JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - President Robert Mugabe has ruined his reputation as an
independence hero by presiding over a "distressing" crisis in Zimbabwe,
South African Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Monday.
"It does not fill me with joy to speak as I do about President Mugabe
because he was our showpiece," Tutu said after a speech in Johannesburg.
"And now you have to be a great saint not to have been upset," he said,
adding that Mugabe cannot "in any way justify what has happened."
Zimbabwe was once considered a relative success story for Africa but Mugabe
has since become a pariah in the West after he allegedly rigged his
re-election in 2002 and then presided over an economic collapse which has
sent unemployment soaring to 80 percent and inflation surging to well beyond
He has also been heavily criticised by foreign governments and rights groups
after his security forces assaulted opposition leaders trying to protest
against his rule.
"He did an extraordinary thing when he won the first election. People were
expecting retribution. It did not happened. Ian Smith (the former white
ruler of Rhodesia) remained a member of parliament. I think we have got to
give him that credit," Tutu acknowledged while answering questions.
He added however that Mugabe's rule in Zimbabwe since was distressing.
"I am sad. I think we should all be sad. We are all distressed ... We are
hurt. God's children are hurting, and so we are hurting too," added Tutu.
His comments followed the confirmation from the University of Edinburgh
Monday that it had withdrawn an honorary doctorate awarded to Mugabe in 1984
due to concern over his human rights record.
Tutu, who won the Nobel peace prize for his part in the campaign to topple
South Africa's whites-only apartheid regime has long been an outspoken
critic of Mugabe, once calling him a "caricature of an African dictator".
Mugabe, who has been the ruler of Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 has in
turn called Tutu "an evil little bishop".
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: July 16, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwean Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube was named
in an adultery case Monday in what his lawyers called an "orchestrated
attempt" to embarrass the outspoken government critic.
Attorney Nick Matonzi said Ncube was in his office in the second city of
Bulawayo when documents were delivered by court officials accompanied by a
state television crew alleging he was involved in a two-year affair with a
secretary in his office whose husband was demanding damages in a civil suit.
Matonzi said Ncube will deny the allegations in the civil court when it
convenes at an unspecified date.
State radio reported in its afternoon bulletins that the woman, identified
as Rosemary Sibanda who worked at Ncube's St. Mary's Cathedral, "admitted
the affair to" the state broadcasting company.
Matonzi said "a sort of press conference" was held in the cathedral
courtyard by court officials.
"The case is unique. From the manner the papers were served, you can see it
is some kind of orchestrated attempt to embarrass the Archbishop," he said.
State radio said the woman's husband, Onesimus Sibanda, was demanding 20
billion Zimbabwe dollars (about US$160,000; ?118,000 at the dominant black
market exchange rate) in damages.
At the legal official exchange rate the damages demanded - one of the
highest demands in the nation's legal history - would exceed US$1.3 million
Ncube has repeatedly accused President Robert Mugabe of human rights
violations and called for him to step down. The cleric has also urged
Zimbabweans to take to the streets to demonstrate against the government
amid the nation's worst economic crisis since independence.
Earlier this month, Mugabe urged his ruling party militants to disregard
church leaders who have called for his forced ouster while criticizing the
chaotic and often violent seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial
farms that disrupted the economy since 2000.
He accused Ncube and other church leaders of "peddling falsehoods about
"Where is the godliness? Don't listen to what they say .... One cannot tell
the difference between a bishop and a layman anymore. Some of them have
sworn to celibacy but they sleep around," Mugabe told supporters on July 7.
David Coltart, a Bulawayo attorney and longtime friend of Ncube, said the
archbishop's integrity had never before been questioned.
"Fascist dictators have used this means to attack opponents through the
ages. The law is used as a weapon," he said.
Ncube has demanded disclosure by Mugabe on the massacre of thousands of
civilians in the western Matabeland province by troops who crushed an armed
rebellion against Mugabe's rule there after independence in 1980.
He has said Mugabe was responsible for economic policies that have led to
acute food shortages and starvation among children, the elderly and other
vulnerable groups across the nation.
In March, Ncube said he was ready to lead a popular uprising against Mugabe.
A pastoral letter by the nation's nine Roman Catholic bishops circulated at
Easter calling for an end to state oppression angered Mugabe, 83, a
The state media described the bishops, including Ncube, as leaders of "the
settler church" with origins in the colonial era that backed Mugabe's
opponents and Western governments campaigning against him.
By Lisa Schlein
16 July 2007
The U.N. Children's Fund says the children of Zimbabwe have entered a new
phase of hardship. UNICEF says millions of children are missing out on their
most basic needs because of a severe drought and the dramatic deterioration
of Zimbabwe's economy. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.
UNICEF says the unprecedented hardship facing Zimbabwe is biting
particularly hard among the children. It says quality health care in the
country's schools has all but collapsed. It says severe drought, the
worsening economy, reduced food production, and high unemployment are
causing people to leave their homes.
UNICEF Emergency Programs Director Dan Toole says families are forced to cut
back on the most basic daily needs.
"What we know in Zimbabwe is that malnutrition is growing rather radically.
Twenty percent of the population currently needs food assistance and that
food assistance is quite hard to get in," said Toole. "We expect that number
to double in the next six months. There is a shortage of medicines. There is
a shortage of doctors and nurses. And, thus, the health care system has been
devastated, with 50 percent of all health-care positions now vacant."
Official statistics show inflation in Zimbabwe has soared to more than 4,500
percent and the unemployment rate is 70 percent. Price controls have
resulted in shortages of the most basic commodities, such as sugar, salt,
meat, and flour.
Another problem is HIV/AIDS. UNICEF's Dan Toole says just six percent of
children in need of anti-retroviral drugs have access to them. He says
UNICEF has received virtually no money to carry out its ongoing HIV
Toole says many of the country's more than 1.5 million orphans have lost
their parents to HIV/AIDS and some are also infected with the virus.
"It is likely children who are infected by HIV/AIDS and who are also orphans
are likely to die with no access to anti-retrovirals," he added. "The second
reason I think HIV orphans are the most vulnerable and indeed are
potentially likely to die is that they are indeed the most vulnerable. They
do not have a parental support mechanism. They do not have necessarily the
community support and with 4,500 percent inflation and unemployment, even
their alternate caretakers are absent."
UNICEF reports Africa is the continent with most of the world's so-called
forgotten emergencies. These are crises that do not attract much public
attention and, are chronically under-funded.
These countries include Southern Sudan, Chad, the Ivory Coast, Central
African Republic and now Pakistan, with the recent floods.
UNICEF also includes Iraq within this list. It notes Iraq gets a lot of
political attention. But, when it comes to humanitarian needs, it says Iraq
is forgotten. To date, UNICEF says it has received no money from
international donors with which to carry out its life-saving programs for
children and women.
By Peta Thornycroft
16 July 2007
Price control measures introduced by the Zimbabwe government this month are
already having widespread negative repercussions, with many locally owned
enterprises already considering closure. But as Peta Thornycroft reports for
VOA, talks between the ruling party and the opposition continue under the
mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Less than two weeks after the government ordered a price freeze, essential
foods had all but disappeared from the formal economy. Shop shelves were
bare of the staple maize meal, as well as beef, salt, sugar, bread, milk and
And almost as quickly, the impact reverberated deeper into the economy, to
manufacturers. One clothing manufacturer who asked to be called Bill to
protect his identity and who depends on imported raw materials, says he
won't be able to afford to continue production.
Bill imports most of his raw materials, and pays for them with foreign
currency he acquired on the black market, or parallel market as it is called
in Zimbabwe. Even so, he says, he will very soon be unable to operate, and
several hundred Zimbabweans will lose their jobs as a consequence.
"Now with the enforced prices I am going to divert a container that I had
due to come into the country because if they force me to sell garments that
I manufacture at prices that they dictate I am going to be out of business
very soon," said Bill. "I am not going to go to jail, I will sell out what I
have and I will not replace, so at the end of the day my business would have
nothing to produce and would be forced to be closed."
The government says it will nationalize companies that stop production. And
so many large foreign owned manufacturers with headquarters based in South
Africa have indicated they intend to comply with the price controls.
Fuel has almost disappeared from the formal market in the second city
Bulawayo, and is critically short in the capital Harare. Economic consultant
Daniel Ndlela, says public transport is at a minimum and most workers are
forced to walk long distances to get to their jobs.
"It's a nightmare now, I take walks in the morning, and you see people
walking to work, walking to town, without transport, and in the evening it's
pathetic to be on the roads, because there is literally no transport, and
people are walking in a manner that is actually frightening, and you know
these people will be walking for twenty kilometers," said Ndlela.
Ndlela warns that while President Robert Mugabe's price cutting exercise
will destroy the private sector, and is unlikely to reign in spiraling
inflation, believed to be well over 5,000 percent. He says it will not curb
the trading of the currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, on the black market.
"When you legislate on the final price of the product it means you have a
problem; the destruction is going to be simultaneous, if retailers are not
ordering products, the manufacturers are going to stop manufacturing; if
manufacturers are not manufacturing, the producers of raw materials are
going to stop production," said Ndlela.
Despite the deepening economic crisis, the regional mediation initiative,
facilitated by South African president Thabo Mbeki, between the ruling
ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has continued.
But veteran human rights activist and author Judith Todd who was involved in
the liberation struggle for an end to minority white rule argues the
mediation is misplaced.
"And I think the focus from the outside world is on all the wrong things,
they shouldn't be talking to ZANU-PF, the instrument of our misfortune, the
surrounding states should be engaging with civil society from Zimbabwe, and
with the opposition, with the churches," said Todd. "Everyone should be
getting together to say how do we remove Mugabe, there is not going to be an
election next year there is just going to be terror, terror until more and
more people drop down dead."
ZANU-PF and the MDC were last month asked by President Mbeki's mediation
team to begin with a draft constitution the two parties agreed to in secret
negotiations in 2004 as a basis for an agreement. The two parties have met
four times in Harare since then. For its part the South African mediation
team have agreed will come up with proposals to improve the political
climate in which parties can operate in Zimbabwe .
No date for the next round of talks in Pretoria has yet been announced.
Mail and Guardian
Johannesburg, South Africa
16 July 2007 04:59
South African and Zimbabwean trade unions on Monday called on
the Zimbabwean government to admit to the crisis in Zimbabwe.
They urged the Zimbabwean government to call off its "short-term
populist actions" and actively cooperate with the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) process.
"We are worried that if this all fails the Zimbabwe economy will
collapse completely, with dire consequences for the poor of that country and
our region as a whole," Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)
secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi said on Monday.
He was speaking after talks with a Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) delegation at Cosatu House in Johannesburg.
Vavi said at least 5 000 refugees a week were arrested while
trying to cross the border from Zimbabwe into South Africa.
However, should the Zimbabwean economy collapse there would be
no way of stopping the flow of Zimbabweans openly walking into South Africa
and other neighbouring countries just to survive.
The unions demanded an immediate meeting between the government,
labour and business in Zimbabwe to solve the crisis of empty shelves, food
shortages and hunger.
A solution to the Zimbabwe crisis had to be found "yesterday",
said ZCTU secretary general Wellington Shibebe.
"Today is too late and tomorrow will be disaster," he said.
If Zimbabweans had one request of the South African government,
it was to ensure free and fair elections, said ZCTU president Lucia
In a joint statement, Cosatu and the ZCTU said: "We want a
democratic process, involving civil society, to draw up a new, progressive
constitution and free and fair elections in line with SADC protocols."
Cosatu said it would be discussing with its alliance and civil
society partners a package of "people-based humanitarian interventions" in
preparation for Zimbabwe's economic collapse.
July 16 2007 at 07:27PM
Southern African labour federations are preparing for the collapse of
the Zimbabwean economy, it emerged on Monday.
"We are worried that if (mediation) fails, the Zimbabwe economy will
collapse completely, with dire consequences for the poor of that country and
the region as a whole," the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said in a joint statement.
Cosatu would be discussing a package of people-based, humanitarian
interventions with its alliance and civil society partners "in preparation
for this reality", said Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi.
Cosatu held four hours of talks with a ZCTU delegation in Johannesburg
on Monday. At present 5 000 Zimbabweans were arrested trying to cross the
border into South Africa every week, said Vavi.
"What do we do if that economy eventually collapses altogether?" he
"No-one is going to stop the flow of Zimbabweans into South Africa and
other countries. They will walk and walk in view, in the open, to other
homes in order to survive," he said.
Cosatu had already sent tons of sanitary pads to Zimbabwe to help the
country's women. Now it was looking at sending food and blankets.
It was time South Africans realised that their challenges of poverty
and unemployment were a "Sunday picnic" compared with the struggle over the
border, said Vavi.
A solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe had to be found "yesterday", said
ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Shibebe. "Today is too late and tomorrow
will be disaster."
The ZCTU had 330 000 paid-up members from the country's workforce of
998 000, he said. The unemployment rate in the country was currently at 80
Cosatu and the ZCTU have demanded talks between the Zimbabwean
government, labour and business to resolve the crisis of empty shelves, food
shortages and hunger.
However, Shibebe said, a pricing stabilisation protocol signed by
business, labour and the government on June 1 was ignored by President
Robert Mugabe, who ordered the wholesale slashing of prices just three weeks
While Mugabe had held off on salary cuts, it was just a matter of time
until these too were imposed.
Zimbabwe might have got its freedom in 1980, but it "forgot to bring
democracy and all the necessary freedoms" to its people, he said.
If Zimbabweans had one request of President Thabo Mbeki, it was that
he ensure they have free and fair elections, said ZCTU deputy president
In their statement, Cosatu and the ZCTU said: "We want a democratic
process, involving civil society, to draw up a new, progressive constitution
and free and fair elections in line with SADC protocols."
However, Vavi said Cosatu was "very worried" that mediation in
Zimbabwe would go the same way as South Africa's observation of the previous
elections - declaring free and fair what the rest of the world condemned as
riddled with irregularities.
It was also worried at Mugabe and his ZANU-PF political party's
apparent "frustration" of the SADC process and their lack of co-operation.
They had failed to arrive at talks on more than one occasion, wasting
valuable time in the search for a solution to the crisis, Vavi said. - Sapa
Monsters and Critics
Jul 16, 2007, 8:23 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's consumer council is loud in its
condemnation of black marketeers and high prices, but now one of its
officials has been arrested for selling sugar at way above the stipulated
price, the official Herald daily reported Monday.
Tawanda Danda, a regional officer for the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe
(CCZ), was arrested on Friday by members of the Anti- Corruption Commission,
said the newspaper.
He was found to be selling six tonnes of sugar now in desperately short
supply in inflation-ravaged Zimbabwe at above the price set by President
Robert Mugabe's government.
The Zimbabwean authorities are waging a highly-controversial war against
high prices in what critics say is a bid to win over impoverished voters
ahead of next year's presidential and parliamentary polls.
Officials from more than 3,200 shops and businesses from across the country
have been arrested and fined since last month in a high- profile price
blitz, which has seen price inspectors and police forcing shop owners to
Danda was in charge of supporting consumer clubs in Mashonaland East
The clubs had been set up to boost the buying power of struggling civil
servants. Groceries are bought in bulk from wholesalers using money pooled
by club members.
But Danda was allegedly abusing his position to access groceries from
wholesalers and then selling them at an inflated price for personal gain,
the Herald said.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
16 July 2007
Posted to the web 16 July 2007
Government is considering connecting private boreholes to Harare's water
system while Zinwa plans to drill more boreholes to beat the persistent
water shortages facing some of the capital's suburbs.
As part of measures to address water and sewer problems in the capital, the
Ministry of Water and Infrastructural Development is visiting districts in
Harare to deal with the situation at a local level.
The ministry has suggested changing by-laws to allow for the connection of
private boreholes to the city's water reticulation system, especially in the
Highlands area where there is a high concentration of boreholes.
Highlands Primary School has not had reliable water supplies for the past
two years and relies on a single borehole. The two other boreholes are
constantly down owing to power cuts.
Zinwa also plans to take a leaf out of Bulawayo City Council which drilled
boreholes on the Nyamandlovu aquifer and connected them to the water
Businesspeople and other interested parties have already pledged assistance.
The decision to attend to district problems comes in the wake of
realisations that some of the districts face different problems that are
best solved using localised solutions.
The Deputy Minister of Water Resources and Infrastructural Development, Cde
Walter Mzembi, last Friday explained the new approach.
"We are urging residents to be part of the policing system on water demand
management, reporting water faults and giving solutions to the water
problems," he said.
On Thursday Cde Mzembi met Highlands residents as well as Highlands Primary
School administration as he sought to get to the bottom of the water
problems in the area.
Cde Mzembi said from now the ministry and Zinwa would address water problems
at the local level.
"We realise that the water problems in Harare require localised solutions.
We hope that in areas like Highlands and Tafara we can completely supply the
area with borehole water," he said.
Harare's water problems emanate in part from the city's low pumping
Apart from the water problems, Zinwa is also beset with sewer problems with
residents, especially in Budiriro, Western Triangle in Highfield and other
sections of the suburb, Kuwadzana, Glen View, Unit G, N, O, P in Seke and
Zengeza having to live with streams of sewage.
Although trenches have been dug in some parts to prevent sewage from
spilling into their homes, residents are still bitter that their houses have
become inhabitable while roads are impassable.
In a statement last Friday, Zinwa said it was attending to sewer problems in
Budiriro, Kuwadzana, Glen View and Dzivaresekwa.
The water authority appealed to residents to desist from dumping hard
objects, clothes and kitchen utensils in the sewer reticulation system.
"The authority is doing its best to ensure that sewerage problems being
faced in the suburbs are solved and this can only be achieved with the full
co-operation of residents," read part of the statement.
JOHANNESBURG, July 16 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe is a long way from being ready to
join southern Africa's rand monetary union, South African Reserve Bank
Governor Tito Mboweni was quoted as saying on Monday.
"A very high degree of macro-economic convergence is necessary. They have a
very long way to go," he told South African news agency I-Net Bridge.
A newspaper report earlier this month quoted unidentified sources as saying
a regional body was working on a plan to ease Zimbabwe's economic crisis by
linking the country's currency to to South Africa's solid rand.
The rand Common Monetary Area currently comprises South Africa, Namibia,
Lesotho and Swaziland.
"For any other country to be a part of the CMA they must fulfil the strict
macro-economic convergence criteria. This includes their fiscal policy
stance and inflation in particular -- they must be in line," Mboweni said.
Inflation in Zimbabwe has soared to 4,500 percent -- the highest in the
world -- amid chronic shortages of basic commodities, fuel and foreign
South Africa's Sunday Independent had said the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) was working on a plan to extend the rand monetary union to
Zimbabwe, but the regional body distanced itself from the report.
The newspaper also said the plan would involve the central banks in South
Africa and Botswana injecting huge amounts of funds into their counterpart
The SADC denied it was proposed the support package, saying it was still
working on a study about Zimbabwe's economic situation. The body got a
mandate from a summit of southern African leaders in March to propose
measures on how the group could help resolve the crisis.
Once regarded as southern Africa's breadbasket, Zimbabwe has suffered
erratic food supplies over the past seven years or so, with critics pointing
to the forcible redistribution of white-owned commercial farms among blacks
ill-equipped to properly use the land.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
16 July 2007
Speculation is mounting that talks between Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party
and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change are breaking down despite
efforts by the South African mediation team led by President Thabo Mbeki to
paper over breaches.
Pessimism about the fate of the negotiations rose after two ZANU-PF
representatives to the talks failed to appear at scheduled a scheduled July
7 negotiating round
South African media reports said Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe barred
the ZANU-PF team from attending the talks following a top-level meeting in
Harare July 6 at which ZANU-PF brass resolved to disengage from the
negotiations, seen as likely to weaken the ruling party's position in the
run-up to elections in early 2008.
Mr. Mugabe has also rejected a main MDC negotiating demand for a
thoroughgoing revision of the constitution so as to ensure a level electoral
South African-based independent political analyst Hermann Hanekom told
reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that even if the
talks resume, Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF would merely seek to buy time ahead of
Cape Argus (Cape Town)
15 July 2007
Posted to the web 16 July 2007
Bulawayo: Three months ago to the day we published an account of life in
Zimbabwe when our neighbours were plunged into one of their darker
political, social and economic crises.
From the grim wards of Bulawayo's Mpilo Hospital, we exposed a health system
that had become the latest victim of Robert Mugabe's rule, where medicines
were in short supply, medics were thin on the ground and where patients bore
all the hallmarks of the sick building.
What a difference three months can make.
By noon yesterday, 39 unclaimed bodies lay in Mpilo's morgue, among them
five infants who never lived to see the sorry state that Zimbabwe has
Although the attendant insisted the corpses had been there only a few days,
the stench from the decomposing bodies suggested otherwise.
Indeed, the sound of rodents scurrying in all directions as we approached
the outer-lying building should've been a sign of what was to come.
"You know, a family came to collect their dead baby last week to prepare her
for burial," Patience*, a staff member, tells me, "but they found she'd been
badly bitten by rats."
"We used to use a contract firm to deal with the rodents and the
cockroaches," she explains. "But they cancelled that about a month ago."
That cockroaches and four-legged creatures are roaming the wards of Mpilo is
not what bothers her most. It's the fact that the kitchens are all but bare
right now that makes this "a very bad time to be sick in Bulawayo".
Before the bread supply resumed again on Friday, the sickly residents were
forced to begin their day on little else but a cup of tea.
Lunch consists of "small, small portions" of sadza and sugar beans. She
tells me that on a good day, dinner is an equally small portion of sadza and
On a normal day, it's a repeat of lunch again.
There are few who don't have a story to tell of the negative impact the
so-called price war is having on the vast majority of Zimbabweans today, an
irrational move enforced literally at gunpoint by Mugabe and his men at the
end of last month.
Shop shelves are looking bleak right now in Bulawayo, the country's
second-largest city. Meat can not be had. Queues formed for bread early
yesterday morning in one of the city's bakeries; 20 minutes later the shop
had shut. Cooking oil is scarce. Salt and sugar likewise. Not one of the
city's 32 petrol stations has fuel to sell, regardless of the colour of your
John* tells the tale of the inflation police who came knocking at his garage
door 10 days ago and forced him to sell all his fuel to the cars in waiting.
"In four hours, I lost $800 000 000," he exclaims. "They forced me to fill
up the cars for $60 000 a litre. Only minutes earlier I had been selling it
at $180 000. I lost everything. I can't afford to buy any more fuel, not
even on the black market."
Yet folk continue to queue, regardless, waiting for the day when supplies
will resume and the pumps will start humming again.
Because what is taking hold now is "a queuing syndrome," explains Eric
Bloch, an economist and adviser to Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono.
"People just queue anyway, even when the shops are closed, because the
chances are whatever is put out for sale will eventually be something they
This week, Zimbabwe's inflation was recorded at 5 000%, a figure experts
expect will rise in the coming days as the effects of this latest crisis
The legacy Mugabe will bequeath will make life difficult for whoever steps
into his shoes. With 35% of all Zimbabweans under the age of 30, that means
that roughly one in every three Zimbabweans only know life under the old
In the evening of his rule, Mugabe has taught his people that Zimbabwe is
but an exercise in survival, where the fittest have become frugal merchants
in the burgeoning black market.
"We have become our own worst enemies," explains one Zimbabwean. "For a long
time, we really pulled together and tried to get by. But then many people
began to see that the black market was a place to make money. And it's our
own people now, not him, who are making life difficult for the rest of us."
* Not their real names
From The Weekender (SA), 14 July
Thousands of Zimbabweans in major cities around the country, particularly
Harare and Bulawayo, have found their fortune on street corners as the
country's economy has moved from the air-conditioned high-rise buildings in
city centres onto the red-light avenues bordering the cities. In recent
weeks the black market has been boosted by the government's call last month
for a 50% price slash on all goods and services. This resulted in a buying
frenzy during which shops ran out of basic goods in a matter of days. Those
goods are now available on the black market. Prominent Zimbabwean economist
Tony Hawkins said in an interview with SW Radio this week that the black
market had been given a "tremendous boost". "As I was parking my car
yesterday or the day before , a guy came up to me and asked if I wanted
sugar and cooking oil. That's the kind of thing going on.. There is a
thriving black market out there. People are going into the shops, buying
products at lower prices before they disappear off the shelves and then
going around the corner and selling them at much higher prices."
But the black market is hardly a new phenomenon in Zimbabwe. Thousands of
women and youths have plied their trade in scarce commodities on the black
market since the economy's tailspin began accelerating in 2000. They sell
anything from small clothing items such as golf caps, to motor vehicles and
foreign currency. But it is the foreign currency that is the backbone of the
parallel market. Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has labelled
the streets, particularly Main Street in Bulawayo, the World Bank. Here
apostolic sect women dressed in their immaculate white gowns are the
champions of the trade in foreign exchange. In Harare the trade is fronted
by people aged between 15 and 40 years. "Many people have missed the point
that (President Robert) Mugabe has not been in control of the economy for a
long time now," said a veteran businessman in Harare, who declined to be
named for security reasons. "The economy has been in the hands of the people
on the black market."
The businessman said that ever since the artificial pegging of the
Zimbabwean dollar at unsustainable rates, the government had not really been
in control of what happened in the economy. The local unit has been
officially pegged at 250 to the US dollar for many years. "That refusal to
expose the Zimbabwean dollar to the vagaries of market forces is what
created the black market, and , this is what has kept Zimbabwe going." He
said Zimbabwe's formal economy - which had been in decline since the
mid-1980s, and went through the disastrous International Monetary
Fund-backed structural adjustment programme in the 1990s - collapsed
irreparably in the aftermath of the land seizures that began in 2000. "The
Zimbabwean economy has always been based on commercial agriculture, and when
that was destroyed there was no economy to talk about. "Look what is
happening on the tobacco auction floors. And where are the flowers we used
to sell abroad? What about the beef Zimbabwe used to export to the European
Union? Where do you expect the foreign currency to come from?" he asked.
With the tobacco and horticultural industries grounded, very little foreign
currency has trickled into the country, and what little has come in, has
come mainly from people living abroad. It is estimated more than 4-million
Zimbabweans live in exile. Zimbabwe's population is about 12-million. The
exiles send millions of dollars in foreign exchange every year to support
their families. But the foreign exchange they repatriate has not been coming
through formal channels because of the fixed rate. "It is this foreign
exchange that forms the backbone of the black market that has kept Zimbabwe
going," the businessman said.A prominent banker now based in SA has said
that when he was managing a commercial bank in Zimbabwe, he was often called
on by the central bank to source foreign currency on the black market to
finance things such as fuel for presidential trips. He said quasigovernment
corporate institutions had over the years become big players on the parallel
Inside sources at Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority say the power
utility has managed to import electricity since the beginning of the
millennium with money sourced from the parallel market, with the
encouragement of the authorities. So has the fuel procurement body, the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe. The central bank has also financed the
importation of grain to feed the nation from money sourced on the black
market. "When the fuel crisis intensified around 2004, the government
liberalised the fuel sector, encouraging independent players to import and
sell fuel. The Direct Fuel Import (DFI) programme has ever since eased the
fuel crisis. It is common cause that the DFI dealers source the foreign
currency they use to import fuel on the black market. So there has been a
little bit of electrical power coming into the country; a little bit of fuel
too, has continued to trickle in. This has kept the wheels of industry
turning. Industry has only been running at 30%, so no big deal. And because
the people have a little bit of power and fuel, they have been inured to
their suffering and won't rebel," said the SA-based banker.
Once established, the parallel market spread like an octopus to all facets
of the Zimbabwean economy, including big business. "Big business is now
mostly in the hands of well-connected indigenous entrepreneurs, including
senior ruling party officials who manage to get foreign currency from the
central bank at controlled rates and flood it onto the parallel market,
reaping huge profits as it is snapped up by industry, which has to import
raw materials and other inputs to keep running," the banker said. But the
most important thing about the parallel economy is that it has kept millions
of people fed, averting mass starvation and political instability.
Four-million people need food aid, and this has been the trend since the
destruction of commercial agriculture. Zimbabwe is also very drought-prone ,
and this has compounded the food-security situation. Unemployment is higher
than 80% and an equal percentage of people live in poverty.
But, on the other hand, the black market has created a new class of
super-rich blacks and statistics show the number of new posh cars per capita
in Harare is the highest in the region. "The dealers you see on the streets
of Harare and Bulawayo are mostly agents of big business and high-ranking
politicians. Chinese and Nigerian businessmen are big players on the
parallel market too as they change all the Zimdollars they make into hard
currencies, which they repatriate to their homes. But one good thing is that
the small agents have a source of income to take care of their families."
Analysts say that in the current blitz on business and the prices charged
for goods, Mugabe is set to destroy the economy even further, particularly
the black market that has maintained some semblance of political stability.
The business sector has refuted claims of super profits, saying that in a
hyperinflationary environment the replacement value of goods erodes all the
seemingly high price mark-ups. Indeed the price-slash directive has had
dramatic effects. Shop shelves have emptied and the country is quickly
running out of fuel. Thousands of jobs are on the line. Hawkins told SW
Radio : "Well I think something has to give in a relatively short time. I
don't believe that the government can maintain the kind of pressure that
they are putting on businesses for long."
Africa News, Netherlands
16 July 2007 - PANA. South Africa's main opposition the Democratic Alliance
has called upon the Department of Home Affairs here to set up a refugee camp
near the border in order to assist Zimbabweans fleeing economic hardship in
their country. "South Africa has a duty to provide a safe environment for
all those fleeing the crisis in Zimbabwe. They must be fed and sheltered
until the situation improves. If government takes its humanitarian duties
seriously, Home Affairs will immediately begin to investigate setting up
refugee camps in order to assist the people from Zimbabwe who so desperately
need our help," DA spokesperson, Mark Lowe, said Monday.
It is estimated that 3 million Zimbabweans are already in South Africa
illegally, due to a chronic shortage of jobs and food and Lowe charged that
the chaos in Zimbabwe is steadily turning into one of the greatest
humanitarian crises that Southern Africa has faced since the war in
Mozambique ended in 1992. "More refugees are expected as the political
situation in Zimbabwe deteriorates, and the drought worsens. There is a
serious possibility of a famine. And, as South Africa has limited
opportunities for refugees, many will find themselves on the streets again,
with no shelter and no food," Lowe added.
He said the Department of Home Affairs should also be considering all the
various options open to them, and they should be consulting with the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the best possible means to
assist those fleeing from Zimbabwe.
Lowe said all international resources should be mobilised to assist in the
care of Zimbabweans in South Africa, and suggested that government
immediately begin setting up partnerships with NGOs, aid organisations and
human rights organisations, such as the Red Cross and World Food Programme,
in order to effectively manage the care of the refugees.
New Times (Kigali)
15 July 2007
Posted to the web 16 July 2007
The African Union summit has proposed a road-map to a federation of African
States, without mentioning a single political or economic freedom for
But we do not need ideals; we need practical freedom to lift ourselves out
Continental union was the founding principle of the original Organisation of
African Unity but it never stood a chance: African leaders refuse to face up
to their own or their neighbours' failures, while preventing ordinary
Africans from using their ingenuity to build their own future.
We heard much at the AU last week of lofty ideals of unity, not least from
Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi, but nothing of any use on the real disasters
of Zimbabwe, Darfur, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Other failures such as
corruption and election-rigging did not even feature on the agenda--although
these remain the real unifying features of Africa.
Above all, there was not a whisper about property rights, the rule of law
and market freedoms that would allow Africans to emulate the growth of Asian
countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea--which were as poor as
we were at independence in the 1960s. Even the growth records of South
Africa, Mauritius and Botswana are ignored as being somehow exceptional
instead of being acknowledged as the direct result of sound economic
Positions at the AU are divided between the so-called "gradualists," who
believe that individual countries should first build working economies and
integrate them through regional blocs, and the "radicals," who believe a
supra-national authority would somehow allow Africa to compete
Neither side, however, is talking about the real issue: economics. Right
now, Africans cannot compete locally or regionally, let alone
internationally: we need economic freedom for Africans to raise themselves
out of poverty, unshackled from State serfdom.
The life-changing power of trade has been demonstrated historically and not
just in the West. At the height of their glory, many pre-colonial African
states and empires found trade to be a better way to prosperity than through
conquests. Gold was shipped from Wangara in the Upper Niger across the
Sahara desert to Taghaza, in Western Sahara, in exchange for salt, and to
Egypt for ceramics, silks and other Asian and European goods. The old Ghana
Empire controlled much of the trans-Sahara trade in copper and ivory. At
Great Zimbabwe gold was traded for Chinese pottery and glass. From Nigeria,
leather and iron goods were traded throughout West Africa.
Today, Africa has lost that trade and many conspiracy theories abound for
its backwardness. But the blame game ignores the devil within: the internal
and regional barriers that hobble trade, making tariffs within Africa far
higher than any tariff barriers by outside blocs .
There are even politicians, bureaucrats and many aid activists who argue
that these tariffs make essential contributions to government
revenue--meaning government offices are more valuable than citizens or the
Opponents of US Free Trade Agreements (FTA) or European Union Economic
Partnership Agreements (EPA) say these would allow cheap imports and send
the already tottering African economies into collapse. They ignore the
consumers who would benefit from cheap imports or the producers who could
export regionally and internationally: they think only of maintaining
government power and protected industries.
But the real consequence of these anti-development policies is to keep the
African farmer at subsistence level and keep our economies agrarian.
Tariffs in rich countries have fallen by 84% in the last two decades to
about 3.9%, yet tariff barriers in Africa have only declined by 20% to a
still massive average of 17.7%. Of course, other, non-tariff, protectionism
in the poorest African countries is four times greater than in rich
So the issue here is not remote ideals of regional or continental unity that
might, by some undefined and unprecedented magic, lift Africans out of
poverty: the issue is the lack of practical and everyday economic freedoms
that would allow Africans to lift themselves out of poverty, with
well-defined and historically-proven policies.
The beauty of sound economic policies is that they take effect within very
few years, as in South Africa and Botswana. But leaders who can talk of
unity while ignoring the carnage in Darfur and the tyranny in Zimbabwe can
very easily ignore local economic barriers.
Ideology and fine concepts have kept Africans back when hundreds of millions
in Asia were building a better life. Our growth and prosperity depends on
proven common sense and breaking the economic shackles that still enslave
Franklin Cudjoe is the director of Imani, a policy think-tank in Ghana. He
is a well-published analyst of the consequences of economic policies, or the
absence of policies.
16 Jul 2007 19:50:02 GMT
HARARE , 16 July 2007 (IRIN) - Scores of white commercial farmers who left
Zimbabwe after their farms were seized as part of President Robert Mugabe's
land reform policies are returning home as the promise of greener pastures
elsewhere in southern Africa fails to materialise.
Justice for Agriculture (JAG), an independent organisation established to
support about 4,000 farmers left landless after implementation of the 2000
fast-track land-reform programme to redistribute land to blacks, said about
100 farmers who had left to settle in other countries in the region had
returned to Zimbabwe.
"It never rains but pours for the commercial farmers. Following numerous
constraints that almost turned them into paupers in countries like
Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi, the farmers decided to come back, and more
could be returning," JAG chairman John Worswick told IRIN. It is not known
how many farmers left the country as a result of the land-reform process.
"Their difficulties were mostly financial: after being invited by some
private organisations to help boost agricultural production [in other
countries], particularly in tobacco farming, they set up farms but were
later dumped by their financiers and had no choice but to pack their bags
and head back to virtual emptiness here."
Although the prospects for the farmers in Zimbabwe appeared bleak because of
the country's economic meltdown and the absence of investment opportunities,
he said there was optimism that farmers would, in the end, be given back
Most Zimbabweans are trying to cope with an annual inflation rate of around
4,000 percent - the highest in the world - and there are widespread
shortages of basic commodities and foreign currency.
"Long-term prospects are bright for the commercial farmers. Justice will one
day prevail, even if it means twenty or thirty years. We have seen private
individuals being given back their properties in countries like Mozambique
and Uganda, decades after oppressive governments had taken them over,"
Most of the commercial white farmers ejected from their farms kept the
documents proving their ownership of the property and have challenged the
seizure of their land in both local and international courts, although the
ZANU-PF government has repeatedly vowed that the land acquisitions would not
be reversed. Beneficiaries of the land redistribution exercise receive
99-year leases on the farms where they have been resettled.
Rod Swales, 52, a tobacco farmer, decided to return from Mozambique's Manica
Province, which borders Zimbabwe. His farm was taken from him in 2002, and
he was detained and assaulted by war veterans and members of the
government's youth militia, also known as the Green Bombers.
"With the steep decline in tobacco production in Zimbabwe after the land
seizures, the companies invited us to Mozambique, saying we could fill the
void by producing in that country on a large scale, and we jumped at the
opportunity," Swales told IRIN.
They were contracted to produce tobacco over seven years and would be
required to make yearly loan repayments, but did not receive sufficient
funding from the companies that had taken them on board and produced poor
quality tobacco because they started late in the first farming season.
"We also got poor prices for our tobacco and in subsequent seasons our woes
persisted, and we had no choice but to tell the company that we could not
keep on farming because the money we were getting in loans was not
sufficient to establish ourselves," said Swales.
They lost their farming equipment to the companies after deciding to quit
tobacco farming and, Swales said, even their efforts to have the Mozambican
government intervene were fruitless.
The language barrier also made it difficult for the farmers to operate in
their adopted country. English is widely spoken in the former British colony
of Zimbabwe, while Portuguese is the lingua franca of Portugal's former
Swales considered himself "at least lucky" because he managed to keep his
suburban home in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, where his family now lives.
"That we had to come back to Zimbabwe was a hard pill to swallow but, for
people like me, this is the only home I know. My grandparents settled here
and bought a farm, which was inherited by my father. I bought my own farm in
Darwindale [in Mashonaland West Province], from which I was unfortunately
ejected," said Swales.
It pains Swales that his farm, once thriving and producing enough tobacco
for local and international markets, is being underutilised by resettled
farmers who are planting small plots of maize, even though the land is not
suited for that crop.
Because the land redistribution exercise was hurried and haphazard,
thousands of new farmers lacking in expertise were settled on plots of land
without the necessary infrastructure, leading to severely reduced
production, while influential politicians and government officials obtained
multiple farms that, in many cases, have become derelict.
As a means of making a living, Swales has teamed up with others and formed a
farming consultancy to help "new and ailing" farmers establish themselves,
"but our activities are limited to those who bought their farms, not the
ones that grabbed them".
The fledgling company is finding it difficult to obtain bank loans to
establish itself because none of the shareholders have access to the
collateral that their farms would have provided.
While Swales has seized on an opportunity to reconstruct his life, others
have no means of making a living.
Living off charity
Kennedy Swaggart, 60, who experienced difficult times in Malawi as a barley
farmer, decided to come back to Zimbabwe and is now living on the charity of
a South African church.
As a widower without any children, he felt that there was no need to keep
properties in Zimbabwe, so he sold his farm equipment and a house in the
capital to raise money for his new farming venture when he left for Malawi
"After falling on hard times because the barley market was no longer
profitable for me, coming back was the only option, even though I knew very
well that I would have to struggle to find even a roof for my head,"
Swaggart told IRIN. "Fortunately, fellow farmers sent out an SOS to charity
organisations and I have been placed in a retirement home by a South African
He is now seeking compensation from the government for improvements made on
the land he lost, as was promised to the farmers.
Swaggart said he had made many trips to the lands ministry since his return
to demand his money but, in most cases, he was turned away, with officials
asking him why he had not made his application several years ago.
"On my last visit I was told not to bother visiting their offices, but to
wait until they approach me with the payment. As far as I am concerned that
could be forever, but I need the money desperately," he said.
The government claims that it has paid out millions of dollars in
compensation, but most farmers say the money is too little for their
properties; some accuse the state of confiscating their equipment, for which
no payment has been forthcoming.
Swaggart, like many other farmers, believes that "God will intervene, and
political sanity will prevail and the good old days will return when we get
back our farms".
Some of the farmers, particularly grain and cereal producers who relocated
as far afield as Nigeria and Australia, have managed to farm successfully,
boosting agricultural production in their adopted countries.
July 16, 2007
Harare - President Robert Mugabe has taken a new swipe at Zimbabwe's ailing
business sector, accusing bosses of fanning record inflation by overcharging
before the imposition of price cuts, state media said Monday.
While retailers and manufacturers struggle to absorb the impact of
government-ordered price cuts, Mugabe said efforts to revive the economy had
been undermined by "business malpractices" and sanctions imposed by the
"The cocktail of such business malpractices as unwarranted profiteering,
which is compounded by the unjustified declared and undeclared sanctions on
our country, has undoubtedly played a role in fuelling the current
inflationary environment we are experiencing," the state-run Herald quoted
Mugabe as saying.
"The sanctions against our nation show desperate actions of the agents of
regime change who seek not only to undermine the credibility of our
government, but also to reverse the gains and values of our independence and
Retailers and manufacturers, grappling to cope with an inflation rate now
believed to be well over 5 000 percent, had been raising their prices
several times a day until the government ordered prices to be cut in half on
Hundreds of bosses who failed to heed the edict have since been arrested and
slapped with fines as part of the so-called Operation Dzikiza (Operation
The 83-year-old Mugabe, hoping for re-election next year, however said the
government is willing to work with the business community.
"I wish to reaffirm my governments' commitment to fostering close and
fruitful co-operation with well-meaning partners from the private sector.
"While there are challenges that are weighing down efforts to revive the
economy, such challenges should raise, in both the government and private
sector, the determination to overcome them for the country's progress." -
Mail and Guardian
15 July 2007 11:59
Inside her cottage behind her employers' house in Observatory,
Johannesburg, 47-year-old Flora Thembo, a domestic worker, sits next to what
looks like at least several months' supply of foodstuffs and other
Some of the goods sit in their original packaging, others have
been pushed into disused barrels and empty paint containers. Every month she
buys at least 50kg of mielie meal, 30kg of rice, about 40kg of sugar, 15
litres of cooking oil, 30kg of beans, 10kg of washing power, 10 bars of
soap, some exercise books and pens.
"They plant the vegetables themselves," she says of her family
in Bulawayo. "It would be expensive to transport them. The fields are not
doing too well, but they will have to make do."
Every three months she pays a courier to deliver the groceries
to her children, at a cost of R1 500.
Thembo arrived in South Africa in 2000. In the first years of
her stay she would send money whenever she could. But now priorities have
"The money itself is not important to send," she says. "What is
important are the supplies and maybe R500 or R600 for expenses to maintain
the house. The thing is there is no food whatsoever, so even if I did send
money it would be useless. Anyway, with the inflation, prices go up
Thembo supports eight children, aged between 10 and 25, on her
salary of R1 800 (about $Z24 000 000).
Her husband, who worked as a city council clerk, died of stomach
cancer in 1998, making her the sole breadwinner for the family. Her eldest
child is a truck driver and earns $Z200 000, the equivalent of R10 a month.
She spends her entire salary on the supplies for Bulawayo and
her daily living. "If my husband hadn't died, I probably would have stayed
[in Zimbabwe], because we would have helped each other," she says. "But then
there were droughts in the Ninties. They made things even harder."
Thembo, a former adult literacy educator, arrived in South
Africa in 2000 and lived for a year without employment. Her first domestic
job, which lasted a month, paid her R800, more than she was paid for
conducting literacy classes in her home country. Her next job as a domestic
paid her R500. She found her present employment in 2003. She started sending
supplies back home in 2004 and visits once a year.
"I think if the old man [Robert Mugabe] could vacate the seat,
things could turn for the better in Zimbabwe," she says. "He must allow
younger people with sharper brains to run the country, as he is no longer
willing to listen to what the people want."
By Charlotte Mathews
16 Jul 2007 at 10:21 AM GMT-04:00
JOHANNESBURG (Business Day) -- Operating conditions for mining companies in
Zimbabwe have not worsened since the price control crackdown by the
government, mining groups say.
The main problems facing miners remain intermittent power outages and, for
gold miners in particular, the terms on which they are paid for gold sales
by the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank.
Zimbabwe's mining industry is a key earner of foreign exchange, accounting
for more than half of the country's total mineral production, and the
Chamber of Mines' statistics have reflected a sharp drop in gold output
But foreign-owned mining companies operating in Zimbabwe continue to express
an optimistic view about long-term prospects in the country.
Central African Gold [AIM:CAN] CEO Greg Hunter said in a letter to
shareholders that the group continued to be positive about Zimbabwe's
"While the situation on the ground is difficult, for now it is not
unmanageable. Reliable power supply is our single largest issue, but we are
looking at ways to address the situation."
Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] head of strategy Francis Petersen said Angloplat is
working closely with parent Anglo American, which has a good relationship
with the Zimbabwe government. Angloplat is not under the same pressure as
Impala Platinum in Zimbabwe as it is not actively mining. At Angloplat's
Unki project there is early-stage infrastructural development.
"We are optimistic the political situation in Zimbabwe will change,"
Implats' subsidiary Zimplats [ASX:ZIM] has embarked on a $258 million
Zimplats CEO Greg Sebborn said Zimplats has a good and constructive working
relationship with the government and a continuous engagement with the power
"At this stage we are reasonably confident we can make the arrangements to
have sufficient power for our needs."
He said Zimplats believes Zimbabwe will be friendly to investment capital
over the next few years.
Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines acting CEO Doug Verdon says the main problem for
miners is the shortage of forex, especially for gold producers. All revenue
from sales of gold is held by the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank, which pays miners
60% of that sum in hard currency and the remainder in local currency at a
rate of about Z$15,000 per dollar, compared with the parallel rate, which
moves constantly but at one stage was Z$300,000 per dollar.
Verdon said there were some delays in payment earlier this year, with some
companies saying they had not received any forex since November, but he
understands the situation has improved. Platinum and base metals miners
enjoy a different arrangement for payment of hard-currency earnings.
Verdon said problems with power are another major issue.
Most companies are severely handicapped by long power outages. Although they
are often given notice of when outages will occur, in some cases the outages
Some gold mines stopped production this year, he said. Most of the gold
mines are operating 40% below capacity.
Caledonia Mining [AIM:CMCL] CEO Stefan Hayden, whose group bought the
Blanket mine in Zimbabwe last year and has spent $4 million on expansions so
far, said the price control situation has caused some hardship to
mineworkers as it has affected availability of basic foodstuffs. But the
expansion programme remains on track.
He agreed the biggest operating issues are foreign exchange and power
outages, but he said Caledonia remains confident about the long-term future
Bloomberg reported last month that Metallon Corporation, Zimbabwe's biggest
gold producer, had delayed plans to list in London in May because of a lack
of equipment and foreign exchange after power cuts reduced output.
Production from Metallon's mines would fall to 100,000 ounces in the 12
months to September from 140,000 ounces a year earlier, CEO Mark
Wellesley-Wood told Bloomberg. The operations were designed to yield 175,000
ounces a year.
By Tonderai Kwidini
HARARE, Jul 16 (IPS) - "If I am going to change anything in my script it
will be punctuation marks. I am not changing anything else,'' said Cont
Mhlanga, a prominent Zimbabwean playwright and founder of Bulawayo-based
Amakhosi Theatre Production House. He was responding to the banning of his
play entitled ''The Good President''.
Mhlanga is the latest victim of the crackdown by President Robert Mugabe's
government on perceived enemies of the state in the arts world. Plays such
as ''Heaven's Diary'' and Mhlanga's ''Super Patriots and Morons'' have been
banned in the past few years.
''The Good President'' chronicles political and social events since Zimbabwe
became independent in 1980. It pays particular attention to the period just
after independence, which is commonly referred to as ''the dark era''.
This was the time when the Matabeleland massacre took place during an
operation code-named ''Gukurahundi''. An estimated 20,000 people were
murdered in the slaughter carried out mainly in the southern parts of
Zimbabwe which supported then-opposition leader Joshua Nkomo.
The play revisits these events, building up to the present day with an
emphasis on how the country has been governed.
It stirred controversy when it premiered at the Theatre in the Park in
Harare recently, attracting large crowds and provoking debate on what has
happened in the country. The state media, which reflects government
thinking, did not waste time in dismissing the play as the work of enemies
of the state seeking regime change.
According to a synopsis of the play, ''The Good President'' explores the
institution of leadership in the broader socio-political context. Using his
masterful skills as playwright, Mhlanga explores recent political events
such as the beatings of political and civic leaders such as Morgan
Tsvangirai to illustrate Mugabe's leadership.
Tsvangirai is the leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
''It is a play for everyone but deliberately targeted at the political
leadership as the brick and mortar that binds society together. As typical
satire the play employs humour, ridicule, irony and exaggeration to
criticize the bad aspects of society in dramatic style. The writer's
assertion is that there is a no more vicious way of killing humanity than
failing to respect and defend the institution of leadership,'' according to
The government dismissed the play as the work of political activists
masquerading as artists. ''The play is not of any national value. It seeks
to stir emotions and hate with the ulterior motive to see President Mugabe
out of power. It undermines the person of the president,'' said Deputy
Minister of Information and Publicity Bright Matonga.
Mhlanga denies this: ''It is not part of our African culture to beat a
popularly elected leader and then to display the images for the young ones
Despite the attack on the play, he remains defiant. ''I will not rewrite the
play. How can a play based on true historical events and incidents and on
knowledge in the public domain be unlawful? I did not base my creativity on
fictitious events and incidents,'' he said according to a statement.
''It seems what is unlawful in this country is to speak the truth, even if
all the facts are there for everybody to see,'' he said. ''Self-expression
is a human right that no one, not even the state, has the right to take
''In my view there is nothing flowery and poetic about the current situation
in Zimbabwe. There is nothing flowery and poetic about a political
leadership that celebrates state violence. There is nothing flowery and
poetic about millions of people in the country who cannot afford to put a
single decent meal on the table for their families.
''There is nothing poetic and flowery about an economy of which the
inflation is heading towards 5,000 percent,'' Mhlanga insisted.
With public protests, gatherings and a once-vibrant media shut down, theatre
is one of the last channels through which people can voice their anger
against the increasingly unpopular government.
''The Good President'' had a good run in Harare where it was performed for
two weeks. According to the producers, the leaders of the dreaded Zimbabwe
secret service attended but did not attempt to ban it.
It was however banned last month before a performance in Zimbabwe's second
largest city of Bulawayo. Mhlanga and the producers of the play, Rooftop
Promotions, launched a High Court appeal against the ban which was
dismissed. They were ordered to seek an out of court settlement with the
They have decided to launch another High Court appeal, this time in Harare.
''We are going to challenge the High Court decision made by the
Bulawayo-based judge because we feel it is tantamount to denying us our
freedom of expression. We do not see the play as undermining or as seeking
to denigrate President Mugabe. We are not going to be intimidated and we
will continue writing, producing and staging political satires, come rain or
thunder,'' said Daves Guzha, the producer of ''The Good President''.
Mhlanga is not new to controversy. He had a run-in with the police when he
was locked up and interrogated last year over his political satire,
''Pregnant with Emotion''. The play was about a child who refused to be
born, fearing that he or she will not be able to cope with the crisis
prevailing in Zimbabwe.
Mhlanga's latest play joins a long list of theatre productions which have
been deemed to be undesirable by the government's Censorship Board which is
still using laws dating from the era of the white regime, such as the
Censorship and Control Act of 1967.
Among some of the plays that have been censored by the government are
''Super Patriots and Morons'', which was banned three years ago, ''State of
the Nation'' and ''All Systems out of Order''. ''We are witnessing a
systematic attack on theatre as an alternative voice,'' said Guzha.
Meanwhile the Censorship Board is considering banning yet another play which
is highly critical of the government. The play is entitled ''Decades of
Terror''. It talks about how the government has presided over the country in
a ''ruinous manner'' since independence.
Although the play successfully premiered in Harare three weeks ago, it was
yet to receive a certificate from the Censorship Board to clear it for
''We have applied for a certificate from the Censorship Board but they are
taking their time to process our papers. We gave them everything that they
requested, the scripts and all our plans with the play but they have not
come back to us and we are getting worried,'' said Daniel Maphosa, the
writer of the play and the director of Savanna Trust which will supervise
public performances of the play.
''We are just hoping that the play will not get into the same situation as
'The Good President' and get censored. But if that happens we are still
determined to go ahead and stage the play without the blessings of the
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)
16 July 2007
Posted to the web 16 July 2007
On 12 July 2007, police in Harare arrested "The Standard" photojournalist
Boldwin Hungwe while he was taking pictures of events as people scrambled
for goods at South African owned Makro shop after an invasion by the price
The editor of the newspaper, Davison Maruziva, told MISA-Zimbabwe that
Hungwe was arrested at the shop in the afternoon while on duty by two police
officers who also seized his camera.
Maruziva informed MISA-Zimbabwe that the taking of photos incensed the
police as they battled to contain a scramble at the shop, resulting in
police dogs being unleashed on prospective customers. Tens of people were
injured in the process, including soldiers and police officers who were in a
separate queue from that of the general public.
Maruziva informed MISA-Zimbabwe that he rushed to Makro and tried to
negotiate the release of Hungwe without success. Hungwe was eventually taken
and detained at the Harare central police station for an hour before being
released on the instructions of police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka. His
camera was later returned.
For further information, contact Zoé Titus, Programme Specialist, Media
Freedom Monitoring, MISA, Private Bag 13386 Windhoek, Namibia, tel: +264 61
232 975, fax: +264 61 248 016, e-mail: email@example.com, Internet:
Jack, a regular Moneyweb contributor, offers new insights into the Zimbabwean disasterJack*
Eustace is quite right. We should thank Mugabe for providing the laboratory in which he tested the classically bad policies, in the extreme... and to the point of destruction. Our luck is that his experiments play out in such a simply constructed agricultural economy that we are able to observe with huge clarity the economic principles at work. (Read Eustace's article: If you love liberty, thank Robert Mugabe)
This is textbook stuff.
In economics 101, we are all exposed to a list of the negative effects of inflation, the one being an implicit transfer of value away from savers. To me it always had that cynical ring of conspiracy theory about it. That was until uncle Bob enthralled us with his new economics.
Uncle Bob illustrated many economic principles for our benefit, particularly the futility and corruption underlying (all) PRICE CONTROLS.
He set up his experiment by first destroying his tax base and his export sector, all in one foul sweep, courtesy of his devastating land redistribution programme. This initiative was the desperate attempt of a despot to buy loyalty through confiscating land and distributing it amongst his cronies.
Mugabe's interventions soon led to major constraints on the production side of the economy - not only in agriculture, but in mining and manufacturing as well.
Having thus run out of foreign currency earnings, and a collapse of his tax base, Mugabe suffered an increasingly large budget deficit. He set out to fund his activities by simply printing money. The effect was very clear: created buying power from nothing, clearly undermining the value of the currency in circulation. This soon showed up in inflation data and the exchange rate started collapsing. As Mugabe became politically more desperate, he printed more money, in increasing amounts, to keep his henchmen happy. This drained the economy of value, ultimately impoverishing those who did not directly benefit from his largess.
Debasing your currency in the name of inflation and paying your officials good salaries, even in the midst of abject poverty, may still have some ring of legitimacy to it, depending how far you take it, and whom you speak to. Mbeki certainly saw no evil.
Mugabe's penchant for ARBITRARY AND DISCRIMINATIVE PRICE FIXING became another interesting ethical challenge. Through these policies he created wonderful opportunities of arbitrage for his cronies and confiscated wealth from the rest.
He created special pricing structures for some, whether it was for petrol, interest rates or exchange rates.
Mugabe's innovations in the financial systems included a system where prime lending rates were set well below the bank rate - due to what dealers said were "political pressures." These measures were carefully designed to provide "succour" to a struggling populace, but had little observable positive effect, as commercial banks pretty much stopped lending to individuals altogether.
Mugabe's penchant for the arbitrary fixing of prices and the offering of subsidies included a scheme in which the government was selling a litre of fuel to public transporters at a rate nearly 10 times lower than the price of bottled water. The helping hand of Mugabe's regime included a scheme in which the government bought a ton of the staple maize meal from farmers at Z$52 500 (R1 598) a ton and sold it at Z$600 a ton to milling firms.
Mugabe's system of official exchange rates, as distinct from the black market rates, created an additional tax system where exporters were paid at the official rate, while Mugabe's regime effectively benefited at (black) market rates.
For a while exporters were compelled to sell 30 percent of their foreign currency earnings at an outdated OFFICIAL RATE. In a bid to "support growth" in the export sector, Zimbabwe's central bank announced a new system whereby exporters were obliged to liquidate earnings at the INTERBANK EXCHANGE RATE - less than half the PARALLEL MARKET RATE.
Being paid at unrealistic exchange rates amounted to a huge tax at revenue level, discouraging exporters from increasing production, therefore only deepening the current account and budget deficits.
Mugabe would soon extended these privileges to his cronies.
Mugabe created incentives for his cronies in the form of low interest rates, for agricultural purposes for example. These ostensibly credible incentives turned out to be nothing more than arbitrage opportunities that serve to enrich Mugabe's cronies.
Last week the The Sunday Times of London reported than Mugabe had created an elite of around 5000 benefiting from the situation and there are enough of them in high places to maintain the status quo. They enjoy privileges ranging from fuel vouchers to access to beneficial interest rates and exchange rates.
A litre of fuel for the privileged costs just Z$400, while everyone else will pay Z$185000.
In order to cope with the sheer volume of money printing going on, BEARER CHEQUES, essentially money printed on ordinary paper, were introduced in 2003, as a temporary expedient. These bearer cheques were printed in increasingly large denomination to ease critical cash shortages. Central bank press releases introduced these new notes as being "for the convenience" of Zimbabweans.
These notes were not valid for long, having short expiry dates, therefore discouraging hording ... or saving.
In August 2006 an extraordinary phenomena was observed. Zimbabweans had gone on a shopping spree, scooping up everything from luxury cars to livestock, driving price inflation even higher than before.
The loosening of wallets had been spurred not because the nation's economic crisis had ended, but rather over fears that it would get worse. Gideon Gono, the nation's central bank governor, announced on July 31 that residents had three weeks to convert their bills to a new currency that had three fewer zeros.
"From tomorrow, the 1st of August 2006, three zeroes
are being taken off every bearer cheque (bank note) which introduces a new
family of bearer cheques. That makes much more sense and I hope dollars as
well," Gideon Gono, the bank's governor said in a televised address.
"It returns to us stability and convenience and of course this is just one monetary mechanism to help make commerce and everyday life more convenient," Gono said.
Gono continued: "I am of the particular opinion that ordinary Zimbabweans must be commended for their resilience through the challenges they've had to face with the many zeroes they've had to pronounce."
These measures were ultimately aimed at punishing and sterilising the cash holding of hoarders - black market traders.
The announcement caught many people off guard.
The shopping spree was triggered by a rush to beat an August 21 deadline to swap old banknotes for redenominated Zimbabwe dollars.
During the transition, individuals were barred from depositing old notes in banks in excess of Z$100 million (R2.8 million at the time) unless they could show that they acquired the funds legitimately.
Gono said trillions of Zimbabwe dollars were stashed in homes to aid black market deals. Border patrols intercepted billions in old banknotes from black market traders trying to enter the country before the deadline.
These requirements left many holding large sums of cash, which they rushed out to convert into assets.
A Harare man was reported to have paid Z$100 billion in cash for 10 luxury cars, attracting the attention of law enforcement. Groceries in large quantity, construction materials and anything else that could in future be resold were on the shopping list.
The central bank banned all cash transactions above Z$100 million after discovering that some people were stocking anything from cellphones to sweets, just to dispose of their cash.
Gono made it illegal to travel with more than Z$100
million, yet many people had school fees of more than Z$300 million at the time.
Zimbabwe's state-owned press said police had arrested thousands of people and
confiscated trillions of old Zimbabwe dollars as they mounted nationwide
roadblocks to search for currency.
Some joked that desperation to get rid of old banknotes could drive people to offer billions for a whole village. Certainly, many bought cattle and maize at a premium from unsuspecting villagers.
These poor rural people, who had been Mugabe's biggest supporters, were swindled out of their assets by smart city people, or otherwise had their life savings confiscation or rendered completely sterile by laws they did not know about, or did not comprehend.
In Mugabe's Zimbabwe, it was not only inflation that robbed people of their savings.
Unless you were secure in your personal alliance with Mugabe, life became increasingly dangerous. For his cronies however, being one of Mugabe's thugs became increasingly profitable.
But the principle mechanism of enriching the elite is though the system of duel exchange rates. Mugabe's cronies have access to foreign currency at the official exchange rate. This allows them to purchase dollars at the official rate of Z$250 to the US-dollar, selling it on the black market at over Z$3000 to the dollar.
This arbitrage position, legislated and administered by Mugabe, allows his cronies to effectively print money and has the effect of transferring vast amount of value away from other holders of the Zim dollar, to themselves.
The article by Cathy Buckle, titled, "Letter from Zimbabwe", best describes the way these people flaunt their wealth and power, and continue to plunder the economy.
She describes the scene where Mugabe's cronies coordinate with criminals and police to exploit the latest laws declared by Mugabe, to enrich themselves:
"Zimbabwe has been engulfed in a macabre and tragic frenzy this week and frankly, it beggars belief. Across the country what has been called a "Taskforce" has been unleashed by the government to force shop owners and businesses to cut their prices by 50%.
"Outside a major wholesaler, groups of young men stood around waiting for the "militia taskforce" to arrive so that they could buy up everything as the prices were slashed. The car park was nearly full of luxury vehicles - pajero's, twin cabs, SUVs. even a Lexus - all filled with men talking incessantly on cellphones and women in tight jeans and artificial hair - their vehicles already bulging with "slashed price" goods, many pulling trailers also stuffed to overflowing."
What Mugabe has demonstrated, in the extreme, is how GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION per se are the policies of stealth - the processes designed to surreptitiously siphon value away, for the ultimate benefit of those in power. The example of Robert Mugabe's regime should focus our minds on the dangers of ARBITRARY AND DISCRIMINATIVE PRICE FIXING, in whatever form, be it interest rates, exchange rates, subsidies or discounts, or any other discriminative interventions into the workings of the market. The suffering of the people of Zimbabwe should teach us the inevitable dangers of discriminatory laws, as these inevitably facilitate favouritism and nepotism, and all kinds of preferential arrangements that constitute state abuse by a powerful elite.
And finally, as you know, no lesson in economics can be complete before us have considered the "trickle down" effects. As our economists always hasten to remind, what goes up must come down and creating a rich elite, through policies like BeEEeee and other, do eventually trickle down to benefit the grass roots.
The Sunday Times (of London) tells of a young teacher who prostitutes her body to Mugabe's thugs to simply earn enough money to survive.
"There, she sits at the bar in clubs, waiting for a proposition. There is no shortage of takers.
"Ministers," she whispers, "or Zanu big men."
"While the vast majority of Zimbabweans are struggling, to survive on less than R15 a week - "We're not even have-nots," she says, "we're have-nothings" - these paunchy men in striped suits knocking back shots of malt whisky are finding that things have never been so good.
"Not only government ministers and officials from the ruling Zanu-PF party, but also top police and army officers and High Court judges have been cleverly woven into Mugabe's patronage system, benefiting hugely from his despotic rule.
"Many have been allotted property that was violently seized from white farmers. But their real wealth comes from access to foreign exchange at less than 1000th of the rate on the streets.
"This enables them to buy expensive vehicles such as the Hummers, S-class Mercedes' and Toyota Prado's that fill the hotel car park - one of which will whisk her to a lodge on the edge of town."
* Jack is a regular member of the Moneyweb community
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: July 16, 2007
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Monday he had hoped
to hear of progress by now in South African-led mediation to resolve the
crisis in neighboring Zimbabwe, amid concerns talks had broken down.
"I had heard that the two sides were aiming for June 30 as being D-Day. June
30 has come and gone," the Nobel peace laureate said at a South African
Council of Churches national conference.
Tutu, who once described Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as "a cartoon
figure of an archetypical African dictator," recently lambasted African
leaders over their silence about the brutal treatment of democracy activists
The outspoken advocate for human rights was more guarded in his remarks
Tutu said he was saddened and disturbed by the deteriorating situation in
the country where recent government ordered price cuts of at least 50
percent have led to acute food shortages and only exacerbated the country's
"It's just awful. We, the churches can say nothing else other than it is
unacceptable. We hope that those representing us politically are aware of
our own anguish and will act from that particular perspective," he said.
Zimbabwe, which gained independence from Britain in 1980, once had one of
the most diversified, vibrant economies in southern Africa. Its current
decline, marked by inflation of 4,500 percent - unofficially 9,000 percent -
had been linked to confiscation of farms from whites that started in 2000.
Tutu's subdued remarks followed a rare statement from the South African
government about its efforts to persuade Mugabe's party and his main
opposition to work together toward a solution. South Africa dismissed as
untrue weekend reports that talks had collapsed.
"Nothing is further from the truth," Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie
Mamoepa said Sunday.
President Thabo Mbeki was mandated by the Southern African Development
Community to head talks between the Zimbabwean government and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.
South Africa's Sunday Times reported that Mugabe had dumped Mbeki as a
mediator and ordered his two key negotiators, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas
Goche, to boycott negotiations that were supposed to have taken place in
Pretoria last week.
Mamoepa said Mugabe's delegation did not attend discussions "due to prior
No new date has been set for talks to resume. SABC radio reported that Mbeki
is expected to give a report on the mediation to a SADC summit in Zambia
In a joint statement Monday, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union called "upon the Zimbabwe government to
admit there is a crisis, call off their short-term populist actions and
actively cooperate with the SADC process."
"Already that intervention by SADC has been frustrated by Mugabe," said
Zwelinzima Vavi, COSATU General Secretary.
"The South African government should not delay in convening a special SADC
meeting to say that we are getting no cooperation whatsoever from one of the
equation. So we remain very, very worried about the pace of those
interventions, of those negotiations," he said.
The labor bodies also demanded a summit of government, labor and business in
Zimbabwe to "solve the crisis of empty shelves and food shortages caused by
price cuts and the hunger this is causing".
Meanwhile, Tutu, regarded as South Africa's moral conscience, addressed the
country's high crime rate, which sees nearly 53 people killed each day and
52,617 women raped a year.
"Why have we seem to have lost a reverence for human life? Why are we
seeking to sabotage our nation?" Tutu said at the churches' meeting.
Tutu, who was a tireless anti-apartheid campaigner and headed the country's
Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help South Africa come to terms with
the past, said crime and poverty were major issues and urged citizens to
tackle them in ways that built unity and were not divisive.
But "considering where we come from, the stability we have in the country is
miraculous and government must be commended," he said.
Associated Press Writer Amy Jeffries contributed to this report.
From The Cape Times (SA), 16 July
Harare - South African mediators have told Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party
and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to use a draft
constitution drawn up three years ago to iron out differences. Justice
Minster Patrick Chinamasa and Labour Minister Nicholas Goche have now had
four rounds of negotiations in Harare with the two MDC factions'
secretaries-general, Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube, the last six days ago,
to find and solve sticking points. The draft constitution was negotiated in
secret between Zanu PF and MDC in 2004 and was then thrown out by President
Robert Mugabe. Nevertheless, according to informed sources in Pretoria,
President Thabo Mbeki has believed ever since that the draft constitution
was the basis for a political settlement. The MDC has also been asked to
isolate its objections to the contentious press law, the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the Public Order and Security
South African political sources said Pretoria would come up with
"confidence- building" measures for the government in Harare to implement,
ahead of the second round of mediation. The MDC cannot hold rallies in the
main urban areas, even if it had the funds and staff to do so, since most of
its party workers, particularly in Harare, have been severely beaten and are
in hiding. The negotiations are continuing, but Pretoria believes there will
be major sticking points in the draft constitution now back on the table,
which will not be resolved in Harare, and will have to be resolved by a next
round of mediation. Zanu PF failed to send its mediators to the second round
in Pretoria on July 7, claiming they had to attend to outstanding business
from a scheduled Central Committee meeting.
Shortly before the meeting Mugabe made it clear that he saw no reason for a
new constitution. But informed sources say Mugabe is not pulling out of the
mediation process now. "He is gambling. He will see if anything comes up
that he thinks will be good for him. When he has the detail, and if there is
nothing he likes, he will pull out then, not now, as he is not sure what is
coming," said a South African political source at the weekend. Meanwhile in
Harare, several South African or other foreign-owned companies have decided
to abide by the government imposed price cuts of 50%. "They believe the
least damage will arise by implementing price cuts, however much it costs,
rather than face nationalisation," said a prominent businessman in Harare
who asked not to be named. "So South African head offices will just write
off the debts, hoping that there is political change..."
16 Jul 2007 15:39:00 GMT
Blogged by: Nina Brenjo
The impact of Zimbabwe's sky-rocketing inflation isn't all bad, as it seems
to be bringing down HIV rates, the Washington Post reports.
Inflation of more than 4,500 percent means bread, milk and other provisions
are out of reach for many citizens. But so is maintaining a mistress,
visiting a prostitute or keeping a second, or even, a third wife. That's a
key reason why Zimbabwe has seen a significant fall in HIV rates in the last
few years, the Post says.
"Those extramarital relationships, they're getting tough to sustain," it
quotes Thomas Muza, a maths teacher who's finding it harder and harder to
provide both for his wife and his mistress on his salary.
The closed nightclubs, brothels and cinemas in the capital Harare are being
taken over by churches and filling up fast with "financially troubled
newcomers seeking divine solace", says the Post.
"(Having more than one sexual partner) is by and large now the preserve of
the wealthy... It's hard enough to look after number one," pastor Elliot
Mandaza of New Life Covenant Church in Harare tells the paper. "Being poor
and being in love does not really work, no matter what the romantics say,"
adds Godfrey Woelk, an epidemiologist working at the University of Zimbabwe.
The theory that high levels of poverty boost HIV rates has been the accepted
view amongst AIDS researchers. And, undoubtedly, AIDS in Zimbabwe is still a
big problem, with one in five adults infected with the HIV virus. But
Zimbabwe's case of worsening poverty and declining HIV trends questions that
And it's not just Zimbabwe: in South Africa and Botswana, development
progress and greater funding to tackle for the disease haven't translated
into a drop in HIV rates.
It's hard to know if Zimbabwe's economic crisis will get so bad it could
bring an end to new HIV infections. But life is getting tougher by the day.
Mugabe's recent order for businesses to slash prices means retailers are
selling their goods for less than what they paid for them, says Britain's
Guardian. Food, clothes, electronics and many other products have been
cleared from store shelves, since their value has plummeted. Petrol has
disappeared from gas stations, which were forced to sell it for 23p (34 euro
cents) - less than what they had to pay to the state-owned seller.
There are fears this move may soon result in the government's takeover of
companies and factories. "Factories must produce. If they don't, we will
take you over... We will seize the factories," the paper quotes Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe as saying.
Not so easy when electricity and running water are unavailable for most of
the day, argues Britain's Economist magazine.
But as in all similar crises, the black market is flourishing. There you'll
find most of the goods now missing from the stores - but at much higher
prices. For some, this is a profitable source of income. But economic
hardship has driven many more - some 3 million - out of the country, mainly
to neighbouring South Africa.
The Economist quotes a local businessman who's predicting the system will
collapse in six months' time, followed by a revival as the continent's
fastest-growing economy. "Then again, we have been saying this for years,"
he tells the paper.
Mon Jul 16, 9:52 AM ET
LONDON (AFP) - The University of Edinburgh confirmed Monday that it had
withdrawn an honorary doctorate awarded to Zimbawe's president Robert Mugabe
in 1984, because of concern over his human rights record.
The decision -- the first time the British institution has taken such a step
since it was founded in 1583 -- was confirmed Monday after Mugabe failed to
meet a weekend deadline to file a written appeal, a spokesman said.
The University of Edinburgh's senate, its highest decision-making body,
began the process last month to strip Mugabe, 83, of the honour given for
his services to education in Africa.
"We have not heard back so we have formally agreed today (Monday) he's no
longer got an honorary degree," the spokesman said. "We will send a final
letter to confirm that once and for all."
Zimbabwe had already dismissed the decision as "meaningless".
When the honour was bestowed on him, the university recognised Mugabe as a
great figure of modern Africa and a talented statesman with a strong
But a campaign by politicians and students grew recently as he came under
fire for his human rights record.
The European Union imposed a travel ban on Mugabe and more than 100 people
closely linked to his regime after the Zimbabwean leader won elections in
2002 that international observers said were rigged and marred by
The president has also been slammed for leading the once-model economy into
ruin and trampling on democracy and human rights. The southern African
nation currently has the world's highest inflation rate.
Portugual, which currently holds the rotation presidency of the EU, has
hinted that Lisbon might exceptionally invite Mugabe to December's European
African nations such as South Africa, have objected to the ban imposed on
Mugabe and his fellow Zimbabweans.