Tue 15 Jan 2008, 15:38 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe's ruling party is likely to split
over his bid for re-election in March, but analysts doubt his challengers
can unseat the veteran Zimbabwean leader.
Speculation has been rife in the past week that some stalwarts from Mugabe's
ZANU-PF movement were plotting a breakaway party to field a candidate to
mount the first major internal challenge for 20 years against the president.
The speculation -- carried mainly in Zimbabwe's vibrant private media -- has
suggested that a united front, including some top ZANU-PF officials and
former cabinet ministers, were unhappy with Mugabe's policies and were ready
to launch a challenge to topple him.
Many Zimbabweans blame Mugabe's policies for running down one of Africa's
most promising economies, and leaving the country struggling with shortages
of foreign currency, food, fuel, water, electricity and lately banknotes.
Although officials linked to the plot against Mugabe have not been available
to comment on the issue, local reports say the breakaway party would be
headed by former finance minister Simba Makoni and would enjoy the patronage
of an influential retired army general, Solomon Mujuru.
For years, Makoni -- who is regarded as a reform-minded technocrat -- has
been touted as a possible successor to Mugabe. But Makoni's critics say he
is a political lightweight with no stamina to fight one of Africa's most
Makoni and Mujuru were unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
But Zimbabwe's official media, while acknowledging the possibility of a
split in ZANU-PF, says this poses no threat to the ruling party.
A column in the main Herald newspaper, which many believe is written by
Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba, dismissed the expected split as a
British-sponsored "coalition of the bitter" bent on reversing Mugabe's
policies, including his seizures of white-owned farms.
However, analysts say Mujuru's backing could help swing support for Makoni
against the 83-year-old Mugabe.
Mujuru, who leads a faction that has been trying to ease Mugabe out of
power, is married to one of Zimbabwe's two vice-presidents, Joice Mujuru, a
member of ZANU-PF's top politburo, and was the first head of the Zimbabwean
army after independence from Britain in 1980.
But critics and analysts doubt the breakaway party would be able to push out
Mugabe, who has used political patronage and heavy policing to stifle
challenges to his rule.
"Those guys are cowards. The names we are hearing are of legendary cowards,
that is the fact, that they lack courage," Lovemore Madhuku, head of
political pressure group National Constitutional Assembly, said.
"They will not be able to split the ZANU-PF vote because their support is
not ZANU-PF grassroot-driven. So I am simply not giving them a chance
because the ZANU-PF grassroot support is still firmly with Mugabe."
In the past Mugabe has accused some of his top officials of plotting his
ouster with the help of Britain but has vowed to hang on saying he still
enjoys overwhelming support.
In December Mugabe said his party was gunning for a landslide victory in the
March presidential and parliamentary polls to silence his critics, including
the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which accuses him of
rigging previous elections.
"There may be goodwill (for the breakaway party) but I don't think they have
the capacity and that Mugabe will give them the chance," Eldred Masunungure,
a leading political commentator said.
Tue 15 Jan 2008, 12:43 GMT
By Paul Simao
PRETORIA (Reuters) - A breakthrough in negotiations between Zimbabwe's
ruling party and its main opposition party may soon be reached, paving the
way for elections in the African nation, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern
said on Tuesday.
Ahern expressed hope the political crisis in Zimbabwe was nearing an end
after a briefing from South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating
talks between President Robert Mugabe's government and the Movement for
Mbeki summoned both sides to the South African capital Pretoria last weekend
in a bid to revive the stalled talks and get them to sign an agreement that
would address constitutional changes and set the stage for elections this
"He (Mbeki) would in days be engaged in some of the final aspects of this,"
Ahern told reporters in Pretoria after meeting with Mbeki and South African
Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcucka.
But Ahern, on a three-day visit to South Africa, said Mbeki also outlined a
number of "sticking points" that stand in the way of an agreement. The Irish
leader expressed concern at what he described as the deteriorating situation
Zimbabweans are struggling with soaring poverty, inflation of more than
8,000 percent and chronic shortages of food and fuel amid an economic crisis
that began almost a decade ago but has worsened in the past year.
Thousands every day cross illegally into South Africa to look for food and
Mbeki began brokering talks between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the MDC nearly a
year ago at the urging of the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
a regional grouping of 14 countries that includes Zimbabwe.
The discussions, which have stalled several times, have intensified as
Zimbabwe draws closer to elections, which are currently scheduled for March.
Some in the MDC have suggested that the polls should be delayed.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has vowed to run
for another five-year term despite widespread accusations that his
government has abused human rights, rigged previous elections and destroyed
By John Simpson
BBC News, Harare
President Mugabe has survived in power for nearly 28 years
You have to be, since a loaf of bread at present costs 1,000,000 Zimbabwe dollars (Mugabe dollars, as they are known disparagingly) and a newspaper costs twice that. And the price of many necessities doubles every few days.
Yet Zimbabweans have found ways to survive. Because it is still basically a rich country, and - because the aid agencies do an excellent job - there is little malnutrition.
There are even traffic jams, even though you almost invariably need dollars - American ones, not Mugabe ones - to buy petrol.
2008 will be the year of the machete inside ZANU-PF
But so many Zimbabweans have left the country and send money back to help their families, that even this is possible.
BBC News is banned in Zimbabwe - I spent a clandestine week in Harare with two colleagues.
WATCH TONIGHT AT TEN
This week the BBC's John Simpson defied a ban on the BBC in Zimbabwe
Watch his second report tonight on the Ten O'Clock News - Tuesday 15 January, BBC One, 2200 GMT
We had a great deal of help from local people, who often saw it as their patriotic duty to show the outside world how bad things have become in Zimbabwe.
The greatest threat to us, curiously, was the BBC's popularity there. So many people watch BBC World that there was a real danger that someone like me might be recognised.
During our week in Harare we met slum-dwellers, Aids victims, lawyers, shopkeepers, journalists, academics, political activists, and a senior member of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
Every one of them seemed to think that things would come to a head in Zimbabwe this year.
"2008 will be the year of the machete inside Zanu-PF," said one well-placed observer.
Our senior party figure was able to confirm that Simba Makoni, the former finance minister who fell out with Mr Mugabe over the economy, was planning to stand against him for the presidency.
Mr Makoni has some strong backing. The civil service, the police, the army, and Zimbabwe's much-feared secret police, the Central Intelligence Organisation, are all starting to split along factional lines.
Mugabe's 'Hague fears'
President Mugabe has faced splits and rivalry before. His method of holding on to power has often been to whip up feeling against Britain and America.
There will be no popular uprising in Zimbabwe. The big opposition movement, the MDC, has no stomach for it, and the recent violence in Kenya... worries many Zimbabweans
Eight years ago he encouraged the invasions of white-run farms. That is how the catastrophic collapse of the Zimbabwean economy started.
No doubt this time, too, he will accuse Mr Makoni and others of being agents of British imperialism.
But a lot of people felt this was an increasingly tired tactic, which might not work so well again.
There will be no popular uprising in Zimbabwe. The big opposition movement, the MDC, has no stomach for it, and the recent violence in Kenya over a disputed election worries many Zimbabweans.
But they hope that the probable new president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, will take a much tougher line with Robert Mugabe than Thabo Mbeki has done. South African pressure would certainly force Mr Mugabe to step aside.
One political analyst we spoke to thought Mr Mugabe was terrified of being sent to The Hague to face charges of gross abuses of human rights over the years - in particular, the mass killings of people in Matabeleland in the 1980s.
The temptation would be to stay in office and fight, as he has done so many times before. But a promise that he would be allowed to retire in peace might work.
Mr Mugabe is an exceptionally intelligent man, who has survived in power for nearly 28 years.
But every reign comes to an end - and a large number
of Zimbabweans think it could happen this year.
By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 01/15/2008 10:07:33
LATE last year, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono encouraged
Zimbabweans to blow the whistle on so-called cash barons whom he blames for
hoarding the local currency to finance their black market deals, leading to
nationwide cash shortages.
On Monday, Makonde legislator and President Robert Mugabe’s nephew, Leo
Mugabe, heeded Gono’s call and became the first whistleblower -- by offering
to expose the governor himself!
New Zimbabwe.com understands Mugabe approached the Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee on Budget and Finance, claiming he had evidence that the central
governor was an “agent of regime change”, reference to alleged attempts by
western governments to topple President Mugabe’s regime.
The timing of Mugabe’s sensational claims will raise eyebrows. His
intervention came as Gono was invited by the committee to name corrupt
government officials, following a challenge he threw at the MPs in December
Gono has said he has President Mugabe’s backing in revealing names of “cash
barons”, blamed for fuelling the parallel market and taking the local
currency out of the formal market.
Members of the budget and finance committee met in Harare on Monday and
formally invited the RBZ chief. This was after choosing Zanu PF legislator
for Zhombe, Daniel Mackenzie, to chair the committee in the absence of
Guruve North MP David Butau who fled the country recently after police
indicated they wanted to question him in connection with illegal foreign
Parliamentary sources said Mugabe’s nephew told the committee that he has
information that Gono is working with former finance minister, Dr Simba
Makoni, who is reported to be on the verge of forming an opposition
“There’s a whole lot of accusations against Gono that Leo claims to have
evidence to, including financial irregularities which implicate the reserve
bank governor,” said a parliamentary source.
Both Mugabe and Gono could not be reached for comment.
Last week, Dr Tafataona Mahoso, the chairman of a government appointed media
regulatory body, the Media and Information Commission, accused Gono of
masterminding the cash shortages which he said had done more harm to the
economy than opposition-inspired job boycotts, known as “stay-aways”.
Tue Jan 15, 6:12 AM ET
HARARE (AFP) - A parliamentary committee in Zimbabwe has summoned the
country's central bank chief to explain current nationwide cash shortages, a
state daily reported on Tuesday.
"We have agreed as a committee that we should give the governor the
opportunity to talk to us next Monday," Daniel Mackenzie-Ncube, chairman of
the parliamentary committee on budget and finance, was quoted as saying in
The Herald newspaper.
"There is also the issue of current cash crunch that is deepening on the
transacting public, we want to know what the central bank is doing about
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono threatened last month to
expose high-ranking politicians and top business executives who he said were
hoarding cash to buy scarce foreign currency on the burgeoning parallel
In December, Gono a close ally of veteran President Robert Mugabe, announced
that 200,000-dollar bills (about eight US dollars, 5.4 euros) would cease to
be valid at the end of the year as part of efforts to fight the black
Gono later shelved the idea, but introduced new 250,000, 500,000 and 750,000
zimdollar notes as part of measures to ease the cash shortages.
Despite the introduction of the new currency denominations, long queues are
still a common sight at banks across the country with depositors sometimes
waiting in vain to withdraw their savings.
Monsters and Critics
Jan 15, 2008, 17:52 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwe police investigating cash hoarders in the
capital Harare arrested a 26-year-old man who had stashed 36 billion
Zimbabwe dollars in boxes and bags at his home, state radio said Tuesday.
The arrest comes amid worsening cash shortages across the country with
thousands of Zimbabweans forced to queue for hours outside banks to access
often only small sums of cash.
The money was found at the man's home in the plush Greendale suburb during a
raid, police spokesman Andrew Phiri told the radio.
Officially that the sum is worth 1.2 million US dollars but at black market
rates it is worth around 14,000 US.
The cash seizure is the second in a month, following the arrest of a young
illegal foreign currency dealer in late December.
Dorothy Mutekede was arrested in possession of 10 billion dollars worth of
brand new banknotes. She was detained but later released after paying a
Mutekede implicated a former central bank advisor in her dealings but police
have not been able to pursue their investigations because of lack of
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono says senior political
and business figures are hoarding cash to carry out black market deals. He
is due to present evidence of his allegations before a parliamentary
portfolio committee on Monday next week.
© 2008 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Tuesday, 15 January 2008 09:31
JOHANNESBURG- TRADE at informal foreign currency markets in Johannesburg is
on the decrease following the recent introduction of a new Zimbabwean
currency which is failing to attract the interest of Zimbabwe-bound
Foreign currency dealers confirmed that travelers and other customers were
holding on to their foreign currency than changing to useless Zimbabwean
dollars with the hope that the traders would raise the exchange rate.
Currently, the South African rand fetches at least Z$300 000 (about
US$0.7)."Travelers are not keen to exchange their foreign currency to the
Zimbabwean currency which constantly loses value," said Hardy Mafema, a
trader at the teeming Park Station terminus at the heart of Johannesburg.
"Other customers are holding on to their money hoping t hat traders will
raise the rate which took a knock during the festive season," he said.The
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently introduced higher denominations of the
Zimbabwean bearer cheques in an attempt to alleviate the cash crisis
currently bedeviling the Southern African nation.Investigations revealed
that some customers were not aware of the security features of the new Z$250
000, Z$500 000 and Z$750 000, prompting them to hold on to their foreign
currency."The market is rife with counterfeit money, which makes changing to
Zimbabwean dollars risky," said Zimbabwe-bound Bekezela Dube-CAJ News.
January 15 2008 at 02:33PM
By Thando Ncube and Sapa
The Zimbabwean government's controversial price slash is being felt
hard six months later as parents with school-going children struggle to buy
school uniforms and shoes.
Schools in Zimbabwe are opening for the first term on Tuesday and
parents in queues at shops that sell uniforms were a common sight on Monday.
But most shops are out of stock after being forced to sell what they
had at a cheap price when the government in July last year ordered
businesses to revert to prices they were charging in June.
Shops which do have uniforms on their shelves and flea markets are
making a killing as they are selling them at exorbitant prices.
Bata Shoe Company, which used to be the largest retailer of school
shoes, has literally empty shelves in their stores countrywide, as it has
been unable to restock after the price slash.
Bata was hit by panic buying in July and most of its shops were left
empty when shoppers bought the shoes at a cheap price.
Parents with access to foreign currency have bought shoes for their
children in Botswana and South Africa.
"I had a hard time trying to get a uniform for my child, but I managed
eventually. I knew I would not find shoes, so I bought them in South Africa
when I went there on holiday," said Ruth Ncube, whose daughter is starting
form one (Grade 8) at Matopo High School just outside Bulawayo.
Another parent, Monica Hadebe, said because of economic hardships she
failed to get new shoes for her son, who is at a primary school. She said
the boy would have to wear his old pair until she finds the money to buy him
a new one.
South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique have reported an upsurge in the
number of Zimbabweans crossing the borders for Christmas shopping, as basic
commodities remain in short supply in most shops, the state-controlled
Zimbabwean Herald reported on Monday.
Immigration officials said although statistics were still being
compiled at the border posts, estimates are that between 2 800 and 3 500
people were outward-bound daily in the run-up to the Christmas holiday, the
"Subsequently, prices of commodities in neighbouring countries have
increased owing to the demand from Zimbabweans. Many shops in Francistown
reported stockouts on most goods," said the report.
Although the shopping trips have meant that border towns such as
Musina, Chimoio and Francistown are booming, most shoppers prefer the bigger
cities such as Beira, Johannesburg and Gaborone where goods are cheaper and
the choice wider, the newspaper said.
"This has boosted manufacturing and retail sales in those countries,
encouraging businesses to be set up to support these shoppers," said the
report. Cross-border shoppers were largely responsible for the growth in
retail sales in South Africa last year, the Herald said. (South African
retail sales rose to 18 percent from 8,7 percent over the previous year.)
In 2006, Zimbabweans spent R2,2-billion in the South African economy,
making them the biggest spenders in our economy.
In a recent research paper, South African-based independent
development economist Norman Reynolds said that Zimbabwean shoppers were
pumping between R20-billion and R30-billion into the South African economy
annually through these shopping trips.
This article was originally published on page 1 of Daily News on
January 15, 2008
Tuesday, 15 January 2008, 17:19 GMT
Zimbabwe's government has promised the main water plant for the capital
uninterrupted electricity to resolve a water crisis, state media reports.
On Sunday, the national water authority said residents in Harare and nearby
Chitungwiza could expect to have no water for a week because of power cuts.
But the water minister stepped in, saying the water plant should be treated
like an "intensive care unit".
There have been 400 cases of diarrhoea recently reported in areas of Harare.
The Combined Harare Residents Association says it is greatly concerned about
the lack of clean drinking water.
"Our research indicates that almost all households in Mabvuku have either
treated or are treating a cholera case, which means up to 15,000 or 20,000
people have been affected," the association's spokesperson Mfundo Mlilo told
Zimbabwe's SW Radio.
Water Minister Munacho Mutezo visited the Morton Jaffray treatment plant on
Monday to assess the problems, the state-run Herald newspaper reports.
The paper said water supplies would be back to normal by Thursday.
"We are really concerned about the frequency of power cuts which are
affecting our plant," Zimbabwe National Water Authority Lisben Chipfunde
general manager had said on Sunday.
"Unlike in situations of power cuts, whereby everything returns to normal
after reconnection, it takes a bit of time to reset the pumps and have them
channelling water to the other pump stations," he said.
The power cuts means many people have to make do with just a few hours'
electricity a day.
The Namibian (Windhoek)
15 January 2008
Posted to the web 15 January 2008
THE multi-million-dollar loan NamPower gave to Zimbabwe's power utility
almost a year ago to overhaul a run-down power station has been "impaired" -
which is equivalent to writing it off.
NamPower's annual report shows that its profits dropped by 18 per cent and
stood at N$119,3 million at June 30 2007 compared to N$146,3 million the
previous year, despite a 17 per cent increase in electricity sales, which
amounted to N$1,1 billion.
"Included in the cost is the impairment of the loan that was made to the
Zimbabwe Electricity and Transmission Company (Zetco) for the refurbishment
of the Hwange coal-fired power station," the annual report states.
"The impairment was occasioned by the volatile economic and political
climate experienced in Zimbabwe.
The amount advanced as at (financial) year-end was N$27 million (of the
total loan)," it adds.
According to standard definition, a loan is impaired when "it is probable
that the creditor will be unable to collect all the amounts due according to
the contractual terms of the loan agreement".
NamPower originally signed a total loan of US$40 million (about N$280
million) and added another US$10 million at the end of 2007 to fix up
In return, Namibia would receive 150 megawatts of electricity for a minimum
of five years starting January this year as part of a power purchasing
agreement with Zetco's holding company, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
On page 71 of the annual report, NamPower said the N$280 million loan to
Zetco carried an interest rate of 6,25 per cent.
"The NamPower management and board are very confident on the realisation of
the (power purchasing) agreement.
However, due to the prevailing economic conditions in Zimbabwe it had been
decided to impair the loan."
It is not stated in the just-released report, but it appears as if the cash
repayment of the loan will not take place, but that the 'repayment' might be
done in the form of electricity instead.
HARARE, 15 January 2008 (IRIN) - HIV-infected women living in rural areas
are finding it increasingly difficult to access life-prolonging
antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) and tend to be more marginalised than those
living in urban areas, non-governmental organisations say.
"Rural women who need ARVs find themselves in a quandary because levels of
income for a rural household tend to be low," said Tariro Kutadza,
provincial coordinator of the Zimbabwe AIDS Network (ZAN) in the northern
province of Mashonaland West.
According to research conducted by the Zimbabwe Women's Resource Centre
Network, three-quarters of all women on ARV treatment are from urban areas,
yet most of those who need it live in rural areas and are often forced to
rely on herbal remedies.
With Zimbabwe in its eighth year of an economic recession, marked by an
inflation rate officially cited at 8,000 percent but estimated by
independent economists to be running at about 25,000 percent, ARVs have
become unaffordable for rural women, who are often dependant on husbands
working in urban areas.
This week, the Herald, an official daily Zimbabwean newspaper, reported that
a one-month prescription of Stalenev 30, a common first-line ARV drug, now
cost Z$85 million (about US$42.50 at the parallel exchange rate).
Kutadza, who works mainly in rural areas, said the financial burden on rural
women went beyond the high cost of the drugs; they also had to travel long
distances to health centres to obtain them, so women who could not afford
the transport and drug costs tended to take ARVs infrequently or not at all.
Zimbabwe is already experiencing a huge gap between the number of people who
need ARVs and those accessing them. According to the World Health
Organisation (WHO), only about 91,000 out of the estimated 321,000 in need
of treatment are getting it.
An acute shortage of foreign currency has made it difficult for the
government and even private pharmacies to import enough ARV drugs to meet
demand. The Herald reported that most essential drugs, including ARVs, were
now only found in one out of four pharmacies.
A recent report by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC)
estimated that the number of people accessing treatment privately has
declined from 10,000 to 6,000 due to inflation and the unavailability of
More problems for women
Those rural women lucky enough to get hold of ARVs sometimes have difficulty
taking them. "I have noticed that some men, particularly those that think
that they are not infected themselves, discourage their wives from taking
the ARVs," Kutadza told IRIN/PlusNews.
Betty Makoni, director of the Girl Child Network (GCN) and chairperson of
Ray of Hope, an organisation promoting the rehabilitation of mostly rural
women who have experienced domestic violence, said some women hid their ARVs
from abusive husbands.
"As a result, women resort to taking the ARVs when the men are not watching,
for instance, when they go to search for firewood or water, and in some
cases they leave the pills in the custody of other women," Makoni said.
Many people in rural communities still view AIDS as a dreaded disease with
no cure. Men and their relatives often viewed HIV-infected wives as a
shameful burden and chased them away from their homes.
Kutadza pointed out that this created further problems for women registered
to receive ARVs at their local health centre, because they might not be able
to find the drugs they needed if they were forced to live somewhere else.
Fear of stigma and discrimination also discouraged HIV-infected people from
coming forward for counselling or treatment, said Kutadza, with some
claiming that they had been bewitched.
Makoni said although men often contracted the virus while working in town
and then passed it on to their wives during occasional visits to their rural
homes, relatives and other villagers often accused the women of infecting
She added that girls were especially vulnerable to infection because they
became sexually active at a relatively early age and were not empowered to
make their own decisions "due to a rigidly patriarchal society".
"There is much need for social structures to impart information to poor
rural women and girls, so that they know their rights as far as getting
tested and counselled, how to get treatment and the best way to deal with
husbands and partners who insist on unprotected sex," she said.
Rocketing prices and shortages of even the most basic foods have also
reduced the ability of rural women to benefit from ARV treatment.
Sekai Chirevo, 36, of Musana village in Shamva District of Mashonaland
Central Province, was diagnosed HIV-positive immediately after the death of
her husband from an AIDS-related illness three years ago. She was placed on
ARVs but constant bouts of tuberculosis have left her bedridden and unable
to generate an income.
"I cannot till the fields to ensure food for my five children," she told
IRIN/PlusNews. "That makes my position even more tragic because, as a sick
person, I need good food to boost my immune system."
On the irregular occasions when she gets food handouts from donor
organisations, she gives most of it to her hungry children.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
January 14 2008 at 07:27PM
If you hear a Zimbabwean housewife boast that she's off to buy the
head of a cow, don't think she's found a secret supply of meat. She plans to
buy a cabbage.
And if she says she's cooking pig's head for supper over an outdoor
fire, of course, because there won't be any power, she's also talking about
Meat has been in desperately short supply in Zimbabwe since July, when
President Robert Mugabe's controversial 50 per cent price slash emptied shop
shelves and butchers within days.
And although the precious commodity is slowly creeping back into
stores, it is doing at prices way beyond the purses of most.
Inflation, now rumoured to be well over 24 000 per cent and climbing,
is wreaking havoc on the lives of all but the very rich.
A chicken this week cost at least 24 million Zimbabwe dollars, more
than a teacher's monthly salary. A packet of sausages cost 30 million. That
is $1 000 at the official exchange rate. No wonder cabbage is the country's
In these tough days Zimbaweans have found their own unique brand of
humour. No surprises: it's heavily laced with sarcasm.
As power cuts bite - Zimbabwe is reported to have had electricity
imports from South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) cut -
witty Zimbabweans have found a substitute meaning for ZESA, the state-run
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority. It is the Zimbabwe Electricity
Sometimes Available company, according to letter-writers to the independent
The state-run Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has also been
renamed: it's the Zimbabwe No Water Available authority - a particularly apt
name for the water body this week. Monday marked the start of what a ZINWA
official warned would be a week-long water cut for Harare and parts of the
capital's sprawling dormitory town of Chitungwiza.
Examples abound: a columnist for the weekly Standard has coined a new
name for the government mouthpiece, the Herald. Tongue-in-cheek, he calls
the newspaper the Herald of Total Honesty.
And the pothole-riddled capital city with its frequent sewage pipe
bursts and its diarrhoea outbreaks is Ha-Ha-rare. Things in the place once
called the Sunshine City just aren't that funny any more.
With bank queues still snaking their way outside most banks as
desperate customers wait for cash and with crunch polls Mugabe's party has
said its sure of winning now only two months away, there's little hope of a
let-up in the situation.
For many Zimbabweans, there's a lot of truth in the popular saying: if
you don't laugh, you'll cry. - Sapa-DPA
The Star, Toronto
'They are scared because I am telling the truth'
Jan 15, 2008 04:30 AM
If you were to call Innocent Madawo at home, you'd hear a soft female voice
asking you to leave a voicemail. Last week, an unknown caller did just that.
A controlled male voice left a chilling message that threatened Madawo's
"It sounded like somebody who meant the threat," he said. "The tone was
strong enough to mean: `I mean business.'"
The threat wasn't his first. As a journalist in his homeland of Zimbabwe, he
began to feel menaced a decade ago as a critic of the country's faltering
regime under long-time president Robert Mugabe.
Madawo went into exile in 2001 out of fear for his safety.
Relocated to Toronto, he now writes for several Canadian newspapers and
publishes the news website The Southern African at thesouthernafrican.com.
Last week's voicemail, in which the caller spoke in English and African
dialect, was the first time he's been threatened in Canada.
Madawo's life is scarred by violence. When he was a boy of 11, his father
was shot at. In the past his brother was tortured and female relatives were
His family taught him that sometimes it's necessary to sleep under his bed,
not in it.
Last Monday Madawo circulated an opinion piece he wrote titled "Zimbabwe in
2008: What ought to happen versus what will happen" that referenced 1980s
political events while looking ahead to the country's elections in March.
The article appeared on the website of a London-based independent radio
station called SWRadio Africa and provoked comments on forums. The next day,
the message was left on his house phone.
His wife discovered it a day later when she checked their voicemail. Madawo
was upstairs in his workroom, writing, when he heard her scream.
He ran down to listen to the "chilling voice" himself.
"The message said `You must be very careful what you write,'" he said. "In
my language, it translates `You will be hurt for things you don't know.'"
Madawo contacted Toronto police, who have assigned an investigator to
attempt to trace the call to its source.
The killing of journalists is common in Zimbabwe, Madawo says. It is
weighing on his mind, he added, that even critics-in-exile are not beyond
its murderous reach.
Last July, the former managing editor of the banned Zimbabwe newspaper The
Daily News was shot by unknown assassins in Johannesburg and narrowly
escaped with his life.
Madawo's article has also prompted some sinister postings on a U.K. website
called newzimbabwe.com, where a discussion about his writings has surfaced.
Madawo says a writer named "Matebele" commented that Madawo would get put
"in a place where he belongs."
Madawo says his big concern is for his family's safety, and what to tell his
"It feels terrible," he said. "I can take it because I'm used to it. The
scary part is I am a husband and a father. It's difficult to tell your wife
and child that we need to be careful."
Arnold Amber, president of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, termed
the threat to Madawo's life "frightening." Informed of the batch of online
threats, Amber said Canadian authorities should be doing everything they can
to stop such "outlandish" activity.
"People come to this country to escape this. They come to Canada for
freedom. These threats have to be taken seriously."
He said he hopes Madawo will continue his writings and not be intimidated.
That seems unlikely. In fact, the journalist said the threat of violence is
a motivator that has added fuel to his fire.
"I am not going to stop," he said. "I would have hated it if they said I
lied. That's the beauty of it. They are only scared because I am telling the
15/01/2008 19:18 - (SA)
Harare - The Anglican Church has expressed "grave concern" over reports of
violent disruptions to church services in the Zimbabwean capital by
supporters of an axed pro-government bishop.
In a statement from the Anglican Communion Office in London received by
Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa on Tuesday, Secretary General Reverend Kenneth
Kearon said Bishop Nolbert Kunonga's ties to President Robert Mugabe were
"of deep concern to many".
"The resort to violent disruption has been widely deplored," Kearon said.
Anglican churches in Zimbabwe have been plunged into disarray following
Kunonga's controversial decision in September to withdraw the Harare diocese
from the regional mother body, the Province of Central Africa.
Church authorities declared Kunonga was no longer a member of the Anglican
Church and appointed new bishop Sebastian Bakare to replace him.
Kunonga and his supporters were ordered to hand back Anglican Church
property and relinquish control of church accounts. But the axed bishop
Instead, he and his supporters have refused to allow Bakare and his
parishioners into churches around the capital. Bakare says some of his
parishioners have been attacked.
Police on Sunday meanwhile arrested at least three priests and a number of
pro-Bakare parishioners during church services and declared that only those
loyal to Kunonga could hold services in the buildings, a spokesperson for
Bakare has claimed.
Kearon said: "(Kunongas) unilateral actions with respect to the diocese of
Harare and his own status within the Province of Central Africa are, to say
the least, questionable and have brought embarrassment to many
"Above all, I am concerned for the well-being of faithful Anglicans who seek
to practise their faith in peace and free from violence."
Kunonga, who was granted a farm under Mugabe's programme of white land
seizures, claimed he withdrew from the Province of Central Africa because
some bishops in the province allegedly encouraged homosexuality.
Many within the church believe there are other reasons linked to the
clergyman's support for the longtime Zimbabwean leader.
Afrique en ligne
Harare, Zimbabwe - A Zimbabwean hotel, retail and agro-processing
company Tuesday announced ambitious plans to raise US$1 billion on
international capital markets , and to list on the New York Stock Exchange.
Kingdom Meikles Africa Limited Chief Executive Nigel Chanakira said
the group wa s currently conducting roadshows in New York and London to
raise capital for expansion and s olicit support for a secondary listing.
The group is primarily listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, where it
is the bi ggest counter.
Its businesses span the financial sector, retail, agro-processing and
hotels bot h in Zimbabwe and the southern Africa region.
"We are going to the international markets with significant asset
back-up," Chan akira said.
He did not, however, say what Kindom Meikles Africa Limited wanted the
US$1 bill ion capital for, although in the past the group had indicated it
wanted to expanded its financial services arm and explore more investment
opportunities on the African market.
If successful, it will be by far the biggest capital raised by a
Zimbabwean comp any in international markets.
The group will also become the first local company to list on the New
York Stock Exchange.
Harare - 15/01/2008
Tuesday, 15 January 2008 09:26
As the nation faces a decisive election in March, the Youth Forum, a
representative youth body which promotes meaningful engagement of youths in
political decision making and policy dialogue, wishes to remind the youth in
Zimbabwe that elections remain the most viable democratic option for
changing political leadership. It is part of the Youth Forum’s mandate to
guide and promote the participation of Youths in such crucial national
processes. We wish to remind the youths to seriously consider the following
and any other incidences and practices that have obstructed the attainment
of democracy in the country as they prepare to elect new political
leadership in March elections:
The year 2007 saw unbridled brutality by the government of Zimbabwe against
pro democratic forces after gukurahudhi. On March 11, opposition and civic
leadership were badly brutalized by heavily armed riot police as they sought
to convene a prayer meeting in Highfield. Hardly a week after this cowardly
act which attracted international condemnation on Zimbabwe, the MDC
spokesperson Nelson Chamisa was left for dead at the Harare International
Airport as he was deeply attacked by suspected state security agents on his
way to Brussels to attend an ACP-EU joint parliamentary meeting.
Several Youth Forum public meetings were disrupted throughout the country by
the police CID law and order section for no apparent reason. This resulted
in the arrest of scores of activists notably in Masvingo on the 27th of
September 2007 where the NCA national spokesperson and Youth Forum board
chairperson Madock Chivasa and the Youth Forum Projects Coordinator
Wellington Zindove were arrested alongside a student leader Edison
Hlatshwayo for addressing a public meeting that has been cleared under the
draconian POSA. The three only appeared in court after 5 days of illegal
detention which were characterized by harassment, intimidation, and torture
and denied access to food and legal representation.
The 9th of June 2007 reminded the world of Operation Murambatsvina, (a
globally condemned government clean up exercise which was carried out in the
winter of 2005 and left more than 750 000 000 people homeless, mostly women
and children) when more than 4 000 University of Zimbabwe students were
given a 30 minutes notice to vacate their halls of residents. The UZ SRC
viewed the evacuations as political and were meant to punish students who
had embarked on massive demonstrations demanding a slash in tuition fees
increases. UZ students, most of who hail from peasantry backgrounds wrote
their exams from the streets of Harare’s suburbs. No government statement
was issued in condemnation of this move and this has left scores of people
to believe that the evacuations were a government political directive.
The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act Amendment Bill, the Public Order and Security Act Amendment
Bill and Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill which were rushed through
parliament on the 18th of December last year have dismally failed to alter
the political environment in Zimbabwean politics, mainly the attitude of the
police and other security agents towards ZANU-PF opponents. The Zimbabwe
Republic Police and other state security structures including the army and
the CIO have been accused of carrying out their duties in a partisan manner,
in support of ZANU-PF. These amendments will however not deter these
security structures from wantonly attacking, arresting, abducting and
torturing activists opposed to the ruling party. Recently, on 8 January,
2008 two Gweru activists, Onwell Marasha and Orbert Masaraure (suspected
students at Midlands State University and executive members of Youth of
Zimbabwe Arise, YoZA an affiliate youth organisation to the Youth Forum)
were heavily assaulted by police at Gweru Central Police Station for
demonstrating against the collapse in service delivery in the city of Gweru.
This goes a long way to substantiate the fact that the political playing
field in Zimbabwe will not change and pro democracy activists should brace
up for state sanctioned violence and torture towards the run up to
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono orchestrated cash crisis
continue to epitomize government policy failures with long winding queues at
banks now being the order of the day. The cash crisis has seen Zimbabweans
going through one of the most gruesome Christmas Holidays in human history
as most people failed to access their hard earned cash and savings from the
The Youth Forum urges all the youths in Zimbabwe to come out in large
numbers and express their will in the March plebiscite. The Zimbabwean
youths contribute an estimated 67.7% on the demographic scale and as such
stand a very high chance of determining the future of Zimbabwe in March. It
is well on record that since the inception of the MDC, Zimbabwean elections
have not been free and fair as the ruling government desperately sought to
maintain its hold on power through unscrupulous means.
The Youth Forum unambiguously urges Zimbabwean youths in March to vote
against: arbitrary arrests and torture, state sanctioned violence aimed at
innocent civilians including women and children, repressive
legislation(AIPPA, POSA, BSA etc),poor justice delivery system, state
sanctioned impoverishment of the masses by the gluttonous man and women in
the ruling regime and unaffordable life.
The Youth Forum, further categorically states that the youths of Zimbabwe
are more than prepared to safeguard their ballot and will not allow anyone
who rigs elections to rule the country. In the event of a stolen election we
will organize mass protests to reflect the kind of leadership that we would
want to see out of a free and fair election.
Youth Forum Information and Publicity
firstname.lastname@example.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from
15th Jan 2008 18:59 GMT
By a Correspondent
THE amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Broadcasting
Services Act (BSA) gazetted on 14 December 2007 have been signed into law by
President Robert Mugabe after they were fast tracked through Parliament on
18 December 2007 without any meaningful debate on the contentious provisions
of the enabling Bills.
According to an extraordinary gazette published late on Friday 11 January
2008, all the Bills which included the Electoral Laws Amendment Act have
been assented to by the President.
The government on 14 December 2007 published proposed amendments to the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).
The proposed amendment Bills contained in the extraordinary gazette reflect
no serious intentions on the part of government to democratise the laws in
question dwelling instead on inconsequential issues which will not advance
basic freedoms such as the right to freedom of expression, media freedom and
freedom of assembly and association.
The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Bill proposes
to make changes to those parts of AIPPA dealing with media regulation and
accreditation of journalists without among other issues addressing the right
to access information held by public bodies.
Under the Bill the Media and Information Commission will be reconstituted as
the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC). The ZMC will now consist of nine
members appointed by the President from a list of persons nominated by the
Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. These members will be
chosen on the basis of their knowledge of and experience in the press, print
or electronic media or broadcasting.
There is no provision for existing board members to continue in office under
the proposed new Commission.
The functions of the ZMC are stated as “to uphold and develop the freedom of
the press”, as well as “to promote and enforce good practice and ethics in
the press, print and electronic media, and broadcasting” and ensuring that
the people of Zimbabwe have “equitable and wide access to information”. The
Commission retains the functions of registering mass media and news
agencies, accrediting journalists, investigating complaints against media
persons and services and reviewing decisions of public bodies regarding
access to information.
It also proposes the establishment of a Media Council, appointed by the ZMC,
which will be chaired by a member of the Commission. It will consist of 12
other members, representing various sectors nominated by associations
representative of those sectors; two members representing accredited
journalists, two representing advertisers and advertising agencies,
representatives of mass media trainers, churches, businesspeople, trade
unions, women’s groups, youth groups, the legal profession and tertiary
The Media Council will work with the Media Commission in developing and
enforcing a code of conduct and ethics to be observed by journalists and
mass media services.
The Media Council will, if so required by the Commission, follow up
complaints against mass media services and journalists, whether accredited
or not. In the event of breach of the code the Council will recommend a
penalty for imposition by the Commission. Penalties include monetary
penalties, payment of the expenses incurred by Council and Commission,
suspension of accreditation [suspension from practice for an unaccredited
journalist], cancellation of mass media service registration and publication
of apologies or corrections in the case of “injurious allegations”.
Appeals against the decision of the Media Council can be lodged with the
Administrative Court .
The Minister of Information and Publicity will have the power, in his
absolute discretion, to relax the provision, stated in Section 65 of the
principal Act, that only mass media services controlled by Zimbabweans may
The period of registration of a mass media service is extended from two to
Registration may still be refused for previously operating without being
registered. Renewal may be refused only if a mass media service has been
convicted of “abuse of freedom of expression”, has failed to notify the
Commission of changes in its registered particulars, or has failed to
publish a correction of harmful untruthful information published by it.
The new Section 78 lists the privileges of accredited journalists, including
access to Parliament and public bodies, attendance at national events and
public events, and making audio and photographic recordings of such events.
Unaccredited journalists will not enjoy the privileges listed and will be
barred from full-time employment by mass media services and news agencies
operating in Zimbabwe .
The new Section 79 deals with procedures for accreditation by the Media
Commission. Accredited journalists must as a general rule be citizens or
permanent residents of Zimbabwe . There is provision for temporary
accreditation for non-citizens/non-residents for up to 60 days (up from the
present 30 days), with the possibility of extension.
Meanwhile, the Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill comes up with a new
section which provides for the reconstitution of the present Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ). The BAZ will now consist of 12 members
appointed by the President after consultation with the Minister and the
Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. Members shall be constituted as
(i) two shall be persons chosen for their experience or
professional qualifications in the field of broadcasting technology and
(ii) A chief
(iii) A lawyer
(iv) A public accountant
(v) A representative of churches or other religious bodies
(vi) Three other members
(vii) Three other members shall be appointed by the President
from a list of six nominees submitted by the Committee on Standing Rules and
In the event that any group, council or the Committee on Standing Rules and
Orders fails or refuses to submit any nomination upon being requested to do
so by the Minister, the Bill mandates the President to proceed to appoint
the members of BAZ. It, however, does not specify the criteria of those
whom the President will have the prerogative to appoint.
The Bill proposes a new section which has a detailed statement of the
purpose and objectives of the Act for the guidance of BAZ. It proposes the
ensurance of efficient use of broadcasting services bands as well as the
encouragement of the establishment of modern and effective broadcasting
infrastructure taking into account the convergence of information
technology, news media, telecommunications and consumer electronics.
The Bill also proposes the transference of some of the Minister’s powers to
The Public Order and Security Amendment Bill (POSA) amends the law relating
to public meetings, processions and demonstrations. One of the proposed
changes to POSA is that those who intend to organise public meetings,
political rallies or demonstrations will now appeal to a magistrates’ court
if the regulating authority (police) prohibit them from holding the planned
meetings or demonstrations. Presently, they are required to appeal to the
Minister of Home Affairs.
A new section prohibits gatherings in the vicinity of Parliament, a court or
any protected place or area declared as such in terms of the Protected Areas
and Places Act unless permission is given by the Speaker, Chief Justice,
Judge President or responsible authority of the protected place.
The POSA Amendment Bill proposes to make mandatory the requirement for the
police to give notice to the organiser of an affected public gathering where
they have evidence that disorder may ensue if the gathering is allowed to
take place. Police will be required to enter into dialogue with the
organisers of the gathering before prohibiting the meeting from taking
Presently organisers are required to give seven days’ written notice ahead
of planned gatherings to a senior police officer designated as the
regulatory authority for the area concerned.
But Section 4 will be amended to deem that notice to have been properly
given if it is delivered to the most senior officer present at the nearest
police station close to the place where the gathering is proposed to be