Reuters, Wednesday July 18 2007
HARARE, July 18 (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe said on Wednesday that
Zimbabwe's military had rejected British encouragement to stage a coup and
warned his government would press ahead with a price blitz that has left
shop shelves empty.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, also mocked one of
his critics, Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, saying he needed prayers
after being sued for adultery on Monday.
The veteran Zimbabwean leader accused London of continuing to seek ways to
topple him, suggesting that Britain had tried to encourage a coup in
exchange for helping the country, which is mired in a deep political and
"They (the military) have refused to be tempted to go against their own
people," Mugabe told thousands of people at the National Heroes Acre shrine
in Harare during the burial of a senior army officer.
"The British thought that because of the suffering here there would be a
coup. They were dangling the coup as if it were a cake ... but they (the
military) were able to distinguish the enemy's bait from true help," he
Mugabe, 83, who plans to stand for another five-year presidential term next
year, accuses the West of working with the opposition and businesses to
overthrow his government.
Critics say Mugabe has increasingly relied on the military and other
security agencies to hang on to power despite a severe economic crisis that
has seen inflation spiralling above 4,500 percent and unemployment and
poverty levels rising.
Last month the government imposed a blanket price freeze -- which
authorities intend to extend indefinitely -- after accusing businesses of
unfairly hiking prices as part of a wider plot by the West to remove Mugabe
"GNASHING OF TEETH"
On Wednesday Mugabe said the price crackdown would continue, warning
business that his government was ready for a long battle, which it would
He said former U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell, who last month
predicted Mugabe's government would collapse in six months, had failed in
his mission to implement regime change and had "run away" in defeat.
"Those who are not bringing goods to the market thinking there will be
gnashing of teeth because there will be shortages, it's not our teeth that
will be gnashing, but theirs," Mugabe said in the local Shona language to
roars of applause.
He said his government would continue to work with industry but would
intervene to make prices affordable to the majority.
Consumers have cheered the price cuts, which have fed a shopping frenzy, but
basic goods like maize-meal, cooking oil and sugar have disappeared from
shops as manufacturers are unwilling to produce at a loss.
Mugabe has said his government could seize businesses that stopped
Mugabe took a swipe at Archbishop Ncube, a leading government critic,
charging that he had broken his oath of celibacy after a man in Bulawayo
sued Ncube for having a relationship with his wife.
State media have published what they say are photos of Ncube naked and in
bed with a woman. Ncube is defending against the adultery allegation in
"You are my Archbishop and you made a vow to God, please keep your oath my
friend. Taking other people's wives, could that be a good thing?" a grinning
Mugabe said, drawing laughter from the gathering.
"Should I now be the one saying let us pray for Pius Ncube? So that he
reforms and has good morals? When I go to church I suppose I will pray for
him so that God can help him to have good morals," he added.
July 18, 2007, 19:00
SABC News has reliably learnt that members of Zimbabwe's ruling party,
Zanu(PF), have held talks with the South African government as part of
President Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts. But the President's office has
declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Mbeki met his panel of economic advisors to look at, among other
things, regional and economic integration. The advisers meet every so often
to advise the president on economic issues and - with the continent's move
towards economic integration - the economists brainstormed ways to get
A 6% growth rate appears to be imminent, but the panel is looking for a
strategy to expand the capacity of the economy to export at around 30% of
GDP. The panel believes this can address the stubborn poverty problem.
July 18 2007 at 08:25PM
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe accused his opponents on
Wednesday of trying to topple his government by undermining the economy,
saying they had failed to entice security forces into staging a coup.
"We are going through hard times, times during which the enemy is
using clandestine methods to undermine our sovereignty and he is using
economic methods because political methods he has applied are failing to
destroy the means of the economy," he said at the burial of a national hero
in the capital.
The 83-year-old, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980,
said his enemies were using "people in the economy who are pliable and
susceptible to undermine that economy on which the political strength lies".
Enemies of Zimbabwe had also failed to persuade the security forces to
rise up and stage a coup, he added.
"Those men you see wearing berets are determined to ensure the
country's security. They have refused to be tempted to go against their own
people," he said.
"The British had said there would be a coup in Zimbabwe. They were
dangling a coup as if it was a piece of cake to be licked.
"But they (the army) are able to distinguish between the enemy bait
and true assistance."
The former British colony is currently in the grip of a galloping
inflation rate that is believed to have surged well beyond 5 000 percent.
After retailers and manufacturers hiked their prices on a daily basis
in a bid to keep pace, Mugabe and his government last month order stores to
slash their prices in half, a move that has led to widespread shortages.
The president said there was need for unity between the government and
those in business whom he warned must keep their goods affordable.
"Those in business, our own people have to realise that they are not
separate entity from the rest of the people," he said.
"If they want to make profits they have got to address the issue of
treating their customers kindly, treat them well.
"The prices must be affordable prices, so that the people will buy,"
he said to widespread applause. - Sapa-AFP
By Tererai Karimakwenda
18 July, 2007
Although many ordinary shoppers may have bought a few reduced items during
the government enforced price controls over the last three weeks, the
so-called Operation Dzikisa Mitengo (Reduced Prices) has been an even
greater opportunity for the elite in the country to loot with impunity. And
those authorised to monitor the exercise have also taken advantage of their
positions and helped themselves to goods, while applying the law selectively
to their advantage.
Bulawayo based lawyer Josphat Tshuma said he noticed that some of the price
task forces appeared to have colluded with "would-be shoppers" in order to
loot expensive goods at prices lower than those stipulated by government. He
described how long queues suspiciously developed in front of certain shops
very early in the morning before they opened. This was followed by the
sudden appearance of a task force accompanied by unidentified individuals
who then forced shop owners to reduce items to ridiculous prices. The gang
that had already been waiting outside is then allowed in and they would buy
up almost everything in the shop. Tshuma said the whole operation seemed to
be well organised and described it as "military."
Shoppers are now struggling with serious shortages and thousands of business
executives were arrested, jailed and fined for failing to comply with the
new price regulations. But the powerful and well-connected chefs are
operating outside the law.
One perfect example is that of the former Zimbabwe National Army Commander
Vitalis Zvinavashe, reported in the Zimbabwean newspaper. Now a Senator
Zvinavashe is alleged to have blocked senior police officers supervising the
price crackdown from impounding 30 tonnes of cement belonging to him, which
he was selling above the stipulated price. Found stashed in a warehouse in
the Tynwald suburb of Harare Zvinavashe was selling the cement at $1,5
million a bag while the government controlled price is $150 000. An officer
involved in the case is alleged to have said: "He didn't have many words for
us, he merely ordered us to leave."
In another reported incident, Mugabe's military bodyguards have been accused
of seriously assaulting shoppers who were in a queue in Borrowdale Brook in
Harare on Tuesday. As the story goes, about 15 of the soldiers demanded to
buy groceries ahead of shoppers who had waited for more than four hours at a
Spar supermarket. The shoppers refused and chaos broke out as the soldiers
began beating up everyone with booted feet and fists. It's reported that the
supermarket belongs to the Governor of Mashonaland East and ZANU-PF central
committee member Ray Kaukonde. The governor has also been accused of
hoarding basic commodities.
Warehouses at several police stations are reported to be full of all sorts
of items confiscated from the shops. In Bulawayo, a police truck was seen
packed with furniture and heading for the local station. Our sources also
witnessed several incidents in which individuals at these warehouses helped
themselves to sugar and other scarce items that had been confiscated,
without so much as any paperwork or questions asked.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
July 18 2007 at 11:57AM
Two more police officers have been arrested in Zimbabwe for looting
goods from a shop caught in the government's price blitz, bringing to seven
the number of police and government officials arrested so far, reports said
The two police officers from the Police Protection Unit allegedly
posed as price inspectors and ordered a shop in Harare to lower the price of
DVD players to ZIM$2-million last week. They promptly bought the appliances,
the official Herald daily said.
The DVD players had already been reduced in price to $ZIM5-million by
genuine price inspectors. The two policemen managed to knock the price down
a further $ZIM3-million to the equivalent of around $ZIM14.
The two were later arrested and have been charged with extortion.
Last week four police officers were arrested in the capital Harare and
the city of Bulawayo for posing as price inspectors to try to get bargains.
Another official from the ministry of information was arrested in Harare for
ordering a shop to stay open to allow his family members to stock up on
The controversial blanket price controls were imposed on June 26 by
President Robert Mugabe's government. People have been going on shopping
sprees ever since, and shop shelves have been drained of most basic
commodities. - Sapa-DPA
Mail and Guardian
18 July 2007 05:42
Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, warned residents on
Wednesday to guard against outbreaks of disease as it was forced to cut
their water supply.
Authorities said they had decommissioned one of Bulawayo's three
remaining dams because water levels were too low, leaving in operation only
two of the five dams that supply the southern city of about one million
Bulawayo has faced water problems before but this is the first
time it has had to issue a health warning and officials said the water
shortage was likely to get worse.
"The city council is aware that water cuts may result in the
outbreak of diseases and we wish to advise members of the public to take
preventive measures," Bulawayo spokesperson Pathisa Nyathi was quoted by the
state-owned Chronicle newspaper as saying.
"Water will be available for seven hours in every two days and
during that time people are advised to fill their containers and cover them
up," Nyathi said.
Last month more than 20 children died from a diarrhoea outbreak
in a Zimbabwe mining town over a two-week period after drinking suspected
contaminated water, official media reported.
Urban areas in Zimbabwe are struggling to provide services due
to ageing infrastructure, including burst sewer pipes, and because foreign
currency shortages have hampered imports of raw materials such as water
Earlier this year several people contracted cholera in two
Harare townships after drinking contaminated water from shallow wells due to
a breakdown in municipal services.
Inflation in Zimbabwe has risen above 4 500%, the highest in the
world, while an eight-year economic recession has hit urban workers and
resulted in shortages of fuel and food. -- Reuters
Harare - Zimbabwean vice-president Joseph Msika has warned that businesses
in the country will suffer if they fail to stock their shelves with goods,
Msika, who was speaking in the east of the country, said President Robert
Mugabe's government was at war with retailers and manufacturers.
Msika was quoted by the official Herald daily as saying: "We are at war. We
will not allow shelves to be empty. Now, we will not allow it. We will do it
(crackdown on offenders) in a manner that you will squeal."
Msika's comments followed reports that some shops had stopped restocking
after the imposition of sweeping price controls.
His comments echoed those of Mugabe late last month after he promised the
business community a rough day for continuing to hike prices amid an
economic crisis marked by inflation of more than 4 500%.
Meat sold at knockdown prices
His government later sent teams of police and state agents to shops and
factories around the country to order prices cut by more than half.
As a result, shops' shelves had rapidly emptied of basic goods like sugar,
cooking oil, flour and meat, sold at knockdown prices to hordes of
Fuel stations had run dry after they were told to sell fuel at a third of
its value, and outlets for luxury goods like stoves and televisions had not
Retailers warned that at the outset they would not be able to restock their
shelves if they were forced to sell at a loss and, unsurprisingly, some
shops had closed their doors.
The Herald quoted an official from a chain of supermarkets that had closed
some of its branches this week as saying the closures were due to persistent
Nhamo Marandu, a marketing manager for the OK supermarket chain was quoted
as saying: "We have not deliberately closed down some of our outlets, but
they have been closed due to power cuts being experienced.
"We have generators, but we have no fuel, so we cannot operate."
Meanwhile, police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka confirmed on Wednesday that
3 509 shop owners and company officials had been arrested since the price
controls were imposed on June 26.
Most had appeared in court and paid heavy fines.
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
18 July 2007
Posted to the web 18 July 2007
Scarce building materials, earmarked to rehouse victims of Zimbabwe's
Operation Murambatsvina, have been diverted to other projects, including
work on a mansion for President Robert Mugabe in an exclusive suburb of the
In the winter of 2005, informal homes and markets were demolished in the
ZANU-PF government's Operation Murambatsvina, aimed at clearing slums and
flushing out criminals, but which left more than 700,000 people homeless or
without a livelihood.
Uprooted families, many of whom are now spending their third winter without
adequate housing, were told at the time to return to their rural villages,
but many who had nowhere to go, including the descendants of immigrants,
were forced into government-sanctioned resettlement camps on the outskirts
of urban centres, with no source of employment.
International condemnation followed, and United Nations special envoy Anna
Tibaijuka pointed out that the operation breached both national and
international human rights law. The government then launched Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (Operation Have a Good Life) and committed itself to
rebuilding homes and vending stalls.
A visit by an IRIN correspondent to Hopley Farm, a government camp 25km
southeast of Harare, for internally displaced people who lost their homes
during Operation Murambatsvina, found all construction activities had ground
to a halt.
Local government officials responsible for the construction of housing for
1,000 families as part of Operation Garikai told IRIN the programme had been
stopped after cement and money for workers' salaries had run out.
The officials showed IRIN a letter written to Ignatius Chombo, the minister
of local government, which read, "Please take note of the 11,150 bags [of
cement], said to have gone to President Robert Mugabe's residence in
They informed him that Operation Garikai construction activities had ceased
because "the cement was said to have been returned, when in actual fact it
was not. The cement was used in Borrowdale towards the construction of the
Mugabe is renovating the Borrowdale Brooke home of the world's former number
one ranked golfer, Nick Price; some sections of the property, such as the
security wall and workers' accommodation, are still being built.
The officials said cement destined for housing at Hopley Farm was also being
used in other projects, such as the construction of the Manyuchi Dam in
Masvingo Province, in the southeast, repairs to Harare's maximum-security
Chikurubi prison, and also for renovations to some district hospitals.
In the letter shown to IRIN, the officials pleaded with the minister: "The
families are still staying in the open. I again pray for your authorisation
for us to allocate them stands for building houses. Once again, I draw your
attention to the fact that there is no construction going on."
Chombo dismissed the reports as a ruse by government opponents. "Those are
reports fuelled by our detractors. That is untrue and very mischievous."
Winters of discontent
Josephine Banda, a grandmother caring for eight of her grandchildren, said
the last seven years had been "very traumatic". "First I was chased away
from the farm I had known as home after it was taken over by a new farmer,"
she told IRIN.
"When I had just settled down as a maid, Operation Murambatsvina was
launched, leaving me homeless and with orphans to look after. I am appealing
to authorities to sympathise with us, and to avail enough resources so that
we are housed in decent accommodation."
Dunstan Moyo, 70, a pensioner who has lived under plastic sheeting at the
resettlement camp since his home was destroyed in Operation Murambastvina,
told IRIN he was too old to be moved elsewhere and would prefer to have a
house built for him at the holding camp because, like many others, he had
lost touch with his relatives.
"I was looking forward to spending my first winter in three years in a warm
house, but that has all been dashed after cement meant for the construction
of our houses disappeared under mysterious circumstances."
Only a small number of houses have been built by Operation Garikai, but they
have also become mired in controversy. Harare governor David Karimanzira,
city mayor Sekesai Makwavarara, and Patrick Zhuwawo, a deputy minister of
science and technology and nephew of Mugabe, are awaiting to appear in court
on corruption charges for allegedly allocating houses and stands to friends.
None of the houses built so far include lavatories or potable water, and
prospective tenants have been told that the costs of installing these
facilities would have to be borne by them.
In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, municipal authorities have evicted the
beneficiaries of Operation Garikai housing, on the basis that the dwellings
could only be deemed habiltable if the government provided water and
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
18th Jul 2007 18:51 GMT
By a Correspondent
BY ridiculing the church and insulting its bishops, Zimbabwe's Catholic
president, Robert Mugabe, blamed for the country's political and economic
turmoil, has cut himself off from the Church.
That is the view of Fr Oskar Wermter, a Jesuit priest in Zimbabwe since 1966
and now based in St Peter's Mbare, a socially depressed area in Harare where
government demolitions in 2005 destroyed livelihoods and left many people
"In a very real way," President Mugabe has "effectively excommunicated
himself, that is to say put himself outside the community of the church, by
resisting the word of the church and attacking the bishops in a most
offensive, vulgar form," says Fr Wermter.
His comments are published in the current issue of the Jesuit electronic
newsletter, In Touch with Church and Faith:
"People once more demand that Mugabe be excommunicated. This is old hat. It
was mooted years ago. It was said then that this was no longer done today.
At any rate, excommunication in a strict legal (canonical) sense is a
measure applied only in certain circumstances defined by church law.
"While in the past excommunication was used against heads of governments and
leaders of nations, kings and emperors, this is extremely rare today. We no
longer live in the Middle Ages. The local bishops do not even have that
power. It would have to come from the Pope himself.
"However, in a very real way, though not technically as defined by church
law, Mugabe has effectively excommunicated himself, that is to say put
himself outside the community of the Church, by resisting the word of the
church and attacking the Bishops in a most offensive, vulgar form. At least
the constant propaganda line that he is a "practising devout Catholic" is
now shown to be false.
If he had a genuine disagreement with the Bishops why did he not invite them
to meet him and discuss the issues raised by the pastoral letter "God Hears
the Cry of the Oppressed"?
"Instead of calling for Mugabe's excommunication maybe people should do
something more positive and express their support for the pastoral letter to
the bishops and discuss the letter and what action it implies on the part of
ordinary members of the church."
Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)
SW Radio Africa transcript
Hot Seat Transcript:
On the programme 'Hot Seat' journalist Violet Gonda talks with foreign
correspondents Geoff Hill and Basildon Peta about the thousands of
Zimbabweans who nightly cross into South Africa .
Broadcast on 17 July 2007
Violet Gonda: It's reported that thousandsof Zimbabweans are crossing the
border every night as a result of the price cut crisis that began three
weeks ago. Journalists Basildon Peta and Geoff Hill who travelled to
Bietbridge border post this past week are guests on the programme 'Hot Seat'
today. Now, most of the major supermarkets in Zimbabwe are empty, causing
serious food shortages. But, while long queues of people searching for food
and fuel have re-surfaced, others prefer to cross the crocodile infested
Limpopo River in search of food and hope.
Now Geoff, let me start with you, the situation has been described as a
'human tsunami'. Can you first of all tell us or describe to us to what
extent, you know, to describe the situation in Beitbridge?
Geoff Hill: Violet, that term 'human tsunami' was given to me by a Home
Affairs officer on the border, not at Bietbridge but some way down, actually
at one of towns on the way to Bietbridge who's dealing with that area, and
that's where it came from, the phrase . I used that in a newspaper, and it
describes the situation. It is wave upon wave of people who are coming
across. And, whereas before, and for your listeners who are familiar with
the geography of Southern Africa; as most of them are; whereas before, most
people used to cross at the bottle neck of Beitbridge; legally or illegally;
maybe going a few kilometres up or down from the bridge, maybe at most a
kilometre up or down from the bridge to come across, they are now going 10,
20, 30 maybe 40 kilometres either side of the bridge and further to evade
South African patrols, to evade robbers who are waiting to prey on them, and
they are crossing. So, people are coming over on a very wide band across the
river and it's impossible to calculate numbers. But it is, in the way that
Home Affairs Officer said, it is a tsunami, it is a large number of people
moving in a giant wave across the river. I don't know if that was Basildon 's
impression when he was there as well.
Violet: I'll come to Basildon just now but I understand that only last week,
one refugee told you that the movement at night was like the sound of cattle
moving through the grass. Can you tell us more about that?
Geoff Hill: Sure, this was, the person, and I did name him, this is a man
called John Gumede with his sister-in-law, Khayisa I think was her name, and
they were from Bulawayo , and moving through the night across a farm. They
had walked all the way from Louis Trichardto avoid, which is about 110 kmsor
so from the border, to avoid government patrols because if you come onto the
tar road you very often get picked up by the patrols. And John said that it
was, there was no moon that night; this was just last week, early last week;
and moving down through one of the farms, he could hear people. Initially he
thought it was cattle moving and then he realised it was other people moving
through the bush on either side of him. He didn't see them, it was just him
in his small party and his sister-in-law, but he said it sounded like cattle
moving through the grass; very quiet but very steady moving forward. The
sound of human movement in the silence of the night. There's one farmer I
spoke to further down the river, he's got a game farm. He estimates that
between 80 and 100 people are crossing his property, just one property,
Violet: And in terms of the rest of the area, how many people are moving
Geoff Hill: Violet, we've no idea, we've no idea. We're talking about it's
in the dark, it's in the bush, a limited number have been picked up by Home
Affairs. And, unless Basildon has had better luck than I've had, I know I
tried, I know Peter Fabricius tried, Andy Meldrum tried. Home Affairs are
refusing to come up with any kind of number other than to say 'it's business
as normal'. Well, it's not just business as usual or business as normal.
There has been a huge serge in numbers but nobody's willing to put a figure
Violet: We'll come to that issue later on but Basildon , in the past, many
of the people who fled the country were political refugees. Is what you saw
at Bietbridge this week any different from what has been happening over the
last few years? I mean, has there been a marked jump in recent weeks?
Basildon Peta : Well, as Geoff said, I was at the border and I got the sense
that there is, indeed, a huge influx of Zimbabweans into South Africa . My
work was mainly concentrated on interviews with farmers living along the
border line, the perimeter fence dividing South Africa and Zimbabwe; the
game farmers; who say they have had to bear the greatest brunt of this
influx because the people crossing into Musina have to pass through this and
they resort to stealing, robbing to try and get money whilst in South Africa
and to proceed to Johannesburg or wherever they are going. One farmer said
his pumps, rather, the pipes, delivering water to all the water holes in his
game farm, had been cut off by people who needed water to drink and to bath
as they cross into South Africa . And, as I was interviewing one farmer
vast, vast metres of his fence were being cut off and he later phoned me to
say, after the interview, to say that 'look this is what happened when we
were talking'. I did try to ask figures, numbers, but it's very difficult.
The farmers I spoke to estimated that between 3 000 and 4 000 are jumping
the border on a daily basis, every night.
Violet: You know still on the issue of the security and integrity of the
border post, I understand that local South African gangs are actually using
some Zimbabweans to do the robbery. Are residents in the Musina area in
danger because of this?
Basildon Peta: Well, you see, Musina is a very problematic area now in terms
of crime. Everyone is complaining about crime. We know crime is a problem in
South Africa but the concentration of crime in Musina, a very small town on
a border area, is unacceptable. The allegation is, yes, there are some
Zimbabweans involved and who are used as fronts by the South African
criminal gangs, to rob people, kidnap and whatever they get they come to
surrender to these South African crime lords. I was unable to verify, to
focus on crime, how it is happening as a story, as an angle per se. But, I
think it is quite obvious that the crime around this town involves both the
Zimbabweans and the South Africans. There was a farmer, or some farmers, who
suggested that ex-military, the deserting soldiers from Zimbabwe are also
involved. I was unable to independently verify that but if you look at the
weapons that they use it all suggests that there is some kind of expertise
in the criminal activities around Musina.
Violet: Geoff what can you say about this? You've explained to us about the
humanitarian crisis at the border there, and now I understand there's this
crime crisis. What have you heard? What impact is this crisis having in the
Geoff Hill: Well, what Basildon was saying I would agree with this very
much. We went at the border together; we were a few days apart; and then
after that I went further down as far as Toyandu, down to regional centres
like Iyani. There is barely a town; I don't think there's a town in the
region that is not feeling some impact from this flow. Very remote little
hamlets that are feeling the impact of Zimbabweans coming through. There's a
combination; there is petty crime, there is theft of food, the odd theft of
cell phones, theft of bicycles; small petty crime that is taking place from
people who arrive on this side of the border literally without a cent in
South African money and a little bit of useless Zimbabwean money, who are
coming in and who are stealing in order to get the bus fare or whatever they
need to get on to Johannesburg.
And then, there are cells of organised crime, as Basildon was saying, and
the impression that I got; and it's very easy to blame South Africans and to
find a cop out for Zimbabweans; and I don't want to do that, but it does
seem that it's been organised in a way in which advantage is being taken by
South African criminal gangs to use Zimbabweans for major theft, for car
theft, for theft of pumps and theft of farm equipment. We're talking about
tens of thousands of rands worth. Handing those goods over, the Zimbabweans
then go back across the border or continue on to Johannesburg . Whatever the
case, the South Africans involved are able to set up perfect alibis at the
time that the crime took place because they didn't actually finger and lift
the property. They received the property, they sold it, they passed on money
immediately before they sold it; immediate cash payment to the Zimbabweans,
but the police were unable to touch them. Now, this is a bit of conjecture
and extension on my part, this is the nub, the feed of what I'm being told.
I have no hard and fast facts, but petty crime and big scale crime have both
increased. Not just at Bietbridge, not just at Musina, not just at
Louis Trichardt , but right across the whole band of the Northern Limpopo
province; as far as Toyandu, as far as Mafeking, as far as Giyani and almost
to the Kruger Park. So, it's a major problem.
Violet Gonda: And, as we heard that some of the farmers estimated that at
least 3 000 people are fleeing Zimbabwe every day. Now that's a lot of
people but it seems the South African government is ignoring this. Why is
the government quiet about this crisis?
Basildon Peta: If I might just intervene there, sorry Geoff.
Geoff Hill: Well Violet ifyou can find the answer to that Basildon and I
will write the story and jointly win the Pulitzer Prize! So you go and find
the answer because in the years we've been here, we haven't been able to!
Violet: And Basildon ?
Basildon Peta: I just wanted to bring to your attention the fact that a
Parliamentary Committee, a South African Parliamentary Committee headed by
Maggie Sochku (sp), who is an ANC MP and head of this committee; I think it's
called a Cluster Committee on Peace and Stability, visited the border while
I was there. I have since spoken to Sochku whom made it very, very clear
that the influx is a major problem. Her interpretation is very different
from what the South African government has been saying, or the spin that
they have been putting out. You cannot romanticise this problem; it's a
major problem according to Sochku. She said as many as 5000 illegal
immigrants are being arrested every week, that's maybe at the rate of 1000 a
day, and, she made the point that these are the only ones we are able to
catch; we don't know how many more we are not able to catch; there could be
twice or thrice than those who are caught.
So, I think to me it was very significant that you have an ANC
parliamentarian coming out and declaring how problematic this whole issue
has become. Well, what she said might not obviously cover the sentiments of
the South African government, but, because she's a ruling party MP, I think
that in itself is significant. As to why they don't want to acknowledge it
publicly, well, I think your guess is as good as mine. You know, the moment
they start acknowledging that there is this huge problem, then, the next
question is, what are you doing about it, because you have the most leverage
to rein in this Robert Mugabe fellow. And I don't think the South Africans
want to be faced with that question so they would rather underplay the
influx, as they have been doing. They say they haven't' seen or experienced
any major influx but the reality on the ground when you go there to speak to
people is totally different.
Violet : Still on that issue Basildon , you know has South Africa got the
capacity to deal with this ever increasing flood of refugees crossing the
Basildon Peta: But what capacity do they need to deal with it?
Violet: What can they do?
Basildon Peta: Well, the best they can do is to ensure they use their
leverage to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe and stop the influx. I don't
think these people who are coming, who are jumping the border, are doing
sobecause they like it. Look, there are enormous risks involved. Go to the
border there. There are these organised crime gangs that Geoff was talking
about that purport to courier people across the border or to facilitate
access. Once they take a group of would-be border jumpers and lead them
along the so called ways that will result in entry into South Africa , they
rob these people, they rape women, and they murder people. It's bad. I don't
think the Zimbabweans love taking this risk. If their country was in order,
very few people would border jump. So, if the South Africans can help
resolve the situation at home, use their enormous leverage - you and I know
very well that there is no other person in this world other than Mbeki who
can call Mugabe to order now as I speak to you, not any day longer.
Violet: And Geoff not only South Africa , but not even a word from regional
leaders. You know Mugabe doesn't even bother to pitch up for the talks and
yet Mbeki and the SADC leaders have not said anything about that. When is
SADC going to turn around and say enough is enough?
Geoff Hill: Well this, Violet, is not a uniquely African problem. If you
look in South East Asia , at Burma , you get the Indian High Commissioner,
or a Thai Minister or a Malaysian Senator on their own, and they will tell
you what a disaster Burma is. You get South American; Central American
leaders on their own; they will tell you how they wish Fidel Castro would
hurry up and die. But the Organisation of American States; with the
exception of the United States ; will not issue a statement. The South East
Asian countries will not publicly condemn Burma . It seems to be this 'we
all stand together'.
But, going back to what Basildon was saying about people coming across, I
would agree with him entirely. People are not coming here from Zimbabwe
because they hate Zimbabwe ; they don't love their country; we don't see
people from Namibia or Botswana pouring into this country. We don't see the
same level of Mozambicans; there are some; but we don't see the same level
of Mozambicans coming across, or Swazi's for that matter, or people from
Lesotho . Why is it only Zimbabwe ? It's clearly obviously because something
is rotten in the state of Mugabe land. South Africa has had this issue
before and that was during the civil war in Mozambique between Renamo and
Frelimo there were almost 2million Mozambican refugees who came into what
was Gazankulu, around Gi yani just across from Kruger National Park .
It was an enormous problem to set up camps and to look after them, and, they
went back at the end of the war. We haven't reached that stage with Zimbabwe
because there are so many Zimbabweans living in this country. With three
million Zimbabweans here, it means that every family has a sekuru or a
maiguru or a mukwasha or a brother or sister or someone who is here. So,
when people cross, they don't sit around waiting for a UN refugee camp, they
go to their relative in Bloemfontein or Nelspruit or Fofuder Pretoria or
wherever their relatives are. What's happening though, of course, the
figures that we've been talking about, it's easy to say 3000 or 4000 a
night, but do the maths. That's a 100 000 people a month, that's 1.2 million
people a year. That is at the current rate, and there's every indication
that with the problems in Zim that this is going to escalate. That in a
month or two we could be seeing 10/15 000 people a night. You've got to.
Violet: That's exactly what I wanted to ask Geoff on the issue of the
figures, that a couple of years ago it was estimated that there were at
least 3 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, and you've just said
that also. You've just confirmed that. Now, at least half a million people
are in the UK and many more are scattered in other countries. If 2 000
people are leaving Zimbabwe every day, and if at least 3000 people are dying
every week; you know from HIV/AIDS related illnesses; is it really known how
many people are left in the country?
Geoff Hill: It's not but there was a UN official who said to me a couple of
years ago when I was writing my first book and I thought this was a very
important observation, that emigration is a worse problem than HIV, and, I
said 'how can you say that?'. And she said 'well HIV takes every one
equally, it takes the poor, it takes the rich, it takes the educated and it
takes the un-educated. Emigration generally takes those who believe they can
make it on the other side, and, those are usually the people with their O'
Levels, with their A' Levels, with their skills'. That emigration takes the
cream of your population and it's a far more severe drain on the economy. So
yes, you know in 'What Happens After Mugabe,' you and I have discussed this
before and I've talked about - how are you going to re-build Zimbabwe with
your brains and your skills outside the country. But, that's another issue.
It is, however, getting worse and worse, to the point where, in a year or
two if there hasn't been change, there aren't going to be any skills left in
Violet: Do you agree Basildon , because these are business people, these are
educated families that have now been forced to leave the country and have
been made refugees in countries like South Africa ?
Basildon Peta: I do agree with all that Geoff has just said. Just to correct
you though, you said 'a couple of years back it was said there are 3 million
Zimbabweans in South Africa '. It was said a few weeks ago, I think about
two weeks ago by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs here, the South
African Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aziz Pahad. He said the
government estimates that at least 3 million Zimbabweans are living in South
Africa illegally. Let me tell you something. When I go to Rosebank, Sandton,
to a restaurant or to a shop and I want to buy anything, in most cases these
days I don't even attempt Zulu, I don't even attempt to speak in Xhosa; I
speak in Shona. And, it is heart rending to encounter all these Zimbabweans;
educated professionals who are doing these menial jobs. You have teachers
who are waiters in restaurants; you've got nurses who are doing all kinds of
funny, funny little jobs out of desperation. In Hillbrow I can tell you, I
totally speak in Shona, whoever I meet and whenever I want to ask for
directions anywhere, I speak in Shona. I think the figure of 3 million
itself is an understatement. There is a farmer I spoke to while in Musina
who said if his own counting records are correct, we could have as many as 8
million Zimbabweans in South Africa . Well, that might be a bit high, but I
would imagine he's not far off. So the question comes how many Zimbabweans
are left, or how many people are left in Zimbabwe .
Violet: Mmm, out of a population of 12 million?
Basildon Peta: out of the population, the figure they use these days is
about 12 million people. I think if there is to be a proper census; it could
be less than that. The point that concerns me is it is not about the numbers
who are left in Zimbabwe , it's about the number of educated professionals
that are left in Zimbabwe in view of the massive brain drain, I fear that
there will be no credible educated professionals who can drive the economy
left in Zimbabwe . Moreso if Robert Mugabe rigs next year's election again
and clings to power which he is likely to do. That will only cause a massive
brain drain and whoever will be left there will be people; who I must say
with due respect; won't add value to the economy.
Violet: And you know, I also wanted to ask Basildon , that how is it people
are prepared to cross the croc infested Limpopo River rather than to stay at
Basildon Peta: But, with due respect to you, Violet, how can you stay at
home where I'm told an average professional is earning a few million in
terms of Zimbabwean dollars which cannot buy you anything. Surely, I think
the obvious thing for any person to do right now in Zimbabwe is to ask
themselves how they can better themselves. And, there are no prospects;
there are no prospects whatsoever for anyone in Zimbabwe , apart from these
Mugabe cronies who are milking the country dry. The natural instinct is to
cross the border. You stay at home, as you suggest, Violet, what's next?
What are you going to do? Businesses are closing and unemployment is 80%,
inflation 5000%, there is just no prospect for any recovery whatsoever so
long as this old man remains in power. So I am actually surprised by the few
professionals I know who are still in Zimbabwe because they can get better
opportunities elsewhere, particularly those in sectors like engineering. You
know, South Africa here has a serious skills shortage and if you come here
and you are in IT or you are in engineering civil or - you can get a job
easily. South Africa has actually reserved a quota for those skilled
professionals. I am actually surprised that there are still a few that
remain in the Zimbabwe because there is no hope, nothing left for them.
Geoff Hill: Can I come in here Violet because I want to follow something
that Basildon was saying and I don't want to give listeners the wrong
impression from what I have said. You know, one thinks of this migration.
This is not like the Irish going to America , this is not like Poles coming
to the UK , and this is not a euphoric migration of going to find a new
life. And so, when I go to a restaurant, like Basildon says, and you say to
the waiter or waitress; 'where are you from?' and they say 'I'm from
Zimbabwe' and I immediately revert into Shona and I say 'unobva kupi
kumusha?' and they say 'ndinobva kwaMutare', 'Mutare papi?' and they say 'ah
ndinobva kuNyanga' and you start chatting to them and the pain in the person's
face to have found somebody that speaks their own language. And, the
conversation immediately goes, not to politics, but to home and do you have
news from home, and this is where I'm from and my mother's still there or my
cousin's from there. These are people who have come trying to selfishly find
a new life. These are people that who are here and they are living with an
emotional pain of what is going on. They are people living in emotional
misery. They are earning good money here but they are in pain over what is
happening in their homeland. I think it's important for people outside the
Zim Diaspora to understand it's not a euphoric migration. It's a forced
migration and the people who are part of it are doing it under sufferance
and when they are here they are living in the pain of what's happening in
their homeland. They are not happy about it and I think that it's very
important to note that people are not just coming here just because they are
selfishly trying to earn better money the other side of the river.
Violet: Mmm Hmm, I understand what you are saying and we see it here also in
the UK that, you know, many Zimbabweans spent most of their time at work
trying to earn a living so that they can send money back home. That's the
other question that I wanted to ask that it's estimated that exiles have
sent to Zimbabwe billions of dollars. If it wasn't for that, would it be
game over in Zimbabwe for Robert Mugabe?
Basildon Peta: Well, my position is that you see the situation under this
man, this evil man, if you may allow me to say, cannot continue as it is. I
think Zimbabweans are better off finding a quick fix solution that can bring
this regime down and then maybe start afresh because the structural damage
that Mugabe is inflicting on the economy slowly but surely, is going to be
very difficult to reverse. If something were to happen and the bastard is
out of power today, that would be the better option. Unfortunately that will
not happen soon as long as the exile community is oiling the economy. I'm
sure, in fact, you said it yourself, I don't think there is any other
serious source of foreign currency into the country other than the
remittances from the exiles and I don't have figures, I don't have
estimates, but, when Gideon Gono was doing his rounds, you know what he was
saying? He was saying if each and every ex Zimbabwean working abroad can
remit 100 US dollars the country can earn 1.2 billion dollars.
I can't remember whether he said it's on a monthly basis or a yearly basis,
but whatever it is, that money is enough to let the regime oil its patronage
system. If it was money re-invested into the country for the betterment of
the people, for importing fuel and electricity, the better. But monies going
in there and people still suffer enormously; 20 hour electricity cuts and
all those problems. So, if I had my way, I would encourage Zimbabweans in
the Diaspora to find some way of looking after their relatives at home,
either sending groceries or some other items, without necessarily sending
cash that will end up benefiting an illegitimate regime. Sorry, I am
expressing this as a personal view and not as journalist.
Violet: No, it's OK, because I wanted to, just before I go to Geoff,
Basildon I wanted to also find out from you, you mention that maybe a quick
fix solution is needed in Zimbabwe . What can you prescribe briefly?
Basildon Peta : Well, anything that can be done to bring this regime down I
would support. It's difficult to say this or that, but my position is to say
anything, anything that can be done. If South Africa can use it's enormous
leverage to reign in this regime, the better. I am even; and this is a
personal view, perspective; I even think it's better for the world to impose
comprehensive sanctions against Mugabe's regime, not the tinkering they have
been doing with the travel sanctions.
Violet: What sort of comprehensive sanctions?
Basildon Peta : Well, you know the swift system, I'm sure you use it there,
which facilitates banking transactions across the world. One good example,
as one economist has suggested here, is to exclude Zimbabwe out of the swift
system. There would be no money to benefit the regime at all. Any kind of
sanctions that can help, I must say, I would support that. Remember, I was
the first to call for sanctions in Zimbabwe in 1998 when Ray Choto and Mark
Chavanduka were tortured by the army. The rule of law was not being
respected and judges were being harassed. I was not calling for
comprehensive economic sanctions then, but some kind of sanctions which are
in place, the travel sanctions, to just voice concern, for the international
community to just voice concern at what the regime was doing. Those
sanctions are now in place and I am saying that well we can do much, much
I don't buy the argument that it is the people who will suffer. The WFP can
always continue with it's humanitarian angle but if there are sanctions that
can really cripple the regime then the better because the sanctions Mugabe
is imposing on the poor people of Zimbabwe are much, much more painful than
economic sanctions that would hurt him and his cronies. It's a personal
view, it's very controversial, it's a very unpopular view, but I insist that
anything that anybody can do with leverage, anyone with leverage, to reign
in this government today or tomorrow the better than letting Mugabe continue
in power ruining Zimbabwe as he is doing, I think it's unacceptable. We need
a new beginning and this man must go out and this is my own personal
perspective. It's tragic that the European Union is going to invite him for
Violet: In Portugal .
Basildon Peta: In Portugal this year, totally tragic. I have interviewed a
lot of Diplomats here who ask me 'what can we do, what can we do?' Here they
have an excellent opportunity to send a very strong message across to the
world that they will not fraternise with dictators, particularly wretched
dictators like Mugabe, but, what do they do? They invite the guy. They are
going to invite him, Portugal has said they will invite him, so, you see.
Violet: And Geoff, your thoughts on this? Is the Diaspora oiling the regime
and what are your thoughts on the sanctions issue that Basildon has just
Geoff Hill: Well, going to the first one, I don't think too many people are
sending money back through official channels and that's because Gideon Gono
has still got this ridiculous exchange rate where if you send money back
through the bank you get this tiny exchange rate. So, people are sending
either hard currency back into the hands of their relatives or they are
sending groceries, that's the way to do it. As Basildon was saying, rather
send groceries. I think in terms of regime change, let me give you an
analogy, you are stuck away for medical help, you have a patient who has a
rotting tooth that is causing enormous pain. You don't have anaesthetic; all
you have is a box of aspirin and a pair of dental pliers. You can continue
giving that patient aspirin day after day after day to remove the pain of
the tooth, or you can use the dental pliers without aesthetic and extract
that tooth, enormously painful, but once the tooth is out, the pain is gone
and the healing can start. I would agree with Basildon that we need to
extract the tooth. Yes, it's going to be painful for Zimbabwe but better a
short regime of comprehensive sanctions then endlessly trying to just
administer aspirin to a patient that is in agony. I think it would be much
better; and it's easy for us, both sitting outside, we are not sitting
inside the country, but, even if I was inside I would say the same thing.
Better extract the tooth, better the short sharp pain and get it over with;
you can't keep on treating a rotten tooth with aspirin.
Violet: We'll have to continue on this issue some other time, but I have one
other question that I wanted to ask Geoff on the issue of the price controls
and since you are in South Africa. Is the South African business sector
principled on this issue? You know, because we've been asking why the South
African government has been quiet about the situation in Zimbabwe. But, what
about the South African businesses?
Geoff Hill: No they haven't been silent and there has been a lot of outrage
in Business Day and in business newspapers I think those with investment in
Zimbabwe are hoping they won't be nationalised, and people have the right to
invest wherever they want to, and, if Makro want to be in Zim they can be
there, if Barclays Bank want to be in Zimbabwe, they can be there. I think
the kind of organisations you want to look at are Old Mutual who own 23% of
Zimbabwe newspapers, they are actually investing in the propaganda machine
that props up the regime. That's completely different, that's like Barclays
Bank buying defence bonds in South Africa during apartheid, which they did.
That is unacceptable and I think they will be held to account once Zimbabwe
is free, for that. But, to the rest of it, they have a right to invest and
they have a right to take whatever risks they want. But, no, business here
has been vocal and it has been complaining about the price controls but they
are trying desperately to make sure that their stocks aren't nationalised
there which could well be the next step.
Basildon Peta: I am reading an interesting letter here Violet in Citizen
Newspaper from an angry writer addressed to South African companies in
Zimbabwe like Makro and OK, SPA and others. And, he is warning them that
they face the spectre of being boycotted by South Africans angry at their
oiling of the Zimbabwe regime, as Geoff is saying. Yes, they have been
vocal, they have said a few things in the paper; only recently. But, as
Geoff said about Old Mutual, I think the South African business sector has a
moral responsibility to take a principled stand on the rights abuses in
Zimbabwe. You have the situation where companies like Impala Platinum and
others are pouring their money in Zimbabwe. Impala Platinum issued a very
offensive statement a few weeks ago saying 'oh, they are not being affected
by the crisis in Zimbabwe; their only problem is with electricity'.
These are companies which have no conscience, in my view. They put money
ahead of anything else and I would have been happier if the South African
business sector were to take a more principled stand and say 'well, we are
going to withhold our investments up until Mr Mugabe changes'. Remember
Tsvangirai warned them when he was here a while ago. He said well, the deals
you are entering into with this regime, there's no guarantee that if a new
dispensation emerges in Zimbabwe these deals will be honoured. I just hope
and pray Mr Tsvangirai will be President one of these days and implements
that threat and reverse some of these deals that these companies here would
have entered into with this regime.
Violet : Well, I would have wanted to talk about the opposition's role in
all this, but I have run out of time, so maybe one of these days I will ask
the two of you to join us again on Hot Seat, but in the meantime, Basildon
Peta and Geoff Hill; it's been a pleasure having you on this programme.
Basildon : Many thanks.
Geoff Hill: Well it's been good talking to you, I must go and take my dinner
now and, I'm actually eating chicken so I'm going to put jongwe mupoto,
vhara lid and faka moto! And that's not a political statement it's just what
I'm doing for supper.
Violet & Basildon: (Laughs)
Violet Gonda: No, thank you very much Geoff and Basildon.
Basildon : OK, tichaonana.
Comments and feedback can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
July 18, 2007, 08:45
Motlafela Mojapelo, the Limpopo senior police superintendent, says more than
6 000 illegal Zimbabweans are deported weekly from Musina near the Beit
Bridge border post. Illegal Zimbabweans are flocking into South Africa due
to the deteriorating economic situation in their country.
Many of the illegal Zimbabweans are arrested near the border in the Musina
area. Meanwhile there conflicting views on whether the Zimbabweans crossing
the Limpopo River constitute a problem in the border area. Some South
African farmers are patrolling their farms near the Zimbabwean border to
protect their properties.
Businessmen are making lucrative profits since Zimbabweans are flocking from
as far as Harare to Beit Bridge and Musina to buy goods. Anel Theunissen,
the manager of a filling Station at Beit Bridge, says they are very busy
amid booming business.
The Boston Globe
Rise in HIV, fall of economy cited
By John Donnelly, Globe Staff | July 18, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Largely because of the AIDS crisis, nearly one-quarter of all
children in Zimbabwe are orphans, a figure that approaches historic levels
set in Rwanda after the genocide in 1994, according to a new national
The study, specialists said, shows the accelerating devastation of families
in a region that has the highest HIV-prevalence figures in the world.
Zimbabwe is the second southern Africa country, after Lesotho, in which a
recent national survey has found that roughly a quarter of all children are
orphans, which is defined as having lost at least one parent.
"You have to wonder what does this mean for a generation of children growing
up as adults," said Christopher Dell , the outgoing US ambassador to
Zimbabwe, in a telephone interview. "You wonder what it does to the future
of the country."
The 2006 survey, conducted by the government Central Statistical Office in
collaboration with Macro International, a Maryland-based organization that
conducts health surveys around the world, found that 22 percent of children
under the age of 18 in Zimbabwe had lost one or both parents, up from 9
percent in 1994 and 14 percent in 1999. Overall, Zimbabwe recorded an 18
percent HIV-prevalence rate among adults, said the survey.
In 2004, a Lesotho national study found that 26 percent of its children were
orphans. The only other comparable figure in recent history in Africa is
from Rwanda; a national survey found in 2000 -- six years after the genocide
left an estimated 1 million people dead -- that 27 percent of its children
were orphans. As the country has stabilized, the percentage of orphans in
Rwanda has declined, to 17 percent in 2005.
AIDS specialists said the number of orphans in Zimbabwe is linked to the
long economic and health crisis in the country, starting from the 1990s and
spurred in part by President Robert Mugabe's policy of seizing white-owned
farms. The country's annual inflation rate now tops 4,000 percent.
The country's healthcare system, which Mugabe had helped build into one of
the best in the continent, has disintegrated.
Children, the survey found, often have been hurt the most.
Basic immunization coverage for children ages 12 to 23 months declined to 53
percent in 2006, down from 75 percent in 1999. Stunting, caused by
malnutrition, increased to 29 percent in children, up from 21 percent in
"The numbers on immunization reflect the broader economic decline and the
consequent meltdown in the public healthcare sector," Dell said. "Thousands
and thousands of healthcare workers have left the country."
Zanele Sibanda-Knight , a Zimbabwean and advocacy coordinator for Firelight
Foundation, a California-based organization that gives grants to groups
helping orphans, said the death rate from AIDS is higher in Zimbabwe than
surrounding countries because fewer people have access to antiretroviral
drugs. Those drugs, called ARVs, can extend for years the life of someone
with HIV .
"When you are there, one of things you find is that those who are well-off,
or well-connected, can get the drugs," she said. "But for the majority of
people, the access is very limited."
Still, several analysts said, Zimbabwe's orphan figures are not expected to
be that different from other countries in southern Africa, the epicenter of
the AIDS pandemic. Several nearby countries with high HIV prevalence rates,
including South Africa, Botswana, and Swaziland, have not recently conducted
a demographic survey.
But Vinod Mishra , a director of research at Macro International, said the
spread of antiretroviral drugs would almost surely slow or reverse the
percentage of orphans. "It depends how fast ARVs come into play," he said.
Jennifer Delaney , executive director of Global Action for Children , an
advocacy group partially funded by the Jolie/Pitt Foundation, said the
Zimbabwe figures show the need to expand AIDS programs throughout Africa.
The Bush administration is on track to spend $18 billion to battle AIDS in
the five years ending in 2008, with the bulk of funds in 15 countries. In
fiscal 2006, it spent $213 million on orphan care.
The US government also funds AIDS programs in Zimbabwe and 107 other
countries, although less generously. For example, Zimbabwe, which has an
estimated 1.7 million people living with HIV, received $22 million in US
funds to fight AIDS last year. In contrast, Guyana, one of the 15 focus
countries in the US plan, received almost exactly the same amount, even
though it has an estimated 12,000 people living with HIV.
"What the US is doing now is a great start," Delaney said, "but I worry
because orphans have been on the radar with the US public in a way that it
looks like the US and other countries are taking care of the problem. And
John Donnelly can be reached at email@example.com.
'Ordinary people in the region will benefit if the law is open and judges
can be held accountable,' Constitutional Court justice says
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
July 18, 2007 at 3:37 AM EDT
JOHANNESBURG - When Tererai Mafukidze travels on his missions to extend the
rule of law in Africa, he has one trusted weapon: that little gizmo you use
to pick out staples.
Mr. Mafukidze, a Zimbabwean lawyer, is part of a new team working to collect
the judgments of Africa's superior courts and put them on the Internet so
they are available to everyone.
He makes his way between countries - with a portable scanner packed in his
luggage - visiting courthouses and libraries, trying to collect a scattered
history of jurisprudence.
Sometimes he is met by a care-worn librarian who gestures vaguely at some
mouldering stacks and says, "Well, there are the files." Other times he must
knock on the doors of judges - and retired court officers - to see what they
have kept in their cabinets.
"Sometimes, it is still a case of physically gathering up these old
judgments, even hand-written ones that maybe only a few people have even
read," he says. "But when you put them online, then anybody can get access."
This initiative began late last year, at the impetus of judges themselves,
who felt that the widest possible distribution of judgments would serve to
bolster their independence, which in some states - most notably, these days,
Zimbabwe - can be threatened. It grew into the Southern African Legal
Information Institute(SAFLII), which provides online access to legal
material from 16 different countries (in the most basic formats, out of a
recognition that many people who need this material in Africa will be using
dial-up Internet connections). The initiative recognizes that while there is
a strong legal tradition in many African countries (many of which share a
British common law base inherited from the colonial era), advocates and
judges in badly underfunded courts struggle to keep up with - even to be
aware of - legal precedent in their own countries.
They often have little or no access to judgments from neighbouring states,
even though there is an emerging consensus about human-rights jurisprudence
in the region.
And in many places, academics, students, even regular folk trying to keep up
with the law, have no possible way of learning what has happened in key
court cases, when a judgment is issued in a couple of hundred paper copies
that never make it out of the court building.
"People are always talking about African states and the rule of law," says
Albie Sachs, a justice on South Africa's Constitutional Court, where the
institute is housed. "But you can't have the rule of law without the law."
The bulk of the material now available on http://www.saflii.org is South
African, but Mr. Mafukidze and the librarians and information technology
experts with whom he works are quickly adding judgments and law reports from
Namibia's superior courts have started their own website to post all of
their judgments, while Mauritius, Botswana and Uganda have some of theirs
"Ordinary people in the region will benefit if the law is open and judges
can be held accountable," says Kate O'Regan, another Constitutional Court
justice and head of the library committee. "It's hugely empowering and
enriching of democracy if that is the case."
Kerry Anderson, who directs the institute, adds, "You need transparency of
how law can be implemented across the region if the idea of an African Union
is to be functional."
For Judge O'Regan, there is also a political value in making sure that
decisions from South Africa's Constitutional Court, which has been used by
marginalized citizens to demand their socio-economic rights from government,
and for the provision of rights such as gay marriage and access to AIDS
drugs, are available to everyone in her nation and across Africa.
But Ms. Anderson stressed that the goal is not to turn the institute into a
repository, but rather to have a web that stretches between all the
countries involved, and to provide the training so that staff in each place
is adept at digital legal research. "We'll all back each other up," she
Already, when an overzealous bureaucrat tidying up in Malawi recently
deleted several years' worth of judgments, SAFLII was able to provide
back-up copies to the Malawian courts.
The project is funded by donors, including George Soros's Open Society
Institute and the U.S. and Norway. Its major cost is the "legacy
information" - the scanning and copying of documents that exist from a
pre-computer era. Judgments in most countries these days are produced
electronically, but not centrally stored, which means that Mr. Mafukidze
must still travel to try to obtain them.
But as awareness of the initiative grows, librarian Sheryl Luthuli said,
they find they are receiving judgments forwarded from many quarters - such
as individual lawyers or students who have heard what they are trying to
do - and they need not rely only on official channels, which may be achingly
slow or unreliable.
And yet in many parts of Africa today, information technology is rapidly
making judicial processes more accessible. Take, for example, Kenya, which
went through a bad patch in the 1990s, the end of the years of the
dictatorship of Daniel arap Moi, when dozens of judges were implicated in
corruption scandals. Meanwhile not a single judgment had been published in
law reports in the country since 1983.
But all of that has changed in an era of political reform: the Kenya
National Law Reporting Council now operates a "call centre" for legal
judgments, where people can phone, fax, e-mail or send a letter to request
court materials from teams of researchers who e-mail it to people who have
the technology - or mail it out to the village, if that's what it takes.
"It's gone a long way toward bringing back faith in the legal system in
Kenya," Mr. Mafukidze says.
Respecting the law
The Worldwide Governance Indicators Project ranks the members of the
Southern African Legal Information Institute in the following order for
respect for the rule of law.
3. South Africa
What he can teach us about the crisis in Zimbabwe
18 Jul 2007 07:44
At each stage of the unfolding catastrophe in Zimbabwe it has been tempting
to believe that the situation could get no worse; and, if it did, this would
result in President Mugabe's exit from power. Or, if not that, he would
finally recognise that it was in his own interests to do no more harm to his
country. On the Guardian website there are references to the "endgame" of
Mugabe in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2007.
Yet not only has Mugabe been unrelenting in his efforts to bring ruin to his
country, but the prospect of his overthrow seems as distant as it ever was
(if not more so). To understand why this is, one must first recognise Mugabe
for what he is - or at least, has become - namely a tyrant. I use this
description not as an epithet but as a way of seeing.
A tyrant, Aristotle wrote in Politics, "has no regard to any public
interest, but only to his private ends." There is "no wickedness too great
for him." Tyranny combines the vices of democracy and oligarchy. Its end, as
with oligarchy, is wealth "for by wealth only can the tyrant maintain either
his guard or his luxury." From democracy, meanwhile, tyrants have "borrowed
the art of making war upon the notables and destroying them secretly or
The methods with which Mugabe has entrenched his power since 2000 would have
been familiar to the ancient world. The goals of the tyrant are simple: he
must sow distrust among his subjects, he must take away their power, and he
must humble them. Among the arts by which a tyrant preserves his rule are
"[He] should lop off those who are too high; he must put to death men of
spirit: he must not allow common meals, clubs, education and the like; he
must be upon his guard against anything which is likely to inspire either
courage or confidence amongst his subjects; he must prohibit literary
assemblies or other meetings for discussion, and he must take every means to
prevent people from knowing one another (for acquaintance begets mutual
"A tyrant should also endeavour to know what each of his subjects says or
does... for the fear of informers prevents people from speaking their minds,
and if they do, they are more easily found out. Another art of the tyrant is
to sow quarrels among the citizens...."
Mugabe has been very successful in applying these prescriptions. The white
commercial farmers (the 'notables') have been destroyed, and their urban
equivalents are soon to be as well. Most 'men of spirit' have been driven
into exile. The judiciary has been suborned and the citizens can have no
confidence that their rights will be protected in the courts. The Daily
News, the main 'literary assembly', was shut down long ago. CIO informers
are everywhere and seem to know everything.
Through violence, intimidation, and vote-rigging, the Zimbabwean people have
been deprived of their power to vote his regime from office at the ballot
box. And after three stolen elections they seem to have lost courage as
well. As Aristotle observed, if the people "are always kept under, they will
learn to be humble." The opposition Movement for Democratic Change
quarrelled and is now divided.
Yet surely economic collapse will precipitate revolution? This is not
necessarily so. Aristotle writes that to preserve his power the tyrant
"should impoverish his subjects; he thus provides money for the support of
his guards, and the people, having to keep hard at work, are prevented from
There is a terrible logic to these actions. The tyrant humiliates his
subjects for he knows that "a mean-spirited man will not conspire against
anybody"; he sows distrust among them for he cannot be overthrown "until men
begin to have confidence in one another"; and, he tries to ensure that they
are "incapable of action, for no one attempts what is impossible, and they
will not attempt to overthrow a tyranny, if they are powerless."
After eight years of repression the opposition forces in Zimbabwe seem too
weak to effect a change in government. Tyrants can also be brought down
through internal divisions within the ruling clique. But, so far, Mugabe has
proved more than capable of dealing with those in ZANU-PF who wish to
displace him. It is characteristic of a tyrant, Aristotle wrote, "to
distrust his friends, because he knows that all men want to overthrow him,
and they above all have the power."
Since the worse things are for Zimbabwe, the better they are for Mugabe, the
crisis in that country is not going to resolve itself. The initiative for
change is probably going to have to come from without. Crucially, South
Africa has to reverse its existing policy of public (and private) support
for ZANU-PF. You only need to read the government press in Zimbabwe to see
how this is used by the regime to undermine the courage and confidence of
the populace there.
For example, on March 30, after his return from the SADC summit, Mugabe
claimed that Mbeki had told the meeting: "If we condemned Zimbabwe, the same
methods would be used by the West against us. The view of these white people
is that all leaders of liberation movement parties must be removed and
replaced by puppets."
In May, after SADC's mediation process was launched the ZANU-PF cabinet
minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, taunted opposition MPs in parliament by
telling them that Mbeki was requiring the MDC both to "accept and recognise
that President Robert Mugabe is the president of Zimbabwe and he won the
[stolen] 2002 elections" and to "denounce violence." Mbeki had, Mnangagwa
continued, set "no conditions" on ZANU-PF's participation.
Earlier this month the Zimbabwe Herald reported that Mugabe had told a
public meeting that on the last official visit to South Africa by the then
British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, Mbeki had told Blair "to back off from
meddling in the affairs of Zimbabwe as SADC was handling the matter."
The South African government has, for whatever reason, chosen not to
contradict these reports. In any event, whether they are true or not they
serve their intended purpose. The message the Zimbabweans are hearing is
this: Within SADC and the African Union you are morally isolated and alone.
South Africa is on our side.
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Gono likely to either resign or face the sack after his withering criticism
of the president's price-slashing move.
By Norman Chitapi in Harare (AR No. 122, 18-July-07)
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono may not be in his post for much longer
after apparently falling out with his patron, President Robert Mugabe.
In a withering attack on the government's June 26 decision to slash prices
of basic goods by 50 per cent, Gono publicly warned last week of a boomerang
effect, with companies shutting down because of losses.
He painted a grim future of empty shops "leading us to needlessly draw
spears against each other" as people run out of basic necessities.
Mugabe has so far not commented on the statement by Gono, who is also the
president's personal banker. However, it is the first direct attack by a
senior government official on Mugabe's policies. And analysts say Gono's
remarks mean he is unlikely to remain in government much longer.
"We are seeing the beginning of the end for Gono's roadshow," said an
official from the pressure group Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe in Harare this
week. The official spoke in his personal capacity and refused to be named,
lest his stance be confused with that of the coalition.
"Gono's options are very limited indeed," said the official. "He can either
resign or stay on and be fired. Mugabe and his colleagues are concerned with
political survival. An economic recovery in the near future, which is very
unlikely, would for them be only a bonus."
When Gono took over in December 2003 as governor of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe, he famously declared "failure is not an option" when questioned
about his capacity to resolve the country's seemingly intractable problems.
Last week, he all but accused Mugabe's government of stabbing him in the
back when it launched a blitz on businesses for alleged "profiteering".
The Crisis Coalition official said Gono felt gravely betrayed by the
government after he came in "as the knight in shining armour" to get the
country out of an eight-year downward spiral.
When Mugabe appointed Gono as Reserve Bank governor in 2003, he also
attacked Gomo's precedessor, Leonard Tsumba, for following textbook
economics by refusing to print money as and when it was needed. Mugabe said
he wanted somebody who understood the country's unique situation in the face
of western sanctions which he claimed were being orchestrated by the former
colonial power, Britain.
Gono had so far been complying with Mugabe's brand of economics, but the
latest crisis has seen battle lines drawn between himself and his patron.
Gono said attacks on businesses and blanket price controls imposed by
government on June 26 and enforced by state security agencies were "ruinous".
"It is critical that urgent steps be taken to deal with the supply side
imperatives without which, or failure of which, will leave the country in a
worse off situation," said Gono in a letter addressed to Mugabe, which was
leaked to the press.
He accused government of not having a plan of how to maintain production at
the prices it was forcing businessmen to maintain. "We need to define
clearly at what point we will exit from the current blitz," he said.
A senior ZANU-PF official opposed to Mugabe's latest assault on business
said Gono and Mugabe had never before been so sharply divided.
"Gono has been Mugabe's personal banker and financial advisor for many
years - since he was chief executive officer at the Commercial Bank of
Zimbabwe," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous. "He is perhaps
the only person who knows and fully understands the nature of Mugabe's
finances, but now they are sharply divided on national policy."
If Mugabe fires Gono, he faces a backlash from his colleagues in the
Southern African Development Community - however, that is unlikely to stop
him, continued the official.
"In terms of national policy, they are worlds apart. The time has almost
come for them to part ways if Gono wants to save some modicum of credibility
as a professional," he said. "In political terms, he will have to look for
sanctuary in one of the factions ¬- either in the divided opposition or
those in ZANU-PF who believe in the efficacy of his policy recommendations."
ZANU-PF is divided into three major factions. One supports Mugabe's sole
candidature in the presidential election next year; the other two are
fighting each other to replace the party's 83-year-old leader. Gono is said
to be aligned to the faction led by Politburo member and Rural Housing
Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, against that led by retired army commander
General Solomon Mujuru, the husband of Vice-President Joice Mujuru. Both
Mnangagwa and Mujuru accuse Mugabe of ruining their business interests.
The ZANU-PF politician said Gono had wanted to build his future political
career on the back of a successful economic revival programme.
"Reducing inflation to a single digit as he had set out to do at the
beginning would have been a good entry point [into politics]," he said.
"This would have put him ahead of competition in ZANU-PF and in the
[opposition] Movement for Democratic Change as well. Now he realises that
his political ambitions are being ruined before he has made them public."
Gono's litany of complaints about the government, which were leaked to the
public, could be an attempt to regain some credibility ahead of ZANU-PF's
special congress in December.
In his letter to Mugabe, Gono said there was need to respect private
property and for policy consistency to attract foreign investment, which
would generate much needed foreign currency. He attacked state-sanctioned
land invasions, which he said disrupted the nation's economic backbone, the
commercial agricultural sector. It was a criticism he had been making
publicly since 2005, five years after the land invasions began, and when
most of the land had been parcelled out, either to government officials or
to landless "war veterans".
Gono also attacked government spending, the huge budget deficit and
corruption, all of which frustrated the battle against inflation. He has
long favoured a free exchange rate for the local currency, which is pegged
at 250 Zimbabwe dollars, ZWD, to one US dollar. This is against the more
realistic black market rate of more than 100,000 ZWD to one US dollar. Gono
said government's unrealistic rate had caused "pricing distortions and
instability" in the market.
Over the past three weeks, police have arrested some 1,700 company
representatives for failure to comply with its decree on prices. Shops have
been looted while most fuel service stations are dry.
Opposition leaders and captains of industry have accused Mugabe of adopting
populist policies to win over voters ahead of next year's first joint
presidential and parliamentary elections. The MDC has threatened to boycott
the ballot if there are insufficient electoral law reforms to ensure free
and fair voting.
The leader of the main faction of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, called the
price cuts an "election gimmick" to buy votes - but Mugabe sees the recent
daily price increases as business's attempt to engage in the politics of
Mugabe has in the past accused business of sponsoring the MDC. Now, analysts
say, he has found an opportunity to hit them where it hurts most - the
pocket. But, the analysts say, Mugabe might have shot himself in the foot,
for the resulting shortages will hurt him and his party in the elections
Norman Chitapi is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
Africa News, Netherlands
18 July 2007, by Daniel Makina. The violent crackdown on members of the
opposition including their leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, which took energised
form in March 2007, finally propelled the Zimbabwe crisis to a threshold
that could trigger a concerted effort for its resolution. The SADC Heads of
States convened in the same month a special summit to specifically address
the issue. The notable result of the special summit was the appointment of
South African President Thabo Mbeki to facilitate dialogue between the
opposition and the ruling party with a view to resolve the crisis.
The SADC's decision was generally welcomed by the opposition, civil society
and the international community. The only party that has not so far shown
visible enthusiasm is the ruling Party, ZANU-PF.
The MDC opposition viewed the appointment of President Mbeki as mediator as
having permanently placed the Zim crisis on the SADC agenda unlike previous
fruitless bilateral South African efforts underpinned by quiet diplomacy.
Furthermore, the opposition knew very well that President Mugabe also took
part in the SADC decision and hence it would be difficult for him to ignore
the concerns of his counterparts without facing their censure.
The Zimbabwean civil society, though welcoming the move, was cautious and
wary that the facilitation of dialogue appears limited to the main
protagonists -Zanu-PF and the MDC. However, this fear could be mitigated if
the mediator also considers submissions by civil society. The Zimbabwe
Diaspora grouping in the UK nevertheless made a submission on what it saw as
the way forward. Overall, civil society is skeptical that the ruling party
will give the new initiative a chance given its continuing wayward ways.
Skepticism to the Mediation
The international community largely welcomed the initiative but believed
that it should be complemented by tightening of restrictions on people
responsible for human rights abuses. Britain and the EU were happy to give
it a chance but at the same time signalled tightening of travel restrictions
by including more senior government officials considered responsible for
torture, abductions and other human rights abuses. The US has so far shown
skepticism over the success of the initiative given SADC's past inaction.
The SADC Heads of States Communiqué
The skepticism over the new SADC initiative may not be unfounded as it stems
from the ambiguity of the communiqué issued by the Heads of States. Other
than appointing President Mbeki to facilitate talks between the opposition
and the ruling party, the communiqué endorsed Mugabe's positions viz.; (1)
that he was elected in a free and fair election in 2002 (notwithstanding the
contestations and adverse pronouncements by many observer groups that
resulted in targeted sanctions and suspension from the Commonwealth); (2)
that sanctions should be lifted (notwithstanding that the conditions that
attracted such targeted sanctions have since worsened); and (3) that Britain
should honour its Lancaster obligations (notwithstanding that no democracy
(albeit Western) would survive the wrath of taxpayers by spending money on a
country perceived to have no rule of law). While there were unverified
reports that Mugabe was privately censured and that he promised he will soon
depart from the scene after elections (though going by his age he could have
meant leaving on account of nature), the communiqué remains the only written
document and the historical record for future reference. Predictably, when
President Mugabe addressed the central committee of his party the following
day after the SADC special summit, he only communicated the contents of the
communiqué to his supporters and not the censure he got privately. There
lies the danger!
Mugabe's Questionable Dedication to Talks
For President Mugabe negotiating with the opposition is a humiliation he
finds difficult to stomach. First, he has to gather strength to tell his
colleagues of his Party that a negotiated settlement is now the only way to
salvage the situation. So far it appears the strongman has only communicated
the contents of the communiqué of SADC and hence the Party has picked two
crucial points, viz.- that Mugabe is a legitimately elected leader and that
sanctions should be lifted- as agenda items in talks with the opposition.
What many Zimbabwean observers underestimate is that the strongman is not
easily moved from many of his so-called principled positions. As an
illustration let me give you just one example that wreaked havoc on the
economy: his opposition to devaluation. He labelled a Finance Minister a
saboteur and fired him for advocating devaluation of the currency. The
subsequent Finance Minister (also subsequently fired) had more than half of
his functions transferred to the central bank governor considered to be less
bookish and possibly malleable, who has been careful not to use the word
devaluation and has kept the exchange rate at ZW$250 to US$1 for more than
one year. In his latest monetary policy statement issued on 26 April 2007 he
adjusted the exchange rate to ZW$15,000 to US$1 by introducing what he
called a "drought accelerator factor" and pleaded with the media not to
report that he devalued the currency. The Scotsman (26 April 2007) aptly
reported: 'Dr Gono said Zimbabweans would still have to exchange their hard
currency at the ZW$250:1 US dollar rate - but would then have their payouts
upped by a "drought accelerator factor" of 60. "There is no devaluation," Dr
Gono insisted. "The exchange rate policy remains as is."' This illustration
shows how the strongman has instilled fear to everyone including his own
The point is that for meaningful talks to go forward, President Mugabe must
first sell the idea to his Party, which would be an easy task given that he
has already bulldozed himself to be presidential candidate in the next
election. His Party might probably welcome the idea of talks on condition
that he does not stand as its presidential candidate on conclusion of the
talks because it knows that he cannot win a free and fair election.
President Mugabe is now between two hard rocks and there is a danger he
might prefer to get crushed rather than to negotiate his way out.
What will make the Talks Successful?
The success of a negotiated settlement hinges on actively addressing a
number of factors. First, more measures and pressure may have to be applied
to get the ruling Party to be serious about negotiations. Crucially, SADC
should communicate publicly to the rank and file of the ruling party that
the violent crackdown against the opposition, disregard of the rule of law
and election malpractices are issues that brought about the targeted
sanctions on the ruling elite and leading to the isolation of the regime. At
present, what is being communicated to them is that sanctions are a product
of a Western agenda against their land policy. Second, the facilitation
should also embrace civil society including Diaspora groupings for a lasting
solution to hold. Inclusion of more players with vested interests in
addition to the opposition and the ruling party has the effect of diluting
stumbling blocks arising from stubbornness of a single party and hence
giving the facilitator better chances of carrying the process forward.
Third, the facilitation could require a higher body like the UN so that the
process can get international credibility crucial for attracting an economic
rescue package. Finally, the facilitation should not be dictated by a
timescale of a pending election. It should be made clear from the outset
that elections should only be held when there is agreement that the
conditions are such they will be genuinely free and fair as President Mbeki
recently noted. In any case, the task at hand points to the need for
transitional arrangements before credible elections.
Daniel Makina is an associate professor with the University of South Africa
and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
18th Jul 2007 18:41 GMT
By Dennis Rekayi
THE gazetting of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 18) Bill has
been described as a ploy to undermine efforts by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) to resolve the seven-year Zimbabwe crisis.
Former soccer administrator and civic society activist, Morrison Sifelani,
said this at a meeting held at the Gweru Press Club recently.
The meeting was convened under MISA-Zimbabwe's press club debating sessions
to discuss the role of civic society in the South African mediated talks
currently underway between the opposition MDC and ruling Zanu PF and the
implications of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.18) Bill.
Sifelani, who was introduced as representing civic society in the Midlands
town, said civic society was supportive of the mediation process to resolve
the Zimbabwean socio-economic and political crisis.
While Zimbabweans were capable of dealing with their own problems, Sifelani
was, however, skeptical on their ability to striking lasting solutions to
the crisis on their own without the involvement of a third party hence his
support for the SADC initiatives.
On the Constitutional Amendment ((No) 18, he was of the view that this would
not go the mile and urged Zimbabwean citizens to rally behind the mediation
process as representative of the interests of the people.
Speaking at the same event, a representative of the MDC, Lyison Mlambo,
stressed that the two MDC factions felt no obligation to include civic
society in the mediation process at the moment.
He said that decision would have to come from President Mbeki himself but
that the opposition would not pressure him to accommodate civic society
He also drew participants' attention to an article in the Mail and Guardian
of South Africa which quoted Zanu PF Secretary for Administration Didymus
Mutasa saying that Zanu PF was only involved in the talks out of respect for
SADC. Mlambo said this illustrated the lack of seriousness on Zanu PF's
Mlambo criticised provisions in the Bill which he said gave the President
powers to appoint non-constituent Senators and Members of the House of
"No one should aspire to be a lawmaker without subjecting themselves to the
(will of) electorate" he said.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 18) Bill, which seeks to
harmonise Presidential and Parliamentary elections, was gazetted on 8 June
The Bill recommends five changes to the current Constitution, including the
shortening of the term of office of the President to five years from six, so
that it runs concurrently with that of parliamentarians.
The Bill also allows for expansion of the Houses of Senate and Assembly from
66 to 84 and 150 to 200 respectively. Presidential appointees, consequently,
increase from 16 to 34. A Human Rights Commission, an idea which has been on
the cards for almost a year now, will be established by the Bill. The Bill
is still to be presented to Parliament.
By Violet Gonda
18 July 2007
Harassment of National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) members by state
security agents is becoming a permanent feature in Zimbabwe. The latest
victim is the provincial chairperson for Manicaland, who was arrested on
Tuesday on charges of insulting Robert Mugabe. NCA leader Dr Lovemore
Madhuku said Elisha Makuyana was arrested when he was debating with other
people and criticizing the controversial price cuts that were imposed by the
government recently. "Making it clear obviously that it was a very short
term measure which was not going to solve problems and he made a remark
about the fact that this is how Mugabe has been surviving, " Madhuku said.
A member of the central intelligence organization who heard the NCA official
make these statements arrested him and took him to Chipinge Police Station
where he is still being held. He is being accused of making derogatory
remarks about Mugabe.
Madhuku said the regime has deployed members of the security services
everywhere, clearly showing a state of panic as discontent grows over the
way the country is being run. He said: "They are not allowing more than two
or three individuals to freely talk and discuss. They always come in to try
and see what is happening, what is being said."
According to the pressure group, this is the third time Makuyana has been
arrested in just two weeks. He was followed by a group in Nyanga where he
was going to distribute shortwave transistor radio in the rural areas. A
statement said: "In the first two instances he was arrested on baseless
charges of possessing a shortwave transistor radio without a Zimbabwean
Madhuku added that the CIO actually drove the official from Nyanga to his
Mutare office, where over 21 radios were confiscated. He said they also took
t-shirts, fliers and other materials.
We were not able to get a comment from the police. The group said it will
continue fighting for a new constitution even though the government is
trying to cripple its grassroots structures. It insists the way forward in
Zimbabwe is to push for a new constitution to pave the way for free and fair
elections and an accountable government.
This is a major issue that has been put on the agenda in the SADC led talks.
But it seems unlikely that Mugabe will give in to a new constitution that
would mean the opening up of space for Zimbabweans to freely express
And the progress of the talks between the political parties is uncertain as
it is reported that the regime is spurning South African President Thabo
Mbeki's efforts. The talks too are supposed to pave the way for free and
fair elections scheduled for 2008.
But back home, the opposition and civic society have criticised the way the
voter registration exercise, that is currently underway, is being conducted.
Madhuku said there can never be a credible voter registration process under
the present conditions. He said; "We have no access, most players, to the
rural areas where the majority of the people are."
The civic leader said ZANU PF goes there and misrepresents the purpose of
the voter registration process. "I actually have information from the NCA
structures in Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central that people are being
told to go and register to defend President Mugabe from being taken out of
power by the west. So you go and register and you are told that the purpose
of you registering is that when the time comes you must go and defend the
President! Not that you are registering so that you exercise your right to
elect your leader of your choice."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
18 July 2007
Posted to the web 18 July 2007
THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority faces persistent power cuts or voltage
drops at its Harare main water treatment and pumping plants, has pump
problems at Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant and 40 percent of what it
pumps to the city is lost through leakage.
At least 600 megalitres are produced every day but the city and surrounding
towns require 800 megalitres.
On Monday, Zinwa reported that water production and bulk pumping had dropped
drastically due to power interruptions caused by high voltage experienced at
Morton Jaffray, Warren Control and Prince Edward water stations.
According to the Zinwa daily water status report, the three plants were down
for almost two hours.
Power problems began at 2.20pm with normal supplies being restored at 4.08pm
Pumping from Morton Jaffray only resumed at 4:40pm.
While Alex Park reservoirs had about 4,3 cubic metres of water, pumping from
the station to Highlands, Philadelphia, Hogerty Hill, Borrowdale Brook and
Hatcliffe was not possible because there was no power. Letombo reservoirs
had only 2 cubic metres of water and were categorised as critical.
Low voltage at Avondale pumping station also affected water supplies to Mt
Pleasant Heights, Sentosa and parts of Mt Pleasant.
The water authority also reported that erratic supplies from the Letombo
reservoirs to Zimphos was impacting on the manufacture of aluminium
sulphate, a key component in the treatment of water.
The power problems have also affected sewer treatment at Firle and
Crowborough, resulting in the discharge of raw sewage into the city's water
bodies of Manyame and Mukuvisi rivers.
Yesterday, a Zinwa official said the situation had improved without giving
Government has suggested that boreholes, that are common in upmarket suburbs
of Harare, should be harnessed to the city's water reticulation as a way of
solving water problems.
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
PRETORIA - The spat between the Democratic Alliance and the department
of home affairs over the handling of Zimbabweans fleeing to South Africa
continued on Wednesday.
Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula "has no idea" of the
volumes of Zimbabwean refugees who will flow into South Africa over the next
few months or the difficulty of providing for them, the DA's Mark Lowe said.
"Our minister of home affairs should be ashamed of herself, people are
suffering while she finds excuses for inaction," Lowe said.
He said reports suggested that up to 6000 Zimbabweans arrived in South
Africa every day.
"Home Affairs says the tide of Zimbabwean refugees into the country
should be 'integrated' into communities... this is indicative of how out of
touch the minister is," Lowe said, asking where the people will be housed,
go to school and receive health care.
His statement came after the home affairs department on Tuesday
rejected the DA's call for refugee camps to be set up for Zimbabweans.
Cleo Mosana, spokeswoman for Mapisa-Nqakula, accused the opposition
party of exploiting the Zimbabwean situation for publicity.
"If they genuinely want to assist the department deal with the
problem, why do they have to do it via the media?" said Mosana. "The DA's
call is nothing but cheap political scoring."
In a letter to Mapisa-Nqakula on Tuesday, also sent to the media, the
DA's Les Labuschagne urged Mapisa-Nqakula to consider setting up refugee
camps for Zimbabweans.
"Refugee camps would be the only way in which to make sure that these
people are adequately housed and fed until they are able to return to
Zimbabwe," he said.
However, Mosana said this went against provisions of the Refugees Act.
"Refugees are supposed to be integrated into our communities and not
kept in camps as the DA proposes," she said. -Sapa
Last updated 18/07/2007 17:56:26
July 18, 2007, 15:00
By Frank Nxumalo
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is to mobilise its local
and international civil society partners to put together a substantial
humanitarian package for Zimbabwe to alleviate the suffering of ordinary
people in that country and in South Africa following the political and
Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of Cosatu, described the situation in
Zimbabwe as a "full blown humanitarian crisis". Cosatu has already sent
batches of sanitary pads to Zimbabwe to help desperate women with the help
of British trade unions. The labour federation said Zimbabwean authorities
initially refused to allow the consignment to pass through the border with
"The impact of that crisis is that farmers along the Limpopo border have
taken full advantage of their desperate situation. They employ them and
force them to live at sub-human standards often without pay or offer them
payment in kind such as a bag of mealie meal. The Zimbabweans are only too
happy to accept the mealie meal even if they know that this is done without
any observation of South African (labour) legislation," Vavi said.
"And that's not only happening in agriculture; we know that Zimbabweans are
employed under exactly the same conditions by security companies and
restaurants. If you ask the people who serve at any Johannesburg restaurant
where they come from, you will find that they are more likely to be from
Zimbabwe. They don't have any minimum wage. Their salaries are based on the
tips they get which are determined by the extent to which they able to smile
to the customers."
Vavi said while the social problems by South Africans were daunting, there
were a Sunday school picnic compared to the humanitarian crisis faced by
Zimbabweans and required a change of attitude on their part.
Crisis now in the spotlight
"It's a crisis that is happening right here in front of eyes. And it's a
crisis that very few, including media houses have chosen not to highlight.
But we can't on our part continue to harbour xenophobic tendencies and
hatred of Zimbabwean people and blaming them for every problem of crime,
poverty, unemployment and instability as if these would not exist if these
people were not here."
"We are already faced with a full blown humanitarian crisis in this country.
If you go to any traffic lights in South Africa today, you will see people
begging, many of them with disabilities and carrying young babies on their
backs. They can't access South African social security benefits because they
are from Zimbabwe. These people go for many days without food and many days
without anything to cover themselves up with from the elements. We need to
see what we could do for them in terms food and blankets."
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said while it continued to
enjoy solidarity from organised labour such as Cosatu; it was also appealing
to the South African public at large to understand the plight of the
Zimbabwean people. "We appeal to the general South African public to
understand the situation that Zimbabweans find themselves in. We appeal for
African solidarity. We appeal for African brotherhood and sisterhood," Lucy
Mativenga, the deputy general secretary of the ZCTU, said. "We appeal to
them to assist us until we are able to extricate ourselves by one means or
the other out of this situation we find ourselves in."
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Panic and desperation sets in among Zimbabweans as most retail outlets run
out of goods.
By Nonthando Bhebhe in Harare (AR No. 122, 18-July-07)
"It was an act of madness," said a manager at a Spar store in the low-income
Harare suburb of Seke. "[The] ripple effects will be felt for a long time in
Zimbabwean business. Job losses will be immediate."
Businesses in Zimbabwe are still reeling from President Robert Mugabe's June
26 decision to slash the prices of all commodities by 50 per cent, in a bid
to tackle skyrocketing inflation, which he claimed is being fueled by the
private sector to bring down his government. The move sparked a stampede of
shoppers, leaving companies with empty shelves. Many say they may now be
forced to close.
"This act is the latest in a long chain of irrational political decisions
Mugabe has taken in the past few years to keep himself in power," continued
the Spar manager. "The next will most probably be the seizure of mines and
foreign-owned businesses which he is legitimising through the Economic
Empowerment and Indigenisation Bill currently before parliament."
Tichafa Chari, a schoolteacher in the same area, compared the latest move to
Operation Murambatsvina, the military-style demolition of urban dwellings in
2005 which destroyed the informal sector and left 700,000 people homeless
and two million with no source of income. It was believed at the time that
Mugabe did this to stem fears of a rebellion by the urban poor that would
"Operation Murambatsvina destroyed the informal sector, and now this is
destroying the formal sector. So where do we go from here?" said Chari.
Like Operation Murambatsvina, the current operation, according to Mugabe, is
to stop the formal sector from working with western powers wishing to effect
"regime change" in Zimbabwe.
Several senior company executives, many from companies headquartered outside
Zimbabwe, have been arrested and have spent nights in filthy police cells
for failing to comply with the government directive to reduce their prices.
Long fuel queues are also back at the few service stations that have
received cheap fuel from the state-owned National Oil Company of Zimbabwe,
NocZim, which they are selling at 60,000 Zimbabwe dollars, ZWD, a litre,
(just under 50 US cents at black market prices) down from nearly 200,000 ZWD
two weeks ago.
The fuel situation had stabilised after government allowed private companies
to import and sell fuel at rates determined by the black market from which
dealers obtained the foreign exchange to import.
But since the price-slash directive, those service stations have run dry and
have not restocked. The government has ordered all service stations to sell
their fuel at 60,000 ZWD a litre but NocZim supplies are still very low. The
national fuel procurement company has promised to increase its deliveries to
service stations countrywide.
The public transport sector is almost grinding to a halt after government
ordered them to reduce their fares or face a cancellation of their operating
Government told public transport operatives at a meeting last week that if
one of their vehicles was caught over-pricing, officials would cancel the
licences of not just that one vehicle but of the whole fleet.
One city commuter bus operator said, "Really I cannot be working for the
government. It makes no sense to continue when I will be making such a huge
Motorists have also been affected as they cannot get fuel and are being
forced to either source from the black market or leave their cars parked.
Traffic on Harare's roads has been significantly been reduced over the last
week or so.
Zimbabweans initial excitement about the order to slash prices of basic
commodities by half has now been replaced by panic and desperation as most
retail outlets have begun to run out of goods. The first casualties of the
price slash were the butchers, which ran out of the beef and pork within a
few days of the directive. Most meat outlets in Harare suburbs have either
closed or are about to.
Highfield butcher Petros Mawoneke was on the verge of tears when IWPR asked
him what effect the price reduction had had on him and his family.
"I just don't know for how long I will be coming to work if the situation
continues like this. I am afraid that one day, we will be told not to report
for work anymore because we are not selling anything at the moment. Our
suppliers are no longer supplying us.
"I don't want to think about the worst - I am trying to be optimistic but at
the same time I need to be realistic. It will just kill me if I lose this
job. How will I feed my kids - already I am struggling and am only able to
provide one meal a day. The government needs to think about people like us
and put in measures to protect us."
In response to the beef shortages, the government last week revoked the
licences of all private abattoirs for refusing to continue supplying meat
and meat products. They had stopped slaughtering livestock in protest
against the slashing of prices which they say would bankrupt them.
Trade Minister Obert Mpofu said the Cold Storage Company, CSC, part owned by
the government, would now have the sole responsibility of slaughtering
livestock. The CSC, however, was already facing serious financial problems
and had been operating well below its capacity.
One of the largest outlets of pork products, Colcom Foods, has already run
out of everything except bacon, a few boxes of pork sausages, polony and
smoked ham, all of which are foods for the rich.
An employee at Colcom Foods told IWPR that the company did not know when the
next supplies were going to be delivered. Its general manager in Harare's
Workington industrial area was recently arrested together with 33 top
executives of other companies for allegedly ignoring the government
directive to reduce prices.
Long queues could be observed at TM Supermarket in Arcadia suburb, where the
prices of basic commodities like washing soap, washing powder, Vaseline
petroleum jelly and margarine were reduced by more than 100 per cent.
Reports say the situation is the same countrywide.
Thomas Madziva, who was queuing to buy slices of polony and bread rolls for
his breakfast, was irate.
"Why should I queue when all I want is polony? This is getting really
frustrating now. First it was the bread queues, now it's for everything -
this is absolute madness. Our relief was temporary - we should have known
this is where Mugabe's generosity would land us."
Nonthando Bhebhe is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Commuters stranded after transport operators cut services in protest at
government order to slash fares.
By Hativagone Mushonga in Harare (AR No. 122, 18-July-07)
Last Wednesday was a sad day for Harare's commuters, many of whom had to
walk home for long distances or sleep rough after transport operators
suspended services in response to a government directive to slash all fares
by more than half.
Commuters were stunned after a hard day's work on July 11 to find all bus
terminuses swarming with people, but no commuter buses in sight to ferry
them home. Those who were unable to walk had to endure a cold night on the
capital's dusty streets.
The scenes of commuter chaos were part of the escalating crisis caused by
President Robert Mugabe's government directive to traders on June 26 to
slash commodity and fuel prices in an attempt to stop runaway inflation,
which currently stands at 4,500 per cent.
Zimbabweans face food shortages and many stores lie closed or empty, as
panic-buying causes goods to sell out and traders withdraw their products,
unwilling to sell them at low prices.
Fuel supplies have also diminished since the government slashed fuel prices
to 60,000 Zimbabwe dollars (just under 50 US cents at black market prices)
per litre, and long queues have formed at the few stations still receiving
deliveries from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe.
The government has also announced that for journeys of less than ten
kilometres, commuter operators should now charge 10,000 ZWD per fare,
instead of the 30,000 ZWD they charged before the directive. Other fares
have been similarly cut.
The authorities have threatened to revoke licences of public transport
companies if they fail to comply with the government directive, and at least
49 commuter buses were impounded last week and their drivers arrested for
Close to 2,000 traders and business officials have been arrested in recent
days for defying the price cuts. Transport bosses have said they will rather
suspend their services than charge the new fares and will only resume
operating if government guarantees them cheap fuel.
Last week, this resulted in mothers with children on their backs, toddlers
and the elderly walking home - some facing journeys of 20 kilometres or
more. On all routes out of the city centre, streams of despondent people
could be seen trekking home.
This IWPR reporter also had to walk home with her three-year-old daughter,
after collecting her from a crèche late in the afternoon. Although it was
only a ten km walk, her little girl was confused as to why she had to walk
home on a cold night.
Other commuters trying to get home to far-off places like Chitungwiza, a
town 30 km south of Harare, were reduced to begging motorists for lifts at
every traffic light along the Seke Road route.
A top official from the President's Office told IWPR last week that he was
saddened and almost in tears as he watched commuters to Chitungwiza
clamouring for lifts from motorists.
"It was really frightening to see the desperation and sadness on people's
faces when they came to my window. It also scared me - the level of
desperation - and I had to quickly lock my doors. They were opening the
doors. I feel for them because I just don't know how they are going to get
home," he said.
Asked if things were going to improve soon, he shook his head and said, "I
just don't know. It's tight and it's going to get worse. That's all I can
One commuter, Peter Madziva, faced the prospect of sleeping rough that
night. He said that slashing prices in a bid to control inflation has only
made matters worse.
"This is the final straw for me because I might not be able to go home
tonight. I wonder where I am going to sleep and it is so cold. I would pay
three times more the old fare if I could get a lift now," he said.
Madziva wondered if Mugabe knew what havoc he had caused by slashing prices
by half, "I wish he could just drive around the streets of Harare now and
see his people - see how they are suffering. I wonder if he will shed a tear
or just look away and pretend he didn't see anything."
Some commuters interviewed by IWPR on the route to Chitungwiza said they may
not go to work until the public transport situation improved. They say it's
also likely that schools will be hit by absenteeism until the situation
normalises - if it ever does.
Meanwhile, the fuel crisis has also affected the city's ambulance service,
which is now demanding fuel from ordinary citizens to ferry their sick to
One family in the low-income suburb of Kuwadzana recently reported having to
find ten litres of fuel for an ambulance so that a relative with cancer
could be rushed to Harare Central Hospital after her condition worsened.
Until the current economic crisis is solved, ordinary Zimbabweans face
having to endure further serious shortage of basic commodities as well as
the prospect of many more long walks home in the winter cold.
Hativagone Mushonga is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
18th Jul 2007 18:35 GMT
By a Correspondent
A meeting about Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth was held in London recently to
map the way forward about the country's future, what ordinary Zimbabweans
expected from the group and related issues.
Zimbabwe pulled out of the Commonwealth and the move by the Robert Mugabe
administration has had ripple effects on the ordinary person, students no
longer get scholarships and related advantages of belonging to a member
The document below has been prepared for debate in the House of Commons
following the London meeting that was attended by representatives from the
Zimbabwean community in the United Kingdom.
House of Commons debate on Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth
Although the Government of Zimbabwe officially left the Commonwealth in
2003, many Commonwealth observers, and indeed Zimbabweans themselves, have
continued to consider the citizens of Zimbabwe as part of the Commonwealth
family. They recall Oliver Tambo's remark, in 1994, that the people of South
Africa had never left the Commonwealth because, under apartheid, their
wishes had never been taken into account.
In 2005, at the Malta CHOGM, Zimbabwe was "the forgotten issue". Good
offices initiatives, either through the Commonwealth Secretary-General or
through neighbouring Commonwealth Heads of Government, had come to nothing.
The Commonwealth Observer Group at the 2002 Presidential elections had
played an important role in encouraging a united Commonwealth response
critical of the elections and leading to the agreement to suspend Zimbabwe's
Commonwealth membership. But, faced with a difficult and potentially
divisive issue, some have taken comfort from Zimbabwe's subsequent departure
from membership as signifying that it was "off the Commonwealth agenda".
2. Current position
Despite the official standpoint of the Commonwealth that it cannot be
involved in the affairs of a non-member country, many Commonwealth civil
society organizations believe that, especially at a time of such crisis, the
Commonwealth needs to remain engaged:
· to send a message to the people of Zimbabwe that they are not forgotten
· to support good offices and mediation initiatives in the region
(particularly the latest SADC overtures)
· to provide assistance, in whatever way possible, in strengthening civil
society bodies in Zimbabwe and in skills development and capacity building,
either in the region or in the wider diasporas
· to assist in the development of policy proposals for the 'new' Zimbabwe so
that, when change comes, there is the best possible chance of achieving
economic and political stability, within a democratic dispensation.
There is of course a precedent for Commonwealth involvement in a non-member
country. In 1961, South Africa withdrew from the Commonwealth after
considerable criticism of its apartheid policies. The Commonwealth continued
its involvement and played a significant role in the ending of apartheid and
the birth of a democratic, non-racial South Africa (back in the Commonwealth
3. "Zimbabwe - Preparing for Change" Consultation
A half-day consultation was convened by the Royal Commonwealth Society at
the Commonwealth Club on the afternoon of 2 July 2007. Over one hundred
invited guests attended, including UK parliamentarians, representatives of
Commonwealth and other governments, delegates from Commonwealth
organisations (including the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth
Foundation) and many individuals and groups from Zimbabwe or the diasporas,
including civil society organisations, the media and the political parties
Stuart Mole, Director-General of the Royal Commonwealth Society, opened the
consultation by saying that failure to act would be "a stain on the
credibility and the conscience of the Commonwealth". Keynote addresses were
made by Hon Gareth Evans, President and Chief Executive Officer of the
International Crisis Group, formerly Foreign Minister of Australia; and Dr
Nkosana Moyo, Partner (Africa) at Actis, formerly Zimbabwean Minister for
Industry and Trade. Summaries of their speeches are available.
After the plenary session, the consultation broke into small round table
groups to discuss the particular ways in which the Commonwealth could help
in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe. Each group dealt with the general
question, after which they focused on one specific area of concern. These
areas included 1) Rule of law (including judiciary, police, CIO, military);
2) democracy, elections and freedom of expression; 3) Land reform and
property rights; 4) Reconciliation and dialogue; 5) Economy and agriculture
(including food security and poverty alleviation); 6) Civil society and
State institutions; 7) Education, health and human development; and 8) Role
of regional and international partners.
A summary report on the outcome of the consultation will be available
4. The Way Forward
Without pre-empting the summary report, it is expected that future work will
be in the following areas:
· Assembling and delivering a "People's Commonwealth" Programme for
Zimbabwe, bringing together a range of Commonwealth civil society and
non-governmental organizations. This could focus on meeting pressing
humanitarian needs and other contact and will, in particular, send a message
that the Commonwealth remains engaged.
· Facilitating medium to long-term logistical and skills development in
preparation for political change.
· Pressing Commonwealth governments to consider the issue at the Kampala
CHOGM in November 2007 and to increase its support for positive political
engagement and change in Zimbabwe.
· Facilitating and co-coordinating policy development, consultation and
planning across the sectors in preparation for change.
5. HMG and Zimbabwe
As things stand, Zimbabwe is not on the agenda, officially or unofficially,
for the Uganda CHOGM in November 2007.
HMG should be urged to put pressure on fellow Commonwealth Governments (and
through the Secretary General) to address the Zimbabwe issue at CHOGM.
17 July 2007
Royal Commonwealth Society
Chris McGreal in Johannesburg
Wednesday July 18, 2007
Nelson Mandela marked his 89th birthday today with the launch of a group of
world-renowned leaders who plan to use several Nobel peace prizes and
"almost 1,000 years of collective experience" to tackle global crises that
governments are unable or unwilling to confront.
"Using their collective experience, their moral courage and their ability to
rise above nation, race and creed, they can make our planet a more peaceful
and equitable place to live," said the former South African president.
Mr Mandela, looking frail and walking with a stick, said the group, to be
known as the Elders, was created at the initiative of Richard Branson and
Peter Gabriel, who organised the funding.
Its members include the former US president Jimmy Carter, the former UN
secretary general Kofi Annan, and the former archbishop of Cape Town Desmond
Tutu. The former Irish president Mary Robinson and philanthropist Muhammad
Yunus are also included with others expected to be invited to join.
Mr Mandela said the group could become a "robust force for good" in dealing
with challenges ranging from climate change and global pandemics such as
Aids and malaria to "that entirely human-created affliction, violent
He said the Elders could prove effective in "working objectively and without
any personal or vested interest" in dealing with seemingly intractable
problems where others fail because of "political, economic and geographic
"This group can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind
the scenes on whatever actions need to be taken," he said.
The launch was emotionally charged by Mr Mandela's birthday, which prompted
a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday, and another for Mr Branson, who shares
the same birthday.
Mr Tutu later broke down in tears after Mr Gabriel gave an impromptu
rendition of his song Biko, about the Black Consciousness leader murdered 30
years ago by the apartheid-era police.
Mr Mandela said the name of the group was drawn from the idea of the world
as a global village in need of elders in the way that village elders have
traditionally addressed their communities' problems.
Members of the Elders declined to be drawn on what their first initiatives
might be but a source close to the group said that Zimbabwe is an early
target for behind-the-scenes diplomacy and that there had already been
contacts on the issue.
Asked specifically about Zimbabwe, Mr Tutu said: "One of the ways we hope to
be able to operate is not announcing in public. There are many things that
can be accomplished because people are able to use their persuasive
abilities in confidence."
Mr Branson approached Mr Mandela with the idea for such a group in 2001. The
former South African president is to be only a "presence" rather than a more
active member of the group, although Mr Tutu said that if all Mr Mandela
ever does is pick up a telephone "that will be more than enough".
Mr Carter said the group had the advantage of "complete freedom to escape
from the restraints of political niceties".
"The Elders neither want nor will we have any kind of authority except that
which comes through common moral values," he said.
Mr Mandela's birthday was also to be marked in Cape Town with a football
match between a team of some of the world's legendary players, including
Key CAMEC shareholder Billy Rautenbach, wanted on multiple charges in South
Africa, has been declared persona non grata in the DRC as CAMEC's bid for
Katanga Mining has to cross another hurdle
Author: Barry Sergeant
Posted: Wednesday , 18 Jul 2007
An official Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) statement dated July 17
2007 has declared notorious businessman Billy Rautenbach persona non grata.
The decree, signed by Major General Jean-Pierre Ondekane, director general
in the DRC ministry of state in charge of domestic affairs and security, has
been laughed off by London-listed Central African Mining & Exploration
Company (CAMEC, CFM.L £0.635 a share), to which the decree was copied.
In its reaction published via the London Stock Exchange, CAMEC says it does
"not believe that the restriction order has been issued by the appropriate
authorities and therefore questions its authenticity". DRC minister of
state in charge of domestic affairs and security Denis Kalume, however,
tells me that the decree is absolutely genuine and issued with due
authority. Rautenbach is one of the largest, if not the largest,
shareholders in CAMEC.
Rautenbach is wanted in South Africa on dozens of criminal charges. The DRC
decree "acknowledges that the South African judicial authorities have been
looking for you, to answer for cases of fraud, thefts, corruptions,
violations of commercial laws, etc".
(In the original "fraudes, vols, corruptions, violations de la loi
In complete defiance of the DRC decree, and in a full frontal challenge of
its sovereignty, CAMEC also stated that "Rautenbach has this morning entered
the DRC without hindrance". It has so far not been possible to independently
confirm this allegation. CAMEC continued that even if the DRC decree "were
authentic it would not affect any of CAMEC's operations in the Congo; Mr.
Rautenbach is not involved in the operational management of the company's
The background to the latest standoff in the DRC's minerals rich Katanga
Province can be most conveniently traced back to February last year, when
CAMEC bought Rautenbach's apparent rights to mining concessions 467 and 469
(also known as C19 & C21) in Katanga Province, and 50% of the cobalt-rich
Mukondo operation. The legacy of these assets could render them highly
vulnerable during the DRC's current and ongoing mining contracts review,
given how the Rautenbach/CAMEC assets were first obtained during the DRC's
1997-2003 war, under the Zimbabwe military's Operation Sovereign Legitimacy
(Osleg), when up to 4m people died of unnatural causes.
The security and nature of tenure of mining concessions held by CAMEC fell
under renewed pressure last week when it announced a "bid" for the 78% CAMEC
does not already hold in Katanga Mining (KAT.T, C$23.38). In contrast to
CAMEC, Katanga Mining holds one of the cleanest sets of papers in the DRC
resources sector; its Kamoto agreement was ratified by presidential decree
on August 4 2005. Katanga Mining is also set to be the first of the really
big Katanga Province copper mines that will get metal to market, an event
anticipated before the end of the year.
Phillipe Edmonds, chairman of CAMEC, but better known as an erstwhile spin
bowler of England's cricket team, was quick to deflect the latest attack on
his company. "It is our belief", Edmonds said in a statement, "that this
development emanates from political pressure exerted by rival commercial
entities also interested in acquiring Katanga Mining and is a further
deliberate attempt to undermine CAMEC's intended offer for Katanga [Mining].
The CAMEC offer is supported by the holders of a majority of Katanga
Last week DRC parastatal copper-cobalt miner Gécamines, which has a stake in
Katanga Mining, said it had sought legal advice on whether its contracts
with Katanga Mining would be affected by a proposed takeover by CAMEC.
Separately, DRC deputy mining minister Victor Kasongo was quoted as saying
that ``we don't want speculators; we want mine development for the good of
Congo". CAMEC's stock price took a pounding over the week, falling from
around 80 pence to less than 65 pence a share.
Operations at Mukondo, possibly the richest cobalt mine in the world, remain
suspended for the twelfth consecutive month. Rautenbach, who has been mining
in Katanga Province for close to 10 years, continued to operate Mukondo
after his transactions with CAMEC. However, when the other 50% of Mukondo
changed hands a year ago, a dispute forced the mine into suspension. This
has starved CAMEC of its key ore and concentrator feed in Katanga Province.