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

Zanu PF Threatens Daniel Shumba's UPP Political Party

Zim Daily

            Monday, January 23 2006 @ 12:05 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent

            The ruling Zanu PF party has threatened to "deal" with the
United People's Party, a new political movement formed by former Zanu PF
provincial chairman Daniel Shumba. Zanu PF Masvingo provincial commissar
Dzikamai Mavhaire told a press conference in Masvingo that plans by Shumba
to launch his party in Masvingo would not be tolerated.

            Shumba, the interim president of UPP, said last week that his
party would officially be launched next month. He said its interim executive
would be announced on February 15. The party symbol is raised crossed palms.
"We have now formed the UPP and we expect to officially launch it next month
when the full interim executive will be announced," Shumba said. "

            We have printed at least two million membership cards and we are
getting an overwhelming response from the people on the ground." But
Mavhaire said: "Zanu PF will not accept such nonsense and Masvingo will not
be used as a spring board to launch sell out political parties. We will deal
with him and his supporters of he has any." Although Shumba did not reveal
members of the UPP interim executive, he said they included prominent
opposition and civil society activists. He also said his party was
recruiting people with solid political credentials to occupy leadership
positions and build strong party structures.

            Shumba, a former senior Zanu PF central committee member and
businessman, formally resigned from the ruling party last week after he was
last year suspended for five years over a power struggle that rocked Zanu PF
in the run-up to the party's 2004 congress. Mavhaire told journalists that
Zanu PF was the ruling party and noone had the right to challenge it. "He is
a political prostitute," Mavhaire said. "We will not allow him to divide the
people of Masvingo and of Zimbabwe in general. We wont allow it to happen."

            But Shumba has already drafted a party constitution, printed
membership cards, set up structures nationwide, and says he is ready to
launch his party. The party also has a position paper outlining its policies
and the current state of the nation. The document deals with constitutional
and electoral law and other democratic reforms which the party says are
desperately needed. It also addresses human rights issues such as the
gukurahundi massacres and Operation Murambatsvina, land redistribution,
macro-economics, food security, health, education and foreign policy. It
says the UPP believes in a free market economy.

            The document says: "UPP pronounces the people's will and a
mandate for saving the nation from further demise. Recent episodes have
subjected the generality of Zimbabweans to poverty, hopelessness and victims
of misrule, greed, brutality, terror, corruption and dictatorship. "Zanu PF
is using fear and terror to subdue and disenfranchise the whole country,
thus guaranteeing its grip on power. It is now an offence to speak the
truth, criticise and have a different opinion." Shumba, a former senior army
officer, said Zimbabwe was ruled by a despotic regime which has looted the
economy dry. He said Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change were failed political parties despite their past commendable

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe To Get Rid Of Dead Wood In Cabinet Reshuffle

Zim Daily

            Monday, January 23 2006 @ 12:04 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            President Robert Mugabe is set to reshuffle his development
cabinet, with some non performing senior government officials set to be
fired and replaced by officials from the ruling party's women league.
Speculation of an imminent reshuffle to forge a strong, resolute and
competent Cabinet has been rife over the past few weeks, but gained currency
last week when President Mugabe reportedly told his lieutenants during a
heated Politburo meeting that he would overhaul his cabinet.

            Although there were no indications as to who would face the axe,
highly placed sources said the Zimbabwean leader, who is turning 82 next
month, worked on the new list of ministers during his traditional annual
leave and was likely to make it public within the next fortnight. The
sources said President Mugabe could however be forced to make a few changes
to his list in light of allegations of graft raised against some of his
ministers and govenors. Zimdaily heard that Mugabe was eager to have Senate
president Edna Madzongwe and one of the luminaries in the women's league
Tracy Mutinhiri in the new look cabinet.

            "President Mugabe said he would reshuffle the cabinet soon,"
said a senior ZANU PF official. The permanent secretary in the Department of
Information and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet, George
Charamba, denied any knowledge of the reshuffle. "Who is saying that?
Rumours are rumours, there is nothing I can do about rumour mongering," said
Charamba. The reshuffle, sources said, is being considered as an option to
give a fresh impetus to the government, which has been blamed for the
deteriorating economic situation.

            President Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since it attained
independence from Britain in 1980, is desperately trying to win public
support to placate opposition parties that have vowed to roll out mass
protests this year if conditions continued to deteriorate.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Govt Establishes Tourism Development Zones

Zim Daily

            Monday, January 23 2006 @ 12:03 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            In a bid to lure foreign investors and boost the country's
tourism industry, the government has established 'Tourism Development Zones'
(TDZs). A number of incentives which include tax holidays and duty exemption
on goods imported by an investor for use in the zones have been provided by
the government. Tourism Minister, Francis Nhema, said the TDZs are meant to
fast track development in specific areas with tourism potential.

            The areas that have already been designated under the TDZ
facility include Great Zimbabwe and surroundings, Chiredzi, Gonarezhou
National Park and surroundings and Beitbridge-Shashe-Limpopo area and its
surroundings. "To fast track tourism development in specific areas that will
have been identified to have the potential, government has come up with the
concept of Tourism Development Zones," Nhema said at the EU-SADC Tourism
Investment Partnership Promotion workshop .

            Nhema, who also called for foreign investors, said numerous and
rewarding investment opportunities are vast in the national parks, tourist
resort areas and communal areas. "Realizing that the world investment
climate remains challenging due to the global events that negatively impact
on tourism, the government of Zimbabwe is encouraging partnerships between
Zimbabweans and foreign investors." However, the tourism minister said that
the projects, that will be offered by the corporate and individual operators
in the sector, must not just be bankable but should also be competitive.

            Recently the government set aside a $190 billion for renovations
of its lodges in the Gonarezhou and Hwange national parks. Nhema said that a
staggering $100billion and $90billion had been disbursed as capital for
refurbishments of lodge facilities in Gonarezhou and Hwange respectively.
The money will be used for infrastructure overhaul to keep up with
international hospitality standards. Zimbabwe is battling to revive the
tourism sector following dwindling tourist inflows. According to a report by
the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), the tourism sector experienced a 27%
decline in tourist arrivals in the third quarter of 2005.

            Total arrivals declined by 27% from 463 471 to 336 971 over the
comparative period, with the biggest decline of 65% being recorded in
arrivals from Asia. The number of tourists from China declined by a massive
89 percent in the third quarter, compared to the same period in 2004.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC UK Call On UK Residents

Zim Daily

            Monday, January 23 2006 @ 12:02 AM GMT
            Contributed by: Zimdaily
            All UK residents are being asked to submit suggestions on MDC
policy review and ideology, in line with preparations for the MDC congress
on March 17 -19. The MDC UK co-ordinator for the policy review and ideology
committee, Jonathan Chawora, said this request was being made on behalf of
the party leadership which aims to involve MDC members in Zimbabwe and in
the Diaspora in updating the MDC policy document.

            The national committee, chaired by Mrs Sekai Holland, is taking
submissions from MDC structures inside the country and outside, and the UK
committee is chaired by Chawora. He said following the breakaway by Welshman
Ncube and his group, the MDC wanted to consult everyone to ensure that
everyone's ideas were taken on board. Proposals have to be submitted by 30
January 2006, so there is not much time, but Chawora said members and
non-members could make suggestions in the following areas or more: land and
agriculture, water resources and the environment, economic policy, social
policy and welfare, child welfare and youth policy, health, education,
criminal justice system, the army, the police, the intelligence services and
the judiciary, race and ethnic relations, corruption, foreign policy and

            Given the short notice that we were given and the fact that
suggestions are being sought from Zimbabweans across the world it is
advisable that submissions should not be detailed but short sharp and sweet,
otherwise the people who are looking at these submissions will not have time
to read, said Chawora. Make submission to

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Minister dismisses FEWSNET food crisis warning

African News Dimension

      Monday, 23 January 2006, 1 hour, 50 minutes and 37 seconds ago.

      By ANDnetwork Journalist

      THE Government yesterday dismissed as hostile a report by a United
States-based food trends monitoring organisation which warns that the
country will face "worse" food shortages this year.

      The Minister of State for National Security, Cde Didymus Mutasa, who
is also responsible for food security, said the report by the Famine Early
Warning System Network (FEWSNET) was typically hostile to Zimbabwe.

      In its report for last month that was issued this month, FEWSNET says
the shortage of inputs such as fertilizer, fuel and seed is likely to worsen
the food supply situation in the country this year.

      It further claims that more than one million people require urgent
food aid between this month and harvest time in April.

      "They are always hostile to us. You will find out that instead of
sympathising with the plight of the people that was created by the economic
sanctions that they imposed on us they use the economic challenges to
criticise us," said Cde Mutasa.

      "We have shortages of inputs because we lack foreign currency to
import them and other materials required in their manufacture. The foreign
currency shortage is a result of sanctions that have also seen credit lines
to us (Zimbabwe) being cut. There is no country that can operate the way
Zimbabwe is being forced to do," he added.

      Cde Mutasa said the difficulties the country was facing were a direct
result of a deliberate anti-Zimbabwe campaign by the West, including the US.

      "They imposed sanctions on us to harm the economy and then they go on
to criticise us over the state of that same economy. What sort of people are
they? I do not understand the logic."

      The FEWSNET report says there are "increasing levels of food
insecurity across the country".

      "Household food access remains a serious concern with large numbers of
the most vulnerable unable to meet minimum food requirements," it said.

      It adds that there is a shortage of maize meal in retail outlets in
some parts of the country, which has seen prices of the staple food rising.

      Cde Mutasa said the fact that the Government was importing food from
South Africa meant that there are limited supplies of food locally.

      "But I do not know whether their figure of people in need of food aid
is correct. The Government is providing food to the people and the United
Nations World Food Programme is also involved.

      Source: The Chronicle

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe 'unlikely' to impress IMF team

Business Day

Foreign Staff


THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) is sending a fact-finding delegation
to Zimbabwe this week to gauge its economic performance, after narrowly
escaping expulsion from the world lending body last year.

Economists are sceptical over whether the team will leave with favourable
impressions after their six-day visit, starting tomorrow.

"They (IMF) will be very concerned with the upsurge of inflation. The other
problem will be that the government still maintains 18 products under price
controls," economic commentator Eric Bloch said.

The IMF has threatened to expel Zimbabwe from its ranks for failing to pay
back loans since 2001 and has given the southern African country until next
month to settle its accounts.

In December, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa predicted economic growth of
between 2% and 3% for this year, forecasting that agricultural production
would grow 14,8%.

"They (the government) based their projections on inflation declining but
inflation is continuously going up," said economist John Robertson.

"Prospects of a bumper harvest are bleak, all these things are not on track
and the IMF will challenge these things," he said.

The visit comes as Zimbabwe made a new payment of $2,5m to the IMF last

In October, central bank governor Gideon Gono promised that the remainder of
Zimbabwe's debt - about $144,3m - would be paid in two instalments, next
month and in November this year.

On the brink of expulsion last year, Zimbabwe made a surprise payment of
$120m to the IMF in September, winning itself a six-month reprieve.

Without the payment, Zimbabwe risked becoming the second country to be
kicked out of the IMF since the former Czechoslovakia in 1954.

But given the country's dire economic straits, the payments prompted
speculation as to their source, with economists noting that Zimbabwe could
not afford to spare hard currency.

The central bank, which has paid back $148m since February last year, said
the money came mainly from "free funds" and export earnings.

The IMF said it would investigate the source of the loan payback and report
on its findings to the executive board in March.

It has expressed "deep concern over the continued sharp economic and social
decline in Zimbabwe, with prospects of continued triple-digit inflation,
further output declines, and increased poverty".

About 80% of Zimbabwe's 13-million population lives under the poverty
threshold, more than 70% are jobless and inflation stands at 585,8%.

The IMF team will meet Murerwa, Gono, business executives, bankers and
officials from the labour movement.

The body has requested from Zimbabwe strong fiscal adjustment, full
liberalisation of the exchange rate and elimination of all quasifiscal
activity by the central bank.

When the IMF visited last September, the central bank maintained a managed
foreign currency auction, where the local unit traded at Z$26000 to the US

The central bank relaxed the exchange rate in October last year, and this
week the Zimbabwe dollar was trading at Z$95000 to the US dollar.

Economist Witness Chinyama said the country had a long way to go in winning
the battle with high inflation and foreign currency shortages. With Sapa-AFP

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

AG orders Musindo's arrest

Zim Standard

By Foster Dongozi

THE Attorney General's Office has ordered police to arrest and charge Zanu
PF praise singer and leader of Destiny of Africa Network, Obadiah Musindo,
for allegedly raping his maid five times.

The AG's Office has stamped its authority despite concerted police efforts
to protect the "Reverend" who has presided over State occasions at the
Heroes' Acre.
The Director for Public Prosecutions, Loyce Moyo, told The Standard that
police had submitted an incomplete docket to the AG's office for a legal

She said: "We found that rather unusual because how could they send us an
incomplete docket and then ask for a legal opinion? They had not even
questioned the accused. The normal procedure is for the police to send us a
completed docket and if there is no evidence, then we can decline to

In a move that has thrown the credibility of the police into doubt, a female
police officer who was investigating the alleged rape, Inspector Mathuthu,
was removed from the case.

Usually vocal women and children's organisations were afraid to pursue
Musindo's case because of his perceived Zanu PF and government links.

Although the alleged rape occurred in July 2005, police have not even
questioned Musindo, who lives in a two-bedroom government flat at St
Francis' Flats in Belvedere.

The maid was recruited from an employment exchange by Diva Dick, Musindo's
assistant and taken to Musindo's offices at the Sheraton Hotel, before being
taken to St Francis' Flats where she was allegedly raped five times.

"Proceed to charge the accused person (Obadiah Musindo) for rape and record
a warned and cautioned statement from him. Charge accused person for rape,"
reads an opinion from the AG's Office.

Attorney General, Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, told The Standard during an
interview: "The AG's Office is not in the business of suppressing cases. If
anything, it is in the business of ensuring that cases are taken to their
logical conclusion."

However, Assistant Commissioner Elliot Simbi in a letter to the AG tried his
best to defend Musindo, saying the maid may have cherished having the
accused's baby.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe kicks out neighbours

Zim Standard

By Walter Marwizi and Davison Maruziva

PROPERTY owners adjacent to President Robert Mugabe's lush retirement
mansion near Borrowdale Brooke have been asked to move out, The Standard has

Owners, reeling from the shock of the notices, said they were at a loss as
to what to do. Several said they had lived there for a long time. There was
obvious fear, among those The Standard spoke to.
Scores of plush houses on the western side of the palatial mansion in
Borrowdale Brook overlook the retirement mansion.

Last week the owners received letters from the Ministry of Local Government,
Public Works and Urban Development, informing them that their properties
fell within a security zone and that they were required to leave.

A copy of the letter in possession of The Standard is dated 11 January 2006.
It is headed: Proposed acquisition of property by Governmet (sic) and is
addressed to "The House owner".

It has the reference "Helen".

It reads: "This serves to advise you that your property falls within a
designated security area in terms of General Notice Number 255 of 2004.

"As a result this office has been instructed to enter into negotiations with
you, with a view to the acquisition of the property by Government.

"We will therefore be contacting you soon to arrange for inspection of your
property for valuation purposes."

The letter is signed by L Chimba of the Ministry of Local Government's
Valuations and Estates Management Department.

What has puzzled many of the owners is the decision to turn the area around
the mansion into a security zone when their properties pre-date construction
of Mugabe's retirement residence.

They said if the intention was to provide a security curtain around the
mansion it should have been built far away from other residential

One couple that declined identification said: "We have been here 25 years
and to think they want us to go. Where can we move to?"

The couple is concerned that it is the government, instead of private
property consultants, that wants to undertake the valuation of the
properties ostensibly for the purposes of compensation. They pointed out
that commercial farmers whose farms were acquired by the State since the
chaotic land invasions in 2000 were still awaiting compensation.

But they also doubted the capacity of the government to pay for the
properties saying the government was abandoning "Operation Garikai/Hlalani
Kuhle" because it did not have the resources to continue with the programme.

Construction of the oriental styled mansion, occupying two hectares began
between 2001 and 2002. It has three floors, many bedrooms, a media centre
and overlooks a dam and a 20-hectare garden. It is ring-fenced by a
four-metre high security wall.

One of Mugabe's neighbours who spoke to The Standard said although he had
not seen the letter, more than a year ago an approach had been made asking
whether he would be prepared to move out.

The response the government was given then was: "Yes, provided it is on a
willing-seller, willing-buyer basis."

The owner had since heard nothing until neighbours began whispering about
the evictions last week.

But others reacted angrily to the eviction notices saying because the
mansion was a retirement home, Mugabe would be a private citizen and would
revert to being like anyone else. They cited cases of Bakili Muluzi, former
President of Malawi and Nelson Mandela, the first President of a democratic
South Africa, whose residences do not have a security curtain around them.

Other property owners were worried about the effect of the eviction notices
on property values around the palatial mansion in particular, and the impact
on rentals in the city in general.

In May last year nearly one million Zimbabweans were rendered homeless after
a government clean-up operation. Until last week the clean up operation had
left Zimbabwe's elite largely unaffected. The operation resulted in the
escalation of on rentals.

A leading attorney, commenting on the eviction notices said yesterday: "From
a legal point of view, it sounds like a minefield. It would be different if
it was designated agricultural land, which they can acquire under
Constitutional Amendment No 17."

Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development minister Ignatious
Chombo whose ministry issued the letters could not be reached for comment
yesterday. His phone kept on ringing without being answered.

But the Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement, Didymus Mutasa, said he was not aware that people would be
moved from the area around Mugabe's retirement mansion.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Police hound VOP bosses

Zim Standard

By our staff

POLICE officers from the Law and Order section were yesterday hunting for
two Voice of the People (VOP) radio station trustees, Nhlanhla Ngwenya and
Arnold Tsunga.

Otto Saki, of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), yesterday told
The Standard that police descended at the homes of trustees of the
privately-owned radio station.
At around 10AM yesterday, about half a dozen plain clothes police officers
went to Ngwenya's house, where the maid told them he had gone to the shops.
Two of them entered the house, while the rest went to look for Ngwenya at
the shops. When it became evident Ngwenya would not be back soon, the
officers ordered the maid to call Ngwenya's wife and inform her they were
confiscating a television and radio set.

When The Standard news crew arrived at the house, the officers had just left
but without taking anything. At Tsunga's house, they took away a driver and
a gardener.

"They arrested ZLHR driver, Anesu Kamba, and Arnold (Tsunga)'s gardener."
said Saki yesterday afternoon. "I have been to a number of police stations,
but I cannot find them."

In December last year, police officers raided VOP offices in Harare where
they arrested three reporters, and later, the executive director of the
station, John Masuku.

Meanwhile our Mutare correspondent reports that Sydney Saize, a
Manicaland-based journalist arrested last Wednesday on suspicion of
violating the draconian Zimbabwean media laws, was released from police
custody yesterday morning after the State indicated it would proceed by way
of summons.

Saize, a former reporter of The Daily News and The Eastern Star newspapers
in Mutare, both banned by the government, was arrested in the city centre on
Wednesday afternoon and detained by members of the Criminal Investigation

His lawyer, Innocent Gonese, said yesterday he had successfully made an
urgent application "to compel the State to bring" Saize before the court.
The State, he said, was "dragging its feet" in bringing the matter before
the courts, saying further investigations were under way.

"Saize spent three nights in police custody and there was a likelihood he
would spend another two until Monday morning before appearing in court,"
Gonese told The Standard shortly after the reporter walked out a free man.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mayor in property wrangle

Zim Standard

By Caiphas Chimhete

OUTGOING Chegutu mayor, Francis Dhlakama, is entangled in a property wrangle
that could scupper his chances of re-election in the March mayoral polls,
after accusations that he corruptly secured a stand in the town. Opposing
affidavits filed in the High Court by a Chegutu businessman, Chikazhe
Mubaiwa, say Dhlakama of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) used his
influence to wrest a 4 000 square metre stand from him.

Mubaiwa says: "The applicant (Dhlakama) by virtue of being the mayor abused
his position and drew up power of property to himself without the knowledge
of council."
The revelations came after Dhlakama, whose term of office expired in
December, filed a High Court order to evict Mubaiwa from stand number 1081
Chegutu, claiming he is the rightful owner of the property.

Both parties have signed agreements of sale with the municipality but
Mubaiwa claims Dhlakama acquired the stand unprocedurally.

The matter is set to be heard by High Court Judge Justice Elphias Chitakunye

In an affidavit Dhlakama says: "The respondent (Mubaiwa) is in unlawful
occupation of my property and in the circumstances I pray for an order" to
have Mubaiwa evicted from the stand.

Dhlakama says he bought the stand and the transfer was effected on 29 May
2003 and in this regard has attached a copy of the Deed of Transfer as
Annexure "B".

"The respondent shall vacate the premises known as stand number 1081,
Chegutu township within seven days of the granting of the order failing of
which the Deputy Sheriff shall evict him," says Dhlakama.

But Mubaiwa says Dhlakama signed an agreement of sale unprocedurally because
the municipality did not give him an offer letter. Apart from that, Mubaiwa
says, the council never resolved to allocate the stand to Dhlakama.

The property was initially allocated to a Mr F Z Ganjani but was repossessed
by council in 2002 after he failed to develop it. After repossession,
Mubaiwa said, he was offered the property and paid $160 000.

Mubaiwa says transfer of ownership of the stand to him was confirmed by an
ordinary council meeting in February 2003, which was chaired by Dhlakama.

"It must be noted that the applicant, being the council's executive mayor,
chaired the meeting at which this decision (to offer Mubaiwa the stand) was
made," says Mubaiwa.

In September 2003, a Chegutu magistrate court ruled that Mubaiwa was the
owner of the property after Dhlakama failed to turn up for a hearing.
However, Dhlakama last year filed an order with the High Court seeking
Mubaiwa's eviction.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has announced that elections to choose a
new mayor for Chegutu will be held on 4 March.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Agriculture headed for doom

Zim Standard

By Deborah-Fay Ndlovu

AGRICULTURE industry could be headed for a doom this season amid reports
from farmers that the country is still to meet production targets. Producers
have reduced targets for cotton and tobacco while only 2,5 million hectares
have been planted for grain, a figure falling short of the projected 4
million hectares.

Land tenure and security issues are also hanging over the future of the
industry with farmer organisations saying a full recovery would not be
attainable without "proper" lease agreements.
Farmer organisations said the shortage of foreign currency had compounded
the problem, hindering producers from meeting targets.

"Acute shortages of foreign currency impacted negatively on agriculture.
There were not enough spares. We are net importers of agro-chemicals and
machinery and the sure way to agriculture is irrigation but you cannot have
that without foreign currency," said the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union's Director
Dzarira Kwenda.

"What limited us was also the seed. Government went on to import but we did
not get to the target of 4 million hectares for grain. Fuel shortages and
lack of inputs hampered tillage."

He believes that the 2,5 million hectares planted so far would be able to
produce 1,7 tonnes of grain, which still falls short of the targeted 2
million tonnes to ensure food security.

"We need 2 million tonnes of grain, then we can be home and dry. This will
enable us to meet demand for stockfeed, starch for newspaper industry and
human consumption," said the ZFU director. Millet, rapoko, sorghum and maize
are classified as grain.

Agriculture has been on a free fall since the introduction of the Land
Reform Programme in 2000.

Economic problems that have bedeviled Zimbabwe have also contributed to the
decline of the industry but Commercial Farmers' Union vice president, Trevor
Gifford said security of tenure had hampered investment and future growth of
the industry more.

"We have always been talking to government and are still awaiting their
response. They have said they are going through the 99-year lease route but
they are still to implement," said Gifford.

"Nobody knows if the land they have will be theirs tomorrow and the reality
is that agriculture will not be productive if these conflicts have not been
resolved. Who can invest, white, black or foreigner if they do not know if
they are going to be there tomorrow," he said.

He said his union was still to assess crop production for the season but
indications were that "it will not be successful".

"There is a lot of late planted crop and possibly that wont be successful.
There has been a considerable shortage of fertiliser and the crop is looking
yellow. The weed could also hinder the growth of the crop. We will make full
assessment in six weeks time at tussling stage," he said.

Cotton and tobacco will not be redeemed this season after hailstorm and
input shortages destroyed tobacco seedlings.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers' Trust chairman, Wilfanos Mashingaidze said they
would be lucky to achieve 50 million kgs. The initial target for the crop
was 120 million kgs. Cotton farmers have also revised their target to 300
000 tonnes from 400 000 tonnes.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Spirit medium evicted

Zim Standard

By Valentine Maponga

HOUSES belonging to a spirit medium in the Nyabira area were burnt down and
property dumped along Chinhoyi road on Thursday as disturbances in the newly
resettled farms continued.

The Standard news crew on Friday found Kretty Kanyonganise, a spirit medium
from Zvimba sitting helplessly with her two young children. The older one is
disabled and cannot walk.
The spirit medium who said she had been advised by chiefs in Zvimba to
settle at Plot 6 at Ballineety farm at the height of the farm invasions in
2000 watched helplessly as her houses were destroyed.

The eviction follows a court ruling declaring Alexander Dzenga, an official
with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who got an offer letter for the same
plot, the legal owner of the disputed property.

"Nyaya yedu yanga ichigadziriswa nemadzishe, saka tanga takangomirira.
Munongozivawo nyaya dzemasvikiro dzinonetsa. (Our case was being handled by
the chiefs)," said Kanyonganise referring to Chief Zvimba.

However, she said the chiefs failed to get official confirmation from the
government that the plot was legally hers.

"Right now, I don't know what we are going to do but I know the gods see all
this and they are not stupid," she said pensively.

Kanyonganise's husband, Croweight Ncube, said he was disturbed by the
developments at the farm.

Ncube said: "As a war veteran, it pains me to be treated this way. I have
realised that most of my colleagues from ZIPRA are finding it very difficult
to survive. Right now, I am just taking my family back to Chinhoyi and I
will take action from there."

ZIPRA was the late Joshua Nkomo's PF Zapu aligned army during the 1970s
liberation war that ended colonial rule in Zimbabwe.

Ncube alleges that Paul Muguti, Dzenga's farm manager who arrived at the
farm accompanied by the Messenger of Court torched the houses. Muguti
however refused to talk to The Standard when it sought comment from him.

Simbarashe Dzenga, a brother to Alexander, who accused The Standard news
crew of siding with their adversaries, said they resorted to the courts
because the "family had refused to co-operate".

He said they were granted an order by the High Court barring Ncube and his
family from the farm.

Meanwhile, a commercial farmer from Chegutu has been given until Tuesday 24
January to vacate Wantage farm amid revelations that the farm was allocated
to another new owner identified as Shoko Mudavanhu.

The affected farmer, Dirk Visagie, said he bought the farm as a foreign
investor in 2001. He obtained a letter of "no interest" from government and
this is dated 12 May 2001, but a substantial portion of the farm has already
been acquired.

"Mudavanhu arrived on Friday 20 January accompanied by his wife, a
policewoman and a lands officer. They informed us that we would have to
vacate the property within four days.

"The interest is not in the land, on which tomatoes, flowers, cabbage and
paprika are grown with financing from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, but the
main farm homestead. Mr Mudavanhu, accompanied by youths, have repeatedly
threatened my family and workers with violence and disrupted farming
operations," Visagie said.

He said the paprika is grown on the farm for export, with a turnover of
around 1 million Euros.

"In January 2005, after obtaining permission from the local lands committee,
we planted a crop of sunflowers. We then went on to secure a productive
sector loan from the Reserve Bank to grow and sell tomatoes under contract
for Heinz (Olivine Industries)," said Visagie, who said a lot of his
property had been dumped outside in past weeks.

Efforts to get comment from Mudavanhu proved fruitless but the Commercial
Farmers' Union confirmed receiving reports of the disturbances.

The organisation has appealed to authorities to urgently bring stability and
predictability back to the agricultural sector, so that all farmers can play
their role in restoring food security and contributing to the recovery of
the economy.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Farmer accuses Standard crew of witchcraft

Zim Standard

By our staff

JOURNALISTS from The Standard, covering a dispute at a farm in Nyabira were
on Friday accused of having performed rituals at the property. Paul Muguti,
the farm manager of Alexander Dzenga who was given an offer letter for Plot
6, Ballineety Farm, demanded that the three journalists remove the spell
they had cast on the farm. The new owner is locked in a wrangle with Kretty
Kanyonganise, a spirit medium.

The crew met Muguti on their way from the farm and unsuccessfully tried to
seek comment from him.
Muguti, who was driving an Isuzu KB registration Number 775-012D, followed
the crew and blocked their way, demanding the crew return to the farm and
"remove all the dirt" he had seen.

"Can we go back together and you can remove all the dirt you have left
behind. You can't get into other people's homes and perform rituals without
their consent," Muguti charged.

The crew declined and instead suggested they go to the police.

The police at Nyabira Police Station however dismissed Muguti's allegations
saying: "Nyaya dzewitchcraft dzinonetsa."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tongogara's widow speaks out

Zim Standard

By Foster Dongozi

WHILE Zanu PF senior officials have been helping themselves to large tracts
of prime commercial farms, the widow of the late General Josiah Magama
Tongogara, Angeline Kumbirai, was left in the cold as she has not benefited
from the land redistribution exercise.

Most of Tongogara's colleagues in the liberation war trenches now own land,
touted as the supreme prize of Zimbabwe's uhuru but his widow said: "No, my
family was not able to benefit from the recent land reform exercise."

General Tongogara or Comrade Tongo, as he was affectionately known by his
colleagues, is credited with plotting the military defeat of Ian Smith's
regime as commander of ZANLA, the military wing of ZANU.

General Nikita Mangena, who died in equally suspicious circumstances, was
the commander of ZIPRA forces, linked to the late Joshua Nkomo's PF, Zapu.

Zanu PF officials awarded themselves more than one farm each with reported
cases of others grabbing farms for themselves, their wives and children.

Tongogara was very passionate about the land during the liberation struggle
and indicated that he would become a farmer as soon as he delivered
independence to Zimbabwe.

His widow said: "I now fend for my family working in the informal sector.
Although the late General Tongogara's contribution to the liberation effort
of Zimbabwe was extraordinarily phenomenal, I have lived a normal widow's

She did not say which informal sector she was involved in.

When asked if she was not bitter that she was watching from the sidelines
while her comrades were sharing the national cake. Her response was: "Many
were called but few were chosen."

She also commented on the death of her husband in a mysterious car crash on
26 December 1979 while returning to Zimbabwe at the end of the liberation

"I only know the official version because that's what I was told and I was
not with him on the fateful day in question," she said.

On why she had not sought to take advantage of her husband's high profile to
seek public office as happened with Victoria, the widow of former ZANU
chairman, Herbert Chitepo, she said: "Though it appeared to have been the
proper thing, looking after five children from a young age alone was not all
that easy and I needed all time and energy to carry us through." She is a
freedom fighter in her own right.

She also commented on the recent memorial service which the family held in
honour of the late national hero where the family did not invite Zanu PF and
government officials.

"General Tongogara's liberation war colleagues in Zanu PF and government
were not invited to this occasion because we all felt that it be a family
affair this time around. "Mainly for the above reason, the family settled on
seeking solace from the Almighty God and instead requested a memorial
service from the Anglican Cathedral in Harare which I attend and we felt
highly honoured when they accepted to hold a mass at home in his honour."

When asked what she thinks about marginalisation of Tongogara among people
awarded Silver Jubilee awards, among others, Herbert Chitepo and Jason
Ziyapapa Moyo, she said she respected the decision.

"General Tongogara had his liberation war colleagues who are the best to
decide whether he does or doesn't deserve such accolades. It was a political
decision and I go by it."

She said: "The death of my husband represented an immeasurable loss,
considering that the war was over and (we were) ready to come home to a free
Zimbabwe and then such a tragedy happens. Imagine losing someone you loved
very much and thought would live together for a lifetime."

Before agreeing to grant The Standard an interview, she displayed a healthy
suspicion for people prying into her life.

"Why do you want to write about Tongogara 26 years after his death? Nobody
had held a memorial service for him in all those years and as a family we
decided to hold one for him," she said.

She was very cautious about who she would grant the interview."Ndiyani
muridzi we Standard? Ndi Ibbo? (Who owns The Standard, is it Ibbo

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Critical shortage of drugs hits Masvingo province

Zim Standard

By Godfrey Mutimba

MASVINGO - A serious shortage of drugs in most rural clinics has adversely
affected the provision of health services to the rural population amid
reports that patients are travelling long distances to provincial referral
centres, The Standard has learnt.

A survey carried out by The Standard in Masvingo showed that patients from
as far as Gutu and Chiredzi were returning home without medication because
of the shortages and were resorting to Masvingo general hospital, which is
equally struggling due to a severe shortage of staff and drugs.
When The Standard visited Chin'ombe hospital at Bhasera business centre in
Gutu, scores of patients who appeared hopeless said they were spending
several days without receiving treatment as they were told to wait for the

Sekai Mafuratidze, a patient, said: "We have been here for four days now but
we haven't received any treatment because they are no drugs. "

Patients are travelling distances of more than 30 km on foot in order to
seek medical attention at Chin'ombe hospital after being turned away by
their nearest clinics.

Some come from as far as Chin'ai in Munyikwa communal area and at Chin'ombe
they are referred to Gutu Mission hospital where they are further referred
to Masvingo, more than 150 km away.

A senior nurse at the hospital who declined to be named said they last
received stocks of drugs for diseases such as TB and other chronic
infections last year in October and were having problems keeping patients at
the hospital, when they do not have drugs to treat them.

"We are facing a serious shortage of drugs and this is making life difficult
for us as it is difficult to keep patients when we know that we can't treat
them. The most affected are the TB patients who need to complete their
courses without fail, we however refer them to bigger institutions like Gutu
Mission or Masvingo," she said.

However because of high bus fares being charged due to continued fuel woes
or sometimes lack of transport, most villagers can't afford to travel to
Masvingo and just return quietly to rural homes to die because of no

A Standard news crew also visited Masvingo general hospital and found
stranded patients from other districts waiting to receive treatment.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Teachers take unilateral decision on school fees

Zim Standard

By our staff

TEACHERS have taken a unilateral decision not to pay school fees for their
children at government schools with immediate effect, a move they are now
communicating to headmasters throughout the country.

The Standard established that teachers' representative organisations have
already written to the Secretary for Education, Sport and Culture, Dr Steven
Mahere, notifying him of the decision for all teachers not to pay school
Teachers said they will not back down on the resolution they passed during a
meeting held in Harare a fortnight ago until government reviewed upwards the
"meagre" 231 percent salary increment it awarded to teachers.

In a letter sent to Mahere dated 7 January 2006 and signed by the Progress
Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe, secretary general, Raymond Majongwe, the
teachers said as a result of the poor salaries they had no option except to
insist on the school fees exemption.

"We would like to place it on record that teachers are extremely
disappointed by the recent salary awards by government. As a result our
members have resolved that in order for them to make ends meet they wish to
be exempted from the payment of school fees for their children at government
schools with effect from the first term of 2006.

"Please note that we are already implementing this resolution and urge you
to inform headmasters of government schools not to expel teachers' children
for failing to pay school fees," reads part of the letter sent to the

Majongwe said the teachers had no option but to make the unilateral decision
and inform the government later.

"With immediate effect no teacher with a child at a government school would
pay school fees, we are asking government to do what it did for war
veterans' children and it is not asking for too much if we ask them to do
that for teachers," Majongwe told The Standard.

He said teachers have realised that whenever they ask for money government
always alleges that the huge teacher's salary bill will fuel inflation and
hence teachers were now asking for other packages.

"No headmaster should dismiss a teachers' child for failing to pay school
fees, teachers can not afford to send their children to school with the
current salaries," Majongwe said.

Majongwe indicated that teachers would go for a job action after they have
received their January salaries.

"The minimum figure we were working on before negotiations was an 836
percent salary increment and the government only gave us a mere 231 percent
and we are saying that is unacceptable and teachers will make a decision
next week after receiving their January salaries on the way forward,"
Majongwe said.

Teachers together with other civil servants are living far below the poverty
datum line and the rising inflation has not helped matters as more teachers
leave the country for greener pastures.

"The PTUZ unequivocally rejects the salary award of 231 percent and condemns
staff associations who signed in agreement with the government," reads some
of the teachers' resolutions.

The teachers also resolved to hold more consultative meetings in Harare,
Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo ahead of the planned job action this

The Zanu PF national conference last year in Esigodini recommended that
teacher's salaries be raised drastically, raising hopes among the largest
civil service grouping in the country.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Makwavarara's era of trial and error

Zim Standard

By Caiphas Chimhete

DOES the Sekesai Makwavarara-led commission have the aptitude to normalise
operations in the city? - this is the question uppermost in the minds of
many Harare residents since the flamboyant ex-MDC member was appointed the
acting mayor of Harare following the dismissal of her former boss, Elias

Mudzuri was fired by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and
Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo, for alleged mismanagement of city
affairs. His executive was replaced by a commission now led by Makwavarara.

With Mudzuri out of Town House, the residents have watched Harare, once one
of the cleanest cities in Africa, degenerate into a cesspool of waste and
rodents. The provision of clean water has become erratic; refuse has not
been collected while frequent bursts of raw sewage pipes have resulted in
the outbreak of water-borne diseases.

The recent outbreak of cholera, which claimed 14 lives, is clear testimony
of how Harare - once dubbed the Sunshine city - has degenerated at the hands
of the government-appointed commission.

Several commentators and residents who spoke to The Standard last week
doubted the commission, which was handpicked by Chombo, had the capacity to
turnaround the fortunes of Harare.

They said the commission, whose term of office has been extended several
times, would not succeed in restoring normalcy in Harare unless the
government addressed issues of poor governance and economic meltdown.

John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political scientist, said the
commissioners lacked the skills, mandate and financial resources to
transform Harare into a habitable place.

He said: "Their (commissioners) calibre is suspect. All of them have no
experience in governance of urban authorities. Theirs is literally a trial
and error exercise."

Makumbe said the shortage of foreign currency, a scarce resource key to the
turnaround strategy, was another major impediment.

It was lack of insight and competence, said Makumbe that the commission
failed to realise that before the rains come they needed to fill up potholes
and collect garbage to avoid waterborne diseases.

Apart from that, the council recently suspended key council officials for
opposing a discredited turnaround strategy by the municipality's strategist,
Chester Mhende. This seriously compromised the operations of the city,
analysts said.

Among those affected are chamber secretary Josephine Ncube, director of
works Psychology Chiwanga and director of housing and community services
Numero Mubaiwa.

Mike Davies, the chairman of the Combined Harare Residents' Association
(Chra), attributed the fall in service provision to political interference
in council affairs by government.

He described the commissioners as "political stooges" who lacked the
technical know-how and financial support.

Davies said: "The commission has no capacity at all. They are not
technocrats. Makwavarara has no professional qualification. (Jameson)
Kurasha is an academic and (Terrence) Hussein a lawyer, what would you

Makumbe concurred adding: "Their major qualification is that they are Zanu
PF. Apart from that they have no idea of what they are doing."

The president of the Zimbabwe Institute of Regional and Urban Planning
(ZIRUP), Dr Sasha Jogi, criticised the commission for not informing the
public about what they are doing.

He added: "The complexity of the city demands that they create a plan about
how they want to turnaround the city. It's a fallacy to expect them to
turnaround the city in a short time. Let's give them time."

But Davies said the commissioners lacked the drive to address the crisis
because they do not have the mandate from the people.

Instead of taking action against the commission, Chombo appointed an
additional team to help it in what analysts said was a cover-up for the
commission's dismal failure.

This is in sharp contrast to the swift move that Chombo made in firing
elected mayors of Mutare and Chitungwiza, Misheck Kagurabadza and Misheck
Shoko, respectively as well as Mudzuri.

In 1999, the former Zanu PF mayor for Harare, Solomon Tawengwa, was fired
after the city went for five days without water.

"Why doesn't Chombo suspend Makwavarara? If Bob (President Robert Mugabe) is
clever, he must fire Chombo. Otherwise all the problems will be blamed on
him," Makumbe said.

Just recently, the commission also blundered when it relocated the vegetable
market from Mbare to the City Sports Centre, where conditions are not
conducive. The area has become muddy and there are no enough sanitary
facilities, exposing more people to diseases.

Commissioner Tendai Savanhu refused to comment referring all questions to
council spokesperson, Madenyika Magwenjere, who could not be reached.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Chombo blasts Chinhoyi councillors

Zim Standard

By our correspondent

CHINHOYI - Angered by Chinhoyi council's failure to deliver services to
residents and council's poor financial accountability, Local Government
Minister, Dr Ignatious Chombo, dressed down the council's acting town clerk,
Abel Gotora, accusing him of "an MDC spirit of lethargy".

Addressing Chinhoyi councillors, Chombo used the meeting to announce the
reinstatement of suspended Housing director, Ezekiel Muringani, and declared
that he had "finished dealing with all wayward MDC-led councils last year."

In expressing his displeasure about Chinhoyi council, Chombo announced that
the town would not be accorded city status because of its incompetence at
delivering services and financial accountability.

Chombo blasted the councillors for being lazy and lacking in vision and
innovative leadership. Among the issues that irked him was the late
submission of the proposed budget for approval by his ministry.

But Chombo admitted that despite his hard line stance against MDC-led
mayors, local authorities run by the ruling party, Zanu PF, were struggling.

During question and answer sessions, councillors said despite objections to
the proposed budget by residents, Chinhoyi council had already implemented
the budget although it has not been approved.

In a throw back to the colonial era, Chombo said people who have no business
in towns should not live in urban areas.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mutare commission promises workers salary increases

Zim Standard

By our correspondent

MUTARE - Municipal workers in this eastern border city, who for long have
endured chaotic paydays, are now poised to receive their salaries promptly -
beginning this month, if promises by their employer on Friday are anything
to go by.

The government-appointed commission, which is running the city's affairs,
has also instructed the council's management to review the salaries of
workers in the lowest grades as well as carry out an across-the-board
cost-of-living salary adjustment for the entire workforce.
Kenneth Saruchera, the chairman of the seven-member commission, said: "We're
hoping the basic wage, currently $1.6 million for the least paid worker, can
be revised upwards to at least $6.5 million."

However, even if implemented, the new $6.5 million basic rate would still
fall far short of the $17 million a month basic salary under the country's
poverty datum line.

The government earlier this month approved the Mutare City Council's $708.5
billion revenue and expenditure budget, a large proportion of which will go
towards the salaries bill in the just started fiscal year.

Saruchera, who is the regional director for the Zimbabwe Open University
(ZOU), did not disclose how the cash-strapped council proposes to fund the
cost-of-living adjustments and meet a stringent payroll schedule.

The Standard however, heard that securing a bank overdraft facility is a
distinct possibility, especially in the wake of a flurry of meetings last
week between council officers and representatives of financial institutions.

Local Government Minister Ignatious Chombo, who appointed the commissioners,
promised the council billions of dollars in central government funds,
including $50 billion for the water reticulation system.

Despite the commissioners' obvious eagerness to mollify their employees and,
hopefully in the process, win over a majority of the city's citizenry to its
side, the seven-member team faces a monumental task in its attempt to
turn-around the city's infrastructure and financial system.

Meanwhile, the commission must also deal with political considerations,
especially in the light of the controversy that surrounded its appointment -
deemed by many to have been a political decision at the highest echelons of

One resident said after the meeting: "You have to weigh the commissioners'
actions so far with the controversy surrounding their appointment. They are
aware they must win the hearts of the workforce before they try to woo

The commission's proposals, apparently cobbled together during marathon
meetings at Civic Centre last week, are an obvious booster to employees,
whose sagging morale was close to hitting the lowest ebb.

The jury, meanwhile, remains out on whether or not Saruchera and his
colleagues are ready - let alone will and capable - to rescue the city, once
the pride of the Eastern Highlands, from the prevailing economic malaise.

But Saruchera, a former councillor and deputy mayor, said: "We're ready to
roll. We're appealing for a real partnership with all stakeholders,
regardless of political affiliation, to make this city work... and we'll do

Optimists, both within and outside council suggest the commission's apparent
generosity probably signals an imminent transformation of the city into
financial rejuvenation - perhaps preparing it to reclaim its lost glory as a
locomotive of economic growth.

But not so, counters the pessimists, among them members and supporters of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) who in interviews
portrayed the commission's turnaround proposals as shrewd manoeuvres to
drown a steady drumbeat of negative media coverage that has accompanied
Chombo's appointments - not only in Mutare but in other urban centres as

"It's unfortunate people are reading too much politics into our operations.
Our first and foremost objective is to turn-around the city for everyone's
benefit," said Saruchera, who is the ruling party's provincial spokesperson.

But there is a strong belief among a considerable segment of the population
that the government deliberately sabotaged the MDC-elected city
administration, including the six-month suspension of the mayor and his

Misheck Kagurabadza, the mayor, and all the MDC councillors have all
resigned. Two other city officials were suspended - the town treasurer and
his deputy also resigned from the council last week.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Govt meddling, mismanagement derail NRZ

Zim Standard


THE proposal to privatise and unbundle the National Railways of Zimbabwe
(NRZ) is nothing more than an attempt to defuse a problem and in the process
assuage public anger at declining customer service, rampant neglect of
equipment, and total lack of a sense of how to redirect the parastatal
towards viability.

What the NRZ needs first is an overhaul and, secondly, people with some idea
of how to run the organisation in a sound professional manner. Any attempt
to do otherwise will be doomed to fail. The only privatisation that will
work for the NRZ is one where the assets are sold off and handed over to
different entities free from the clutches of government interference.
There is a self-evident argument for such a drastic recommendation. A visit
to places such as the railway station in Harare will reveal old stock in a
deplorable condition, worsened by neglect. It is doubtful whether in other
countries current NRZ equipment would be allowed to continue to ferry people
and goods. There is no evidence of refurbishment or regular maintenance of
current equipment. A culture of supervision and maintenance - essential to
the upkeep of stock - is completely absent.

The poor maintenance explains the high accident rate of NRZ trains and
wagons, while failure by the government to make public results of
commissions of inquiry into accidents would suggest acknowledgement of its

In the old days crews were assigned to maintain stretches of rail track.
Occasionally a tram car would go up and down the railway line with teams of
workers. This is how it was possible to keep the railway lines well
maintained and ensure that accidents were kept to a minimum.

Today, however, the level of neglect is breathtaking. It is a miracle there
are no disastrous accidents every week.

The Freedom trains - clearly one of government's election gimmicks - have
been in existence for some time now but no infrastructure such as platforms
or sheltered drop-off and pick-up points have been put in place for the
convenience of passengers. Yet there are people drawing full salaries every
month but who are unconcerned about providing better facilities so that rail
travel can attract more passengers and freight. Rail travel and freight used
to be the major mode of travel and movement of goods in and around and out
of the country.

However, the rot at the NRZ results from inappropriate appointments of
people to run the parastatal. The second is inadequate resources, although
one can argue that once appointed it is the function of management to ensure
the organisation generates sufficient revenue for its requirements.

The three most significant contributions successive managements at NRZ have
made at the parastatal are to effect a systematic process of running down
equipment; undertake wholesale retrenchments, and discourage industry's
reliance on rail freight for movement of goods.

Yet proper maintenance of equipment would have ensured availability of
resources to meet industry's freight requirements, thus generating more
revenue for capital requirements. Mass retrenchment of rail gangs, security
and other staff exposed the NRZ. Disbandment of railway security led to
rampant theft of NRZ property and customers' goods. In the first instance
the thefts endangered the lives of those dependent on trains for transport
as accidents became more frequent. This is one reason why trains have lost
customers to road transport. In the second instance, theft of customers'
goods saw customers switching to road transporters. Thirdly the loss of
experienced railwaymen resulted in more accidents and consequently delays,
all attributable to lack of regular maintenance of track, signals and other

The departure of skilled staff to other rail networks in the region affected
the capacity to service and maintain NRZ's fleet and consequently it
developed a reputation for unreliability. For example, the number of
available mainline locomotives fell from 52 in 1999 to 26 in 2003, while the
majority of NRZ locomotives are overdue for service.

About 44% of the wagon fleet should have been retired three years ago
because they had been in service for at least 40 years, while of the 703
tankers only 431 were available for use.

There were also drastic reductions in the number of container wagons and
covered wagons in service.

The NRZ became uncompetitive and more skilled staff - as many as 200 between
1999 and 2003 - joined the great trek in search of greener pastures. It is
going to be difficult to claim its previous share of the market, assuming
NRZ will ever get back on its feet.

If the NRZ is sold off to private companies, then there is a chance that it
will rise and make a meaningful contribution to the transport sector.
However, if the government continues to interfere, such as in appointments
as it does at Air Zimbabwe, we can only see a downhill slide leading to
total collapse.

There have been fewer successes - Cottco and DZL - than disasters in
government's efforts to turn around haemorrhaging parastatals but both
government and management at NRZ are part of the crisis that has led to its
near collapse. They cannot be part of the solution.

The tragedy is that given Zimbabwe's high road accident rate, rail has the
potential to offer safer travel, if competently run.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Anti-corruption line in pay slips blasted

Zim Standard

By our staff

CIVIL servants were incensed last week when they received pay slips donning
an anti-corruption statement, which they said made a mockery of their

The employees who feel the statement was ill timed, said it added insult to
injury but government moved to defend its action making it part of the
anti-corruption drive.
The statement reads: Live within your means, shun corruption.

A teacher from Chitungwiza who spoke to Standardbusiness last week said the
statement made a mockery of their salaries.

"It is as if they are acknowledging their failure to take care of civil
servants but are saying be that as it may, just live with what we have given
you," said the teacher.

"To me this is nonsense, they are not living within their means and want us
to continue suffering. I would rather we know what government is doing to
weed out corruption at the top. They cannot be running after the small fish
and defending the perpetuators of corruption," she said.

Civil servants are unhappy with their low salaries which they say fail to
make ends meet. Their salaries are still falling under the Poverty Datum
Line of $17,6 million per month even after the 231 % increment effected this

The Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe has registered its
disappointment and resolved to have its members exempted from paying school

"We would like to put it on record that teachers are extremely disappointed
by the recent salary awards by government. As a result our members have
resolved that in order for them to make ends meet they wish to be exempted
from the payment of school fees for their children at government schools
with effect from the 1st term of 2006," said PTUZ general secretary, Raymond
Majongwe in a circular addressed to the Ministry of Education.

But Anti-Corruption and Monopolies Minister Paul Mangwana said the statement
was meant to encourage civil servants to take part in the anti-corruption

"We want to make civil servants aware of the dangers of corruption as they
look at their new salaries. Even if the salaries may not match their needs
they do not have to engage in corruption. We would like to see them being
paid better salaries but the economy does not allow," said Mangwana.

The Minister said the anti-corruption drive would see the introduction of
ethics modules at schools and tertiary institutions.

Asked about what his ministry was doing to weed out corrupt among government
officials, he said: "If we get the evidence they will be arrested. So far we
have a little of it but that's a sensitive area that I do not want to
discuss further."

Reserve Bank Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, implicated government officials in
widespread corruption scams in his last monetary policy but is still to back
his claims.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim Standard Letters

Economic turnaround a mirage

ON 24 December, 2005, I decided to take my traditional annual pilgrimage to
my rural home in Hurungwe, for a well-deserved break. Owing to the hard
times that have befallen us, going to our rural homes has become a
once-a-year phenomenon and a luxury that the majority of Zimbabweans can ill

The journey proved to be an eye-opener to the general decay that has
pervaded all sectors of our country.
I was at Mbare Musika by 7AM but only left after three hours as there were
inadequate buses to ferry the few hundreds of prospective travellers who
could afford the journey. It was indeed an excruciating three hours as we
had to endure the strong stench of human waste that has become part of our
lives ever since political turncoat Sekesai Makwavarara ascended to the
mayoral throne, courtesy of a ministerial directive which overturned the
will of thousands of Harare residents.

While rubbish lay strewn all over the place like confetti at a wedding, the
number of rubbish bins at the country's biggest bus terminus could be
counted on the fingers of one hand.

The journey itself was uneventful and was unaccompanied by the usual
merriment of chatting and boozing passengers. Instead, because of the sombre
and mournful atmosphere in the bus one could have mistaken it for a funeral

What struck me along the way were the huge tracts of what were once fertile
and very productive land that lay fallow. As a consolation, however, there
were negligible portions of these vast farms on which our new farmers
dutifully engaged in subsistence farming. Such was the disproportionate use
of the land that one passenger remarked: "Inga gore rino kune nzara zvakare
(we shall surely starve again this year)." At first I wanted to rebuke this
man for being overly pessimistic but in no time he was vindicated by events.

Some 60 kilometres from Karoi our bus stopped in order to refuel. Two
unkempt young men emerged from the bushes and immediately struck a deal with
the bus driver who bought 75 litres of diesel from this "bush" service
station. It appeared that this was not a once-off transaction since the
driver actually paid for only 40 litres with the remainder becoming payable
during the next transaction.

Enquiries revealed that the young men were allocated farms in Tengwe and as
such were entitled to diesel allocations at new farmer rates, which are way
below the market rate. Realising that the diesel was a source of easy money
the young new farmers decided not to "waste" their time in farming but to
become Zimbabwe's own Roman Abrahmovichs, by making a fortune from fuel.

Bush service stations are not the only development that our enterprising new
farmers have come up with. They have gone a step further by setting up road
side shebeens, commonly referred to in the ghetto as "speed bars".

It was amazing to see hordes of young men of field-going age clustered at
these drinking spots drinking opaque beer as if they had heard that the
world was about to come to an end. One wonders when they attend to their
party-issued fields if drinking beer has suddenly become a full-time pursuit
for most of them.

If Gideon Gono really believes that his so-called economic turnaround
programme really rests in the hands of these jokers, then we will still be
turning around on Judgement Day.

When I finally got to my rural township of Sengwe at around three o'clock, I
met villagers who had already gotten into a party mood in spite of the
meagre resources at their disposal. However their joy was short-lived as
thirty minutes later there was a power blackout. I was to learn that this
was a regular occurrence which at times lasted for up to nine days.

This has meant that the area, which is a year-old beneficiary of the rural
electrification programme, has failed to take advantage of this development
by setting up projects dependent on electricity. The electricity supplies
are so erratic that it would not make economic sense to invest in any
long-term income generating projects. As a result the electricity has mainly
benefited beer hall owners who are now selling their products until the
small hours of the night.

I was devastated when I got home to realise that my father's herd of cattle
had dwindled from thirty to only thirteen. When I asked I was told that most
of the cattle had died owing to tick-borne diseases. The cattle had only
been dipped thrice in the whole year due to shortage of the necessary
chemicals. I was therefore even more shocked when the Minister of
Agriculture announced that farmers should use cow dung since Compound D
fertiliser was in short supply.

Is the minister aware that most people in the rural areas have lost cattle
they owned and that they have had to resort to zero tillage? Is it the most
prudent thing to do, announcing that there is inadequate fertiliser in the
middle of the farming season? Why has the minister been unable to learn from
his countless previous mistakes?

Now that we are enjoying a normal rainy season what will be the scapegoat if
we have a poor harvest? For how long should Joseph Made be allowed to play
Russian roulette with people's lives?

Let all those politicians, economic commentators, forecasters and other
fellow day dreamers who are already predicting a bumper harvest be warned
that their optimism is misplaced and actually contradicts the situation on
the ground. Unless there is a change in attitude in our new farmers and
unless the President finally summons his courage and decides to fire his
clueless Minister of Agriculture we are unlikely to experience any economic
prosperity in the short-term.

R S Paratema

Warren Park


Tsvangirai sounding just like Mugabe

I AM disturbed by the similarities in speech between President Robert Mugabe
and Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai insults the pro-Senate group just like
Mugabe insults his opponents.

He claims that Zanu PF bought the pro-Senate group just like Mugabe claims
the West bought Tsvangirai. He talks of "I will do this and do that" as if
everything rests with him just like Mugabe. What about the committee he
He says the pro-Senate group did not win the seven seats but was given them
by Zanu PF, therefore, the Parliamentary seats the MDC won in March were
also a gift from Zanu PF, so, I look forward to the MDC giving back those
seats to Zanu PF by their MPs resigning from the Upper House. Give back to
Caesar what belongs to Caesar. That's fair.

By the way, Mugabe had very credible evidence from Ben Menashe that
Tsvangirai wanted to eliminate him, just as he has credible evidence that
Zanu PF bought Welshman Ncube!

Nelson Chamisa should also guard his tongue lest he becomes another Jonathan
Moyo before he left Zanu PF! Some wise people say resorting to insulting
your opponent shows that one is bereft of ideas.

If Tsvangirai has Mugabe's traits before he assumes the highest office in
the land, what other traits will he copy when he attains power? Food for

Anti-Abusive Language


Beating up people a sign of weakness

THE split within the rank and file of the MDC does not need anyone to
explain what caused it! What is just but beyond any reasonable doubt is
that, and this is official, the split was caused by one man who thought of
turning himself into a dictator!

No amount of denial from those willing sidekicks can take away that fact.
The claim by Morgan Tsvangirai that he was vindicated when people did not
turn up in their thousands to vote in the Senate elections, is all but a
misplaced thinking.

One conclusion that can be drawn from the voter apathy in those elections is
that, Zimbabweans were not at all unwilling to participate in the elections
but just that they had a message to send to the two Zimbabwean dictators,
both ruling now and the-should-have-ruled!

By failing to uphold his own party's constitution, what guarantee do we have
that he will uphold the country's constitution? What more will he be able to
do should he be elected president if right now he is setting up militias and
beating up other party members?

I shudder to think what will happen to members of the opposition then.

The greatest of all his weaknesses is shown by beating up people with views
at variance with his.

What great minds do when confronted with views at variance with one's, is to
try and convince the other person why your view is better and not beating up
the other person.

Lovemore Muchengedzera

Glen Norah


Moyo for President: not in a 1000 years

PROFESSOR Jonathan Moyo, the vicious former minister of Information and
Publicity dreams that one day his party the United People's Movement will
win an election and he will become the President of Zimbabwe.

Can someone please tell the learned professor this will not happen even in a
thousand years? After all, anyone who supports Moyo, in my opinion, cannot
be in the right state of mind.
After his election as MP for Tsholotsho, he deserted the people. This once
again exposed him as an opportunist who wanted to use the people of
Tsholotsho to save his tainted image in the face of his political demise.

Moyo fails the presidential character test because he is self-centred. All
he is after is self glorification. Remember how he claimed personal
responsibility for Zanu PF victory in the two previous elections yet it was
clear that victory by fair or unjust means was attained by Zanu PF as a
party and cannot be personalised no matter how vigorously the said
individual worked.

No individual has ever laid personal responsibly for Zimbabwe's
independence. A president puts his country's people before self.

Moyo is rabidly intolerant. Imagine what he would do given freewill over the
more than 30 000 army, the Central Intelligence Organisation and the police.
Have people quickly forgotten how he contributed to violence in the previous
elections by creating animosity against opposition supporters in the process
precipitating violence. That was uncivilised politics.

We will never forget that dark era when he went about muzzling the press,
messing up the public broadcaster, wasting billions of taxpayers' money
organising all manner of nonsensical galas, all this at the expense of the

I ask of Moyo: Was it really necessary to turn back the hands of time 50-60
years adopting costly totalitarian propaganda techniques that would no
longer work even for their original proponents like Joseph Goebels? His
vision was to create a supernatural nation that thinks the same way.

Moyo will go down the annals of history as a minister who lacked foresight
and for pouring acerbic vitriol on his perceived opponents. He will also be
remembered for his shopping spree in South Africa, causing unemployment to a
multitude of journalists and penchant for uncivilised propaganda. I will
never forget his claim that 70 000 people had attended a rally at White City
stadium, the stadium has a spilling capacity of 12 000.

My final point is that while he may be intelligent and a terrific
spin-doctor I personally find his methods distasteful. His political
prospects even through his party the UPM are bleak.

In Ndebele we say: Ubukhosi ngamazolo (You are a king, but for a
period).This saying fits well in Moyo's situation and whoever coined it,
must have had him in mind.

Asher Tarivona Mutsengi

Solusi University


Gono should quit before it's too late

WITH news that the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon Gono, has been
stopped from investigating high-ranking officials that include ministers,
permanent secretaries and directors of parastatals without consulting the
President, the only noble thing left in his option is to flee the country as
resignation will not be tolerated by the beleaguered regime.

For all the momentum that Gono had for re-building the country, it seems
most among his pack in Zanu PF were pulling in antagonistic fashion.
Regardless of what the government media has been feeding our minds for the
past five years, the real enemy of the people is the government itself.
They have a penchant for blaming the West and neo-colonialism for our ills
when they know that they are the ones siphoning scarce resources and lining
their pockets. It baffles the mind that all along President Robert Mugabe
has been getting scarce foreign currency from the Cricket Union without the
public's knowledge.

The people ruining, not running our country, are guilty as hell and the
sooner open- minded people like Gono leave the better for the vultures. Let
them devour the whole carcass and only then will they realise that they are
faced with a hungry populace on whom they can feed nothing.

Mr Turnaround, you have been led on a wild goose chase. I know to you
failure is not an option but history will judge you harshly if you decide to
be part of the rot and do nothing. Look what they did to right-minded Dr
Simba Makoni. The same will happen to you sooner or later.

I believe your memo to His Excellency got no reply and to smack you in the
face, Cephas Msipa was given a dairy farm. I believe that's good enough a
reply. Zimbabweans know that you were just used for a purpose with no end
and the best turnaround strategy is turning to flee, for that an ovation
awaits you.



Jonathan Moyo deserves what he is getting

I REFER to a recent article on one of the online publications written by
Professor Jonathan Moyo.

Although I have not read the full article, from the initial paragraphs he
wrote, one gets the impression that Professor Moyo needs our sympathy.
Unfortunately, we can forgive but not forget.
It seems Professor Moyo is now no more than a fading political "has
been"struggling to regain his status, which he unjustly got in the first

The single most important lesson that one gleans, reading through his
articles, is that Zanu PF can, after all, manage to make one or two
resolutions in his absence.

Well, the party exists and it will continue to manage without those who
defended the illegal acquisition of farms pretending the farms were meant
for ARDA (You remember Edwin Moyo, Roy Bennett etc).

And more...when he told us that Justice Anthony Gubbay - a Supreme Court
judge - was a liar? And many more... I feel Moyo deserves what he is getting
but also would caution him against expecting any public sympathy for any of
his causes - no matter how noble.

We think his obnoxious tendencies are only temporarily moribund - waiting
for another chance. His type never gives up but I say to him; it's never too
late to repent.



Zesa lied about cause of blackout

I AM dismayed by the level of propaganda that is being paraded in Zimbabwe
and since most people have no access to balanced information; most lies
prevail as the truth.

I am appalled by ZESA officials who assert that the recent blackout in
Chitungwiza was caused by lightning which struck the power station. I live a
distance of about 500 metres from the station and surely our ears couldn't
have missed the bolt as it struck?
I believe the cause of the damage was that of an ageing transformer combined
with an overload. On the night that lighting is said to have struck, there
was little rainfall at most a drizzle without any thunderstorm. Anyone who
lives near the power station would confess that many a times they have seen
bright light flashing, followed by a roaring sound every week.

In all those incidents there has always been a bright clear sky. Also on the
previous day, some areas of Zengeza 3 had reduced power supply, hardly
enough to light a 100w bulb.

To say that the station was struck by lightning would be an insult to the
intelligence of the people of Chitungwiza, particularly those who live in
areas surrounding the sub station.

I believe this failure has exposed those running the monopoly for who they
really are. They claim to be electrifying the whole country but are doing
nothing save to outstretch the incapacitated resources that they inherited
from the Ian Smith regime.

What we are seeing is just the demise of a once vibrant economy and at the
rate we are going, it will become normal for people of Chitungwiza to live a
life that mirrors that of people in the rural areas; cooking by the fire
with only a glitter of light from Harare.

May God save our country before we become another Liberia?

Runyararo Mherekumombe



Corruption is the Zanu PF way

CORRUPTION is now official in Zimbabwe. This claim may be a bitter pill to
swallow for some people in this country, but it is valid going by numerous
events which have taken place over the years.

Earlier on in the history of this country a car scandal involving government
bigwigs took place. A Commission of inquiry was set up. It was led by
Justice Wilson Sandura. Except for a suicide by a minister and a forced
resignation by another, nothing came out of the Sandura Commission because
corruption was already gaining legitimacy.
Many ruling party members gained financially from the scandal but no one was
prosecuted in any court of law. I know that Zanu PF shuns any form of
embarrassment but the party would have cleansed itself by having a number of
its criminal members jailed.

Can anybody come up with a list of ruling party members who have been jailed
for criminal activities since independence? There is none because of the
ruling party's well-documented double standards. It is a sad fact but
ordinary people like me have been bombarded with ".Zanu PF members will
never be arrested and prosecuted for any wrong doing." by Zanu PF members
boasting to all and sundry.

The ruling party has, over the years lost millions of supporters because of
such boasts. Zimbabweans are generally law-abiding and seeing ruling party
members getting away with criminal activities has driven supporters from the

Following the Willowgate car scandal was the Grain Marketing Board scandal
where the country's maize was sold, benefiting an individual minister. The
arrest and trial of this particular individual was a farce because the man
is free, and laughing all the way to the bank.

Such a situation came into being because our police force started involving
itself in party politics.

Zimbabwe has brought a few officers to book but many Zanu PF card-carrying
holders still flout laws they are supposed to uphold.

Can we not start fighting corruption by organising anti-corruption brigades
instead of turning these youngsters into killing machines?

We find ourselves in a very sad situation, but our leaders are very liberal
with lies and very conservative with the truth.

Fight Corruption


Rentals and school fees

I HAVE always wondered why we do not see on television or read in the
newspapers of people complaining about the high rentals. All we see, hear
and read about are complaints about school fees hikes.

Rentals are increased all the time, sometimes by as much as 500% but no one
talks about them. I think the reason is that the people who own a lot of
flats and houses in this country and are charging their tenants millions of
dollars for a room or small flat are the same ones who send their children
to expensive private schools and do not want to pay the cost of the
education of their children.
This is why there is all this noise. Is it not ironic that people who are
quite prepared to exploit their compatriots by charging extortionate rentals
for often poorly maintaned properties cry foul when given a taste of their
own medicine courtsey of the schools charging unrealistic fees.

For instance, what justification is there for one dress uniform of a form
pupil costing $2 million?

M Alima


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Chombo: albatross around Mugabe's neck

Zim Standard

Sundayopinion by Ralph Shingai Paratema

PRIOR to the March 2005 general elections, President Robert Mugabe wondered
loudly why the majority of urban Zimbabweans had decided to turn their backs
on his party. He is likely to remain wondering until time immemorial if the
recent contemptuous attitude portrayed by his Minister of Local Government,
Public Works and Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo, is anything to go by.

Chombo must surely rank as the most unpopular Cabinet minister, after
Jonathan Moyo, that Zimbabweans have ever had the misfortune of having
thrust upon them since independence. Being fully aware of the urban
population's massive dislike for him, he has avoided contesting elections in
urban areas preferring the comfort of his safe haven of Zvimba North.
During his tenure he has exhibited a blatant disregard of the will of the
people and, in his overzealous stunts to please the executive, has
shamelessly failed to rise above party politics.

Lest it be forgotten, it was Chombo's ministry that unleashed the diabolic
and brutally executed "Operation Murambatsvina" that brought untold
suffering to the majority of urban dwellers resulting in nearly a million
people being homeless. While the majority were left to wallow in
destitution, several hundreds of thousands others were left without means of

Although, as an afterthought, Chombo later launched "Operation Garikai/
Hlalani Kuhle", the damage had already been done. His deed was made even
more satanic by his relentless attempts to ensure that no foreign assistance
was afforded to victims of his evil operation. The case of the South African
church group clearly comes to mind.

Instead of having a human heart, Chombo actually attempted to get political
mileage out of the misfortune he had authored. Chombo presided over ground
breaking ceremonies where he delivered grand political speeches and tried to
portray the heinous operation as a well thought out government project
designed to alleviate the shortage of urban housing.

Chombo is the main reason why rentals in Harare have ballooned by over 600%
since the "successful" completion of his operation as it unnecessarily
exacerbated an already critical housing shortage. Common sense, which
unfortunately is not usually very common, clearly dictated that government
should have first conducted "Operation Garikai" before "Murambatsvina". Even
an ordinary villager is aware that one first builds a cattle pen before one
buys the cattle and not vice versa.

Before "Operation Murambatsvina", Chombo had gone on a warpath against
opposition led councils throughout the country. The first major casualty of
his relentless onslaught was Engineer Elias Mudzuri, the former mayor of
Harare, who in 2003 was first suspended and later dismissed after being
investigated and tried by a Zanu PF dominated Chombo-appointed team.

During his short tenure as mayor Mudzuri had already started rehabilitating
the city's roads while the collection of refuse and water reticulation had
significantly improved. However this was not to last for long as Chombo,
seemingly envious of Mudzuri's achievements, responded to what he termed
complaints from Harare residents, who were, in fact, hired Mbare thugs
engaging in what were supposed to appear like spontaneous demonstrations.

Having successfully completed his mission Chombo turned to Chegutu where he
was determined to get Mayor Francis Dhlakama's ouster. The mayor was accused
of incompetence and financial impropriety. Chombo only backtracked after
appointing a committee to "assist" the mayor run the affairs of the council.
The minister's interest in the council at the time perhaps stemmed from the
fact that this was the only opposition led council in Mashonaland West,
which is the home province of both the minister and the President.

Chombo, a one time Mashonaland West provincial governor, went a step further
and was soon against the mayor of Bulawayo, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube.
Ndabeni-Ncube was accused of causing water shortages to the country's second
largest city despite the fact that the city's water problems are well
documented and historical.

In spite of Chombo's ranting and raving the mayor was re-elected in August
2005. From there the Minister "looked east", and descended heavily on the
Mutare mayor, whom he suspended and appointed yet another team of Zanu PF
patriots to investigate him. In December all the 19 opposition councillors
were dismissed in order to pave the way for a commission of Zanu PF
functionaries to run the affairs of the border town

The energetic Chombo was not yet finished as he soon descended on the
dormitory town of Chitungwiza and went after Mayor Misheck Shoko's blood. At
the height of the Senate elections campaigning Mugabe openly said that Shoko
should leave office. Chombo, in December 2005, dutifully responded by
suspending the mayor who had suffered the ignominy of having to report to a
District Administrator appointed by the minister to "assist" the mayor run
the affairs of the town. Shoko was accused of endangering the lives of
Chitungwiza residents by failing to properly manage the sewerage system. In
November, the vindictive Chombo had asked Shoko to produce a turnaround
programme within 24 hours. It is impossible to think if any meaningful
programme can be produced within such an unreasonable period.

Chombo has since extended Makwavarara's term as head of a commission
responsible for running, if not ruining, the affairs of the city. The
commission's term of office has been repeatedly extended because it is doing
a sterling job and has come up with a "turnaround" programme. The results of
this programme are there for all to see. Mounds of uncollected refuse have
gradually emerged; streams of raw sewage are steadily flowing in the
high-density suburbs while potholes and frequent water shortages have become
the order of the day.

In fact, the Commission is doing such a wonderful job that Chombo has
declared that there will be no elections in the capital city until 2007.
Chombo proffered one of the clumsiest and dumbest reasons for such an
important decision. He claimed that there was need to redraw the boundaries
of the city. If President Mugabe can appoint a Delimitation Commission to
demarcate constituency boundaries for the whole country and it does its job
in only three months, why does Chombo need two years to redraw ward
boundaries for Harare alone? Is this not incompetence? Should we then not
appoint a commission to take over Chombo's responsibilities? Does the
unwarranted extension of Harare's boundaries not amount to gerrymandering in
order to dilute the opposition's influence in the city?

Chombo's modus operandi has been very simple. In terms of the Urban Councils
Act the minister is supposed to approve the budgets of the urban councils.
The urban councils may not also borrow without the minister's authority.
Chombo has simply ensured that the opposition led councils are starved of
money by not approving their budgets on time or refusing to approve them at
all. He has also refused to grant them borrowing powers thereby
incapacitating them from carrying out capital projects like housing and
improvement of sewerage and water reticulation systems. Chombo's tactic has
been to starve the councils of cash and thereafter emerge as the knight in
the shining armour by bailing them out. The most glaring example was in
Chitungwiza, where he donated $5 billion at the height of the Senate
elections campaign.

The Bulawayo mayoral election recorded a meagre voter turnout of only 10.1%.
The lack of interest, particularly in local government elections, could
partly be traced to the undemocratic tendencies displayed by Chombo. His
utter disregard of the people's choices has left the electorate wondering
why it should waste time voting for a mayor whom Chombo can kick out
willy-nilly. In fact, such elections have become a façade through which the
outer world is fooled into believing that Zimbabwe is a democratic society.
It is therefore imperative that Chombo's wings be clipped through the
amendment of the Urban Councils Act.

Chombo has indeed become one of the biggest obstacles in the country's fight
for the setting up of a truly democratic nation. For as long as he persists
with his autocratic style of ensuring that his party ultimately gets by
default what it has failed to get through an election, and as long as he
continues to exhibit such disrespect for the urban population then Mugabe
will for a long time still be wondering why the "totemless" urban population
has decided to take no notice of his "revolutionary" party.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Africa is taking herself seriously

Zim Standard

Sundayopinion by Tinashe Chimedza

ANYONE who has routinely been frustrated by the lack of institutions in
Africa that are independent, willing to be credible and stand on the side of
progress and the rule of law, will view the recent action by the African
Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACPHR) condemning the government as
evidence that there is hope.

The adoption of a resolution, by the 38th Ordinary Session of the commission
in Banjul, The Gambia, that sat from 21 November to 5 December 2005, to
condemn the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe is a sign that there is light
The commission did two important things: firstly, it condemned the human
rights abuses in Zimbabwe, called on the government to restore the rule of
law and specifically to protect the vulnerable. Secondly, the commission
ruled, on four separate occasions, that the four cases brought before the
commission by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) are admissible,
meaning the commission can now proceed to deal with substantive issues of
those communications.

The ZLHR noted immediately that the decisions of the commission are an
indictment of the judiciary as well as an unequivocal and significant
indicator that the judiciary and the justice delivery system in Zimbabwe no
longer guarantees enjoyment of universally recognised human rights and
fundamental freedoms.

The ZLHR further stated, and surely so, that the decisions give "credence to
the allegations that there exists a practice of state-sponsored impunity in
Zimbabwe". This is an important signal that many of us have been struggling
for, which is that African Union (AU) institutions must take the issues of
good governance and the rule of law seriously.

The indictment of the Zimbabwe government is a reflection of a paradigm
shift permeating some AU institutions which is that good governance, the
rule of law and responsive governing can not be shelved as Africa writhes
from the periphery of the global economy. The commission was very clear and
precise in its condemnation, stating that it is "concerned by the continuing
human rights violations and the deterioration of the human rights situation
in Zimbabwe, the lack of respect for the rule of law and the growing culture
of impunity" and that it "condemns the human rights violations currently
being perpetrated in Zimbabwe".

The Zimbabwean government's response was nothing but pathetic, it was a mere
re-reading of the government's worn out script about British imperialist
conspiracies. Such a reaction was expected but it displayed that since the
departure of Jonathan Moyo the government has had no new intellectual
spinning to add to its discredited conspiracy obsessions.

While one can not rush to conclude that the AU Heads of State will adopt the
resolutions of the commission surely the actions of the commission must be
supported by Africa's pro-democracy movement.

Even if the AU were to reject the resolutions, as has been the pattern, the
very fact that the commission as an institution of the AU has taken an
independent step means that there is hope.

We must also remember that the commission had a fact finding mission to
Zimbabwe from the 24 - 28 June 2002, mandated at the 29th Ordinary Session
of the African Commission held in, Tripoli, Libya.

The mission in 2002 reported that "there was enough evidence placed before
us to suggest that, at the very least during the period under Review (2000),
human rights violations occurred in Zimbabwe and that Government cannot wash
its hands from responsibility for all these happenings".

As is practice now, the critical and scathing report was dismissed by the
government, burying its head in the sand. The commission even went ahead to
suggest specific recommendations: national dialogue and reconciliation; the
creation of an environment conducive to democracy and human rights;
independent national institutions; the independence of the judiciary; a
professional police service; repealing restrictive media laws, AIPPA, POSA
and so on and lastly that the government had a backlog in its reporting

The government did not tell us in 2002, but we now know as we did then, that
the fact-finding mission was staffed with men and women of undisputed
reputation. Take Professor Barney Pityana for example, he is a rigorous
academic, the Principal of Africa's biggest university, the University of
South Africa. Pityana's politics is the political history of liberating
Africa, of fighting colonialism and apartheid, from the militancy of Steve
Biko to the maturity of the congress movement, his reputation as a fighter
and peace maker is not doubted.

When Pityana involved himself with the fact-finding mission of the
commission and freely willed to put his name on the reports and its
recommendations, it meant he and many others had been able to get to the
core of the Zimbabwe crisis - governance.

Pityana as Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission also
pressured the South African government over the situation in Zimbabwe. On 20
February 2001 he, on behalf the South African Human Rights Commission, wrote
to the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Dr NC Dlamini Zuma,
stating: "We have observed, however, that far from the situation improving
(the Zimbabwe situation), it is in effect escalating and may soon get out of
control. The consequences of a sustained social and political instability in
our immediate northern neighbour not least in trade and economic relations
as well as in refugee inflows into South Africa are obvious. The early
warning signs are there for the discerning and concerned observer."

The letter went on further to state the state of affairs in Zimbabwe,
observing that, "more ominously, is the official campaign against the
judiciary, the harassment and victimization of judges, the demands by the
Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, that
they resign and the apparently forced resignation of Chief Justice Anthony
Gubbay, a much respected juristic in Africa and across the world. Other
judges have been given notice that they should resign".

Anyone who follows the process of getting a human rights case heard before
the commission knows that it is not an easy process. It is thorough and
impeccable. On the other hand the government would have us believe that the
commission's work is dictated by the whims of "imperialists" but the people
must be informed that the truth shows otherwise.

The commission specifically requires that a party approaching the commission
for remedies has to have exhausted local remedies at their disposal in their
country, that is, there has to be a practical test as to why the parties
approaching the commission can no longer utilise the judiciary system. We
all know that there is ample evidence of the government frog-marching the
judiciary, disregarding court orders and the executive consistently
attacking members of the bench and appointing family friends to the Supreme

As the commission's charter states in article 55, for a communication to be
considered by the commission at least seven members of the 11-member panel
have to separately consent that there is a case here, this is referred to as
the "seizure stage". After this the communication is then brought before the
full panel where it has to be weighted, according to article 56 of the
charter, for admissibility against all, not one but all, of the seven
conditions it sets.

The commission is therefore effectively insulated from being burdened with
preposterous, if not derisory petitions. People of repute and rigorous
intellectual training and practice review and scour the pages of these
communications. There is no obsession with Zimbabwe at the commission, as a
matter of fact the commission has been very forthcoming by first sending a
delegation to Zimbabwe in 2002 that investigated and made specific
recommendations but the government spurned the report.

The commission is becoming an impeccable institution guided by known and
entrenched procedures and rules that make the institution immune from abuse.

The only institutional weakness at the commission is that it seems to be
deliberately underfunded so as to attempt to dilute its work. The African
Union member states are dragging their feet over the operationalisation of
the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and have even gone as far as
adopting a resolution to merge it with the African Court of Justice of the
African Union.

We must be ready to support the credibility and repute of an institution
whose men and women are refusing to sing the script that is given to them by
African presidents.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Govt to introduce intercity toll fees

The Chronicle

By Thabani Sibanda

THE Government will soon introduce intercity toll gates as part of moves to
generate revenue to repair and maintain the roads in the country, an
official has said.

Presenting a report during a Matabeleland North Development Committee
meeting held in Lupane last Friday, the Ministry of Transport and
Communications Provincial Road Engineer, Mr Gordon Marambakuyana, said the
Ministry would introduce toll fees between cities using the "User Pays"
concept, which was already being used by other countries in the Southern
African Development Community region.
"The idea is quite simple, people pay for other essential services such as
water, electricity and phones towards their maintenance and viability, but
they do not pay anything towards the infrastructure. The idea therefore is
aimed at making people pay for using roads," he said.
Mr Marambakuyana said over the years, the Ministry had been allocated a
significant amount of money for the repair and maintenance of roads, but
because of inflation the money lost its value, thereby reducing the amount
of work done on the country's road network.
"The toll fees will therefore supplement road maintenance costs," he said.
In Matabeleland North Province, he said, the establishment of toll gates at
certain points on the road network was already under way.
"The establishment of intercity toll plazas has started.
"We are currently doing the designs.
"This means that we have located the places where they will be located, a
soil test is being done in situ, and this will determine the standard of
roads to be constructed there and we anticipate that construction will begin
within the first quarter of this year.
"This will involve the construction of six lanes, three on each side of the
road to avoid congestion," said Mr Marambakuyana.
"One plaza will be located on the Gweru Bulawayo 147 kilometre peg, while
another will be at the HwangeVictoria Falls 343 kilometre peg.
"There will be two at the BulawayoVictoria Falls peg, one at the 47
kilometre peg and the other at the 176 kilometre peg just after Lupane."
However, Mr Marambakuyana said the Government was yet to determine the
amount to be paid at the intercity toll gates.
"As it is, the same system is being used at border posts where foreigners'
cars pay US$5 for a small vehicle, and locals pay the equivalent in Zimbabwe
"The Ministry hasn't however established the figures to be paid within the
country. They will be announced once that is done," he said.
Mr Marambakuyana said other provinces in the country were also working on
establishing the plazas that will cover the road network between major
Last year, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Cde Chris Mushowe,
announced that local and foreign registered motor vehicles would be required
to pay toll fees in line with other countries in the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) and that the money would be used to repair and
maintain regional trunk road networks.
This was effected on 19 December. Light foreign vehicles are required to pay
US$10, 60 rand or 50 pula.
Locally registered light vehicles pay $300 000 and locally registered trucks
are required to pay $600 000.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Commuter omnibus fares go up 50pc

The Chronicle

Chronicle Reporter

COMMUTER omnibus operators in Bulawayo have increased fares by 50 percent in
a move which will see commuters forking out $30 000 up from $20 000 per

The Bulawayo Public Transporters Association (BUPTA) chairman, Mr Strike
Ndlovu, told Chronicle last week that the new fares were effected because of
high operational costs being experienced by the operators. "Our association
held a meeting on Monday (last week) and we unanimously agreed that fares
should be increased," he said.
Mr Ndlovu said running a commuter omnibus business was challenging because
of the shortage of spare parts in the country adding that the scarcity of
foreign currency was worsening the situation.
He said a tyre now costs between $11 million and $12 million while the
Vehicle Inspection Department was charging $500 000 for offering fitness
certificates. "It now costs $1,5 million up from $200 000 to get a route
permit while the city council has also increased parking fees at bus termini
from $430 000 to $2,9 million. Insurance has gone up from $1 million to $10
million. So you see how difficult it is to run a kombi and the only way we
have to remain viable is to increase the fares," said Mr Ndlovu.
He said the commuter operators were surviving on buying fuel from the black
market, which is being sold for $120 000 per litre.
Mr Ndlovu said the Government through the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe
should make fuel available. "I don't remember when we last bought fuel at
the gazetted $23 000 per litre. The black market is really affecting us," he
Mr Ndlovu said his association had presented its case to the Government and
were awaiting a reply.
Repeated efforts to get comment from the Minister of Local Government,
Public Works and Urban Development, Dr Ignatius Chombo, were fruitless.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Pilot urban agriculture projects for Bulawayo

African News Dimension

      Monday, 23 January 2006, 6 hours, 56 minutes and 45 seconds ago.

      By ANDnetwork Journalist

      Municipal authorities in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city,
have in conjunction with the Municipal Development for Eastern and Southern
Africa, embraked on a series of agriculture programmmes aimed at alleviating
urban poverty.

      The Municipal Development for Eastern and Southern Africa is part of a
global initiative aimed at promoting urban farming as a way of alleviating
poverty in the towns.

      Programme Co-ordinator Takawira Mubvami said four pilot cities have
been identified in the region to carry out pilot projects on urban
agriculture. These include Bulawayo, Cape Town (South Africa), Lusaka
(Zambia) and Maputo (Mozambique).

      "These four cities that have been chosen will disseminate their
experience to other cities in their countries and they were chosen on the
basis that they have already put in place policies on urban agriculture," he

      He added that a series of workshops were being run by the organisation
in order to enhance multi-stakeholders awareness on issues of urban
agriculture. The programme is part of a global awareness campaign on urban
agriculture that would in turn lead to poverty alleviation in urban cities.

      He added that the workshop would capacitate stakeholders in planning
agricultural activities and in the drawing up of action plans for urban
farming projects. Dr Mubvami said the Bulawayo City Council has a clear-cut
policy on urban agriculture.

      "Bulawayo has designated sites that are specifically used for farming
purpose around the Richmond and Norwood areas and states what crops should
be planted and specifies other sites in the city that can be used for urban
agriculture," added Dr Mubvami.

      He said the city also has sites where they used waste water for
irrigation purposes. During training, the stakeholders would be asked to
identify workable and fundable pilot projects, which could in turn be run by
the cities.

      Dr Mubvami also revealed that Bulawayo City Council had already
identified a plantation in Gumtree as a site for one of its pilot programmes
to be funded by the global initiative.

      Source: The Sunday News

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Poachers looting 4 tonnes of fish daily from Harare lake

African News Dimension

      Monday, 23 January 2006, 2 hours, 3 minutes and 24 seconds ago.

      By ANDnetwork Journalist

      Poachers are stealing at least four tonnes of fish worth $700 million
every day from Lake Chivero.

      The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said poachers work day and
night using dugout canoes, engine-powered boats and an assortment of nets to
poach from the dam, which also supplies water to Harare.

      Failure by the authority's officials and commercial fishing
co-operatives to thwart poaching has resulted in tonnes of fish being

      It is suspected the fish is not only sold on some open markets around
Norton, along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway and suburbs in Harare, but also to
some established supermarkets and butcheries.

      The poaching also threatens Government efforts to contain cholera as
the fish find their way into the informal and formal trade.

      In supermarkets, fish in unmarked packaging is going for around $400
000 a kilogramme. In most cases, a packet of medium-sized fish costs $120

      Last Thursday morning, Parks' staff arrested two poachers on the south
bank of the lake while they were sorting out 337kg of fish worth over $67
million (using the legal $200 000 per kilogramme rate) they had netted
during the night.

      Two of the poachers who had thrown their nets some metres away from
the shore said they sold the fish in Budiriro for $300 000/kg.

      The poachers were about to make up to $100 million just from the
morning catch before going for two other catches.

      "The truck that they used is mine and we come here more often to catch
the fish," said the truck driver who claimed he was not involved in the
actual poaching.

      The authority's spokesperson, Retired Major Edward Mbewe said the
authority had invoked the Parks and Wildlife Act to impound the truck used
to ferry the fish.

      "We can only release the truck when the owner or the poachers pay $35
million as stated in some sections of the act," he said.

      Rtd Maj Mbewe said fines imposed on the poachers amounting to $100 000
were not an effective deterrent, hence the need to invoke other parts of the

      He said poachers have always taken advantage of the authority's
inability to patrol all areas of the lake because of manpower shortages, and
accessed the lake through private land.

      The poachers are said to be making more money than registered
commercial fisheries.

      "They are not taxed and pay no rates for activities they do. The worst
thing is that they use home-made nets which catch all sizes of fish," Rtd
Maj Mbewe said.

      Parks officials based at Lake Chivero said there are fears that the
fish might be depleted if no immediate action is taken to curb poaching.

      "We have been intercepting truck-loads of fish on a daily basis but
the fines are not deterrent enough. Until recently, the farming communities
living around the northern shore of lake have not been co-operative enough
in the fight against poaching.

      "The fishing co-operatives feel protecting the fish from poachers is
not their prime business," a senior warden with the parks authority said.

      Source: The Herald

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

African leaders to decide on Sudan's bid to head AU

Khaleej Times


  23 January 2006

  KHARTOUM - An African summit opens in Khartoum on Monday with leaders set
to decide whether Sudan should head the African Union despite warnings that
the move could derail peace efforts in Darfur and tarnish the AU's

  The bid by President Omar al-Beshir, who seized power in an
Islamist-backed coup in 1989, to take over the chair of the 53-nation AU has
overshadowed preparations for the two-day summit.

  "The essential issue is not the chairmanship but rather the success of the
summit. This is our priority," Beshir said on the eve of the gathering as
disagreement over a Sudanese AU presidency continued.

  Human rights groups have raised the alarm over the choice of Sudan to lead
the pan-African body, arguing that it would be tantamount to rewarding a
regime accused by the United States of genocide in Darfur.

  On the eve of the gathering, Sudanese police broke up a meeting of human
rights activists, detaining about 35 of them including EU diplomats and
journalists for nearly four hours while they searched documents and computer

  As AU leaders weighed Sudan's bid, Darfur rebels taking part in
AU-sponsored peace talks in Abuja announced that they would boycott meetings
on Monday and Tuesday pending a decision from Khartoum on the AU chair.

  The rebels have warned that they will pull out of the talks indefinitely
if Sudan wins the top position, arguing that African Union cannot be an
impartial peace broker in Darfur with Beshir as its top representative.

  About 300,000 people have been killed and more than two million displaced
since 2003 in the western region of Darfur, where rebels are fighting
government forces backed by militias.

  "As far as the security on the ground is concerned, there is chaos, in
particular in west Darfur where there are many parties fighting," the head
of the UN mission in Sudan, Jan Pronk, said Sunday.

  "There are still attacks by militias on civilians," he said, referring to
the Arab Janjaweed militias accused of atrocities in Darfur.

  Sudan's campaign to win the AU chair came as the body was seeking to shore
up its troubled 7,000-strong peacekeeping force in Darfur with help from the
United Nations.

  With many African countries reluctant to back Sudan's bid for the AU,
Congo appeared to be stepping into the limelight as a compromise candidate.

  "It's not impossible that President Sassou Nguesso succeeds Nigerian
(President) Olusegun Obasanjo at the head of the AU because he is being
courted by several of his counterparts asking him to take over the
chairmanship," Prime Minister Isidore Mvouba told a news conference in

  Obasanjo is among about 40 presidents attending the summit including South
African President Thabo Mbeki, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Moamer Kadhafi
of Libya but Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo, Chad's Idriss Deby and
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika are not taking part.

  Africa's first woman president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, is
expected to get a warm welcome as she makes her first foray onto the African
diplomatic stage.

  In a major human rights test, African leaders will be asked by Senegal to
decide whether to extradite Chad's former dictator Hissene Habre to Belgium
where he is wanted to face trial for crimes against humanity.

  Acting on an international arrest warrant issued by Belgium, Senegal
arrested Habre in November but then asked the African Union to decide the
fate of the former Chadian leader, who ruled from 1982 until 1990, when he
was deposed by Deby.

  While it appeared unlikely that African leaders would agree to hand over
Habre to Belgium, a former colonial power, they could ask the AU to set up a
panel of legal experts to come up with options for trying the former leader.

  They will also take stock of the situation in Ivory Coast where four days
of anti-UN protests last week prompted the UN Security Council to step in
and consider sanctions at a meeting in New York on Monday.

Back to the Top
Back to Index