Santa Barbara Press News
ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer
January 23, 2008 6:52 AM
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Zimbabwe police fired tear gas and charged toward
several hundred protesters making their way to a rally Wednesday, following
the brief detention of the leader of the country's political opposition.
Police had earlier banned a march planned by supporters of Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. The party appealed the ban, but
a high court upheld it, although it said a planned rally could go ahead,
according to Nelson Chamisa, the opposition party's spokesman.
Tsvangirai was briefly detained, in what appeared to be an attempt to
prevent the protests from going forward.
The demonstration was to be the first test of new security laws adopted
earlier this month that were meant to ease restrictions on protests in the
leadup to elections set for March. The reforms also relaxed rules for
journalists to obtain licenses, and set up a new licensing authority.
After the court ruling, several hundred oppositions supporters chanting and
waving placards started walking from party headquarters in downtown Harare,
where they has gathered to await the court's ruling, toward the rally site,
a stadium about a 20-minute walk away.
After about four blocks, police fired tear gas and charged the group, which
they said was breaking the court ruling by marching. The group then
Opposition lawyer Alec Muchadehama said there were some injuries and ''quite
a lot'' of demonstrators were arrested.
''Police behavior was unlawful,'' he added.
Police could not immediately be reached for comment.
In the aftermath, streets were littered with opposition posters, flyers and
several shoes lost as people fled the tear gas. Riot police with dogs were
stationed at the closed gates of the stadium.
Tsvangirai later addressed a few hundred people outside of the stadium. He
said his party would intensify protests throughout Zimbabwe, South Africa's
SABC radio news reported.
Tsvangirai had been expected to speak at the rally. Chamisa said police had
seized Tsvangirai at around 4 a.m. from his home in northern Harare and
released him five hours later.
Chamisa said the arrest and the ban on the march were a deliberate snub to
South African efforts to find a solution to Zimbabwe's crisis. South African
President Thabo Mbeki had mediated talks between the two sides after the
opposition claimed security and media laws were hindering election
''It's a mockery of President Mbeki's efforts. It's a mockery of African
solutions to African problems. It's a mockery to humankind,'' he said.
State radio had said Tuesday that police believed there were ''sinister
motives'' behind the ''Freedom Walk'' and that it would not be peaceful.
The opposition has demanded more constitutional and electoral reforms before
the election, and said polling should be delayed until June to allow for its
demands to be met. President Robert Mugabe has insisted elections take place
Mail and Guardian
Godfrey Marawanyika | Harare, Zimbabwe
23 January 2008 03:30
Zimbabwe's main opposition party was given permission on
Wednesday to stage a protest rally against President Robert Mugabe after its
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was briefly detained by police.
Police had slapped a blanket prohibition on the protest called
by the Movement for Democratic (MDC) as a show of strength ahead of joint
parliamentary and presidential elections due in March.
But a court in Harare ruled that while a ban on marching through
the capital's central business district could remain in place, the MDC
should be allowed to gather in a football stadium where the rally was
intended to culminate with an address by Tsvangirai.
"The respondents [police] are not to interfere with the
gathering at Glamis Stadium until [3.15pm local time]," added Priscilla
Chigumba, the presiding justice at a hearing before magistrates in Harare.
The MDC said they had received initial approval from the police
to stage the protest only to be slapped with the ban on Monday.
As government and opposition lawyers argued in court, a heavy
police presence prevented MDC supporters from entering the downtown area.
Tsvangirai and several of his top lieutenants were badly beaten
up by members of Mugabe's security services last March as they tried to
stage another protest rally in Harare.
But in an apparent warning shot across his bows, Tsvangirai was
picked up by police at his home in the early hours of the morning and
questioned for about four hours.
"He was picked up by the police at about 4am [local time] on
Wednesday but he has since been released," his lawye, Alec Muchadehama,
National police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed that
Tsvangirai had been briefly detained.
"We invited Morgan Tsvangirai, Ian Makone [the MDC's director
for elections] and Denis Murira [another top MDC official] here," he said.
"They held discussions with the officer commanding law and order
and then they went home. We wanted to establish what they intended to do
following recent utterances."
During the court hearing, Muchadehama said that the police
action went against the grain of recent amendments to laws on the holding of
protests, which had been agreed between the opposition and government.
"The position the police have taken is not in the spirit of what
was agreed in on the constitutional amendments," said Muchadehama.
"When we agreed to the [amended] law we did not know it could be
used against us."
Fatima Maxwell, a law officer in the Attorney General's office,
said while the authorities were prepared to negotiate with the opposition,
the police had good reason to worry about the impact of the rally in the
The former British colony, led by the 83-year-old Mugabe since
independence in 1980, is in economic meltdown. The official annual rate of
inflation is put at 8 000%, but economists believe it to be nearer 50 000%.
Unemployment is running at about 80% while basic foodstuffs such
as cooking oil and sugar are now a scarce commodity in the one-time regional
Mugabe came in for widespread international criticism in March
last year after Tsvangirai and dozens of MDC supporters were assaulted as
they tried to attend an anti-government rally in Harare. The president
responded by telling his critics to "go hang".
The prospect of the MDC looking to defy another banned rally had
raised fears of a new bout of unrest, with the government warning the
opposition not to resort to violence.
"The government expects Tsvangirai and his party to keep their
pledge to a peaceful campaign and lawful conduct, which they made to the
law-enforcement authorities only this morning [Wednesday]," Information
Ministry George Charamba said. -- Reuters
HARARE, 23 January 2008 (IRIN) - Scores of Zimbabwean opposition supporters
were teargassed and beaten up by police during a protest march in the
capital, Harare, after a local magistrate overruled a police order banning
the march on 23 January.
Lungile Ncube, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who
was beaten up, told IRIN she had been accosted by plainclothes policemen who
asked her why she was dressed in the red and white colours of the
"When I did not respond, one of the men ordered his colleagues to beat me up
until I died," she alleged. Ncube sustained deep cuts on her head and face
as a result of the assault.
The MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai had announced the 'Freedom Walk'
protest march to demand pro-democracy reforms and free and fair elections,
and to highlight the humanitarian crisis in the country.
Tsvangirai was picked up from his house by the police early on 23 January
and later released without being charged. Two other MDC officials, Paul
Madzore, a member of parliament, and Elias Mudzuri, the party's organising
secretary, were still in police custody when the rally ended later in the
The opposition appealed against the ban at the Harare magistrate's court,
which ruled that the rally could take place but should finish on the
afternoon of 23 January.
Riot police teargassed and beat up some of the more than 5,000 opposition
supporters making their way to the venue, an open field close to the ruling
ZANU-PF party's headquarters in Harare.
Beatings, an indictment
Addressing his supporters at the rally, Tsvangirai said the arrests and
beatings were an indictment of the ongoing negotiations being brokered by
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) between the opposition and
"What happened today is a serious test of the sincerity of President Robert
Mugabe, [South African] President Thabo Mbeki and the entire SADC region on
whether this is the kind of Zimbabwe which they want," he said.
The opposition leader announced that a series of marches would be held in
the country's major urban centres as well as in rural areas.
At the last rally, organised by opposition and pro-democracy groups in March
2007, many activists were arrested and beaten up. After international
condemnation of the government's actions, the SADC set up a mediation
initiative, to be led by Mbeki.
Lovemore Madhuku, a political commentator and chair of the National
Constitutional Assembly, a pro-democracy non-governmental organisation, told
IRIN the attempt to suppress the march should not have come as a surprise.
"All it does is confirm what we as civic society and labour warned when we
told the MDC that it should not go into negotiations with ZANU-PF, as it
would never take any negotiations sincerely."
Mbeki visited Zimbabwe last week amid reports that a deal between the
parties was imminent.
"If Mbeki claims that he is close to securing a deal, and the opposition is
being bashed like this, then it means that a deal is far from being
secured," said Madhuku.
The MDC now faced the dilemma of explaining the "benefits of the talks to
its supporters after they were beaten up and the leadership arrested,
Madhuku said. "I don't think they have the kind of leadership with the
stamina to lead Kenyan style revolts."
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
by Godfrey Marawanyika
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai accused
President Robert Mugabe of running a dicatorship on Wednesday after he was
briefly detained by police and needed court approval to address supporters.
Ten months after being assaulted at another anti-Mugabe rally, Tsvangirai
told supporters his detention in the early hours by police who picked him up
while he was sleeping was a bad omen for elections due in March.
While there were sporadic clashes between followers of Tsvangirai's Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) and security forces in the build-up to the rally
at a football pitch, Tsvangirai's address passed off peacefully.
"Where in the world have you seen the leader of a reputable national and
international brand like the MDC be treated like a common criminal?," said
Tsvangirai who is trying to end Mugabe's 28-year rule at the ballot box.
"If this is the reaction of this dictatorship, then the elections are a
"I don't foresee a situation where this very police can salute a change of
government. I don't foresee a situation where this Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission can actually announce the defeat of Mugabe."
Tsvangirai was only given clearance to address around 1,000 supporters after
Harare magistrates overruled a blanket ban on the protest but did order the
MDC to axe plans to march through the city.
Presiding justice Priscilla Chigumba said the MDC must wrap up their rally
by 3:15pm (1315 GMT), an order that was adhered to.
Speaking to journalists after the ruling, MDC secretary general Tendai Biti
praised the court's judgement.
"We want to commend the magistrate for a very brave decision which allows us
to exercise our freedom of association and the right to freedom of
assembly," said Biti.
As MDC supporters who had gathered at the party headquarters in the city
centre made their way to the football ground, several were targeted by riot
police who fired teargas without causing major injury.
Around 1,000 supporters finally made it to the venue where scores of police,
including undercover officers, closely watched events. Several diplomats
from Western missions could also be seen monitoring the rally.
The former British colony, led by the 83-year-old Mugabe since independence
in 1980, is in economic meltdown. The official annual rate of inflation is
put at 8,000 percent, but economists believe it to be nearer 50,000 percent.
Unemployment is running at around 80 percent while basic foodstuffs such as
cooking oil and sugar are now a scarce commodity in the one-time regional
The MDC is hoping that the crisis will lead voters to dump Mugabe at joint
parliamentary and presidential polls next month.
"We are crying against poverty, we are crying for food, we are crying for
jobs and what's the response of the state?" asked Tsvangirai.
"The child is crying to the father and the father takes a stick and beats up
that child. What kind of a father is that?"
Mugabe came in for widespread international criticism in March last year
after Tsvangirai and dozens of MDC supporters were assaulted as they tried
to attend an anti-government rally in Harare. The president responded by
telling his critics to "go hang".
The prospect of the MDC looking to defy another banned rally had raised
fears of new unrest, with the government warning the opposition not to
resort to violence.
"Government expects Tsvangirai and his party to keep their pledge to a
peaceful campaign and lawful conduct which they made to the law-enforcement
authorities only this morning," information ministry spokesman George
By Tichaona Sibanda
23 January 2008
The political crisis in Zimbabwe deepened on Wednesday after opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was prevented from leading a protest march, calling
for a change to the country’s electoral laws.
Tsvangirai, together with two of his closest aides, were taken by police
from their homes at 4am but were released soon after 8am. The other two who
were detained were Ian Makone, the party’s director for elections, and
Dennis Murira, a top aide to Tsvangirai. They were all released without
The MDC leader told Newsreel from his home in Harare that the police had
wanted to know what their plans were for the protest rally. ‘I told the
police I had nothing to say to them because we had a court case which was
going to hear our appeal against the police ban. They also threatened to
come after me if our supporters defied the ban and went ahead with the
At the urgent court hearing Harare magistrate Priscilla Chigumba allowed the
MDC to proceed with their rally but prevented them from marching in the
streets of the capital, giving possible disruption of traffic as her reason
for ordering them to go straight to their meeting point.
She told the hearing; ‘The MDC marchers should withdraw peacefully and in a
non-riotous behaviour, and proceed to the Glamis Stadium.’
The ruling was met with wild jubilations from MDC activists gathered outside
the court. But before the activists could march, heavily armed police in
riot gear began breaking up the groups of supporters. Running battles broke
out between the police and the protestors but Tendai Biti, the party’s
secretary-general, managed to lead the supporters to the stadium. Tsvangirai
did manage to travel to the stadium and address the crowd, which the MDC
claims was close to 20,000.
In his address the MDC President said Wednesday’s protest march was only the
beginning and that nothing was ever going to stop him from leading the
protests from the front. He blamed Mugabe for what was happening in Zimbabwe
and said he had reneged on promises given at the talks to Thabo Mbeki, that
the elections would be free and fair.
Police in Harare had originally given the MDC permission for the protest
march, but cancelled it on Monday saying that new intelligence suggested the
protest would turn violent.
Commenting on Tsvangirai’s arrest, Biti said it only goes to show they are
dealing with a ‘fascist party and hooligans’ who are not yet ready to
recognise that the people of Zimbabwe are suffering.
‘Effectively we are dealing with reckless people, violent people, bankrupt
people, people with no plans for Zimbabwe,’ Biti said.
The outspoken MP for Harare East said even in the face of a court order
allowing them to march to Glamis stadium, a few kilometres west of the city,
the police still beat and tear gassed their supporters.
‘This is typical behaviour you see in a dying horse. The days of
dictatorship are numbered. We will live to fight another day,’ he said.
This was the first time this year that a crowd had gathered to express its
opposition to the regime and demand free and fair elections. Luke
Tamborinyoka, the MDC director of information, said a number of their
activists were abducted and taken to the Zanu-PF headquarters.
‘Police made it very difficult for our people to proceed to the Glamis
stadium in compliance with the court ruling. This merely confirms some of
the reasons why we are marching; we are merely marching for equal access to
the media. The mere fact there is a media blitz of misinformation also
confirms one of the reasons why we want equal space in the media,’
Earlier in the day, an aide to Tsvangirai described the scene to Newsreel
when he drove around the streets of the capital. He said he saw many
opposition activists being beaten and many others being arrested.
Some of the peaceful protesters were waving white handkerchiefs, to
emphasise their peaceful intent.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Fikile Mapala
Last updated: 01/23/2008 23:47:35
ZANU PF’S centre of power – the politburo – was meeting in Harare on
Wednesday to deal with a series of urgent issues affecting the ruling party
amid reports of a looming split ahead of crucial presidential and
parliamentary elections in March.
Prominent academic Ibbo Mandaza has been named as the coordinator of a
movement within the ruling party determined to wrest power from President
Robert Mugabe in order to replace him with long-serving Zanu PF politburo
member, Dr Simba Makoni.
Fugitive Zanu PF MP David Butau and independent MP for Tsholotsho Professor
Jonathan Moyo have also been linked with the new movement.
Zanu PF sources say the politburo was initially expected to meet on January
30 to discuss primary elections to select candidates for the general
election, but the meeting was brought forward because of rising turbulence
in the party.
Media reports say Zanu PF is caught in a political storm accompanied by
threats by some of its senior members to break away and form a splinter
party to challenge President Robert Mugabe.
It is said that Makoni, a former finance minister, is being supported by the
Zanu PF faction led by retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru.
Former Zapu members led by former intelligence supremo Dumiso Dabengwa are
also said to have soft spot for Makoni, seen by many as level headed with
appeal across Zimbabweans from different walks of life.
Makoni has neither confirmed nor denied media reports linking him to the
splinter faction of the ruling party, reinforcing speculation that he may be
working towards wresting power from Mugabe.
When contacted for by New Zimbabwe.com, Makoni refused to comment saying he
had nothing to say.
He said: “I am sorry I cannot talk about that at the moment. I will comment
at the appropriate time. At the moment I have no comment.”
The politburo is expected to discuss the party’s primary elections, SADC
initiated talks between Zanu PF and the MDC, the March election date and the
widely speculated split.
Sources say the splinter party, set to be launched soon, has been given the
thumbs up by Zanu PF’s disgruntled leadership in Mashonaland East Province
who felt cheated by Mugabe’s controversial endorsement by a Zanu PF
extraordinary congress last December.
The party, which sources say is set to use the name Patriotic Front, is an
alliance of disgruntled Zanu PF members across the country’s provinces.
Sources say Mashonaland East Governor Ray Kaukonde, an ally of Mujuru, has
been one of the leaders within the party at the forefront of calling for a
new leader to take over from Mugabe.
A leading opinion writer in the state-run Herald newspaper, Nathaniel
Manheru -- thought to be presidential spokesman George Charamba -- recently
confirmed the political manoeuvres by Makoni and his cabal in his weekly
column, dismissing them as a British-sponsored “coalition of the bitter”.
23rd Jan 2008 12:50 GMT
By a Correspondent
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has joined the call
for the postponement of elections saying it will be a ‘disaster’ if they are
held in March, as there is a lot to be done to create an environment for a
credible, undisputable and legitimate election.
Noel Kututwa the ZESN chairperson told journalists on Tuesday in Harare at
the Quill Club that there was little time between now and March for ZEC to
work on the voters-roll that is in ‘shambles’ and for the public to analyse
the delimitation report.
The report was presented to President Robert Mugabe and Parliament last
week. Only one report was given to the Parliament and as of today it is now
available in the Papers Office where anyone interested can go, read and
leave it there.
”It is correct constitutionally that the election must take place in March,
but that must be taken into context,” said Kututwa. “Since 2000 all the
elections in Zimbabwe have had problems and there has been talk of
postponing the elections and many stakeholders have been in favour of
postponing the elections to create an atmosphere that is conducive to make
sure that whatever result that comes out is acceptable to everyone.”
George Chiweshe, the ZEC leader yesterday insisted that election would not
be postponed. He said: “We are a democracy and anyone can say anything. As
far as I know, delimitation exercise is over and for now, the election is
set for March. We cannot make everyone happy. ZEC cannot make copies of the
delimitation report for every citizen. That is not financially feasible.”
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai on Sunday threatened to boycott the election unless its demands
of a new constitution, an ‘independent’ ZEC and a credible voters roll was
ZESN said Constitutional Amendment 18 Act allowed the election to be
postponed even to 2010.
“Probably the ruling Zanu PF would make sure that the election is held in
March by hook or crook if it means the printing press at the central bank
will go on printing money for 24 hours to make sure that there is money for
the election,” said Kututwa.
“But will that election be free and fair? …. We are heading for a disaster
should we insist on having an election in March.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira yesterday condemned ZESN saying it
wanted to speak for the opposition.
”We know the opposition is not yet ready for the election and I am not
surprised that the civic organisations have started speaking for them,” said
Shamuyarira. “As Zanu PF we are ready for an election even tomorrow.”
Wednesday, 23 January 2008, 11:21 GMT
Zambia has said it will no longer share power with Zimbabwe, as electricity
problems spread across southern Africa.
Zambia made the move to safeguard its supply after suffering severe power
disruptions over the past few days.
It comes after South Africa reduced its energy exports to its neighbours,
South Africa has been suffering from a lack of spare capacity after failing
to anticipate the growth of domestic demand over the past decade.
South Africa has been experiencing daily power cuts over the past fortnight.
Its reduction in exports may have played a role in two major nationwide
power cuts in Zambia over the past few days.
Copper mining companies in Zambia say the recent outages have cost them
millions of dollars.
Many within the country are calling for the dismantling of Zambia's giant
power company Zesco, to make it more responsive to emergencies.
Zimbabwe is believed to import about 40% of its electricity and has had
trouble paying its bills because of its lack of foreign currency.
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
22 January 2008
Posted to the web 23 January 2008
ZIMBABWE was hit by a second nationwide electricity blackout last night,
almost exactly 48 hours after the first on Saturday night.
Zesa Holdings was expecting to restore power faster than the 18 hours taken
on Saturday and Sunday because there was still some power available, which
would speed bringing Kariba South back on the grid, and because the
procedures were almost identical to those used after the Saturday blackout.
Last night's blackout hit Zimbabwe and Zambia simultaneously, as did
Saturday's, but Zesa Holdings chief executive Engineer Ben Rafemoyo did not
want to speculate on the cause until there had been further investigations.
"We are currently at the national control centre working on the recovery
plan. It is a bit early to comment on other details such as what exactly
"My Zambian counterpart has also just gone to his country's national control
centre to ascertain the problems and see how best we can deal with the
problem. As usual, it seems the problem is coming from the north in Zambia
and affecting the south," he said.
Saturday's blackout -- which affected Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana -- was
described as a systems disturbance, caused by variation in power frequency
on the Zambian grid.
Zesa managed to bring up the six generators at Kariba South on Sunday
afternoon along with one of the Hwange Thermal generators, restoring power
to most of the country.
A second Hwange generator was brought on stream yesterday and a third was
being readied once there was enough diesel to start the boilers.
But on Sunday, another fault on the circuit breakers, caused by the
blackout, kept Harare's northern and eastern suburbs in darkness until
yesterday afternoon, a few hours before the second blackout hit.
Authorities in Zambia yesterday ordered an inquiry to establish the cause of
the blackout, which left hundreds of miners trapped underground.
"We are still trying to establish what caused this major disturbance," said
Rhodnie Sisala, managing director of the state-run Zambia Electricity Supply
"The investigations will be thorough to ensure that measures are taken to
prevent a power loss like that which happened," Sisala added.
About 400 miners working underground in three major copper mines in the
central Copperbelt province were trapped underground after a power failure
on Saturday night. Oswell Munyenyembe, secretary-general of the mine
workers' union, said the miners were only evacuated on Sunday morning after
power was restored by tapping into energy supplies from the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
The Saturday power blackout also affected Zinwa, which was already
struggling to supply eastern and northern Harare where several suburbs have
been without water for 11 days.
Before last night's blackout, Zinwa said it would now take up to five days
to normalise the water supply situation in Harare and this schedule was
expected to suffer because of the second blackout, even though Zinwa is
among the first group of consumers to be reconnected after a fault.
The Minister of Water Resources and Infrastructural Development, Engineer
Munacho Mutezo, yesterday toured the Warren Control Pump Station to assess
Zinwa's response to the blackout.
He said Warren Control was pumping at full capacity to Alex Park and Letombo
reservoirs but because by mid-morning there was no power at Letombo, no
water was being pumped to suburban reservoirs which feed into households.
He said Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant was operating at near full
Eng Mutezo said Zinwa would work to fill the suburban reservoirs in the
north and eastern parts of Harare before opening up valves to allow the
water to get to households.
Western and southwestern suburbs were receiving water but at reduced
Eng Mutezo said high-density areas cannot be cut out completely because of
health-related hazards that may arise.
The weekend blackout threw into disarray the planned Zinwa scheduled water
demand management programme, which was supposed to begin today.
Under the programme, residents in the northern and eastern suburbs would
receive water just once in three days to allow for rotational distribution.
Ed (not his real name), 23, a bookkeeper, speaks to the BBC
News website via phone from his home in the capital, Harare, and describes how
ordinary Zimbabweans like him and his family are suffering. We don't have anything now - electricity, water, food, nothing.
We don't even have power now. They cut us off between 0400 and
2100 local time (0600 and 1900 GMT). We are struggling. I stay with my father, my mother and my brother and my sister.
My whole family depend on me. This morning we didn't have food for breakfast. We just ate
bananas. I pay two million Zimbabwean dollars (about $0.80 as per the
black market) for my bus to work. That's just one way. My salary each month is just 45m Zimbabwean dollars ($90). It is
nothing. And when I do get paid I have to wait for about one, two, three,
four, five, six... sometimes even seven hours at the bank just to get my cash
out. I pay the rent for the roof over my family's head which is 30m
Zimbabwean dollars. I don't make ends meet. I have to take out loans from work. Or I borrow from my other
brother to get by. But I can't pay anything back - this is exactly my problem.
I have other jobs on the side at the weekend such as selling
onions and vegetables that I have grown myself. Now, can you imagine how we are struggling? It is too harsh.
My sister is still at school - she's in her last year of primary
school but I don't know how much longer she can stay because school fees have
just been hiked to 40m Zimbabwean dollars this term compared to 500,000
Zimbabwean dollars last term... I am yet to pay the fees. And then to top everything, you are not allowed to complain or
say anything about [President] Mugabe. Even now I think people are listening.
But to think of better times, today was my day to have my
once-a-month treat: I had some take-away rice and chicken for lunch. It was so good. I hope that next month I'll still be able to treat myself.
January 2008, 10:53 GMT
Ed (not his real name), 23, a bookkeeper, speaks to the BBC News website via phone from his home in the capital, Harare, and describes how ordinary Zimbabweans like him and his family are suffering.
We don't have anything now - electricity, water, food, nothing.
We don't even have power now. They cut us off between 0400 and 2100 local time (0600 and 1900 GMT).
We are struggling.
I stay with my father, my mother and my brother and my sister. My whole family depend on me.
This morning we didn't have food for breakfast. We just ate bananas.
I pay two million Zimbabwean dollars (about $0.80 as per the black market) for my bus to work. That's just one way.
My salary each month is just 45m Zimbabwean dollars ($90). It is nothing.
And when I do get paid I have to wait for about one, two, three, four, five, six... sometimes even seven hours at the bank just to get my cash out.
I pay the rent for the roof over my family's head which is 30m Zimbabwean dollars.
I don't make ends meet.
I have to take out loans from work. Or I borrow from my other brother to get by. But I can't pay anything back - this is exactly my problem.
I have other jobs on the side at the weekend such as selling onions and vegetables that I have grown myself.
Now, can you imagine how we are struggling? It is too harsh.
My sister is still at school - she's in her last year of primary school but I don't know how much longer she can stay because school fees have just been hiked to 40m Zimbabwean dollars this term compared to 500,000 Zimbabwean dollars last term... I am yet to pay the fees.
And then to top everything, you are not allowed to complain or say anything about [President] Mugabe. Even now I think people are listening.
But to think of better times, today was my day to have my once-a-month treat: I had some take-away rice and chicken for lunch.
It was so good.
I hope that next month I'll still be able to treat myself.
These days, a bus ride from Francistown, near the Botswana-Zimbabwe border, to Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, includes a surprise encounter with the Botswana police. At a checkpoint one hour into the ride, the busload disembarks and police inspect passports, in search of Zimbabwean border jumpers. The economic crisis in Zimbabwe, marked by spiraling inflation rates and empty grocery shelves, is propelling its residents across the border. They don’t always find a welcome mat next door. Some sixty thousand Zimbabweans were deported from Botswana in 2006, and over 23,000 were deported between April and November 2007. South Africa deported over 150,000 Zimbabweans in the first nine months of 2007, according to Refugees International. Though the influx strains both countries, policy changes appear unlikely.
Botswana and South Africa staunchly uphold Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and official government statements are careful not to criticize Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. “There is very little we can do,” says Mompati Sebogodi Merafhe, Botswana’s minister of foreign affairs, in an interview with CFR.org. “The solution to the Zimbabwe crisis must come from the Zimbabweans themselves.” Yet government officials concede the flaws in current policy. “These repatriations are more or less a vicious cycle,” says Moses M. Gaealafswe, Botswana’s chief immigration officer told CFR.org. “You arrest them today, you repatriate them tomorrow, next week they are here.” South Africa’s minister of home affairs has told the United Nations how difficult it is to regulate Zimbabwean immigration and expressed the need to develop new approaches (VOA). A few civil society groups pressure the South African government for policy changes, says Patrick Duplat of Refugees International, but in Botswana “civil society is practically nonexistent.”
In the absence of an overt, coordinated response to Zimbabwean migration, government bodies face many questions. What do immigration officers do when their border posts are overflowing with people? Should hospitals treat sick Zimbabweans without legal papers, or call the police in to arrest them? In South Africa, government employees who lack understanding of the country’s laws on refugees often fail to inform Zimbabweans of their right to apply for refugee status, instead sending them back across the border (PDF), researchers from Johannesburg’s Forced Migration Study Programme found. Those who do apply, however, face a backlog of applications thousands deep (NYT).
Ahead of Zimbabwe’s elections in 2008, border flows may grow. Given the reluctance of regional governments to develop a pragmatic approach to Zimbabwean immigration, any policy change may take international prodding. The African Union opened an investigation (Zimbabwe Standard) into alleged abuse of Zimbabweans in South Africa and Botswana in November 2007. Several nongovernmental organizations have suggested that both governments issue temporary residence permits, but critics say this does not address the primary reason Zimbabweans leave their country: the need for money.
A massive and sudden exodus of Zimbabweans, as undesirable as it would be, would certainly force new action. Botswana’s Gaealafswe says the government is developing a contingency plan in the event of a huge influx of people during the elections. Refugees International recommends that the Botswana and South Africa governments work together now to develop a legal framework for Zimbabwean immigrants, but in late November 2007, Gaealafswe said he knew of no plans for such a discussion.
Stephanie Hanson reported this story from Botswana.
By Norah Spie
Last updated: 01/23/2008 19:36:33
LIKE most of you reading this, I had not been home in over FIVE years. I had
last set foot in my homeland in September 2002 and yet not a day went by
without me thinking of Zimbabwe.
I had been trying over the years to go home at least for a short holiday but
there was always something stopping me and before you know it, years have
Anyway, it is early November in Birmingham, England, and the whole Christmas
thing has started to be over-blown by the continuous adverts on British
television. That thought of having another cold, wet Christmas makes me want
to get up and go…to Zimbabwe.
Of course I have my reservations with all the talk about the supermarket
shelves being empty and no fuel, no this and that…’no everything’ as
Mzekezeke would say! But hadn’t I spent the last five festive seasons with
too much food and drink and yet with no satisfaction?
To cut the chase, I landed at Harare International Airport on the morning of
December 2, 2007. My whole Zimbabwean experience had started when I booked
my ticket with our very own Air Zimbabwe. I have flown to many destinations
but never been with Air Zimbabwe.
This was exciting for me; I felt I was supporting my national airline. My
smile was quickly wiped off when I could not get the promised e-ticket. I
had to phone a friend who had a friend who worked for Air Zimbabwe who knew
the London office manager! You would think I had not actually paid for the
ticket. I needed to plead for a favour to get a ticket that I had long paid
for. I was still in London and having to do things that way?
The flight was going via Malawi, which is fine, but why were we not told at
the time of booking? Maybe I did not want to go to Lilongwe? As it turned
out, it was not a straight forward pick and drop. There was a security
Some not so wise person who had bought a London-Harare ticket decided to get
off in Lilongwe instead. The person did so without informing anyone and to
make matters worse, they left their luggage on board and immediately that
became a security issue. Believe it or not, they made us all get off the
aircraft in Lilongwe and we had to stand next to our luggage so they could
pinpoint the bags left by this mysterious person.
The large aircraft was the only one at the very small airport. The hot air
hit me as I stepped onto the Malawian runway. Right there, I witnessed
Zimbabwean enterprising at its best. While others like me were busy
stressing about the heat, the delays and generally complaining about
everything, some were busy purchasing bags of rice from the locals who
worked on the runway.
Right then, I had to change my attitude. I realised that to survive in
Africa, one had to be forth-coming, alert, enterprising and had to stop
I gave a huge sigh a relief when we finally landed at Harare International
Airport. I was home and it felt good. I did not know what to expect. The
drive to my hotel in the city centre felt like I had never left. Harare is
truly welcoming in that sense. Like a fool in love, I fell in love with
Harare all over again. The jacarandas were still blooming and the streets
seemed cleaner and wider.
Something in the city centre had changed. The type of people that filled the
streets were a different kind than you would have seen in Eastgate or 1st
Street eight or so years ago. A new type of street dealers has been born.
They move in groups, both men and women, all crowded and busy with something
but I wondered what?
They were the people that controlled the city. They could get you anything
and everything and yet they seemed like they had nothing. It was the same at
Westgate. However, Avondale did not let me down because it was still as
vibrant as I remembered it. Looking at the car parks and the revelers
drinking in the bars, one would wonder if they were still in Zimbabwe. It
gets worse in places like Arundel Park, Greystone Park Shopping Centre.
Just like the new breed of people in the city centre, these affluent areas
had a new breed of cash-loaded teenagers. They made me feel my teenage days
were deprived. They were all dressed to kill and it looked like a scene from
Laguna Beach. Who were they? How did they escape the economic hardships that
people as far as UK are feeling?
They were simply and fabulously black teenagers living large in a country
that is hard hit by poverty. They were the kids of a few people that ran
Harare. The kids of the top businessmen, the government ministers and so on.
But there were so many of them. Was something else going on here? Or maybe I
just did not want to accept that someone ten years my junior is living
large, while I didn’t? What made it worse was they didn’t have to leave
Zimbabwe to have it all. Lucky for some I thought!
Downtown Harare was most impressive to me. The part of town that you would
have thought could collapse given the harsh economic climate. But
interestingly enough, Chinhoyi street, the whole of Kopje area, Mbuya
Nehanda, etc, these streets were vibrant. They are full of new stores that
are run by indigenous business people. Then there are rows of none-ending
stores that sell vehicle ‘spare parts’. The word on the street is that most
of them are run by Nigerians. Then of course you have the ‘cheap’ Chinese
stores. That fusion has made downtown Harare the most promising and most
improved business hub.
It is very difficult for me to explain simply what I think of Zimbabwe now.
It was confusing, exciting, crazy, frustrating, heart-breaking, impressive
all rolled in one. Homes go for days without water and or electricity. You
get excited about seeing bread in a supermarket! And a Coca-Cola has never
tasted so good, especially if you have moved mountains to find it!
The most amazing thing is how fast one can adjust to all this madness. Life
has to go on. People from the northern suburbs now go for food shopping in
Mbare. People from Mufakose, Highfields, etc are the ones who run Westgate,
Eastgate, 4th Street bus stop, Road Port, etc. People from Hatcliffe have
taken over Borrowdale and Pomona shops.
What I found most unbearable is the unavailability of basic commodities like
bread, drinks, meat, (especially beef) fuel and of course cash. It was so
frustrating having money in the bank and yet not being able to get it out.
Or having a fuel coupon and having to queue for hours to get fuel.
And yet on the other hand, people are getting stronger and wiser. There is
no sense of panic. I also visited Mutare, Chinhoyi, Marondera, Norton,
Masvingo and they are still intact. Zimbabwe is in so many ways still
beautiful, full of fun, welcoming, friendly, safe but not as comfortable as
it should be.
Believe it or not, all the holiday spots were fully booked over the
Christmas period. I had planned to go to Victoria Falls but could not get a
flight from Harare and all the hotels and lodges were fully booked. It gets
better; these holiday resorts were mostly occupied by locals.
It was good to see that more and more Zimbabweans are starting to take time
to enjoy Zimbabwe’s wonderful resorts. With the fuel on low, driving to
Victoria Falls was not an option. We decided to go east but Nyanga, Vumba
and Mutare were also fully booked. We ended up in Mozambique!
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
22 January 2008
Posted to the web 23 January 2008
A CHINESE investor is set to take up a significant stake in the
Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, Herald Business has learnt.
The size of the stake was not clear at Press time yesterday.
IDBZ chief executive Mr Charles Chikaura confirmed the negotiations, saying
steps had already been taken to facilitate the transaction.
"I can, indeed, confirm that, consistent with Government's 'Look East
Policy', the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe is in discussions
with a major Chinese bank interested in acquiring a significant shareholding
in the bank.
"The necessary shareholder approvals for the investment have been sought and
granted by the bank's existing shareholders," he said.
He added that the potential Chinese investor was currently exercising due
Although Mr Chikaura chose to be prudent over the portion at stake and the
identity of the potential investor, Herald Business is informed that the
China Development Bank (CBD) may be the suitor of IBDZ.
The Chinese financial institution is currently the biggest development bank
in the world by portfolio, surpassing the World Bank and Asia Development
CDB has been a major player in long-term financing for key projects and
supportive construction in infrastructure, and basic pillar industries.
It is one of the three policy banks of Chinese investment vehicle PRC,
primarily responsible for raising funding for large infrastructure projects,
including most of the funding for the Three Gorges Dam and Shanghai Pudong
"Our expectation is that negotiations will be completed in the first half of
this year, at which point an appropriate announcement will be made," said Mr
"In the meantime, confidential undertakings made by the bank to the Chinese
investor preclude me from providing further information about the
IDBZ was launched by the Government of Zimbabwe in 2005 as a vehicle for the
mobilisation of infrastructure development finance from both domestic and
The bank's mandate is to mobilise financial and technical resources of
appropriate duration and cost, for public and private institutions involved
in infrastructure development and to facilitate investment in
Long-term products include equity, bonds and guarantees, long-term loan and
project finance. Short-term products include trade finance, lease finance,
working capital, personal loans and treasury services.
IDBZ also actively promotes the participation of the private sector in
infrastructure finance and development, through public-private partnership
models, including joint venture, build-operate transfer (BOT) and other
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 01/23/2008 19:20:33
ZIMBABWE’S Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communications
has alleged corruption in the tender procedures for the construction of an
airport in the resort town of Victoria Falls, a report seen Tuesday reveals.
The parliamentary committee also said it doubts the “credit worthiness” of
information given to it by the bosses of Air Zimbabwe and the Civil Aviation
Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) Peter Chikumba and David Chaota respectively on
various issues, and suggested they were covering up for Transport Minister
“The committee observed that the tender process on the Victoria Falls
Airport was flawed. It was apparent to the committee that the authority
(Civil Aviation) was acting from instructions elsewhere,” the report said.
The legislative body, chaired by Zanu PF Makonde MP, Leo Mugabe, said the
tender was first given to Costain Zimbabwe and Zumlantec, but later
cancelled and awarded to another company that had not submitted a bid in the
The airport’s upgrading was said to be at a standstill, as the new company
has no funds in contrast with Constain which had secured full financial
backing from Nedbank.
The committee said Air Zimbabwe was reeling from lack of foreign currency
and recommended that the airline charge regional and international
passengers in hard cash.
MPs said Transport Minister Christopher Mushohwe should keep his distance
from the day to day running of Air Zimbabwe and CAAZ, restricting himself
only to providing policy guidelines.
They added that because of the interference, “the committee was not
satisfied with the credit worthiness of the evidence given by the CEOs of
both Air Zimbabwe and CAAZ. The committee identified gaps of truth and
wondered whether thus compromised the autonomy of the decision making of