BY JOHN MAKUMBE
'We might not need any elections at all come 2008'
First it was on the commercial farms that the ruining Zanu (PF) unleashed
its notorious jambanja, and the results are living hell for all of us to
this day. With the near complete destruction of the agricultural sector, the
whole national economy is now in the intensive care and extremely unstable.
On Sunday 8 July, the sickening ZBC showed footage of the destruction of one
ARDA farm in the Lowveld, and the pictures were depressing. There were heaps
and heaps of drying cane sugar left on the ground while the nation is
struggling to obtain sugar. The level of incompetence of the ARDA management
is entirely inexplicable.
Now jambanja seems to have been visited upon the commercial sector of the
economy as the demonic Mugabe regime desperately tries to control the
nation's enemy number one, inflation, now estimated to be well above 20 000%
The Mugabe government's directive that all prices of goods and services be
restricted to the June 18 levels caused pandemonium in most supermarkets
across the nation as poorly paid people bought everything in sight at the
reduced prices. Zanu (PF) hoodlums were full of praise for the ruining
party, which they claimed had the people's interests at heart. The myopic
nature of the regime's policy-makers befuddles the mind.
Less than two weeks after the supermarket jambanja there is hardly anything
in the shops for anyone to buy. Some supermarkets have literally closed down
and dismissed their workers. Wholesalers across the nation report that they
are struggling to sell their goods since most retailers that had placed
orders with them subsequently cancelled them following the jambanja.
Manufacturers of most of the affected products have ceased operations,
rightly arguing that they cannot afford to manufacture the requisite
products at a higher cost than they can sell them. For some strange reason,
the moronic rulers of this country are unable to comprehend this logic. It
is obvious that the Mugabe regime is fully aware that if it allows the rate
of inflation to continue on its merry upward way, it will be so high by the
time the 2008 elections are held that no one in their right mind will bother
to vote for the ruining party.
In other words, the current supermarket jambanja is a futile attempt to rig
the rate of inflation. What is most interesting, however, is that now all of
us cannot get any of the basic products that we used to purchase from
It will be interesting to find out whether the people of Zimbabwe will vote
for a political party that has effectively destroyed our normal way of life.
No attempt has been made to address the real reason why the prices of all
commodities have escalated beyond affordability.
We all know that the main reason for this is the selfish continued
stranglehold on political power by Robert Mugabe and his stinking party,
Zanu (PF). We all know that the prices of goods and services cannot be
dictated by a bankrupt regime, which is hell bent on destroying everything
that might benefit a Zimbabwean. We have experienced this phenomenon over
and over in this country. This time, however, the regime may have shot
itself in the foot.
By the time the 2008 elections are held, we will be importing bread from
Botswana, Zambia and South Africa. Alternatively, we might not need any
elections at all come 2008. Without regime change the prices of all our
goods and services will only go up, or go missing altogether.
I hope nobody thinks that next week will be business as usual. This week the
private sector has gradually wound down its operations. The retail sector -
most retailers carry stock for a month approximately, are the last to shut
down but already you can see empty shelves and shortages of all the fast
moving basic items are now widespread.
Butcheries and bakeries that work on stock levels of about a week are
already closed as their stocks ran out. The same with filling stations.
Manufacturers must work with quite significant stock levels - especially of
imported items and they will run these down and then close unless there is a
U-turn on the part of the government and new directives which are half
There are no signs as yet as to what the State will do when this shutdown
occurs. But all that we are seeing and hearing right now are threats and an
insistence that this situation is going to be maintained for some time.
The most immediate problem is the very basics - fuel for transport and the
essential foods, maize meal, rice, bread, meat and milk. By Monday all of
these will be virtually unobtainable. Farmers with pigs and poultry are
pondering what to do with their animals as they run out of stock feed, dairy
farmers also face huge problems as they cannot pay their feed bills and must
start winding down - how do you tell a cow in milk, used to being milked
three times a day, that she must stop producing?
Hundreds of thousands of workers and non-formal sector businesspersons are
being faced with no work and are being forced to stay home - at present on
full pay, but in a few weeks what then? There is no law to turn to; there
are no political leaders to go to with any sort of sense and authority. We
are in the hands of a madman who has nothing to loose but his life and has
his back to the wall and is using the only tools that he knows to try and
stay afloat while the country drowns.
How will the average Zimbabwean respond? Friends of mine are doing a day
trip to Francistown in Botswana - just 200 kilometers away, today. They will
buy what they need for next week and return. A few will do the same. Others
are going on holiday, unable to stand the spectre of seeing all that they
have built up over the past decades swept away. They are the lucky ones -
what about the rest?
There is only one way out and that is across the Limpopo. I must warn South
Africa that they will now face a huge upsurge in economic refugees and they
had better brace themselves for that if nothing effective is done to halt
this madness. I mean hundreds of thousands of new, desperate, hungry
Zimbabweans flooding in and disappearing into the vast urban slums that
surround all South African cities.
The alternative is a military coup led by the junior officers with the
compliance of some in the ruling Party who see that this situation is not
sustainable and that it is creating a regional crisis of substantial
proportions. Such an event would close the door to the SADC process under
way today in South Africa and plunge the country and the region into a huge
political crisis that would require military intervention. Am I being
alarmist? I do not think so. The actions of this rogue regime in the past
week have been enough to tip us over and into a state of crisis we have
never faced before.
Irreparable damage is being done to the country and if this is not stopped
in its tracks by immediate and radical measures taken by regional
governments very serious consequences are going to follow.
The humanitarian and economic crisis that is about to break out in Zimbabwe
is simply staggering and certainly way beyond the capacity of the country to
handle on its own.
HIV-positive Zimbabweans have slammed President Robert Mugabe's populist
policy of slashing prices, saying this has led to critical shortages of the
life-prolonging anti retroviral drugs (ARVs).
"This is matter of life and death," said an HIV positive woman in her late
20s. "The drugs have disappeared from pharmacies. Mugabe should simply stop
politicking with our lives."
Before the price slash, a month's supply of a fixed-dose combination of
antiretroviral cost Z$1,2 million. Following the price reversal, they were
selling for $600,000. But they have disappeared, causing critical
repercussions for patients on treatment.
Zimbabwe, which has the world's fourth highest rate of HIV infection, is
going through a severe economic crisis with serious fuel and food shortages
due to recurring droughts and the government's fast-track land
redistribution programme, which have disrupted agricultural production and
slashed export earnings.
"People are giving up (their) drugs because they can't find them. Since the
prices were cut, ARVs have become scarce," said Lyn Francis, who runs The
Centre, an HIV/AIDS NGO with 4,500 registered clients. Francis warned that
people who were forced to interrupt their treatment regimen because of
scarcity were putting their health at risk. "These drugs need to be taken
continuously ... any kind of hiccup can cause resistance [to the ARVs]," she
According to Douglas Shoniwa, president of the Retail Pharmacists
Association, even local generic drug manufacturers were being hamstrung by
the scarcity of foreign currency.
Money-changers are among the few people doing well out of Zimbabwe's
Hotels in Harare's central business district used to be the preserve of the
well-heeled businessmen and tourists who flocked to Zimbabwe, particularly
from the West.
As high-powered business deals were concluded inside the hotels, the
prostitutes would wait outside to ply their trade. As soon as you stepped
out of the hotel lobby during the evening, scantily-dressed women would try
to attract your attention from behind parked cars. Just in case you missed
the furtive signals, they would pop up beside your car and tap discreetly on
But no more - the ladies of the night have grudgingly yielded to a new and
rapidly growing breed of entrepreneurs, the black-market money-changers.
Zimbabwe's moneychangers do not operate at night. They hang around on the
approaches to luxury hotels like the five star Meikles Hotel or the equally
prestigious Holiday Inn, occasionally moving up and down the street to avoid
detection by the police.
As soon as you park your vehicle, they are all over you, asking what
currency you want to buy. They have all sorts of foreign currency in every
possible denomination, even though the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's coffers
are empty. American dollars are the most popular, then the South African
rand and the British pound, followed by other currencies.
The traders come in all shapes and sizes, united only by their determination
to drive a hard bargain. At one end of the spectrum is the well-dressed
gentleman leaning against his slick Mercedes Benz and tinkering with the
latest-model cell phone. At the other is the school-leaver or the woman who
looks as though she would be more at home working at a market stall.
Some are there to change money sent home by their relatives in the diaspora.
Others are agents working for big businesses, desperate to acquire foreign
currency to stay afloat.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has described the thriving black market
trade in foreign currency as Zimbabwe's own "World Bank". Some argue that
the parallel currency trade keeps the economy going when it should long
since have imploded, and that its existence has therefore averted widespread
The black market took off after the Zimbabwean economy began contracting by
an average of four per cent annually in 1997, and especially since President
Robert Mugabe's land seizures from 2000 onwards precipitated a steep
The formal banking system still uses an official exchange rate pegged at 250
Zimbabwe dollars, ZWD, to the US dollar. On the illegal parallel market the
American dollar is worth up to 100,000 or 150,000 ZWD, an astonishing
difference which makes precise comparisons redundant.
In addition - and of course closely linked to the ZWD's devaluation on the
street - the country is suffering alarming inflation rate. In May, prices
showed a 4,500 per cent increase on the same month in 2006. Economists are
even more worried by the rate of increase - prices at the end of May 2007
were 100 per cent higher than they had been four weeks earlier.
Wages have been increasing in nominal terms, too, but nowhere near enough to
keep pace with inflation. The average monthly wage of a factory worker is
800,000 ZWD - a respectable 3,200 US dollars at the official exchange rate
but just eight dollars on the black market.
Rather than try to use the two widely diverging exchange rates as a measure
of comparison, it is more useful to set these wages against the minimum cost
of living level, which the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said was 5.5 million
ZWD for an average family of six in May. Even though teachers and nurses now
earn around four million ZWD a month, their incomes clearly fall well below
the minimum they need to get by.
One of the factors driving inflation is that imported goods are bought using
foreign currency acquired on the black market, so the retail price expressed
in ZWD is accordingly high.
Tonderai, a young man from Eastlea who has never been in formal employment
since leaving high school two years ago, explained how the system works in
practice. He trades in the money his sister sends back from the UK in
"If I change 100 pounds in the bank they will give me 4,500 ZWD," he said.
"A single loaf of bread costs 23,000 ZWD. Work out for yourself whether it
makes sense. On the black market I can easily make 25 or 30 million ZWD from
what my sister sends me a month. How many Zimbabweans who go to work every
morning earn that kind of money?"
Transactions take place right on the street, or out of sight in cars and
even in lifts. Once the deal is done, the traders move further out of town
into the Avenues district, a red-light area which is the haunt of the
big-time currency dealers. Here, foreign currency sells at a premium to
businesses that need to make foreign purchases.
Some of the buyers are private enterprises, both legitimate importers and
also the firms which illicitly bring in fuel from South Africa. Then there
are the government officials who want to buy luxury goods or pay their
children's school fees abroad.
Even government agencies are said to buy currency in this way to fund
essential imports of items like grain and electrical power, as there are not
enough dollars and rands in the country's Reserve Bank. - IWPR
BY STANFORD MUKASA
Final acts of Matibili, the madman from Ngomahuru
Robert Mugabe's latest act of madness involving attempts to force down
consumer prices to levels that make it unprofitable to do business in
Zimbabwe are undoubtedly part of the overall strategy to win the combined
elections scheduled for next year.
There is no rational explanation for forcing businesses to trade at a loss.
The simplest law of business is that one must sell goods at prices above,
not below, what it cost the business operator to procure them. Any law or
activity by any government that seeks to control business and trade must
take into account this basic principle of why and how businesses operate.
Price controls, if needed, must be aimed at reducing the level of profit a
business is making rather than killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
Mugabe's threat to businesses to "produce more or be taken over" is a
smokescreen for his real intentions - to invade retail businesses the way he
destroyed commercial agriculture.
Mugabe tried this stunt seven years ago when he ordered the invasion of
commercial farms. He did this because there were very clear indications that
he and his party were headed for a landslide defeat in the 2000 elections.
The invasions effectively destroyed commercial agriculture, which had been
one of the main pillars of the country's GDP. Commercial agriculture has
traditionally contributed between 15 and 20 percent of the country's GDP and
nearly 50 percent of the country's exports. Agriculture contributed to the
livelihoods of about 70 percent of the country's population.
There is a direct correlation between the level of poverty and economic
decline in Zimbabwe today with the destruction of commercial agriculture.
Zimbabwe is the only country in the SADC region and the continent that has
recorded, for seven years in a row, a negative economic growth rate.
Instead of working to address the root causes of the economic decline,
Mugabe is using the collapsed economy for yet another of his personal
survival strategies. His game plan is to use businesses to reward his
cronies and supporters into voting for him again next year. What he does not
seem to care to know is that his support base has diminished significantly.
There is no more mass support for Mugabe, if ever there was any. There is a
myth that Mugabe has a strong rural support base. What is left now is a
handful of supporters who have benefited from his patronage. Those
supporters are not enough to secure a victory for him at the next elections.
But Mugabe needs them to do all his dirty tricks like rigging elections,
assaulting members of the opposition, misinforming the public and protecting
him. Mugabe has no illusions he can ever win elections by a popular vote. He
is like a jilted lover who is now arm-twisting his wife to love him.
In trying to manipulate business, with his characteristic violence, Mugabe
faces a backlash that he cannot control.
The first is businesses have refused to restock. And stores now have rows
upon rows of empty shelves. That is a recipe for a mass demonstration, if
only Zimbabweans would heed the wake up call, when people cannot find basic
commodities. Already Zimbabweans have been pushed to the corner. In this
situation they cannot be pushed anymore without fighting back.
The second is many of the affected businesses are owned by top Zanu (PF)
officials. This puts Mugabe on a tightrope. Already he is making concessions
by printing more money to compensate businesses for the losses they
incurred. There can be no doubt that when it comes to compensation
businesses owned by ZANUPF top officials will be the first, and possibly
only ones, to receive the compensation. Mugabe is now completely oblivious
about the inflationary impact of printing more money.
Yet another backlash is the fact that the police, youth militia thugs and
others sent to enforce the directive to lower prices are themselves now
looting the same goods and selling them at an even higher price in the black
The irony of it all is that the retailers who bought those goods and are
selling them to make a profit are, especially if they are not prominent
officials of Zanu (PF), being hunted down like common criminals and jailed.
But absolutely nothing is being done to the real criminals, the police,
thugs and Mugabe's cronies who are now looting and fuelling the black market
BY ITAI DZAMARA
Three government ministers are involved in the illicit hunting of elephants
and dealing in ivory through their concessions, investigations by The
Zimbabwean have revealed.
Minister of Policy Implementation, Webster Shamu dismissed as untrue
allegations that the Hunting Safari he allegedly co-owns with Charles Davy
was involved in illicit deals. Another minister, Obert Mpofu, of Industry
and International Trade, also said that he wasn't involved in any illicit
deals after highly-placed sources alleged that he ran a hunting concession
and traded in illegal ivory.
Shamu denied that he is a co-owner of HHK Safaris together with Davy, but
investigations show he is one of the directors of the company, which was
implicated by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority in illegal hunting
operations as well as illicit trade of ivory. Another minister (name
withheld), who could not be contacted for comment has also been implicated.
Sources at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority revealed that a
recently-impounded consignment of an undisclosed quantity of ivory led to
investigations implicating HHK Safaris, which has operations based mainly in
Matabeleland as well as in neighbouring Mozambique.
"The impounded consignment came after a lot of efforts by the Wildlife
Authority aimed at establishing information regarding what clearly appear to
be shady deals by a number of companies," a top source said. "HHK has been
under investigation and it became easy to link a lot of things when the
impounded consignment was traced to the same company."
Shamu flatly dispelled reports and information linking him to the company
and said: "I am not involved in any hunting or trade of ivory". It was
difficult to obtain comment from Davy. A woman who answered the telephone at
HHK Safaris' offices in Harare, said: "Minister Shamu is part of the
business but he is based in Harare and I don't have his number."
Mpofu runs a hunting concession operating by the name of his farm, Kanando,
which has been implicated in illegal hunting of elephants and other wild
animals as well as trading in ivory illegally.
"The minister (Mpofu) runs the operation and it was discovered to be dealing
in ivory as well as other animal products," a Parks and Wildlife official
said. Through highly-placed sources, this paper recently discovered a
syndicate of agents said to be working for Mpofu. A place in Bulawayo was
discovered, which is alleged to be the base for keeping ivory as well as
processing of elephant skins by Mpofu's company.
Mpofu also flatly denied the allegations and refused to further discuss the
Zimbabwe has been surreptitiously bartering tons of ivory with China, in
return for military hardware amid reports the State has been systematically
pillaging natural resources and poaching endangered elephants to enrich a
few ruling elite.
South Africa should seriously consider issuing Zimbabweans fleeing from
political persecution in their own country with a special document
recognized by the police in order to avoid unnecessary deportation back
This call was made by the Consortium for Refugees and Migration in South
Africa (CRMSA) following the arrest and deportation of thousands of
Zimbabweans between May and June this year.
This is the second time CRMSA has publicly urged the SA government to stop
deporting Zimbabweans, arguing that they will face persecution and violence
In a recent report released by the Consortium Professor Loren Landau, who is
the CRMSA director and the director of the Forced Migration programme at
Wits University, said.
"Our recent report revealed that refugees and asylum seekers are being
arrested and persecuted when they are deported back to Zimbabwe. We are
against this continued arrest and deportation of Zimbabweans and
unaccompanied children by South African police and the Department of Home
Landau who condemned the current conditions at Lindela Repatriation Centre
where 3 000 are said to be awaiting deportation, urged the department to
provide all Zimbabweans arriving in South Africa to seek refuge or asylum
status after facing persecution in their own country with a temporary
document that is recognized by police.
"The current conditions at Lindela are not in line with the Prison Act of
South Africa and we call on the government to look at and address this
issue," he said.
Jack Redden, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees regional
public information officer, said the South African government "should
recognize that the number of Zimbabweans coming here to seek protection is
increasing. This acknowledgement will assist the Department of Home Affairs
to resolve the backlog by fast-tracking the issuing of permits. - Nokhutula
South Africa's Joint Standing Committee is set to push for the total closure
of all illegal entry points from Zimbabwe to South Africa in a move to
reduce the ever- increasing number of illegal immigrants.
The Committee, which includes the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) and
Department of Home Affairs intelligence will descend on Beitbridge border
post on Friday to assess ways in which illegal entry can be stopped.
"South Africa's border posts will be scrutinised to check how staff are
coping with the prevention of crimes, ranging from illegal entries by
immigrants to human trafficking and car theft," read part of the
presentation to the SA parliament. - Trust Matsilele
Plans are underway for mass deportations of Zimbabweans if the Mugabe regime
fail to bow to pressure on constitutional amendments and a transitional
government as proposed by South Africa President Thabo Mbeki.
The Zimbabwean has it on good authority that Botswana and South Africa plan
to deport Zimbabweans. "Zimbabweans should brace themselves for mass
deportations. The two countries are fed up with Mugabe and the exiles, who
appear unable to force or vote Mugabe out," said an intelligence officer
from National Intelligence Agency who is privy to the plan.
The deportations code named 'Mugabe take your people' will mean hundreds of
thousands of Zimbabweans will be deported even.
"The deportations will cause confusion on the Zimbabwean side. At least 100
coaches will leave for Zimbabwe every day and 20,000 will be deported in a
week's time," said a South African intelligent agent. Mugabe will be caught
unaware as 'his people' flood back to their roots to vote in en masse,"
alleged the source.
The South African government is also irked that some Zimbabwean exiles are
now behaving like Mugabe supporters who are benefiting from the regime. Many
Zimbabweans in exiles are working against the democratic forces while
members of Central Intelligence Organisation have infiltrated many civic
"The people who are coming from Zimbabwe are acting as Mugabe people and
they are trying to prop up Mugabe regime. People will be deported to go and
vote in their country," added the agent. - Trust Matsilele
MDC (Tsvangirai) spokesman Nelson Chamisa has dismissed President Robert
Mugabe's claim to have secured fuel and forex from his long-term ally
President Muammar Gaddafi of Libya as a waste of time.
"Mugabe is wasting time trying to solve problems that are getting worse by
the day as he clings onto power. It is pointless for him to want to address
problems that are a result of his mismanagement and worsen by the day as he
refuses to leave," said Chamisa.
Sources told The Zimbabwean that a desperate Mugabe had secured fuel and
other forms of assistance from President Muammar Gaddafi if Libya, who used
a carrot and stick strategy on the Zimbabwean leader who promised to step
down from power at the end of this year.
The Libyan leader is said to have reported to his colleagues in the African
Union and especially President Thabo Mbeki that Mugabe had promised to step
down and not stand for next year's elections.
Mugabe visited Libya last month to hold meetings with Gaddafi after former
British Prime Minister, Tony Blair had visited that country and is
understood to have urged the Libyan leader to ratchet up pressure on Mugabe
to go in order to save Zimbabwe.
"There is no way anyone like Gaddafi is going to waste resources on such a
project, it is the usual story of deception. Besides, we all know that
Mugabe has never been sincere about his promises to leave office," said
Political commentator, David Tera from the University of Zimbabwe also
believes Gaddafi will soon be disappointed by Mugabe. "If that is true, then
we should expect news about Gaddafi demanding whatever belongs to him
because Mugabe has a record of making promises he never fulfills. Mugabe has
made it clear he is not willing to step down under whatever conditions,"
Mugabe is said to have obtained a loan of US$100 million from Libya on the
strength of him having promised to step down.
"Gaddafi literally used the carrot and stick strategy on Mugabe who went
there with a begging bowl as well as hoping to get assistance from the
oil-rich country," a top source revealed. "They were also both enthusiastic
about the formation of the United States of Africa (USA) and Gaddafi also
used the rapport on that basis to push Mugabe into a corner. He advised
Mugabe to step down and consider using his experience to work for the
establishment of the USA whilst allowing for the rebuilding of Zimbabwe."
Minister of Energy Michael Nyambuya confirmed that "there is fuel being
brought into the country by government from various sources" but said the
finer details about where it is coming from were confidential.
This edition of The Zimbabwean raises more questions than it answers. In
this we believe we accurately reflect life in our beloved Zimbabwe today, as
well as among our friends in the wider world.
How on earth did it come to this?
How are people surviving?
How much longer?
Does anyone out there care?
How can one crazy old man be allowed to do this?
What can be done to stop him?
What does Thabo Mbeki really think?
What will it take for him to act decisively?
What will tomorrow bring?
How many hungry babies will die today?
How many HIV-AIDS sufferers, deprived of their regular medication by the
price war, will die in the coming weeks?
When will the international community act?
What should they do?
Are we going to have elections next year?
Is the opposition serious about unity?
How are we ever going to rebuild this mess?
What of tomorrow?
Where have all the flowers gone?
ZESA Holdings, reeling from persistent foreign currency shortages, has
revealed that load-shedding will increase due to reduced power generation
at Hwange Power Station.
In a statement seen by The Zimbabwean, Zesa Holdings said this had been
sparked by limited coal deliveries from Hwange Colliery Company following a
series of breakdowns on the coal conveyer plant.
Sources at Zesa said the utility's failure to pay debts due to acute foreign
currency shortages had resulted in continued power cuts.
"As soon as there is enough coal stocks, Zimbabwe Power Company will
increase generation at Hwange Power Station," read part of the statement.
Residents in Highlands, Lewisham, Greendale and Mandara have gone for up to
two days without power owing to underground cable faults.
Many Zimbabweans are shivering their way through a long dark winter because
of extensive outages.
There is rampant cutting of trees as householders resort to buying firewood
for cooking and heating purposes. Recently ZESA hiked its tariffs by at
least 350%, shocking Zimbabweans already struggling with massive price hikes
in shops, buses and clinics.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the government of Zimbabwe
should illustrate seriousness in finding a solution to the country's crisis
to cushion President Thabo Mbeki's facilitation of political dialogue,
Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said in her recent budget
vote debate in the National Assembly.
"The success of President Mbeki's facilitation largely depends on the
political will of the Zimbabwean government and opposition political parties
to take Zimbabwe out of this crisis," Dlamini-Zuma said.
The Democratic Alliance, meanwhile, has described as "regrettable" the South
African government's lack of condemnation of the situation in Zimbabwe.
"Daily, thousands of Zimbabweans illegally enter South Africa in search of
money and food in order to keep their families alive," said DA foreign
affairs spokesperson Douglas Gibson.
"The Department of Foreign Affairs should make it clear that they would not
support a government that does this to its citizens," he said.
The Inkatha Freedom Party said the talks were doomed to fail if ordinary
Zimbabweans, Churches and the country's business community are excluded from
National Constitutional Assembly chairman Dr Lovemore Madhuku recently
dismissed Mbeki's involvement as a ploy to buy more time for embattled
President Robert Mugabe.
He said solutions to the crisis lay with Zimbabweans; putting faith in Mbeki
was "a waste of time".
Madhuku said Zimbabweans must ratchet up pressure on the 83-year-old
Zimbabwean leader and his government by staging massive demonstrations in
the coming months.
"We have solutions to our problems and these solutions come from
Zimbabweans. Mbeki must never fool us. He is buying time for Mugabe and his
government by promising us that he can help mediate on the crisis.
"All Mbeki wants is time for his friend (Mugabe). Mbeki does not want us to
have demonstrations or put pressure on Mugabe. We have seen Mbeki before.
What has he done for us? As Zimbabweans we must realise the power and means
of escaping poverty and hunger lie within us," said Madhuku. - Allan
The Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Commission (ZERC) Commissioner General
Mavis Chidzonga has allegedly abused a fuel facility worth almost Z$600
million on the open market, documents at hand reveal.
An internal audit report titled "Fuel Usage summary January-April 2007"
allegedly show that between January and April this year, Chidzonga siphoned
about 5000 litres of petrol and diesel worth almost Z$600 million. Reliable
sources have said that the petrol and diesel was fed to Chidzonga's
relatives' buses known as Nyamweda Bus Service. Nyamweda is her maiden name.
Chidzonga denied the allegations. "I am not aware of such transactions and
the Commission records do not reflect any such transactions. The Commission
is not missing any such fuel. The Nyamweda brothers are ready to testify.
Nyamweda Busses have never needed Dr Chidzonga for fuel," she said.
The audit report shows that in January, Chidzonga, who is entitled to
350litres per month exceeded her allocation by 640 litre despite also
receiving a further 535 litres under the guise of operations. In February
she withdrew an excess of 555 litres and received a further 165 litres as
operations. In March, Chidzonga exceeded her limit by 1185 litres and
received a further 370 litres as operations. In April, Chidzonga exceeded
her limit by 1515 litres and received a further 245 litres as operations.
ZERC is the regulatory authority of the electricity industry and is funded
from license fees from power utility ZESA, currently struggling to pay
creditors for electricity supplies.
The audit report has become the basis of an investigation by the Accounts
and Audit Committee, which held a meeting on last month to probe Chidzonga.
The chairperson of ZERC's Audit and Finance Committee, Desire Mutize
Sibanda, said new arrangements had been put in place following a meeting
with Chidzonga over the issues contained in the report.
But highly placed sources said Chidzonga went hysterical, accusing Sibanda
of harbouring intentions to take over her position at ZERC. She then stormed
out of the meeting claiming that she was being stressed. Chidzonga also
allegedly claimed she was sick on to avoid attending the Finance and Audit
Committee meeting, which was held on Friday and geared to grill her on the
matter. Sources said she was overwhelmed at the evidence obtained against
her by the committee.
"We are satisfied that the new arrangements will assist the parastatal to
strengthen controls and institute any improvements in both human and
financial administration. The areas targeted for controls include
recruitment, fuel and hire of vehicles," said a diplomatic Sibanda.
"The Audit committee has however tasked the internal auditor to work closely
with the Commissioner General to strengthen internal controls in areas which
may have given rise to these allegations," he added.
He said his committee was tasked by government to ensure financial
accountability at the ZERC.
"Our role as the Audit committee of ZERC is to ensure financial
accountability in the management of ZERC. A meeting of the ZERC Audit
Committee was held last week, among other things to examine the allegations
contained in the letter you sent me. I also had a meeting with the
Commissioner General," said Sibanda.
Sources alleged that one James Mugozhi, Chidzonga's former driver was the
conduit who delivered fuel from an Exor garage in Pomona to Nyamweda Bus
Service premises in Western Triangle. Mugozhi was dismissed together with a
former messenger at ZERC after they claimed that the fuel he had stolen was
far too little compared to what Chidzonga has been siphoning since she was
appointed ZERC Commissioner General in June 2005.
Chidzonga admitted that Mugozhi was at some point sent to Nyamweda Bus
Service and had since been fired for stealing.
"James (Mugozhi) was only sent on one occasion to pick up empty drums from
Nyamweda Brothers," she said. "It would be of benefit for your office to
know as background to this matter that James Mugozhi was dismissed from
employment last week for stealing and selling ZERC fuel."
Chidzonga conceded that she had given ZERC fuel to her Anglican church
"I am entitled to a monthly personal fuel allocation of 350 litres. This
was part of my allocation that I gave to the Reverend (30 ltrs). He was my
Parish priest whom I assisted when he had a funeral," she said.
Out of the 18 ZERC employees, seven are allegedly Chidzonga's relatives.
(names supplied). She denied this but said: "As regards Tonderai yes he is a
relation, For a personal driver one needs someone they can trust . I have
young kids to be picked up and I need someone I know and trust to drive me
and my family. James was a personal driver for the previous Commissioner but
refused to drive me and opted to be a pool driver. Records are available for
you. I then had to hire another driver. This was done transparently through
a hiring agency."
Energy and Power Development minister Mike Nyambuya could not be reached for
The University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor, Professor Levy Nyagura, has
evicted all students from the campus residence after disturbances that
rocked the oldest institution of higher learning last week. Students are
protesting against the Z$1 million top up fees caused by the extension of
The students are questioning the rationale of being forced to pay for the
incompetence of the university administration in failing to end the semester
as scheduled because of the lecturers who went on a three months long
On July 3 more than 3000 students converged at New Complex 4 residence and
before they could make resolutions armed police descended and started to
assault students indiscriminately. In the melee, more than 15 students were
injured and three were arrested.
On Saturday heavily-armed police with sophisticated artillery, teargas
canisters, Israeli water canons and vicious dogs descended on the students
as they held a peaceful review meeting.
Seven students were arrested, including Saun Matsheza, the student union
vice President and Caeser Sitiya, Student Representative Assembly member. At
the time of going to press they were still languishing in the filthy and
overcrowded cells of Harare Central Police Station. Several students were
seriously injured and received treatment at Avenues Clinic, one of them,
Jotham Shumba sustained a broken limb.
The whereabouts of the Students' Union President, Lovemore Chinoputsa, are
not known, his life is in danger and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
(ZLHR) are working flat out to assist the students. - Zinasu
Operation of Hope medical foundation will return to Zimbabwe later this year
to perform another marathon of hope that last year saw 43 surgeries
performed in six days on children afflicted with cleft lip/palate.
No-one can know the personal anxiety of a mother hoping for a brighter
future for their child than they can give. The desire to change their
children's circumstances saw numerous parents visit the Harare Hospital
Children's Ward and dare to hope against all odds that their children would
receive the corrective surgery for cleft lips and palates.
When Busi, mother of two-year-old Lucy saw a news item about the Operation
of Hope team from USA, coming to Zimbabwe, she realized that she had the
chance to help her daughter. Lucy was born with a cleft lip, a genetically
disposed condition that creates an opening in the upper lip between the
mouth and nose affecting feeding, speech and self-esteem.
"I had never seen anyone with this deformity and seeing my child for the
first time made me feel helpless. I did not know where it came from and why
it happened to my child. I was anxious to minimize the ridicule that I knew
she would have to face throughout her life," said Busi.
"When I heard that this team of specialist surgeons would be available to do
this operation, I knew I had to try and get my child there to see them"
Travelling 48 hours from her rural home became minor to quench her
anticipation of a heavily subsidized miracle for her child.
Dr. Joseph Clawson started Operation of Hope, soon after his retirement from
medical practice, re-engaging in a long-abandoned desire from his childhood
11 July 2007
Posted to the web 11 July 2007
Zimbabwe's rulers have adopted a deliberate strategy of exacerbating
tensions between the two wings of the country's divided opposition,
according to a new report by a church-sponsored human rights group.
In a 44-page report on the current political and human rights situation in
Zimbabwe, the Solidarity Peace Trust said it was clear that President Robert
Mugabe was preparing for elections next year by "decimating the structures
of the opposition".
The group issued an appeal to South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is
acting as a mediator in talks between the Zimbabwe opposition and
government, to recognize that the protection of human rights was central in
resolving the country's political crisis.
The report, entitled "Destructive Engagement: Violence, Mediation and
Politics in Zimbabwe," was released by Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo,
chair of the trust, at a news conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday. It gave
a detailed overview of human rights violations in Zimbabwe over recent
months, including the beating and abduction of opposition leaders, torture,
assaults in people's homes and in public places, and attacks on lawyers.
One of the report's findings was that the vast majority of attacks was on
the faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change headed by
Morgan Tsvangirai. "It appeared that at first this was fortuitous," the
report said, "but the advantage of using this as a divide-and-rule tactic
became apparent to the state and they thereafter made it a strategy."
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu had publicly described the Tsvangirai
faction as "violent", contrasting it with the "non-violent" MDC faction
headed by Arthur Mutambara. And justifying the beating of Tsvangirai by
police earlier this year, President Mugabe had said of him: "He is supposed
to be a leader, aspiring to be president, and he should know how to behave.
Mutambara was not beaten because he knew how to behave."
The trust noted that the ruling Zanu-PF party was reported to be recruiting
10,000 "war veterans" into the country's army as a "reserve force" ahead of
elections scheduled for next year, as part of a strategy to prevent the MDC
from organizing in rural areas. It also recorded high levels of random
assaults by police of members of the public in the opposition-supporting
"The intention of state violence in public places," it said, "is to send a
general message of repression and control, to leave civilians in areas
believed to be opposition strongholds in a state of fear and insecurity, so
that social drinking, or attending football, or going shopping become
activities that could result in being beaten. This lowers morale and makes
people disinclined to be linked to opposition politics."
The report said that Zanu-PF was most comfortable about negotiating with its
opponents when the environment in the country was one of repression. It was
thus imperative that the mediation led by President Mbeki should recognize
· "An essential part of any conditions for a free and fair election
in Zimbabwe must include the end to state violence and human rights
· "Discussions on a new constitution must allow for transitional
justice issues, such as accountability for human right abuses, and the truth
about such abuses, to be placed on the political agenda at the earliest
possible stage of a political transition." and
· "It must be recognised, in particular by the. mediation process,
that the protection of human rights is one of the central issues in
resolving the political crisis in Zimbabwe. Any any long-term reconstruction
of the economy must be premised on the grounding of human rights issues at
the centre of Zimbabwe's political transformation."