property magnate Nicholas van Hoogstraten has strengthened his ties with the
regime of Robert Mugabe by taking the largest stake in a Harare-based bank -
a move that he claims makes him the biggest foreign investor in Zimbabwe,
writes Tom Walker.
NMB Bank was valued at £70m when it was
floated in 1997 and was ranked among the top 30 in sub-Saharan Africa. But
last year its fortunes plummeted after its founders - supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change - were forced to flee Zimbabwe.
They were accused of illegally moving currency abroad and Mugabe's
government froze all their assets.
Van Hoogstraten, who
was released from Belmarsh prison in 2003 after his manslaughter conviction
for the killing of a business associate was quashed, has been building up
his interests in Zimbabwe over the past decade.
Central Estates, a sprawling 600,000-acre ranch, and has a controlling stake
in Wankie, the country's largest coalmine.
But last week he
shocked what remains of Zimbabwe's financial community by turning up at the
annual meeting of NMB and announcing that he had become the largest
Analysts said van Hoogstraten had built up his
stake to about 30% through two companies, Messina Investments and
BASIC commodity shortages that have
rocked Zimbabwe in the past four months have since worsened, with critical
foodstuffs like bread, cooking oil, kapenta, milk and sugar, among others,
disappearing from major supermarket shelves. While there are erratic
supplies of cooking oil, most consumers in Harare say bakeries have failed
to supply bread, while milk deliveries have also been erratic. Bakers
have generally been supplying consumers with "Whole Wheat" bread which, at
between $9 500 and $10 000, is well beyond the reach of many. The gazetted
price of a standard loaf is $4 500. A snap survey conducted by The Daily
Mirror in the capital at the weekend revealed that cooking oil was now
available in strange brands of two litre containers costing $150 000. The
Daily Mirror witnessed hundreds of consumers jostling for the brand at a
supermarket along Cameron Street. The survey also revealed that the price
of a 750 millilitre bottle of cooking oil had shot up to $31 000 from $12
000 last month. The government and the public have previously accused basic
commodity manufacturers of withholding their products to suffocate the
market in a mercenary bid to push for higher prices. Most bakeries said
the industry was trapped under a biting fuel crisis that had caused their
failure to produce enough products for the market. "We have raw material
supplies, wheat is available and flour is on stock. The problem is that our
ovens are powered by diesel. So the fuel shortages are impacting negatively
on our operations. "Smaller bakeries use electricity but they do not produce
this is not about prices, or anything, but fuel," a baker said
yesterday. Sugar producer ZSR chief executive Patison Sithole refused to
divulge the circumstances behind sugar shortages. "That is a very serious
issue that I cannot answer over the phone," Sithole, also President of the
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), said. He has, however, been on
record saying price controls were gnawing into ZSR's coffers and lobbying
for regular upward adjustments. The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce's
(ZNCC) chief executive Innocent Makwiramiti also complained about price
controls saying they had hit hard on the chamber's members. "Let the
market set its pace. It is difficult to produce when prices have already
been set and the issue of price controls have featured in most of our
discussions. "The other challenge has been that of supply bottlenecks of raw
materials. It is a fact that 60 percent of the manufacturing sector depends
on agricultural produce so the decline in crop output has also impacted
negatively on industrial output," Makwiramiti noted. The government last
month gazetted prices of basic commodities to cushion consumers who were
being short-changed and taken advantage of by unscrupulous "fly-by-night"
shop owners. The recommended producer price of bread is $4 200 while the
retail price is marked at $4 500 a loaf. A 10 kg packet of roller meal
costs $19 000 while a 50 kg now costs $88 000. However, long queues continue
to appear at supermarkets as consumers jostle for the available products,
usually distributed in small quantities. Motorists also continued to queue
outside service stations yesterday, hoping that petrol and diesel would be
delivered. The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe has remained mum over the
fuel shortages for some time now, with the old explanation of foreign
currency constraints still persisting. Both petrol and diesel are now
selling for $100 000 a litre on the black-market. This means that for a
return journey between Harare and Bulawayo, a motorist can spend around $6
million on fuel alone.
A CRITICAL water
shortage last Saturday forced Hauna District Hospital in Mutasa to
prematurely discharge scores of patients. Sources at the government-run
health institution said the water crisis started last Wednesday following
the break-down of the pump that feeds the hospital from the nearby Ruda
River. The Daily Mirror failed to get a comment from the authorities when it
visited the hospital the same day the patients were discharged. At least
10 patients were seen being taken home in wheel-barrows by relatives who had
come for the lunch hour visit, only to see them stranded outside. One of
the patients, Charles Manjengwa, said: "I was admitted in hospital with
severe stomach pains last Tuesday. Though not yet fully recovered, I was
discharged at around 10 a.m but remained here because I could not walk
home." Speaking on condition of anonymity, a nurse at the hospital said
several of patients had already been discharged owing to the critical water
problem. Only the critically ill and expecting mothers who could source own
water from the community were retained. "We have no option but to
discharge scores of patients whom we felt could come for treatment from
home. "We couldn't retain the whole lot as we are relying on water from the
community. Even toilets are not flushing, thereby posing a serious health
hazard to all of us," said the nurse.
Zimbabwean hunger striker in hospital 2 hours, 54 minutes
LONDON (AFP) - A Zimbabwean hunger striker has been taken to a
hospital near London after refusing food for 36 days to resist
The 28-year-old teacher, Mqhubel Timbha, began the strike on
June 2 in protest against the lifting of a ban on deportations to Zimbabwe
and was followed in the strike by scores of his countrymen. He was taken
to an east London hospital where he had reportedly started taking food under
"He was sufficiently ill that, on the strength of my
report, the Home Office accepted that he needed to be taken to hospital by
ambulance," doctor Frank Arnold said Sunday.
A second hunger striker,
who has not been named, was also taken to hospital Saturday, the man's
The British government confirmed the pair were in
hospital but said there were no concerns over their health. "Two of the
hunger strikers are currently receiving care in hospital. This is purely a
precaution and there are no concerns over their health at all," a Home
Office spokesman said.
The hunger strikers argue that they would be
killed if they returned home after Britain in November 2004 lifted a ban
that prevented asylum seekers from being deported to Zimbabwe.
Mugabe agrees to talk to Tsvangirai Mon 11 July 2005
HARARE - Embattled President Robert Mugabe has agreed to talks with
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to find a solution to Zimbabwe's fast
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo,
behind the renewed effort to pull Zimbabwe back from the brink of economic
and social disaster, last week told British legislators that talks between
Mugabe and Tsvangirai could be held in Zimbabwe or South
The proposed talks, whose dates or specific agenda still
have to be fixed, would be held under the mediation of a respected African,
possibly a retired president from a southern African
Obasanjo, who convinced Mugabe to agree to
dialogue when they met on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Libya
last week, said the Zimbabwean leader was initially unco-operative and
reluctant to commit to talks with his political opponent.
I persisted and he agreed a facilitation should take place," said Obasanjo,
who added that he had also managed to get Tsvangirai to agree to talks with
Mugabe during a meeting with the Zimbabwean opposition leader in Abuja, the
The proposed talks would be the first face-to-face
meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai who last met more than six years ago
to discuss worker problems when Tsvangirai was still leader of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions.
Talks between Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF
party and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party that were
brokered by Obasanjo and South African President Thabo Mbeki collapsed in
August 2002. ZANU PF pulled out of the talks in protest after Tsvangirai
filed a court application challenging Mugabe's re-election earlier in the
Subsequent attempts by Mbeki and Zimbabwean church leaders to
bring the country's two biggest political parties to the negotiating table
have failed with Mugabe and ZANU PF accusing Tsvangirai and his party of
being controlled by Britain and the West, insisting they will not negotiate
The opposition, which accuses Mugabe and his
party of routinely stealing elections, denies being a stooge, instead
claiming that the Zimbabwean leader and his government avoid a negotiated
and democratic settlement for fear it could lead to free and fair elections
resulting in their losing power.
Even after giving his word to
Obasanjo, it remains uncertain whether Mugabe would finally agree to meet
Tsvangirai, whom he appears to loathe personally and has in the past accused
of hiring assassins to kill him.
But analysts say Mugabe, who could
still use his ZANU PF party's absolute control of Parliament to change the
constitution and extend his term in office without facing elections, might
this time round be forced to the negotiating table as Zimbabwe faces total
collapse amid growing concern by African countries that have so far stood
A six-year fuel shortage worsened in recent weeks
bringing most of industry and commerce to a virtual halt with only a handful
of garages supplying the commodity across the country. Electricity is also
in short supply.
A quarter of Zimbabwe's about 12 million
people could starve unless donors provide 1.2 million tonnes of food aid.
Essential medical drugs, several other basic survival commodities and hard
cash are also in critical short supply.
Inflation, which hit an
all time record high of 622.8 percent in January last year, has retreated to
144.4 percent at present but remains one of the highest such rates in the
world. Unemployment is pegged at 80 percent, while a burgeoning HIV/AIDS
pandemic is killing at least 2 000 Zimbabweans every week. -
High Court judge "chickens out" of clean up test case Mon
11 July 2005
BULWAYO - A High Court Judge has recused himself from
hearing a test case application by informal traders in Bulawayo challenging
the government's decision to ban them from trading on the streets under its
controversial clean-up operation.
The government has in the
last six weeks banned informal traders from hawking or conducting their
businesses on the streets and also arrested more than 77 000 others as part
of its urban renewal exercise. The police also confiscated goods and wares
valued at several millions of dollars from informal traders.
a case putting to the test the legality of the state's actions, the Bulawayo
Upcoming Traders' Association (BUTA), representing 9 000 registered informal
traders, wanted the police to return goods confiscated from their members
and force the law enforcement agency and city authorities to allow
association members to carry on their businesses uninterrupted.
But Justice Maphios Cheda scuttled plans by informal traders to revive their
operations when he stood down from the urgent matter citing pressure of
Regional president of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal
Economy Associations, that incorporates BUTA, Edward Manning, said Cheda's
move would delay the hearing of the matter as the informal traders would now
have to file a fresh application with the court.
accused the judiciary of reluctance to expedite the informal traders' matter
and said the traders might have to resort to street demonstrations to force
the wheels of justice to move faster on the application.
exasperated Manning said: "We might have no alternative but to resort to
street demonstrations because honestly we do not understand why (the matter
application is not being expedited) . . . we are traders registered with the
council. We pay rent to council and were paying 10 percent tax on earnings
to the government every month. So why are we being punished like
The registrar of the Bulawayo High Court could not be
reached to establish when the informal traders' case will be heard before a
new judge but some officials indicated the matter might be set down for
Thursday this week.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
Association (ZLHRA), which has taken several cases before the courts on
behalf of families evicted from their homes, has accused the judiciary of
being hostage to the political establishment and said the bench was failing
to defend the rights of poor families evicted from their homes by the
The lawyers group said many of Zimbabwe's judges were
beneficiaries of a patronage network run by President Robert Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU PF party that they could not be expected to rule against the
mass evictions that Mugabe himself has publicly defended. -
Four million Zimbabweans in rural areas will need food
aid Mon 11 July 2005
HARARE - An increase on the price of grain
on the international market could see the number of people requiring food
aid in Zimbabwe's poverty-stricken rural areas shooting up from 2.9 million
at present to about four million, according to the World Food Programme
In its latest hunger vulnerability assessment report on
Zimbabwe, the WFP said the number of hungry people in rural areas could also
increase if the staple maize imported from outside the country was not
distributed through the government's Grain Marketing Board, which normally
charges affordable prices for consumers.
"If maize is not made
available through the Grain Marketing Board, or if it increases in price (on
the international market), the number of people requiring food assistance
could rise substantially. As a contingency, WFP plans to assist up to four
million people in Zimbabwe in the year ahead," read the WFP report dated
July 7, 2005.
Food relief experts say the overall number of people
requiring food aid across Zimbabwe is about four million or about a quarter
of the country's total population of 12 million people and the figure is
certain to change if grain prices escalate on the international
More than US$250 million is required to import about 1.2
million tonnes to avert starvation in Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe in
June accepted an offer for help from WFP chief James Morris but to date has
not yet made a formal appeal for food aid, a situation that hampers efforts
by the food relief body to raise help for Zimbabwe.
whose chaotic land reforms are largely blamed for causing food shortages in
Zimbabwe, has not declared a state of disaster over food, a requirement if
international relief agencies are to successfully raise aid for the
Harare, pressed for hard cash to import fuel and other
basic needs, has indicated it has enough resources to ensure no Zimbabwean
starves. - ZimOnline
IGNATIOUS Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works
and Urban Development clashed with Kembo Mohadi, his colleague who heads the
Ministry of Home Affairs, over the destruction of houses under the widely
condemned "clean up" operation, which has left hundreds of thousands of
families homeless, The Standard has learnt.
Despite repeated pleas
from Chombo to Mohadi and the Commissioner of Police, Augustine Chihuri, for
them to spare several registered housing co-operatives in Harare, Mohadi
defied him and sanctioned their destruction. The co-operatives had been
approved or were about to be sanctioned by Chombo's
Documents in our possession indicate that the police destroyed
houses belonging to members of five co-operatives in Harare, despite efforts
by Chombo to stop the demolitions.
At least seven people died in
circumstances linked to the operation.
In a letter dated 3 June this
year, the Secretary for Local Government, Public Works and Urban
Development, Partson Mbiriri, to Chihuri and copied to Mohadi, he advised
them not to demolish houses at Joshua Nkomo, Nehanda, Sally Mugabe,
Ngungunyana, Ushewekunze and Border Gezi co-operatives.
wrote: "This minute seeks to confirm that the following housing
co-operatives have their layout plans approved or about to be approved by
this Ministry. The elaborate structures being constructed relate to the
The police, however, went ahead and destroyed the
co-operatives' houses, prompting Chombo to write another protest letter
directly to Mohadi and copied to Harare Resident Minister, David
Karimanzira, and Chairman of the Commission Running the City of Harare,
Chombo wrote on 14 June: "On 3 June 2005 we advised
the Commissioner of Police, with a copy to your ministry to spare the
following housing schemes in the current clean up exercise (Copy
"Despite this request the demolishing of the structures has
continued at Aspindale, Saturday Retreat and Glen Eagles. I am also informed
the Kuwadzana Extension is lined for demolishing."
"We sincerely request your intervention to save the remaining schemes.
Looking forward to your cooperation."
But the demolitions continued,
putting Zimbabwe in a negative international glare. Four of the six listed
housing co-operatives were not spared. But Sally Mugabe and Nehanda housing
When contacted for comment, Mohadi confirmed that
there had been "some communication breakdown.
"I have not received a
copy of that letter but he (Chombo) mentioned something to that effect.
There have been some sort of communication breakdown and I think I will have
to look at the letter before I can make comment," Mohadi said.
government launched the "clean up" operation on 25 May, displacing thousands
of street vendors and flea market operators.
A number of housing
settlements under the housing co-operatives, were also destroyed, condemning
hundreds of thousands of families to homelessness and
Zanu PF central committee member, Pearson Mbalekwa, last
week resigned from the ruling party citing the "clean-up" operation. The
former Central Intelligence Organisation operative said he did not want to
be part of this "shameful and vindictive political act".
PF central committee member, Phillip Chiyangwa's resignation from the ruling
party on Friday lends credence to assertions that there could be a spate of
resignations in protest against the "clean-up" as well as general
disgruntlement about the dictatorial manner the party is run.
say several senior and middle ranking officials, especially the so-called
Young Turks in Zanu PF, were enraged by the inhumane manner the ruling party
handled demolitions, which affected mostly the poor.
A source told The
Standard yesterday: "Most of them are fed-up but they are not sure of what
will happen to them if they quit the party.
"Look at what's happening to
Mbalekwa. They have grabbed irrigation equipment from his farm. It's a test
case for most Zanu PF members who intend to resign."
Mbalekwa resigned from Zanu PF, the government raided his farm and took away
Mbalekwa said: "They are only being vindictive but what
they should know is that the land is for every Zimbabwean regardless of
While Chiyangwa could not be reached for comment
yesterday, his supporters say there was general disgruntlement over the way
Chiyangwa's case was handled by the ruling party. Justice Charles Hungwe
freed Chiyangwa from prison early this year and issued a blistering attack
on the police and judicial officers.
His supporters spoke of the
former Mashonaland West provincial chairman of Zanu PF being "harassed",
suggesting widening cracks in the ruling party.
Zimbabwe grinding to a halt as fuel runs dry By Vusumuzi
Sifile and Kumbirai Mafunda
THE fuel crisis, which has crippled almost
every sector of the economy, reached such critical levels last week that
even essential security and health services had reportedly run out of the
commodity, The Standard understands.
Even the ruling Zanu PF party
was demanding fuel from private importers because the crisis-ridden National
Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim)'s depots were dry. The Standard has
established that a senior Zanu PF official, P Washaya wrote to members of
the Petroleum Marketers' Association of Zimbabwe (PMAZ), demanding that the
association avail fuel to the ruling party for "its projects".
source told The Standard: "It's a demanding letter."
Washaya could not be
reached for a comment.
Sources in the intelligence services said
allocation of fuel to members of the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO), Police and the Zimbabwe Republic Army had severely been
The sources said the security services were now drawing their
fuel from strategic reserves.
But the director of army public
relations, Lieutenant Colonel Aggrey Wushe, said the army was not affected
very much by the problem, as they always kept reserves for emergency
He said: "The army always reserves fuel for emergency
operations. That fuel is always there and is not used for anything but the
purpose for which it is kept - emergency operations. As such, our operations
have not been affected by the current problems."
He, however, said
the current problems were indirectly affecting transport services for
individual officers in the army, "just like everybody else".
health institutions have also not been spared. A survey by The Standard
established that most hospitals were operating below capacity, as their fuel
reserves were almost running out.
Most patients who had gone to the
hospitals for treatment said they used their own transport, as the ambulance
services were inadequate.
Zimbabwe could miss out on G8 concessions By Kumbirai
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe could be ruing the day he picked up a
fight with the West.
The President could also be ruing the day he let
his administration and supporters wreck the country's once vibrant economy
and promising democracy. All this because the West he so loathes has unveiled
a plan to double aid flows to Africa and cancel the continent's debt in
order to make progress towards meeting ambitious UN targets to cut extreme
poverty and hunger by 2015. The biggest write-offs of debt ever could also
spark major improvements in the lives of the world's poorest
To qualify for the debt forgiveness and increased aid inflows,
the West has dangled the carrot and stick approach declaring that the
primary focus will be on reforming countries.
The "Marshall plan" is
set to benefit 14 African countries immediately. These include Benin,
Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique,
Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia and later on Cameroon, Chad,
Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Sao Tome & Principe and
But as other African and developing nations are cheering at
the prospect of having their colossal debts annulled by the G8
industrialized nations, Zimbabwe was left rueful as the West outlined that
aid would be ineffective without progress and reform. And this is where,
analysts point out, lies the Achilles' heel for Zimbabwe.
preceding last week's G8 summit in Gleneagles, US President George Bush
stressed that trade and good government were as important as aid and African
leaders must themselves be the "agents of reform", rather than "passive
recipients of money". British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is hosting the
Gleneagles summit and has placed Africa at the centre of the summit's agenda
hinted before the opening of the summit that trouble in Zimbabwe would make
it difficult for him to persuade leaders of the other G8 countries to pour
more money into Africa.
At a meeting in London to prepare for the
Gleneagles summit, G8 finance ministers agreed to cancel US$40 billion worth
of debt owed by 18 of the world's poorest nations most of which are in
Africa. Much of the cancelled debt is owed to the World Bank Group, the
African Development Bank and the International Monetary
Zimbabwe already ostracized and facing expulsion from the IMF this
month owes the global lender about US$295 million and moderate analysts
estimate Zimbabwe's foreign debt at US$7 billion.
to present itself for the African Peer Review Mechanism, which is designed
to enable African countries to monitor each other and promote better
standards of governance, could weigh against the crisis-torn southern
African country. Presently, 23 African countries have agreed to a system of
review to monitor their own political and economic performance. Ghana and
Rwanda have had their first reports under the review mechanism assessed by
fellow African leaders.
Prevalent corruption, analysts say, could also
cost the troubled southern African country as progress on good governance
and corruption is seen as essential if the West is to agree to increased
aid. To be sure, corruption is still widespread, Transparency International
reports that 18 of the 50 worst nations are in Africa and Zimbabwe is ranked
114 out of 146.
Neighbouring South Africa is seen as taking on high-level
corruption - or at least the appearance of it following the firing of its
former deputy President, Jacob Zuma, allegedly for a corrupt relationship
with his financial adviser. Zuma's sacking came at a time of increased
efforts to fight graft across Africa.
Observers believe that a call
by African leaders on the rich countries to cancel all of Africa's debts at
the G8 summit will fall on deaf ears unless the continent reforms as a
"No amount of aid or debt relief or trade concessions are going to
help this country get out of the hole it is in - only a radical change of
direction and leadership will do that and I am afraid that this same
analysis applies to many countries on the continent," says Eddie Cross,
economic adviser to the MDC.
State splashes $230m on 'Umdala Wethu' gala By Savious
BEITBRIDGE - The government spent more than $230 million to host
last weekend's Umdala Wethu gala held in Beitbridge, The Standard can
The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Information and
Publicity, George Charamba, said his ministry had used $236 million towards
payment of musicians, who participated in the gala. But popular king of
Sungura music, Alick Macheso was not at the all-night gala at Dulibadzimu
Stadium in Beitbridge.
Instead, he was wowing the crowds with a live
performance at Educare Hall in Gweru the same night of the much-publicised
Most of the musicians lined up at the gala relied on CDs as they do
not have backing guitarists usually preferred during live shows. This is in
contrast to performances by the more seasoned artists such as Macheso,
Oliver Mtukudzi and Charles Charamba.
George Charamba dismissed the
claim that Macheso snubbed them as baseless, unfounded and unsubstantiated
arguing that those allegations were the work of the country's
"Macheso will be available in future galas. Mind you, galas
are there for publicity opportunities for musicians. Musicians get to meet
their own audience. They (galas) are not benefiting the government in anyway
but benefiting musicians," said Charamba.
However, William Tsandukwa,
Macheso and Orchestra Mberikwazvo band manager, said there was no way they
could have participated at the Beitbridge gala arguing that they had already
organised two shows in Gweru and Bulawayo's Zimbabwe International Trade
Fair (ZITF) grounds.
"It's unfortunate that we did not participate at the
national event, the Joshua Nkomo gala because we had already lined up two
shows in Gweru and Bulawayo. We could not cancel our shows because we had
made prior bookings some weeks back.
"Whilst we do appreciate and
respect the Joshua Nkomo gala for being a national event, we however
apologise to the nation that we were not approached in time and we therefore
could not cancel the agreement we had entered with our fans," Tsandukwa
He said the band was always there for the nation but pointed out
that proper channels should be followed to allow business of the day to
However, Matabeleland South governor, Angeline Masuku, said the
show was a great success.
In an interview at Dulibadzimu, Masuku said
her province was proud to host such a national event that attracted
thousands of people from all walks of life.
"I don't have much to say
except pointing out that the function was a great success," said Masuku,
before overzealous security agents pushed The Standard reporter
But hundreds of motorists were stranded the following morning, as
they could not get fuel from this border town back to their respective
Hlambelo Tshavani of Dulibadzimu told The Standard that he
only attended the gala for the beer to socialize and console himself since
his home was destroyed by the police.
"The late Father Zimbabwe we
are worshipping and glorifying tonight was not as destructive, insensitive
and corrupt as the present leadership in Zanu PF.
"Right now we are
sleeping in the open, no blankets; children are no longer going to school
because of the same government that is trying to hoodwink us tonight. I am
not fooled at all," Hlambelo said.
Mavis Muleya, a commercial sex worker,
said the gala did not mean anything to most people in this border town as
they were battling to secure accommodation and fuel while the rate of
unemployment was ballooning on a daily basis.
"Father Zimbabwe did
not fight the white colonialists in order to oppress his own people as the
ruling Zanu PF is doing today.
"Instead, Nkomo went to the bush to fight
for our stolen human rights, provide the nation with equal employment
opportunities and building houses for the nation as opposed to president
Mugabe's kind of leadership," Muleya said.
But it was Hosea Chipanga,
Zexie Manatsa, Cephas Mashakada and Ndolwane Sounds, who thrilled the crowd
with their music that either made the people dance or listen to their
Chipanga said the nation was suffering and his music
was pointing to the problems faced by the nation while a few "chosen ones"
were enjoying every minute of life despite the hardships.
listened carefully to my message, I am trying to convince those in authority
to realise that the nation is suffering and urgent peaceful solutions are
needed without fighting one another," Chipanga said.
Fuel crisis wreaks havoc on education By Nqobani
BULAWAYO - THE worsening fuel shortage in the country is posing a
serious threat to educational standards as students and teachers are failing
to attend lessons due to the transport problems.
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general, Raymond Majongwe, said
the fuel crisis was compromising education standards, once regarded as among
the best on the African continent. In an interview last week, Majongwe said
there was need to take drastic measures to save the sector from total
collapse. He said problems in the sector have been exacerbated by
destruction of people's homes in urban centres, driving pupils out of
Majongwe said: "As somebody from the education sector, I would
say that education, one of the last remaining things we are proud of is
under serious threat. "If we do not rush to save the crisis, all will be
"Also the environment does not allow learning time and give
the students a conducive environment as they will be thinking of where they
will sleep and get transport. It's a confused situation."
for Democratic Change (MDC) shadow minister of education, Fidelis Mhashu,
said students could not concentrate during lessons.
"First of all
starting with the teachers, because of the fuel problems, they arrive at
school mid-morning tired after queuing for hours and queuing again to go
home. When they get home, they will not have the time to plan for the next
"It is also the same story for the pupils. They are now
psychologically affected. They cannot concentrate at school as they will be
thinking of transport and also where they will sleep.
struggling to get the attention of students because of these problems. This
is seriously going to hurt our education, especially for those studying for
the final 'O' and 'A' level examinations."
Efforts to get comment from
the Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere, proved
The PTUZ and the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta)
estimated that more than 300 000 pupils have dropped out of school after
their homes were destroyed by government in a controversial operation dubbed
The operation has left hundreds of
thousands families homeless.
VILLAGERS in Harava District in Seke Communal lands under Chief
Seke are fuming over a decision to move them from their ancestral land as
part of the government's "Operation Murambatsvina".
At least 15
villages that are close to Dema Growth Point will be affected. Among the
villages that will be affected are Marikopo, Mutsvairo, Musoko, and
Chamboko. Mayambara village, which has some beautifully-built houses and
where the Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri is widely believed to own a
house, will also be affected.
At a meeting on Friday the villagers
were told by Harava District Administrator, identified only as a Ms Mubaira,
that they should vacate their homes by tomorrow.
Mubaira said all the
people, who came to the district after 1983, would be moved while those
whose homes are within 100 metres of the main road will also be
The villagers said they were given a seven-day warning during
an ad hoc meeting on Monday.
"It is true that the demolitions are
coming, the government will proceed with the demolitions starting Monday.
Everything should be planned," Mubaira said.
However, the traditional
leadership of the area believes that their powers have been usurped and that
the role of the chiefs is now being disregarded.
headman for Matema village castigated the impending demolitions saying they
were uncalled for. "I was born here and now I am 58 years old. We have been
elbowed out of our fathers' land. Svinurai suburb has taken our fields," he
Ray Zhanje, the headman for Zhanje village asked: "I don't know
what they mean when they say people will be removed. What will be the role
of the chief?"
Farai Matema, who lives in Matema village, described
the move as vindictive and retributive to perceived Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) supporters.
"We thought the operation was a clean-up in
urban areas but for them to come to the rural areas is senseless. Where will
we go? They are talking of development at growth points but there is no
industry here (Dema) save for a few bottle stores,"
woman who only identified herself as Mbuya Marikopo bemoaned the manner in
which the government was acting and was worried about the graves of her
Scores of graves, which predate the road, are adjacent to the
Chief Seke pleaded for some of the houses to be spared but the DA
dismissed his plight saying it was impossible to accede to his
"I am sorry chief, if they don't have the papers they will be
removed," Mubaira said.
Meanwhile police continued to demolish
housing structures around the country last week despite claims by the
government that the controversial "clean-up" exercise had been stopped to
pave way for the construction of houses.
The government launched
"Operation Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle" under which it says $3 trillion has been
set aside for the building of houses to replace those demolished by the
In Bulawayo, the demolitions were still taking place
in the high-density suburbs of Gwabalanda, Luveve and Emakhandeni, while in
Harare cottages were on Thursday destroyed in Westwood and
The demolitions continued in the country despite the presence of
UN special envoy, Anna Kajumalo Tibaijuka, who was here to assess the impact
of the operation. She left Harare yesterday.
Bulawayo residents who
spoke to The Standard on Wednesday said the police were also targeting
Salute Moyo (40) of New Luveve, who had his extended
house demolished, said he would sue the police for compensation.
council approved his building extension plan in 1985.
"I wish to point
out that number 917/85 was approved on 30 December 1985 and that building
operations have been at a standstill for more than six months," reads part
of the building plan.
In Chitungwiza's Unit H, 35 houses were razed to
the ground by the police last week.
Chitungwiza Mayor Misheck Shoko
told The Standard that the police destroyed the houses without his
"The police were accompanied by our security officer and we had
told them to leave Katanga and Unit H, yet they went on to demolish the
houses," Shoko said.
The following day, Shoko said, the Governor's
office notified him that they had made a "mistake".
"They came to me
and asked me to go and apologise to the affected families but I could not
apologise since I had not sent anybody to destroy the houses," said
Apart from that, some legal structures were also demolished. Two
famous home industries' sites, one in St Mary's and the other at Makoni
shopping centre, were also destroyed. The industries had water, electricity
and sewer systems.
However, Houses belonging to Zororo Co-operative
started by Zanu PF supporter Christopher Chigumba, which were built on top
of sewer pipes, are still standing, despite the fact that they are
"We never gave Chigumba any stand and they should have been
demolished," Shoko said.
Contacted for comment, police spokesperson
Assistant Commissioner, Wayne Bvudzijena said: "I have no comment for The
photographer, Fidelis Zvomuya, was last week detained for more than four
hours by the police after taking pictures of a victim of the so-called
"clean-up" exercise at Travos House, along Jason Moyo Avenue in
He had gone to cover the evictions at the building when he found
police had tied one of the occupants of the building to the staircase using
his necktie. He took two pictures of hapless man but in the process a
police officer arrested him and erased the pictures he had
"What do you think you are doing? Give me that camera!" shouted
the police officer who arrested him.
Zvomuya, who freelances for The
Standard, was handcuffed and detained in the building for more than two
hours before he was taken to Harare Central Police Station. He was forced to
pay a $25 000 admission of guilty fine for "misconduct" before being
released. The receipt number is 1718601.
The police told him that if he
failed to pay the fine they would lock him up.
Zvomuya described his
arrest as "unjustified and an indication of the repressive environment in
which Zimbabwean journalists were operating.
"I don't know why they
arrested me. I was just doing my job. I paid the fine just to secure my
freedom. But I did so under protest," said Zvomuya, a former chief
photographer with The Herald.
Davison Maruziva, the Editor of The
Standard deplored the arrest. He said police officers were acting
He said: "This was absolutely unnecessary. Zvomuya was
taking pictures in a public place. If the police interpretation of the law
is correct, it means all the tourists that the country is expecting to visit
and spend their foreign currency will be at risk of arrest for merely taking
pictures in public places. I believe that is an unfortunate signal to send
to the outside world. Unless the police had something to hide, the arrest
was both unfortunate and totally unnecessary."
Police swooped on
Travos House on Friday morning ordering all the occupants to get their
furniture and wares out.
However, soon after the raid the tenants made an
application through the Harare Magistrates Court to have the evictions
stopped. The application was granted.
The tenants cited the City of
Harare and the Commissioner of Police, Augustine Chihuri, as the
The tenants were being accused of operating
Hats off to donor community Aidswatch with Bertha
IT has been quite obvious that for the past month and half since
"Operation RestoreOrder/Murambatsvina" began, Zimbabwe has had a serious
humanitarian crisis on its hands.
At least eight people, among them
four children, have died in circumstances related to the so-called "clean
up" campaign, which has displaced more than one million people. Also
education representative bodies estimate that more than 300 000 school
children have been forced out of school as a result of the
Our particular concern in this whole crisis has also been
the vulnerability of People Living With HIV and AIDS (PLWAs) who are more
prone to disease because of their weakened immune systems.
displaced and sleeping out in the open with no proper sanitation and
properly cooked clean food can make PLWAs prone to diseases such as
diarrhoea that can even result in death, if untreated.
bearing in mind the fact that most displaced people have been relocated to
places far away from health facilities.
And as the media joined many
others in condemning this operation through reports, highlighting its
insensitivity and unjustness, a lot of positive things have come
Notable is the international attention that the media been able to
draw to Zimbabwe to make President Robert Mugabe's government accountable
and how the donor community has moved in to help affected families in the
Thanks to the SOS messages we sent out as the media
fraternity, a United Nations team was in Zimbabwe to assess the situation
following the so-called "clean up" campaign.
Headed by Anna Kajumalo
Tibaijuka, the UN team is expected to draw up a report and submit it to the
UN Security Council for determination.
There is no doubt Tibaijuka is
walking a diplomatic tight rope, but I am optimistic that her visit will
have a lot of positives on the humanitarian crisis in the
Although the government was at first reluctant to allow Non
Governmental Organisations to assist the victims, they have bowed to
pressure from the international community and local organisations.
is commendable that quite a number of organisations are responding to the
humanitarian situation and offering various forms of assistance.
week, the Canadian Embassy donated $62 million to assist victims of the
"clean up" operation. The Zimbabwe National Pastors' Conference (ZNPC) has
been chosen by the Canadian Embassy to distribute the money because they
work more closely with people on the ground.
The Canadian Ambassador
to Zimbabwe, John Schram, told journalists that his government was willing
to offer more assistance to affected families.
The ZNPC, which is a
network of pastors from different denominations, says it hopes to channel
more resources to Bulawayo where there is no organised holding camp for
displaced people like Caledonia farm in Harare.
The Zimbabwe Red Cross
Society was one of the first organisations to respond to the humanitarian
crisis. At Caledonia farm and in Manicaland province, the Red Cross provided
temporary toilets and helped pitch up tents for evictees to sleep during the
It has also been providing blankets, cooking utensils and jerry
cans for use by displaced families throughout the country. They are also
providing temporary relief to families through its eight provincial offices
with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross
UNICEF the United Nations Children's' Educational Fund
(UNICEF) donated mobile toilets and sanitary equipment to children at
Caledonia farm, which houses the majority of settlers displaced from Harare.
About 25 000 litres of water are also distributed daily at the camp. UNICEF
also constructed a makeshift preschool for children at the
After pressure from health experts, the ministry of health and
child welfare set up a mobile clinic at Caledonia farm, which offers free
Though support is not being specified, that is, this is for
children or PLWAs or women, there is no doubt PLWAs, are among those who
have benefited from all this assistance.
It is comforting that those
few organisations that have come out to help have made a difference in this
Lives have been saved and hope certainly restored.
Those affected have not felt neglected and lost. They have been given a new
lease of life through all this assistance and if help continues to pour in,
they will eventually be able to pick up the pieces of their shattered
I believe the media has certainly played a key role in this
humanitarian crisis. We must continue being the watchdog of
ZIMBABWE has slipped deeper amongst the worst corrupt countries in
the world to number 114 out of 146, a 2004 Transparency report has revealed.
The report, which ranks countries on the corruption index shows that
Zimbabwe has a score of 2.3.
Zimbabwe is tied with Sierra Leone,
Moldova, Venezuela, Bolivia, Guatemala and Kazakhstan. However Zimbabwe's
score remains unchanged as compared to the 2003 report. In 2003, Zimbabwe
was ranked 106 tied with Bolivia, Honduras, Serbia Montenegro, Sudan and
According to the scorecard a country with a score of 0 is
regarded as very corrupt while the one with a score of 10 is classified as
highly clean. The scores refer to perceptions of the degree of corruption,
as seen by business people and country analysts.
In the 2004 report,
Botswana is the least corrupt nation in Africa after notching up a score of
Tunisia is ranked 39 with 5.0, while South Africa is five places
down the ladder on 4.6.
Angola is the worst rated nation in southern
Africa on 133 with a score of 2.0 tied with Ivory Coast and the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
Nigeria is on 144 with a score of 1.6 just ahead of
Bangladesh and Haiti, classified as the worst corrupt countries on
Analysts say Zimbabwe's ranking flies in the face of a raft of
measures introduced by government to rein in corruption. The measures
included the formation an anti-corruption ministry.
BULAWAYO - CHURCHES and non-governmental organisations are
shouldering the burden of feeding, accommodating and clothing families made
homeless by the government's urban cleansing exercise.
More than 10
000 were displaced in Bulawayo, the country's second largest city,
alone. A snap survey last week revealed that most of the families displaced
by the controversial "Operation Restore Order" are now being looked after by
churches and non-governmental organisations, which government has on several
occasions accused being fronts for Western countries in their endeavours to
unseat the government.
New Life of All Fellowship is now home to 5
000 people while the Brethren in Christ Church is assisting at least 300
people with food, clothing and accommodation.
Bulawayo Alliance of
Churches' Pastor Nsika Ncube told The Standard that churches were looking
after hundreds of displaced families. "I don't really know how the
government would tackle this crisis because as I speak to you right now the
churches are still taking care of the families displaced with my church
taking care of over 300 people," Pastor Ncube said.
clergyman, Pastor Albert Ndlovu of the Brethren-In-Christ church, said he
has met with several stakeholders including the governor's office, the Red
Cross Society and the United Nations in an effort to find ways of assisting
Agricultural 'revolution' in jeopardy By Kumbirai
ZIMBABWE'S much-vaunted agricultural "revolution" could be in
jeopardy as manufacturers of fertilizer navigate their way through a maze of
Sable Chemical Industries (Sables), the
country's sole manufacturer of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which early this
year indicated that it was at the verge of closing down as a result of
prolonged price controls on its agrochemical products advised
StandardBusiness that it was operating below capacity. Although Sables was
permitted to review its fertilizer prices upwards in April, the company said
the adjustment was inadequate to cushion it from galloping production
costs. "The last price review was insufficient because costs are rising,"
said Elliot Mugamu, Sables director. This will hamper the company's capacity
to carry out major maintenance work."
The government has since 2001
imposed price caps on basic commodities in an unpopular fashion only
rivalled by former Soviet Union command economics. The forced price dictates
have not taken into account spiraling operating costs, resulting in
significant operating losses for Sables.
Saddled with growing shortages
and with time running out for farming preparations Mugamu disclosed that the
national demand for fertilizer had already exceeded supply.
from being hamstrung by unprofitable prices, Sables is also lamenting the
acute foreign currency crisis, which is undermining industrial
Shingi Mutasa, TA Holding's chairman and majority
shareholders in Sables, recently disclosed that the selling price of bagged
ammonia nitrate fertiliser of $612 000 a tonne was significantly below the
cost of production of $2 042 065 a tonne. Sable contributed $3,9 billion to
TA Holding's revenue in 2004, compared to $10,3 billion in 2003, while total
ammonia nitrate fertilizer production slumped to 138 865 tonnes against 162
125 tonnes produced in the previous year.
"The level of price reviews
allowed by the government will determine the future performance of the
agrochemicals associates," said Mutasa. The companies face collapse if they
do not get significant price increases to enable them to finance operating
and critical expenditure," he added.
If Sable closes down as Mutasa
hinted, then Harare will be forced to import the vital product at a time the
country is battling critical foreign currency shortages.
analysts warn that the recovery of the agriculture sector could take much
longer if Sable is not rescued as a matter of urgency.
"If the government
is serious about reviving agriculture then someone should move fast to avert
the collapse of such a crucial industry," said one Harare
Agriculture, formerly the backbone of the economy has been
decimated in recent years as a result of the seizure and redistribution of
productive farmlands among government loyalists in the name of addressing
Sable's closure could leave more than 520
employees jobless. The situation could be worse if downstream industries are
considered. Sable started operating on imported ammonia in 1969, before the
commissioning of its own ammonia production facility in 1972. It has since
operated at full capacity by importing a third of its ammonia
The company distributes its annual production of 240 000
tonnes through two agro-chemical concerns, Windmill and ZFC. Sable also
produces and sells gaseous oxygen, liquid oxygen, anhydrous ammonia and
nitric acid. Sable owns and is situated on 26 000 hectares of land and is
practising some commercial farming.
TA Holdings Ltd has a 51% stake
in Sable Chemical Industries. Chemplex Corporation owns 36% and Norsk Hydro
12%. The public owns the balance.
GOVERNMENT plans to pour in three trillion dollars into the
reconstruction of houses for over 400 000 people displaced by the ongoing
"clean up" operation will swell government deficit while increasing the
country's inflation index.
The government last week announced that it
has set aside $ 3 trillion for the nation-wide reconstruction of houses to
replace "illegal structures" that were razed to the ground by police.
Government's reconstruction plans for houses and vending places come against
a massive increase in the price of scarce fuel. Leading economist, Eric
Bloch told The Standard that unless government cuts out other budgetary
items to raise the $ 3 trillion then the country's inflation rate would
shoot up if the funds are obtained from other sources.
cuts out other budget items then the effect of raising this amount would not
be felt on the national economy but if the amount is sourced elsewhere this
would increase government deficit and inflation will shoot up," Bloch
Zimbabwe's inflation now stands at 144.4 percent down from a record
high of 622.8 percent in January last year. The government says it will
build thousands of houses by the end of August and will also construct
scores of vending stalls to replace the shacks it destroyed in its
internationally condemned "clean up" exercise.
Bloch said options
that government could use to cut on other budgetary expenditure include the
postponement of the creation of the Senate and for government to accept
international food aid unconditionally.
"Government can cut other budget
costs by postponing the creation of the Senate and by so doing government
would have cut costs on salaries for the secretariat, senators and the costs
for setting up the infrastructure needed for the senate. "
international food aid Bloch said Zimbabwe's food imports would be heavy and
government needed to swallow its pride and accept international food aid
unconditionally as doing so would release funds for the reconstruction
Zimbabwe is facing serious food shortages largely blamed on
President Robert Mugabe's chaotic land reform programme that has destroyed a
once thriving agrticultural industry.
Bloch said President Mugabe
should also cut his cabinet's international travels that are a drain on the
national fiscus while at the same time he should focus on trimming his
Bloch also defended recent fuel price increases saying petroleum
companies were making losses and as a result the increases would improve
Crisis of ideology haunting Zanu PF sundayopinion By Itai
THE multifaceted crisis that besets Zimbabwe today has
been explained in many terms. The ruling Zanu PF party attributes the
poverty and hunger ravaging the country to international sanctions and
drought while civil society believes it partly has to do with the chaotic
land reform exercise.
However, other scholars and economists link this
socio-economic collapse to Zanu PFs policy inconsistencies and its
disrespect for the rule of law. In an historical context, the crisis in
Zimbabwe can best be matched with an acute deficiency of ideology in the
ruling Zanu PF party. After the first decade of so-called scientific
socialism, the government dived into the dark pool of capitalist structural
adjustment programmes. Having excelled in the provision of social services
like education, health and housing provision in the first decade of power,
the Zanu PF government would have done well by maintaining a people centered
The abrupt change from a "humanist" to a cost recovery
economic system was the era of reversing the gains of the liberation
struggle. In this context, evils such as "Operation Murambatsvina" and the
wholesale nationalization of non-Zanu PF businesses are but manifestations
of years of ideological bankruptcy.
Present day Zimbabwe is under
siege from militarism. Like Father Zimbabwe, Dr Joshua Nkomo noted in 1985:
"The people of Zimbabwe are defenceless and live in fear, not of enemies but
of their own government". In its history of ruling since 1980, the ruling
party has resorted to a dangerous system of pseudo-nationalism, violence and
chauvinism. The Matabele massacre of the 1980s, the violent retribution to
student activism since the early 90s, the land reform exercise and the
current anti-MDC campaigns confirm this assertion of Zanu PF's belief in
Mugabe explains his power more because of his history of the
liberation struggle than being a people's choice through elections. Thus,
after independence, the Zanu PF elite converted themselves into the
bourgeoisie class, and this explains the ideology currently reigning supreme
in Zanu PF. This also explains why land, allowances and chiefs' salaries are
rewarding war veterans and chiefs, the merchants of Mugabe's
Social pessimism and disbelief in dialogue has engulfed Zanu PF,
and has contributed to its resorting to virtual war to solve any problem
whether within Zanu PF or outside the party. The callousness with which Zanu
PF carried out its evil plans of evicting millions of poor workers from
their homes and razing them to the ground because they were "illegal
structures" is a clear example that Zanu PF has long forgotten that the
liberation struggle was fought by these very same poor people.
black government in Zimbabwe appears to have adopted a form of racist
apartheid against indigenous Zimbabweans in favour of the Chinese who are
seen as providing economic salvation. The delicate trick here is the dilemma
that racism is the oppression of a few by the majority or only occurs
between blacks and whites.
The Zimbabwean economy, in the meantime,
is suffering from asset stripping and primitive accumulation of capital by
the ruling elite. The land grabbing exercise by Zanu PF chefs and the
so-called war veterans is part of the accumulation project. The taking of
corporation's accused of expropriating foreign currency is part of this
capital project. Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank Governor is an accomplice in
this project. His call for the extermination of corruption is sterile as he
searches far and wide while the real looters surround him.
peasants were used as ponies in the land reform exercise. They were asked to
occupy peripheral lands and warned not to construct permanent structures
while the elite were commandeering government trucks into fertile green
lands. In the urban areas, workers face the most savage form of exploitation
when the authorities make a monetary statement that freezes (without
consultation) wages on the background of an above 120% inflation rate and
acute shortages of basic commodities. Fraud, plunder and propaganda make the
day for the ruling Zanu PF elite.
Professor Jonathan Moyo, despite being
a political mercenary, best describes Zanu PF's bankruptcy of ideology when
he says - "they just make slogans and declare them policies. Operation
Murambatsvina is one such slogan that was converted into policy overnight at
the Police General Headquarters."
Before the March 2005 elections Morgan
Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, described the numerous and haphazard
constructions on the farms with a remarkable simile. He said "the
settlements were sprouting like mushroom". He was taken to task by the State
media which irrelevantly accused him of "cursing the descendants of Mbuya
Nehanda and Mzilikazi. "
In agreement with Karl Marx's theory of
primitive accumulation of capital, Gono, the untrained economist prescribed
the destruction of flea markets and informal business merchants in the towns
and cities of Zimbabwe with many shallow aims.
Firstly, he argues
that flea market traders waste foreign currency by buying non-essentials
from South Africa, Zambia and Botswana. Therefore closing them will lower
the demand of forex in Zimbabwe and scuttle the parallel market. This has a
tendency to lower the inflationary pressure and divert most forex in
informal hands to the productive sector.
"Operation Murambatsvina" is a
well-calculated political project. The agrarian revolution can not be a
success without labour. It has emerged that there is a critical shortage of
labour on the farms to an extent that all agrarian targets remain a mirage
until this issue is addressed. The plot therefore, is that displacing people
from the urban areas and banning urban agriculture will force people to work
as farm workers in the commercial farms.
It is a shame for Zimbabwe
that, 25 years into independence, the government which ought to have been
working for the people, chooses to implement a 16th century and failed plan
to force people into their labour traps. "Operation Murambatsvina" is much
like, according to Marx, the 16th century bloody laws of France, Britain and
Holland, which targeted so called vagabond peasants who were driven into
capitalist factories and habituated to wage slavery by the threat of
flogging and hanging.
The answer to this madness is simple and just. The
current political leadership must pave way for new beginnings. It has to be
a calculated people's reclamation of their independence from opportunists
that want to build empires on the blood of the sons and daughters of
The colonial constitution has to be archived while a new
people-written constitution, one that separates powers between the
executive, the legislature and parliament comes into effect. The leadership
code has to be built around sound corporate governance systems. All
prospective members of senior government positions must declare their wealth
before assuming duty so that the current white-collar crime is checked. It
will not, however, be sustainable not to revisit the injustices of the
current government on the people of Zimbabwe on the political and economic
fronts. Another Zimbabwe is possible as nothing is constant but
o(Itai Masotsha Zimunya is human rights activist and former
student leader. Currently with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. Contact
Mutare City Council and the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA)
will build 300 standard houses, in a joint venture meant to accommodate
victims of the government's clean up campaign. Mutare's mayor Misheck
Kagurabadza said the move to construct the houses was aimed at complementing
the government's recently initiated Operation Garikai. Mutare has over 10
000 homeless families after the demolition of their illegal
structures. Kagurabadza said construction work had already begun at Rahin
between Chikanga and Sakubva. The soldiers were building while council
provided specialist assistance. "The programme is a joint operation by the
army and council. The army is doing the construction work, while council is
providing skills like surveying and planning, amongst others," explained
Kagurabadza. He would not give details on the cost of the project. The
mayor said although the number of houses to be build was a drop in the ocean
considering the city's huge housing backlog, the houses would go a long way
towards alleviating housing problems. According to town clerk Morgan Chawawa,
the city has 31 000 applicants on its housing waiting list. "The list has
shot up to 31 000 after the "tsunami", but I cannot tell exactly what it was
before, since I have no records readily available. But generally it was
lower than that," said Chawawa.
South African Clerics in Zimbabwe to Assess Clean-up
Operation By Tendai Maphosa Harare 10 July
A South African Council of Churches delegation and
representatives of non-governmental and civic organizations are in Zimbabwe
on a two-day visit to assess the government's crackdown on informal
businesses and unapproved residential structures.
advance party arrived at Harare International Airport. Methodist Bishop Ivan
Abrahams, a spokesman for the group, said the church leaders were disturbed
by reports regarding Zimbabwe's clean-up campaign, which the government
calls Operation Restore Order, and wanted to see for
"There has been a kind of parallel with what we have seen
happening in South Africa with forced removals, the apartheid forced
removals, that we have seen, where people are left destitute, without
shelter and livelihoods," he said. "That is the message we have heard from
our partners in civil society, and from churches here, and we are greatly
Bishop Abrahams said the churchmen would visit the Caledonia
Transit Camp, where thousands of people whose homes were demolished are
staying. The group also plans to meet with trade unions, civil society
organizations and political leaders from both the ruling and opposition
Bishop Abrahams said he was not sure if they would meet with
President Robert Mugabe. But they are prepared to approach their own
president, Thabo Mbeki, with their findings.
"If it means making
certain recommendations to the South African government, and to our
president, that, we will do, after we ourselves have been informed, and
after we have seen what has happened," said Bishop Abrahams.
Mbeki has been criticized for his quiet diplomacy policy toward alleged
human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, state radio has announced
that the operation to demolish illegal structures will be directed starting
Monday at Harare's high-income suburbs. The police warned that unapproved
structures, such as staff quarters or garages, could be demolished. The
report quoted a police spokesperson as saying residents of the suburbs
should tear down unauthorized buildings on their property and have approved
construction plans ready to show police when they start their
The crackdown, launched on May 19 has been criticized both at
home and abroad as a gross violation of human rights. The United Nations
says about 200,000 Zimbabweans have been left homeless, and has called on
the government to halt the forced evictions.
The government says the
exercise aims to clean up urban areas, and deal with criminal activities,
such as hoarding of scarce basic commodities for sale on the black market
and illegal foreign currency dealings.
Tortured activist fights for his life By
ROBERT HARDMAN in London 09jul05 WHEN you hear Western nations decrying
the horrifying actions of the Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, spare a
thought for Crispen Kulinji.
This softly spoken, increasingly emaciated
man, sitting in a dreary Oxfordshire detention centre in England, knows what
rough politics are like. He hails from a culture where to go off-message is
to risk death, where a three-line whip is one that flays the flesh - his
included. He is one of the brave Zimbabweans who dared to stand up to
Mugabe's ghastly regime.
British Home Secretary Charles Clarke and his
department are trying to send this man - and many like him - back to Mugabe
and his thugs. No wonder Mr Kulinji is on a hunger strike - about to enter
its third week. He is one of 113 detained Zimbabwean asylum seekers facing
deportation on the grounds the British Government has decided they have
nothing to fear back home. The man detained in Campsfield Detention Centre
was nearly repatriated last month.
A last-minute campaign by supporters,
including Labour MP Kate Hoey, secured him a reprieve. But for how
His hunger strike is giving him headaches and he has given up
painkillers because he cannot keep them down. This pain, however, is nothing
compared with what he endured on a Saturday in Zimbabwe's capital Harare in
"I was staying at my mother's house. At around midnight,
two trucks full of soldiers turned up and kicked in the door," he claimed.
"They sexually assaulted my mother with an AK-47 in front of the whole
family. They told her: `You gave birth to a traitor.' They beat her and I
could not let them do that, but then they beat me."
That was just the
beginning. Mr Kulinji, an electrician by trade, had been a senior member of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change for three
Arrested more times than he can remember, he was used to the
odd spell in prison and the odd beating. But not this.
Margaret, was in the house. She had been an MDC secretary and they started
beating her, too. Then they pushed our children into a room and took us away
while others looted the house. They wanted names and addresses of my
colleagues, but I wouldn't give them any."
He was bundled into a lorry
with Margaret, who later was thrown on to the road, badly injured.
Kulinji later was put into a car and driven to an unknown destination, while
his captors stuck an electric prod under his tongue. He was subjected to
whippings by electric cable.
"By now, I couldn't feel any more pain. They
kept ordering me to admit that the MDC was being funded by Britain, but I
didn't know anything like this, so there was nothing I could say," he
"Then it went black and the next thing I remember is waking up in a
pit, covered in blood, with the airport tower in the distance."
managed to get to a local hospital, from where friends spirited him away to
a private hospital. He fell into a coma for four days and was in a
wheelchair for six months, before being transferred to a safehouse outside
Harare. Mugabe's Central Intelligence Organisation had started to torture
details of safehouses out of captives. It was time to leave.
been smuggled across the border, Mr Kulinji bought a Malawian passport and
returned to Zimbabwe to raise funds for an exit flight. Finally, last
September, a contact at the airport helped him board a flight to London. "As
we were about to land, I felt like I had found freedom," he says sadly. He
At Gatwick, with just $20 in his pocket, he was denied entry and
told he would be sent back. "I didn't know the asylum procedure, but I told
them that I would have serious problems if I was sent back. They said `so
you're claiming asylum' and that's how I ended up in a detention
In hearing after hearing, he explained his situation, but the
Home Office insisted that because he was travelling with a Malawian
passport, he was from Malawi and should go back there, even though
Mugabe-friendly-Malawi is teeming with Mugabe's spies.
showed them his scars. He produced his Zimbabwean identity card, recordings
of himself addressing Zimbabwean rallies, a tape of support from the MDC
leader, Morgan Tsvangarai, and even his son's Zimbabwean birth
Finally, in January, he was granted bail while his case
was re-examined. He went to live with his refugee girlfriend, Fransesca, in
Leicester, reporting to the Home Office as demanded.
On June 17, he
was detained again. He was told he would be deported on June 25.
world fell apart. I decided to go on hunger strike and pray to God." His
prayers were answered with that last-minute reprieve, but he is maintaining
the strike until he and his comrades are granted asylum.
SOME unions which last month successfully negotiated for wage and
salary increases, could be forced back to the negotiating table for another
round of collective bargaining talks with their employers, following recent
price increases of most basic commodities.
The surge in prices has
eroded gains bagged by workers following the June salary
Prices of goods and services have shot up by more than 100
percent in the past weeks going beyond the reach of many ordinary workers
whose wages remain well below the poverty datum line of $3 500 000.
survey conducted by the Sunday Mirror showed that prices of groceries and
other merchandise in some supermarkets in Harare have gone up threefold. A
bottle of cooking oil which cost $10 000 at the beginning of May is now
selling for more than $30 000 and a two kilogram packet of sugar which was
previously selling for $8 000 during the same period is now going for more
than $20 000. The same packet of sugar is going for more than $35 000 on the
black market. The retail price for beer has risen, almost doubling from $8
000 $14 000 a pint. The price of fuel also shot up by 300 percent two weeks
ago triggering another bout of price increases. It now costs an average of
between $10 000 - $20 000 per day for workers who stay in high density
suburbs of Harare to commute to and from work (the latter fee comes about
when public transport operators split their trips into two). According to
the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, (CCZ) the monthly budget for a family of
six rose from $3 000 000 in May to $4 200 000 in June, a 38.5 percent jump.
The consumer watchdog said the increase in the shopping basket has been
caused by the escalation in prices of virtually all basic
But these price increases have not been met by corresponding
wage and salary adjustments. Investigations by this paper revealed that some
factory workers and security guards earn between $800 000 to $1 400 000 a
month, way off the monthly CCZ cost of living index.
General, Wellington Chibhebhe says the current economic melt-down which has
resulted in the shortage of basics and the rise in the cost of living has
left the worker worse off than he was ten years ago. Chibhebhe said although
some unions had successfully negotiated for increments ranging between 90 to
100 percent, this "was not enough" as the new figures are a far cry from the
poverty datum line mark.
Chibhebhe said although it is the ZCTU policy
that wage negotiations should be conducted quarterly, it had now become
imperative that collective bargaining should take place after every two
months to cushion workers against inflation and cost of living. Inflation is
currently pegged at 144.4 percent and economic analysts project it might
rise to 200 percentage point by the end of the year.
"The worker is
desperate today as he has been forced to bear the brunt of the economic
recovery programme. Government should increase disposable incomes for
workers through reduction of tax, a maximum tax band of 30 percent could go
a long way to cushion the worker against the high cost of living," Chibhebhe
The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Dr Gideon Gono who
has declared war on inflation has recommended that salary increments should
be awarded but these should not be above 100 percent if the battle is to