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

Water outages hit fire tenders, woes mount in Zimbabwe

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: January 27, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Fires caused by candles during Zimbabwe's frequent power
outages have destroyed homes because firefighters have also been unable to
find water, the state Sunday Mail reported.

In one incident, in suburban northern Harare, a candle set curtains alight
and an occupant tore down them down and threw them outside, onto drums being
used to store gasoline. The house was gutted, with only a bed recovered from
the ruins, the paper said.

In the second, gasoline was being sold from a house occupied by four
families in a western township and caught light when a candle was lit during
an electricity cut, it said.

All the occupants escaped without injury.

House owner Sothini Chiravasa told the newspaper by the time fire tenders
began drawing water from a neighbor's swimming pool the blaze was out of

"How could they come to put out a fire without water?" she was quoted as
Zimbabwe is suffering daily power and water outages along with chronic
shortages of gasoline that have forced many householders to store supplies
in containers despite constant warnings by the fire department of the

Amid the shortages, gas prices have soared, crippling public transport
services and putting regular fares out of the reach of many workers, many of
whom have resorted to walking to their jobs.

According to the main labor federation, many workers have formed "walking
clubs" from satellite townships into cities that set out as early as 4 a.m.
and cover more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) a day.

The Sunday Mail quoted office employee Grace Choruma saying she sold peanut
butter and other items to her workmates to help pay her commuter fares to

The paper said bus operators were increasing fares after failing to obtain
subsidized fuel from the state fuel agency and being forced to buy it on the
black market at up to 10 million Zimbabwe dollars (US$2; €1.36) a liter.

The official media reported last week some bus services were brought to a
halt by gas shortages that forced drivers to pass a hat around asking for
donations from passengers so as to buy black market fuel.

In economic meltdown, Zimbabwe has the world's highest official inflation at
an estimated 24,000 per cent. But the International Monetary Fund and
independent financial institutions say real inflation is closer to 150,000

The Sunday Mail, meanwhile, apologized to readers for reducing its number of
pages and copies available Sunday, because of acute shortages of newsprint.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe teachers strike over pay: union

Yahoo News

Sun Jan 27, 6:43 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Teachers in Zimbabwe's state-run schools have begun an
indefinite strike to press for better salaries and more funding for
equipment, a union official said Sunday in an official statement.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Secretary General Raymond
Majongwe said teachers stopped work after the government ignored their
demands for a salary review.
"Teachers in Zimbabwe resolved to go on strike with effect from January 24,
2008 and vowed to go to work after their demands have been fully met,"
Majongwe said in the statement.

The union acted after the government "unilaterally" awarded teachers a basic
monthly salary of 141 million Zimbabwe dollars, he added. That figure comes
to 4,689 US dollars at the official rate -- but just 28 US dollars at the
widely used black market rate.

Teachers want a basic monthly salary of 1.7 billion Zimbabwe dollars, nearly
600 million Zimbabwe dollars towards housing and transport costs and
government funding for teaching materials.

Zimbabwean teachers have been migrating to neighbouring Botswana, Mozambique
and South Africa, some of them taking up menial jobs to earn a living and
send money to their families at home.

In a separate statement issued to parents and students, the PTUZ appealed to
them to support the strike.

"There is a critical shortage of learning materials in our schools.
Infrastructure is dilapidated, buildings and school furniture are
collapsing," it said.

While official figures put annual inflation at nearly 8,000 percent,
economists say it could be nearer 50,000 percent.

Unemployment is running at around 80 percent and there have been widespread
shortages of basic goods such as sugar and the staple cornmeal.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 26th January 2008

Taking today into account, our average attendance this month has been more
than 250. This must reflect growing anxiety about the situation in Zimbabwe.
Two-hundred-and-fifty people phoning home gives us a lot of information and
we know conditions on the ground are not ready for free and fair elections.

 Stendrick Zvorwardza of our partner, Restoration of Human Rights in
Zimbabwe (ROHR Zimbabwe), is - as we write this - still in custody.  He was
leading a group of 200 ROHR supporters in a demonstration in Harare on
Friday carrying banners demanding peace, justice and freedom.  Riot police
pounced but the demonstrators joined hands and sang.  The police were
uncertain how to act as this behaviour took them by surprise so they ordered
them to stop singing.  The order was ignored and the police started beating
people.  The protesters asked 'Why are you beating us?' and refused to
disperse until they had been addressed by Sten.  He was allowed to speak for
30 minutes before the group dispersed.  It was then that the police arrested
Sten and others.

 ROHR is non-party political and is trying to encourage people to stand up
for their human rights. We salute our brave friends who took part in this
demonstration for freedom.  We know that 23 of you were seriously injured
including 2 ladies with broken arms.  We hope your suffering will help in
the creation of a new Zimbabwe.

At a busy Vigil we badly missed Chipo Chaya of the management team, who is
always with us helping with merchandise and other Vigil matters.  Following
the death of her 25 year old brother she was in hospital with high blood
pressure from stress.  We joined to send her some support at her time of

We were glad to have with us Paul Jira who has been through a tough time.
He arrived about eight months ago on false papers and was immediately sent
to prison.  About a week ago he was transferred to Dover Detention Centre.
He was released today and came straight to the Vigil.

During the Vigil it was noticed that one person signed in for three.  The
question of possible fraudulent signing of the register was
discussed at a management meeting held after the Vigil. We already have two
people with general oversight of the register table but with the enormous
number of people we are now getting we have to tighten procedures.  It was
agreed that from the end of February (to allow time for this to get around)
the register would be closed at 5 pm.  The rationale was that many people
had been seen coming and signing at the very end of the Vigil.  It has been
suggested that some people attend the Vigil for the minimum time available
in order to use it to advance their asylum claim.   The Vigil management
team discussed their policy on supporting asylum seekers and reaffirmed our
existing procedure.  People get letters about their support for the Vigil
after completing 6 signed attendances with some leeway for those living far
away, eg Scotland.

The Vigil management team is made up of people who are long-term and active
supporters of the Vigil.  People are invited to join when tasks need to be
done.  The team affirmed that the Vigil is a coalition of those who support
our mission statement "The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand,
London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against
gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The
Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until
internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe." We
agreed that the Vigil is non-party political.

For this week's Vigil pictures:

FOR THE RECORD:  172 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:  Monday 28th January at 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe
Forum.  Elliot Pfebve, former MDC parliamentary candidate for Bindura, will
speak about how elections are rigged in Zimbabwe. Venue: downstairs function
room of the Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next
to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam

Vigil co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

African leaders must tighten screws on Mugabe, say NGOs

Zim Online

by Own Correspondent Monday 28 January 2008

JOHANNESBURG – African non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have called on
the African Union (AU) to pressure the Zimbabwe government to conduct free
and fair elections and said the union should closely monitor the
deteriorating human rights situation in the country.

The NGOs, which also called on the continental union to dispatch observers
to Zimbabwe’s March elections, will present their demands to AU leaders who
begin their annual summit this week on Thursday in the Ethiopian capital,
Addis Abbaba.

“With regard to the situation in Zimbabwe, the AU must implement the ACHPR
(African Commission on Human and People’s Rights) resolution of 28 November
2007 encouraging Zimbabwe to hold free and fair elections,” the NGOs said in
a communiqué at the weekend.

The civic society groups that have in the past heavily criticised African
leaders for their failure to censure Harare over its controversial human
rights record urged the AU to “closely monitor the human rights situation in
Zimbabwe and urge the government of Zimbabwe to uphold human rights.”

Zimbabwe holds presidential, parliamentary and local government elections on
March 29 after President Robert Mugabe rejected by opposition pleas for
polls to be postponed to allow the implementation of a new constitution that
it said would guarantee free and fair polls.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which has
held several rounds of talks with Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party under the
mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki is expected to contest the
polls under protest.

Mbeki’s mediation is part of efforts by Southern African Development
Community (SADC) leaders to break Zimbabwe’s eight-year crisis by
facilitating dialogue between ZANU PF and the MDC.

A key objective of the dialogue process is to ensure free and fair polls
that analysts say are a prerequisite to any plans to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s
once brilliant economy.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic recession – blamed on
repression and wrong policies by Mugabe –and seen in hyperinflation, a
rapidly contracting GDP, the fastest for a country not at war according to
the World Bank and shortages of every essential commodity.

Mugabe, in power since 1980 and standing for another five-year term in
March, denies ruining Zimbabwe’s economy and instead blames the country’s
troubles on sabotage by his Western enemies. – ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Church leaders keen to resuscitate initiative

Zim Online

by Thenjiwe Mabhena Monday 28 January 2008

      HARARE – A group of church leaders says it stands ready to step up
efforts to find a mediated solution in Zimbabwe following the virtual
collapse of a regional endeavor to unlock the country’s eight-year political

      Bishop Trevour Manhanga, one of the leading proponents of the church
initiative, said the apparent collapse of talks led by South Africa’s
President Thabo Mbeki had given the church leaders renewed hope to break the

      The church leaders, who two years ago produced a document titled, “The
Zimbabwe We Want: Towards A National Vision for Zimbabwe,” said they will
produce a new and more comprehensive document in March that they believe
could form the basis for dialogue between the government and the opposition.

      “We are hoping that the first draft would be ready before the
elections on 29 March . . . We would want whoever wins the elections to use
the document to plan their policies," said Manhanga.

      Mugabe last weekend threw the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) initiative into turmoil after he unilaterally declared 29 March as
the date for presidential and parliamentary elections.

      Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
has reacted with anger to the announcement describing the move as “an act of
madness” saying there were issues pertaining to timing of the polls that
were still under discussion at the SADC-backed inter-party talks.

      Manhanga said the apparent collapse of the Mbeki-led talks had
suddenly thrown their church initiative back into the spotlight.

      “It makes us more relevant. The politicians must again go back to the
drawing board. It (deadlock) will add impetus to our initiative," said

      The church leader said their outreach programme had seen them traverse
at least two thirds of the country’s provinces gathering views from
political parties, business lobby group, war veterans as well as ordinary

      The church leaders, who are generally seen as pro-government, last
year presented a copy of their document to Mugabe and have also met MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a bid to coax the two to embrace dialogue.

      The national vision document called for the setting up of an
independent land commission to ensure equitable land redistribution, a new,
democratic constitution for Zimbabwe as well as a review of harsh media laws
blamed for the closure of independent newspapers over the past five years.

      While Mugabe had appeared to embrace the church initiative, he however
rejected outright calls to introduce a new constitution arguing there was
nothing wrong with Zimbabwe’s Lancaster House constitution drafted by the
British just before the country’s independence in 1980.

      Political analysts warned then that Mugabe was not interested in the
document as he only wanted to buy time for his embattled government. The
document has been gathering dust over the past two years. – ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Gold miners plead for price review to stay afloat

Zim Online

by Lizwe Sebatha Monday 28 January 2008

BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe’s struggling gold miners are pressing the central bank
to further increase the price at which it buys the precious mineral saying a
500 percent hike last week was woefully inadequate in the face of galloping

Inflation, the most visible sign of an acute economic crisis gripping
Zimbabwe, is officially estimated at more than 8 000 percent as at the end
of last September but the International Monetary Fund recently put the
southern African country’s rate of inflation at around 150 000 percent.

Chamber of Mines chief economist David Mutyanga at the weekend said the
chamber would engage the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to press for further
reviews that are in line with the rate of inflation and ever rising costs of

“The latest review is still below market expectations. Operational costs and
inflation have gone way beyond the latest review. We will continue to engage
the central bank to ensure that the prices are reviewed regularly.”

The RBZ is sole buyer of all gold produced in the country and last week
reviewed prices to $50 million from $10 million per gramme in a bid to spur
gold production that went down by 34 percent last year.

However, miners say the price review is little to ensure viability in a
sector battling myriad challenges.

“The review falls far short to ensure viability in the sector and also to
ensure that miners acquire some of the machinery and chemicals that require
foreign currency for mining operations,” Zimbabwe Mining Federation (ZMF)
chief executive Wellington Takavarasha said.

According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe figures, gold production levels
remain on a downward spiral since peaking at 29 tonnes in 1999. The country
that also boasts the world’s second largest platinum deposits, produced 7.5
tonnes of gold last year down from 11 tonnes produced in 2006.

There are fears that Zimbabwe might lose accreditation to the London Bullion
Market Association (LBMA) after the country failed last year to reach the
required 10 tonnes of gold to enable the nation to sell gold directly to the
international market. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Why Mugabe will win
Sunday, 27 January 2008

Rigging an election is a complicated procedure - but Zanu-PF are the experts

Mugabe's announcement that the joint elections will take place on March 29
may have filled some of us with renewed hope. Innocent souls may have asked
themselves: is this a chance to finally rid the country of the crabby old
dictator? The answer is, of course, no it isn't.

The truth is, this election is already rigged - and rigged more thoroughly
than any of its predecessors. By using its security forces, its money, and
its unquenchable desire for power, Zanu-PF will sail to victory in four
week's time, and there's nothing we can do to stop it.

Government plans are already in place, which, as well as the usual
brutality, threats and punishment, will employ a variety of subtler methods
which will ensure nothing goes wrong. These, according to my usually
reliable sources, are some of the details:

Already printed and stored are two million extra ballot papers. Each one
will be marked for...well, you can guess who for. Exactly. This leaves the
problem of how to get them into the ballot boxes in a not-too-obvious

To this end, recruitment is taking place, particularly from the National
Youth Training Service, to provide an army of ostensibly neutral "observers"
for election day. Already more than ten thousand are on the payroll, earning
a basic Z$150m a month. Target number is 20,000.

At the same time, opposition parties will be approached by apparent
"deserters" from the army, the police and the Central Intelligence
Organisation, who will offer their services as election agents, to see fair
play on election day. They will, of course, do exactly the opposite.

In this way, Zanu-PF can expect to exert total control of all polling
stations, the moving of ballot boxes, and the counting of votes, genuine and
fake, on the 29th. And to make doubly sure, more than Z$100 trillion has
been set aside for straight-forward bribery of officials where necessary.

One of my sources commented: "Bribery will be the easy part. After all,
people are starving. They are desperate to feed their families. They can't
turn the money down."

And that, together with a couple of other fiddles, including some hopelessly
fraudulent postal voting, will do the trick. The thugs, murderers and crooks
who make up our ruling party will settle in for another term, under the
benevolent stewardship of one of the world's most appalling dictators.

When the above information reached me, I wasted my time and the cost of a
call to telephone Didymus Mutasa, who is the Zanu-PF Secretary for
Administration - the man at the heart of this web of corruption and
chicanery. I told him what I knew, and asked for a comment.

"We will get you, and you will regret everything," he told me, before
switching his phone off.

Perhaps the saddest thing is, he didn't even bother to deny it.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

May I be the first to congratulate Mugabe

New Zimbabwe

By Chido Makunike
Last updated: 01/28/2008 05:21:10
ZIMBABWE’S presidential and general elections are set for March 29, but one
result is already obvious: Robert Mugabe is going to be returned as

Two months before the election, I might as well be the first to congratulate
Mugabe on his assured win.

In a way, it really is a waste of time to hold the election at all because
there are so many signals that there is no way any other result than a "win"
for Mugabe can be contemplated. Whether or not Mugabe is still "popular" is
an interesting but largely irrelevant issue to the outcome of this election.

This creates quite a dilemma for MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. There are
virtually no circumstances under which he can win the election, even if many
more people vote for him than for Mugabe, so his participation would largely
be a charade. Yet if he pulls out, he will be accused of being afraid of
losing. He is in a no-win situation in a quite literal way.

But so is Mugabe, the impending "winner." The possibly ghastly consequences
for him of his being turned out of office at the ballot box are obvious, and
are just one reason that it will not happen. Yet his "win" on March 29 will
be hollow and meaningless in many ways, particularly for the country, but
for him as an individual as well.

The country he rules over may be in a shameful mess as he wrings his hands
and looks for ever more imaginative excuses for that state of affairs, but
Mugabe still has his pockets of sympathy and support. But it is also true
that a significant body of world opinion regards him as such an oppressive
ogre that they will automatically assume he stole the election.

It may be only Zimbabweans who vote in the election, but how Mugabe is
negatively regarded in influential sections of the world has been a
significant factor in his being a bombastically strong ruler, but who in
practical terms is helpless and ineffective; a long-serving lame duck
president. Whichever of Zimbabwe's many long-running problems you choose to
examine, there is no one who any longer believes Mugabe is going to come up
with some sensible, workable solution.

Those who support him do not any longer do it for the reason that they
believe the country's fortunes will improve if he is given five more years
to the 27 that he has already served.

To many of those supporters, Mugabe represents an anti-Western symbolism for
which his uselessness to Zimbabweans' material fortunes can be excused.

For them, the fact that Zimbabwe is in such a poor state and has little
prospect of reversing that decline under a Mugabe with seemingly no workable
ideas is neither here nor there. After all, he speaks such good English when
he insults the British and the Americans and oh, look at how elegantly he
wears his British suits!

Likewise, those for whom Mugabe mainly represents the celebration of state
violence and oppression against the citizens will see no redeeming qualities
in the man no matter what he does.

ugabe, therefore, will have no net gain in credibility from his win. He is
also unlikely to have any net loss in credibility, but the chances of a net
loss are higher than that of a net gain. This depends on factors like
whether he can control himself from permitting the brutalization of
opposition leaders by the police and then delightedly crowing about it. It
is this kind of short-sighted previous buffoonery that has contributed to
the current reality in which he will in many respects still be a "loser"
even if he "wins" the election.

An interesting aspect of the corner Mugabe has worked himself into with the
notoriety that he seems to enjoy, but which has been so costly to the
country, is that many people would not believe his victory was clean and
legitimate even if it was. More than at any time before, the only electoral
outcome which many onlookers would believe to be "free and fair" would be
the one that is not going to happen: his losing!

So whatever the election "win" will represent for Mugabe, a significant
strengthening of his international legitimacy will not be one of them. His
opponents will assume electoral crookedness in his win and his supporters
will not care whether his continuing in power was because he genuinely won
the most votes or not.

Mugabe's "win" will mean business as usual for him and his ruling clique. It
will also mean there is no reason to expect any change in the country's
fortunes. The "illegal sanctions" that Mugabe blames for his utter
helplessness to make any positive change will continue, the increasingly
desperate economic experiments will continue, inflation will continue
shooting up and so on. A Mugabe "win" means nothing would have changed to
give even his supporters any reason to hope that these things will be
brought under control or reversed.

For Mugabe, his new mandate will mean he will continue to have power in the
physical, military sense, which perhaps is all that matters to him now. He
can hire and fire ministers and other functionaries, he can make life
uncomfortable for opponents, he can preside over ceremonial things and so
forth, but there is no reason to believe that he will be any better able to
deal with the day to day issues of survival that occupy most Zimbabweans
than he has been in the last several years of steep decline. His
presidential role will ever more be that of tin-pot dictator, not leader and
motivator/facilitator of positive change.

It is very difficult to know if the opposition MDC is coming or going, so
confusing is the state of affairs between its two factions and within them.
Even if they had their act together, there is no way to tell what kind of
government they would make. But clearly, if it were possible to have a "free
and fair" election, their presidential candidate would have a very good
chance of convincingly beating Mugabe just on the basis of the disastrous
state of the country after his 27 years at the helm, and his utter lack of
any credible plan to change that situation. He is not even pretending to
have anything to offer.

Given the foregoing, the lone permissible outcome of Mugabe's assured win on
March 29, by hook or by crook, is an assured loss for Zimbabwe.

Chido Makunike is a Zimbabwean social and political commentator. He can be
contacted on e-mail:

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe more ruthless with age

New Zimbabwe

By Mary Revesai
Last updated: 01/28/2008 05:21:11
THE cruel measures Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe is resorting to in his
desperate bid to cling to power remind me of something that South African
political satirist, Pieter-Dirk Uys, has said about Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Contributing to the book, Tutu as I know him: On a personal Note, Uys
describes “The Arch” as Tutu is affectionately known, as “a giant of a man
who is not sacred to stand up and be regarded as politically incorrect by
his own comrades. He will say very loudly: What is our relationship with
that mad man in Harare all about?”

Uys cites Tutu’s courageous stance against the South African government’s
denialist approach on the issue of HIV and AIDS and its failure to honour a
pledge to help apartheid victims.

He sums up: “Desmond Tutu has proved one thing: Practice makes perfect. You
practice humanity for long enough, you become a pretty perfect human being.”

It is sad to say that the same cannot be said of Zimbabwe’s head of state.
What can be said of Robert Mugabe is that the longer he has practiced
tyranny and cruelty with impunity, the more ruthless he has become towards
his own people.

Some admirers of the Zimbabwean leader have often accused the West of double
standards in singling out Mugabe for what they perceive as demonisation and
vilification when there are many other dictators on the African continent.

What these supporters of the Zimbabwean president often forget is that while
other heads of state like Libya’s flamboyant Muammar Gaddafi are accused of
authoritarianism, they generally fall into the category of benevolent
dictators in that they devote national resources to taking care of their
people’s needs. They do not openly wage a war of attrition against the

In contrast, instead of mellowing over the years into a compassionate and
wise leader, Mugabe has progressively turned into a “mad man”, as Tutu
describes him, by allowing himself to be consumed by a desire for vengeance
against political opponents and detractors, something totally unbecoming of
a head of state.

As evidenced by the way he treated the late Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi
Sithole, Edgar Tekere and is dealing with Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe has
never accepted that any other Zimbabwean should aspire to ascend to the
position of leader of the country. His retributive approach against those
listed above and other dissenters shows he clearly believes he rules by
divine anointment and anyone challenging his authority is guilty of treason
or worse.

Over the years, Mugabe has pretended that he persecuted potential rivals for
the leadership of Zimbabwe in the “national interest” and the name of the
ruling Zanu PF. But the fact that his paranoid vendettas stem from the need
for personal preservation rather than national considerations is proved by
the fact that of late, when he has been facing opposition and disgruntlement
within his own party, he has not hesitated to use the same vindictive

He used the appointment of Joice Mujuru as vice president in 2004 to take a
pre-emptive strike against Emmerson Mnangagwa by dealing ruthlessly with the
“Tsholotsho” group of Zanu PF officials who were accused of plotting a
palace coup. A number of provincial chairmen were suspended from the ruling
party and Mnangagwa spent some time in the political wilderness until Mugabe
was ready to use him against another challenger.

A few years down the line, after the pendulum turned and the Mujuru faction
seemed a more serious threat to his incumbency, Mugabe did not hesitate to
woo the Mnangagwa faction back into favour.

Joice Mujuru was accused of having tried to campaign for the top job
“through biographies”, a reference to Tekere’s memoirs in which he praised
Mujuru. Tekere himself, who had applied to rejoin Zanu PF, was barred from
doing so at Mugabe’s behest.

To make sure he would be the only Zanu PF presidential candidate in the
forthcoming so-called harmonised elections, Mugabe resorted to crude tactics
by getting maverick war veteran Jabulani Sibanda to intimidate potential
opponents by staging solidarity marches to highlight support for Mugabe’s
candidacy. These culminated in the “million- man march” in December, leading
to Mugabe’s disputed endorsement by acclamation during the Zanu PF special

Mugabe once again did not hesitate to rehabilitate the controversial
Sibanda, who had been suspended from the ruling party for his involvement
with the Tsholotso group, when he needed to use him to safeguard his
position. And all this from a man who regularly taunts others for not being

The latest Machiavellian Mugabe antics pertain to his ruthless crushing of a
rebellious group within his party who have mooted the possibility of forming
a breakaway faction to challenge his ruinous leadership. Mugabe is reported
to have summoned those involved individually to harangue and threaten them.

One of them, a former army heavyweight, has been un-procedurally expelled
from Zanu PF as punishment. The only positive aspect of these bizarre
actions is that those within Zanu PF who have sung Mugabe’s praises when he
has ruthlessly persecuted people like Nkomo, Sithole, Tekere and Tsvangirai
now see that the man’s tyranny knows no bounds when his political supremacy
is challenged.

Leaders of opposition parties, civic groups, journalists, lawyers,
businessmen, trade unionists and anyone who has expressed concern about the
state of affairs in the country and has called for accountable and
democratic leadership has been labelled a malcontent or puppet of the West.

But now that Mugabe has shown the same aversion to dissent and expression of
views that are at variance with his own by members of his own party, his
determination to hold Zimbabwe back from taking its place among the global
family of nations is seen clearly for what it is. Mugabe’s obduracy,
intransigence, inflexibility and tyranny have nothing to do with
revolutionary zeal and everything to do with an unquenchable appetite for
power and self-aggrandisement.

Mugabe is now a liability to the country because he is not serving national
interests but diverting resources that should benefit all Zimbabweans
towards propping his despotic one-man rule. His ruinous and self-serving
policies have pauperised the populace and reduced the masses to a primitive
existence in which they suffer worse indignities than they experienced under
colonial rule.

The tragedy is that after 28 years of honing these evil and cunning skills,
Mugabe, who turns 84 on February 21, will, as surely as the sun rises in the
east and sets in the west, be back for another six-year term after
fraudulently claiming victory in the elections to be held on March 29.

While exemplary adherence to humane principles has created icons like Nelson
Mandela and Tutu in South Africa, Mugabe who is in the twilight of his life,
will leave a terrible legacy for Zimbabwe after compromising the army, the
police force, the state media and other public institutions for the sole
purpose of promoting his evil personal agenda at the expense of the people
to whom he is supposed to be accountable and answerable.

Mary Revesai is a New columnist and writes from Harare

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Cash-strapped ZBH pays for live African cup rights

27th Jan 2008 14:07 GMT

By Ian Nhuka

BULAWAYO - Cash-strapped Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) has finally
paid an undisclosed sum of money to secure rights to beam live African Cup
of Nations matches on local television.

It was unclear Friday, how the beleaguered ZBH managed to mobilise the money
to make the surprise
payment for the live broadcasts.

Reports this week said ZBH needed to pay about US$800 000 to LC2, a company
that has exclusive coverage
rights of the ongoing tournament in Ghana.

However, Robson Mhandu ZBH’s general manager responsible for television
services said the public
broadcaster was engaged in talks with South Africa’s satellite sports
channel, Supersport with a view to striking a deal.

He said the South African company offers cheaper rates.

But yesterday, ZBH public relations officer, Sivukile Simango said the deal
to beam the matches had been struck but refused to disclose details on how
much the parastatal had paid and to whom.

He said: “We will start broadcasting Friday night after we secured the
rights. That means that our normal evening schedules would be disrupted.”

In an earlier statement ZBH chief executive officer, Henry Muradzikwa said
the organisation had also obtained rights to broadcast match, that have
already been played since the start of the competition last Sunday.

“The broadcaster apologies for any inconveniences caused due to the delay in
securing the rights,” he said in a brief statement.

Simango refused to disclose the amount of money paid, saying it is

But the amount is known to be very big, as countries with better functioning
economies such as Nigeria,
Namibia and Zambia telling their viewers that they are unable to air live
broadcasts of the games.

In flood-hit Zambia, the public broadcaster in that country was asked to pay
US$1,5 but only managed to
raise US$150 000.

A senior official even told the international press that it makes sense for
Lusaka to spend the money to assist villagers who have been displaced by
floods in parts of that country as incessant rains continue to pound
southern Africa.

Ironically, Zimbabwe failed to qualify for the competition.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Bulawayo's dams filling, but chemical drought means scarcer water

Earth Times

Posted : Sun, 27 Jan 2008 13:02:00 GMT
Author : DPA

Johannesburg/Harare - Heavy rains have averted the imminent drying-up
of water supplying the western city of Bulawayo, but still Zimbabwe's second
city faces the threat of running out of water. This time, according to the
city's opposition-controlled council, it is because it doesn't have the
money to pay for water purifying chemicals, reports said Sunday.

The government's notorious price control watchdog will not allow it to
increase its charges for services so it can raise money to pay for the

The city of nearly two million was on the brink of disaster when, at
the beginning of December, four of its five dams were dry and the last one
had only 20 percent of its capacity.

Residential areas were cut to about two hours of water in their taps
per week. Residents of the country's poorer townships queued all night with
buckets at boreholes drilled by the council, and at tractor-drawn bowsers
supplied by churches.

Residents' organizations warned that a bad rainy season could force
the city to shut down and a mass exodus of its nearly two million people.

Since then, however, the heaviest rains since records began with the
arrival of European colonists in 1890 have pushed the water levels in the
dams up to 60 percent of their capacity.

But the council last week warned residents that the meagre supply of
water was to be cut further. Its water treatment system has run out of
aluminium sulphate, needed to purify water before it can be pumped into the
city's reticulation system, said council spokesman Pathisa Nyathi.

"The situation is untenable," he said. "The chemicals are on the
market but we have no money because our budget for this year has not been
approved, and we are still charging last year's rates."

In Zimbabwe's hyperinflationary environment - the International
Monetary Fund estimates annual inflation at 150,000 per cent - the price of
chemicals has soared out of the council's reach in the last month.

The council has prepared a budget with municipal charges to raise
finance so it can meet sharply higher procurement costs, but the National
Incomes and Pricing Commission, appointed by president Robert Mugabe to
enforce price controls, has to approve the budget first.

The council and churches and civic organization in Bulawayo accuse
Mugabe's government of deliberately ignoring the situation in Bulawayo
because it is dominated by the minority Ndebele tribe, and controlled by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

UK property tycoon to appear in court in Zimbabwe


Sun 27 Jan 2008, 10:33 GMT

HARARE, Jan 27 (Reuters) - British property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten,
who was arrested by Zimbabwe police on charges of violating exchange control
rules, will appear in court on Monday, a police spokesman said.

Police detained Van Hoogstraten, 63, after a night raid on his home on
Thursday and charged him with levying rentals on properties in foreign
currency. Zimbabwean law prohibits the payment of foreign currency for local
goods and services.

Police spokesman Andrew Phiri told Reuters on Sunday Van Hoogstraten would
appear before a magistrate on Monday.

"He is still in police custody and will appear in court on Monday morning,"
Phiri said.

Van Hoogstraten -- who is being charged under Exchange Control
regulations -- will also face charges linked to pornographic material found
in his house.

The real estate developer owns about 200 residential and business properties
in Zimbabwe. (Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Is ZANU-PF's Makoni serious?

Mmegi, Botswana


I read that "there appears to be a fair degree of excitement at the thought
of Simba Makoni challenging President Robert Mugabe in the forthcoming

After dictator Mugabe betrayed Zimbabweans in the manner he did, killing
hundreds to discourage democracy, people are not excited about anything of
the sort at all.

What excitement is generated from ZANU-PF cloning itself? And will they
label Makoni, the 'new' product, to be "as original as the original"?

If they don't, they are thieves of people's goodwill; if they do, they are
dead; give us another candidate, please.

What should Zimbabweans expect from such a 'confrontation'? Is it really a

And, by the way, who is Makoni and why is he where he is today? Who put him
there? Apart from technocrats and desperate, spent politicians who need but
no longer find security in Mugabe, does Makoni mean anything to the
Zimbabwean rank and file, the real voters?

Makoni, brilliant as he may be, is Mugabe's protegee and we cannot escape
that truth. It is a relationship that started in good faith, in recognition
of a young, loyal and sparkling mind.

For more than 27 years, Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party thwarted the emergency
of any potential young leaders from within its ranks. Any person revealing
leadership potential was deemed to be after replacing Mugabe. As a result,
young brilliant upcoming leaders, such as Makoni, were reduced to praise
singers, who dared not say anything wiser than Mugabe himself would say.

This is the reason why, today, we find that the ZANU-PF Youth League is
headed or effectively run by 60/70 year-olds. They are, however, youths
compared to Mugabe, the 'President and First Secretary' of the party.

Faithful to Maoist doctrine, only the anointed ones are allowed to think for
the party.

Makoni has always been Mugabe's blue-eyed boy in exactly the same way Alecke
Banda was to Malawi's Kamuzu Banda.

Mugabe was so proud of Makoni, parading him to the world media not only as
the youngest member of his original cabinet, then recognised as the most
educated cabinet in the world, but a PhD too!

Twice appointed Mugabe's Finance Minister and twice fired from the same post
by the same man, Makoni was, through Mugabe's blessing and lobbying,
appointed Executive Secretary of the then SADCC and fired from that post
again, reminiscent of Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika's firing from
the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa for incompetence and his
subsequent rise to the presidency through the support of a former president,
Bakhili Muluzi.

Mugabe showed genuine admiration for the young man and Makoni did his boss's

My very first contact with Makoni was back in 1984 when, upon just joining
Zimbabwe Television as a reporter, my very first assignment was covering him
when, as Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, he was "opening" a "model
home" at Mrewa Business Centre.

When I left ZTV, I continued meeting Dr Makoni since he was very close to
senior members of my family.

Yes, I admit, Makoni is very engaging and has a demeanour that urges you to
relax and that tells you that you are in the company of a friend. He is not
the kind of man who can do you any wrong. And you can read it in him within
a few minutes in his company.

Yes, I admit, Makoni is a gentleman, a man who is faithful to his friends
regardless of their political persuasion; he always sees and values the
person, not their politics and, maybe, that is the way we should look at him
too, dangerous as it maybe.

Maybe Makoni is just a little too faithful as evidenced by the people around
him. He surrounds himself with disgraced former Mugabe lieutenants such as
Ibbo Mandaza, Mugabe's former permanent secretary, and retired army major
Kudzai Mbudzi.

One wonders what the difference between Mandaza and the infamous Jonathan
Moyo is. After propping up a repressive leader, both fell out of farvour and
now want to present themselves as people's saviours.

"Those pushing for Makoni have decided to operate outside party structures
to become an equivalent of the parallel market and have the provinces
declare Makoni as the real candidate of their Zanu-PF," another source said.

That is not possible in any manner.

Worse still, the Zimbabwe Independent reported that the Makoni faction was
still debating "whether or not to contest the polls under the name Zanu-PF
or to use Patriotic Front."

Doesn't this sound like nonsense? Makoni's current foray is a bad idea
poorly executed by wrong people.

Mugabe has left a trail of politically confused and immobilised people with
broken dreams, notable among whom are businessmen Mutumwa Mawere, Philip
Chiyangwa and Mandaza himself.

Chiyangwa was physically mangled and apparently recovered while the agile
and shrewd businessman Mawere managed to leave the country just in time but
lost his businesses empire, including one of the world's biggest asbestos
mine, to Mugabe. For years, Mandaza had a partnership with fellow Zimbabwean
investors who sat on the board of his newspaper company.

It later emerged that the co-investors were actually operatives of Mugabe's
dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) who voted him out in the
boardroom and the paper was taken over by the CIO.

There are many more who were used and discarded like used toilet paper and
some of them are trying to resuscitate themselves and are attempting to come
back to life under "a new political party."

Meanwhile, sources say the Makoni faction has ruled out forming an alliance
with the MDC or any other political opposition party to oust tyrant Mugabe,
preferring to continue "pursuing ZANU-PF's ideological line under a new

"Makoni and some disgruntled senior Zanu-PF officials are saying that they
are for the ruling party ideology," another source close to the faction
said. "What they want is someone new to steer the ideology and to them it's

This hurts me. And I am not the only one. I can understand people with no
political base, like Ibbo Mandaza, prattling around and playing with reality
and to the gallery at the expense of the people.

They did it for decades during their heydays as Mugabe's willing and
over-zealous stooges and spin doctors, but I cannot take the same from

Is Makoni serious? Does he want to mount a real challenge for Mugabe's
throne because beyond defeating Mugabe is leading Zimbabwe? Who is backing
him since he does not have a constituency of his own, never having won an
election in his own name? Or maybe, Makoni is paying old debts, IOUs to
Mugabe, by mudding the waters and making it look as if there is democracy in
ZANU-PF and neutralizing potential and more powerful candidates?

You ask why I am skeptical, well, this is end of January and elections are
due in March. ZANU-PF chose its candidate a long time ago while Makoni is
"circling" the political towers like the Jericho demise and hoping for what?

Less than two months before an election, Makoni's party has not chosen a
name, or announced its principals or told the nation its agenda and who to
vote for in the combined parliamentary and presidential elections. I don't
want any part of this nonsense.

Is Makoni being used? Is he not putting his credibility on the line? What
criticism has he offered against Mugabe? Is he an alternative if he is for
ZANU-PF ideology which has destroyed the nation and families in our country?

Makoni just wants to be president and to hell with ideology. He is taking us
for morons who do not know the difference between a saviour and a power
hungry traitor.

Makoni can possibly get my vote if he stands out and gives our nation an
alternative. The last thing Zimbabwe needs right now is someone who promotes
and intends to perpetuate Mugabe's failed and disgraceful legacy.

I can support new ideas from people, old or new, but will not think twice
about trashing old politicians propounding old dishonoured doctrines.

Makoni must avoid becoming old wine in a new container. Why is every
politician taking Zimbabweans for fools? Zimbabweans, the real liberators of
Zimbabwe, are being taunted by ZANU-PF 'leaders' who have re-written history
in their own farvour. And Makoni, who does not need ZANU-PF, is being, once
again, used to cheat Zimbabweans.

However, all this nonsense is happening in the absence of a meaningful
opposition in Zimbabwe.

The heart of the matter is that today anyone can win a free and fair
election against Mugabe.

People just want change and hope to set the parameters later thinking that a
change might bring them some respect that recognises and accepts their
value, unlike now when they are pawns.

If all ZANU-PF card-carrying members dropped dead today, Zimbabwe would
still find a much better president and leader.

We need not regurgitate leaders, especially of people who have not only
failed but who have shown disdain for us.

We are in distress because of ZANU-PF and this most contemptuous party keeps
breeding and recycling its sons who oversaw our misery over the years.

Twenty-seven years of ZANU-PF is enough...but where is the opposition?

*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean journalist.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Elections scheduled for March 29th

January 27th, 2008

Elections have been called for March 29th. Yesterday’s zwnews carries a couple of articles on the topic, including this quote:

“It’s an act of madness and arrogance. What Mugabe has done is a slap in the face, not only of the MDC, but of Mbeki,” said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC’s largest faction. “The date for the elections is supposed to be mutually agreed by all parties involved.” He added: “The country is not yet prepared, infrastructurally, logistically and psychologically for this election.”

Please have a look at our ZEW section - Zimbabwe Election Watch - available on our main website and review the data we’ve been monitoring for months now.

Then ask yourself, how can anyone possibly imagine that the elections - held so soon - will be free and fair under these conditions?


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Minister to review Zimbabwe tour

 Sunday, 27 January 2008, 11:10 GMT

New Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has revealed he will review whether
England should welcome Zimbabwe for two Tests and three one-day matches in
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been widely criticised for his running
of the African country and the treatment of its citizens.

And Burnham told BBC 5 Live: "It is impossible to separate what has been
happening in that country from sport.

"I want to talk to foreign secretary David Miliband about Zimbabwe."

Burnham said he also plans to consult the International Cricket Council and
England cricket chiefs and will then "take a government view".

England are also set to host the 2009 World Twenty20 competition which will
include the Zimbabwe team in its line-up.

Earlier this month, ICC chief Malcolm Speed said it would be unusual not to
include a member of the Council in one of their competitions.

"It's a condition of hosting an ICC event that all member teams can play,"
Speed told BBC Sport.

"We (the ICC) haven't yet had to deal with a situation whereby a country
isn't allowed by the host nation's government to take part in an ICC event.

"If that happens, the board would have to meet and take whatever action it
deems necessary."

Under previous Prime Minister Tony Blair, the government stopped short of
banning the England team from touring Zimbabwe or vice versa.

But current leader Gordon Brown signalled his intent to take a tougher line
when he stayed away from the European Union-Africa summit last December in
Portugal because Mugabe was attending.

Unlike England, authorities in Australia and New Zealand took a stronger
stance on Zimbabwe.

The New Zealand government denied Zimbabwe players and officials entry visas
in 2005 while Australia refused to tour last year following a ruling from
former prime minister John Howard who called Mugabe a "grubby dictator".

Back to the Top
Back to Index