Second eviction wave hits Porta Farm Ray
Matikinye THERE is a striking similarity between a visit to Zimbabwe by Queen
Elizabeth II 14 years ago for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
(Chogm) and the UN special envoy on Human Settlements, Anna Kajumulo
Tibaijuka's fact-finding mission to Harare this week.
visits are of contrasting hue, both have caused an outcry over the eviction
of families from Porta Farm outside the capital.
Among the 1 500
families removed from the farm is 65-year-old widow, Felicitus Chinyuku
experiencing her second eviction. It has left her without any possession
other than her clothes and dishes.
Many of the evicted families, who
have no alternative home to go because they were of Malawian extraction and
third generation Zimbabweans, said police had told them only to take basic
belongings. No one was allowed to ferry building material they had salvaged
from the debris of their former homes out of the
"They told us when we get to Caledonia Farm we will have
to leave our furniture at the gate before entering the camp," said Ashton
Shumba, a human rights activist also evicted from the settlement. "We are
not allowed to take any electrical goods such as televisions into the camp.
They said all our furniture would be auctioned to raise money to feed us
while we are there."
Officer-in-charge of the eviction and
demolition, Assistant Commissioner Maeresera who could not confirm the
settlers' claims, said the relocation would give the families a new
"They are going to live a better life than the type they were
enduring here. One makes a new start and has peace of mind when they know
they have permanent settlement. I think it is good that these people are
relocated. No one enjoys disrupting people's lives but the law has to be
followed," Maeresera said.
"The government settled us here with
promises to build us better houses," Chinyuku said. "It tried to evict us in
1995 and lost the case in the High Court. And now they arbitrarily evict us.
What type of life is this?"
"We do not want to go to Caledonia as we
will die of diarrhoea," shouted one irate boy above the din of complaints
from the settlers.
Some of the people condemned the Caledonia life as
not suitable for a family as they will be separated.
required to live on their own side of the holding camp separated
their spouses and children.
"Most of us here originated from Malawi
and we do not know where will go," said Hamilton
Chinyuku said: "It is better for them to kill us than
chasing us like dogs like this."
She has filed an urgent
application with the High Court for a spoliation order assisted by Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on behalf of the 1 500 families. She says
her life has been shattered.
"Who can believe them now after failing
to provide us homes for the past 14 years?" she asked.
from ZLHR, Otto Saki and Rangu Nyamurundira, tried in vain to halt the
evictions as hundreds watched their homes flattened.
police on Wednesday demolished the sprawling settlement at Porta Farm
outside Harare where it relocated families from Mbare and Epworth away from
royal or public glare ahead of the 1991 Chogm.
The eviction which
adds to a growing number of the homeless indicates President Mugabe's
continued defiance of international opinion. Demolition of settlements
continues in spite of the presence of UN representative Tibaijuka who is
assessing the situation on behalf of UN secretary-general, Kofi
While Tibaijuka was holed up in a meeting with President
Mugabe on Wednesday, a human tragedy was unfolding about 20 km out of the
capital as earthmoving equipment rumbled through the dusty pathways of the
sprawling settlement, demolishing homes.
"We have been told that
we will be transported to Caledonia Farm but we hear conditions are worse
there," Moline Kapfunde, who has been living at Porta Farm camp since 1991,
said. "Some of the people here escaped from that 'keep' (a reference to the
notorious war-time protected villages).
"We have been given until 6pm to
move or risk our belongings being burnt," she bemoaned. Brought up by
relatives when her mother died, she says he has never known her
"I know no other home than this," says her age peer Freddie
Mlauzi whose late father was displaced from neighbouring River Garden
Sitembile Samaneka (29) of Malawian parentage came to Porta
Farm at the age of 15. Widowed three years ago, she looks after five
children in addition to her late brother's deaf and dumb son.
would rather they killed me here as they threatened earlier," she lamented.
"Where do I take all my dependants? I have never been to Malawi and they
insist I should go where I originally came from."
These are just a
few of the thousands of displaced people Tibaijuka is unlikely to meet.
Reshuffle to accommodate Mugabe minions Dumisani
Muleya PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe may soon be forced to undertake a mini cabinet
reshuffle or drop three ministers, hardly 90 days after appointing his new
team, to avoid illegally maintaining ministers who are not
Sources said Mugabe could be compelled to take these measures
because his initial plan to accommodate Small-Scale and Medium Enterprises
minister Sithembiso Nyoni as well as Harare and Bulawayo resident ministers,
who are also not MPs, in the proposed "stop-gap" Senate, were in
David Karimanzira is Harare's resident minister - not
governor - while Cain Mathema is Bulawayo's resident minister. But the two
are not MPs.
In terms of the constitution all ministers should be MPs
and those who are not have three months to regularise their
In two weeks' time Nyoni, Karimanzira and Mathema can no
longer lawfully remain ministers unless something is done to rescue their
A source said Mugabe, who on Wednesday moved around
permanent secretaries, is likely to reshuffle his cabinet to resolve what
one observer called an "embarrassing situation which shows a lack of
planning and disorganisation on the part of the
Mugabe initially thought by the time the grace period for
his ministers to become MPs expires the upper house of parliament would be
in place and he would appoint them legislators.
to revive the Senate, abolished in 1990, have run into serious problems
which delayed his agenda.
"The problem is that this Senate issue is
intertwined with Mugabe's succession plans," a source said.
has slowed down progress because he wants to ensure he gets things right.
Otherwise, his plans will come unstuck."
Sources said the draft
Senate Bill had been formulated after a long debate on the principles. The
cabinet committee on legislation yesterday discussed the Bill, due to be
presented to cabinet on Tuesday. The Bill is expected to be gazetted next
week and be debated by the public for at least 30 days as it deals with a
The parliamentary legal committee needs 26
days to scrutinise the Bill but there is controversy raging as to whether a
constitutional issue should be considered by the body or
Zanu PF does not want the Bill to go before the legal committee
because this will slow down the process. Opposition Movement for Democratic
Change MPs are said to be opposed to plans to railroad the
The initial proposal was to have a five-year Senate with 65
members with the proposed 10 administrative provinces having five members
each but the number has been increased to 66 to give Zanu PF a "two-thirds
majority" in both Houses.
Zanu PF's claimed two-thirds majority
in the House of Assembly is currently under a court challenge. Justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa has virtually admitted that the ruling party's
claims of an absolute majority were false.
Fuel prices: analysts warn of dire consequences Eric
Chiriga THE increase in fuel prices is inflationary and will worsen the
economic crisis, analysts have said.
The three-fold increase in the
fuel prices will make the targets set by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor, Gideon Gono, more difficult to attain.
The government this
week increased the price of fuel by 300% in response to the rise in world
oil prices from US$27 a barrel to more than US$60.
Petrol now costs
$10 000 a litre, up from $3 600 while diesel is now costing $9 600 a litre,
up from $3 800.
Eric Bloch, economic analyst and advisor to Gono,
anticipates that by year-end inflation will be between
This is contrary to Gono's revised inflation target of
between 50-80% by the end of the year.
Initially, the central
bank had put its forecast at 20-35%.
Zimbabwe's inflation currently
stands at 144,4%, one of the highest rates in the world.
economist, Witness Chinyama, said the fuel price increases would result in
an increase in costs of production at micro level.
"The burden of the
fuel price increases will be passed on to the final products," Chinyama
He said that the percentage increase in product prices would be
much higher than the percentage increase in the fuel prices.
will be inflationary because the fuel shortage is going to continue despite
the increase in price."
He said people are already buying fuel from
the parallel market at prices more than the recently gazetted and this
translates into higher basic commodity costs.
will then introduce price controls and companies will be forced to reduce
output," he said. Chinyama said the country is losing a lot of man-hours as
people spend a lot of time in fuel queues.
"This whole issue should
be tackled within the framework of the issue of foreign currency shortage,"
The country is facing a severe foreign currency
shortage and before the increase in the oil prices, the government was
struggling to raise foreign currency to import ample fuel for the
The foreign currency auction can only raise about US$44
million a week while US$62 million is spent on fuel
Inspite of the price hike, Petroleum Marketers of
Zimbabwe ruled out any immediate availability of
Despite the inflationary effect, the fuel price increase
will also have ripple effects on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), economic
growth and other economic fundamentals.
Although the commodity is
still scarce in the country, a number of service stations in the central
business district have already effected the new prices.
in the world price of oil will also exacerbate the shortage of foreign
currency in the country.
Employees' representative body, the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) also said that the price increases would
have a serious adverse effect on the working populace.
there is consensus on the need for the adjustment of fuel prices in
with international oil prices, the ripple effect of the three fold increment
goes back to haunt the workers who are experiencing transport problems, due
to the acute shortage of fuel," Wellington Chibebe, ZCTU secretary general
Chebebe said the transport situation will not improve, further
exacerbating the plight of workers as the increase will trigger drastic
increases in prices of basic commodities.
"ZCTU feels that the
increases should have been staggered over a period of time for workers to
adjust to the constant increase of transport costs and basic commodities,"
The fuel shortage became complicated over the past two
Zimbabwe requires 2,5 million litres of diesel and 2 million
litres of fuel every day.
As the shortage bites, Zimbabwe has now
allowed truck owners to ferry stranded commuters to and from work. City
residents spend hours in transport queues.
Rural buses have also
been directed to ferry the stranded commuters to their work
Energy and Power Development minister, Mike Nyambuya said the
fuel prices would be reviewed regularly to take into account international
and regional prices.
Govt heightens efforts to mislead UN Dumisani
Muleya/Augustine Mukaro GOVERNMENT is intensifying efforts to mislead United
Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan's special envoy who is assessing the
impact of the urban demolition blitz which has triggered a huge humanitarian
Since it was announced that Annan would be dispatching to
Zimbabwe Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, executive director of the world body's
housing agency UN-Habitat, government has been making frantic efforts to
give the impression that it has launched a massive reconstruction project to
build houses for more than a million people affected by the sweeping
crackdown - to be completed by the end of next month.
damage limitation exercise - which civic groups and analysts have described
as a gigantic fraud - include claims of allocation of thousands of
residential stands, building of houses, creation of thousands of jobs, and
establishment of transit camps for refugees - all underwritten by a $3
trillion reconstruction fund.
The smokescreen is apparently
designed to cover up the disastrous impact of the crackdown. Human rights
and civic groups say at least 200 000 homes have been destroyed, displacing
over a million people. Many are still sleeping out in the open across the
Thousands of the refugees are now being kept at "transit
camps" like Caledonia Farm while alternative homes are supposedly being
sought. At least 300 000 school children are said to have been thrown out of
school. Six people have died since the crackdown began more than four weeks
Apart from protests by Zimbabwean civil society, including
lawyers and churches, the demolitions have sparked outrage in the
international community, including the United States, the European Union,
the Group of Eight (the world's richest nations), and the Commonwealth from
which Zimbabwe withdrew in 2003.
Fearing the dire consequences of
"Operation Murambatsvina" attracting international censure, especially by
the United Nations Security Council, government embarked on a damage-control
exercise in a bid to repackage a disastrous demolition crackdown as a
The visit by the UN envoy is a diplomatic
escalation of the issue and a sign of grave concern in the corridors of
power at the UN headquarters in New York.
After discussing the
demolition crisis in the Zanu PF politburo and central committee last week,
as well as in cabinet, authorities made panicky attempts to give the
impression that the situation was under control.
Mugabe put in place an inter-ministerial committee, which Tibaijuka met
yesterday, and "building brigades" to spearhead the claimed reconstruction
exercise which came unstuck at Whitecliff Farm after the High Court this
week ruled that the project was illegal as the land was private
The purported reconstruction campaign - Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle - was hastily announced ahead of Tibaijuka's arrival
This was crudely designed, civil society critics say, to
pull the wool over her fact-finding team's eyes.
Joseph Msika officially launched the rebuilding campaign at Whitecliff on
Wednesday, the same day Tibaijuka was meeting Mugabe to discuss the issue -
and as Porta Farm was being cleared of its inhabitants. But Msika was doing
so unlawfully in view of the High Court interdict.
Mugabe claimed he
had wanted to implement the "clean-up" exercise before the March 31 general
election but feared it would be misconstrued as an assault on opposition
However, there is no evidence of him promising a
"clean-up" after the election during the campaign. Had he done so, he would
have won even fewer votes than he got in the urban centres. What has been
clearly recorded is Mugabe's complaints about urban voters, whom he has
called names, rejecting his party.
Government claims that at
least 10 000 residential stands will be allocated at Whitecliff Housing
Development to accommodate those displaced by its destruction of "illegal
structures", informal businesses and the black market
Although Mugabe says government has set aside $3 trillion,
sources said this sort of money simply doesn't exist.
sources said this week Tibaijuka was unlikely to be misled because she had a
good briefing from United Nations agencies in Harare both before and after
coming to Zimbabwe.
Tibaijuka has met UNDP resident representative
Agostinho Zacarias and UN agencies, including the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration,
World Health Organisation, World Food Programme, United Nations Development
Fund for Women and Unicef - the United Nations Children's Fund.
GOVERNMENT'S "reconstruction" plan was this week dealt a major blow
after the High Court declared illegal the on-going allocation of stands and
building of so-called "model houses" at its flagship project on Whitecliff
The ruling came as government was making frantic efforts at
reconstruction in view of the United Nations special envoy's visit to assess
the impact of the demolition campaign.
The High Court on
Wednesday ruled that government had no right to allocate stands and build
sample houses on Whitecliff Farm because it was privately-owned
This threw into doubt the so-called Operation Garikai/Hlalani
Kuhle, launched by Vice-President Joseph Msika this
Whitecliff, together with three other peri-urban farms, has
been subdivided into residential stands to build houses for more than a
million people displaced by the "clean-up" campaign. More than 9 500 stands
have been allocated at Whitecliff.
Businessman Edward Nyanyiwa
owns Whitecliff through his company, Eddies Pfugari Properties (Pvt) Ltd,
and has held the title deeds to the property for the past eight years. In a
ruling that could deal a huge blow to the government's plans, the High Court
said the allocation of stands and the sample houses built at Whitecliff were
illegal and should be stopped.
High Court Judge Justice Mary Gowora
issued a provisional order barring government from allocating stands and
constructing sample houses on the property.
Through his lawyers
Scanlen & Holderness, Nyanyiwa had argued in his urgent court
application that the allocation of stands and building of sample houses was
illegal and should be stopped immediately.
Nyanyiwa cited Local
Government minister Ignatious Chombo as the first respondent, saying his
decision to distribute stands on private property was illegal.
her judgement Justice Gowora said the allocation of stands and building of
sample houses at Whitecliff was "illegal and wrongful".
provisional order said the stands given to 9 500 people whose names were
published in the state media was "invalid" and should be
"It is declared that the allocation of residential stands
and construction of sample houses by the respondents (Chombo) and officers
under them at the applicant's property called the remainder of Whitecliff,
situated in the district of Salisbury, measuring 1065,7090 hectares, held
under deed of transfer No 10444/2000, is unlawful and wrongful," said the
"In the event that the respondents or one of them have
commenced allocating stands, it is ordered that such allocations are invalid
and are of no force or effect," said the order.
The court also
ordered government to demolish sample houses it had constructed at
"In the event that the first respondent has constructed
sample houses or any structures on the applicant's property, the first
respondent is hereby ordered to destroy such structures within 48 hours of
being served with a copy of this order."
The order means that the
people whose names were published in the state media cannot take up their
stands. Nyanyiwa has owned Whitecliff since 1998. He had started developing
residential stands on the property when war veterans, at the instigation of
politicians, settled on it at the peak of the land invasions in
Government has been at pains to point out the benefits of
Operation Murambatsvina, launched four weeks ago amid destruction of shanty
homes and property, as a plan to restore order in Zimbabwe's urban areas.
The operation has provoked an international outcry over the humanitarian
crisis it has created.
THE ongoing government-sponsored demolition blitz on shantytown
homes, "illegal structures", including office blocks, and the black market
is reminiscent of Zanu PF's long record of political
While all sorts of theories have been unfurled to explain the
repressive behaviour of the state towards its citizens, one thing is clear:
the crackdown is evocative of government's well-documented history of
reckless abuse of power and autocratic tendencies.
Whatever the real
motive of President Robert Mugabe's government, this time round Zanu PF has
only succeeded in reinforcing its credentials as an authoritarian
administration malevolently abusing state authority.
As appalling as this
might be, there is nothing surprising about it. Soon after coming to power
in 1980 on the crest of a wave of popular support, Zanu PF - one of the main
forces in the broad liberation movement against colonial rule - embarked on
an aggressive power consolidation drive that later degenerated into
The main target of Zanu PF repression at the time was the
major opposition party, PF Zapu. Then, as now, Mugabe suffered from a siege
mentality and paranoia which bred repression. Because he was not in firm
control, he seemed to fear losing his grip on power.
In the process,
Mugabe developed institutions of command and support, such as a partisan
state bureaucracy, monolithic party and politicised security agencies to
back his rule.
This was driven by an exaggerated and almost irrational
fear of Zapu and its functionaries in state institutions, especially the
army, and the desire for untrammelled power which led to costly violent
overreactions to any signs of dissent.
Mugabe himself has described
his overreaction to the Zapu "problem" through Gukurahundi massacres as an
"act of madness".
Even though the campaign had ethnic overtones, it was
largely about a brutal struggle for power and Zanu PF's declared vision of a
one-party state. Zapu was the main stumbling block to Mugabe's socialist
one-party state ambitions.
Zanu PF leaders were locked in a wretched
Marxist-Leninist pretence, the mobilising ideology during the struggle,
which soon evaporated as the party's true colours began to show. The
demolition campaign further shows how Zanu PF's egalitarian dream has
disappeared without trace.
This political pattern of Zanu PF repression -
going back to the pre-Independence era - also manifested itself again after
the ruling party suffered a humiliating electoral defeat during the
constitutional draft referendum in 2000.
Instead of responding to the
reversal graciously, Zanu PF, which has no established democratic
temperament, angrily reacted with a society-wide repression through chaotic
This spawned political violence and killings of more than
100 people, mostly opposition MDC supporters, bombing and closure of
newspapers, arrests and harassment of journalists, purges of professional
judges from the bench, attacks on and cooption of civil society
organisations, and lashing out at real and perceived state
The land invasions and the concomitant, sustained political
assault had racial overtones. As he did during the long-running onslaught on
Zapu and its supporters, Mugabe during the land reform campaign rallied his
followers to launch a race war, saying:
"You must strike fear into
the hearts of the white man, make them tremble, our real enemies!"
to 15 white farmers were killed during the farm seizures. At least six
people have died during the current demolition campaign. The difference
between Gukurahundi and the land grab on the one hand and the demolition
campaign on the other is that the international community has voiced grave
concern this time round.
During the 1980s, the international
community, especially Britain under the Conservatives, turned a blind eye to
the civilian massacres.
The current destruction of shacks, informal
sector market stalls, tuck shops, hair salons, shebeens, flea markets,
vegetable markets, home industries, urban home gardens and closure of
offices fall well within a well-established pattern of
Before the newly independent Zimbabwean state which was
emerging from a protracted armed liberation struggle could settle down and
set itself on a reconstruction and development path, the new form of
conflict broke out, in all probability at the effective instigation of those
Manipulating genuine teething problems of the new government,
which could have been resolved differently without massacres, Mugabe and his
regime invented the pretext of a mortal dissident threat and deployed the
North Korean-trained Five Brigade to the Matabeleland killing fields for a
five-year butchering campaign.
The ill-advised and grisly crackdown
on a handful of army deserters, who had run away largely because of internal
clashes in the army between Zanla and Zipra forces during the choppy
integration period, claimed 20 000 civilian lives, unleashing far-reaching
consequences on the national psyche and body politic.
happening now is simply a manifestation of similar Zanu PF tendencies in a
different form. If there is anything Zanu PF has been consistent in, it's
Due to social dynamics of the time and also by
political design, Zanu PF developed a parochial and intolerant form of
nationalism shaped by an eclectic mix of class, ethnic and ideological
interests and contradictions.
That is why in the current ethnic,
nepotistic and regional ordering - which undermine democratic accountability
and transparency - in state institutions and the professional bureaucracy
This is the trouble with Zimbabwe and it distinguishes
great African nationalists like Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere from the
likes of Mugabe.
Professor Brian Raftopoulos last month wrote in the
context of the demolitions that Zanu PF's uncanny brand of nationalism has
grown increasingly "intolerant of diversity and insists on uniformity of
outlook", something that leads to the "simplistic dichotomies of
citizen/alien and patriot/traitor".
"Hence the anti-urbanism
(Operation Restore Order and Murambatsvina) that has become one of the
hallmarks of the ruling party's authoritarian nationalism, as it repeatedly
located national (identity) authenticity in the rural population,"
Raftopoulos said, "and hurled insults at the 'totemless strangers living
under the spell of an urban ill-wind'."
Raftopoulos said this view -
which was publicly aired by Mugabe and a Zanu PF MP in parliament last week
- showed "a good deal of continuity with the colonial state in this
characterisation of urbanites who, under settler rule, were seen as
temporary residents in cities tolerated as long as their labour is
During the 1980s period, infighting in the army and apartheid
South Africa's "Total Onslaught" strategy gave government the excuse to
commission Gukurahundi excesses whose impact on the country's political and
democratic development has been disastrous.
Zanu PF has polished the
art of inventing threats to mobilise the people around a particular
self-serving issue as a pretext to assert authoritarian control.
low intensity civil war of the 1980s, which had its genesis in the rough
formation of the new nation-state, was one such invented crisis.
the formation of a nation-state requires unity, but sometimes it is
adversely affected by ethnic, tribal, regional, or religious factors when
certain groups balk and refuse to give support to the political leadership
of the new state.
This is where the test of leadership comes in. Some
leaders use statecraft to forge unity while others fashion out a highly
centralised system and use instruments of coercion to come up with forced
unity in fear.
Despite his leadership failures, Zambia's founding
president Kenneth Kaunda, as well as Mandela and Nyerere, albeit in
different circumstances, managed ethnic and racial diversity and their
inherent contradictions much better than Mugabe whose legacy is
Mugabe's legacy includes a collapsed economy, a sea of poverty,
and a politically and ethnically divided nation.
This overshadows his
achievements in social services, education, health, infrastructure, and
broad socio-economic advancement of the hitherto marginalised
As the International Monetary Fund pointed out this week,
Operation Murambatsvina has simply compounded Zimbabwe's plight.
the end, history will without fail judge Mugabe and Zanu PF harshly.
Wake-up call from delusional dreams THE International
Monetary Fund (IMF) team which was in the country last month has painted a
grim picture of the Zimbabwean economy. The immediate future does not look
anything like the bright sunny uplands we have been promised by those in
power. The IMF staff mission statement released this week not only
demonstrates the continued free-fall of our economy but is a significant
assault upon the integrity of budgetary projections by both Finance minister
Herbert Murerwa last year and of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono who as
recently as May claimed the economy was turning a corner.
The IMF said
Gono's policies of consumer subsidies will fuel inflation. Output is
expected to decline further. Murerwa's 28% growth projection for agriculture
and 3% in GDP are now revealed to be mere mirages - which is what we said at
the time of his budget. Even Gono's revised GDP target of 2-2,5% is unlikely
to be achieved.
The IMF said foreign currency shortages were expected to
intensify and the budget deficit will likely bloat.
presented by the IMF is very different from the Nirvana we were promised in
the pre-election period. And Operation Murambatsvina will simply compound
existing problems, the Washington bankers say.
The government stratagem
at the time needed a well-scrubbed and unsullied face to stage the
"turnaround" plan. Gono was the answer. We warned Gono at the time that he
was being invited to a political mangling in which his person would be used
to authenticate the Zanu PF fantasy that glory days were nigh. The governor,
as energetic as ever, has stuck to his guns albeit in the face of mounting
problems. His credibility is at stake.
"Failure is not an option" has
been the rallying point of his thrust against inflation, corruption and low
productivity in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. But will this be
his swansong? In May, Gono was forced to revise his inflation forecasts from
the initial target of 30-50% to 50-80% by year-end. His policy has suffered
major losses on this front and even the revised targets do not look
realistic seeing as the cost of virtually everything has gone
Gono in May unveiled hugely subsidised financing packages for the
agricultural sector and for exporters. This the IMF has said will "fuel a
sharp increase in money supply, and hence inflation", ironically his number
There are other inflationary pressures. Fuel went up by
300%, school fees from $500 to $500 000 a term (no need to calculate the
percentage increase here) and rentals have shot up by at least
The cost of all basket goods has also soared sharply together with
phone charges and medication. No amount of manipulation of statistics can
mask the fact that inflation is fast heading north and is set to breach the
200% mark by year-end. Politicians' overzealous war cries of recovery
suddenly went silent after the election, leaving Gono as the lone crusader.
He is now exposed and all attention is on him. The people want him to
explain the crippling fuel shortage, the rising prices of groceries, the
shortage of bank notes and rocketing inflation.
The problems sit
snugly on his lap while politicians are now busy executing Operation
Murambatsvina, a smart sideshow which has left the economy smarting even
more. The IMF has said the operation "threatens to worsen shortages and
contribute to lower growth, and aggravate inflation pressures". It is a
question of the government pretending to be solving a problem when in fact
it is hurting the economy with every move.
The IMF is of the belief that
the problems bedevilling the economy stem from lack of a comprehensive plan
to tighten monetary policy and lower the fiscal deficit. The IMF says steps
should be taken to introduce a unified, market-determined exchange rate.
There should also be structural reforms to remove price controls and restore
private sector confidence.
This means Gono's voluminous monetary policy
documents and the government's economic plans are not working and our
authorities should stop pretending that they are.
The IMF statement
is a serious indictment of those claiming to run this economy.
the IMF, we have always maintained that there cannot be a recovery so long
as Zimbabwe remains a pariah state in the community of nations. But our
rulers seem to enjoy this rogue reputation and are quick to justify their
every obtuse move.
We face expulsion from the IMF and the
consequences will be dire for the country. This does not appear to prod
President Mugabe and his team to wake up from the delusional dream that no
one can run this country better than them.
"A rebuilding of relations
with the international community is a critical part of the effort to reverse
the economic decline," the IMF says. But is anyone listening amid the ruckus
of Operation Murambatsvina?
VERY recently I received an analogous fable, the origin of
which is unknown, but the analogy to recent Zimbabwean history being so
apposite as to merit its publication. The fable is a revised version of a
moralistic story of old.
An ant and a grasshopper lived in the same
field. During the summer the ant works all day and night bringing in
supplies for the winter, and he prepares his home to keep him warm during
the cold months ahead.
Meanwhile, the grasshopper hops and sings, eats
all the grass he wants and procreates. Come winter, it gets bitterly cold
and the ant is well-fed and warm in his house, but the grasshopper has not
prepared for winter, so he dies, leaving a whole horde of little
grasshoppers without food and shelter.
The moral of the story is of
course, that one should work hard to ensure that you can take care of
However, the updated version has a sequel:
offspring of the grasshopper demanded to know why the ant should be allowed
to be warm and well-fed, while next door they are living in terrible
conditions without food and proper clothing. A TV crew shows up and
broadcasts footage of the poor grasshoppers, contrasting this with footage
of the ant, smug in his comfortable home with a pantry full of food. The
public is stunned. The print media is inundated with bitter, recriminatory
letters. Thousands demonstrate in the streets of the capital. How can it be,
in this beautiful field, that the poor grasshoppers are allowed to suffer
so, while the ant lives in the lap of luxury?
In the blink of an eye, the
African Grasshopper's Union is formed. They charge the ant with "species
bias" and claim that grasshoppers are the victims of 30 million years of
green oppression. They stage a protest in front of the ant's house and trash
the street. When interviewed by the TV crews, they state that if their
demands are not met, they will be forced into a life of crime. Just for
practice, they loot the TV crew's luggage and hijack the van, smash street
lights and vandalise the ant's home.
The Take and Redistribute Commission
justifies their behaviour by saying that this is the legacy of the ant's
discrimination and oppression of the grasshoppers. The demand that the ant
apologises to the grasshoppers for what he has done, and that he makes
amends for all the other ants in history who have done the same thing to the
People Against Grasshopper Abuse and Distress state that
they are starting a holy war against ants. Leading politicians appear on the
eight o'clock news and say that they will do everything they can for the
grasshoppers who have been denied the prosperity they deserve by those who
have benefited unfairly during the summer.
The government drafts the
Economic Equity for Greens and Disadvantaged Act, retroactive to the
beginning of the summer. The ant is fined for failing to employ a
proportionate number of green insects, and having nothing left to pay back
his taxes, his home is confiscated by the government for redistribution. The
grasshoppers vandalise the house, sell all the furnishings, and destroy the
previously productive vegetable beds.
The story ends as we see the
grasshopper finishing off the last of the ant's food while the government
house he's in (which just happens to be the ant's old house) crumbles around
him because he is too lazy and incompetent to maintain it. Showing on the TV
(which he and a couple of friends stole from another ant), the Minister of
Expropriation is standing before a group of wildly singing and dancing
grasshoppers, announcing a new era of "equality" has dawned on the
The ant, meanwhile, is not allowed to work because he has
historically benefited from the field. In his place, ten grasshoppers only
work two hours a day and steal half of what little they actually harvest.
When winter comes again and not enough food has been harvested, they strike
and demand a 400% increase in wages, so that they can buy more food, which
now has to be imported, because the grasshoppers were not productive enough
to produce enough food.
The ant packs his things and emigrates to
another field, where he starts a highly successful food company and becomes
a millionaire by selling food to the country where he came from.
another sequel develops. The world at large, although aware that the
destitution of the grasshoppers is self-created, nevertheless sympathises
with their hardships and distress. Nations galore support the intent of the
World Food Programme to ensure the survival of the emaciated grasshoppers.
They wish for no recompense from the government of the grasshoppers, but
they do require that the food they will donate will be distributed to all in
need, irrespective of political persuasion, and without corrupt enrichment
of any who will carry out the distribution. The grasshoppers' government is
appalled. How dare others dictate to them? What right do intending donors
have to place conditions upon their caring largesse? That is abuse of the
nation's independence! That cannot be tolerated!
If that be so, let
the donations be rejected, even if many grasshoppers will die, and misery
will be the lot of almost all! And so, the nation of grasshoppers become
evermore emaciated, decimated and debilitated, whilst their government
steadfastly denies culpability, attributing all blame to the ants and to the
world at large.
Terminal insanity setting in at Herald
House? SOME things are almost impossible to define. At least that's what came
out of Chen Chimutengwende's interview with Caesar Zvayi in the Herald on
He couldn't tell us whether his is a ministry or a
department. In the end the words were used interchangeably despite Chen's
own protest that those who said his ministry was a department did so out of
ignorance, by "jumping to conclusions .without asking him or the
As to what the Public and Interactive Affairs ministry or
department actually does, he said this would soon be evident from its
activities. These include nation-building and promoting dialogue between
government and the people.
He said: "Public and interactive affairs
in terms of this department involve dealing with the government's public
relations and communication with the public through interactive activities
which means holding meetings and functions of different types where
stakeholders and government departments and ministries can meet and discuss
the issues at stake."
What? Who convenes the meetings? Who raises the
issues at stake and to whom? When there are no such issues what does Chen
and his staff of 14 do at the office? Apparently, only Chen and President
Mugabe know the answer.
Asked what value he thought his ministry or
department would add to the lives of Zimbabweans, Chen said they handled
"all petitions and complaints" directed to the president and intervened "on
behalf of government in matters that are deemed urgent" and require "special
resolution". What do readers make of that?
Why does an elected
president need to be insulated from direct interaction with his electors?
And what interventions has Chen made, for instance, on behalf of the
government's tsunami disaster victims currently camped along the banks of
the Mukuvisi River in Mbare without food or clean water and
Asked if they would set up offices in the provinces Chen
said no, because they will be working "through the offices of other
"One of the first meetings we want to organise is a meeting
of farmers where they can meet Agribank people, Zinwa people, Arex people
and the governor's office to discuss their problems, procedures, complaints
and so on," he said.
What are their parent ministries doing? What
problems do the farmers face that call for Chen's intervention?
challenges had he faced since taking office, he was asked? Well, getting
vehicles and finding offices. But "soon", he would be "on the go". He didn't
Did that involve kwasakwasa, ventured an intrepid
Only once every six months, the minister reflected. But this
wasn't really a conscious decision. "When it happens, it
Look out, because when it happens it's "total war", Chen
Sounds like another Murambatsvina!
We don't know how the
expression about shedding crocodile tears came about, but there is no better
example of it than deputy Information minister Bright Matonga blowing hot
and cold about Zimbabweans facing deportation from the United Kingdom.
Britain's Home Office plans to deport Zimbabweans who entered the country
illegally or on false claims of persecution.
British prime minister Tony
Blair said this would be done "on a case by case basis", not
indiscriminately as claimed by Matonga.
"These people (Zimbabwean asylum
seekers) were invited and misled and used by Mr Blair," Matonga claimed.
"Now that they have abused and tortured them they deport them. It's
hypocrisy, it's madness from our point of view."
Is there a Zimbabwean
who has a copy of the invitation from Blair? We would be happy to reproduce
it verbatim for purposes of the record.
Matonga appealed to what he
called the "international community" for a mass outpouring of more crocodile
tears against the racially-inspired barbaric deportation of Zimbabweans.
Could anything be more barbaric than a government destroying people's homes
and sources of livelihood without giving them an alternative?
then hypocrites are well-known for their selective amnesia. Matonga forgot
to disclose that the first story in the saga was about Zimbabweans refusing
to be deported to Zimbabwe because they would be persecuted here.
them said they would rather starve to death in the detention camps than
return to Zimbabwe. Isn't that a more damning indictment? Why will they not
return home if their government is so concerned about their welfare? The
reason is because this is the same government that turned them into economic
refugees in the first place. It is the same government that in March this
year denied them the right to vote.
There was also an interesting
letter in the Herald on Tuesday concerning urban agriculture. Senior
Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai set the ball rolling by claiming urban
agriculture had been banned in Harare. He didn't say where the order had
come from but warned the police would enforce it firmly and even destroy any
crops planted in violation of this order.
The following day there was a
reversal. There was no such ban.
Then on Tuesday came Shingirayi
Mushamba's protest letter in defence of urban agriculture which he said
contributed immensely to urban food security and was an "emerging economic
"The link between urban agriculture, soil erosion and water
pipes being blocked is spurious," fulminated our urban agriculture advocate.
There was sufficient legislation through which government could regulate
these activities, he said, citing the Environment Management Act, the
Regional Town and Country Planning Act and the Urban Councils
Where was he and his laws when Zanu PF "mushrooms" sprouted
riotously across town? Does he have any explanation as to how all the hills
around Warren Park and Kambuzuma have been denuded? These are the same
delusional war veterans who want to become a law unto themselves and cry
foul when their illegal projects are destroyed. Surely if he is such a keen
farmer the country should benefit from his talent in the right place. What
is he doing in town?
'The Secretary-General is following this with
keen interest," we are told.
UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka was speaking
on Sunday after arriving in Harare. She was doing her best to be
"We are here at the request of the Secretary-General," she
said, "to assess the situation here after the government accepted our coming
and we want to see how we can work together to put things in a way everybody
would want to have them."
So are things at present not in "a way
everybody would want to have them"?
Our government has told us repeatedly
that this is what people wanted; that the demolition of homes, destruction
of livelihoods, and long walks home at night are just the tonic Harare
Ms Tibaijuka said: "We are here for some days and actually
government will take us around."
Of course they will. They will take
her for a ride!
All sorts of "reconstruction" sites will be on display
with building brigades bustling away as the "new Harare" emerges from the
ashes of the old.
Exactly why people had to lose their shelters and
their possessions without legal notice or suffer deportation to rural homes
will be explained in terms of urban renewal. Everyday the state media have
been running stories such as "National housing scheme underway" and
"Demolitions create jobs". Then there is the totally delusional Operation
Garikai where NSSA will be quickly emptied.
The official line is that
all the destruction the country has witnessed over the past few weeks has
been a necessary bitter pill.
"Although there are divergent views over
the manner in which the operation is being carried out and although many
people have lost their homes," the Sunday Mail declared, "the ultimate goal
of the exercise has been widely accepted as noble."
Has it? We rather
thought it was an unparalleled public relations disaster - something that
the government has been quick to recognise judging by the number of
ministerial interventions on foreign radio and television
The international media has been quick to draw comparisons
with Pol Pot's assault on urban centres in Kampuchea in the
This is an obvious exaggeration. While our revolutionary regime
has described urban-dwellers as "trash", it hasn't yet resorted to targeting
people wearing glasses!
But no amount of pretence about this being a
"clean-up" exercise will convince the inhabitants of our teeming cities that
this was meant for their benefit. It was meant first and foremost to
reassert the authority of an unpopular regime that, following its failure to
win a single urban seat in the March election, resolved to reverse national
Urban voters will now be placed under the
jurisdiction of chiefs and village headmen where they can be better
supervised. But is this the way to win hearts and minds? We doubt
Kofi Annan has been looking for an entry point to Zimbabwe for a
number of years. Such was the scope of the recent urban tsunami and the
pressure on President Mugabe from his regional friends that he finally found
a way in. Much will now depend upon the Tanzanian lady. Her technical team
suggests the intention to undertake a thorough and professional survey
despite the expressed bias of her president who stated that the mass
dispossessions were OK with him.
Let's hope she refuses the
government's offer of transport and finds her own and is not taken in by the
building brigades. Where have they been all these years? And who was the
Non-Aligned Movement ambassador who told Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe
Mumbengegwi that in his country they had a whole ministry responsible for
bulldozing people's homes? We wish these diplomats of despotism would stop
giving our government ideas.
Will the Information ministry have a word
with Nathan Shamuyarira about doing media interviews. Very simply he is not
up to it any more.
Last Friday night it was embarrassing to hear him
speaking on BBC World about people living in homes made of paper and
cardboard, as if they were committing some sort of offence. And he must
allow the interviewer to get a question in. He thought that by ignoring the
interviewer and rambling on, he could win the argument. In the end the
studio sound technicians turned him off so the interviewer could get his
question in. At which point Shamu complained that he hadn't heard the
question because he was still talking at the time!
It was a disaster!
And the Zimbabwean authorities just looked bad. Asked about the possibility
of social conflict, the learned author said the only social conflict in
Zimbabwe was caused by "people like you" (the interviewer) who supported the
That's as good as it got!
Well done to Amnesty International
for the speed with which they responded to the African Union's negligent
comments on Zimbabwe.
An AU spokesman had said that if the Zimbabwe
government said it was restoring order by its actions, "I don't think it
would be proper for us to go interfering."
To which AI swiftly
replied: "The people of Zimbabwe are being sold out - in the interests of a
false 'African solidarity'. This conspiracy of silence amongst African
leaders is fuelling a human rights catastrophe for the people of Zimbabwe.
African solidarity should be with the people of Africa - not with
governments responsible for grave human rights violations."
exchange reveals, Operation Murambatsvina has, if nothing else, focused the
world spotlight on Zimbabwe and the implications of misrule.
Independent referred to "a deadly nexus of Aids, starvation and depopulation
of the cities that is sending tens of thousands to a silent death in rural
The statement by the Catholic bishops published in this paper
last week ("cruel and inhumane") was their strongest since they lost their
voice over the Gukurahundi report.
And we were interested to hear
Sister Patricia Walsh holding forth with great passion on the horrors of
Murambatsvina on Carte Blanche. She appears to be less shy now than she was
Readers who have been enjoying the rather antiquarian debate
between Muckraker and Nathaniel Manheru over flags in recent weeks will have
been pleased to see another flag - the white flag of surrender - hoist over
Herald House last Saturday.
But what a graceless
Muckraker was walking tall, his "small head thrust into the
misty skies" as he gloated over his knowledge of Rhodesian flags, Manheru
"(Muckraker) is happily learned, and mastering and pasting dates
on Rhodesian symbols is for him education for living. What the hack (sic) if
I, the proud son of Manheru, got Rhodesian symbols wrong? So what? Who
except Rhodesians profit from its accuracy?"
There you have, stated
very plainly, the underlying ethos in the state media, and indeed at
Munhumutapa Building where this looks as if it came from. Journalists who
get their facts wrong can do so with impunity so long as they brand their
critics "Rhodesian" or claim it was in the interests of the Silver
All very convenient, you understand!
congratulations to the Herald for giving us the funniest story of the week
with its claims that Zimbabwe's enemies are "doctoring" the weather to
"induce drought conditions in a bid to arm-twist the region to capitulate to
the whims of the world's super-powers". The foreign press will have a field
day with this one.
"Overt and covert machinations" by Britain have given
credence to the conspiracy theory, the Herald, in all seriousness, tells us.
Needless to say, no serious evidence was provided.
"Those who the
gods wish to destroy they first make mad," it used to be said. Are we seeing
signs of terminal insanity at Herald House? No wonder the Features Writer
didn't put his name to the story!
LAST week our
editorial criticised business and religious leaders' timidity in challenging
damaging government policies and their failure to speak out on issues of
national concern. The feedback from readers was mixed although a large
number of callers and those who sent e-mails felt leaders in industry were a
We were also blamed for allowing business leaders to get
away with "criminal complicity" with our errant rulers.
Holdings chairman Shingi Mutasa in the diversified company's 2004 annual
report, has proved he is different. He stood tall in articulating a huge
problem in the fertiliser manufacturing industry where one of TA's
subsidiaries, Sable Chemicals, has been a victim of ill-thought-out
In the second half of last year, Mutasa
said, when international prices of fertiliser were firming, "Sable attained
a shameful distinction of losing $9 billion."
To avoid paring
Mutasa's lament, I will quote in full a few paragraphs from his
"These losses," he said, "arose because of a government
freeze on the price of domestically manufactured ammonium nitrate in the
midst of triple-digit inflation. Meanwhile, government permitted the
importation of fertiliser at ever-increasing prices . . ."
officials in government," he continued, "seem to believe that Sable's answer
to the pricing problem is for the company to borrow from the Productive
Sector Fund. I believe that causing the company to borrow without the
capacity to repay the loan is irresponsible and poor corporate
I hope central bank governor Gideon Gono saw this
Manufacturers do not necessarily require loans but simply want
government to allow them to charge prices commensurate with production
costs. Mutasa reminded the government about the importance of the fertiliser
"No country has raised its agricultural productivity without a
strong domestic fertiliser industry. I speak strongly because of the total
disregard by some authorities to the economic imperative and resultant
social impact of their actions. Voluntary economic activity in an industry
is not enduring if that industry loses money.
"Profits in an
industry are a signal from society that members of that society approve of
the allocation of resources to an industry for the production of goods or
services for that industry."
Mutasa said by forcing Sable to operate
at a loss "through sustained refusal of the Ministry of Industry and
International Trade to allow Sable to raise its prices to match the prices
of imported ammonium nitrate and inflation, the government was sending a
long-term signal to Sable to cease operations".
Here is a bold statement
from industry that the government - especially the misnamed Ministry of
Industry and International Trade which at the time was headed by Samuel
Mumbengegwi - is killing industry under the guise of protecting the
The situation at Sable is symptomatic of government's poor
agricultural policies throughout the production and support industries. It
is not surprising that the situation at Sable is being replicated at seed
houses. Seed Co and Pioneer have not only been forced to charge sub-economic
prices but have also been forced to market their products through the Grain
Mutasa's statement dispels the myth that the
central bank has been creating that its PSF money and other cheap loans will
revive industry. Key to industries like Sable is being allowed to respond to
market forces and matching the import parity price for imported
Only warped policy makers can cook a policy that kills
the local industry - responsible for producing a key agro input - and then
uses scarce foreign currency to import the same commodity. How do
Mumbengegwi and his comrade in Agriculture Joseph Made defend this economic
sabotage? How does Tony Blair come into this butchery of the
I also foresee another catastrophe in the making in the
agricultural sector. Gono in May said he would dish out trillions worth of
cheap money to farmers in a grand plan to revive agriculture. But there is
Made waiting in the wings to kill off any recovery to be achieved from this
Farmers will still not be allowed to market their
output freely. They will be forced to sell their crops at below cost and
still be required to repay the loans. I am looking forward to this
observation being proven wrong this time next year.
By the way,
fertiliser shortages still abound because the pricing issue has still not
been resolved and there is no foreign currency to import
Mumbengegwi is no longer in the system and the new
minister in charge of industry must stand up to the challenge of restoring
viability. Industry knows exactly what is required. It wants the space to
run business. It is not government's role to run business, especially our
government whose record at parastatals speaks for itself. That is why we are
where we are today.
It is no wonder the IMF mission that was in
Harare last month painted a bleak picture of Zimbabwe's future. The IMF
recommends a recovery package which should include "structural reforms, such
as the removal of administrative controls, to ease shortages and restore
Price controls and Operation
Murambatsvina are not part of that package!
SEVERAL years ago, the Great One had "a moment of madness" that
resulted in the death of so many people and destruction of people's lives
Twenty years later he is having another one. Somebody
Let's start "Operation Chi-bvapo". If all those people
walking to work from Chitungwiza start singing, and those from Kuwadzana,
Warren Park, Glen View, Highfield, Mufakose, Kambuzuma and Dzivaresekwa all
do the same, then we walk and meet at Africa Unity Square, we will be able
to do something while the police are busy elsewhere.
WHAT is being done
to make the regional and international community fully aware of the scope of
the tragedy that is unfolding in Zimbabwe - a totally man-made
What is being done to get national and international
organisations and leaders to speak out, and to start taking serious measures
against this inhumane regime?
To their great credit, the Catholic
bishops have recently added their voices to those who have condemned what is
happening. What is being done to shame those who still remain silent into
Has the Vatican been urged to speak out? After all
certain senior leaders in
Zimbabwe claim to be Catholics. Is there a
Papal Nuncio in Zimbabwe? If so, why has he not spoken out?
lady recently elevated to high office takes pride in wearing a Salvation
Army uniform on Sundays. Does the Salvation Army take pride in having
high-profile members directly associated with such inhumanity directed
especially against the poor?
If it does, then the Salvation Army
must have totally abandoned everything that it once stood for, and forgotten
why it was established. If not, why is it so conspicuously silent when the
poor so desperately need all the support they can get?
is one single Christian in Zimbabwe who is not prepared to speak out against
this tragedy then they have absolutely no concept of the Christian
If there is one single human being, of whatever religion -
or of no religion - in Zimbabwe who is not prepared to speak out against
this tragedy then they have no idea of what being human should
If we are incapable of effectively organising our own people,
the least we can do is to work tirelessly to ensure that the maximum amount
of international and regional pressure is brought to bear, both from
governments, organisations and individuals.
Is the Broad Alliance
ensuring that the international community is fully aware of the scale of
what is happening here?
Is the African Union, and all its members,
being made aware that it is not wealthy white farmers who are now the
targets and victims, but rather the poorest of black Zimbabweans -
Zimbabweans who have been made poor by the policies of this destructive
Does anyone seriously believe that this regime will stop its
relentless campaign of victimisation and terror? If they can carry out their
destructive policies in the high-density townships without any reaction, is
there any doubt that they will do the same everywhere else?
there still some who think that they will be safe by remaining silent, or by
paying "protection money", or that living in Glen Lorne or Highlands will
protect them from what has been happening in Glen View and
"First they came for . . . and I didn't speak up . . .
Then they came for me - and by that time no one was left to speak
Pastor Niemoller's famous statement should be the watchword, not
just for the silent cowardly majority of ordinary individuals, but - more
importantly - for leaders of nations and organisations who not only can
speak with more authority but also with much less risk of
Given the known sympathies, and silence in the face of
suffering, of the Anglican Bishop of Harare, I am now ashamed to admit that
I was baptised an Anglican.
Ari Ben-Menashe does it again By Brian
Hutchinson and Graeme Hamilton ARI Ben-Menashe is back in business. A former
spy and international arms dealer, the Montreal resident recently tried to
incriminate Zimbabwe's opposition leader in an alleged presidential
Now the self-described "man of infamy" is using a
Canadian government Website to promote his latest venture. Ben-Menashe is
chief operating officer of Albury Grain Sales, a commodities brokerage that
was registered last year in Montreal.The company has obtained a free listing
on Industry Canada's "Strategis" Website, which helps "buyers and sellers
While the Industry Canada listing contains unverified
information about Albury, it offers no insight into Ben-Menashe's
controversial past.For decades, he has raised eyebrows with unsubstantiated
tales of international intrigue and political subterfuge; his business
dealings, meanwhile, have led to bitter accusations and lawsuits.Alexander
Vassiliev just had his own experience with Ben-Menashe. "I e-mailed him in
April, and that's how it all started," says Vassiliev, vice-president of
Sonox International Inc, a Florida-based food export
"Now we're in the hole, big time." Vassiliev says that
Albury agreed to arrange a US$33,6-million shipment of soybeans to a Sonox
partner in Uzbekistan.Ben-Menashe maintains that Sonox "defaulted" on its
contract with his company. Whatever the truth, the soybeans never
materialised, and Vassiliev wants his US$336 000 deposit
"I wish I had known about this person and the things he is
supposed to have done," says Vassiliev. "It looks like we are one of the
Born in Iraq and educated in Israel, Ben-Menashe's life
story could have been torn from the pages of a paperback thriller. Fired
from Israel's intelligence service in 1987, he claims to have spent the next
two years as a secret advisor to Yitzhak Shamir, then Israel's prime
minister and to have sold Israeli airplanes to Iran. Israeli officials have
consistently denied the account.
Ben-Menashe says he arranged the
transfer of an $8,5 million "donation" from Israel to a major Australian
political party.It was payment, he said, for illicit arms trading. In 1993,
after Israel refused to renew his passport, and his application to settle in
Australia was denied, he married a Canadian woman and moved to Montreal's
affluent Westmount district.
He made more headlines three years ago
after taking a lucrative "advisory" position with Zimbabwe's President,
Ben-Menashe claimed that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change party, soon approached him, asking
for help in a bid to "eliminate" Mugabe.
To bolster his
astonishing claim, Ben-Menashe produced a grainy videotape of meetings he
held with Tsvangirai in London and Montreal, where the alleged assassination
talks took place. The tapes were handed over to Zimbabwean authorities.Most
international observers believed Tsvangirai had been framed; nevertheless,
he was charged in Zimbabwe with treason, a crime punishable by execution,
and went to trial in 2003. Ben-Menashe was the prosecution's star
He caused a sensation inside the Harare courtroom, where he
angrily clashed with defence lawyers. Judge Paddington Garwe described
Ben-Menashe as a "rude, unreliable and contemptuous" witness.In his judgment
last autumn, Judge Garwe found that "nowhere" in the Ben-Menashe videotape
was there "a direct request made by the accused . to assassinate the
President". Tsvangirai was acquitted.
Back in Canada, Ben-Menashe
faced other difficulties. Police in Montreal arrested him in 2002 and
charged him with assault, following complaints from his wife and
mother-in-law.He was eventually acquitted, but subsequent divorce
proceedings have been acrimonious. His business affairs unravelled. A
private company he founded in Montreal was put into bankruptcy after being
sued by at least 10 different parties in several developing-world
Carlington Sales Canada Corporation was accused of
pocketing large payments for shipments of grain and other foodstuffs that
allegedly never materialised. According to statements of claim and
affidavits filed in Quebec court, Carlington required customers to provide
10% deposits, ahead of shipments.The deposits were to be held in trust. It
was alleged the money was instead split among Carlington employees,
including Ben-Menashe. Most of the lawsuits were eventually settled out of
But Ben-Menashe's American partner, Alexander Legault, was
ordered deported, thanks to unrelated fraud charges he faced in the United
States.Among other things, Legault is alleged to have participated in an
illegal investment scheme in
Zim slips in corruption
rankings Godfrey Marawanyika ZIMBABWE has slipped further into the league
of the most corrupt countries in the world, moving to 114 out of 146 on a
score of 2,3, Transparency International has revealed in its annual
In 2003 Zimbabwe was ranked 106th.
The scores reflect
perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and
country analysts. The scores range from 0 (highly-corrupt) to 10
Botswana is the only sub-Saharan African country with
a better ranking with a score of 6 and ranked 31st.
is seen as one of the "cleanest" countries in Africa with a 4,6 score and is
Out of the 25 countries with the lowest Corruption
Perception Index (CPI), nine are in Africa.
Mauritius is ranked
number 54 with a score of 4,1 while Tunisia is at number 39 with a score of
The worst rated nation in southern Africa is Angola on number 133
with a 2,0 score tied together with the Ivory Coast and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo.
Oil-rich Nigeria is the most corrupt
country in the world. It occupies the 144th slot with a 1,6
Transparency International said Zimbabwe's economy has been
persistently stripped of its assets by corruption in the private and public
It said that over the past years the chaotic land reform
process that led to the virtual collapse of the agricultural sector has
driven the crisis.
"This in turn precipitated a chain reaction as
Zimbabwe ran out of basic commodities such as fuel, foreign currency and
foodstuffs," TI said.
"With an inadequate legal infrastructure to
contain the problem with formal structures, the result has been a parallel,
informal market that is a haven for corrupt activities. Substantial amounts
of local and foreign currency have been externalised illegally. Observations
on the ground suggest that corruption has drastically increased over the
past year and it is being held officially responsible for the socio-economic
conditions that have bedevilled Zimbabwe since the late 1990s."
Two lawmakers from Zimbabwean opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) were on Thursday ejected from Parliament house for
"disobeying orders" in a debate on a major housing demolition campaign of
the government, local newspaper the Herald reported on Friday.
MDC's Thembinkosi Sibindi was shown the door for "disrespecting " Sabina
Mugabe from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF), while another MDC lawmaker Blessing Chebundo was ejected for
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Edna
Madzongwe threw out the opposition legislators when the House was debating a
motion on the clean-up exercise, which saw thousands of illegal housing
structures torn down all over the country. Sibindi had shouted at Mugabe
saying, "grandmother you have grown too old."
when Mugabe interjected MDC's Edward Mkosi, who was on the floor debating
the motion. Chebundo was ejected out of the House after he had continued
interjecting when the ruling party's Kennedy Matimba was
Last week, Madzongwe also threw MDC lawmaker Gift
Chimanikire out of the House for "disobeying orders."
to western media, the government's clean-up exercise has left thousands of
poor people homeless. The United Nations has sent Anna Tibaijuka to Zimbabwe
to assess humanitarian impact of the clean-up campaign. She held talks with
President Robert Mugabe and visited areas affected by the
The government has defended the clean-up campaign, saying
it stems crimes, and it was set aside money to build new homes.
Thabo Mbeki said yesterday he would soon try to restart his stalled
mediation efforts in Zimbabwe and would be holding talks with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) this weekend.
endorsement of this year's parliamentary elections, the MDC, which saw the
poll as flawed, said it would not take part in the South African-led
initiative to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis and said Mbeki was not an
MDC spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi confirmed the meeting,
saying the party would be represented by its president, Morgan Tsvangirai,
and secretary-general Welshman Ncube.
announced at the African National Congress (ANC) national general council
meeting in Pretoria yesterday, comes days before the Group of Eight (G-8)
summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, where Zimbabwe will be one of the main
It also comes in the wake of condemnation of Zimbabwe's mass
evictions by the US, the United Nations (UN) and
Opposition parties and nongovernmental organisations have
alleged the Zanu (PF)-led government is punishing urban voters for spurning
it in the past three general elections.
Kgalema Motlanthe said it seemed the MDC has realised SA had a constructive
role to play in helping Zimbabwe to reach an amicable political solution. He
said the MDC's rejection of SA as a facilitator had been
He said the meeting would probably seek to find ways to
resuscitate talks between the ruling Zanu (PF) and the opposition. Mbeki's
efforts to restart the talks are seen as a response to calls by G-8 host and
British Prime Minister Tony Blair for Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries to
deal with the crisis.
Asked if the MDC would
accept a new role for Mbeki, Themba-Nyathi said, "We hope this is not a
G-8-inspired action by the South Africans."
"It would be useful (for
any talks)," for SA to condemn the mass evictions of informal settlements
and traders that have taken place over the past seven weeks. However, he did
not insist that this would be a pre-condition for talks.
"As far as
we are concerned the South African government will have a lot of work to do
so that whatever they kick start becomes meaningful," Themba- Nyathi
The African Union has also refused comment on the campaign, calling
it an internal matter.
He said, "Zanu (PF) have taken advantage of
SA's solidarity to lead SA and the world down the garden path.
have not had any robust statements from SA regarding the events that are
About three-hundred people had been killed, two babies
had been crushed under debris by collapsing walls, six had died from
pneumonia, and well over 1,5-million were without accommodation, he
"That to me should have meant a strong condemnation or to seek an
explanation from the Zimbabwe regime, but we hear nothing but silence and
that kind of silence is taken by Mugabe as support for the cause," he
"The world is changing. Africa is in the midst of massive change
for the better. So it remains a tragedy that Zimbabwe is moving with
determination in the wrong direction.
"This is the moment for
everyone to urge the government of Zimbabwe to embrace democratic and humane
The South African government, however, could have
difficulties dealing with a focused MDC with a united approach and strategy
on how to bring about change in Zimbabwe.
The party accepted last
week that it had experienced serious political infighting.