Tuesday 17 July 2007
By Tsungai Murandu
HARARE - The international community will have to inject up to US$10 billion
to revive Zimbabwe and stop the current slide of what was once one of Africa's
economic beacons, according to an international think-tank.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said in a report released last week
that southern Africa alone would be unable to shoulder the burden of
resuscitating the comatose Zimbabwean economy, estimating that it would take
between US$5 billion and US$10 billion over the next five years to
effectively put the economy back on track.
The EIU reported in the wake of reports that Zimbabwe's southern African
neighbours had hatched a plan to extend the monetary union covered by the
stronger South African rand so that it also included Harare.
The reports were denied by the South African and Zimbabwean governments as
well as by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) under whose
aegis the rand rescue package was supposed to be implemented.
"It is also questionable whether South Africa, currently running a
current-account deficit of six percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and
faced with very high levels of poverty and unemployment, could take on the
financial burden of bailing out Zimbabwe," the EIU said.
The think-tank noted that the reported rand bail-out package would have
required convergence of macroeconomic indicators such as inflation.
"Bringing Zimbabwe into the rand monetary area, shared by South Africa,
Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, would involve harmonising currencies from
countries where the inflation rate ranges average around six percent (South
Africa) and 5 000 percent (Zimbabwe)," the think-tank said.
The EIU said any SADC rescue plan for Zimbabwe was bound to fail unless
there was a major change in policies in Harare.
It cited the ongoing campaign against businesses by the Harare authorities
in which more than 2 000 businesspeople have been arrested for failing to
comply with the government's "price rollback" order as a stopgap measure
that would have to be backed by more solid policies.
President Robert Mugabe has during the past three weeks ordered prices to be
rolled back to mid-June levels in a move targeted at reining in runaway
inflation now estimated at more than 5 000 percent.
Manufacturers have responded by stopping production, prompting the ageing
Zimbabwean leader to threaten to nationalise any companies that close down
or retrench staff.
"As the supermarket shelves empty, goods disappear from the warehouses and
fuel becomes increasingly unobtainable, the government will have to think
again," the EIU said.
Zimbabwe is suffering a debilitating economic crisis that is highlighted by
the world's highest inflation rate, a rapidly contracting GDP, the fastest
for a country not at war according to the World Bank and shortages of
foreign and fuel.
Mugabe - 83 and seeking another five-year term in 2008, which will take his
reign in the southern African country to more than three decades - denies
that his policies are responsible for the economic meltdown and instead says
he is being sabotaged by the west to punish him for seizing white-owned
farms to give to landless blacks. - ZimOnline
Tuesday 17 July 2007
By Menzi Sibanda
BULAWAYO - Authorities in Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo say
they are considering limiting water supplies to residents to once every
three days, in a development highlighting worsening drought in the city and
an acute economic crisis that has crippled efforts to improve water
President Robert Mugabe's government, accused by some of neglecting the
opposition-supporting Bulawayo, says it has failed to build a pipeline to
draw water from the Zambezi river because of lack of funds as Zimbabwe
grapples a severe economic crisis that has seen inflation nearing 5 000
percent, pushing costs beyond budget.
Bulawayo spokesman Phathisa Nyathi said in a report released at the weekend
that water levels in the three dams supplying the city were dropping at an
The city, tucked at the heart of the arid Matabeleland region, normally
draws water from five dams but two have been decommissioned due to low water
levels and two more dams are set to be decommissioned in two months time to
leave the city of more than 1.5 million people depending on just one dam,
according to Nyathi.
He said: "The situation will deteriorate further when Inyankuni Dam is
decommissioned in October. At that point the city will get a paltry 46 000
cubic meters a day. Current average daily consumption is around 120 000
"With Insiza dam as the only source of water, there will be a huge deficit.
Water may be supplied only once every three days."
Nyathi did not indicate whether factories and other businesses would also be
limited to getting water only once in every three days, a situation that
could quicken the collapse of industries that are already facing immense
viability problems due to a hostile operating environment and government
Domestic consumers in Bulawayo already have to face long and daily water
cuts, lasting as long as 10 hours.
Nyathi said the city council would attempt to sink boreholes across the city
to help ease water shortages but ruled out the immediate construction of new
dams or refurbishing existing ones because of lack of resources.
The worsening water crisis is only an addition on a long list of hardships
that Bulawayo residents like other consumers across the country have become
accustomed to as the country grapples with a severe economic recession
described by the World Bank as the worst in the world outside a war zone.
In addition to hyperinflation, the economic meltdown is also seen deepening
poverty, shortages of food and just about every basic survival commodity. -
†††††††††† Tuesday 17 July 2007
By Own Correspondent
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwean and South African labour leaders on Monday called
on President Robert Muagbe to abandon populist policies and cooperate with
regional governments to save Zimbabwe from collapse.
In a joint statement issued after a meeting in Johannesburg, the Congress of
South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) also called for the Harare administration to conduct free and
fair polls next year in line with a regional protocol on elections.
"We want a democratic process, involving civil society, to draw up a new,
progressive constitution and free and fair elections in line with SADC
(Southern African Development Community) protocols," they said in the
Zimbabwe, which is grappling with its worst ever economic crisis, holds key
presidential and parliamentary elections next year, which the main
opposition party has warned it could boycott unless the country adopts a new
constitution to guarantee free and fair polls.
Mugabe has said there is no need to change Zimbabwe's constitution and last
week representatives of his governing ZANU PF party failed to turn up for
talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party chaired
by the South African government and at which constitutional reforms top the
South African President Thabo Mbeki was last March asked by SADC leaders to
spearhead efforts to resolve Zimbabwe's eight-year political and economic
crisis by facilitating dialogue between ZANU PF and the MDC.
Pretoria said at the weekend the dialogue between the two Zimbabwean
political parties is still on course despite ZANU PF's failure to turn up
COSATU secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi said a total collapse Zimbabwe's
economy would have dire consequences for the entire region.
"We are worried that if this (SADC-led dialogue) all fails the Zimbabwe
economy will collapse completely, with dire consequences for the poor of
that country and our region as a whole," Vavi said.
The COSATU leader said for example, about 5 000 Zimbabweans were being
arrested every week while trying to cross into South Africa. There would
however be no way of stopping a whole tide of refugees marching into South
Africa in the event of a total collapse in Zimbabwe, he said.
The two unions demanded an immediate meeting between the Harare government,
labour and business to find ways to solve the crisis of empty shelves, food
shortages and hunger.
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 possible economic collapse.
Meanwhile South Africa's official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has
called for camps to be set up along the border with Zimbabwe to shelter and
feed multitudes of refugees expected to flock into South Africa as the
situation in Zimbabwe deteriorates.
"If government takes its humanitarian duties seriously (it should)
immediately begin to investigate setting up refugee camps in order to assist
the people from Zimbabwe who so desperately need our help," the party said
in a statement.
It is estimated that three million Zimbabweans are already living inside
South Africa, most of them illegally.
The DA said the South African government should begin mobilising assistance
from the international community to feed and care for Zimbabwean
efugees.† - ZimOnline
Tuesday 17 July 2007
By Mandla Sithole
HARARE - The past week has been both scary and exciting in the world of
Scary because every time I see hoards of people scrambling for something in
short supply I fear that people will end up fighting for whatever is
available and excited because for the first time in my life I am
experiencing a fairy tale of goods being sold at unbelievable prices.
I have over the past few months watched prices spiral at a maddening speed
and in just a few days the prices fell with a huge THUD!
I have not benefited from this bounty but I have friends and relatives who
have been at the right place at the right time and they walked away with
goods they would never have even thought of buying a month ago.
Maybe some people are just born lucky or they are more street-wise. Since
the price control squad was born, I have tried to stake out one shop after
the other but have been unlucky. They never show up when I am there.
I am not sure I would be able to walk away with anything if the "price
police" showed up while I am in the shop anyway, because I am not used to
pushing and shoving which is an important ability in these times of shopping
You need to be able to shove people without feeling guilty and you should be
the kind of person who can even snatch a packet of salt from someone and
walk away as if it is the most normal thing.
If you want to be successful during this current shopping craze you have to
develop a thick skin and become the kind of person that your family would
Forget about being highly educated or having a posh job when you set foot
into a bargains enriched zone.
Zimbabweans have patience! Some people wait in queues for hours just to get
anything they can lay their hands on. What beats me is the madness that
seems to overcome these bargain shoppers.
Why does a housewife who wants to feed her family need to buy three cooler
boxes, several bread bins?
Someone walks into the shop and buys three cartons of sugar, split into two
kilogramme packs and immediately sets up shop somewhere close-by and starts
re-selling the sugar.
Yes prices had become a nightmare but can someone tell me why, when the
prices are slashed we have groups of people buying anything between four and
ten DVD players per person?
Is someone running their own business empire somewhere?
Years ago one would walk into a shop and find packets of sugar on a shelf
and you would buy what you needed. Now the shops open a window and sell
sugar in cartons to black marketers.
The shops have helped create the shortages by making it hard for working
people to buy sugar or cooking oil. Unemployed people who can wait in queues
for hours have become major associates of the shops.
And these people always know when the sugar, mealie-meal or cooking oil will
When the prices were slashed there should have been a requirement to the
effect that no one was allowed the privilege of buying out the whole shop.
We have career shoppers who are now following in hot pursuit of the price
control squad and buying everything in sight. Where are they taking all that
stuff? It can not possibly be for their own consumption!
If these people are not stopped we will end up like some of those countries
where goods are found at dusty markets and shops belong to the past. And
where are these people getting the money?
Are we creating "up-market" roadside stores that will just continue to
squeeze the poor?
Everyday people complain about low salaries but prices get slashed and you
suddenly have hoards of people splashing millions of dollars in non-basic
commodities. Yes buy a plasma television if you must but do you need to buy
There is something askew with our priorities. Mothers who normally complain
about the price of meat are now more interested in buying snacks and
Someone I know was right behind the price control guys when they visited one
of the Bata shoe shops in the capital. She said she just grabbed anything in
sight and worried about sizes later.
At Edgars' stores, she bought clothes that her children could never wear
because they are too small but she just wanted bargains. She is going to
resale the stuff, that much I am certain of.
People who might have needed those shoes and clothes, people who a month ago
could no longer afford those same products could have benefited were it not
for a few greedy people in our midst.
I am worried about at the ripple effect of the price controls. Employees are
shopping their employers.
Customers are making good use of the hotline numbers published in the State
daily to tip off the price control unit. At this rate no one can trust the
I hope once we are all shopped out we can still find more goods in the shops
and that we are not going to end up with an even bigger number of unemployed
Most shops have bare shelves and refrigerators have not been restocked.
Goats and sheep are selling fast as people panic. Mobile phone shopping has
been taken to dizzy heights as people inform each other about what is
If you are fortunate enough to have extra cash on you, you buy basics that
you can lay your hands on. Forget about choice because there is just no time
for that. You dither, you lose.
If you are like me who watches helplessly when others are using all they
have to get to the flour or sugar, then you have a hard time ahead.
I wonder what will happen when someone decides to buy a car and shops the
several car dealers around the country. We might start buying cars again -
well those of us who know who the price control guys are and where they are
at a particular time.
I hope before it all ends I will have managed to get a few things too. Be
Tuesday 17 July 2007
By Tanonoka Joseph Whande
GABORONE - Muammar Gaddafi is an angry man. He is impatient and frustrated.
He cannot understand why Africans are so slow in accepting a United States
Gaddafi hopes to be both midwife and father to a predictably stillborn
fantasy. I sympathise.
Gaddafi denounced the African Union as an ineffective and useless
organization. For once, I agree with him. But he can go hang!
There is so much talk, mainly from Gaddafi himself, about establishing a
'United States of Africa' and Gaddafi dreams of leading such a 'state.' It
was Kwame Nkrumah's dream too.
But that was when Africa was inhabited by humble, complying Africans. Not
If the champions of a proposed unitary African state are the seasoned and
proven dictators of the likes of Muammar Gaddafi, please stop the world
because I want to get off. And I am not the only one.
I will tell you something here and now. There is no way I would accept
Gaddafi as leader. Actually, I feel sorry for the Libyans who continue to
suffer under his despotic rule just as much as some Libyans feel sorry for
us suffering under Robert 'Pol Pot' Mugabe.
Some people are just not made out to be leaders. And, have you noticed, it's
always the dictators who want to champion people's 'freedom.'
Before we can talk about this subject, let us, please, take note of
paramount issues that need to be taken into consideration. There is just too
much work that needs to be done before we can talk about a unitary African
To begin with, who are the leaders we would put forward to lead such a
unitary state? Do we have an African who can look at Africa without seeing
borders? We don't need pretenders like Kofi Annan, people who are bent on
pleasing certain sectors at the expense of others.
Second, we have to work on a constitution that does not take anything away
from the people. Freedom of worship, for example, is not negotiable.
Third, African nations themselves are heavily polarised internally. There is
tribal discontent as some ruling leaders put their tribes above others.
There is tribal strife and inequality in many countries like Ethiopia,
Sudan, Zimbabwe, and others.
Would Botswana's Basarwa have elevated status in a United States of Africa?
And the pygmies? Would they enjoy equal status with the rest?
In Sudan, Bashir allows black people to be enslaved by light-skinned Arabs,
what will black people elsewhere think?
What will Africa's continental government do about supposedly small internal
conflicts in individual nation states (Basarwa in Botswana, Caprivians in
Namibia, the Shangaani and the San in Zimbabwe, etc)?
What will we do about western Morocco, which the Polisario Front already
calls the Saharawi Arab Republic? How can we unite when we are embroiled in
How does a fragmented nation become part of a whole?
In addition to tribal loyalties, African nations were polarised during
colonial times so much that we now mostly dwell on our differences and not
our similarities. How much influence will petrol dollars have on poorer
Where will equality come from? Or, maybe, first, we might need to define
what an 'African' is. You will be surprised to find that there is no such
thing, in real terms, except "a person from Africa, especially a black
Consider, too, that the name Africa is itself not even 'African'. Africa or
Africana "refers more or is connected more to especially southern Africa."
Semantics, yes, but still, there appears to be nothing we all have in common
except residing on the same continent. And that's not enough. But I wonder,
if Gaddafi and Mubarak are Africans, am I an African too?
But it's not a question of geography. Being African means more than being on
the same continent with someone. It is a way of life.
Morocco spends more time pursuing membership in the European Union than
worrying about the African Union although it is also a member of the Arab
League. May I please call such indecisiveness 'bilateral prostitution'?
I do admit, though, that the African Union, like Gaddafi says, is a sterile
group meant to cover up for the excesses of African despots like Gaddafi
himself. He is frustrated that Africans don't want to cede authority to him.
And Mr Kuffuor has my sympathies because the African Union he leads has
nothing to do with 'African' unity or welfare of Africans. Before Africa and
its 'Africans' start thinking about a unitary state, they should first
identify themselves and clear the dense political forests in every African
They should first remove local political cobwebs that interfere with the
running of even villages. I am a pitch black African and, owing to the
colour of my skin, am a potential slave for Bashir, Mubarak and Gaddafi.
The Arabs assisted the whites and took part in the slave trade. Oh, this has
nothing to do with reconciliation. If it has, why is it that the victims are
always the ones expected to reach out and reconcile?
Okay, then. Let us start with southern Africa. Let's start with SADC. Who
would we vote for to lead the southern part of the continent or Africa
itself? Mbeki? Don't laugh, this is not a comedy.
Mugabe? God have mercy! Mogae? Why? Dos Santos? Dos who? Levy Mwanawasa?
Hifikepunye Pohamba? Bingu† Mutharika, King Mswati? Stop shaking your heads
These 'leaders' are all we have. All of them, except one, are very
uninspiring, I know, and it is a mystery why they are leaders of their
Move further up north then and you find murderers and slave traders. There
is Museveni, the lackadaisical Kibaki, the charlatan Yar'Adua and many
hardly democratic leaders.
Is Africa's best in Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Mali, Equatorial Guinea or
Tanzania? For goodness sake, where are African leaders? Don't be fooled.
Africa's fortunes will not improve by uniting.
Why should we unite anyway? And under what banner? I want to keep my
identity. My religion will be under threat too, given a particular religion's
propensity for intolerance.
We are different and all we can do is support each other's cause, if need
be. I am not going to unite with slave traders or with those Arabs and
Indians who find racism even in religion.
There is absolutely no way that would find me looking at Qaddafi as Africa's
leader. Gaddafi should stop abusing money from national coffers to promote
his idea. Even if the idea were to mature, he would not be the leader.
He is never going to rule Africa the continent. Gaddafi, like Morocco,
should channel his energies to Europe and the League of Arab states, taking
Israel in between. A united states of Africa is not going to be a child of
Africa's dictators, especially dictators like Qaddafi who are in the
It is all very well to be united. But it is not mandatory to be united with
people who do not share your vision.
What does Gaddafi wish for Botswana? In Zimbabwe, he took some of our land
and farms in exchange for petrol. Botswana must make sure your elephants
I fear that our intention to unite is being hi-jacked by ill-meaning peoples
who have no allegiance either to us or to our continent. When we unite, we
give up part of our objectives in acknowledgment of our colleagues.
It has to do with faith. Unity is compromise and when we compromise, none of
us get what we wanted in the first place. Our wishes are replaced with
trust, hope and promises.
I now hear about unity, as in a 'United States of Africa.' Unity does not
mean stupidity on the part of black Africans.
*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean writer.
Mon 16 Jul 2007, 18:59 GMT
BERLIN, July 16 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday
urged Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to change course to end poverty and
famine, saying he was concerned about the damage being done to the country's
people and economy.
"We are very clear about the damage being done to Zimbabwe by the actions of
President Mugabe," Brown said at a joint news conference with German
Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"We are very worried about the safety of civilians in Zimbabwe and we are
very worried about the damage being inflicted on the economy of Zimbabwe by
the decisions that are being made.
"We call upon the president to change course, and we call on him to respect
the civil liberties of the people of Zimbabwe. We call on him to end what
has been a disastrous period of poverty and in many cases famine," said
Brown, a former finance minister.
Once viewed as southern Africa's bread basket, Zimbabwe, a former British
colony, is suffering a political and economic crisis with soaring inflation,
estimated at 4,500 percent, and food and fuel shortages.
The government has embarked on a price freeze programme, backed by police,
forcing thousands of businesses to sell bread, milk and other goods at
Shops are empty of basic foodstuffs and gas stations have run dry after a
spate of panic buying. The crisis has renewed fears the Zimbabwean economy
Critics point to a range of policies by Mugabe's government which have
damaged the economy, including the forcible redistribution of white-owned
commercial farms to landless blacks, often ill-equipped to use the land.
Zimbabwe's main opposition party accuses Mugabe of vote rigging to stay in
SW Radio Africa (London)
16 July 2007
Posted to the web 16 July 2007
Residents in Harare's high-density suburbs, including Mufakose, Budiriro,
Kuwadzana, have reported that soldiers are attacking street vendors and
confiscating their goods as they flee for safety. Reports say the uniformed
units do not announce themselves. Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa
said they arrive suddenly and start assaulting the street and market vendors
without showing any identification. This is clearly linked to the ongoing
price reduction campaign by government.
According to Muchemwa the soldiers told vendors that they must reduce their
prices if they want to continue selling on the street. But the prices they
are insisting on are so low that it makes no sense for anyone to comply.
Muchemwa gave the example of a 1kg bar of soap which street vendors were
selling for Z$280,000. The soldiers told them to reduce the price to as low
as Z$50,000. The gazetted price in the shops is Z$134,000.
Muchemwa said the vendors say this is a government ploy to wipe out the
informal market and force people to buy from government sanctioned vendors
Last week government announced new regulations requiring cross border
traders to apply for licenses in order to import grocery items. As of August
1st, cross border traders will need a license to bring in certain amounts of
grocery items from neighbouring countries. Although there is an allowance
for personal use, traders fear police and price monitoring teams will
confiscate their goods the way they have looted the shops, taking advantage
of their powerful position.
Chris McGreal in Bulawayo
Tuesday July 17, 2007
Togara Sanyatwe was buried in the sprawling West Park cemetery on the edge
of Bulawayo at 83 years of age. The granite headstone reveals nothing more
about his life but he would already have been considered an elder of his
community at the time those who now lie around him were being born.
They include Zah Zah Ngwenya, who was just 28 at the time of her death on
the same day as Mr Sanyatwe. A little further on lies Mabutho Njini, who
died a fortnight shy of his 46th birthday, but he still enjoyed more years
than Norah Manyati, who barely made it past 30.
Their graves sit at the beginning of a narrow road running through the
newest part of the cemetery. Its length is a chronicle of Zimbabwe's surging
death rate and plummeting life expectancy as political crisis and economic
collapse have fused with rampant Aids to transform the graveyards from
resting places for the elderly at the end of a full life to the premature
final stop for a generation barely out of youth.
In Bulawayo, the cemeteries are filled to the point that there is now
pressure to put two corpses in each grave.
Women in Zimbabwe live an average of 34 years and men manage just three
years more, half of the life expectancy of little more than a decade ago.
Prince Handina didn't even make that. He died at 20 years old. Plan Ndebele,
in the neighbouring grave, made it to 39.
The pair are buried just after the road passes the walled and padlocked
Muslim cemetery. Here the graves begin in January 2004. The numbers buried
each month are already rising, their ages dropping and the plots squeezed
A little further down the road, among the graves of 2005 and 2006, granite
headstones, decorated with pictures, fond messages or biblical quotations,
increasingly give way to black metal plates hand painted with white
lettering that tell no more than a name and dates of birth and death. It is
one more sign of the growing poverty as Zimbabweans struggle to survive.
One grave stands out because it has been transformed into a carefully
nurtured plot of aloes but many others are untended and unmarked, their
metal plates stolen and recycled for other uses - sometimes as coffin
Not far away is the children's cemetery, packed with bodies of those who did
not live long enough to make it to school.
At the far end of the road, where there is almost no more room to spare, the
recent arrivals are easy to spot. Multicoloured plastic flowers adorn the
freshly turned earth mounds that are almost on top of each other.
Odian Ncube is digging a new grave in front of the last resting place of
Sibonginkosi Dube, who was buried last week at the age of 30.
"We have enough for two more rows of graves before we reach the road," he
said. "Maybe they will find room somewhere else. Perhaps this whole city
will be a graveyard."
President Robert Mugabe's destruction of his own economy as he fights to
hold on to power - with inflation running above 10,000%, power and water
cuts a daily reality, shops rapidly emptying of food and the grain harvest
expected to fail yet again after the seizure of white-owned farms and
drought - has played a large part in the surging number of deaths.
Millions are underfed, weakening immune systems and bringing on Aids. Few
can afford the drugs to treat the illnesses that the disease brings on, even
if the medicines are available which, increasingly, they are not.
Many of the country's doctors and nurses have left for South Africa or
The World Health Organisation estimates that that lethal combination is
claiming 3,500 lives a week in the former British colony. The World Food
Programme says 4 million Zimbabweans, one-third of the population, will need
food aid this year.
Mr Ncube's team of diggers is making four to five new graves each day, and
that is just in one corner of one cemetery. "We work harder now. There are
many many more. Look, you can see it's different. Over there the graves are
like they used to be, a certain distance apart. Now we put them almost on
top of each other," he said.
Many of the dead are laid to rest in cardboard coffins or cloth bags. Mr
Ncube says some people come in and bury their relatives at night in the
graves dug during the day because they cannot afford the funerals or the
ubiquitous burial societies, a savings club that provides a decent funeral
for the dead if nothing for the surviving family.
The number of burials in Bulawayo is rising by about 20% each month. The
mayor, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, says the time has come when people will have to
be buried one on top of the other or not at all. He wants the city's
residents to accept two bodies in a grave or cremation, a social taboo for
"It is very real. In most cases we run away from facing reality," he told a
council meeting last week. "It is incumbent upon us to go and spread the
message on cremation and the burying in the same grave, and at the same time
continue with the fight against Aids."
Another councillor, Amen Mpofu, said the real problem was not how to bury
the dead but how to save the living. "I think the most important question we
should ask ourselves as we discuss this is why are people dying at this
rate? I think this is what we should zero in on," he said.
SW Radio Africa (London)
16 July 2007
Posted to the web 16 July 2007
Public euphoria over reduced prices has begun to turn into panic as the
reality becomes clearer. Faced with long queues and empty shelves,
Zimbabweans are quickly waking up to the fact that the government's forced
price reductions have destroyed business, as predicted by experts.
Government's Operation Dzikisai Mitengo (reduce prices) was welcomed by
consumers three weeks ago when businesses were first ordered to reduce
prices by 50%.
By the time the regulations were published by government a week later
specifying profit margins, most shelves in the shops were empty of basics.
Cooking oil, soap, sugar and bread were nowhere to be found. The shortage of
fuel created a transport crisis and Zimbabweans began to suffer the
consequencies of this latest government induced crisis. Critics say it has
been just a ploy to get support ahead of the elections next year, in the
face of growing discontent caused by the hyperinflation. Thousands of
business executives have been arrested and many large shops such Jaggers
Meanwhile people bought everything in sight over the weekend and electronic
goods were extreme popular. Widescreen televisions sold like hot cakes, some
for as low as ¬£20. Fearing arrest for failing to comply with government
regulations shop owners reduced the price of all electronic goods. But by
Monday many shops had nothing left and queues had become longer than ever.
Suddenly consumers were worried.
It is believed the directors of many large super stores have decided to
close their stores while they assess the damage so far and work out a way
forward. Police are also accused of joining in the looting. The Makro shop
at Woodlands in Bulawayo closed after massive looting took place there. Our
Bulawayo contact Zenzele said he witnessed police looting there on Frida, as
a journalist from the government owned The Chronicle newspaper took photos.
He was arrested and later released after an editor from the paper showed up
to defend him. Other contacts told us a police truck was seen on the
Plumtree road loaded with furniture and headed for the Donnington Police
Station. Police involvement in looting has been documented on several
††††† By Patience Rusere
††††† 16 July 2007
University of Zimbabwe authorities have defied a Harare high court order to
readmit to campus housing thousands of students it evicted on 30 minutes
notice last week.
University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Levy Nyagura issued a statement in
the Sunday Mail, a state-run newspaper, saying the displaced students would
face automatic expulsion if they were found anywhere near campus residences.
The high court issued an order late last week for the students to be allowed
back into university residences, and authorities initially agreed to let
female students back in, saying residences for men were uninhabitable
following student protests.
But it subsequently reneged on its commitment and Nyagura reportedly told
students that they should put up at the high court if they had nowhere else
About 5,000 students were evicted July 5 following demonstrations against a
fee hike of Z$1 million levied to meet additional expenses due to a
Attorney Rangu Nyamurundira of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
counsel for the evicted students, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that that he has asked the court to find Nyagura in
††††† By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
††††† 16 July 2007
Zimbabwean government officials applauded the departure on the weekend of
U.S. Ambassador Christopher Dell, an outspoken critic of Harare, saying they
hoped the end of his tenure might lead to improved relations with the United
Following what many observers describe as three turbulent years, Dell is
headed for Afghanistan to serve as deputy chief of mission to Ambassador
William Wood. The White House and State Department have not said who will
succeed him in Harare.
Dell's departure has been the occasion of many a barb in the
state-controlled Herald newspaper, which reflected the rocky and at times
overtly hostile relations between Harare and Washington, and Dell's
outspoken criticism of the ZANU-PF government and President Robert Mugabe,
who once invited the envoy to "go to hell."
Dell left Zimbabwe on Saturday without officially taking leave of Mr.
Mugabe, saying that under the circumstances such a gesture would have been
The relationship was problematic from the outset: Harare was already
accusing the U.S. government of seeking "regime change" in Zimbabwe, and
things went downhill from there to the point where Dell acknowledged that
the relationship had iced over.
Activist and human rights lawyer Brian Kagoro told reporter Ndimyake
Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that relations were tense even
before Dell came on the scene, and worsened as the country slid deeper and
deeper into crisis.
Harare took exception in particular to public statements by Dell placing the
blame for the crisis squarely on the ruling party, the government and Mr.
Mugabe, alleging gross misgovernance and corruption, at one point
threatening him with expulsion.
Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu did not mince words in
describing Harare's distaste for Dell, calling him the worst envoy Harare
had ever accredited.
While Ndlovu and other Harare officials said Dell broke diplomatic protocol
by overtly criticizing the government, others said his interventions were
appropriate and timely.
International affairs expert Robert Rotberg, a professor at Harvard
University's Kennedy School of Government and head of an institute on
intra-state conflicts, credited Dell with raising global awareness of
conditions in Zimbabwe.
Rotberg said Dell's course was appropriate in light of Zimbabwe's situation.
Ambassador Dell was not available for comment prior to his departure.
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 07/17/2007 07:39:22
ZIMBABWE'S Attorney General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele returned to work on Monday
after a reported fall-out with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Ndebele went on leave under a cloud of speculation about his future.
Speculation was rife within the legal fraternity that the AG was considering
quitting following reports that Chinamasa was working on a proposed
legislation that would see the minister also being the AG, in addition to
his ministerial duties.
Efforts to speak to Gula-Ndebele Monday were unsuccessful, his officials
saying he was in meetings.
His secretary did, however, confirm that the AG had returned to work.
Ndebele and Chinamasa are said to have clashed after the AG's office okayed
the minister's prosecution last year on charges of attempting to defeat the
course of justice.
A magistrate cleared Chinamasa in the case in which he was said to have
bribed war veteran James Kaunye to withdraw his testimony against National
Security Minister Didymus Mutasa's campaign manager, Albert Nyakuedzwa.
Nyakuedzwa was later sentenced to three years for assaulting Kaunye.
Chinamasa, who is also the leader of the House of Assembly has hit back
against Gula-Ndebele by throwing away the Attorney General's Office Bill
that would have given the AG autonomy from his ministry.