International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: January 28, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: British property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten on Monday
denied currency and pornography charges leveled by Zimbabwean authorities,
and said he was the victim of a trap.
"The charges are a deliberate and malicious entrapment scheme. I deny all of
them," he said in a statement issued by his Zimbabwean lawyer.
He did not specify who he thought was behind the entrapment, but said the
charges would not affect his close ties with President Robert Mugabe's
"The misconception which might arise in the press and elsewhere that I have
fallen out with the Zimbabwe authorities is utterly false," his statement
Police raided his home in northern Harare on Thursday, saying they were
acting on a tip that the Briton was receiving rental payments for houses,
apartments and shops he owns in Zimbabwe in hard currency, in breach of
During the raid, police said they found pornographic material featuring Van
Hoogstraten, 64, and a 22-year-old Zimbabwean woman, along with about
US$35,000 (€23,800), small amounts of other hard currencies, and 20 billion
Zimbabwe dollars in cash (about US$5,000; €3,400 at the dominant illegal
black market exchange rate).
The offenses carry the penalty of a fine and forfeiture of money held in
violation of the nation's currency laws.
Van Hoogstraten has been in police custody since his arrest. His Zimbabwean
attorney, George Chikumbirike, said Van Hoogstraten was taken by police to
the Justice Ministry earlier Monday before his scheduled appearance in the
Harare magistrate's court. But the courthouse closed for the day without him
being brought there.
"They appear in no hurry to bring him to court," Chikumbirike told
He said attorneys were seeking a High Court order for his release, but the
tycoon was likely to spend a fifth night in Zimbabwe's notoriously cramped
and filthy police cells.
Arrested suspects should be brought to court within 48 hours of arrest,
excluding weekends when courts are closed.
Police on Saturday said Van Hoogstraten owned more than 200 properties in
Harare and the second city of Bulawayo, and that informants had reported the
Briton demanded rentals in hard currency including six-month payments in
Van Hoogstraten allegedly asked one police informant for US$8,000 (€5,440)
in advance on a property rental deal. An acute housing shortage in Zimbabwe,
facing the world's highest inflation, has led to sharp increases in property
rentals in recent months.
Witnesses in Harare say the country's economic meltdown left some of Van
Hoogstraten's tenants in arrears on rents that led to threats of evictions
and the seizure of furniture and other goods by his employees in violation
of rental regulations. Complainants included evicted tenants.
Since independence, Van Hoogstraten has invested in property, mining,
farming and banking concerns in Zimbabwe and has spoken openly of his
support and financial dealings with Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, which has
favored him in more than two decades of investment in the southern African
Van Hoogstraten's businesses in Britain have stirred controversy, and he was
cleared there on a murder conspiracy charge in the death of business rival.
By Lance Guma
28 January 2008
Officials from both factions of the MDC spent the weekend locked in intense
discussions trying to unite the party ahead of the March 29 elections. Under
the deal Morgan Tsvangirai will lead the party, with Arthur Mutambara being
given one of the senior positions. Although party officials remain
tight-lipped on the arrangement, sources say an announcement will be made
within the week. The process will however have to overcome strong resistance
from the Tsvangirai MDC structures, particularly in Bulawayo where key
figures feel betrayed. Senior officials who backed Tsvangirai during the
October 2005 split say they doubt the sincerity of the other side in any
MDC Shadow Home Affairs Secretary Sam Sipepa Nkomo told Newsreel that
because of the time frame for elections they had to move fast in tying up a
deal and this had not given their members enough time to adjust and accept
the implications of a deal. He said this is why there are many members who
are against uniting the party. Asked to respond to cynics who say the
Mutambara faction will join Tsvangirai for the election and then dump him
later after having won parliamentary seats, Nkomo admitted everyone shared
those fears and it was, ‘the talk of the town right now.’ He however said
the party had to take risks for the good of the country.
It remains to be seen how the two factions resolve conflicting positions on
the elections. Mutambara MDC spokesman Gabriel Chaibva told Newsreel last
week that they will participate in the poll given that Mugabe’s regime had
met all the legal requirements. This contrasted sharply with the statement
by Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa who called Mugabe’s announcement
‘an act of madness which had put the final nail into the coffin of the
A few days later Mutambara MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube contradicted
Chaibva by telling the weekly Zimbabwe Standard newspaper that their
National Council is still to make a decision on participation. The same
dilemma seems to confront the Tsvangirai MDC as their National Council will
meet this week to decide.
Analysts say a unity deal will make it unlikely Tsvangirai will call for a
boycott of the poll. ‘There is now strong pressure to participate given that
the smaller faction of the party is determined to take part and has made it
clear from the start that they do not believe in boycotts,’ one political
commentator said. Tsvangirai might find himself in a similar situation to
the October 2005 split where some of his officials in the then united MDC
wanted to take part in senate elections while he dismissed the elections as
a waste of resources. Should the party reunite, a key decision on election
participation has to be made and the lingering consequences of another split
will be familiar territory for Tsvangirai.
Meanwhile Newsreel has been told off the record that the MDC united or split
will be taking part in the elections. A senior official who opposes
participation said the problem lay with party supporters who are confident
Mugabe can be beaten even under the current harsh political climate.
Opposition legislators are also said to be eager to maintain their seats in
parliament and very reluctant to support a boycott. It’s a case of ‘damned
if you, damned if you don’t’ another commentator said.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
28 January 2008
The MDC Vice-President Thokozani Khupe on Monday said that SADC should now
intervene in the crisis talks on Zimbabwe because both parties in the
negotiations have reported a deadlock to the appointed mediator Thabo Mbeki.
‘What we are waiting for now is for President Mbeki to report back to SADC
because they mandated him to facilitate the talks between the MDC and
Zanu-PF,’ Khupe said.
Speaking to Newsreel from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, Khupe said the
crisis in the country remains a political one which Africa and its political
institutions are capable of resolving.
‘SADC has a position on Zimbabwe, like any other country in the grouping,
that conditions for free and fair elections have to be set before going to
the polls. Sadly Mugabe and Zanu-PF have reneged on the very principles set
out by SADC and Mbeki during the last 10 months,’ said the MDC
Khupe is leading a MDC delegation to the African Union summit that begins in
the Ethiopian capital this week. With her in the delegation is Professor
Elphas Mukonoweshuro, the MDC secretary for International Affairs, and
Nqobizitha Mlilo the party’s political liaison officer.
The team has been lobbying African diplomats to put pressure on Mugabe to
bring a speedy resolution to the crisis in the country. Khupe has been
reminding diplomats of events in Kenya, which she said were a direct product
of an election held under disputed conditions. This, she said, led
inevitably to the dispute of the election results.
She pointed out that this situation must be avoided in Zimbabwe. She added
that ‘Indeed, President Mbeki has correctly highlighted that the elections
in Zimbabwe must be held in conditions in which the election results will
not be disputed.’ Khupe stated that the MDC is ready at anytime for a free
and fair election, but Mugabe and Zanu-PF must implement positions agreed at
the SADC brokered talks and introduce a new constitution before the
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Mail and Guardian
28 January 2008 12:21
The Zimbabwe government on Monday slapped down opposition
demands for a new constitution to be adopted before a March general
election, saying it would only be put to a referendum after the polls.
In an article headlined "Polls first, constitution later",
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the state-run Herald newspaper that
"the state was not in a hurry to craft a new constitution ... in order to
please one political grouping".
"A constitution is a serious document that needs the
participation of all and sundry and should, therefore, not be hurried
because someone is demanding it as a prerequisite for national elections,"
Chinamasa was quoted as saying.
Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
reacted furiously to Friday's announcement that joint parliamentary and
presidential elections are to be staged on March 29.
South African President Thabo Mbeki has been mediating between
the MDC and veteran Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party to
agree a framework for the elections after allegations that the last polls in
2002 were rigged.
The MDC had been pushing Mbeki to persuade his Zimbabwean
counterpart to postpone an election until after a new constitution was put
in place -- an idea for which Mugabe has shown little enthusiasm.
But despite its anger at Mugabe for his pre-emptive setting of
an election date, the opposition has so far held back from announcing a
Once a formidable force posing the stiffest challenge to Mugabe,
the MDC was rocked by factionalism with the main splinter led by former
trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai following a row over whether to contest
senate polls in 2006.
The MDC described the decision on Friday by Mugabe to call
general elections for March 29 an "act of madness", but stopped short of
calling for a boycott.
"It's an act of madness and arrogance," MDC spokesperson Nelson
Chamisa said the announcement was a slap in the face to regional
efforts, led by Mbeki, to mediate between the MDC and Zanu-PF party on the
framework for the joint parliamentary and presidential polls.
"Mugabe has slapped SADC's [Southern African Development
Community] commitment and President Thabo Mbeki's efforts to try and
amicably solve the crisis," said Chamisa.
"Mugabe has jumped the gun. As for the MDC, I cannot pre-empt
our position whether we will participate or not as the national executive
meets within a week or so to make a decision."
Mugabe announced on Friday that the troubled Southern African
country will stage a general election on March 29 when he will seek a sixth
term in office. -- AFP
by Sebastian Nyamhangambiri Tuesday 29 January 2008
HARARE – Zimbabwe on Monday began an inquiry into the conduct of the country’s
Attorney General (AG) Sobuza Gula-Ndebele suspended by President Robert
Mugabe last November for allegedly abusing his office.
Harare advocate Happias Zhou, representing the AG, told ZimOnline the
hearing that is being heard in camera at Mugabe’s instruction was postponed
to February 11 when state witnesses will testify against Gula-Ndebele, who
as AG is the government’s chief legal adviser and an ex-officio member of
"The case will resume on 11 February, and I am not sure when the matter will
come to a close since we are not yet aware of the list of the witnesses that
the state would want to bring," said Zhou, who refused to disclose further
details on the matter.
The three-man tribunal inquiring into the conduct of Gula-Ndebele will
advise whether he should be removed from office.
High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu is chairing the tribunal. Justice Samuel
Kudya and Harare lawyer Lloyd Mhishi are the other members of the committee.
Gula-Ndebele was last October briefly detained by the police and charged for
conduct inconsistent with the duties of a public officer after he allegedly
met a fugitive former bank executive, James Mushore.
Mushore, a former deputy managing director at National Merchant Bank (NMB),
fled to Britain in 2004 at the height of a Zimbabwean banking crisis that
saw several finance houses shut down by the country's central bank. He was
arrested in October upon his return to Zimbabwe.
Police, who are separately investigating Gula-Ndebele, say he promised
Mushore he would not be arrested if he returned to Zimbabwe. The Attorney
General denies the charge.
Speculation is widespread in Harare that Gula-Ndebele, considered among the
more liberal minds in the government, is being punished for aligning himself
with a faction of the ruling ZANU PF party led by retired army general
Solomon Mujuru that unsuccessfully tried to stop Mugabe standing for
re-election in elections in March.
It has also been suggested that Gula-Ndebele, a brave former army officer,
did not help himself when he constantly clashed with Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa in a tussle over control of the AG’s department. –
by Nokhutula Sibanda Tuesday 29 January 2008
HARARE – British property tycoon Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, who had been due
to appear in court on Monday, had not done so by close of business and his
lawyers said they were trying to lodge an urgent application at the High
Court to have him brought to court.
“They don't appear eager to bring him to court, so we'll be making an
application to the High Court shortly to have him brought here," said George
Chikumbirike, who is leading Van Hoogstraten's defence team.
The controversial businessman, who is believed to have close ties with
Mugabe’s government, earlier in the day denied falling out with Zimbabwean
authorities and said charges against him of flouting the country’s tough
exchange regulations were false and malicious.
Van Hoogstraten was arrested last week for allegedly charging rent for his
properties in Zimbabwe in foreign currency, an offence under the country’s
foreign exchange regulations.
He is also facing charges of possessing pornographic material in violation
of Zimbabwe’s censorship laws.
“The charges are a deliberate and malicious entrapment scheme. I deny all of
them,” said the businessman in a statement.
He did not say who was out to trap him or for what reasons but emphasized
there was nothing political in the matter.
“I would like to emphasise that the misconception that might arise in the
press or elsewhere that I have fallen out with the Zimbabwe authorities is
utterly false,” Van Hoogstraten.
Describing charges against him as a “minor irritation”, Van Hoogstraten said
he was confident the courts would clear him.
The British property tycoon, who was being held in police custody over the
weekend, is said to own over 200 residential and business properties and an
estimated 600 000 hectares of land in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean police say Van Hoogstraten was caught in possession of 37 586
United States dollars, 92 880 South African rands, 190 British pounds as
well as 20 billion Zimbabwean dollars. - ZimOnline
by Thenjiwe Mabhena Tuesday 29 January 2008
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s government on Monday appointed a new board to
resuscitate a state company that it has said will be used to seize control
of private businesses engaging in “economic sabotage” in a bid to topple
President Robert Mugabe.
Industry Minister Obert Mpofu, who announced the new board of the Zimbabwe
Development Company (ZDC), immediately tasked the board to select “a few
entities, which will need to be (taken over and) resuscitated on a
Mugabe’s government accuses private firms of hiking prices, cutting output
or closing down factories altogether as part of a Western-backed campaign of
“dirty tricks’ meant to worsen economic hardships in Zimbabwe and cause the
Harare administration to fall.
Business leaders deny the charges arguing that any slow down in production
or company closure is because of the myriad problems facing industry among
them shortage of foreign currency to import raw materials and machine parts,
the power and fuel crises and government price controls.
Mpofu also urged the ZDC board to pursue joint ventures with local or
foreign private investors as it looks for ways to help turn around Zimbabwe’s
“The economy is facing many problems . . . it is my belief that you will go
a long way in trying to address the challenges haunting our economy as you
discharge your duties,” Mpofu said.
Businessman and ruling ZANU PF party loyalist, Jonathan Kadzura, heads the
new ZDC board. Chief executive officer of the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe, Zvinechimwe Churu and Zimbabwe Steel Company spokesperson
Augustine Timbe are also part of the six-member board.
The ZDC was established by an Act of Parliament in 1988 to identify business
opportunities and spearhead government investments in the economy with a
view to foster a balanced growth of the economy.
The government last year said the ZDC would be used together with the
Zimbabwe State Trading Corporation (ZSTC) as vehicles for acquiring
companies that the government might want to take over for engaging in
This was at the height of a government crackdown against businesses defying
orders to reduce prices by 50 percent, in a controversial attempt by the
Harare authorities to clamp down on galloping inflation.
The experiment ended disastrously as shops ran out of nearly every commodity
partly because consumers took advantage of lower prices to snatch everything
off shop shelves with manufacturers also refusing to produce goods at a
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
by Cuthbert Nzou Tuesday 29 January 2008
HARARE – A controversial Zimbabwean church leader, Obadiah Msindo, is set to
allocate over 100 000 housing stands around the country in what sources say
is an ambitious drive to garner votes for President Robert Mugabe's ruling
ZANU PF party.
Msindo, who has openly expressed support for Mugabe, confirmed to ZimOnline
yesterday that he was working with the government in the allocation of the
stands but refused to disclose the source of the funds.
“It is known that I support President Mugabe and his government. Why should
I disclose who is funding us? I work in partnership with the government,”
said Msindo, who heads the Destiny for Africa Network.
ZANU PF has since 2005 been parceling out housing stands to its supporters
under the banner of housing co-operatives at various urban farms around the
country. Most of the stands have however remained unoccupied because they
have not been serviced.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party says
the allocation of the stands, which is said to be rampant, was meant to
dilute its urban support base where it enjoys massive backing.
Sources close to the matter said Msindo was working closely with Zimbabwe’s
feared state security Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) in the
allocation of the stands.
The sources said beneficiaries of the stands should be registered voters and
should be holders of ZANU PF membership cards.
“Allocation of the stands is expected as from next week,” said the source.
The sources said apart from the housing project, Msindo had also been asked
by state security agents to penetrate several Pentecostal churches to
convince their pastors to support ZANU PF.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who is in charge of the CIO, refused
to comment on the matter.
Analysts say Mugabe is desperate to placate a restless population that is
battling unprecedented economic hardships, massive unemployment and
shortages of almost all essential commodities ahead of the March 29 election
Msindo is currently facing allegations of rape in Zimbabwean courts. The
controversial churchman is accused of raping his maid five times sometime in
2004. He is denying the charge. - ZimOnline
By Blessing Zulu
28 January 2008
Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has declared that the
government will turn its attention to a new constitution only after
elections in March - a statement that opposition and civic leaders have
taken as a repudiation of political dialogue.
Chinimasa’s statement came on the heels of an announcement by President
Robert Mugabe last week that presidential, general and local elections will
be held March 29, rebuffing opposition demands that the ballots be postponed
until negotiations for a political accord resolving the country's
longstanding crisis could be completed.
Sources in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change said the party has
been caught off guard by unilateral decisions by Mr. Mugabe and his ruling
ZANU-PF party following 10 months of discussions in the South
Chinamasa, chief ruling party negotiator in the talks, said that although
ZANU_PF has rejected the opposition demand that a new constitution be
adopted before elections are held, he considers the talks with the
opposition to remain on course.
“As far as we are concerned the dialogue that is being facilitated by South
Africa is still ongoing," Chinimasa said, maintaining that ZANU-PF is
"committed to an irreversible process that will result in the presentation
of a draft constitution for national consultation."
But Secretary General Welshman Ncube of the Movement for Democratic Change
formation led by Arthur Mutambara and Secretary General Tendai Biti of the
MDC grouping headed by Morgan Tsvangirai said ZANU-PF is dealing in bad
Biti told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
Chinamasa’s pronouncement on the constitution violated the rules of
engagement for the negotiations. Ncube said the talks are “dead and waiting
Meanwhile, National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku urged
the two MDC formations to declare an end to the talks and boycott the
Madhuku said ZANU-PF is insincere in saying it will pursue the adoption of a
new constitution following the elections.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: January 28, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Four firefighters returning from rescuing villagers
marooned by a flooded river drowned when their truck slipped off a bridge
into the torrent, Zimbabwe's official media reported Monday.
The accident happened near the town of Ruwa about 25 kilometers (15 miles)
east of Harare late Friday, the Herald newspaper reported. Two bodies were
recovered from the swollen Ruwa river on Sunday.
The deaths brought to at least 31 the number of drownings countrywide in the
heaviest seasonal rains since record keeping began a century ago. Most of
the victims were swept away trying to cross raging rivers.
Police spokesman Andrew Phiri said the driver attempted to cross a flooded
bridge and it was believed a front wheel slipped over the edge, overturning
the vehicle into the river. The driver survived, but his four colleagues
The men were returning from rescuing a group of villagers stranded in the
upper reaches of the river nearby.
In northeastern Zimbabwe, at least 600 villagers have been left homeless by
record the record rains that also swept away crops and livestock.
Zimbabwe's neighbors also have been hit by floods.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
28 January, 2008
After embarking on a “go-slow” action since rejecting the offer of a 1,000%
pay increase by government, teachers in Zimbabwe have finally decided to
conduct a full-on strike. The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)
said its members will not be reporting for work until their demands are met.
PTUZ president, Raymond Majongwe, blasted government officials for spending
a fortune on all the wrong issues while the teachers simply want to be able
to report to work and live a decent life.
Majongwe said they are demanding a minimum salary of Z$1.7 billion per
month. This includes a monthly transport allowance of Z$352 million and a
housing allowance of Z$240 million per month. They are also demanding
regular salary reviews in order to keep up with inflation, which is
unofficially estimated to be 150,000%.
Majongwe criticised government and ruling party officials for spending
billions on less important agendas. He pointed to a report on the state
television ZTV this weekend that showed ZANU-PF officials in Matabeleland
South, ululating as they unveiled 18 brand new 4x4 vehicles to be used in
the party’s election campaign. “There is corruption in the corridors of
power,” said the outspoken activist. He added: “Their children have the
luxury of going to schools outside the country.”
And salaries are not the only issue. We spoke to a teacher who described the
dire conditions under which the schools are operating. Charles Mabwadarika,
a Harare based teacher, said there are no books for the students to read or
to write in. The furniture in the classrooms is old and in a state of
disrepair. Students are being crammed into small spaces where they learn
standing up or sitting on the floor. There is also not enough chalk for
teachers to use.
Union officials say teachers cannot live on their current salary. Government
is not communicating with the teachers, so it appears students at state run
schools will not be learning for some time to come.
Meanwhile, workers at the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) are reported
to have been on a go-slow for the past fortnight. Their dispute with
government is also over salaries.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
27 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
HARARE Central hospital's neonatal unit is a death bed. Many mothers walk in
there with their children alive but leave with corpses," a senior doctor at
the hospital said last week.
"I tell you those who come out alive only do so by the grace of God --
nothing to thank the specialist or nurse for."
This is how the doctor summed up the state of affairs at the huge referral
hospital's neonatal unit, which caters for seriously ill babies or those
with varying complications, particularly premature and underweight babies.
Doctors say it is in this unit that sick babies are supposed to receive
specialist care to restore their health.
But this isn't the case anymore at Harare Central, The Standard was told.
"My experience here in this neonatal unit has been full of pain, anguish and
despair," said a doctor. "It has become routine to hear the shrieks in our
corridors as mothers learn of the death of their children.
"This is how serious it has become. I am not surprised anymore to find at
least 10 dead children in the tray every day, at the beginning of my shift,
because the neonatal unit at this hospital is essentially dead and nobody
wants to do anything about fixing things in this country."
The Standard spoke to the senior doctor while following up a report that ten
babies in incubators had died after the nationwide power cuts on Saturday a
Upon digesting that information, doctor laughed, startled.
After gaining his composure, he said Harare hospital had more than 50
incubators. Only three worked - on and off. There was no way ten babies
could have been packed into three incubators. An incubator has room for only
He challenged the newspaper to investigate the story further. A can of worms
opened up. Harare Central hospital's neonatal has a serious shortage of
essential but basic medicines. Life-saving machines and equipment have not
been working for months, and in some cases for years.
The neonatal unit is reportedly seriously understaffed, with experienced
nurses and doctors quitting for greener pastures, to be replaced by
The hospital has been operating without a neonatalogist, a specialist in
illnesses affecting new-born babies, since 2003.
"In the absence of this specialist, you have a critically ill child and an
inexperienced nurse or doctor with absolutely no idea what is going on and
how to save the child. This is why children are dying like flies here at
this hospital," said a source.
It's been reported there is only one radiologist for Harare and Parirenyatwa
hospitals and the army.
"What it simply means is that if a child needs an urgent X-ray, they can't
get it," one source said. "While they pick up the phone to call the
radiologist the child will be dying slowly."
The three incubators have reportedly outlived their life span, although they
are functional. So, if there are ten seriously ill premature babies, seven
But the unit has no fully functional monitoring equipment either, such as a
pulse oxy-meter (oxygen check) and Electronic Cardiograph (ECG), which helps
monitor how well the heart is functioning.
"A pulse oxy-meter helps to determine how much oxygen is in a ill child. If
there is not enough, it's a sign the child may not be breathing properly and
needs help," he said, adding "Children are dying because of all these
Then there are shortages of antibiotics.
"I tell you this unit as good as dead. They must just close it because it's
a serious cost to the nation. We tried our best to engage the health
minister (David Parirenyatwa) and he has done nothing. He is not willing to
trade in his Mercedes Benz for three incubators that could save hundreds of
Parirenyatwa said yesterday: "What I will tell you officially is that Harare
Hospital's neonatal unit is continually being looked at for upgrading. I
think the staff there are doing the best they can."
Zimbabwe has long been touted as Africa’s paradise and at first glance it
is. Local business executives like to say “third world does not mean third
rate in the various conferences that dot the annual business cycle” There
are harrowing tales coming out the country though that make it sound like
fiction from the stone age. There are stories of modern households cooking
on firewood, the steady hum of generators becoming a way of life in a few of
the houses in the affluent areas, while darkness is a norm in the rest of
the country. School regularly talk about losing dozens of teacher at a time
and so it goes on. None of the stories are more harrowing than those that
come of the medical arena. In the immediate post independence period for
about ten years, Zimbabwe was the envy of Africa. Today all that has
An emergency takes place on a Sunday morning. The inefficient cell phone
network means that the definition of an emergency has to change. A person
who is about to collapse should ideally give a couple of hours notice
otherwise they might die where they fall. The reason is simple: emergencies
are not allowed anymore by the crumbling telecommunications system. A busy
signal is far more likely to occur than the sighting of a soccer ball on a
soccer pitch. When eventually, a report is made, whoever rushes to the scene
of the accident has to hasten slowly because of the gaping potholes, fit to
hide a baby giraffe, that now pock mark the streets of Harare, once the
sunshine city of Africa. If you summon an ambulance, you’d better have cash
on you otherwise ask to use the neighbour’s car. More often than not, the
relatives of the victim do not have the cash because it is simply not
available in the country and the next door neighbour does not have fuel
because he parked his car a while back. There is no fuel in the country
except for company cars.
By some miracle, the family and the patient make it to the hospital. By this
time after several frustrating tries, it has been established that the only
hospital with a working generator is a private one. There happens to be a
country wide power outage and the government hospitals have run out of fuel
for their generators. This is real life. So, on the advice of a relative or
a doctor friend, it is off to the private hospital. On admission, the family
is immediately required to pay over a billion Zimbabwe dollars. That is more
or less the monthly salary for a middle manager in a company that pays its
staff well. For some reason, emergencies target people who earn half that
amount and so the mother of the patient pleads before a stoic hospital
administrator who is employed to run a business. Human nature prevails and a
promise to make good on the money in the morning or some sort of surety by
end of day is elicited. The favourite form of surety is foreign currency
which the family will of course pop over to the bank and fetch. Alas it is a
Sunday and besides neither the mattress at home nor the bank has any foreign
currency in it! An hour or so later, the nurse emerges from the emergency
room to announce that the patient needs to move to Intensive care and the
administrator whips out his scientific calculator (otherwise he cannot fit
in all the zeros) and he immediately announces a further charge of $5
billion. The mother of the patient collapses on the spot while the uncle
takes over. Phone calls are made to friends, relatives and bosses in that
order. The school fees for the children and the grocery shopping and rent
will have to wait. The children, school and landlord will have to understand
that the family was faced with an emergency.
The hospital gives the family time to decide whether to risk transferring
the patient to a government hospital because suddenly the power is back on
or to stay. They call the ambulance people and they are told the ambulance
will not make an appearance without someone having gone to their offices
round the block to pay a cash sum of $300 million and the family must secure
a doctor to receive the patient on arrival. The family do not know any
doctors, they do not have the numbers of any doctor and the doctors are on
strike for higher wages anyway! The mother collapses again and the family
scold her for adding to every one’s stress. Nerves are frayed and this is
taking place at reception in full view of the public. Private grief is not
allowed in Zimbabwe. Public humiliation is. Human nature takes over and a
junior doctor calls a mate who remembers his hippocratic oath and agrees to
leave the school of medicine pub and receive this patient.
Money is borrowed and the ambulance duly arrives. At the government hospital
the admissions lady, miserable at having been given the job to dwell with
‘township people,’ takes her time and asking questions in English like “next
of kin” words that the poor people cannot understand. She sighs audibly,
mutters under her breath and takes her sweet time attending to them, taking
their $5000 million admission fee and sending them on their way half an hour
This is normal in today’s Zimbabwe. We have not spoken about the cost of
prescription medicine, the state of the government hospitals and the
unavailability of drugs. Just a day in the life of a person who has to rush
a relative to hospital. We did not get the patients comments. They died
before we could talk to them after writhing in pain for hours.
This entry was written by Noktula on Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 1:43 pm.
One Response to “Zimbabwe - Africa’s paradise?”
January 28th, 2008 14:08
In 1980, when Mugabe came to power, Rhodesia had a GDP per capita that was
comparable to that of Malaysia. Today, Malaysia is hailed around the world
as one of East Asia’s great economic success stories, and is a newly
industrialized country that manufactures goods of all sorts. Yet, in 1980,
Rhodesia had economic policies that were more business-friendly than those
of Malaysia, and a civil service that was far more honest and efficient than
Malaysia’s. Both nations are former British colonies, and have a public
service modeled on that of Britain.
And yet we find the Zimbabwe of today to be nothing more than a mess, an
economic shambles, a tinpot 3rd world disaster, a lost opportunity thanks to
this Mr Robert Gabriel Mugabe esq. This could have been the paradise of
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
26 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
Zesa Holdings is battling to restore power to the remaining generator at
Hwange Power Station amid reports of increased load-shedding countrywide.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Zesa Holdings chief executive officer
Engineer Ben Rafemoyo said following the blackout that affected most parts
of Southern Africa last week, the power utility had managed to rectify
problems that affected the Kariba Power Station and one of the generators at
the Hwange Thermal Power Station.
"The Kariba Power Station is back on the grid. However, we have managed to
synchronise one of the two generators at Hwange Power Station and we are
working flat out on the other generator," said Eng Rafemoyo. He also
acknowledged that the load-shedding exercise had since been increased due to
this problem. Eng Rafemoyo said the power utility was not back on full
throttle after last week's nationwide blackout and said the problem was
compounded by the fact that most companies were back from their festive
break and were using more power hence the increased load-shedding.
He said the country was failing to receive 200 megawatts from Mozambique due
to vandalism of equipment, which was still being repaired. Meanwhile, parts
of Pumula suburb in Bulawayo have gone for four days without electricity.
Residents said a transformer between Pumula East and Pumula South "exploded"
A Zesa Holdings official in Bulawayo said residents were not reporting
electrical faults on time. "People take time to report faults because they
still think it is still part of 'the big blackout'. They should report
electrical problems timeously so that they can be attended to by our
personnel," he said.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
28 January, 2008
A Zimbabwean youth group has added its voice to the list of organisations
campaigning for Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to be allowed to vote in the
March elections. Based in South Africa, the Zimbabwe Revolutionary Youth
Movement (ZRYM) plans to present a petition with thousands of signatures to
the Zimbabwe High Commissioner, Simon Khaya Moyo, during a demonstration on
ZRYM president Simon “Dreadman” Mudekwa dubbed the event “the mother of all
demos,” because they expect to make their point loud and clear and ensure
that Moyo gets their petition. He said every embassy has the obligation to
protect and serve its citizens and Khaya Moyo should respect their petition.
“No diaspora vote, no embassies!” said Mudekwa. The passionate youth
organiser said that they would make sure the police delivered the petition
if Khaya Moyo refuses to come out.
The campaign for a Diaspora vote has taken on a global dimension with
Zimbabweans in several countries organising events demanding their right to
vote. In the U.K. the Zimbabwe Vigil group has been active in this regard.
The Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum of North America are organising a demonstration
in Washington, D.C.
The South African demo was postponed from last week after the authorities in
Zimbabwe detained opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of an MDC rally
that had been banned in Harare. South African police were called in by Khaya
Moyo, who claimed that he had fears the demonstration would turn violent.
Police responded by surrounding the embassy on Thursday. Mudekwa explained
that the same police would be escorting them during the demonstration
Mudekwa said their group had two specific demands- elections under a new
Constitution and the Diaspora vote. He urged Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to
visit their website and sign the petition because there is strength in
numbers. Their site can be found at zimdiasporavote.blogspot.com.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
From The Sunday Mail, 27 January
By Hebert Zharare recently in Vumba
Government is mooting plans to hold special Lower and Upper House of
Assembly sittings on open ground or hire extra space from nearby buildings
as the current Parliament of Zimbabwe building is too small to accommodate
the larger number of legislators expected after the March harmonised polls.
In an exclusive interview in Vumba last week, the Clerk of the Parliament of
Zimbabwe, Mr Austin Zvoma, said the increase in the number of
parliamentarians in the Lower and Upper Houses from the current 150 to 210
and 66 to 93 respectively, presented serious challenges in various ways. "We
might have to consider having special sessions outside the building, but
that is the prerogative of the President (Mugabe) obviously advised by the
parliamentary authorities like the President of the Senate to address the
practical reality. In terms of the Constitution he (President Mugabe)
determines where Parliament sits and so on those occasions, it may be
possible to look at facilities outside Parliament.
"The real problem that is more than the plenary session of the two Houses
separately is the facilities for committee meetings. There we have a serious
problem because this is where most of the work of Parliament is done. The
reforms meetings will be open and so it means we have serious constraints."
Both formations of the opposition MDC endorsed unanimously the Constitution
Amendment Number 18 Act, that ushered in a number of changes, among them the
increase of MPs in the Lower House from 130 contested ones to 210 and 66
senators to 93, among an array of other amendments to the country’s
electoral systems. Mr Zvoma said that the major problems come on the
official opening of Parliament and other events such as the State of the
Nation address by the head of Government (President Mugabe) and during
"That is when we have maximum attendance and also some other days when there
will be some important debate in the House of Assembly. But since these ones
are exceptions, they do not constitute a general pattern of attendance, so
we are not really worried by that temporary problem until the new building
(parliament) is completed. Quizzed on what was going to happen as the
current House of Assembly was too small for such a huge figure added to
scores of Zimbabweans who throng the House during special events, Mr Zvoma
said a number of options were in place. Said Mr Zvoma: "This is another
challenge we have to find ways of addressing and one possible way is of
looking at renting other buildings near Parliament if they are available.
The building of a new parliament is not something for the long-term future;
it is, in fact, starting this year. "The building contractor is already on
site and in the 2008 Budget, the funds were allocated. They might not be
adequate for the first phase, but the projection is that as long as the
resources are available, the project should take between two and half to
three years. It might take longer because it is a big project."
28 January 2008
The Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck
Sibanda on Friday announced in the Government Gazette that Cde Mugabe had
signed into law the Local Government Laws Amendment Act which sailed through
Parliament this month. The amendments effectively remove the post of
Executive Mayor to a ceremonial one.
The post of Executive Mayor was created in 1995 following a repeal of the
Act that established the UCA 29:15. The Combined Harare Residents
Association (CHRA) deplores the move by government. CHRA views it as
baseless political strategy targeted at entrenching the power of the regime
in local authorities. The opposition has over the years been controlling or
winning mayoral seats in most urban areas. They have failed to perform
largely due to continued interference from the Local Government ministry.
The Minister of Local government, Public works and urban development, Dr I
Chombo has even fired some of these Mayors on alleged charges of
The continued interference from central government has made it difficult for
local authorities to operate independently. They did not have the liberty of
borrowing powers and were not positively supported by the Local government
ministry. The removal of the post of Executive Mayor will not improve the
collapsed social services delivery. CHRA makes the following
Reform of the Urban Councils Act as opposed to piecemeal amendments which do
not improve local governance systems in Zimbabwe. The act in its current
form is subject to manipulation for party political interests.
Free and fair local governance elections that will usher in a leadership
chosen by the people, accountable to the people and sensitive to their
Government must provide direct and indirect funding to local authorities to
help them provide quality municipal services. In South Africa local
authorities receive grants from the national budget.
CHRA also urges the constitutionalisation of local governance.
CHRA continues albeit governments intransigence, to offer advice to
Parliamentary portfolio committees and the Local government ministry on
quality and transparent local government systems. CHRA has been training and
capacitating residents to demand their rights. CHRA also distributes
information on the goings on in local governance issues.
Farai Barnabas Mangodza
Chief Executive Officer
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
145 Robert Mugabe Way
Exploration House, Third Floor
Landline: 00263- 4- 705114
Contacts: Mobile: 0912638401, 011443578, 011862012 or email firstname.lastname@example.org,
email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
by Mutumwa Mawere Tuesday 29 January 2008
JOHANNESBURG - It is now a reality that the harmonised polls will be held on
29 March 2008.
Only last year this time, the conventional wisdom in many opposition circles
was that President Robert Mugabe would not secure the mandate of his party
as a candidate when his term expired let alone him being democratically
endorsed as candidate of the party for the 2008 elections.
Many experts advanced the notion that Mugabe would not last the year as the
head of state and ZANU PF will disintegrate into tribal factions.
A combination of internal party contradictions and confusion was meant to
facilitate the exit of Mugabe from the political scene.
A proposition was then advanced that Mugabe had lost his grip on the party
to the extent that his proposal to shorten the parliamentary term from 2010
to 2008 and the harmonisation of the presidential, parliamentary and local
elections would be opposed by his party’s central committee.
Some of Zimbabwe’s best minds were occupied with scenarios of the impending
post-Mugabe era and many options were explored excluding the prospect of
Mugabe being relevant in 2008 and beyond.
It is reasonable to ask the question why intellectuals and policy analysts
including the MDC failed to read the politics of ZANU PF.
What has been striking is the naivety of the political players and there
could be no better demonstration of such infantile approach to political
discourse than the manner in which the SADC mediated talks were handled and
concluded with the constructive support of the opposition who now seek to
cry foul after the event.
There was an acceptance in many circles that ZANU PF was fast disintegrating
and the perceived factions in the party would constructively assist the
opposition to oust Mugabe.
This assistance would come in the form of a spirited opposition to the
harmonisation project and Mugabe’s candidature.
In the face of this inevitability and recognizing the dangers of Zimbabweans
going to the polls to elect a President against a background of an economic
meltdown, Mugabe had no choice but to reflect not only on his prospects for
electoral success but also the implications on his party whose legitimacy is
now premised more on fear than hope.
Mugabe’s reaction was predictable and his assessment of the situation was
spot on. He mooted the idea of harmonising the presidential and
parliamentary elections and initially even his own colleagues in ZANU PF did
not comprehend the rationale for such a move.
It was evident then as it is now that if the choice about who should lead
Zimbabwe for the next five years was informed by hope, then ZANU PF would
not be on the radar screen.
It would be unthinkable for any rational citizen to condemn his/her future
to the politics of fear by electing a party that chooses to distance itself
from its own record in government and instead selectively chooses to
position itself as an opposition party.
ZANU PF has accepted the notion that if you cannot beat them join them and
it is now evident that the election manifesto of any opposition party has
been stolen by the ruling party who will go into the election campaigning
for change while offering nothing new.
I have no doubt that even Mugabe is acutely aware that Zimbabweans are
afraid of the future and are not free to make the choices that any free
citizen would be expected to make in any democratic society.
What are the real choices available to Zimbabweans in 2008?
Like any strategist, Mugabe has successfully executed a scheme that many of
his adversaries thought would not see the light of day.
The presumed factions in ZANU PF vanished into thin air and not only was he
democratically endorsed at the extraordinary congress held in December but
he managed to convince not only his party but his political nemesis, both
MDC factions, to support the constitutional amendment paving the way for the
term of parliament to be cut so as to make the landmark election a
referendum not only for him but for the party as would have been the case if
he had taken the gamble to contest the elections under the old constitution.
There is no doubt that Mugabe is going into this election with a party whose
political fortune is inextricably linked to his own but more fundamentally
that he has exposed the naivety of his political enemies who failed to
appreciate the real agenda that motivated ZANU PF to accept SADC’s
Mugabe can legitimately argue that he is not what the Western countries
perceive him to be.
He has allowed the opposition that never acknowledged his legitimacy to be
part of the kamikaze (suicidal) politics while at the same time presenting
ZANU PF as a democratic party that respects the sovereignty of citizens to
write their own constitution and determine their own destiny.
The MDC is now more challenged intellectually and politically having been
part of a process whose outcome has clearly been poisonous to its own
For the MDC to argue that its actions are informed by democratic values when
its residual argument after the Mbeki facilitated talks is that ZANU PF and
MDC should replace the citizens of Zimbabwe in the task of writing a new
constitution does not make any sense even to a kindergarten politician.
If the MDC thought that a new constitution was a deal breaker then surely
they should have raised this issue at the outset. Mugabe’s position on the
face of it appears to be more reasonable and in line with the founding
principles of the post-colonial state.
The position taken by Morgan Tsvangirai that negotiations should have
produced a new constitution is not even supported by his colleagues in the
What ZANU PF can now take to the electorate is a position that when MDC was
tested in the context of the negotiations it has exposed itself on key and
fundamental issues that should help in defining the party’s democratic
ZANU-PF’s arguments are now similar to the National Constitutional Assembly
that has argued for the past eight years that a constitution is a serious
document requiring the participation of citizens and this can only be done
in a fair and transparent manner.
Political games produce their own heroes/heroines but in the final analysis
we have to ask whether it is fair and just for the future of 13 million
Zimbabweans to be condemned by the actions of the few who see in politics
career advancement and opportunity maximisation.
As Zimbabweans brace themselves for the elections, the excitement that
should accompany such an endeavour has already evaporated and the choices
available may not have anything to do with advancing the interests of the
national democratic revolution but the interests of the political actors of
ZANU-PF has positioned itself as an anti-imperialist political institution
that is under siege and, therefore, any electoral outcome that will displace
it will necessarily be regarded as constituting a negation of the founding
principles of the post-colonial state.
Accepting this premise, it is evident that the stakes will be escalated to a
situation in which citizens will be placed with no real choice but to
surrender to the status quo ante.
ZANU-PF will argue that there is no better person to lead the fight against
imperialism and neo-colonialism than Mugabe. Accordingly, anyone who is
against imperialism would have no other choice but to support ZANU-PF not
because such a choice will advance any national interest.
Mugabe has been at the helm for the past 28 years and in normal
circumstances he would be running on his record of achievements but
regrettably he will be running on his liberation credentials.
Nation building is a far more complex project than liberation politics.
Whereas Mugabe led the struggle against colonialism informed by the
injustice of the system, unfortunately nation building has to be informed by
Any modern state that is progressive requires the participation of citizens
in shaping its destiny and fear has never been credited as an instrument for
What motivated the liberation struggle was the desire by the majority to
create a new civilisation based on freedom, justice and equality.
One would have to ask whether it is the case that the last 28 years have
advanced the interests of Zimbabwe in reducing the frontiers of poverty and
expanding the envelope of opportunities, justice, freedom and equality.
If the choices were to be informed by objective principles, I am convinced
that it would be patently obvious that Zimbabweans have been robbed of their
future by a few wise men and women.
While ZANU-PF’s engine is driven by the purported hatred of the colonial
system, MDC appears to be equally driven by a hatred of Mugabe and less by
the policies and programmes of ZANU-PF.
Mugabe has demonstrated that ZANU-PF is solidly behind him notwithstanding
the constant rumours about factionalism in the party. Unlike the opposition
forces, Mugabe is the undisputed leader even in the face of acknowledged
moral and economic management deficits.
Tsvangirai has been placed in a political corner and it is not clear how he
will wiggle himself out of it without undermining and compromising his
While the MDC is still trying to figure out what to do, the ZANU-PF machine
is in full gear. The destination is known and there is little doubt about
who will be in charge after the ritual of elections.
The choices for the MDC are difficult. If they participate in an election
managed and controlled by ZANU-PF, the outcome is as inevitable as the
outcome of the Mbeki-led talks.
The winner is not only predictable but the actions of the loser after the
elections are also predictable.
It is evident that the politics of fear has produced an atmosphere in which
it is difficult to attract good Zimbabwean minds to intervene in the
political space and ZANU-PF must take responsibility for this.
Many of the proponents of the Third Way who have invested in an alternative
political paradigm without Mugabe have largely misread the situation.
It all started with the abortive Tsholotsho project, and then an investment
was made on Solomon Mujuru and it fizzled out and finally out of desperation
an investment was made on Simba Makoni.
It is now evident that Makoni was not part of the deal but a few wise men
devised a scheme to politically embarrass Makoni as an incentive for him to
join the race for which he like many Zimbabweans are afraid to join as long
as Mugabe is at the helm.
The track record of ZANU-PF dealing with citizens who naively thought that
the road to State House is smooth is all too familiar to give people like
Makoni the courage to enter a political lion’s den.
Predictably, Makoni whose career has largely been shaped by ZANU-PF declined
to associate himself with an ill-conceived political project leaving its
promoters in a state of shock.
However, the promoters of Makoni’s candidature are not different from the
promoters of Mnangagwa and Mujuru. Only time will tell whether they will
shift attention to another unsuspecting Zimbabwean.
What kind of system would produce this kind of spectacle whereby 13 million
citizens become so helpless and leaderless?
Surely, the promoters of Makoni must have known his weaknesses and that
anyone who dreams to occupy the State House before the incumbent is dead
would be committing political suicide and inviting violence and possibly
The mere fact that the opposition appears to be in disarray confirms that
the politics of fear does work and has, indeed, triumphed in Zimbabwe.
Citizens are afraid and if well placed individuals like Makoni would rather
be condemned into silence while the future of the country is daily being
mortgaged then we can only say: “Cry the beloved country”.
The future of Zimbabwe will not become better if hard choices are not made
now and preferably before the elections.
It will be difficult to advance an argument after the elections that Mugabe
is not legitimate and also to suggest that the constitution that the MDC has
already approved should not be presented to the people of Zimbabwe for them
to approve it.
It has been argued that even the members of MDC have accepted that
Tsvangirai’s political fate will be sealed in March and, thereafter, a new
dispensation will be negotiated between the opposition legislators and
ZANU-PF that will lead to a constitution.
Such a process will naturally be led by ZANU-PF and Mugabe will then
presumably bow out at the 2009 party congress that is expected to elect a
new leadership for the party and possibly the government.
What Mugabe has managed to do is to place the fortunes of ZANU-PF ahead of
the nation. If you vote for ZANU-PF, then surely you must accept that no
change is change.
Anyone who loves Zimbabwe would agree that change must visit Zimbabwe sooner
rather than later because if the status quo remains the risk of a whole
generation being sacrificed to satisfy the egos of the few is high.
When the future of a country is at stake, it behoves on everyone to step
back and reflect on what needs to happen in Zimbabwe for hope to take centre
stage as a value driver in nation building.
The triumph of the politics of fear produces the worst in mankind and
intimidates citizens from being part of the change they want to see.
* Mutumwa Mawere is a Zimbabwean-born South African businessman based in
By Carole Gombakomba
28 January 2008
Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party has started holding primary elections to
select candidates for the general elections the government has called for
Though a report on the delimitation of new constituencies prepared by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to be officially gazetted, provincial
leaders of the ruling party who met in Harare on Monday were expected to
shortly release results for the primaries held in some of the country's 210
A constitutional amendment passed last year added 60 house seats and 27
senate seats - but because 30 seats previously appointed by President Robert
Mugabe have become elective seats, in effect 90 new constituencies have been
The state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Chen Chemutengwende, chairman
of the ruling party in Mashonaland Central province, as saying his province
has "almost completed" its primaries. The selection process was said to have
been wrapped up in the Mashonaland West districts of Kariba, Karoi and
Some primaries were marred by violence with intra-party clashes reported in
Despite such reports saying primaries are well under way, senior ZANU-PF
official Richard Ndlovu, politburo member and deputy secretary for the
commissariat, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that the party is merely taking down the names of potential candidates, not
holding actual primaries.
Political commentator Chido Makunike said that although ZANU-PF is ahead of
the opposition in selecting candidates, the ruling party has its own set of
By Patience Rusere
28 January 2008
Zimbabwean opposition officials mounted a diplomatic offensive this week in
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, ahead of an African Union summit hoping to persuade
AU leaders to bring pressure to bear on President Robert Mugabe to
politically compromise in the spirit of the South African-mediated crisis
talks many now say have failed.
Vice President Thokozani Khupe of the Movement for Democratic Change faction
led by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai said representatives of the formation
are briefing AU delegations on what the opposition describes as a
"unilateral" decision by Mr. Mugabe to call elections March 29 over strong
The opposition and civil society leaders urged that the elections not be
held until well after the conclusion of the talks mediated by South African
President Thabo MBeki - who went to Harare earlier this month to personally
urge Mr. Mugabe to compromise on the issue of the election date and the
introduction of a new constitution. But Mr. Mugabe refused to budge and
shortly announced the March election date.
African NGOs this past weekend called on AU heads of state - who will meet
in summit on Thursday - to call on President Mugabe to ensure that the
elections are free and fair and to uphold human rights in his country.
Khupe said she and other MDC officials expect to have a meeting some time
this week with Ghanaian President John Kufuor, who currently holds the AU
Khupe told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that she
and her MDC colleagues have received a more sympathetic hearing from
officials of AU member countries than at previous summits of the pan-African
28th Jan 2008 22:13 GMT
By Chenjerai Chitsaru
SOME will say it is downright indecent to bring up President Robert Mugabe's
presidency in an analysis of the death of the former Indonesian dictator,
Others, fortunately, might argue this is a perfectly legitimate field of
speculation and analysis: both men had reached their eighties, although
Suharto had been forced out of office ten years ago; both men had ruled for
a long time - in Shunarto's case for 32 years, in our case going on 28
If Mugabe wins this year's presidential election, the arrangement seems to
be that he would serve for only two years, before retiring. By then, he will
be 86 years old.
Suharto's daughter asked the people of Indonesia to forgive her father...for
what? For one of the most brutal dictatorships in the 20th century and the
massacre of thousands of his own citizens,
Here is a summary of Suharto's rule:
Mr. Suharto was driven from office in 1998 by widespread rioting, economic
paralysis and political chaos. His rule was not without accomplishment; he
led Indonesia to stability and nurtured economic growth.
But these successes were ultimately overshadowed by his pervasive and
large-scale corruption; repressive, militarized rule; and a convulsion of
mass bloodletting when he seized power in the late 1960s that took at least
It's rare for an African leader, dead or alive, to apologise for their
misrule. But Thabo Mbeki may have scored a "first" in apologising to his
people for the blackouts in South Africa, now said to be threatening the
viability of the mining industry.
We have had blackouts for a number of years, but have not been honoured with
a direct apology from the head of state himself: it's as if we had asked for
the blackouts, or somehow deserved them, because we are inflicting the pain
on ourselves by condoning the theft of oil from transformers or the cables.
It would be mischievous to draw comparisons between the two men's tenures as
president. Mugabe, after all, was a liberation hero supreme. He may not have
marched triumphantly into the city of Salisbury, at the head of hundreds of
freedom fighters in 1980, but he did hold that much-praised rally at
Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield.
Of course, detractors might inevitably point to Gukurahundi as his blackest
mark - 20 000 were killed in that atrocity. Although he acknowlewdged it as
"a moment of madness", there are many who point to the absence of real
It is not by any means cruel to speculate on how the world, let alone many
Zimbabaweans, will view Mugabe's final exit from power. After all, it is the
view of many of his critics - and perhaps even some of his sympathisers -
that he is clinging to power for fear of reprisals for his misrule.
There has been speculation that "exit packages" have been mooted for him: in
each case, the package has included an amnesty for him and his family or his
In so many words, Mugabe has sneered at these packages, insisting he will be
in the saddle until he himself decides he has done enough for his country.
There is probably a similar declaration by Suharto before he hinself or his
supporters insisted that it was time to leave, while he could still do so on
his own terms.
There was so much agitation against his continued rule, it is speculated
that if he had not quit when he did, he would have ended up very badly - a
bullet-riddled body in some square or palace in Jakarta, or a plane wreckage
in a jungle.
It is not morbid for Zimbabweans to speculate on Mugabe's fate after he has
left the politicfal scene. To insist that he has nothing to answer for would
be highly self-deluding. His declaration of the Gukurahundi massacre
constituting a "moment of madness" could easily be interpreted as a
confession of some sort.
Then there is the widespread violence during the land reform fiasco and the
election campaign in 2000, whose most notable victims were Talent Mabika and
Tichaona Chiminya. It is reasonable to believe that their relatives would
demand compensation or some sort of gesture of repentance.
After Suharto's death, one of his victims was interviewed. The man had spent
years in jail for what the Suharto regime must have believed were the
equivalent of treason or subversion against the state.
He said what he wished for was for the government to address the human
rights of the people urgently.
Clearly, this victim of the Suharto brutality still believes the state of
human rights in Indonesia, while nowhere near the level of that during the
dictator's time, still leaves much to be desired.
In Zimbabwe, there is an attitude by the government towards human rights
which puts all criticism in the context of its obsession with "regime
change" and the West. All citizens who raise the widespread abuse of their
human rights are invariably tagged as Western puppets.
But there is much evidence that Zanu PF's concepts of human rights are still
mired in the primitive and self-serving dogma cobbled together in the
liberation camps in Mozambique. For a long time to come, the party will view
almost every piece of legislation with particular attention to its capacity
to safeguard the continued political domination of the country by the party.
It has been said before by Zanu PF's critics but it bears repeating:
whatever reforms the party may agree to will be judged only on their effect
on weakening the party's determination to be the only political force in the
Mugabe's determination to cling to power can be partly explained on this
strategy. He seems to believe only he has the ruthlessness to hold the party
together, particularly in the face of an opposition party capable of
convincing the people that there is an alternative to Zanu PF, a party so
unlike the ruling party the people feel their desires can be addressed
without them having to prostrate themselves in front of an effigy of The
Unless other Zanu PF leaders convince Mugabe that the Suharto syndrome could
overwhelm him as it did the Indonesian dictator, then Zimbabwe could be
facing a crisis even worse than it has confronted so far.
The beginning of change could be the elections scheduled for next March. The
reaction of the opposition to Mugabe's announcement of an election date
without regard to agreements reached during the Sadc-inspired interparty
talks could persuade the MDC that it would be a sign of spinelessness to
take part in elections which they could not win in a million years.
The alternative could be a more militant stance against Zanu PF, which is
itself divided into a number of factions capable of affecting the overall
results of a truly free and fair election.
Suharto ruled unchallenged for 32 years, but when the bottom fell out of his
seemingly solid and invincible hold on power, it was swift - or there would
not have been a reason for his daughter to apologise for his sins.
What she feared and probably still fears is the likelihood of reprisals
against Suharto's family, since Providence has exacted its revenge on him.
There are people who feel deprived of what they see as their legitimate
right to mete punishment to Suharto. That is how most people feel about
dictators, everywhere in the world.
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
26 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
The Real Time Transfer Gross Settlement system has since Monday been
experiencing intermittent problems and was completely down from mid-morning
Bankers' Association of Zimbabwe president Dr John Mangudya said last night
the problems emanated from the TelOne link and the installation by banks and
building societies of the new electronic security system introduced by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe this week.
"These are connectivity issues. We have been facing the problem since Monday
but today, the TelOne line has been down since morning," said Dr Mangudya.
"Banks are also working on installing the new security system recently
introduced by the Reserve Bank and this has compounded the problem." Dr
Mangudya said banks were looking at "temporary options" to avoid further
inconvenience to the public while the problem was being rectified. "We are
in a meeting at the moment looking at temporary measures that could be put
in place to avoid further inconveniences to members of the public," said Dr
Mangudya, who heads CBZ Bank..
Several inter-bank transactions were failing to get through while some took
days, more than normal transfer period of 24 hours.
TelOne acting managing director Mr Hampton Mhlanga confirmed the disruption
of the connection system saying their link station had run out of diesel.
"We had some prolonged power cuts and our link station at the Chenoi which
links the system ran out of diesel. Since we do not have reserves, we had to
empty fuel from other repeater stations to Chenoi. We are hoping the
situation will get back to normal very soon," said Mr Mhlanga last night.
The system was still down last night.
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
27 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has become the place for Zimbabweans to make
billions of dollars these days.
In the past month alone, those who picked the right counters -- Old Mutual,
Kingdom Meikles Africa Ltd, and Econet - have reaped massive profits and
smiled all the way to the bank.
Among brokers, there is talk nowadays about new trillionaires emerging in
the past few months, thanks to the boom on the stock market.
But the stock brokers remain tight-lipped about their identities, citing the
confidentiality clauses guiding their always hush-hush type of work.
But while the super rich are emerging, for commoners trading on the stock
exchange has remained largely a pipedream.
It costs what an analyst termed "an arm and a leg" for them to dabble on the
stock market: a minimum of $1 billion to buy shares.
"This figure is beyond my reach," said a high school teacher. "Even if I
were to raise the money, I cannot lock it up for a month."
If he were to buy Kingdom Meikles Africa Limited at Wednesday's closing
price of $13 million, the $1 billion would buy only 76 shares, without
factoring in transaction costs
Analysts say the low-income earners are the major casualty in the
hyperinflationary environment, as they cannot invest in profitable
"The first casualty of hyperinflation is skewed income generation that
gravitates towards the rich," said Dr Daniel Ndlela, an independent economic
He says there is a stock market rush as it is the only avenue left for
preserving the real value of people's assets or the assets of corporations.
Witness Chinyama, group economist at Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited,
said the stock market was moving in line with inflation while the money
market was trailing behind as a form of investment alternative.
"There are negative real interest rates on the money market... if you are
looking at alternative investments, anything not based on interest rate,
like the equities market, is better," said Chinyama.
Under normal circumstances, the money market rates should be above inflation
to give returns to an investor. But with trailblazing inflation which the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates to have passed the 150 000
percent mark as at January, and ridiculous rates on the money market below
400 percent per annum, the money market has not been a favourite with
Chinyama said the investment alternative has been dislocated by financial
disintermediation - a situation whereby money is staying outside the banking
sector, rendering monetary policy ineffective.
He says property revaluations and re-rating of counters are a means to keep
pace with inflation.
Emmanuel Munyukwi, ZSE chief executive officer, defended the share prices,
saying notwithstanding the re-rating of certain counters, the assets were
"There has been re-rating of certain counters, and that is why some
counters' prices are going up but in terms of value the assets are cheap,"
Others see a premium over and above inflation as the driving force behind a
surge in share prices.
"There are people who are saying I have an asset and you have to pay a
premium if you want it," said Washington Mehlomakhulu, an analyst with
Highveld Financial Services.
Mehlomakhulu described rates on the money markets as a "joke".
"The only way to keep people money in banks is when interest rates reflect
what is happening on the inflation front," he said.
Analysts say with the collapsing economy which has shown no signs of
abetting,spective investors were scouring for avenues they could make a good
"As long as people are still looking for ways of locking value, the stock
market will be vibrant. People will dispose of their shares and others are
prepared to pay a premium," Mehlomakhulu said.
Ndlela says there is nothing sinister about a burst of prices on the stock
market, insisting "it's the only avenue where you can be assured that the
money is safe in terms of not losing value."
Others see a flurry of activities spurred by the availability of cheap funds
on the market. They say businesses that got funds under the Basic
Commodities Supply Side Intervention (BACOSSI) were struggling to get raw
materials while farmers who obtained money under the Agricultural Sector
Productivity Enhancement Facility (ASPEF) cannot access inputs to adequately
prepare for the season.
"You get BACOSSI but can't access raw materials and in the end you invest on
the stock market to maximize your returns," said a stock market analyst.
ASPEF and BACOSSI are cheap funds introduced by the central bank for farmers
and businesses respectively. ASPEF was introduced in 2005 while BACOSSI was
born last year for businesses to restock after the June price blitz that
nearly paralysed the sector.
For the ordinary citizen, living in a harsh environment, chances of
re-launching their livelihoods through stock market proceeds fade in the
horizon as they grapple with the basics in an environment unprecedented in a
country outside a war situation.
"The poor are outside the ring, which belongs to those who have a
concentration of assets... you watch while others are making money," said
The Nation (Nairobi)
29 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
The worsening economic meltdown in Zimbabwe, which is driving thousands of
people to neighbouring South Africa, coupled with the rainbow nation's own
growing challenges of an escalating crime rate is fueling a new wave of
xenophobic attacks on foreigners.
It is estimated that over three million Zimbabweans have found refugee in
South Africa and thousands more continue to pour into the more economically
stable neighbour in search of jobs and food.
The growing number of immigrants are in addition to the already large
immigrant population in South Africa from countries such as Somalia,
Ethopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Mozambique.
Inevitably this has inflamed emotions among locals who feel the foreigners
especially Zimbabweans whose population swells everyday take away their jobs
and are fuelling the already high crime rates as they resort to stealing and
violent crimes such as armed robbery to earn a living.
The burning down of shacks belonging to the refugees and even public
lynchings have become a common occurrence especially in poor neighbourhoods.
The growing problem of xenophobia is already of major concern to the African
Commission on People's and Human Rights (ACPHR), which says it will soon
send a fact finding mission to South Africa.
But organisations representing Zimbabwean exiles feel that if decisive
action is not taken now the attacks on foreigners escaping civil strife in
their own countries might spiral out control.
"It seems no one is taking heed of our advice," said Mr Daniel Shumba of the
Johannesburg based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF).
"We have done everything in our power by alerting the African Union and the
South African government but violent attacks on foreigners especially
Zimbabweans and Mozambicans are worsening each passing day."
Since its transition into majority rule in 1994, the new South Africa
because of the historical economic imbalances has always struggled to shed
off its unenviable reputation as the capital of violent crime in the world.
But human rights activists warn that it is becoming more common for
frustrated locals who can not get decent jobs promised by the new
dispensation to vent their anger on businesses owned by refugee Somali
businesspeople in their areas.
They say there is now a new trend of xenophobic attacks that seem to be
targeted at Zimbabwean and Mozambican economic refugees who are now becoming
the scapegoats for the unsustainable crime rate.
Last week, violent attacks drove away hundreds of Mozambicans and
Zimbabweans from an informal settlement near Pretoria, South Africa Africa's
According to various South African media sources four people have died so
far and several others injured in the violence that started a month ago.
Businesses and shacks belonging to the locals were looted and destroyed by
locals who accused them of being behind rising crime in the neighbourhood.
"The situation is becoming dangerous that is why I have decided to bring
back my wife and children," said Mr Jonathan Zireva of Harare. Mr Zireva who
claims to be a supporter of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) has been operating a spaza (tuckshop) in the
sprawling settlement of Soshanguve near Pretoria for the past three years
after he was retrenched by a Harare based company.
"I went to South Africa after I was retrenched by the state owned Grain
Marketing Board for supporting the MDC and I have no hope of ever securing a
job in Zimbabwe again.
"With what we have been experiencing in the past few days it's like jumping
from a frying pan to a fire.
"We no longer feel safe in South Africa but I do not have any other choice
but to go back because there is no hope for me in Zimbabwe anymore."
In his 2007 report to the ACHPR 42nd session, the commission's Special
Rapporteur for Refugees, Assylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and
Immigrants, Mr Tom Nyanduga said he had already written to the Southern
African government seeking permission to carry out a fact finding mission
about the treatment of refugees in South Africa.
"We are concerned about the ill-treatment of asylum seekers, especially from
Zimbabwe, Somalia, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo," Mr
"I look forward to engaging the South African authorities on the matter and
also to investigate other issues that have been brought to the attention of
The Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) has led calls for an
investigation into what it calls the "xhebhobic" treatment of refugees
especially Zimbabweans in South Africa and Botswana.
"Zimbabwe is near collapse of basic necessities such as food, bread, flour,
petrol, paraffin, soap and medication," HURISA said in a statement to the
"This has resulted in massive exodus of Zimbabwean people seeking
humanitarian assistance in the neighbouring states such as Botswana, South
Africa, Zambia and Mozambique."
But since Botswana and South Africa's economies and democratic profiles are
rated highest in the region they face challenges and take the bulk of the
Zimbabwean migration problems, said HURISA.
It added: "However, the South Africa and Botswana governments are not
handling the Zimbabwean humanitarian crisis in the spirit of "ubuntu" that
is in an African brotherhood manner and solidarity. Zimbabwean people are
met with hostility and xenophobic treatment."