by Simplicius Chirinda Friday 21 January 2011
HARARE – Twenty-seven percent of names listed on Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll are
of dead people, said a report released in Harare on Thursday, highlighting
once again the chaotic state of the key register.
The report compiled by the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN), a
local pro-democracy non-governmental group, revealed an outdated and
thoroughly distorted voters roll that in reality is a little more than a
mere register of people who were born or once lived in the country from the
1900s to date – whether they are still alive, dead or have long since left
The ZESN that studied the roll for two months called for a new register of
voters to be prepared before elections that President Robert Mugabe has said
must take place this year.
“The list to people test showed that 27 percent of voters registered in the
voters roll were deceased,” said the report. “The computer test revealed
2344 people born between 1901 and 1909 aged between 101 and 110 years old.
It also revealed 9 people born between 1890 and 1900 aged between 111 and
120 years old.”
The World Health Organisation estimates life expectancy for females in
Zimbabwe at 34 years, while for males it is 37 years.
Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll has long been known to be inaccurate with critics
accusing President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party of benefiting from
Calling for a new roll, the ZESN said: “There is need to draw up a new
voters roll in Zimbabwe which will go a long way in improving the currency,
accuracy and completeness of the voters roll. The process should be
transparent and inclusive to ensure that all eligible persons are
But the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) appointed by Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to run elections has previously said it does not
have resources to fund compilation of a fresh register.
The southern African country’s elections have in the past been blighted by
violence and charges of vote rigging, which saw the European Union and
United States slapping sanctions on Mugabe and senior members of ZANU-PF.
The last election in 2008 ended in stalemate after Tsvangirai defeated
Mugabe for the first time but election officials withheld results for five
weeks, only to call for a run-off vote, which was marred by violence and
boycotted by Tsvangirai citing deaths among his supporters at the hands of
ZANU-PF. – ZimOnline
By Tichaona SIbanda
21 January 2011
A delegation from Zimbabwe’s civil society has arrived in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia for the African Union (AU) summit, to lobby continental leaders not
to lose focus on the political stand-off in Harare.
The week long AU summit kicks off next week Monday. Robert Mugabe is
expected to represent Zimbabwe but it’s not yet clear if he will make it,
following reports he underwent a minor medical procedure in Singapore.
As the country slowly gets into an election mood, with a poll now generally
expected either late this year or early next year, there are fears that
without fundamental reforms, Zimbabwe faces a repeat of the chaotic 2008
election, in which more than 500 MDC supporters were killed.
Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general and Finance Minister in the unity
government warned on Wednesday that there could be a “bloodbath” at
elections this year, and urged the international community to do more to
prevent crises in Africa.
For a decade now, the Zimbabwe crisis has been one of the most dominant
political issues on the continent but is fast disappearing from the radar of
continental diplomacy, as leaders turn their attention to the Ivory Coast
and lately events in Tunisia.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director Macdonald Lewanika told SW Radio
Africa on Friday, from Addis Ababa, that they were lobbying the AU to step
up its role in resolving the crisis in Zimbabwe, as it had done in some
“It is important for the AU not to forget what is happening in Zimbabwe. If
they can be as firm as they did with the Ivory Coast, I am sure we will be
somewhere near solving our problems in Zimbabwe,” Lewanika said.
He added: “As such we need to remind the leaders not to lose focus and our
strategy really has been to push the AU to involve itself in drawing up
electoral guidelines in Zimbabwe.”
While squabbles in the power-sharing government are set to dominate the next
SADC Troika, scheduled for February, analysts say it is highly unlikely
continental leaders would want to spend time on Zimbabwe at the AU meeting,
other than get an update on the workings of the inclusive government.
SADC mandated South Africa to facilitate mediation between the political
parties in Zimbabwe, following the disputed elections in 2008. President
Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team was in Harare this week working on a roadmap
for free and fair elections.
These talks are the latest round of discussions that have so far proved
fruitless in solving Zimbabwe’s political stalemate. There has been very
little ground covered in terms of implementing the Global Political
Agreement (GPA), including democratic reforms critical to future credible
elections and stability.
By Staff Reporters
Friday, 21 January 2011 17:33
HARARE - Commuters should brace for transport woes and steep fares as the
shortage of fuel is set to persist despite assurances by the government
that it will release funds to improve supplies.
A survey by Daily News showed anxious and desperate motorists who are yet to
understand the cause of the shortage which they thought had been ended by
the formation of the inclusive government.
Long and winding queues of desperate commuter omnibuses formed at the very
few filling stations that had diesel which has been in short supply since
the beginning of the week.
The chaotic scenes at service stations in the western business districts of
Harare, especially along Chinhoyi and Mbuya Nehanda streets painted a
familiar picture of the last decade when Zimbabwe grappled with fuel
shortage casued by the collapsed currency and economic meltdown.
The fuel crunch which started at the beginning of this week has seen
motorists queuing at service stations mainly for diesel while fares for
public transport have been hiked.
Pump price for diesel shot up this week with a litre of diesel rising from
$1.20 to about $1.42.
Energy minister Elton Mangoma told the media earlier in the week that the
shortage of fuel was caused by the tax authorities raid on National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) accounts.
NOCZIM is the state fuel procurement body but has been struggling with
corruption and competence issues before its recent unbundling.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) garnished $35million from NOCZIM for
But some independent fuel dealers who have been traditionally purchasing
fuel from neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique, have blamed “unorthodox”
conduct by NOCZIM which resulted in disagreements with one dealer who lost
his supplies that had been brought via NOCZIM.
Zimbabwe has no direct access to the high seas and relies on either bulk
deliveries by rail and road despite having a pipeline which was dormant for
more than a decade.
To improve the supply of fuel, the Feruka pipeline must have bulk supplies
but the government does not have the money to immediately commence bulk
But Mangoma, while admitting that the government was doing “everything
possible” it can to improve the fuel supply, ruled out an immediate bail
“By the end of this month the situation will get back to normal. We are
trying to do what is necessary to avert the situation,” Mangoma told the
Daily News. “I cannot get into the details of what treasury is doing.”
In light of the shortages, commuter omnibus drivers have warned that they
will continue with their steep fares.
Most commuter omnibuses have raised their fares by 100 percent to cushion
themselves from the fuel price increases.
The sharp rise in fuel has seen some commuter omnibuses increasing their
fares for local routes from $0.50 to $1 dollar and $1 to $2, respectively.
Tapiwa Nyagudza, a commuter omnibus driver who plies the city-Mabvuku route
warned that if the current fuel shortages persist, they will continue to
increase their fares.
“If we charge 50cents to Mabvuku, that trip will cash in $9 yet we are
buying diesel at $10 from the black market,” he said.
Shortages of fuel and the subsequent hikes are reminiscent to the pre-unity
At the height of Zimbabwe’s economic problems, the country was crippled by
an acute shortage of fuel that adversely key sectors of the economy such as
agriculture and mining.
Harare,January 21, 2011 – Rowdy crowds suspected to be Zanu (PF) supporters
recently blocked co-Home Affairs minister Theresa Makone from entering her
Hatcliffe constituency saying she represented a government that expires on
Makone failed to get protection from police officers who fall under her
Ministry and had to retreat after the violent supporters threatened her.
A member of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) led by Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai, she had gone to the poor constituency to assess progress
of the school and market she is building in the area using the Constituency
Development Fund. She was accompanied by deputy mayor and councillor of the
area, Emmanuel Chiroto.
The incident resulted in the brief detention of 14 council employees who had
been sent by the local authority to restore sanity.
The supporters believed to be linked to the former Member of Parliament for
the area, Zanu (PF) official, Nyasha Chikwinya, fenced off the incomplete
market to keep Makone and Chiroto at bay.
They told them that their terms of office for the government of national
unity would expire on February 15 and the two would revert to being members
of the opposition and Zanu (PF) will become the sole ruling party.
President Robert Mugabe in 2009 formed unity government with the MDC
formations led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Arthur
According to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), the performance of the
coalition comes under review next month. Mugabe has publicly said he does
not want the life span of the new government extended.
The disturbances in Hatcliffe dominated debate at Harare Council’s first
meeting of the year held on Thursday with the mayor Muchadei Masunda saying
the situation was getting out of hand. Masunda told councillors that on
Wednesday he had met Local Government, Urban and Rural Development minister
Ignatius Chombo over the disturbances.
By Alex Bell
21 January 2011
Zimbabwe’s civil servants are set to meet next week to decide when they will
embark on national strike action, after a meeting with the government on
Thursday collapsed with no agreement on salaries.
Civil servants and government representatives met to see if the threatened
strike could be averted. But the meeting was doomed to fail after Public
Service Minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro said the government does not have the
money to satisfy union demands. The meeting with Mukonoweshuro and Finance
Minister Tendai Biti went ahead on Thursday, but soon collapsed with the
government insisting it cannot meet the civil service wage demands. Civil
servants are now said to be seeking a meeting with Robert Mugabe in a last
ditch attempt to prevent the mass action.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Secretary General Raymond
Majongwe is quoted as saying after the meeting that “Minister Biti only came
(to the meeting) to justify that the government was broke adding that anyone
who knows where to get the money should show him so that he can pay the
“We now want to regroup as civil servants and find a common ground to
manoeuvre our way forward,” Majongwe said.
Last week the unions flatly rejected an 18 to 26 percent salary hike as
‘paltry’ and gave the cash-strapped government one week to improve the offer
or face crippling strike action. Tendai Chikowore, who chairs the Apex
Council that represents civil servants, said they were concerned about the
lack of sincerity being showed by the government towards their ‘perennial’
Under the government offer, the lowest paid civil servant would have been
paid US$160, up from US$128, while the highest paid would have received
US$241 per month. Union leaders however want the lowest paid worker to
receive US$500, which is roughly on par with the requirements of an average
“Our analysis is that the remuneration levels as proposed by government
constitute only 30 percent of the bread basket. This is a far cry, it is not
at par with the high expectations held by workers across the country,”
Chikowore said. According to the council the average bread basket for a
family to survive on costs is around US$505.
Japhet Moyo, the Acting Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU), told SW Radio Africa on Friday that it is not yet clear if a
full blown strike will happen next week. But he added that he doesn’t see
the government giving in to the demands if its workers, because “the
government is under pressure from the private sector not to.”
“A lot of private unions are preparing to engage in collective bargaining
for the ensuing year, and once the government gives into its workers, then
the private sector will have to pay the same,” Moyo explained.
2011 January 21 14:02:04 |
Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF advised its supporters that it will soon launch a
"2-Million People Anti-Sanctions campaign" to show the world that western
sanctions are hurting ordinary people.
The United States, Britain and their allies in the west have imposed travel
bans targeted on Zanu-pf officials.
The party says it will launch massive campaigns to mobilise over 2 million
people to sign an anti-sanctions petition.
The petition "will send a clear message to the world that illegal sanctions
are not targeted at individuals as claimed by the West, but are an embargo
aimed at effecting regime change in Zimbabwe," says Zanu-PF secretary for
information and publicity, Rugare Gumbo.
Gumbo said a committee has already been set up as the massive campaign that
is expected to be launched by President Mugabe.
On forthcoming elections, the Zanu-PF secretary accused the MDC formations
of deliberately trying to delay the constitutional making process to serve
their political careers.
"Zanu PF is fully aware of the MDC formations’ tactics to delay the
constitutional process," he said.
"We (Zanu-PF) respect the election roadmap being crafted by Sadc and are
geared up for the forthcoming elections set for this year."
On indigenisation, Gumbo said there was no going back as the process of
indigenising companies which are not taking heed of the call to campaign for
the removal of illegal sanctions has intensified.
That party's 11th National People’s Conference in Mutare passed a resolution
calling for the takeover of western companies operating in Zimbabwe, which
are not calling for the lifting of sanctions imposed by their parent
Jan 21, 2011, 10:05 GMT
Harare - A German investor who has taken the Zimbabwe government to the
Paris-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
(ICSID) after Harare seized his properties under its reform programme is
vowing to stay put until the case is settled.
In an interview at one of his properties north of Harare, Heinrich von
Pezold, 58, said he went to the ICSID after Harare refused to deal with his
He said that his three investments are covered by a bilateral investment
protection treaty that Berlin and Harare signed in 1995.
'A lot of damage has been caused on my assets by settlers on my properties,'
he said. 'Over the years I have tried to engage the government of Zimbabwe.'
Von Pezold called Zimbabwe 'a place to do productive investment, which is
why we continue to invest here.'
He hopes for a chance to meet the government and find a solution under the
bilateral investment protection accord.
'But for now we want the arbitration centre to settle this matter,' von
Pezold said, declining to disclose how much compensation he was claiming.
Zimbabwe Attorney General Johannes Tomana confirmed that Harare was being
summoned by the ICSID.
'We have received the papers and we are looking at them,' he said.
Von Pezold, one of the few white commercial farmers left in Zimbabwe, said
he was confident that one day Zimbabwe will honour its international
obligations. He vowed that he will not leave his investments until justice
'We have no dispute with Zimbabwe. We have dispute with some policies. Many
countries go through times of difficulty,' he said, and added he believed
Zimbabwe's current problems will be resolved.
But it was important for investors stand up for their rights, von Pezold
'Only if people have faith in the future will they risk their savings to
build a future Zimbabwe,' he said, while gazing out at his tobacco fields.
Von Pezold has three estates in Zimbabwe, which he said he bought in 1988
from a commercial farmer.
'I have invested millions of dollars in Zimbabwe and just can't let that
investment go,' he said.
Von Pezold last year was the focus of controversy between Berlin and Harare,
after he refused to vacate his seized coffee plantation which the government
wanted to confiscate for resettlement.
The German embassy in Zimbabwe protested to Zimbabwe's Foreign Ministry to
help cool the dispute down.
Residents and local officials said the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
has been disconnecting power supplies on a massive scale on estimated bills
for 2009 that it was supposed to have written off
Gibbs Dube | Washington 20 January 2011
he Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority has cut off electric power to
thousands of residents of cities and towns across the country leaving even
the Bulawayo City Council in total darkness over an unpaid US$9.2 million
Residents and officials said the utility is disconnecting customers on a
massive scale for nonpayment of 2009 estimated bills that ZESA was supposed
to have written off.
The Competitions, Pricing and Tariffs Commission recommended ZESA write off
the bills following objections by consumers nationwide to the outsized
Bulawayo Residents Association Chairman Winos Dube said some bills from 2009
are as high as US$600 per household and most residents are not paying them.
Most residents earn no more than US$225 a month so meeting such bills is
Dube said the government should order the state-controlled utility to
nullify the bills.
“We have already started engaging ZESA on these issues and we hope that
government will take urgent measures to avert a crisis," Dube said.
Harare Residents Association officer Beatrice Ngwenya said ZESA is causing
havoc among consumers in the capital.
Bulawayo Mayor Thaba Patrick Moyo said his city council has been left in
darkness over a huge bill that the authority is struggling to pay.
“The utility has asked us to pay at least US$4 million before reconnecting
power to our critical entities including the Bulawayo City Hall and Revenue
Hall," he said.
JASON MOYO - Jan 21 2011 14:02
Put three Zimbabwean politicians in a room and they will come out with four
In the fractious ranks of Zimbabwe’s opposition the big target no longer
appears to be to oust President Robert Mugabe. The bar has been lowered a
bit -- the prize now is for the title of best opposition leader or party.
While Mugabe begins to rally his troops for another ruthless election
campaign, the opposition is preoccupied with splits and backbiting. If
Welshman Ncube, who recently took over as president of the smaller Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), fails to contain a revolt by a group of
dissenters Zimbabweans could well end up with four MDCs on the next ballot.
Last year, at a popular braai spot on the southern verges of Harare, another
MDC was formed -- Job Sikhala, a comically brash long-time opposition
figure, announced he was forming his own MDC, which he would call MDC-99,
after the year the original MDC was formed.
“We have decided to take over and restore the people’s project and continue
from where we left when we were fighting Mugabe,” he said. Once a party was
formed, the next step was to place your “president” on a high horse. And
Sikhala’s arrival, his party said, had “shaken Zimbabwe’s political
markets” and “queues have formed at our headquarters” for party cards,
sending “shivers down the spines of our erstwhile friends”.
As a reflection of the new priorities in the opposition, Sikhala declared
his party would do so well it would be “the main opposition party after the
elections”. On his Facebook page this week, Sikhala asked his followers:
“Ncube, Tsvangirai or Sikhala?” No mention of Mugabe as a rival.
Space for more
A fourth MDC would be only fair, seeing that there is more than one Zanu.
Zanu-Ndonga, formed decades ago by late nationalist Ndabaningi Sithole, has
stood in every election since independence, drawing support only from
Sithole’s rural home province, where the party emblem, a walking stick, was
something of a sacred symbol.
Now, its leader, Reketai Semwayo, says the party is joining Tsvangirai, as
it finds it “prudent as a broke party with no chances of winning any
council, parliamentary, senatorial or presidential election”.
In Bulawayo, in late December, the launch of the Mthwakazi Liberation Front
almost failed to take place. Its secret president, known only as “General
Nandinandi”, had been delayed in Johannesburg, waiting reporters were told.
In 2008 Dumiso Dabengwa left Mugabe to back Simba Makoni, who himself had
broken away from Zanu-PF to form the Mavambo Kusile Dawn (MKD) party.
Last year Dabengwa left MKD to form Zapu, which he says is a revival of the
old Zapu, the Joshua Nkomo-led liberation movement of which Dabengwa had
been a senior member.
Now Dabengwa’s new Zapu is splitting. A rival group has threatened to leave
the party unless he steps down for Nkomo’s son, Sibangalizwe.
If that happens yet another Zapu would be added to the list -- there is
already Zapu-Federal Party, or Zapu-FP, not to be confused with Zanu-PF or
the former PF-Zapu. And there is also Zapu 2000.
The splintering of the opposition has kept Mugabe in power. In 2008 the
opposition’s total vote would have been enough to defeat him outright, but
his 43% was enough to force a run-off, during which he crushed the
Ncube led the 2005 split from the MDC, after Tsvangirai overruled a council
vote on elections. Ncube regrets the episode, but adds: “I take heart in
that, if the situation that we were in was to present itself again, I would
take the same route. If he could reject the vote of the national council,
what would stop him from rejecting the vote of the people?”
Talks to form a coalition for 2008 collapsed because the two sides could not
agree on which would get the best government posts if they beat Mugabe.
“They backtracked at the 11th hour because they wanted to show the world
that they were more popular than us.
“Fine, they were more popular, but what did they get from that?” Ncube told
NewsDay. The contempt is mutual. Tsvangirai has often appeared more
accommodating of Mugabe than of Ncube.
Nelson Chamisa, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, agreed that only a coalition
could defeat Mugabe. But reuniting with Ncube would be like yoking “a donkey
and a horse” and would only “retard momentum”, Chamisa said.
Friday, 21 January 2011
Tsaurai Marima, the MDC Harare Province Secretary and the Budiriro Ward 33 Women Assembly Organising Secretary, Stembeni Chademoyo, were assaulted today by unruly Zanu PF hoodlums at Town house today. The notorious youths, who were demonstrating against the slashing of maize in Kuwadzana by council workers, turned violent with businesses closing shops as innocent shoppers and city workers were assaulted.
Marima who was at the Town House attending to some private business was attacked after Zanu PF’s Politburo member; David Karimanzira identified him and ordered the youths to assault him. Chademoyo was beaten for donning an MDC t - shirt and assaulted her with clenched fists and booted feet. She was left half naked after the Zanu PF youths tore her t – shirt. She was rescued by passers-by who gave a top. The two are receiving treatment at a Harare hospital.
Meanwhile, Bulawayo police are now pressing charges against, Pillani Sibanda; a Zanu PF youth who filed a false report that he had been assaulted by an MDC Youth Assembly member, Tsepiso Mpofu. Tsepiso was arrested on Tuesday and was brought to court on Wednesday but her case failed to kick start as Sibanda, who is the State’s witness failed to come to court. The case was postponed to today but Sibanda again did not pitch up. Police have since launched a manhunt for Sibanda for making a false report.
In Seke Rural Ward 2, some villagers have fled their homes in fear of attack from Zanu PF thugs who said they would descend on them if they do not have Zanu PF membership cards. Reports from Seke Rural say Zanu PF supporters led by the ward chairperson have warned people that if they are not Zanu PF card carrying members, they will be attacked. Some of the Zanu PF hooligans causing disturbances in the area are; Phillip Shiri, the ward chairperson, Councillor Benemiah Tendai, the chairwoman Nelie Makwinja and her vice Everjoy Katsande.
Join the MDC discussion forum on Facebook at the Movement for Democratic Change Zimbabwe or get more news from http://www.realchangetimes.com
Together, united, winning, ready for real change!
MDC Information & Publicity Department
By Guthrie Munyuki
Friday, 21 January 2011 09:51
HARARE - Joseph Chinotimba, the self-styled commander of the infamous farm
invasions has declared that his organisation remains the only legitimate
war veterans body as it comprises cadres from different political
The bearded former Harare City Council (HCC) guard is the deputy leader of
the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) which is
led by Jabulani Sibanda.
“We are a unified group representing all those who participated and
contributed during the liberation struggle. I don’t understand it when
someone says we need to be re-organised ,” said Chinotimba.
“Those who are calling for either a new body or association are sick in the
head. There is not going to be any other organisation because there is only
one organisation that represents all the war veterans – that is the
ZNLWVA, ” he declared.
Chinotimba lashed out at the Zipra War Veterans Trust which he said was
pandering to the whims of former Zanu PF politburo member, Dumiso Dabengwa,
who is now leading the revived ZAPU.
“They are an off shoot of ZAPU and Dabengwa. They are trying to be divisive
but we won’t mind them. Others who are pressing for a new body only say this
in the corridors of their barracks,” Chinotimba said.
The combative Zanu PF loyalist fumed as plans by a yet unknown group within
the ranks of the party are afoot to re-organise the group which is riddled
“The current confusion and conflict within war veterans is caused by
politicians who want to use war veterans for personal political gain.
In a statement released under the banner of Zimbabwe National War Veterans
Co-ordinating Committee, the new group said, “The new organisation will
represent all war veterans regardless of their political affiliation by
striving to improve their welfare, give them recognition, dignity and
respect for liberating and serving the country.”
Chinotimba and the feisty Jabulani Sibanda have in the past traded barbs in
their long drawn fight to control the ZNWLVA which critics say is split
right in the middle because of divided loyalties to Vice President Joice
Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa are eyeing President Robert Mugabe’s job but have
in the past distanced themselves from the factionalism rocking the group.
Sibanda is believed to be Mnangagwa’s blue eyed boy whilst Chinotimba’s
colleagues say he belongs to the Mujuru faction.
The back bone of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, ZNLWVA does not
recognise the existence of other bodies, including the Zipra War Veterans
Trust, and insist they are divisive and tribal.
But Mugabe, aware of the ructions that have been caused by infighting among
the former freedom fighters, insists that the splinter groups and ZNLWVA
should bury their differences and unite.
“Look at your history and examine where you are now. I appeal to you; get
together and discuss your differences. We don’t want to speak to you as
groups. We want to speak to you as a group,” said Mugabe on Heroes Day last
year. “In the struggle, you were one. You are bound by the commitment to
bring independence to your country.”
Combative and often restive, the war veterans have been the pillar of
Mugabe and Zanu PF's strength in the last decade when they helped the
octogenarian leader and his ailing party maintain a loose grip on power.
In 2000, led by the late Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi, the war veterans seized
white commercial-owned farms and looted property worth millions of dollars
after Mugabe had been rejected in a referendum for a new constitution.
In the same year, the former fighters orchestrated a violent election
campaign against the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai which almost knocked off Mugabe and Zanu PF from
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has
launched a new project to assist the Zimbabwean government in strengthening
its national response capacity to combat trafficking in persons, APA learns
The project, titled "Building National Response Capacity to Combat Human
Trafficking in Zimbabwe", is funded by the US Agency for International
It supports a government counter-trafficking strategy focusing on raising
awareness of trafficking in persons among government officials and members
of the public.
“The USAID-funded project is timely as it will allow IOM to strengthen the
government’s counter-trafficking efforts, particularly as it intends to pass
counter-trafficking legislation this year," IOM Chief of Mission in
Zimbabwe, Vincent Houver, said Friday.
Activities under the new project include developing comprehensive
anti-trafficking legislation and strengthening the national referral system
for protection and reintegration assistance to trafficking victims with a
special focus on children and youth.
The socio-economic deterioration in Zimbabwe in recent years has contributed
to heightened vulnerabilities of Zimbabwean nationals to human trafficking,
Recent research on child trafficking, jointly conducted by IOM and the UN
Children’s Fund (UNICEF), reveals that a significant number of minors in
Zimbabwe are being approached and recruited by traffickers.
The study finds that children are trafficked to work in agriculture, for
sexual exploitation and for domestic servitude, both within and beyond
Zimbabwe, including in the neighbouring countries of South Africa and
The US Department of State 2010 Trafficking in Persons report also lists
Zimbabwe as a source, transit and destination country for trafficking of
women and children.
Due to its geographical location, Zimbabwe is highly vulnerable to both
trafficking and smuggling in people from Asia, Europe and from other African
Railways-Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe said Thursday it planned to liberalise the
country's railways and allow private sector players to enter the sector,
which presently is the preserve of the state-owned National Railways of
Zimbabwe (NRZ). State Enterprises Minister Gordon Moyo said NRZ had failed
to meet national freight demand, crippled by huge debts, under-investment
and poor infrastructure.
As a result, he said the government wanted to liberalise the railways sector
to attract private investment and re-build the country's railway network.
'We are studying various methods of recapitalising the railways sector which
include inviting new players. We need to get resources, financially, human
resources and equipment,' Moyo said.
'The railways sector is a critical component (of the economy). It is the
engine of the economy,' he said.
Apart from under-investment and aged infrastructure, the country's railway
network has also been hit by vandalism, especially of electric cables, which
forced the NRZ to stop using cheaper electric trains.
The transport utility said it requires US$274 million to recapitalise, money
which the government has said it does not have.
Masvingo, January 21, 2011- The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals (SPCA) says a pride of 30 lions left in the farm formerly owned by
Ronnie Sparrow, are on the ‘verge of starvation’.
Sparrow, of Lion Park, a few kilometres out of Masvingo, was forcibly
evicted from his farm and was currently believed to be in exile in South
Africa. He fled the country after police wanted to arrest him for resisting
eviction from the farm which was invaded by former Zanu (PF) provincial
chairman, retired army major Alex Mudavanhu.
Sparrow skipped the country with only the clothes he was putting on in 2009.
Last year, two of the lions, which were taken over by the National Parks
Department, once escaped out of the park due to lack of food and caused a
scare to surrounding villagers. They were later recaptured before the other
one was shot after attacking villagers’ livestock.
SPCA provincial manager, Helen Johnson, urged the Parks Department to feed
the lions or give them to people who can do that. She also said the lions
could also be transferred to the National Parks Department.
“I went there a day ago. The animals looked very hungry and were very
aggressive like never before," she told Radio VOP on Thursday. "The animals
are no longer what they used to be. They are very pale."
Johnson said she had been informed by a worker that one of the female lions
was eating its puppies due to lack of food.
Contacted for comment, National Parks spokesperson, Caroline Washaya-Moyo
promised to get to Radio VOP.
“I have heard you, I will get back to you as soon I find out the situation
on the ground,” Washaya-Moyo said.
But a follow up proved futile as she did not answer her mobile
phone.Washaya-Moyo also did not respond to messages sent to her.
By Lance Guma
21 January 2011
Madzibaba Godfrey Nzira, a self proclaimed prophet and Robert Mugabe
supporter who in 2003 was jailed for 32 years on seven counts of rape and
one count of indecent assault, walked out of prison a free man this week
thanks to a controversial presidential pardon from Mugabe.
SW Radio Africa understands the serial rapist was released on ‘compassionate
grounds’ owing to poor health. Journalist Gift Phiri told SWRA that Nzira
travelled to his shrine in Chitungwiza on Thursday in the company of about
four of his wives. Phiri said although Nzira looked visibly sick, he was
walking on his own, unaided.
In 2002 Madzibaba Nzira hit the campaign trail in support of Mugabe’s
presidential bid. That year he claimed Mugabe was a “divinely appointed king
of Zimbabwe and no man should dare challenge his office.” His bootlicking of
the regime was not enough to save him from his conviction, after women’s
rights groups stuck to their guns in ensuring that he did not escape
The day Nzira was convicted, 2000 members of his sect went ballistic outside
the court, beating up court officials and policemen on duty. Even the
magistrate is said to have narrowly escaped death when they pounced on her.
In December 2009 a court slashed his 32 year jail term by 12 years leaving
him to serve only 20 years. He now has only served about 7 years of that
Nzira was accused of raping two women followers from his sect after they
came to him for spiritual healing. His release by Mugabe this week nearly
seven years after being jailed has raised suspicion that the ZANU PF leader
is bidding to woo support from Nzira’s followers ahead of possible
Only last year Mugabe attended a Johanne Marange Apostolic sect service
while wearing their familiar white gowns. The move was seen by many as a
20 January, 2011 11:44:00 NewsDay
Jaggers Wholesalers employees on Thursday stormed Zanu PF headquarters in
Harare protesting against the party-driven indigenisation policy that has
rendered them jobless.
Workers’ representatives who spoke to NewsDay said they wanted Zanu PF to
explain and make it clear to them if indigenisation meant people losing
their jobs and not being paid.
Jaggers is now owned by controversial businessman Cecil Muderede, an
indigenous Zimbabwean who took ownership of the huge wholesale entity in
April last year, thanks to the controversial indigenisation policy.
“We do not know Cecil Muderede, the new owner of Jaggers. He was never
formally introduced to us,” said a representative.
“We do not know what really happened with the change of ownership. What we
know is that our working standards started to deteriorate since the time we
heard we were under a new employer.”
The workers have been assembling at Jaggers’ Msasa branch since Tuesday,
waiting for Muderede to address them, to no avail.
The workers were also demanding that Nicholas Dube, Jaggers former managing
director, be reinstated because there were many queries that he left
“Dube told us that he would be deducting 15% from our salaries for three
months to revive the company, but from our observation things got worse.”
“Our pension contributions to Nssa (National Social Security Authority) and
Old Mutual have not been paid for the period between 2009 and 2010.
“We need an explanation from Dube,” the workers said.
The workers said their former employer, Metcash, bought them stands and they
had title deeds for the stands but since Dube’s reign they only experienced
“We are no longer even sure if the stands are still there or not.”
At least 1 000 Jaggers employees have not been paid for the past six months.
Last year Jaggers Wholesalers closed 11 branches in the country.
Solidarity Peace Trust
International Views of Zimbabwe
By Stephen Chan - Professor of International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London. Yale University Press will release Professor Chan's Southern Africa: Old Treacheries and New Deceits in 2011. A South African edition will be published by Jonathan Ball.
We invite you to participate in discussion stimulated by this article by following this link and submitting comments on this or other essays included in the section on our website known as the Zimbabwe Review. You may also respond via email: please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that some comments may be selected for publication on our website alongside the article to further stimulate debate.
There is no single view of Zimbabwe internationally. As 2011 begins, the many views fragment or develop internal variations almost as a parallel to the fracturing of the Zimbabwean political landscape. The fissures within ZANU-PF and MDC-Mutambara, the readvent of ZAPU, the lacklustre performance of Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister, and the self-seeking demeanour of elected parliamentarians on all sides, have created an international sense that there is neither predictability nor governmental capacity in the present or near-future Zimbabwe.
Africa has long had its own divided opinions about Zimbabwe and about Robert Mugabe. There is still a surly endorsement among what might be loosely called the ‘African general public’ of Mugabe’s standing up to the West, but this has always been matched by a huge disenchantment with government leadership in all countries. Mugabe may have stood up to the West, but he is as corrupt as any African President and as untrustworthy. Times have marched on in any case. The power-sharing deal brokered by Thabo Mbeki would not have been possible today – and perhaps even yesterday – in West Africa. The somewhat more robust – even if, at time of writing, rhetorical – reaction of ECOWAS to the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, compared to that of SADC to the stolen Zimbabwean election, is the case in point.
But the West has also moved on. In 2010, elections were patently stolen in both Rwanda and Ethiopia. Electoral majorities in the 90% range are just not credible, especially when opposition leaders disappear and are later found dead. But, for the West, stability and the assurance of no immediate wars in Rwanda and Ethiopia, plus the clear sense that the ruling elites are able to deliver discernible developmental benefits, proved stronger emblems of acceptability than democracy. When ruling elites do not and will not commit themselves seriously to the benefit of citizens, democracy becomes in the second decade of the millennium the scourge with which to whip chosen miscreants. It is selective and Zimbabwe is selected for historical reasons but also because ZANU-PF has clearly no interest in fiscal probity, fiscal transparency, developmental equity, financial dissemination or facilities for development except as acts of patronage and, of course, purchasing of votes.
Even so, there are two hugely countervailing forces. The first is the abject performance of the MDC as part of government. The second is that the West is itself in a fiscal crisis. Suddenly, all of Europe needs Zimbabwe as a trading partner, as a business partner, as an investment partner, as a customer and as a purchaser of European goods and services. Europe, as a result, will start doing business with ZANU-PF in 2011. There is much conjecture that the EU will contemplate some form of lifting of sanctions. This will be for the two reasons listed in this paragraph, but also because they have not worked in any way to curtail or reduce the dominating capacity of ZANU-PF. The concomitant is that, if isolation and sanctions have not worked, some form of engagement might. The exact form and parameters of that engagement have not yet been agreed.
But this leaves the UK in a difficult position. It has been the most critical – sometimes histrionically so – of the Mugabe regime. The UK cannot be alone in Europe with sanctions in place. That would give every other European country a clear run at reinvestment and trading opportunities. The UK wants to have a part in those opportunities, so finds itself on the horns of a dilemma. The US will certainly not move towards a new regime of relations with Zimbabwe until the UK moves. For the UK, the diplomatic search goes beyond devising a ‘form of words’ to explain the about-face. The UK seeks a symbolic moment and, at time of writing, Whitehall still has its heart set on a rather grand symbol – and that is the (phased, if need be) retirement of Robert Mugabe, with full dignities, even if a lifting of the ICC indictment cannot at this stage be specified. As with Sudan’s Al Bashir, the indictment can die a quiet death by way of being forgotten. But even this grand symbolic moment is a grand climbdown from a position of obdurate opposition to Mugabe and a wish to ‘bring him to justice’, strip him of his corrupt gains, and end the hegemony of ZANU-PF. Basically, it allows ZANU-PF to remain in the game – under new management to be sure, but unpunished; not deconstructed but reconstructed. The UK would accept, in some ways even welcome, the triumph of the technocratic wing of ZANU-PF. The ‘new’ ZANU-PF would of course have to fight elections honestly – but no one in Europe seriously anticipates anything but some form of coalition for years into the Zimbabwean future.
In a way, this scenario seeks to match an aspirational vision of a compromised Zimbabwe – but a compromise with which ‘all’ can live. Whether events on the ground have far outstripped this vision, with securocrats firmly in control and going nowhere, is an open question. Nevertheless, there has been a modest increase in contacts between British Governmental and other actors and senior ZANU-PF actors. Even some figures named on the sanctions list, and normally thereby off-limits, have been included in what are, at this stage, conversations about conversations. The notion seems to be that ZANU-PF has to put some sort of symbol on the table for the conversations to move on. The UK Minister for Africa has spoken publicly about the desirability of reinvestment in Zimbabwe. This is always couched in language of progress and change occurring, but it is clear to his audiences that the extent of this change has shrunk dramatically. The problem at time of writing, the first part of January, is that nothing is specified and that, of course, when conversations about specifics begin, they will get bogged down.
ZANU-PF – for the MDC makes no serious movements in the international arena; its diplomatic outreach is either cursory or ham-fisted or non-existent – relies upon Europe and, of course, China, to outflank and force the hand of the British and, through them, the Americans. But its own diplomacy is often maladroit in Europe. What is driving the process slowly forward is the need for economic remodelling within Europe itself. This has been a very serious recession. And ZANU-PF relies upon China. Let me now to turn to a word about China.
Like Britain, China has historical reasons for its actions in Zimbabwe. There really was a version of the ‘kith and kin’ mythology in the British response to the farm invasions that began in 2000. The eviction of black farmers would simply not have aroused such a response, either in shrillness or extent. There would have been a strong response – let me make that clear – but different in its quality. The Chinese supported both ZANU and ZANLA in the war of liberation. They feel a genuine kinship which stems from that historical moment, but which has also been overladen three decades on by nostalgia and romance. The Chinese understand that romance is not cost-effective, and that is why – despite significant liquidity flows – there has never been, and never will be, a Chinese alternative to all that the West can provide. The Chinese need the West more than it needs any part or every part of Africa. They are more prepared to rescue the United States, drowning in its toxic debt swamp, than to bail out Zimbabwe. The Chinese have staved off recession only by playing fiscal brinksmanship with the West over currency rates and balance of trade ratios. The Chinese are prepared to do some ‘queering of the pitch’ in Zimbabwe to make it harder for Western reinvestment to dominate the scene as it did before – the new scene will have far greater plurality – but the Chinese will not put themselves out on a financial limb for Zimbabwe.
The reason for this is simple. It didn’t take me long to uncover the figures in Beijing. I was simply surprised that no one in the Zimbabwean Embassy had bothered. Even ZANU-PF diplomats, it turns out, are simply amateurs. The reason is that the Chinese financial intelligence simply rates Zimbabwe as a disaster zone. It is a disaster zone with peripheral opportunities and bridgeheads for future investment, but it is not a zone where serious good money should be thrown into bad situations. In the Chinese balance sheets, there have to be concrete and immediate returns. Not full returns all at once – the Chinese really are extraordinarily patient – but there has to be a properly costed expectation of phased returns that are reliable.
This analysis is of course now changing. But it is changing at the same moment that European outlooks are also changing. So the Chinese will be an important part of the pack, but only one part of the pack.
What the West would like to see is of course an MDC government. It would like this in the full anticipation that it will be an incompetent government which will become corrupt quite quickly. The corruption template is established and not difficult to board. What the West could live with, and what the Chinese could easily adjust to – so no conflict of interests here – is another coalition government, preferably fairly elected and, if not fully fairly elected, cleanly elected, i.e. without violence and naked rigging. Within that coalition, the preference would be for greater MDC power and influence, but ZANU-PF ministers, especially of a technocratic sort, would not be unwelcome. The MDC, after all, still doesn’t have a technocratic front bench. A variation of the coalition theme, one with a ZANU-PF domination, would be plausibly acceptable if it were technocratic, if the securocrats were marginalised, if Mugabe were retired or made ceremonial.
To a very real extent, the personality of Mugabe still looms large over how much progress can be made in terms of the international arena and Zimbabwe. Were he to step down – and a richly-endowed immunities formula is pretty much already on the table for both him and the securocrats – there would be a rush to reinvest that would leave everyone breathless. A bit of naked global capitalism would briefly swagger into what has become an isolated, parochial and financially provincial and peripheral town. But no one fully anticipates he will step down any time very soon, and nature doesn’t seem to be taking its natural course – even if the embassies in Harare all report on every health rumour concerning the President, and how far the President can walk in a straight line, how many steps he can climb up or even down. Mugabe-watching has replaced the old Kremlim-watching for its sense of fascination and mortality. And, after all, they all thought Brezhnev was embalmed even while he was still (just) alive. In a very real way this trivialises what could once again be a serious country. But perhaps, at this moment in history, the international view of Zimbabwe is not misplaced. It is a country which has lost its way – whether for good or bad reasons, or a curious mixture of both – it is a country which has all manner of reinvestment possibilities, but all these are contingent on a number of political as well as financial conditions. The political conditions could be ameliorated with a symbol or two. Perhaps, curiously if not actually tragically, a country’s fate depends on an old man, his vanity, the need of his most oligarchic followers, and an agenda which may not translate well in a new millennium of global toxicity and opportunisms.
For further information, please contact Selvan Chetty - Deputy Director, Solidarity Peace Trust
Tel: +27 (39) 682 5869
Wed Jan, 19 2011
By Abdul Raufu Mustapha
Agriculture in colonial Nigeria was dominated by smallholder peasants.
Though this sector was the motor for the economy, very little was done to
improve peasant productivity. Efforts by Nigerian governments in the 1950s
and 1960s to bring ‘development’ to rural areas through the establishment of
agricultural settlements, cooperatives, and farming schools did not impact
greatly on peasant productivity. Instead, the marketing board system was
used to transfer peasant resources to the state. From 1970, public finance
was increasingly based on returns from petroleum. The mid-1970s saw
concerted efforts by Nigerian governments to invest in improved agricultural
productivity. Irrigation projects, river basin development projects,
agricultural development schemes took centre stage in state intervention in
agriculture. These schemes failed to modernize peasant agriculture. The
Zimbabwean farmers arrived in Nigeria against the background of the previous
failure to modernize agriculture and the turn to the private sector.
From 2000 the Zimbabwean government embarked on fast-track land occupations.
By 2002 the vast majority of the 4500 white commercial farmers were forced
off the land. Some of these white Zimbabwean farmers turned up in Shonga, in
Kwara State of Nigeria. There has been a torrent of journalistic accounts
on the success of the Zimbabwean farmers in transplanting commercial
agriculture to Nigeria. Under titles like ‘White Zimbabweans Bring Change to
Nigeria’, ‘White Zimbabwean farmers highlight Nigeria’s agricultural
failures’, and ‘White farmers from Zimbabwe bring prosperity to Nigeria’.
The impression is created of a massive transformation based on the ingenuity
of the Zimbabwean farmers and without any support from Nigerian governments.
But is this really so?
The terms of the MOU which the Kwara State government signed with the
Zimbabwean farmers, and developments surrounding the establishment of the
farms, paint a different picture. It committed the State government to the
provision of a series of services crucial for the development of the
commercial farms. Crucially, it committed the government to provide land.
The government undertook to clear choice land of the indigenous users right
next to the River Niger. 1289 local farmers in 28 communities were uprooted
from their farms to make way for the Zimbabwean farmers. The state set aside
a total of N77m (US$513,333) as compensation for the displaced local
farmers. Each of the initial 13 Zimbabwean farmers received a 25-year lease
of 1000 hectares. The state’s instrumentalist use of compensation and
‘agricultural packages’ (bicycles -720 were distributed - , fertilizers,
seed etc.) and the provision of long sought after communal infrastructure
like electricity and additional classrooms in local schools helped to defuse
local protests. Still, in 2009, local leaders of Governor Saraki’s Peoples’
Democratic Party complained that ‘people were paid meager sum of money for
the seizure of their land. …This is very unfair and we are just keeping
quiet because we cannot fight the government.’
The MOU also stipulated that the government must provide sundry facilities
and amenities for the Zimbabwean farmers. The government invested over N400
million (US$2.6m) on roads, housing and electricity. 600 kilometers of farm
roads, 16 electricity transformers for the grid, and many bore holes were
provided. Each farmer received a bungalow of up to 2,500 square feet,
complete with a generator, storage sheds, and fencing for farmland. N870
million [US$5.8m] was spent on irrigation by the Federal government while N1
billion [US$6.6m] was provided for electrification.
The MOU stipulated that the Zimbabwean farms should get 90% of their labour
from the local community. According to a Nigerian journalist who visited
Shonga in 2006, the local community viewed ‘the payment of N250 (US$1.7)
daily to their brethren who work on the white farms, without any other
additional benefits, as enslavement’. In 2009, local employees working on
the farms complained to the State government about poor wages and conditions
and the paternalistic attitude of some of the Zimbabwean farmers. The State
government mobilized the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Labour, and
the Emir of Shonga to restore peace. Shonga Farms currently employ 315
permanent Nigerian staff, 35 expatriates, and about 6000 seasonal workers.
•Culled from the West Africa Insight Newsletter, A publication of the Centre
for Democracy and Development
Thu Jan, 20 2011
By Abdul Raufu Mustapha
Though the Zimbabweans were originally classified as ‘investors’, the MOU
committed the Kwara State government to providing finance directly to the
Zimbabwean farms and to helping the farmers access other private sources of
funds. On this point, the MOU stipulates that the government shall provide
each of the investors ‘the sum of US$250,000 and also provide a guarantee
for a private sector loan in the sum of US250,000 to each farmer… The state
loan shall be interest free …’ The loan is to be repaid between the third
and fifth years of operation. The government is reported to have given the
Zimbabwean farmers a total of US$8.25 million in cash. Furthermore, at
Governor Saraki’s behest, the State House of Assembly passed a resolution on
5th March 2006 guaranteeing loans of US$5 million taken by the Zimbabwean
farmers from the Nigerian Agricultural, Cooperative and Rural Development
Bank. By 2009, however, only 19 percent of the loan had been repaid and ‘the
farmers said they could no longer pay’. The bank manager noted that ordinary
Nigerian farmers were looking to borrow the equivalent of just US$1225
without success, yet both the Zimbabwean farmers and their Kwara State
sponsor were refusing to meet their financial obligations to the bank. The
Kwara government is still repaying this loan.
The only obligation placed by the MOU on the farmers was the incorporation
of their companies with a share capital of US$80,000. The Zimbabwean farmers
were also to contribute to a Community Trust Fund, set up as a corporate
social responsibility project, with the companies contributing 1% of gross
turnover to the fund which is tasked with providing social infrastructure to
the local communities. There is also the Commercial Farming Institute in
Shonga, ‘a government-funded training centre, where Zimbabwean farmers will
teach … largely-subsistence farmers the techniques of modern mass-scale
farming. However, the MOU only obliged the Zimbabwean farmers to teach on
the farm ‘from time to time, but no less than once in a month’. The
Commercial Farming Institute also ran the Shonga back-to-farm programme,
focused on modern graduate farmers; by 2009, 200 graduates had been trained
and given loans ofN850,000 [US$5666] and five hectares each. The State’s
Agricultural Training School at Malete – another graduate-farmer scheme – is
said to benefit from Shonga Farms expertise.
Outside of specific MOU stipulations, there is also massive high-level
political support for the Zimbabwean farmers: ‘the governor remains
personally involved in the project, visiting the farmers in their homes,
taking their calls on his mobile phone and personally stepping in to help …’
The cargo terminal at Ilorin airport was upgraded at Kwara State expense.
Inevitably, given the level of disruption of the local communities from
outside, tensions arose, creating a difficult security situation – another
problem stoutly tackled by the State government.
As the development at Shonga proceeded and in order to access credit and
other resources, the farmers were obliged to club together and form a
consortium with the Kwara State government: Kwa-Zimbo Enterprises Ltd. As
credit dried out from Nigerian banks, Governor Saraki stepped in to sort
things out. In 2008 he tapped into his political and business networks to
pull in investors and funds for the Zimbabwean farmers. A consortium of 5
leading Nigerian banks invested N1 billion [US$6.6m] as equity in the farms
and advanced another N1billion as loans. As a result, Kwa-Zimbo Enterprises
Ltd was transformed into Shonga Farms Ltd. Shonga Farms Holdings is
described as a ‘special purpose vehicle’ to facilitate the involvement of
the banks in the farms. It owns 60 percent of Shonga Farms Ltd., with the
Zimbabwean farmers holding 40 percent. Shonga Farms Holdings itself is 75
percent owned by the 5 banks, with the Kwara State government having the
remaining 25 percent. In effect, the banks own 45 percent of the farms, the
Zimbabwean farmers own 40 percent, and the State government owns 15 percent.
Increasingly, Nigerian governments are turning to the promotion of foreign
and indigenous commercial agriculture under public private partnership
arrangements such as the one in Shonga. While this might be good for
improved agricultural productivity, we are still left with two key
questions: is this pattern of agricultural investment any more sustainable
than the failed state-led pattern of the 1970s? Secondly, what will happen
to the bulk of the peasantry left outside the main thrust of government
•Culled from the West Africa Insight Newsletter, A publication of the Centre
for Democracy and Development
Friday January 21st 2011
A new year and new hope for Zimbabwe? Having been on the ‘Inside’ for the
past few weeks I have to admit that I saw very few signs that Zimbabwe is
about to make the great leap forward to a functioning democratic society.
Three weeks is too short a time to do more than gain a brief impression but,
after six years away on the ‘Outside’ I saw little to justify the hope that
a new year promises.
From the moment our plane touched down at Harare Airport and I had paid the
$53 US for a visa I was aware that I was a foreigner in the country that I
had once called home. I lost my ‘Permanent Resident’ status when I left six
years ago and now I was no more than a tourist, a foreigner in the land
where I had raised my family and helped educate hundreds of young
Zimbabweans. A smiling airport worker wished me a happy holiday in Zimbabwe.
I told him, “But I am a Zimbabwean, even if some people deny my identity,
and I’m coming home.” After joyful reunions and tearful embraces we drove
along well-remembered roads and my tour of rediscovery began. I noticed how
much more land was being built on as we drove out of the city. What had once
been farmland was growing nothing more than thatching grass and the first
signs of life were the mombes, peacefully grazing as they awaited slaughter
at the abattoir. If the Land Reform Programme has indeed been the success
some people claim I saw no evidence of it on the hundreds of kms we drove in
the eastern area of the country.
But I had forgotten how beautiful Zimbabwe is; the trees and birds and the
intensity of the silence broken by African voices calling as the day ended
with sunsets of such beauty that only a painter could do them justice. The
beauty of the landscape could not make up for the daily inconveniences of
life in today’s Zimbabwe. My abiding memory is of the hundreds of people
waiting for transport at the roadside. It seems the country bus is a thing
of the past, its place taken by commuter taxis, hence the endless lines of
desperate passengers everywhere you look. The main roads were in pretty good
shape, it wasn’t until you got onto the minor roads – maintained by local
councils - that you saw how council services have crumbled, resulting in
massive potholes and treacherous verges. Street lights are a thing of the
past and the endless unscheduled power cuts make life an absolute misery as
one tries to plan meals and the daily chores of washing and ironing. Even
worse are the water cuts which may go on for as long as three days at a
time. The local supermarket I visited was, not surprisingly, very smelly and
with food being endlessly frozen, thawing and then re-frozen the health
hazard must be huge. Yes, the shelves were all absolutely loaded with goods
but from what I could see they were all imported from South Africa, even
matches and mealie meal! I sauntered into the local Kingstons, the
government owned bookshop, and was shocked to see almost bare shelves. Food
for the mind is obviously not high on the government’s agenda!
And that brings me to the nightly ZTV broadcasts. Of course, I was expecting
massive state propaganda but what I had not expected was the appalling lack
of professionalism of the presenters and programme content. It was a nightly
diet of mindless coverage of well-fed Zanu PF politicians attending
so-called workshops and conferences, with po-faced commentators solemnly
lulling the audience to sleep with puerile remarks about the
earth-shattering importance of the proceedings. ZTV may be the national
broadcaster but it is an insult to the intelligence of Zimbabweans.
It was a trip into the beautiful Nyanga mountains that ironically brought us
face to face with the reality of war vet violence. We were staying in a
stone cottage in an area where older white farmers who had been kicked off
their farms had retired to live out their days in peace as they hoped. The
local war vets, loyal to Mugabe and Zanu PF, had very different ideas,
demanding keys, looting property (reported in The Zimbabwean January 13th
2011) and ordering the elderly residents to vacate their homes. It was that
experience more than anything else that convinced me that there is very
little hope for Zimbabwe. The total inhumanity of these thugs who act with
impunity, knowing that they are beyond the law, is a painful reminder of the
ethnic hatred espoused by the Nazi regime against the Jews in Hitler’s
Germany. Unless and until the government can bring these roaming gangs of
warlords under control, there is very little hope for a peaceful future in
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.aka Pauline Henson author of Sami’s
Story available on Lulu.com.