|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
This long, hard, winter night
Since last light bled away
Attacks have come, fierce, furious
From out in that unyielding night.
But we have held our ground.
The clock plods on.
These dreadful hours slowly ebb as
The dawn’s coming promise begins
To light the sky.
The night is nearly spent.
And the last hour of the last watch is ticking, ticking away.
Mugabe aide admits land grab failed
Seized farms remain unclaimed amid warnings of a famine later this year
Jeevan Vasagar in Nairobi
Sunday January 4, 2004
A senior Zimbabwean Minister has admitted that the seizure of thousands of
white-owned farms has failed to benefit large numbers of poor black farmers,
many of whom have failed to take up the land that was grabbed.
Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo, chairman of the ruling Zanu-PF, said
that in some areas fewer than half of the black farmers who were allotted
land had started farming it.
Commercial agriculture has collapsed following Robert Mugabe's land
redistribution policy, leaving about five million people needing food aid
because of shortages.
'In some cases, the percentage of people who took up the farms that they
were allocated has not been encouraging,' Nkomo said in a BBC interview at
the weekend. 'In some cases,' he added, 'only 40 per cent of people who were
allocated land have taken it up.'
The Minister blamed lack of finance, saying that the farmers who wanted to
take the land had difficulties obtaining bank loans, but such difficulties
had been foreseen by the Mugabe regime's critics.
The poor peasant farmers who were meant to benefit from land seizures did
not have the money to buy seed, fertilisers or hoes, let alone redevelop the
farmland to make it productive.
And without the title deeds, which are still held by their white owners,
black farmers cannot obtain bank loans.
Critics say further problems were caused by members of the Zanu-PF elite -
who often had no interest or ability in farming - seizing land and then
leaving it idle. Mugabe's wife, Grace, is among those who have seized prime
Rensen Gasela, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's shadow
Minister for land, said: 'We knew all along that the land reform was very
chaotic, and we said so.
'They gave land to people who are not farmers, who are soldiers and police
and civil servants. These people are working in towns. They are not
interested in the land. They got the land for speculation purposes, so that
they can sell it later.
'Even Mugabe has admitted that there were problems, but they have always
glossed over the problems or indicated that they were teething troubles. If
John Nkomo has said this, then this is the first time there has been such a
The failure to make use of Zimbabwe's farmland could well worsen food
shortages. A spokesman for Justice for Agriculture, a white farmers'
pressure group, said: 'We've flown around the country and seen there's
nothing being grown. The maize crop is down, the wheat is down.
'A lot of people have started to prepare their land, but it's too late to
get any reasonable crop. What we saw last season is going to be nothing
compared to what we're going to see. The food shortages will be horrendous.
They keep blaming what's happening on drought, but the drought in the past
couple of years has been in specific areas, and the main grain-growing areas
haven't had any drought.'
The Minister's embarrassing admission comes after Mugabe's government
announced on New Year's Eve that it had recovered half a million acres of
farmland from Zanu-PF loyalists who had seized two or more white-owned
However, the Justice for Agriculture spokesman said it had seen no sign that
those involved in multiple land grabs had abandoned any of the land.
'One Minister is now on his third farm,' the spokesman said. 'They go on to
the farm when it is ready to produce, kick the owner off and take the
Even if the land is recovered, it will not be handed back to white farmers,
but given to other black Zimbabweans who failed to get land during previous
Exile for heroine of black struggle
SHE has been the doyenne of the black rights
movement in Zimbabwe
since the 1960s, but now the country she loves has finally turned its back
Judith Todd, the daughter of the Prime Minister of Rhodesia in the
1950s, has lost her long fight against President Robert Mugabe’s decision to
strip her of her Zimbabwean citizenship.
And now the 59-year-old has been forced to continue her fight for
freedom from New Zealand, dubbed a "totemless alien" along with the other
45,000 white Zimbabweans by Mugabe.
Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Todd described how she felt. Still
defiant she said: "I have been stripped of my birthright and warn that
Robert Mugabe is prepared to do the same to anyone of any colour or
background who opposes him.
"I no longer have a Zimbabwean passport and have reluctantly become a
New Zealand citizen."
Todd, daughter of Sir Garfield - a liberal who also fought for black
rights against the forces of apartheid - locked up her house in a plush part
of Bulawayo known as The Suburbs on Wednesday night and told her domestic
staff that she could be contacted at an address in Cape Town where she is
now staying with friends.
Before leaving, she said that at her lowest moments from now on she
would recall the words of her late father, who said: "We stood with courage
against white racism. Now we must stand against Mugabe and the spread of
From Cape Town, where she is now staying, Todd predicted that a wave
of state-sponsored violence would spread throughout 2004 as Mugabe prepares
for elections and lays plans for the downfall of his black political
She described how her life has been shaped by her political struggle:
"In 2001, Zimbabwe’s Registrar-General of Citizenship, Tobaiwa Mudede,
refused to renew my passport. Along with Mugabe, Mudede was intent on wiping
out the citizenship and voting rights of any Zimbabwean of whatever colour
or background thought to be against the ruling party, Zanu (PF). This has
affected a minimum of two million Zimbabweans, and perhaps as much as 25% of
She added: "My late father was one of the first affected. Stripped of
his citizenship by Mugabe and Mudede just before our last presidential
elections in March 2002, his name was put on the special list supplied to
all polling stations of those not allowed to vote, even if they’d been
citizens for decades, even if, like him, they had been a prime minister and
a senator, and even if their names were still on the current voters’ roll.
"My temporary passport expired in July 2003 and I was stranded in
Bulawayo with no citizenship and no travel documents. Now I have turned to
New Zealand, and received a generous and thoughtful response from them."
Todd has taken her political struggle around the world. She left
Rhodesia in 1965 to study journalism at Columbia University in the US before
returning home in 1970. Two years later she and her father were arrested and
then placed under house arrest.
When Todd was released, she was told to leave Rhodesia and never
In London she became a white icon in a black campaign to end minority
rule in Rhodesia. Hardly a demonstration took place in Trafalgar Square
without the figure of the tall, mini-skirted Todd leading the parades,
shouting the hardest.
In 1974 she married the banker Richard Acton, heir to one of Britain’s
most famous Roman Catholic peers, Lord Acton.
In May 1980 she returned to "liberated" Zimbabwe and said that she
felt free for the first time in her life.
"Society in Zimbabwe is infinitely more civilised now than it was 10
years ago," she said then. "Now we have a leadership which is dedicated to
the concept of non-racialism and people are more relaxed."
Sir Garfield - then a prominent rancher who retained his Christian
mission roots and handed over large areas of his farm to former freedom
fighters so they could start again in independent Zimbabwe - agreed.
She went on to become director of the Zimbabwe Project which placed
ex-combatants into useful jobs at a time when Mugabe and his key supporters
were busy building up personal power bases.
The country’s new leaders no longer appreciated the outspokenness of
Todd and a handful of liberals like her.
And so Todd went from being a champion of Mugabe to one of his
Overnight, the Mugabe-controlled media condemned her as a white witch
who allegedly supported his chief political rival Joshua Nkomo’s
In 2002 she was again picked up and put into a prison cell along with
other shareholders of the country’s only independent newspaper the Daily
"It all felt so similar," she told friends. "The same type of
vehicles, police officers sitting on each side of me. The only difference
was that back in 1972 the police were all white and now they are all black."
Later, she won a prolonged court battle for a one-year temporary
passport to attend a memorial service for her father at London’s St
Sir Garfield Todd was the son of a Scot who emigrated to New Zealand.
In the early 1920s the family moved from Auckland to Rhodesia and the young
Todd went from being a missionary to a massively respected elder statesman
in southern Africa.
As millions of people starve, Zimbabwe's prestigious beef herds head for
By Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg
Zimbabwe's once-famous national beef herd is on the verge
exacerbating the famine now facing 5.5 million people following President
Robert Mugabe's disastrous programme of land reform.
The commercial cattle herd, meticulously bred over 110 years to survive in
Zimbabwe's harsh conditions, used to be one of the country's richest assets,
earning £1.3 billion a year, mainly in European exports.
In 2000, when Mr Mugabe launched his controversial farm invasion strategy,
the national herd numbered 1.4 million. Since then, more than 4,000
commercial farms have been seized, the herd is less than a tenth of its size
and numbers are falling fast.
Foot and mouth disease and tick fever are rampant. "Fewer than 125,000 beef
cattle survived at the last count, but the number is lower now. It is
declining by the day," warned Paul D'Hotman, chief executive of the
Harare-based Cattle Producers' Association. "The entire national herd is on
the road to extinction. The whole gene pool is being wiped out."
The decline in the herd is stark evidence of Zimbabwe's problems. Inflation
is running at 620 per cent and starvation is widespread. The World Food
Programme estimates it will feed up to 45 per cent of Zimbabwe's population
at some point this year, compared with about 20 per cent in Ethiopia.
Mr Mugabe has blamed the crisis on three years of drought, but while
neighbouring countries such as Zambia have stepped up food production,
Zimbabwe's supplies have collapsed.
Mr Mugabe's land invasions initially benefited some landless peasants until
many of them were removed from properties when government ministers and
judges began laying claim to farms. Those peasants who retained land were
promised government help but many lacked the seed, animals, machinery and
knowledge required to grow crops or rear livestock.
Dirk Odendaal was one of Zimbabwe's top beef farmers until he was given 48
hours last year to leave his 2,015-hectare farm, together with 1,200
pedigree Brahman-Charolais cattle he had bred over 22 years. "It was
impossible to get so many animals off the farm in that time," Mr Odendaal
told The Sunday Telegraph. "It was heartbreaking. I watched what I'd built
over decades being destroyed before my eyes."
Mr Odendaal, whose confiscated farm lies 160 miles south of Harare in
Masvingo province, said many of his cattle were stolen in the first hours of
occupation as peasant settlers opened gates and broke down fences. Cattle
were confined in crush pens where their hamstrings were severed before they
were dismembered. "There was a complete breakdown of law and order," he
About 300 cattle were stolenbefore Mr Odendaal moved others to a
neighbouring property and began selling them for slaughter. "I was
converting my animals into cash because there was no longer anything I could
do with them," he said. He estimates that only about 1,000 beef cattle
survive in Masvingo; less than 12 months ago, there were 54,000.
He is now camping with his last 100 beasts on a small loaned property. "It's
temporary, it could be sequestered any time," he said. He intends to sell
most of them, but prices have fallen 40 per cent since last week because
Zimbabweans are impoverished by runaway inflation.
He wants to keep his last two stud bulls and some pedigree cows for as long
as possible in case he can re-establish his business. "I'm not viable any
more," said Mr Odendaal, 55, who is married with three sons. "But but I'm
determined to stay. I'm a Zimbabwean. I was born and grew up here."
The Cawood family is equally determined not to surrender. Sam Cawood, 75,
and his son, Brian, opened up virgin land in the harsh, dry low veld near
Mozambique in 1987 and built huge herds of pedigree Brahmans.
Peasant settlers invaded the ranchland, ordered the Cawoods to leave and
beat Sam and his black labourers. When the settlers drove 7,000 Brahmans
into enclosures, leaving them without water for days on end, the Cawoods
started transporting their beasts for slaughter.
"It was madness," said Brian. "My father was arrested and detained for
sabotaging the national wealth. But the destruction throughout the country
is a careful instrument of Zanu-PF policy. This is dictatorship, and the
quicker the world realises, the better. Four years ago we were feeding the
world. Now, Western taxpayers will have to feed our 14 million destitute
Registrar General’s office runs out of
THE Registrar General’s office has run out of film required in the
processing of identity documents, it has been established.
Several people who visited Makombe Building and Market Square in the past
few days seeking to get identity documents were turned away after the
officials indicated to them that they had run out of film to take the
The officials at the offices advised the people seeking identity documents
to return after January 15, and the same message was attached at the notice
John Masimba, who had travelled all the way from Chiweshe just before the
New Year to get another national identity card after losing the original,
said the developments were very inconveniencing.
“It’s so disappointing that I have to go back empty handed after travelling
all the way from Chiweshe especially given that transport is now costing a
lot of money,” he said as he left Makombe Building.
A secretary at the RG’s office asked this reporter to put his questions in
writing but the RG had not responded to the faxed questions by the time of
going to print.
Another irate young man trying to get a passport lashed out at the RG’s
office, saying instead of putting the notice only on their notice board,
they should have informed prospective clients of the development either
through television or the press.
“These people are very unprofessional. They should have informed us of this
through newspapers or on television,” he said, adding that lack of
professionalism had become a second nature to the people at the passport
“Apart from that, they are also corrupt. I wouldn’t be surprised if some
people are getting having pictures taken after tipping some officials here,”
Of late, the passport office had been sucked in controversy with reports of
officials having their hands greased to facilitate the smooth acquisition of
identity documents, including passports of those who paid them.
The practice has been on the increase in recent months as the number of
Zimbabweans seeking passports top go out of the country in search of greener
pastures keeps on increasing. A source at the Market Square office however
told The Daily Mirror that they were struggling to acquire film owing to the
acute shortage of foreign currency.
President’s Office probes Gov. Mpofu
Innocent Chofamba-Sithole Editor
THE Ministry of Special Affairs in the Office of the President has launched
an investigation into Matabeleland North governor, Obert Mpofu’s alleged
impropriety in the allocation of land in the Sikumi Forest area of Hwange
district, the Sunday Mirror has established.
Mpofu, who occupied Railway Farm 40 and 41 in the wildlife-rich forest, has
also been saddled with allegations by safari operators on the same
properties that he is demanding “unreasonable” lease conditions, including
the payment of monthly rentals of up to US$1 500 from them.
Special affairs minister and chairman of the presidential land
implementation committee, John Nkomo declined to elaborate on the
investigation saying: “I don’t want to say anything on this matter, perhaps
if you spoke to me on Monday (tomorrow) after I receive a full appraisal
from my officers.” The shady goings-on at Mpofu’s properties came to light
when Zimsun, proprietors of the Hwange Safari Lodge on Farm 40, were forced
to pay out a check of $30 million to an unnamed man who had promised to get
the designation of the farm reversed.
“Whether this man was acting on behalf of Mpofu or not, we could not
establish,” said a source privy to the transaction, preferring anonymity.
“But when the farm was not delisted, Zimsun took the matter up with Special
Affairs,” the source added.
Before Mpofu’s occupation of the two farms, Zimsun held a state lease and in
turn leased part of the property to Kanhondo Lodge, which falls under
Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG)’s Touch the Wild Safaris. Mpofu has also
communicated to Touch the Wild his demand for monthly rentals of US$1500 for
Kanhondo. Touch the Wild is jointly owned by RTG (which holds 60 percent
shares and is itself partly owned by government) and IBL of Mauritius (40
“Legally, after cancellation of the state lease we are supposed to continue
for eight years under the existing lease agreement before any changes can be
effected to it. But Mpofu wanted it cancelled so we could immediately lease
directly from him,” a Touch the Wild official told this newspaper.
Mpofu has also reportedly demanded hefty rentals from the Painted Dogs
Project, which operates on a tiny stretch of land in the area between Farm
39 and 41. However, chairman of the project, Jerry Gotora told the Sunday
Mirror this week that negotiations between them and the governor were going
on amicably and no hefty rentals were being demanded from them.
Special affairs ministry senior bureaucrat, Willard Chiwewe professed
knowledge of the allegations being levelled against Mpofu but said he was on
leave and so could not give any elaborate comment. “I’m away in Kariba right
now. I’m aware that there is a story to that effect, contact Mr. Moyo or Mr.
Dube from my office on Monday,” he said.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking National Parks and Wildlife official confirmed
Mpofu was under investigation by the special affairs ministry.
“Yes, Special Affairs is investigating irregularities on land reform in the
Hwange area and Mpofu is under the spotlight – he’s not clean,” he said,
declining to be named. The official also alleged his department was
experiencing problems with the governor’s attempt to “use his political
muscle” to circumvent a hunting ban effected in the area covering his
“These people are greedy, they want to use their political muscle to
bulldoze the hunting ban but we are insisting that this should be respected.
As the wildlife authority we have the mandate to implement a sound wildlife
management programme,” he said, adding that the country had lost much
credibility as a result of the illicit hunting activities.
Mpofu’s properties are home to the Presidential Elephant herd, which is
protected by a special decree passed by President Robert Mugabe in 1990.
They occupy land on the eastern boundary of the Hwange National Park in the
vicinity of the Main Camp. The heart of their range covers farms 39, 41 and
state land in the area known as Kanhondo, which land has all been allocated
to individuals under the land reform programme. Excessive hunting has been
reported on Farm 39, with hunters killing at least 20 of the Presidential
Elephant bulls up to the year 2002. Mpofu had initially been issued with
hunting quotas for elephants, which he agreed to relinquish upon request by
conservationist and founder of the Presidential elephant project, Alan
Elliot. The area is traditionally used for non-consumptive safari
activities.However, the issue of Mpofu’s occupation of state land albeit
under the land reform programme has been described by the lands, agriculture
and rural resettlement ministry as anomalous. A ministry spokesman confirmed
that it was a mistake to allocate state land to individuals, which should be
rectified. “The second anomaly in Mpofu’s case is that he got two farms,
when the policy is clear about one man, one farm,” the official added.
The case could as yet be the clearest illustration of the abuse of power
perpetrated by senior government officials during the land resettlement
exercise where they picked choice properties for themselves.
When this writer contacted Mpofu for comment his wife answered the mobile
phone, but just soon after she had informed him the call was from the Sunday
Mirror, the phone went silent. All attempts to reach the governor after that
proved fruitless as the mobile phone remained switched off.
Courts urged not to contradict themselves
THE country’s courts of law have been urged not to contradict themselves for
the interest of justice and the public.
This was said by a Harare lawyer George Chikumbirike after the magistrates’
courts squashed a High Court order to release with immediate effect, four
whites accused of smuggling gold out of the country on sixty-seven plus
twenty- seven more ‘new’ counts.
The four-Ian Hugh Macmillan, his son Ewan Macmillan, Claire Lynn Burdet and
Collen Rose— were first brought to court on December 16 facing charges of
smuggling on 67 counts gold worth about US$68 million.
They were on bail but were later re-arrested.
Investigations by the police have indicated that the gold smuggling gang had
instead smuggled more than 3000kg worth over US$38 million on 27 new counts.
They are accused of breaching the Customs and Exercise Act and were
initially remanded out of custody by the High court on a $12 million bail
The police later arrested the gang. They were denied bail from then.
While in custody, police investigations have revealed that the syndicate
swindled out more gold from the country to South Africa using allegedly
The gold alleged to have been smuggled on this ‘new’ charge amount to more
than 3000 kg.
The defense led by Chikumbirike is contesting this new charge saying the
charge is not a new one.
What is new according to Chikumbirike, is the new information on the counts
of more gold smuggled and not the charge.
Chikumbirike described the re-arresting of his clients and the three remands
they have so far endured as tantamount to sheer harassment.
He lambasted the state, accusing it of wasting the court’s time and abusing
“This is harassment, you grant them bail, you re-arrest them. You grand them
bail you invoke section 121 and arrest them once more.
“The court should say enough is enough and stop this abuse of the process by
the state for we are talking of three remands on same persons and on similar
charges,” he said.
He said the court should resort to bringing the four on remand through
summons saying the intention by the state to bring again other charges and
for the court to go over them again was an abuse of court procedures.
He urged the court to arrest such abuses.
“What would the public view it as when a court brings people on remand for
the third time when in fact they were first granted bail by the High court?
How does the public look at it-a contradiction between one arm of the court
with the other: High Court and this court,” asked Chikumbirike. He said the
manner in which the case was being handled lacked coherence and there seem
to be no finality in the matter.
The court was then urged to stay the proceedings pending finalisation of all
investigations. “The police must investigate to arrest, not to arrest
inorder to investigate,” lamented Chikumbirike.
However, Joseph Jagada, who represented the state said the placement of the
four in remand was justified.
Jagada added that the discretion to bring or not bring the gang on summons
rested with the state.
“We have decided that they be placed on remand since we now have reasonable
suspicion that they committed these charges,” he said.
Jagada feared that since the counts were increasing each time, the chances
of absconding by the offenders were high if granted bail.
“Circumstances are no longer the same, we are no longer talking of the
earlier counts but of new ones,” Jagada said. He urged the court to place
the gang on remand on these new extra charges.
This was disputed by Chikumbirike who said whatever was unearthed by police
investigations –was one and the same thing that has appeared before the
“These are issues that occurred long before whether they were known or not
known: charges are the same. We are not talking of different charges, were
talking of several counts,” he said. He urged the court to make a
distinction between a count and a charge.
Chikumbirike then implored the court to consolidate the charges, saying
there were similar, but the state maintained that the charges were separate.
During the proceedings, Chikumbirike advised Guvamombe to recuse himself
from hearing the matter saying since he had heard the initial case, he was
likely to be biased in handling the case.
The initial case involved 144,6kg of gold.
Guvamombe described the application as frivolous, speculative and devoid of
any merit. Chikumbirike said they were going to make an application for bail
to the High Court pending trial, and served Guvamombe and the prison
officials with a warrant from the Criminal Registrar ordering the release of
Commenting on the state’s persistence in declaring the new charges levied
against his clients as serious, Chidarikire said the 27 new counts the four
are facing were less in seriousness when compared to the initial 67 on which
the accuseds were given bail.
“In what way have the 27 counts become more serious than the 67 on which
they were given bail. We have a lesser charge of seriousness,” he said.
Passing ruling, Guvamombe said the charges took place at the same time but
involved separate distinct acts and therefore the offences appeared
different. He said the court had no jurisdiction to bail imposed by the High
court but said the High Court made its decision with different facts placed
He deferred the case to tomorrow morning.
Zimbabwean central bank to take measures to solve banking crisis
www.chinaview.cn 2004-01-04 08:09:38
HARARE, Jan. 3 (Xinhuanet) -- The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
said on Saturday it would intervene to end a devastating banking crisis that
has led to the closure of a discount house and the arrest of two top bank
In a statement, the central bank said the measures would be taken
to ensure that depositors were not unduly inconvenienced.
The RBZ did not give details of the measures to be taken but said
some banks were experiencing liquidity problems as a result of their
involvement in non-core and speculative activities.
The RBZ on Friday withdrew Century Discount House's operating
license, as it emerged that its parent company, the ENG Capital Holdings,
was in financial distress.
The ENG Capital reportedly failed to pay investors on Dec. 31,
resulting in the New Year's Day arrest of founding directors Nyasha Watyoka
and Gilbert Muponda.
Police said the pair would appear in court on Monday charged with
The ENG collapse threatened to suck in a number of financial
First Mutual Asset Management Company (FMAMC) said in a statement
it had taken precautions to protect its clients.
"FMAMC, a subsidiary of First Mutual Limited (FML), has exposure
to ENG Capital, a company that is reported to be affectedby the crisis in
the sector," the company said without stating by how much it was exposed.
FMAMC said the financial services market was experiencing severe
"Unfortunately, these difficulties have increased significantlyin
the last few weeks," FMAMC said.
Zimbabwe's banking sector is facing severe strain after
centralbank governor Gideon Gono threatened to get tough with offending
Delivering the 2004 monetary policy statement on Dec. 18, Gono
said liquidity support to faltering banks would no longer be delivered on a
silver platter as some of them abused it for speculative purposes.
Gono said support to under-performing banks would only be for the
purpose of protecting investors. He threatened to fire boards,managements
and treasury departments of failing banks in exchange for RBZ support.
Zimbabwe has 17 commercial banks with assets amounting to 2.9
trillion Zimbabwean dollars (about 3,522 million US dollars). Average
liquidity ratio as at Sept. 30 was 58.2 percent. Enditem
Sunday Times (SA)
Elephant ride ends in horror
in Zimbabwe dogs race against the clock to get injured SA
couple back home for treatment
A South African couple's elephant-riding adventure turned into a
life-threatening drama on the day of their 30th wedding anniversary.
Schoolteacher Sue Pearson is recovering from serious chest injuries in a
Johannesburg hospital after a dramatic rescue effort spanning three
countries, dogged by power failures at a clinic and an airport.
Pearson and her husband John, a Johannesburg
businessman, were swept off a
24-year-old elephant which ran into a tree on the banks of the Zambezi River
The injured couple had
to be evacuated by air to South Africa from Zimbabwe,
where they were unable to get medical treatment because of a power failure.
A few days
before Christmas, to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary,
Sue, 52, and John, 54, went on a three-day visit to the Zambezi Sun, which
overlooks the Victoria Falls near Livingstone, Zambia.
On the day of their wedding
anniversary, December 22 - the second day of
their visit - the couple decided to go on a two-hour elephant ride along the
banks of the Zambezi in the Mosi oa Tunya National Park.
Elephant rides through a game reserve are
among the attractions offered by
The rides are contracted out to safari operator Safari Par Excellence.
elephant we were on stopped walking, backed away slowly and then
bolted, running under a tree that swept us off," said John Pearson, who was
reluctant to talk about the traumatic ordeal this week.
Boris Bornman , general
manager for Sun International in Zambia, said it was
the first incident of its kind since the hotel began offering elephant rides
in February last year.
He said the elephant's handler managed to bend forward quickly
enough not to
be hit by the branch that knocked the passengers off. The Pearsons were
evacuated by the rescue company International SOS and admitted to Milpark
Hospital in Johannesburg. The International SOS flight doctor who treated
the couple, Dr Tyrone Richards, said both had sustained "life-threatening
They were taken to a clinic at
the hotel and examined by a nurse, who found
that Sue Pearson's condition was worse.
It was decided that the couple be taken by ambulance across
the border to
Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, where there were X-ray facilities.
But on arrival at the clinic it was discovered that the
town was having a
power failure and that X-rays could not be taken.
Richards said the evacuation was "touch and go" because of the
"We only had an hour after landing to pick the
couple up from the hospital
and be airborne again because it's not safe to take off without lights," he
"But when we landed at the
airport the Zimbabweans didn't think much would
happen. The customs staff had gone home and we couldn't leave the airport to
pick up the patients."
The customs officials eventually returned and the rescue
crew could fetch
the critically injured Pearsons.
assessments of the patients and began treating them,"
"Mrs Pearson seemed to be in a worse condition.
"Luckily the electricity came back on and so we had more
time to stabilise
Sue Pearson was in a critical condition
until she became able to breathe
without the assistance of a respirator on December 27.
Her husband suffered several fractures, but was discharged from hospital.
John Pearson confirmed that his wife was
well on her way to recovery - and
that the couple would like to return to Zambia to finish their holiday.
ZNA recruits flee training
By Richard Musazulwa
GWERU - About half of the 139 trainee Zimbabwe National Army soldiers
deserted training at the Zimbabwe Military Academy (ZMA) in Gweru last year
due to hunger and rigorous training, The Standard can reveal.
Military sources say this was the first time in the history of the army for
such a large number of recruits to abscond training.
They said many of the trainees fled after receiving reports
of the death of
two recruits in the camp.
“After enduring the endless hardships, they feared they could be the next
victims. So they scaled the fence and fled,” said a source.
The trainees were said to have been subjected to prolonged food deprivation,
intensive propaganda and unhealthy living conditions, in addition to
rigorous basic military training.
The issue of army deserters came to light at the army’s 2003 end of year
graduation ceremony at ZMA when President Robert Mugabe, the Commander in
Chief of the Armed Forces, commissioned only 77 instead of the 139 officer
Mugabe (79), confirmed in his speech that 62 recruits dropped out of the
Regular Officer Cadets Course.
Zanu PF supporters, who were obviously not listening to the speech, clapped
hands and whistled loudly when Mugabe read out the high number of officers
who had deserted the army.
Among those who successfully completed the tough training were seven women
cadets. One of the female cadets, Maria Jaravana, made history by becoming
the first woman cadet to get a guard of excellence since the country’s
independence in 1980.
Pari Hospital crumbling
By John Makura
WAILING with hunger, tiny infants lie in beds in the intensive care unit of
Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare.
Some are gently picked up by their mothers to be breast-fed but a tired
nurse from the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), who has been manning this ward
since nurses went on strike months ago, nourishes the majority with feeding
bottles. If a child cannot cope with this, it faces a bleak future since the
hospital cannot afford costly intravenous drips.
“If they are not able to feed within
a short period of time, most babies
here will succumb to starvation,” says a worried ZNA nurse.
Others will perish because the hospital has no drugs to combat simple
infections and parents are too poor to pay for medicines themselves.
At the casualty department, a young man in a dark tracksuit is wheeled into
the resuscitation room on a trolley. He is trembling, his eyelids
“What’s his name?” a doctor, also from ZNA, asks. No one seems to know. The
doctor slaps him gently on the face. He thinks he is suffering from hysteria
but he cannot confirm this. Many of the thermometers are broken. The
blood-pressure machines are worn out through age and use.
The soldier/doctor, who refuses to be named, confides that this patient was
lucky to be brought in on a trolley. He says this is the first time he has
seen a patient being brought on a trolley or wheelchair since he started
working here last year. Wheels have fallen off from most trolleys and
wheelchairs once used at this hospital.
Parirenyatwa is supposed to be one of Zimbabwe’s premier medical
institutions. After independence in 1980 it was considered a centre of
medical excellence, where patients would receive specialist treatment and
generations of doctors and nurses would be given first class medical
Despite the collapse, that dream still persists. People come from all over
Zimbabwe to the hospital, now rat-infested, in search for cure.
Kariba resident, Betty Sachinda, is one. She has brought in her daughter,
suffering from acute diarrhoea.
“This is the biggest hospital and she is going to be cured here,” she
claims. “This is my best hope”.
But Parirenyatwa has largely become a place that only offers hope to the
poor. Well to do Zimbabweans who are mostly Zanu PF chefs and top business
executives do not go anywhere near the hospital.
“They are flown to South Africa, to Europe or to the Far East where the
medical staff do not go on strike and where there are drugs,” said one
cynical medical observer.
The observation is true. Incidents of the few rich seeking treatment outside
Zimbabwe have become common.
The late vice-president Simon Muzenda was treated in China and South Africa
before he died. Another Zanu PF chef, Edison Zvobgo, is currently being
treated at an exclusive specialist clinic in Cape Town, South Africa.
But poor Zimbabweans have no option but to go to Pari, as the referral
centre is popularly known.
In another ward, a nurse also from the ZNA listens to the heart beat of an
emaciated patient. She has been in this hospital for months. She thinks
antibiotics would help make her more comfortable.
“Do we have any antibiotics today?” she asks an aide. He nods in agreement.
Often the nurse has nothing to offer, save for words of comfort.
In the pharmacy, the scale of the problem becomes apparent. The shelves are
At the outpatients’ dispensary, Tendai Matinyenya who has a headache is told
the medicine she requires is not in stock.
“I do not have any money to buy medicine,” she tells the nurse. After an
exchange of rude words, Tendai gives up and goes away.
And the situation is worse at the stinking mortuary which is full of
The difficulties experienced by Parirenyatwa Hospital are a mere reflection
of a much bigger crisis in Zimbabwe’s health sector, which is now ranked
among the worst in the world.
Medical analysts say some of the problems facing the health sector today
could have been avoided had the government acted upon the findings of the
Commission of Review into the Health Sector.
“Hospitals are overcrowded and congested as the referral system
disintegrates. Shortages of essential drugs, sundries, and equipment are now
very common. Some of the rural health centres and most district hospitals
and provincial hospitals visited by the commission are in a dilapidated
state, poorly maintained, and in a poor state of cleanliness and repair.
“Facilities such as toilets and mortuaries in some places were in a
deplorable state. Some rural health centres had no running water, no
electricity and no telephones,” noted the commission that was set up by
President Mugabe in 1999.
The commission also found that the public health sector has been hit by a
mass exodus of experienced and newly qualified professionals, disenchanted
by the poor working conditions and the government’s indifferent response to
Although the commission recommended that the budget allocation to the
Ministry of Health and Child Welfare be increased and all problems be
addressed to avoid the collapse of the sector, nothing significant was done.
And then the economic crisis worsened, dashing all the hopes of a revival of
the vital sector at a time when the HIV/Aids scourge is on the march and
tightening its grip on the populace.
Troubled Zesa turns to the East
By Liberty Chirove
FINANCIALLY-CRIPPLED power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(Zesa), is seeking to raise US$600m through offshore investment to boost
power generation at Hwange and Kariba power stations, it has emerged.
The move is expected to help reduce the power utility’s huge import burden,
which has forced Zesa to charge local exporters in hard currency.
“Through investor money we are looking forward to raising
US$400m for Hwange
and US$175m for Kariba power stations,” said Zesa business planning manager,
He added: “Import power generation is constrained at the moment and we need
2 000 megawatts to adequately meet our obligation of providing power
throughout the country, rather than the 600 and 300 megawatts generated at
the two units of Hwange and Kariba respectively.”
Zesa’s operational efficiency is currently being compromised by a severe
shortage of foreign currency to import spare parts.
Regular power disruptions continue to be experienced in the country due to
frequent faults caused by faulty and aging equipment.
The majority of the equipment, such as transformers and power lines, has not
been refurbished for the past 25 to 35 years as per recommendations by the
Company officials said the frequent thefts, vandalism of power cables and
other components were exacerbating the problems at Zesa. Electricity
components have a lucrative market in neighbouring South Africa.
“In April 2003 the government issued out a policy statement for a 49%
investor stake in Zesa to improve operations but up to now no-one has shown
interest as investors continue to shun Zesa because of the low tariffs which
currently account for 70% more than costs,” said Nyatanga.
“We have now turned to the East especially, China, for investment as other
continents have abandoned us because they want to be sure they will be able
to recover their money,” he said.
With the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Africa having
threatened to switch off Zimbabwe for non-payment of electricity debts, Zesa
has since entered into negotiations for a US$350m loan from China, US$270m
from Malaysia and about US$100m from India.
Zesa hailed Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono’s monetary
policy which allows it to bill all its exporting customers in foreign
currency for their electricity consumption.
“We import power in foreign currency at a high price and sell it to many
textile, manufacturing and agricultural industries among others at a lower
price. The customers also earn their revenue in foreign currency so they
should also pay bills in foreign currency,” said Nyatanga.
Nyatanga said Zesa realises very little capital as there are many customers
but little development taking place. Furthermore, he said, the company also
intends to subsidise domestic customers especially in the agricultural
sector and in the rural areas who find it difficult to pay their bills.
“The move is a deliberate one in which weaker groups should be protected
whether they be commercial or industrial as we aim to electrify the
remaining 58% of the country,” he added.
Zesa officials blame the government for “not doing enough” to help the
parastatal solve its current problems. They claimed the government has not
financially assisted Zesa since September last year but has been urging it
to borrow from the market.
However, there is some optimism which might turn out to be misplaced that
Zesa’s operational efficiency will improve following the establishment of
the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Commission (ZERC), which is expected to
be implemented during the first quarter of this year.
The commercialisation will result in the formation of Zesa Holdings, which
will play the overseer role on the functions of the subsidiary companies on
behalf of government and other stakeholders.
Subsidiary companies to be formed include the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC),
Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission Company (ZETC), Zimbabwe Electricity
Distribution Company (ZEDC), Zesa Enterprises and Powertel.
National museum falling apart
By Caiphas Chimhete
THE Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences, once the epicentre of historical
knowledge, is run down and now resembles “a scrap-yard” due to total
neglect, The Standard can reveal.
A tour of the museum last week revealed a pathetic situation with some of
the exhibits falling off or badly tilted, clear signs of lack of maintenance
by the authorities.
some cases, bones had fallen off from Ôparent’ skeletons while others
were heaped in dark corners.
A lion exhibit, which once looked real from a distance a few years back, now
appears like a scarecrow in a field, with threads that hold it together
Just a few years back, the threads were invisible and the majority of
exhibits appeared real and fascinating to look at.
“No Daddy, its pieced up together. It is not a real lion,” noted one child,
whose parents with whom he was touring the run down museum had tried to
The once colourful artificial shrubs and small bushes in which the “animals”
are placed, have also fallen apart.
The only parts of the museum that still exhibit life and realism are the
African village and fresh water fish. The village displays wooden sledges
and has a true African set-up, as the name implies.
An official at the museum, which falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs,
said the number of people visiting the place has drastically gone down. He,
however, could not give figures.
“We used to get many people visiting this place especially during holidays
but things are changing. Nowadays at times we get less than 10 people,” said
the official, who attributed the decrease to the current economic hardships
facing the country.
Previously known as the Queen Victoria museum, the Zimbabwe Museum of Human
Sciences was built during the colonial era and officially opened in 1964.
It contains research departments of Stone Age and Iron Age archaeology. The
national collection of rock art is also housed there. There are also
exhibits which show the varieties, internal structures and adaptation of
mammals, birds and reptiles.
The humanities se-ction of the museum portrays the evolution of man from the
Early Stone Age to the late Iron Age.
However, most of the labels have either faded or have dropped from where
they are supposed to be pinned up.
Apart from that, visitors can not read through the dirty glasses that
protect the exhibits.
Acting museum director Pascal Taruvinga confirmed that there were problems
at the museum but declined to comment, referring all questions to the chief
executive officer, a Mr Mahachi.
“These are policy issues and I am not allowed to talk to the press. You
should talk to Dr Mahachi because some of the issues appear very genuine,”
Mahachi could not be reached for comment.
Byo council in rates u-turn
By our own Staff
BULAWAYO - THE Bulawayo city council has been forced to revise its 2004
budget after resistance from residents who objected to the hefty increase of
rates and tariffs that had gone up by about 8000%.
Last October, the city council that is owed over $4 billion by government
departments and ratepayers passed a $180 billion budget that attracted heavy
criticism from the Bulawayo Residents Association (Bura).
Rates would have gone up in phases: by 400% during the first
in the second quarter, 145% for the third and 75% for the last quarter.
Bura also sent in proposals against the new budget, arguing that the
proposed budget would have a negative impact on the poor and would be a
final blow to the pensioners and the unemployed.
Bulawayo city council public relations manager, Busani Bafana, confirmed to
The Standard that the council was from last week working on modalities of
making amendments to the 2004 budget in line with new proposals forwarded by
“We are addressing the concerns raised by the city residents in line with
statutory instruments of the Local Government Act and we are now in the
process of coming up with a budget that would be acceptable to everyone in
the city,” Bafana said.
Bafana said council would announce the amended 2004 budget once the
committees had come up with their recommendations.
Council insiders who spoke to The Standard noted that the authority could be
forced to reduce the proposed increases by over 500%
The Herald Editorial of 18
August 2000 entitled: Humility, not arrogance,
key to nation’s success
As we enter 2004, the Editor has decided to reproduce word for word an
Editorial he authored while still at The Herald, following impassioned pleas
from readers, who cited the prophetic nature of the Editorial, and the
failure of political leaders in particular, and Zimbabweans in general, to
The road between has hardly
been a smooth climb. It is hoped that this 2000
comment, which has proved quite brutal in its factuality, will strike a cord
in all Zimbabweans as we embark on what promises to be another difficult
OUR sons and daughters are the most important things in our lives. The good
progeny is a natural extension of our fathers and mothers.
The children give us joy in good times and reason to soldier on when times
are tough. They are our future, providing continuity to families and the
But what are we, as parents and leaders, preparing for our sons and
daughters? What are they going to inherit from us when we go down under?
The lucky few will boast that they will leave millions of dollars worth of
houses, farms, cars and other forms of property for their children.
The majority of Zimbabweans, millions of them, will leave hardly anything
for their children.
Poverty is spreading like a pandemic, leaving many people without the basic
necessities of life, like food, drink, clothing and shelter - take a walk,
or a car ride, in the backyards of Mbare, for example.
Families are becoming destitute. They do not only fail to feed themselves
but even to bury their members when they die, leaving it to State to give
them what was once a taboo - pauper’s burials.
Shortages are creeping in and beginning to become common features of our
lives. Fuel queues are returning to the cities.
With few commuter omnibuses on the road , workers will spend valuable hours
in queues. They will be late for work and late back home.
At home electricity is being cut, forcing people to use candles and
Prices are rising beyond the reach of the majority of the people. No new
jobs are being created but they are, in fact, dwindling.
The economy is facing serious problems and it needs some urgent, drastic and
Many things appear to have gone wrong. No one seems to have viable answers.
The road ahead looks uncertain. Some people have given up. But this need not
be the case.
Zimbabwe is a beautiful country, with some of the most attractive tourist
spots in the world, such as the Victoria Falls. The potential for developing
a thriving tourism industry is limitless.
We have a country that is very rich in natural resources, such as minerals,
forestry and fisheries. The soils and climate are varied, allowing us to
engage in a rich variety of agricultural activities.
Zimbabwe has industrious, skilled, intelligent and highly educated people.
We have all the basics that are required to make Zimbabwe a successful
country with a prosperous people.
So, where have we gone wrong?
Arrogance is one large part of our problems. The feeling that “I” or “we”
know better than everyone else and have the answers to all our problems.
This attitude runs across all sections of Zimbabwean society, from
politicians, through business persons, to even ordinary people.
It is an attitude that makes Zimbabweans suspicious and shut their ears to
It is the dangerous belief that makes everyone want to grab the steering
wheel and drive themselves.
The referendum and campaigns leading to the general elections in June have
left the people of this great country divided. Perhaps, in our eagerness to
win at all costs, we forgot one fundamental lesson: that we are all
Zimbabweans who have no choice but to live with each other, when all is said
We are now paying dearly for ignoring this fundamental lesson. We are now a
divided and poorer nation, smitten with different voices and conflicting
All stakeholders need come together, in humility, not in arrogance, to work
out solutions for the country’s huge problems, and pull together in the same
We owe it to ourselves, our children and future generations to make Zimbabwe
a successful country. We cannot achieve this by bashing and tearing each
A great and beautiful country: That’s what Zimbabwe is and will always be -
provided that in our hearts and on our lips we say NO to arrogance and YES
to humility and co-existence.
Happy what? It’s Mr Angry Christmas
Overthetop By Brian Latham
WE’RE going to leave the troubled central African basketcase behind and
return to the Zimbabwean basketcase this week because; well, because it’s
supposed to be the holidays and a time of great festivity.
Except that it isn’t, not here anyway. Religion aside, there’s precious
little to celebrate, still less to feel festive about.
Zimbabweans will end the year drowning in misery. Nothing
works and the few
things that do work are so expensive they’re beyond the reach of almost
everyone. A well-known chain store, South African, naturally, is selling a
plain, unattractive kettle for over a million Zimkwacha.
If you don’t believe me, phone them and ask. On second thoughts, don’t
bother because the phones aren’t working. Large adverts asking me to be
inspired when I use Econet Wireless have inspired me to throw my phone away.
Or stick it up the chairman’s left nostril while he explains what possible
reason I could have for wanting to pay his outrageous bill.
Rather than showing me pictures of inspirational people who’re supposed to
tell me all I need to know about his business, he should be showing me a
picture of the late Mobutu Sese Seko, the man who obviously inspired
business ethics at his company. I shan’t pay.
Nor will I pay the vigilante woman sent by Mr J Moyo to extricate money from
me at the Avondale shops the other day. She wanted money for something
called a car radio licence. I pointed out that I refused to either listen to
Hate Radio or pay J Moyo one cent so I left - without paying.
It got worse; she said I could pay by cheque if cash was a problem. “Just
make it out to B and B Financial Services,” she said. What she was unable to
tell me was which chef that particular company represents.
Both those alleged gentlemen will have to do without my hard earned
Zimkwacha, even if they are allegedly on opposite ends of the political
It’s all too much. A traditional Christmas meal for an ordinary middle class
family could cost not much under a million bucks.
And outside the walls, the teaming masses will be scraping their cents
together for a loaf of bread. One loaf will be all many people can afford,
at 3 500 Zimkwacha.
If the chefs don’t feel guilty about that, then they truly are beyond
redemption. Well, we already know they are, but it’s another clear signal of
the moral depravity that has engulfed this country.
Quite how anyone is going to feel festive this year is beyond comprehension.
I would suggest the traditional Zimbabwean response to any desperate crisis,
but sadly even getting blind drunk is unaffordable now.
As if Zanu PF hadn’t done enough damage. They’ve stolen the farms, tortured
the opposition, left millions starving, raped the women and burnt down
houses - and now they’ve turned us into a nation of teetotallers. It is the
ultimate insult. We may as well live in the Yemen, wrap towels around our
heads and accept our alcohol-free fate.
Of course, that may well prove to be Zanu PF’s undoing. Life without
alcoholic stupor will simply be unacceptable to most of the population and
the people may well rise in anger. Not being able to afford school fees,
groceries and clothes is one thing, but when you can’t get blind drunk over
the weekend, is there any point to life?
It’s not the Zimbabwean way. Sobriety is unpatriotic and contrary to the
tenets of civilisation as we know them. So, if you can’t get drunk this
festive seasonÉ get even with the people who deprived you of your right to
drink till you drop.
Bleak year ahead for Zimbabwe's workers
January 04 2004 at 10:27AM
By Basildon Peta
Thousands of Zimbabweans will find themselves jobless in the new year as
many factories may not reopen for business after their traditional
end-of-year shutdowns. Hordes of children will also not be returning to
school in the new year as fees have increased by more than 1 000 percent.
Despite President Thabo Mbeki's latest efforts to resolve the political and
economic crisis in Zimbabwe, the short-term future for South Africa's
embattled northern neighbour remains bleak.
The Zimbabwe national chamber of commerce said it fears many more companies
will succumb to the country's debilitating economic crisis and fail to
reopen at the end of their traditional Christmas breaks in two weeks' time.
With official inflation at a record high of 619 percent and soaring interest
rates of more than 500 percent, many companies have sunk deeper into debt
and may fold.
Jeffrey Takawira, a spokesperson from the chamber, said the organisation was
nervous at the prospect of looming job losses due to the harsh economic
"We have a very depressed consumer market and inflation is skyrocketing.
There are serious foreign currency shortages and a host of other problems.
All these factors could drag many companies under in the new year," Takawira
Although he said the chamber was happy with manoeuvres by Gideon Gono,
Zimbabwe's recently appointed reserve bank governor, to kick-start the
economy, much more still needed to be done.
Gono has introduced an auction system for foreign currency - to be overseen
by the central bank - and allowed exporters to retain up to 75 percent of
their foreign currency.
The currency auction system is an attempt to drift away from Zimbabwe's
fixed exchange rate system, which has seen traders fleeing to the black
market for foreign currency.
The US dollar is officially pegged at Z$824 on the official market, while it
fetches more than Z$6 000 on the black market.
Simba Makoni, Zimbabwe's former finance minister, described the fixed
exchange rate system as "discredited". He was promptly dismissed from the
Takawira said the chamber had undertaken a study of the sectors most
affected by the economic problems. "The tourism sector is particularly
hardest hit," he said. Perceptions of instability and violence in Zimbabwe
continued to dog tourist inflows into the country.
The Financial Gazette claimed that a number of companies had scaled down
their operations before closing for the Christmas and New Year holidays. The
newspaper said this had given rise to expectations that some companies might
not reopen for business.
It quoted industry players saying that scores of employees had been sent on
forced leave, until further notice, in a bid to cut down on spiralling
Zimbabwean companies are being weighed down by rising costs of production,
exacerbated by the critical shortage of foreign currency needed to import
spares, equipment and raw materials.
At the same time, the market for their products has suffered a major knock
because of the shrinking disposable incomes. Also hard hit are those sectors
still operating under price controls. Reports say at least 100 000 jobs have
been lost in more than 400 company closures over the past year.
Meanwhile, human rights groups fear tens of thousands of children will be
out of school this year as their parents cannot afford school fees, which
have been hiked by 1 000 percent - and at some private schools by as much as
2 500 percent. The situation could be worsened by parents who lose their
"The economic and political crisis is unsustainable. The situation is
desperate," said the National constitutional assembly, Zimbabwe's largest
human rights group.
"There is no better time for Robert Mugabe to swallow his pride and give his
suffering people a reprieveE
"He must come to the negotiating table with all democratic forces in the
country to agree on ways of ending the crisis."
The group is advocating the rewriting of Zimbabwe's constitution, which
vests sweeping powers in Mugabe, as the first step towards resolving the
It is opposed to any fresh elections being held under the current
constitutional dispensation. Faced with Mugabe's unflinching arrogance and
intransigence, the group warns that impatient Zimbabweans might resort to
any forms of struggle to extricate themselves from their leader's misrule.
That could plunge the country into further chaos. - Independent Foreign
National museum falling apart
By Caiphas Chimhete
THE Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences, once the epicentre of historical knowledge, is run down and now resembles “a scrap-yard” due to total neglect, The Standard can reveal.
A tour of the museum last week revealed a pathetic situation with some of the exhibits falling off or badly tilted, clear signs of lack of maintenance by the authorities.In some cases, bones had fallen off from Ôparent’ skeletons while others were heaped in dark corners. A lion exhibit, which once looked real from a distance a few years back, now appears like a scarecrow in a field, with threads that hold it together visibly bare. Just a few years back, the threads were invisible and the majority of exhibits appeared real and fascinating to look at. “No Daddy, its pieced up together. It is not a real lion,” noted one child, whose parents with whom he was touring the run down museum had tried to scare him. The once colourful artificial shrubs and small bushes in which the “animals” are placed, have also fallen apart. The only parts of the museum that still exhibit life and realism are the African village and fresh water fish. The village displays wooden sledges and has a true African set-up, as the name implies. An official at the museum, which falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs, said the number of people visiting the place has drastically gone down. He, however, could not give figures. “We used to get many people visiting this place especially during holidays but things are changing. Nowadays at times we get less than 10 people,” said the official, who attributed the decrease to the current economic hardships facing the country. Previously known as the Queen Victoria museum, the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences was built during the colonial era and officially opened in 1964. It contains research departments of Stone Age and Iron Age archaeology. The national collection of rock art is also housed there. There are also exhibits which show the varieties, internal structures and adaptation of mammals, birds and reptiles. The humanities se-ction of the museum portrays the evolution of man from the Early Stone Age to the late Iron Age. However, most of the labels have either faded or have dropped from where they are supposed to be pinned up. Apart from that, visitors can not read through the dirty glasses that protect the exhibits. Acting museum director Pascal Taruvinga confirmed that there were problems at the museum but declined to comment, referring all questions to the chief executive officer, a Mr Mahachi. “These are policy issues and I am not allowed to talk to the press. You should talk to Dr Mahachi because some of the issues appear very genuine,” said Taruvinga. Mahachi could not be reached for comment.
Byo council in rates u-turn
By our own Staff
BULAWAYO - THE Bulawayo city council has been forced to revise its 2004 budget after resistance from residents who objected to the hefty increase of rates and tariffs that had gone up by about 8000%.
Last October, the city council that is owed over $4 billion by government departments and ratepayers passed a $180 billion budget that attracted heavy criticism from the Bulawayo Residents Association (Bura).Rates would have gone up in phases: by 400% during the first quarter, 230% in the second quarter, 145% for the third and 75% for the last quarter. Bura also sent in proposals against the new budget, arguing that the proposed budget would have a negative impact on the poor and would be a final blow to the pensioners and the unemployed. Bulawayo city council public relations manager, Busani Bafana, confirmed to The Standard that the council was from last week working on modalities of making amendments to the 2004 budget in line with new proposals forwarded by residents. “We are addressing the concerns raised by the city residents in line with statutory instruments of the Local Government Act and we are now in the process of coming up with a budget that would be acceptable to everyone in the city,” Bafana said. Bafana said council would announce the amended 2004 budget once the committees had come up with their recommendations. Council insiders who spoke to The Standard noted that the authority could be forced to reduce the proposed increases by over 500%.
Harare - Zimbabwe police have arrested a second suspect in
the December murder of Australian accountant Philip Laing, a police
spokesperson said on Sunday.
Oliver Mandipaka said that the second member of a four-member gang of armed
robbers who attacked and robbed the Eastern Highlands Tea Estate was
arrested in Harare a few days after a first suspect was picked up in late
"The police have the identity of the other two," Mandipaka told AFP.
Laing and several other members of the accounts department on the tea estate
were abducted on December 19 and forced to drink acid after the robbers
emptied office safes of workers' wages.
The 51-year-old Laing died from ingesting acid, while his co-workers were
The incident came amid strained relations between Australia and Zimbabwe
after Prime Minister John Howard led the push to continue Zimbabwe's
suspension from the Commonwealth last month.
A family member of Laing, who is from Perth, told Australian media in
December that the crime appeared to have been politically motivated, but
Zimbabwe police dismissed the theory.
"One thing we know for sure is that the case was not politically motivated.
It was purely criminal," Mandipaka said on Sunday. He said one of the
suspects arrested had two prior robbery convictions.
Mbeki set to back land grabs
By R.W. Johnson, The Sunday Times
January 05, 2004
Farmers in South Africa are bracing for a wave of land grabs similar to
those that have crippled Zimbabwe as President Thabo Mbeki prepares to back
The reforms would allow his Government to redistribute any land deemed to
have been stolen from blacks during the apartheid era.
The move, which Mr Mbeki is expected to approve this week, follows his
recent trip to Zimbabwe, during which he appeared determined to support
President Robert Mugabe, despite international criticism of his withdrawal
from the Commonwealth.
Like Mr Mugabe, Mr Mbeki is under pressure to make good on promises of land
reform. In 1994, his African National Congress vowed to redistribute 30 per
cent of farmland in 10 years. Less than 3 per cent has changed hands so far
and a parliamentary election is set for April.
South Africa's chief land claims commissioner Tozi Gwanya justified the move
by claiming that current arrangements – under which redistribution is
handled on a case-by-case basis by the Land Claims Court – are too
But the opposition Democratic Alliance said the court was so underused that
it might be closed. Farming had become so unprofitable and dangerous that
about 10 per cent of agricultural land is for sale every year.
"This is absolute madness. There's no reason for it," Democratic Alliance
land issues spokesman Andries Botha said. "The damage to investor confidence
will be considerable. How can you expect farmers to invest their life
savings in their farms if at any moment they could face expropriation with
no chance of appeal?"
Under the existing rules, anyone who lost land "due to racially
discriminatory measures" since 1913 could take their claims to the land
court. All claims had to be lodged by the end of 1998 and most cases were
settled amicably with compensation paid. Critics accuse the Government of
creating chaos by allowing cases to be filed retrospectively and say Land
Affairs Minister Thoko Didizasees sees direct power as the simplest way of
side-stepping the problem.
"The minister has got fed up," said Graham McIntosh, a Natal farmer and
Democratic Alliance MP. "So the new measure will enable her to have her way
without being embarrassed by all her procedural irregularities, incompetence
or straightforward illegalities being exposed."
Mr McIntosh said the new laws would encourage groups such as the Landless
People's Movement, which has threatened Zimbabwe-style land invasions. More
than 1000 South African farmers have been murdered since 1994.
"The passage of such a measure together with election rabble-rousing could
open a Pandora's box," he said.
But Mr Gwanya insisted there could be no comparison with events in Zimbabwe.
"This is not a land grab. There is a violent occupation of farms in
Zimbabwe. Here none of the claimants is allowed to go and occupy other
The opposition is not convinced. "We are moving from the rule of law to the
law of rule," Mr Botha said.