealing to bigotry.
Because Africa is poor and economically stagnant, there are a lot of jobless
young Africans for whom joining a rebel group and looting the village next
door can seem like an attractive career option. AIDS makes Africa even
poorer, and so less stable, although some recent studies suggest that it may
affect slightly fewer millions than previously estimated (see article).
If Africans are to have a chance of pulling themselves out of penury, they
need governments that do not stand in their way. They need leaders who
uphold the law impartially, but otherwise let people do what they wish. They
need governments that pass sensible budgets and stick to them. Fiscal
realism is more common now than a decade ago, as the continent's generally
lower inflation rates attest. But graft is still widespread: Angola's rulers
were accused this week of having wasted or misappropriated $4 billion in
five years—more than 9% of GDP each year. (They denied it, of course.)
Africa's two most important countries—Nigeria and South Africa—are doing
several things right. Both have swapped tyranny for democracy, and both are
using their diplomatic and military muscle to end some of their neighbours'
wars. But both governments are worryingly dependent on a single source of
revenue: oil, in Nigeria's case, and white taxpayers, in South Africa's. If
Africa as a whole is to prosper, the majority of its citizens will have to
produce more, fashioning goods or providing services that the rest of the
world wants to buy. Given that most Africans are subsistence farmers, that
will not be possible without a vast social upheaval, with unpredictable
consequences. It is a daunting challenge, but the alternative is likely to
Rich countries can help Africa, ideally by removing the tariffs and farm
subsidies that throttle African trade. But in the end it is up to Africans
to solve their own problems, starting with the ejection of some of their
current rulers. The Big Men will not go quietly; but they are not immortal,
Air Zimbabwe takes legal action against Zimbabwe Independent
16 January 2004
Air Zimbabwe has taken legal action against the Zimbabwe Independent for
publishing falsehoods involving president Robert Mugabe.
The national airline’s lawyers Chihambakwe, Mutizwa and Partners Legal
Practitioners on Wednesday wrote to the Independent demanding a retraction
and an apology in the newspaper’s next edition.
The lawyers are under instruction to sue for defamation and contumela should
the Zimbabwe Independent fail to publish an apology and retraction with the
same prominence accorded the disputed report.
Last Friday the Zimbabwe Independent published a story claiming that
president Mugabe personally called Air Zimbabwe to commandeer an aircraft to
pick him up from the Far East leaving loyal fare passengers on the route to
The report also claimed that as a result of the commandeering of the
aircraft the national airline lost more than $3 billion during the five- day
Air Zimbabwe issued a statement clarifying that adequate notice over the
trip was given and arrangements to ensure that, passengers were not
inconvenienced were in place before the president’s visit to the Far East.
The national airline during the period realised $1,35 million making it
impossible to have lost $3 billion as alleged by the Zimbabwe Independent.
Financial meltdown: a crisis with many faces
As the casualty list from Zimbabwe's financial crisis lengthens, some
satisfaction is being felt that prominent on the list are members are of the
very small minority that has made obscene profits from the country's
decline. But not all the victims are deserving of their fate and many are
watching with dismay as the repercussions threaten to sweep them away too.
For those in debt, the rise in interest rates is reminding them of the need
always use borrowed money very productively. Loan funds should have been
invested efficiently enough to show a profit after meeting in full the
interest payments and the crucial capital repayments.
Bankers are being forcefully reminded that they should have released the
with the very same thoughts in mind. Unfortunately, bankers and borrowers
enjoyed a lengthy period during which the efficiency of the borrower and the
diligence of the banker were made almost irrelevant by the widening gap
the rapidly rising rate of inflation and the suppressed rates of interest.
Assets bought with borrowed money were apparently so certain to rise in
that borrowers and the bankers had no doubts the debts would be easy to
In believing that they would never lose the advantages of the steeply
playing field, the borrowers appear to have forgotten that depositors were
constantly on the alert for rates of return that would not destroy the value
their savings. And while waiting for that, they became very much less
to save anything.
Like the slow build-up of snow on a mountain slope, the problem became
and deeper until it reached a weight that could not be supported. Over
three years, the severely negative real rates of interest eroded the value
savings to such an extent that tens of thousands of people have lost their
life's savings. But so severe did the problem become, it started to pose
problems for borrowers too.
Government is the biggest borrower of all, and by the beginning of 2003 it
discovered that the funding of the budget deficit was becoming difficult, as
nation's savings were no longer big enough to supply the hundreds of
Limits are imposed on the size of the overdraft the Reserve Bank can offer
government, but by mid-year, government had chosen a different option: the
Reserve Bank itself was required to buy most of the Treasury Bills being
As in the case of extending an overdraft to government, this made necessary
printing of money that was not supported by economic activity. In turn, this
increased the certainty of rising inflation.
As higher inflation rates were being recorded each and every month, savers
became very much more enthusiastic about exploring other investment options,
these included shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, foreign exchange,
of selected goods and home improvements - almost anything rather than
their money in the banks.
But while savings inflows to the banks were declining, borrowers were given
stronger encouragement to borrow even more. The Governor of the Reserve Bank
included the topic in his monetary policy statement in December, in which he
assured productive sector borrowers that access to loan funds would be
maintained at 30%.
The Governor also said that additional funding to meet demand would be
through the imposition of statutory reserve requirements on discount houses
building societies and also by increases in the reserve ratios that would
to savings and time deposits held by banks.
But by the beginning of December, the persistent market shortages had been
worsened by increasing demand for overdraft facilities from the retail
By then it was already too late to hope that declining bank deposits and
tightening liquidity would be overcome by higher reserve ratios, themselves
function of the declining deposits. The scene was set for the weight of snow
start sliding down the mountain slope, and it should be noted that the
of problems came well before the Monetary Policy Statement on December 18
As so many different influences were bearing down on the markets, a
bullet-point sequence might help to describe events:
S From the second quarter of 2003, inflation started gathering momentum. By
August, prices were double those in March, and prices in November were
those in August. Many producers and retailers accepted the need to double
redouble wages over those periods and expected to have to double them again
about March 2004. Prices were set at higher levels to meet this need.
S Interference in the parallel market exchange rate from September brought
slowed and stopped the movements in the rate. Cross-border traders, who had
able to buy Zimbabwean goods at significant discounts found the bargains
and less attractive as rising Zimbabwe prices at the fixed exchange rate
S Exporters had previously survived because of the widening gap between
costs and the weakening Zimbabwe dollar exchange rate. When the exchange
stabilised, conversions of foreign earnings yielded Zimbabwe dollar sums
were no longer sufficient to cover wages and other costs. This initially led
demand for bigger overdrafts.
S Retailers had expected continued strong demand for consumer goods to be
supported by the wage settlements and the larger tax-free annual bonuses,
prices had doubled in just three months and consumers knew they had to plan
even bigger increases in January school-fees, rents and transport, spending
cut to bare essentials.
S By December, cross-border traders had been further discouraged by
government's decision avoid purchasing foreign exchange on the market and to
capture its needs by confiscating it from currency traders and travellers.
S December sales volumes were extremely disappointing almost across the
Many manufacturers were awaiting payments for the consignments of goods
supplied, but the retailers' poor sales made the settlement of their
S This also led to applications to banks for bigger overdrafts, but the
retailers' limited successes were at higher rates of interest. Most
manufacturers, with their own costs to meet, were unwilling to accept the
back into stock.
S Efforts by the banks to accommodate their clients and the more sluggish
movement of funds through the banking system further increased money market
S Rising competition for the limited funds available forced interest rates
much higher. This triggered a response from formerly prejudiced savers, who
moved money from low interest rate deposits into money market investments.
S This worsened the banks' liquidity. It forced them to go to the money
to borrow back the funds they had lost because they would not increase
rates to acceptable levels. In the process, interest rates were forced even
S As returns from the money market became more attractive, fund managers,
investors on the stock exchange and even the individual holders of savings
diverted yet more of their funds into the money market.
S As a consequence, banks had to increase their overdraft rates even more
dramatically, and the rising risks of defaults made them more cautious.
S Financial embarrassment was caused to borrowers who had been depending
further rises in the Zimbabwe dollar values of their various speculative
investments. The reversal of their fortunes is now in progress, and it
to be gathering momentum.
Present and immediate prospects have been severely disturbed by these
S As effective interest payments have risen to as much as Z$500 000 a month
every Z$1 million borrowed, borrowers have tried and are still trying hard
get out of debt.
S In trying to liquidate assets such as luxury vehicles and US dollars, the
market has been flooded with offers and prices have fallen steeply.
S Potential cash customers for such assets are now considering their
which include investing surplus funds at rates from 400% to 600% or more.
S If the asset prices remain weak, the capital plus compounded interest will
buy perhaps twice as much after a few months.
S Sales of assets are proving increasingly difficult and certain banks are
facing the prospect of failure due to the possible bankruptcy of too many of
S Official domestic inflation rates are likely to remain high even though
procurement costs will fall in line with the lower Zimbabwe dollar cost of
dollars. Fuel prices are reflected in the Consumer Price Index at the
level, not the actual prices that have been paid in recent months, so the
of fuel at lower prices will not affect the index.
S However, increases in rates, rents, electricity, water, school fees,
fees and wages across the full spectrum of the labour market are likely to
a doubling in average prices between December 2003 and April 2004.
S The first few weeks of the foreign currency auction system are likely to
affected by increased foreign exchange supply and subdued levels of demand
manufacturers await firmer indications of their sales prospects. Retailers
not pass on falling production costs if new supplies of goods are not being
offered aggressively to the market.
S Although excess stocks are overhanging the local market, the prospects of
offering the goods to external markets have been damaged by the changed
S Pressure on exchange rates will make exports unprofitable until the
conversion of foreign earnings into Zimbabwe dollars offers the exporters
reasonable profit prospects. A major cost element that will have to be
will be a doubling of the wages within the next three or four months.
S While the interest rates remain high and uncertainties persist, some
exporters will have the option of placing available capital into the money
market rather than using it to buy inputs for continued production.
S Other exporters, particularly commodity producers like the mining
might be forced to suspend operations until the exchange rate falls to the
S Withdrawal of exports for whatever reason will ultimately impact on
exchange supply levels and force up the bidding at the auction.
S To speed the arrival of the needed exchange rate, the Reserve Bank might
expected to intervene in the market. It could buy all the available foreign
exchange if it perceived the bids to be too low to sustain exporter
S Government could also pay a higher rate for the 25% of export proceeds
relinquished to government. Moving this figure up from Z$800 to one US
$3 000 or Z$4 000 to one would improve the blend rate and might tip the
S An improvement on this idea would be to always have this quarter of the
earnings converted in full at the auction rate.
S However, government might have need of lower cost foreign currency to pay
food imports from about mid-2004.
S The severity of the food shortages and the possibility of hunger causing
serious social and economic instability should be taken extremely seriously.
The need for some form of foreign assistance has become very much more
in recent weeks as Zimbabwe has allowed its savings and productive resources
be run down so thoroughly.
Painful as they are, the latest economic developments are likely to improve
Zimbabwe's eligibility for external assistance, but far-reaching political
changes will be essential and acceptable proposals for these will be needed
before any useful progress can start.
Assuming these changes clear the way for the return of the IMF, the first
months after the needed political changes would be likely to result in a
recovery of confidence through promises of a full restoration of the rule of
and of property rights.
An easing in the foreign exchange shortage and the stabilisation of the
exchange rate could be expected to follow. Past inflation would need to be
properly reflected in the official exchange rate, if such a rate is
but it is likely that the IMF would demand that the gap between the official
auction exchange rates should be eliminated.
In this scenario, the initial easing of the foreign exchange shortage would
almost entirely dependent on soft loans in the form of balance of payments
budget support. As every productive sector as well as the service and
industries, have sustained damage and Zimbabwe's export earning capacity has
been cut by almost half, very considerable assistance will be needed until a
substantial part of the lost earnings has been recovered.
Before a start could be made to restore the former output levels, at least a
year would be needed to formalise and complete the legislative components of
restoration of property rights as part of a full revision of the
This will help to further consolidate the investor confidence needed to
encourage the return of investors and skills, and by then the continued
of farming should assist in clearing away the last resistance to the idea of
experienced farmers returning to their lands.
Reasonable crops might be expected in subsequent years, but the damage done
irrigation capacity and many specialist services might be expected to take a
more time. For the beef and dairy industries, a limited recovery could take
seven years or more.
January 11 2004
January 15, 2004
Posted to the web January 15, 2004
THE 420 tractors and 23 combine harvesters, which are expected to arrive in
Zimbabwe in time for the winter cropping programme have already generated
big business for local manufacturers of agricultural implements.
Employment opportunities have also been created for drivers and technicians
who would be tasked with the operations and maintenance of the units.
The Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, which is the contracting
partner to the acquisition of the tractors has already contracted local
companies, Bain New Holland and Hastt Zimbabwe to manufacture and assemble
implements such as discs, harrows, planters and sprayers for the tractors in
a deal worth several millions of dollars.
The tractors will be a major boost to the winter programme in terms of land
preparation while the combine harvesters would help in the harvesting of
summer crops such as soya beans and maize.
The combine harvesters will also relieve pressure during the harvesting of
the wheat crop.
Last season, farmers lost huge tonnes of wheat due to delays in the
harvesting of their crop, owing to the acute shortages of combine
The few farmers who had the combine harvesters charged prohibitive rates and
as a result some farmers could only watch as the rains destroyed their
Arda chief executive, Dr Joseph Matowanyika said the tractors would impact
positively on land reform and boost the authority's tillage unit, which
currently has a fleet of about 45 tractors.
Arda is also expected to send at least 15 of its staff to Iran in two weeks
time to get acquainted with the operations and maintenance of the tractors.
The regional manager of the Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company, Mr Aliveza
Moradi said the loading of the tractors into containers ready for shipment
should start very soon.
The consignment of tractors is made up of 320, 110 horsepower, 20, 75 hor-
sepower and 80, two wheel drive tractors.
Dr Matowanyika said the big horsepower tractors would be used for ploughing
while the small ones would pull implements such as planters and sprayers.
The Zimbabwean delegation, which is being led by the Minister of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Cde Joseph Made, yesterday toured the
Iran Tractor Commercial Company where it was taken through a wide range of
tractors and implements.
Earlier in the day the delegation visited an animal-breeding centre where it
was shown the processes of semen collection, artificial insemination and
Lawyers, human rights activists under siege
'You lawyers, you want to show off. You think you can just interfere in
matters anywhere ... you are only a lawyer at court. Here you are nothing.
Get away. Get out of the charge office. Far away! Go to your court.'
Police have subjected most of Zimbabwe's human rights lawyers to such
attitudes during their attempts to represent arrested protestors and
opposition supporters in recent years. Many have also been arrested or
assaulted themselves while performing this legal duty.
After South African President Thabo Mbeki's recent controversial claim that
human rights are being used to try and overthrow President Robert Mugabe's
government, and attacks on Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in the
state media, the group anticipates even greater obstacles ahead for lawyers
This warning is contained in a new report by ZLHR director and human rights
lawyer Arnold Tsunga titled 'The Legal Profession and the Judiciary as Human
Rights Defenders in Zimbabwe in 2003: Separation or Consolidation of Powers
on the Part of the State?'
The report outlines 20 examples of attacks on lawyers and the judiciary
during 2003, ranging from arrest, harassment, assault and torture to denial
of access to clients and the state's refusal to respond to judicial
decisions with which it does not agree. Some involve multiple abuses, and
not all cases are documented.
It points to a recent 'unwarranted attack' in the state-controlled newspaper
The Herald on ZLHR following an article in late November in which it argued
in defence of the judiciary and the legal profession.
Among other things The Herald called ZLHR a 'phoney non-governmental
organisation which in fact does the bidding of foreign governments, and sees
rights of all those that are not white farmers or members of the MDC
[Movement for Democratic Change] as non-human rights!'
On the contrary, the ZLHR is a non-partisan body whose objectives include
strengthening human rights in Zimbabwe, protecting the constitutional rights
of all people and advocating observance of the rule of law and the
independence and integrity of the courts and lawyers.
Further, Mbeki's 'unfortunate remarks' had the potential to create 'a real
danger of human rights defenders being attacked or clamped down on in
Zimbabwe'. Mbeki accused people in Zimbabwe and elsewhere of using 'human
rights as a tool for overthrowing the government' and 'rebuilding Zimbabwe
as they wish. In modern parlance, this is called regime change.'
ZLHR believes that these remarks are likely to have far reaching and grave
consequences on the operating environment of human rights defenders in
The ZLHR report argues that the separation of powers between the three
organs of a democratic state - the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature
(Parliament) - provides checks and balances over the way state power is
exercised, allows for equality before the law and the enjoyment of rights
based on the rule of law.
In dictatorial regimes or states where democracy is failing, there is
blurring of the separation of powers. The Executive, which controls the
state machinery - including the army, police and other law enforcement
agencies - often becomes stronger than other organs and begins to undermine
In Zimbabwe, the Executive today routinely refuses to enforce judicial
orders that are seen to be unfavourable to the state or the ruling ZANU PF
party. 'The Executive has also attacked the judiciary openly, quite
unprofessionally and unfairly in a number of cases.'
Attacks on members of the legal profession have increased in recent years,
and the state has not always cooperated fully with lawyers in the discharge
of their duties, especially when they act for political opponents of the
ruling party or for human rights defenders.
He cites as a strong example the attacks on human rights lawyers who tried
to represent members of the National Constitutional Assembly and others who
were arrested during peaceful protests in October last year.
The police were 'completely uncooperative', manhandled lawyers, ejected them
from Harare Central station and refused access to the detainees. 'Such
conduct by the police is unlawful and undermines the due administration of
justice and the rule of law. It must be stopped.
'The attitude of the police to lawyers, which continues to deteriorate at an
alarming rate in Zimbabwe, is increasingly becoming an issue of serious
concern to lawyers.' It is impossible to administer justice when law
enforcement agents refuse to cooperate with or allow lawyers to access
clients. 'The rule of law will not work in this type of environment.'
Three instruments clearly spell out the government's obligations and
responsibilities towards ensuring a Judiciary free from political or other
interference, the ZLHR report states:
* UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary (1985), Article
1, which states: 'The independence of the judiciary shall be guaranteed by
the state and enshrined in the Constitution or the law of the country. It is
the duty of governmental or other institutions to respect and observe the
independence of the judiciary.'
* UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990), Principle 17 which,
states: 'Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of
discharging their function they shall be adequately safeguarded by the
7 Constitution of Zimbabwe, Section 79B, which states: 'In the exercise of
judicial authority a member of the judiciary shall not be subject to the
direction or control of any person or authority.'
A year ago the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and
Lawyers, Dato' Param Cumaraswammy, expressed deep concern about
deterioration in Zimbabwe of 'the independence of the judiciary and its
impact on the rule of law.' Many local and international groups and
individuals have echoed his concerns in the past year.
There is no doubt under both international law and Zimbabwe's constitution
that lawyers and judges ought to be allowed to practice independently, and
without undue interference, harassment or impediment from the state or
It is critical, the ZLHR report concludes, 'that the principle of separation
of powers be adhered to if democracy is to work in Zimbabwe'. Instead 'there
is an unhealthy level of political interference with the judiciary and the
justice delivery system.'
'Judges and lawyers need to operate in a safe and free environment so as to
strengthen justice delivery and improve the integrity of the courts. The
responsibility to ensure the safety of judges and lawyers rests with the
But instead of protecting lawyers, the authorities are at the forefront of
attacks on the legal profession. 'With an administration of justice system
that is not effective and cannot offer real remedies to aggrieved parties,
the rule of law is violated and lawlessness creeps in.'
Further, lawlessness erodes the confidence of local and foreign businesses
and investors, citizens lose confidence in the rule of law, and courts are
unable to serve the national good.
'An environment where there is still hope for remedies is the least that the
people of Zimbabwe deserve. Politicians must therefore leave the judiciary
and lawyers alone'.
Finally, the ZLHR report argues, African leaders should take care not to
compromise the security of human rights defenders on the continent: 'Mbeki
runs a big risk of compromising his own credibility as a responsible
leader', particularly in the eyes of most Zimbabweans.
The consequences for Mbeki's brainchild NEPAD, the New Economic Partnership
for Africa's Development, 'will be fairly predictable given its impression
of being rooted in observance of human rights, good governance and the rule
* This column is provided by the international Bar Association - an
organisation that represents the Law Societies and Bar Associations around
the world, and works to uphold the rule of law. For further information,
visit the website www.ibanet.org
JAG OPEN LETTER FORUM
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
firstname.lastname@example.org with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
A GRIEF REVISITED
I took a drive from Chegutu up to Chakari and them down to Kadoma. It was
a nostalgic drive for I had known the road well; and the farmers and their
families and what they grew and had developed from.
It came upon me like a towering wave - the grief I mean. I saw it coming
as I drove and the more I drove the more I saw it.
I saw those wretched huts clustered in haphazard groups in the middle of
those red soil lands. I tried to wave at one of the occupants but he shook
his fist at me, it was because I was white I suppose and because he had
been indoctrinated to hate me for that. It is hard not to hate those evil
men in the propaganda and power business in Zimbabwe.
Around the huts were the ubiquitous mealie patches looking miserably
unkempt. The maize was mostly a yellow shade of green and half choked by
weeds. The patches, for they are almost never fields, have the depressing
haphazardness of the huts - as if nobody cares. Overall I find these
settlements scattered all over the country, are surrounded with an
overwhelming feeling of dark despondency and despair.
In areas which I had once known to be treed with beautiful bush there were
many stumps - angular ugly things to people that love trees; and the hard
light brought their forms out all the more starkly.
I drove past the farms one by one. It was almost as though I was paying my
last respects to them and their owners - as though they were casualties
sprawled on a battlefield. One by one I remembered them. I remembered
their crops; their beef herds; their fence lines; their machinery - their
standards of excellence that had seen them succeed when so many had failed.
It had been so quick - this degeneration into listless mediocrity. I have
seen people die from cancer and I suppose that this is much the same. The
cancer in the form of the squatters appeared and gradually encroached and
choked those farms to a standstill just like the weeds were choking the
squatters mealies now. And on the way men and women were broken. I had
seen them, I had tried to comfort them. I had seen them choked - big men
and strong women choked and crying as their lives work was destroyed before
their eyes and they had to leave homes that they had built with their own
Some of the sign boards were still up. They stood like anachronisms by the
side of the road. I wondered why they had not been taken away. Maybe they
were seen as captured banners as in old military establishments. May be
there was just too much apathy to bother removing them.
Suddenly the wave of grief hit me. All that sorrow that had been building.
All those despairing faces. It was as though the miserable landscape that
now presented itself to me had transposed itself within my soul and images
of similar, hopeless farm and farmers landscapes had joined them. All
those houses I saw with no windowframes, no rooves, no furniture; all those
faces I have seen, unshaven and aged coming out of the prisons; visions of
Terry Ford lying in his own blood with his dog Squeak; images of farm
workers thrown out of their homes and left by the side of the road with
their belongings; it was all too much.
As I carried on driving all the way around what should have been 60km of
commercial farm land I saw the road and landscape blur before me as the
tears ran hot down my cheeks. It was as though those farms did not exist
anymore for I could not see them.
I thought of the evil men that had engineered this death and I was angry. I
thought of all the people that could have done something to stop it but had
rather chosen to appease those evil men. I thought of all the people that
had just carried on their lives as though they didn't care because the evil
hasn't come to them yet, I thought of all the people that had just run away
and hadn't tried to help from those far off shores. I thought of all those
that had just washed their hands of Zimbabwe's unhappy plight.
But deep down in my heart I knew that justice was coming and that those
evil men knew it. I knew that there was a far bigger wave building a
little way off to sweep over our land and cleanse it. I knew that we all
had a part to play in that but that the timing depended on when we all
started to play our parts in honesty and with courage - and with God in our
The behavioural patterns of some Zimbabweans since the results of the
Referendum, nearly four years ago has possibly caused other Zimbabweans to
study some of the history of Africa.
Pieter Lessing travelled extensively in Africa in 1960 when much of Africa
was newly independent, near independent or entirely independent. He covered
22 000 miles on a fact finding tour in a Land Rover. He then wrote the
book: The African Kaleidoscope.
Lessing uses Arthur Schopenhauer's words to start his book:
"Man is at bottom a wild, horrible creature. We know him merely as broken
in and tamed by what we call civilisation, and hence the occasional
outbreaks of his nature shock us. But where and when the padlock and chain
of legal order fall off and anarchy enters, then he shows himself what he
Fortunately Jag appears to understand the importance of the 'padlock and
chain of legal order' when what ought to be a more responsible 'mother
body' for farmers has been seen to be more than cavalier about legality and
is now, is just maybe, a little sad and sulky about its lost credibility,
and just maybe its membership and mandate. Jag on the other hand has shown
respect for the chain and padlock it seems.
Farmers, whether they like the padlock and chain of legal order or not,
might take the time to contemplate Kenya African National Union and Kenyan
Legislative Council members Mr. OGINGA ODINGA's words - circa 1960: "If
Africans regard it as entirely their own affair whether they want to revert
to savagery as a way of life, should the head savage in such an event
necessarily have the same say in the United Nations as the men who lead
Britain, the United States, Canada or Russia?"
Odinga's words remain somewhat undated.
If farmers and their representative body are party to throwing away the
chain and padlock, they can hardly plead "hard done by" to the United
Nations at some later date.
In fact those farmers and their representative mother body have knowingly
allowed themselves to be described and indeed pigeonholed by dear old
Oginga Odinga - as SAVAGES.
How much money does a farmer require before he happily takes on the title
of "A Savage?"
Civilised Farmer - hopefully.
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
MP Sikhala escapes arrest after surrender
By Staff Reporter
CONTROVERSIAL MDC legislator Job Sikhala has apologised to a Harare
magistrate and escaped arrest after he left court without paying a $25 000
fine imposed for attacking a policeman.
Harare magistrate Chipo Chikowore cancelled a warrant of arrest issued
Tuesday when Sikhala surrendered and paid the fine.
"I have cancelled the warrant of arrest because the police had not yet
served you with the document and you came here on your own," the magistrate
Sikhala said he had been "misdirected" by his solicitor who told him to go
home at the end of the trial because he was preparing an appeal.
"I was misdirected by my lawyer your worship. I had instructed him to appeal
against both conviction and sentence and he said I was therefore not
supposed to pay the fine.
"I am sorry your worship. I questioned the lawyer and he apologised. I could
not do that deliberately because I had the money," said Sikhala.
Sikhala assaulted a police officer at St Mary’s Police Station in June last
year demanding that he releases his young brother, Harry, who had been
arrested for allegedly assaulting a motorist.
He was initially charged under the Public Order and Security Act but the
charges were dropped in September after the State indicated that he should
be charged with an alternative lesser charge of common assault.
In her ruling Ms Chikowore said after weighing evidence given by witnesses,
the court concluded that the State managed to prove beyond reasonable doubt
that Sikhala committed the crime.
Passing sentence last Friday, the magistrate told Sikhala: "The court
reminds you that you need not be feared but respected. Gudo guru peta muswe
kuti vadiki vakutye (A person of your standing should conduct himself in a
manner that will earn him respect from the young ones).
Sikhala committed the crime on June 17 last year when he went to St Mary’s
Police Station with the intention of forcing police officers on duty to
release his young brother.
On arriving at the police station, Sikhala violently ordered Constable Itayi
Matiza to release his brother, but was told that another police officer was
dealing with the case. Sikhala suddenly jumped over the counter and punched
the police officer once on the chest and held him by the collar before
pushing him against the wall.
Another policeman, Constable Chikono, subsequently called other police
officers who rushed to the scene and found Sikhala harassing Constable
This is not the first time Sikhala has been convicted by the same courts.
Last August, Sikhala was fined $10 000 and $5 000 for negligent driving and
driving without a licence respectively by another magistrate, Mr Walter
In the case Sikhala, who was not a registered driver, contravened sections
of the Road Traffic Act after he was involved in an accident while driving
on the wrong side of Hombarume Road in Chitungwiza.
Fresh calls to strip Mugabe of knighthood
By Anthony Looch
A BRITISH Foreign Office Minister Wednesday sympathised with a demand that
Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe should be stripped of his knighthood.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean said she found it difficult that he
continued to hold his knighthood.
She was replying to a call from Tory ex-Foreign Office Minister Lord Blaker
at Lords’ question time.
Baroness Symons said: “I have a great deal of sympathy with your point, but
we have done our best to avoid making the argument with Mr Mugabe a personal
one between him and the UK.
“He never misses a single opportunity to point to the UK’s actions as being
the actions of a colonial power directed against him.
“We want to avoid that but I find it very difficult that he continues to
hold a knighthood.”
She added: “It has not been easy to persuade some of the nations belonging
to the UN over the appropriate measures against Zimbabwe, in the form of
“Anything that can be done should be done, to internationalise action so
that we are not put into the position, which Mr Mugabe desperately wants us
to be in, of being the lead nation, making this a black versus white
argument, which it emphatically is not.”
Prime Minister Tony Blair said last month he would look at withdrawing the
Tory frontbench spokesman Lord Howell of Guildford expressed concern over
the financial crises in Zimbabwe.
He said inflation there was running at between 600 and 1,000%, interest
rates were at 450% and a number of banks were unable to honour cheques
“What are the next steps we are going to take, to rescue the people of
Zimbabwe?” he asked.
Lady Symons replied: “The economic situation is desperate. The most recent
inflation figure is 620%, and unemployment stands at between 70 and 80% –
this in a country which used to be the bread-basket of southern Africa.
“These are truly appalling conditions which Mr Mugabe has inflicted on his
“We are providing more money for emergency food programmes, and have given
about £62 million over the past three years.
“But we do look to the international community and for pressure to be
brought through the countries of the Commonwealth, who possibly have more
influence than we do.” - PA
A critical white doesn't make a racist
January 15, 2004
By Max du Preez
I'm not sure whether I should feel sorry for Democratic Alliance
leader Tony Leon or whether I should blame him. Probably both.
My appeal to President Thabo Mbeki in this space last week to allow us
citizens to get to know his thinking sparked an unexpected reaction. I
thought my criticism was very mild and peppered with compliments to his
strong personality and intellect.
But many of Mbeki's followers did not think that. Or let me rephrase
that: most of his black followers did not. I was attacked, sometimes with
quite strong language, as a white man who disliked Mbeki because he is
Apart from letters and e-mail from angry ANC supporters, I was hauled
over the coals by black callers to the Tim Modise Network on Radio 702 and
Cape Talk on Tuesday morning when my column was the topic of discussion.
I explained again: I feel the president would do himself, his
government, his party and the country a huge favour if he started to explain
to us citizens how his mind works. Don't communicate to us via sidekicks or
civil servants. Let's have a debate about the wisdom of attending
celebrations in Haiti before it happens rather than after the fact. Help us
understand your strategies on Zimbabwe and HIV/Aids by telling us how your
One listener after another called in to Modise's show to say that my
criticism was completely invalid; that all black people knew exactly what
the president thought and only whites like me didn't; that I was arrogant in
insisting that the president communicate better and that I really meant he
should kow-tow to white elitists; that I should not be allowed to criticise
the president, because he had been elected by two thirds of the country's
voters; that I did not show enough respect for the president because he was
black. One even suggested that I had just discovered democracy and was
On Monday night I was part of a panel discussion on Metro radio with
the outgoing editor of the Mail and Guardian, Mondli Makhanya. His criticism
of the government and the president is a lot more forthright than mine has
ever been. He is not well liked for it in many circles, but he is not called
disrespectful and elitist and racist.
The hour before I was on Modise's show, he had a debate on Mbeki's
visit to Haiti. I cringed every time a white listener phoned in, because
they all displayed a complete inability to distinguish between slavery,
where human beings were owned and traded as property, and repression by a
whined about the money that was spent in Haiti. It was clear
to me that most of them never thought through the pros and cons of the visit
or contemplated the significance of the Haiti celebrations for Africa and
Africans. They didn't like Mbeki or his government and thought Haiti was a
convenient stick to beat him with - as so many whites are doing with
That is why Tony Leon is today the political leader of the majority of
white South Africans - he sounds like these people far too often. I don't
think he is racist, but I can understand why so many black people think he
is. He creates the impression that he dislikes everything the ANC does or
stands for and that he would never even consider congratulating the
government on some of their better achievements. I'm sure to many black
minds that must sound like he resents the government because they're black.
But if Leon became all mushy and buddy-buddy, surely the ANC
leadership would trample all over him. That's his dilemma. If he were a
black man saying and doing all the things he does, he would be treated with
a lot more tolerance and respect. Then again, surely he must have realised
that we had this faultline in our politics after so many decades of white
rule and repression? Surely he must know
by now that standard Westminster-style opposition politics do not go
down well in our political and cultural system? Why does he find it so
difficult to adapt his style?
I can understand why so many black South Africans remain suspicious of
the attitudes of their white compatriots. Whites are their own worst
enemies. Some of their apprehension and feeling of alienation I can
understand. What I don't get is how they can't see how incredibly lucky they
are to have had such a sweet transition from racial repression to democracy;
how fortunate they still are to live in a society that is stable, tolerant
In the meantime, I will engage with blind black prejudice against me,
but I will never shut up or change my tune. That would make me a bad
citizen. It is also time for black South Africans to stop thinking all white
people are ugly racists.
Editor stands by Mugabe jet story
By Geoffrey Hill
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
JOHANNESBURG — A newspaper editor, who spent the
weekend in jail for
publishing an article saying Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe commandeered
a Boeing 767-200 jet from Zimbabwe's national airline for a family vacation
in Southeast Asia, said yesterday that the story is true.
"There is no real dispute of the facts, even from the government," said
Iden Wetherall, editor of the Independent newspaper, who was released on
bail yesterday along with two of his reporters.
"At the beginning of January, President Mugabe and his family took a
commercial flight to Kuala Lumpur [in Malaysia]. But, once there, he decided
to visit Indonesia and Singapore, and instead of using local airlines, he
phoned Air Zimbabwe and demanded that a plane, which normally flies the
Harare-London route be sent to Malaysia to take him around the region," Mr.
Wetherall said by telephone, summarizing the story that the Independent
published on Friday.
Mr. Wetherall and the reporters, Vincent Kahiya and Dumisani Muleyi,
were arrested Saturday under the country's draconian media laws, which
provide penalties of up to two years in jail for criticizing the president.
Zimbabwean Information Minister Jonathan Moyo accused them of writing
"lies that are blasphemous and disrespectful of the president."
The three are expected to face court by the end of this month.
The story reported that passengers, who had booked seats from Harare,
Zimbabwe, to London, were left stranded by the sudden withdrawal of the
Mr. Wetherall said in a telephone interview yesterday that the issue was
one of public accountability.
"Air Zimbabwe is owned by the state and, as president, Mr. Mugabe is the
government's most-senior representative. The people of Zimbabwe, as owners
of the airline, have a right to know what is happening to planes which
should be carrying scheduled, fare-paying passengers.
"Air Zimbabwe's fleet is depleted, and the airline is losing money," he
"Ours was a story of national public interest."
In 1980, Air Zimbabwe had 18 aircraft, but the carrier now is in
financial difficulty, with a fleet of just five planes, of which only three
are in service.
Mr. Mugabe was returned to power in 2002 in a disputed election, which
many observers claimed was marred by violence and vote-rigging. Most Western
countries, including the United States, Britain and Canada, have refused to
recognize the result.
Mr. Mugabe also is barred from entering the United States, Europe or
Australia because of his country's poor record on human rights. As a result,
he has taken most of his recent vacations in Malaysia.
Under Zimbabwe's media laws, drafted in 2001 by Mr. Moyo, newspapers and
journalists must be licensed by the state, and foreign journalists are
barred from working in the country. Radio, television and most of the
country's newspapers are owned and controlled by the state.
The Daily News, a privately owned newspaper, was shut down in September.
Mr. Moyo was the subject of a story, when a South African newspaper
reported that his $150,000 mansion in Johannesburg had been seized by
Zimbabwean banks sent stock index plunging in December
January 15, 2004
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's benchmark stock index had its steepest
monthly drop in seven years in December, led by banks including units of
Barclays Bank and Absa, on concern a central bank attempt to crush a
thriving foreign exchange black market will cause some banks to fail.
The Zimbabwe industrials index of 75 stocks fell 43 percent last
month, its biggest monthly loss since October 1996, according to Bloomberg
data. The index has dropped 25 of the past 26 trading sessions, with banks
among the biggest losers.
Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, last month
ended a year of controls on the interest rate that banks charge each other
to force them to stop what he called speculative borrowing.
The move triggered a surge in the interbank rate to a record 900
percent, raising concern that banks that borrowed to buy property, luxury
cars and foreign exchange as a hedge against inflation, may fold.
"What the governor is saying is that interest rates for consumption
and speculative borrowing must attract market rates," said Mike Tippet, the
managing director of Kingdom Stockbrokers.
have led the stocks' decline. Barclays Bank Zimbabwe, in which
the UK's third-biggest bank owns a majority, fell 43 percent. The Commercial
Bank of Zimbabwe, in which Absa, South Africa's fourth-biggest lender, owns
26 percent, dropped by half.
Trust Holdings, which in seven years became Zimbabwe's biggest bank by
assets, slumped 70 percent in December. On Tuesday the Zimbabwe stock
exchange suspended it from trading.
The exchange also suspended First Mutual, an insurer and asset
manager, which said it had about Z$30 billion (R250 million) in ENG Capital
Asset Management, which has since folded. It also suspended Century
Holdings, former owner of Century Discount House.
The central bank shut down Century Discount House last week, saying it
was not in a sound financial condition. Since then, depositors have pulled
money from some new banks to established ones such as the local units of
Barclays and Standard Chartered, according to Dave King, the chairman of
Johannesburg-based Global Rating Company.
15 Jan 2004 05:22:00 GMT
World Vision concerned about worsening humanitarian crisis in Southern
Vision International (WVI)
The Southern African regional office of World Vision International is
extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in large
parts of Southern Africa, with Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe being
affected the hardest.
The situation has been compounded by the low level of commitments made by
donors to the region and to the United Nations 'Consolidated Appeal' in
"Commitments by international donors are not forthcoming and significant
breakages in the supply of food to the region do occur at a time when the
hunger is at its worst," says Rein Paulsen, World Vision's relief programme
manager in Southern Africa.
It has become vitally important that donors commit resources that were
requested through the current 'Consolidated Appeal'. While many needs apart
from food aid do exist as a result of the current crisis, food aid remains
the immediate priority. Should more donor resources not be forthcoming, the
recovery process in large parts of Southern Africa will be severely
World Vision is currently supporting millions of people in need throughout
Southern Africa in the biggest ever-emergency response in its 52-year
history. The response to the crisis is focusing specifically on Angola,
Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique.
World Vision has been channelling emergency food aid (including resources
from the World Food Programme and C-SAFE) into these countries, as well as
conducting other interventions including agricultural recovery programs,
HIV/AIDS and health programs, and water and sanitation programs.
Scrutiny of Zimbabwe banking sector long overdue
OPINION: I will never
forget that great surge of pride that
accompanied the opening of my first bank account with one of Zimbabwe's
There were flowers on the enquiries counter. I was greeted with a
smile, offered assistance in completing the application form and asked to
return in a few days to collect my first ever cheque book.
When I returned to the bank I was given a complimentary cheque book
holder, a pen, a book of deposit slips and made to feel as if the bank
really appreciated my doing business with them.
Thinking back to those days, and still dealing with that same
international bank in Zimbabwe I cannot help but wonder what has happened to
change everything and why our banks have been allowed to get away with their
The flowers have gone and so has the smile. There is now a minimum
balance from which the bank automatically deducts money instead of freezing
I have to pay for a book of deposit slips or ask a sour and surly
security guard to give me one individual slip.
There are no envelopes for depositing cheques into the cheque deposit
box. There are no duplicate deposit slips, just scraps of blank paper.
Every time I go to the counter and ask for either my balance or an
interim statement, I have to pay. My monthly statement is no longer posted
to me and neither are copies of deposit slips.
For these I have to scrabble through a tatty cardboard box which sits
on the enquiries counter. A cardboard box in which highly confidential and
private information is there for anyone to look through and remove
correspondence - even if it is not addressed to them.
Gone are the days when correspondence from the bank was marked
"Strictly Private and Confidential". In fact gone are the days when anything
in this bank is either private or confidential.
There are no screens at the tellers windows and withdrawals are
clearly visible by the crush of people jammed in the queue less than a metre
For the last 18 months I have not received even one cent of interest
on my money in the bank. Instead I just see debits for things called
"Service charges" and "Ledger Fees" and every month these debits get larger
and larger, I can no longer get a certified cheque from the bank unless it
is for an amount of over one million dollars.
I now wait a month or six weeks for a new cheque book and when it
comes there is no complimentary cheque book holder, pen or even a "thank
you" for doing business with our International Bank.
One International Bank charges a comission for cheques originating
from towns and cities different from that in which the branch is located.
Another international bank charges a commission for cash deposits.
In the last fortnight many of Zimbabwe's banks have teetered on the
edge of collapse and across the country shops and businesses are no longer
accepting cheques from seven of these institutions.
It remains to be seen which of these banks have more political clout
than the others, which will be saved and which will collapse completely.
The scrutiny of Zimbabwe's banks is long overdue and perhaps when Mr
Gono has finished with the more blatantly unscrupulous institutions he will
turn the spotlight onto the bigger names in Zimbabwe's banking. It will be a
light that is long overdue.
By The Litany Bird