Sat 21 Jul 2007, 9:02 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government has set up a state company to seize
control of private local and foreign firms that President Robert Mugabe's
administration says are engaging in "economic sabotage" in a bid to end his
Mugabe threatened last month to seize private companies for "dirty tricks",
including hiking prices and cutting output, which he says are part of a
Western-backed "regime-change" agenda led by Zimbabwe's former colonial
On Saturday, the official Herald newspaper said the government had revived
the Zimbabwe State Trading Corporation (ZSTC) to work alongside the state
Zimbabwe Development Corporation (ZDC) "as vehicles for acquiring companies
that it might want to take over for engaging in economic sabotage".
The government had also set up a Z$30 billion fund to help private
distressed companies battling to remain viable under Zimbabwe's economic
crisis, the Herald quoted Industry and Trade Minister Obert Mpofu as saying.
But Mpofu said while the government was willing to assist, it would not
hesitate to seize firms owned by industrialists suspected of deliberate
sabotage and refusing to cooperate with authorities.
"I will hate to reach a stage where I will be forced to take over the
companies from you, but if you do not co-operate, that is what is going to
happen and that is the position of the government," it quoted him as telling
a business meeting.
"Once we take over a company, we retain all the staff and bring in a
manager. All we get rid of is the owner."
Critics accuse Mugabe of plunging Zimbabwe into a severe economic crisis
that has left it struggling with chronic shortages of food, fuel and foreign
currency, and the world's highest inflation rate of over 4,500 percent.
Mugabe followed his June 27 threats to nationalise companies -- including
some that are mines vital to the southern African nation's economy -- by
ordering a slash in consumer prices after the cost of some basic foods rose
three-fold in a week.
Analysts say this latest drive, including his price-cutting blitz, can only
worsen Zimbabwe's economic problems but say he is likely to press on in a
desperate bid to retain power in general elections due next March.
Mugabe, 83, and in power since independence in 1980, says Western powers are
trying to drive him out of power for seizing commercial farms from whites
and redistributing them to landless blacks, and pursuing radical nationalist
July 21, 2007 Edition 1
President Robert Mugabe has made it a crime for his citizens to import
foodstuffs purchased in neighbouring countries such as South Africa from
August 1. This comes as 4 million Zimbabweans are in desperate need of food
aid and the shelves of the country's shops stand empty.
Yet his wife Grace Mugabe is known to go on shopping sprees in South Africa
and in Europe, and spending hundreds of thousands of cash on household
goods - including food and drink.
The "Control of Goods (Import and Export)" agriculture regulations outlawing
the transshipment to the starving nation of a wide range of live and
processed food and animal products - plus animal feed, fertiliser,
industrial equipment, timber and timber products, and tyres - was gazetted
by Mugabe on July 6 and come into effect in just over a week's time.
On the same day, according to a printed warning on Z$1 000 notes (now worth
about R27.50), these notes will expire - further evidence of Zimbabwe's
meltdown that has seen South Africa deporting close to 4 000 Zimbabweans
Mugabe is said to have issued the regulation in order to prevent imported
food being resold. Yet critics say many expatriate Zimbabweans merely send
food to their families, who depend on it to feed themselves and their
Elinor Sisulu, advocacy manager at the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a
Harare-based NGO, said she feared the motive was to starve Zimbabweans into
"Perhaps they (the government) think this will stimulate food production,
but with the enforced price cuts it is not viable anymore to grow food for
"A parallel is Cambodia under Pol Pot. The only consequence will be the
intensification of hunger . This is quite terrifying."
Increasingly food was becoming politicised and hunger could be seen as a
pre-election weapon in Mugabe's hands, she said.
In 2003, Grace Mugabe forked out R99 604 in a five-day spending spree in
South Africa, including a R51 860 dinner set imported from Britain,
purchased at Sandton City. Her splurge - exposed in VAT refund documents and
till-slips lodged by her entourage at the then-Johannesburg International
Airport - included R2 613 spent on fashion items.
It is not known if Grace still shops in South Africa, but in a fortnight's
time, purchases such as the R16 159 she spent in 2003 at Buchels Hardware in
Pretoria and the R3 443 at Pick 'n Pay - including orange juice, snacks and
toilet rolls - could well become contraband.
And in 2004 reports revealed that in 2002, Gideon Gono, then Zimbabwe's
reserve bank governor, ordered a leather briefcase stuffed with US$100 000
in cash, raised by the bank on the black market, on behalf of Grace. A bank
employee said she used the money to finance a trip to London a month later
that included a buying frenzy at Harrods.
Jul 20, 2007 3:00 AM (1 day ago)
by James Kirchick, The Examiner
WASHINGTON - On Tuesday, former President Jimmy Carter, retired Anglican
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, retired U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, former
President of Ireland Mary Robinson and Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first
democratically elected president, announced the launching of a promising new
initiative. Calling itself "The Elders," the group plans to tackle a host of
seemingly intractable global problems. Funding comes from Richard Branson,
the billionaire founder of Virgin Atlantic.
This posse of aging statesmen has yet to specify what will be on its agenda.
There is certainly no shortage of misery in the world for its to address,
but let humble me offer a modest proposal.
Over the past seven years, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has turned his
once prosperous country into a wasteland. Having stolen productive,
white-owned farms to award his political cronies, Mugabe now rules over a
country that depends on massive amounts of food aid, even though not long
ago Zimbabwe used to export grain and other staples. Millions are starving,
and it is estimated that a quarter of the population - over 3 million
people - have fled for neighboring countries, namely Mandela's homeland of
Is this not a worthy cause for The Elders, led by Mandela, to help
alleviate? After all, if this "diplomatic league of superheroes," as The New
York Times referred to them, cannot fix the problem, who can?
According to The Times, the initiative is Branson's idea, and its genesis
arose when he tried to arrange a meeting among Saddam Hussein, Mandela and
Annan in early 2003, in hopes that the latter two men might be able to
persuade the Butcher of Baghdad to relinquish power so as to forestall the
American-led invasion. This was a marvelous idea; had it proven successful,
it might have averted a war and its bloody aftermath.
A similar scenario would prove even more fitting for Zimbabwe. Mandela is
universally respected in Africa, more so than any statesman before him or
any in the future is ever likely to be. If Mandela were to use his fame and
popularity to call on his fellow African leaders and demand that Mugabe
resign, there is every reason to believe that the Zimbabwean dictator's
reign would be closer to an end.
To be fair, Mandela has criticized Mugabe before, but it was an isolated
incident. Seven years ago, as Mugabe's intimidation of political opposition
began to make headlines, Mandela said of African dictators generally, "The
public must bring these tyrants down themselves" and "pick up rifles." But
Mandela did not finger the Zimbabwean tyrant by name; when asked
specifically if he was referring to Mugabe, he replied, "Everybody here
knows who I am talking about. The situation exists in many parts of the
world, especially in Africa."
It seems that there are two entities one is best advised not to criticize:
God and Nelson Mandela. But Mandela's silence on the crimes being
perpetrated in the country next door do not just mar his legacy as one of
the 20th century's great historical figures, it betrays the values of human
rights and political freedom he embodies.
Speaking out on Mugabe's politically induced starvation, torture, harassment
of journalists and political opponents and other myriad offenses would cost
Mandela nothing. And there's no telling what sort of on-the-ground political
impact his castigation of a fellow liberation hero might have.
After retiring, Mandela apologized for his inaction on the AIDS crisis while
he was president. He still has time to avoid an apology over Zimbabwe.
Examiner columnist James Kirchick is assistant to the editor in chief of The
New Republic and reported from Zimbabwe last year. He can be reached at
July 21 2007 at 11:46AM
By Michael Schmidt
Robert Mugabe has made it a crime for his citizens to import
foodstuffs bought in neighbouring countries such as South Africa from August
1 - as four-million Zimbabweans are in desperate need of food aid and the
shelves of the country's shops stand empty.
Yet his wife Grace is known to go on shopping sprees to South Africa
and Europe, spending hundreds of thousands of rands on household goods -
including food and drink.
The "Control of Goods (Import and Export)" agriculture regulations
outlawing the trans-shipment to the starving nation of a wide range of live
and processed food and animal products was gazetted by Mugabe on July 6 and
comes into effect in just over a week.
In 2003, it was reported how Grace forked out R99 604 in a five-day
spending-spree in South Africa, including a R51 860 dinner set imported from
Britain, bought at the Sandton City store, David Daniel.
Her splurge - revealed in VAT refund documents and till-slips lodged
by her entourage at the then-Johannesburg International Airport - included
R26 613 spent on fashion items.
It is not known if Grace still shops in South Africa, but in a
fortnight's time purchases such as the R16 159 she spent in 2003 on
equipment from Buchel Hardware in Pretoria and the R3 443 she spent at Pick
'n Pay - including orange juice, biscuits, snacks and toilet rolls - could
well become contraband.
Elinor Sisulu, the media and advocacy manager at the Harare-based NGO
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said she feared the motive was to starve
Zimbabweans into submission.
"Perhaps they (the government) think this will stimulate food
production, but with the enforced price-cuts, it is simply not viable to
grow food for resale. This is quite terrifying."
She said increasingly food was becoming politicised and hunger could
be seen as a pre-election weapon in Mugabe's hands.
This article was originally published on page 3 of The Independent on
Saturday on July 21, 2007
The economic crisis in Zimbabwe is having a severe impact on
its neighbour, South Africa. An estimated three million Zimbabweans are thought
to have fled to South Africa to escape the chaos and they continue to flood
across the border at Beit Bridge. Zimbabwe is on its knees. Its people are starving and desperate.
South Africa is seen as the land of opportunity. And the bright
lights of this economic giant beckon. Old barriers It is winter here now and this is the dry season. That is good
news for the thousands of mainly young Zimbabwean men prepared to take the risk
of crossing the Limpopo. They are able to wade across, but they need to keep a look-out
for crocodiles in the shallow water. When they reach the South African side, they dry themselves down
and edge nervously towards South Africa's triple-layer border fence. This is a barrier that was put up in the days of apartheid -
when the country's white rulers tried to stop the guerrillas of Umkhonto we
Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC, from infiltrating from Zimbabwe. Border jumpers But these days, the security is not as formidable as it looks.
Then, using their bolt-cutters, they make their way through
rolls of razor wire. And finally, they penetrate another layer of fencing.
By this stage, one of the Zimbabweans is probably leading the
way as a scout. But the "border jumpers" are rarely deterred. In daylight, with my car parked on a quiet narrow road that runs
along the border, a man suddenly appears. He leaps over the nearest fence with
unexpected agility and vanishes into the South African bush. All this happens within a few hundred metres of the Beit Bridge
border post, the only official crossing point between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Under the noses of the South African police and soldiers, this
is as brazen as it gets. I carry on watching with fascination. A few minutes later, a group of six men come surging over the
security fence. They look left and right to see if there is any approaching
traffic, cross the road and dart out of sight. A little further along the border, I meet a workman in red
overalls. Donald's job is to repair the holes cut in the fence by the
Zimbabweans. "Sometimes, I have to fix 100 a day," he says. "The situation is
getting worse and worse. Our army isn't patrolling enough." "Perhaps what we need," suggests Donald, "is for Robert Mugabe
to put up a fence on his side of the border." Looking for work There is precious little fuel in Zimbabwe these days.
But in the car park, it is not long before I run across some of
those who have come across the border by less orthodox means. "Yes," says 23 year old Tony, "I swam the Limpopo. We have no
food, no money and no jobs in Zimbabwe." Promise is also 23. He is from Harare and has come to South
Africa to look for a job in an attempt to support his family. He thinks he might find some work on a local farm, but many have
made the same journey ahead of him and a record number of Zimbabweans are now
being picked up by the South African police and deported. Determined young men It is thought that about 1,000 Zimbabweans are being arrested in
South Africa every day and sent home, but as many as 3,000 a day may be coming
into the country. So that means plenty appear to be slipping through the net.
Some of the more circumspect Zimbabwean migrants enter South
Africa under the cover of darkness. Most want to head south to the big cities of Johannesburg and
Pretoria. As the early morning mist begins to burn off, a teenager
approaches me and asks for a lift. Others are hitching on the main road, the N1 highway.
The local farmers are getting more than a little jittery about
this influx. They are hardly enamoured with large groups of poor, hungry and
determined young men, traipsing across their land. Game farmer Gideon Meiring sees himself living on a frontline.
He says the police can not cope, so with military precision,
Gideon now runs his own patrols and tells me he comes across Zimbabweans on his
property almost every day. All this is the consequence of what is happening in Robert
Mugabe's Zimbabwe, a country that was once a jewel of Africa. And from all the Zimbabweans I meet at the border, there is just
one simple refrain: "We are suffering." From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 21
July, 2007 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme
schedules for World Service transmission times.
BBC News, South Africa
The economic crisis in Zimbabwe is having a severe impact on its neighbour, South Africa. An estimated three million Zimbabweans are thought to have fled to South Africa to escape the chaos and they continue to flood across the border at Beit Bridge.
Zimbabwe is on its knees. Its people are starving and desperate.
South Africa is seen as the land of opportunity. And the bright lights of this economic giant beckon.
It is winter here now and this is the dry season. That is good news for the thousands of mainly young Zimbabwean men prepared to take the risk of crossing the Limpopo.
They are able to wade across, but they need to keep a look-out for crocodiles in the shallow water.
When they reach the South African side, they dry themselves down and edge nervously towards South Africa's triple-layer border fence.
This is a barrier that was put up in the days of apartheid - when the country's white rulers tried to stop the guerrillas of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC, from infiltrating from Zimbabwe.
But these days, the security is not as formidable as it looks.
Then, using their bolt-cutters, they make their way through rolls of razor wire. And finally, they penetrate another layer of fencing.
By this stage, one of the Zimbabweans is probably leading the way as a scout.
But the "border jumpers" are rarely deterred.
In daylight, with my car parked on a quiet narrow road that runs along the border, a man suddenly appears. He leaps over the nearest fence with unexpected agility and vanishes into the South African bush.
All this happens within a few hundred metres of the Beit Bridge border post, the only official crossing point between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Under the noses of the South African police and soldiers, this is as brazen as it gets.
I carry on watching with fascination.
A few minutes later, a group of six men come surging over the security fence.
They look left and right to see if there is any approaching traffic, cross the road and dart out of sight.
A little further along the border, I meet a workman in red overalls. Donald's job is to repair the holes cut in the fence by the Zimbabweans.
"Sometimes, I have to fix 100 a day," he says. "The situation is getting worse and worse. Our army isn't patrolling enough."
"Perhaps what we need," suggests Donald, "is for Robert Mugabe to put up a fence on his side of the border."
Looking for work
There is precious little fuel in Zimbabwe these days.
But in the car park, it is not long before I run across some of those who have come across the border by less orthodox means.
"Yes," says 23 year old Tony, "I swam the Limpopo. We have no food, no money and no jobs in Zimbabwe."
Promise is also 23. He is from Harare and has come to South Africa to look for a job in an attempt to support his family.
He thinks he might find some work on a local farm, but many have made the same journey ahead of him and a record number of Zimbabweans are now being picked up by the South African police and deported.
Determined young men
It is thought that about 1,000 Zimbabweans are being arrested in South Africa every day and sent home, but as many as 3,000 a day may be coming into the country.
So that means plenty appear to be slipping through the net.
Some of the more circumspect Zimbabwean migrants enter South Africa under the cover of darkness.
Most want to head south to the big cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
As the early morning mist begins to burn off, a teenager approaches me and asks for a lift.
Others are hitching on the main road, the N1 highway.
The local farmers are getting more than a little jittery about this influx.
They are hardly enamoured with large groups of poor, hungry and determined young men, traipsing across their land.
Game farmer Gideon Meiring sees himself living on a frontline.
He says the police can not cope, so with military precision, Gideon now runs his own patrols and tells me he comes across Zimbabweans on his property almost every day.
All this is the consequence of what is happening in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, a country that was once a jewel of Africa.
And from all the Zimbabweans I meet at the border, there is just one simple refrain: "We are suffering."
From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 21 July, 2007 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.
A CITY MP has called on the Government to step up pressure to oust
Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.
Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP John Barrett told the House of Commons
yesterday that Mugabe had presided over the biggest economic collapse since
the pre-Nazi German Weimar Republic.
He blamed the country's decline, repression and state sponsored violence on
Mugabe, who was recently stripped of his honorary degree from Edinburgh
Mr Barrett said: "In Zimbabwe, with the 2008 elections looming, the prospect
of free and fair elections and the establishment of real representative
democracy looks an ever more distant and unlikely proposition."
He added: "I would seek fresh assurances that the Government is doing all it
can to bring pressure to bear on president Mugabe."
Last updated: 21-Jul-07 12:03 BST
Dear Family and Friends,
The big luxury cars and their nouveau riche occupants have gone from our
now. The men in big jackets whose multiple pockets were overflowing with
notes have also disappeared from view this week. These vultures who came hot
the heels of the price cutting army and youth brigade have picked the
clean and now just the bare bones are left : our shops are as good as empty.
Most supermarkets have given up all pretence of trying to make it look as if
they've got things left to sell and there are just line after line of empty
shelves. Bottled water, however, is still abundant - surely a relief to the
participants of the endless government workshops who seem to use so much of
Our streets have grown dramatically quieter this week as fuel supplies have
dried up and yesterday came another nail in the price control coffin. The
powerful 'Task Force' on price cuts announced that fuel paid for in foreign
currency and issued by a coupon system has now been banned. Holders of
have 2 weeks to redeem their fuel from private importers and that's the end
another life line. It wasn't one that many ordinary people could access but
still it kept some individuals, church organizations, donor agencies and
diplomats on the road. Day by day the ways that people outside the country
help their families left behind are being cut off and so the reality of
aloneness and oppression grows.
It's taken three weeks of madness but at last people are beginning to ask
questions about the price cuts. The first one is why the maximum amount of
people can withdraw from their own bank accounts suddenly and dramatically
increased from one and a half to ten million dollars just a few days after
cuts began. Coincidental? You have to wonder, as most ordinary Zimbabweans
enough to have jobs don't earn anywhere near ten million dollars a month.
government stipulated wage for a domestic house worker, for example is less
a hundred thousand dollars a month - for sure none of them benefited from
cuts or from being able to withdraw ten million dollars a day.
People are openly asking where the resupplies of food and fuel are going to
come from now that the cupboard is bare. Everyone is asking where, when and
this is going to end. And everyone is asking why it happened. Many say its
done to win voter support but 8 months before elections are due and with
shelves already, it makes little sense.
Perhaps answers will come in the next week as Parliament re-opens for the
session but we are not holding our breath. The statistics just released
the 6th session of parliament leave much to be desired. In the year long 6th
session the House of Assembly sat for business for just 54 days. Imagine 311
days of paid annual leave at the expense of tax payers! The mind boggles.
next week, thanks for reading, love cathy. Copyright cathy buckle 21st July
Friday 20th July 2007
In 1966 the great African writer Chinua Achebe published his superb comic
novel A Man of the People. I'm re-reading it at the moment and I'm struck by
the similarities between Nigeria then and Zimbabwe today, twenty seven years
after independence. Achebe is of course writing about his own country,
Nigeria, which gained its independence in 1960.
In Achebe's novel there is an election in the offing and suddenly the
country is faced with an economic crisis, world coffee prices have
collapsed. The coffee farmers are the backbone of the economy and are
predominantly ruling party supporters. The Minister of Finance who has a
Ph.D in economics gives the leader a detailed plan on exactly how to deal
with the problem and his solution includes lowering the price paid to
producers. Of course, that advice is rejected and the next day the Minister
along with all those who supported him are sacked as 'conspirators and
traitors who had teamed up with foreign saboteurs to destroy the new nation'
Instead of following an economically sound and sensible policy the leader
orders the national Bank to print millions of new notes.
The message surely is that politics and economics don't mix; once you start
mixing in populist electoral gimmicks then sound economic principles go out
the window. Zimbabwe has seen that fatal combination at work for years and
particularly over the last three weeks. Looking at the situation from the
outside what I see is Murambatsvina by another name. Once again it is the
poorest members of Zimbabwean society who suffer. The real beneficiaries of
Operation Dzikisa Mitengo are the people who have money, the middle classes
and the Zanu PF heavyweights, the businessman and the wheeler-dealers who
snap up goods at half price only to sell them on to the black market which
is controlled by the Big Boys in the army and ruling party.
With elections just eight months away this Operation is yet another
shameless attempt to bribe the voters back to the ruling party. The
combination of bribery and violence once again demonstrates Mugabe's cynical
contempt for his own people. He is so sure they will fall for this ploy and
give him and the ruling party the mandate to rule for another five years. He
has 'tamed' inflation he can claim; (it was surely no coincidence, by the
way that the inflation figures had not been published for two months) he has
seen off the foreigners who want to bring about regime change via the
economy and he has shown himself once again, he believes, as A Man of the
People whose only concern is his people's welfare.
Are the people fooled? On the face of it, the answer seems to be Yes! It
looks as if the entire population has been taken in by this electoral con as
the whole country goes on one gigantic shopping spree. But a phonecall last
Sunday from my old hometown, right out on the edge of the rural areas in
Mash East, gave me hope that perhaps there's more resistance than we hear
about. My friend told me how the price enforcers were in action there too.
It's a small place, no more than a 'growth point' really, but it has two or
three supermarkets and the usual collection of small trading stores. It also
boasts a Bata shoe shop and last week the slip-slops and 'ma tennis' were
all half price after the Gezi Boys and cops beat the hell out of everyone in
sight and the shop's entire stock sold for half the price it cost to
produce! Result: One rural Bata shop closed perhaps never to reopen. And
having finished there the Price Police moved on to the musika and the banana
sellers. They didn't have quite such an easy job there; these banana ladies
are tough cookies! They spend their every cent travelling to buy the bananas
to sell at the musika; it's their only means of earning cash. Apparently the
ladies gave as good as they got! One small step. It was the same in a little
local butchery. The proprietor had used his own money, his own transport to
travel out to the rurals to buy a beast. He had slaughtered it, jointed it
and was selling it in his little shop when the Price Police arrived and
ordered him to reduce the selling price by half. My informant, who was there
in the shop at the time, tells me there was one very angry butcher telling
the cops and Gezi boys to go to hell. ' Ah, so you're political' they
replied with that strange Zanu PF logic which reckons that anyone who
doesn't blindly agree with them must be the 'enemy', ' You must belong to
the opposition' The butcher, absolutely enraged by this time snatched up an
axe and threatened the lot of them. 'Politics be damned,' he said - or words
to that effect - 'I'm a businessman. I bought the beast with my own money. I
butchered the beast and I'm selling the beast at the price I determine and
no one is going to stop me.so - off'! And they did, they left.
In the middle of all this buying frenzy came the 'News' of the good
Archbishop's alleged adultery. Double page spreads in all the government
owned papers and so-called pictorial evidence of his adultery with a
secretary. Since when does African culture resort to such vulgarity? It was
the presence of the TV cameras at the Archbishop's church that gave the game
away for me. Their slogan is 'When it happens we'll be there' and when they
are there you can be sure the government is behind it. I was reminded of the
so-called 'discovery' of the murdered war vet's body. Zimbabweans will
remember the story. The ruling party claimed the war vet had been murdered
by the MDC and we were shown the body being disinterred by the police while
the TV cameras whirred. That case ended two years later with an acquittal
and some very harsh remarks from an honest judge - there are still a few of
them left - about the disgraceful behaviour of the police.
Perhaps we will never know the truth about the good Archbishop's case but
speaking for myself, his innocence or guilt makes not the slightest
difference. To me, a sexual misdemeanour is a very trivial offence compared
to the crimes committed by Robert Mugabe and his government which the good
Archbishop so bravely brings to the world's attention.
Ndini shamwari yenyu. PH
Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 21 July
The mad arithmetic of a country on the brink of collapse is illustrated in
two figures making the news in Zimbabwe. The first is a Z$20-billion suit
against Pius Ncube, the outspoken Catholic bishop of Bulawayo, and the
second the Z$15-million dowry demanded by desperate parents for a
15-year-old schoolgirl sold off into polygamy. It is clear from the
government mouthpiece in Harare that Ncube's embarrassment is delighting
President Robert Mugabe and his henchmen. The Herald alleges the cleric, who
argues there is a case for foreign intervention to topple Mugabe and offers
to "go in front of blazing guns" to do the job himself, has had an
adulterous affair with one of his aides. Grainy pictures the newspaper says
are of the bishop have graced its front page. The allegedly cuckolded
husband, Onesimus Sibanda, is reportedly suing Ncube for Z$20-billion. The
15-year-old bride sold into the harem of a man 30 years her senior is
another victim of an economy with inflation roaring at 4 500% and heading -
according to the departed US ambassador Chris Dell - towards more than a
million by year's end.
Operation Dzikiza, the cost-slashing exercise undertaken by Mugabe in his
desperate bid to survive, is to be extended, says Zanu PF secretary for
information Nathan Shamyarira. More than 3 000 shopkeepers have been
arrested for failing to heed the government directive to halve prices. The
White House has lashed this as "reckless and irresponsible", adding that "it
will only add to inflation unemployment, food shortages and poverty". The US
then tempered its anger by pouring another 47 400 tons of food into the
country, bringing to 1,2-million the number of Zimbabweans it is feeding.
Zimbabwe analyst at the Institute for Security Studies Chris Moroleng argues
that by taking this into his rural heartland Mugabe has created a rod for
his own back. "This is very, very dangerous. It is having the critical
effect of speeding up dissent within the party," says Moroleng. "The knives
are out. Mugabe has to watch his back. I'm seeing memos from senior
government officials in Harare putting on record their opposition to the
exercise. They are getting ready to jump ship. This could happen at the
extraordinary conference of Zanu PF in December. People are lining up to
perform regime change. They are saying that Mugabe should not run again in
next year's election or, at very least, that if he runs and wins, he should
stand down very soon afterwards."
Mugabe's previous excesses, like operation Gukurahundi - the massacre of 20
000 civilians in Matabeleland in his first years in power - and operation
Murambatsvina - the urban clean-up in 2005 that left 750 000 people
homeless - were directed against his opposition. Police and government
inspectors have poured into his rural heartland - the source of his
political power - ensuring that businesses comply with the Dzikiza
directive. Their victims include Zanu PF senator Siriro Majuro, who was
found hoarding orange juice, toilet rolls and sugar in his loo. The effect
of Dzikiza has been to provide consumers who beat the rush with goods at cut
prices. But now they have to join their compatriots in dealing with empty
shelves because retailers cannot afford to replenish supplies, as long as
other fixed costs - such as wages and interest rates - are not cut. "Mugabe
pretends he is protecting the people, but what he is doing is buying just a
little more time, without regard for the long-term effects," says Moroleng.
"It is like his ranting against colonialism and imperialism, trying to put
an international dimension on what is essentially a domestic problem. It is
all about buying time. It is about survival."
The South African mediation lifted the heavy veil of secrecy over its
efforts to broker a deal between Mugabe and his main opposition - only to
deny angrily reports that the octogenarian leader is snubbing the process.
Foreign affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa insists that the members of the
Zanu PF team, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, indicated in advance
that they could not attend the talks in Pretoria earlier this month. This
requires the question of why the Movement for Democratic Change delegation
of Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti was allowed to sit around for two days.
The talks are on a knife edge, with Zanu PF demanding that the opposition
cease to question the legitimacy of the government after two elections that
were regarded by international observers as stolen. The MDC, in turn, is
demanding the creation of an independent electoral commission before the
next poll, replacing the election-steering team of Mugabe's henchmen. It
also wants the voters' roll scrapped because the existing system
disenfranchises tens of thousands of voters. It is calling for voters to be
able to cast their ballot on production of their identity cards.
THE World Bank has once again snubbed the economically collapsed Zimbabwe in
its rescuing package under the International Development Association (IDA)
credits aimed at increasing the availability and reliability of low cost
electricity in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, a
senior World Bank official told CAJ News on Friday.
According to Wendy Hughes, World Bank Senior Energy Specialist and Project
Team Leader, the Bretton Woods financial institution opted for Mozambique
and Malawi, whom it gave a whopping US$93 million to boost their electricity
transmission interconnection network.
Hughes said from the total of US$93 million Mozambique would receive the sum
of US$45 million whilst Malawi takes home a whopping US$48 million
The World Bank mantained that the US93 million would help the new project
code-named "Boost Electricity Trade New Transmission Interconnection" to
allow a two-way trade in affordable electricity for both countries.
The snubbing of Zimbabwe comes at a time the southern African nation is
experiencing daily power outtages due to acute shortage of foreign currency
and soaring debts with other regional member states such as Eskom power
utility of South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique's
Zimbabwe has a world record inflation of above 5 000 percent with
unemployment rate hovering around 80 percent as food shortages on another
hand takes some centre stage.
Whilst Zimbabwe needed badly the World Bank financial assistance for
distressed economy, the Brettonwoods financial institutions opted for Malawi
and Mozambique which are being administered democratically instead of
countries run like private properties.
Under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe of Zanu PF, Zimbabwe has
been known for not respecting the rule of law, farm invasions, nationalising
private companies, lawlessness and torture of its own citizens believed to
be anti-Mugabe regime, a sad development that drew the international
The latest grant to Malawi and Mozambique were also aimed at benefitting
Zimbabwe, but the World Bank board of directors saw it fit to assist
Zimbabwe's two neighbours, who are responding to people's grievances
positively while implementing good governance.
"This will ensure much-needed diversification in Malawi's electricity supply
and allow the export of any off-peak power surpluses. It will also provide
Mozambique's energy sector with a new revenue source.
"The interconnection will allow Malawi to reap the full benefits of
membership of the Southern African Power Pool, both to import electricity
when necessary, particularly if there is a drought and also to export any
surplus electricity Malawi doesn't use at night-time," said Hughes.
Hughes said for Mozambique, the funds would assist in the construction of a
135 km of 220 kV transmission line and extend the existing Matambo
substation whilst on the Malawi side, an approximate of 75 km of 220 kV
transmission line would be constructed with a new 220 kV substation being
installed- CAJ News.
The Sunday Times
July 22, 2007
Former cricketer ducks out of deportation row
THE document in Billy Rautenbach's hands was uncompromising. He was accused
of fraud, theft, corruption and violating commercial law, it said. He was
persona non grata. He would have to leave.
It was last Wednesday evening. Rautenbach was in his hotel at Lubumbashi,
the capital of the Katanga province in the southeastern corner of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The meaning of the document he held, from the DRC's ministry of the
interior, was clear: he wouldn't be returning in a hurry.
Rautenbach spent the night at his hotel, and the following morning was
driven under armed escort to Lubumbashi airport.
There, under the watchful eyes of a team of Congolese immigration officers,
Rautenbach walked across the asphalt in front of the low, single-storey
airport buildings and climbed into his private King Air plane for the
90-minute flight to his home in Zimbabwe.
The aircraft took off at 9am and headed south. In his briefcase was
Rautenbach's Zimbabwean passport. Across one of the pages for visas, a DRC
official had scrawled "Entrée nonauthorisée".
The expulsion of Rautenbach marked an extraordinary climax to a bizarre and
tangled tale that takes in South Africa, the British Virgin Islands and some
of the richest mineral deposits on the planet. And it is a tale that could
have a crucial impact on an £800m bid battle involving one of Britain's most
Rautenbach has long been known as a kingpin in the mining world in southern
Africa. In the late 1990s, with the support of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwean
regime, he was given access to the DRC's rich mining deposits in the south
of the country. Lau-rent Kabila, then president of the DRC, installed
Rautenbach as head of the state mining company, Gécamines.
The men fell out in 2000. Kabila accused Rautenbach of underreporting
exports and sales of huge quantities of cobalt - with the gains being
diverted to a Rautenbach company, Ridge-pointe, based in the British Virgin
Islands. Rautenbach denied any wrongdoing.
Kabila was assassinated in 2001 and his son Joseph took over as president.
For a time, Rautenbach seemed to be rehabilitated. But since the elections
last year, the new DRC regime has been trying to clean up its mining
industry and last week the government issued its declaration that Rautenbach
was persona non grata.
The papers ejecting Rautenbach from the country did not mention his
activities in the DRC itself. They said only that the authorities were
ejecting him because he was sought in South Africa in connection with a
string of fraud and theft charges.
These relate to his time spent in control of the South African arm of
Hyundai. Rautenbach has always denied the accusations, but he has not
returned to South Africa since the charges were filed in 2000.
There is no extradition treaty between the DRC and South Africa. As a
result, Rautenbach could not be sent to South Africa specifically. He could
only be ejected from the DRC.
But the DRC authorities are nevertheless investigating Rautenbach's conduct
in their own country. A government source in the capital, Kinshasa, said:
"We are very interested in how some of the assets of Gécamines were
apparently moved out of the Congo."
The whole affair might be dismissed as a small, if colourful drama in a
country more than 4,000 miles from London.
But Rautenbach has played a pivotal, if determinedly low-profile, role in
the building of Camec - short for Central African Mining & Exploration
Company - the latest corporate vehicle of Phil Edmonds, a man known not only
for his eventful business career, but also for his prowess as a spin-bowler
until he retired from the cricket field two decades ago.
With Edmonds at the helm, Camec last year acquired a bundle of DRC cobalt
and copper mining assets from Rautenbach. In return, Rautenbach became a
shareholder in the enlarged Camec.
The exact size of his current shareholding is not clear, but it is thought
to be about 18%.
Camec itself has tried to play down the significance of Rautenbach's
involvement in the company.
When it emerged last week that the DRC was going to try to deport
Rautenbach, Camec issued a statement. It disputed the authenticity of the
document ordering his removal.
But the statement then went on: "Even if it 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 projects." The essence of
Camec's stance was clear: one of our shareholders may find himself kicked
out of the DRC, but so what?
Others are more willing to acknowledge the importance of having Rautenbach
on board - particularly if the company succeeds in clinching a huge takeover
deal that would create, in its own words, "one of Africa's largest copper
and cobalt producers".
Earlier this month, Camec signalled that it wanted to take over Katanga
Mining, a company quoted in Canada but run from London. The company's main
asset is a huge copper and cobalt mine in the south of the DRC that should
start production towards the end of this year. It is the third-largest known
copper resource in Africa.
Camec is in a strong position. It bought 22% of Katanga earlier this year.
And Camec claims that it has "lockup" deals with holders of a further 32% of
Katanga under which they have pledged their support for the bid.
Crucially, George Forrest, deputy chairman of Katanga and its biggest
shareholder with a 24% stake, has indicated that he is prepared to accept
the Camec offer: this accounts for most of the 32% covered by lockups.
But Camec's takeover is not yet a done deal. The company cannot formally
make an offer until the middle of next month. And the so-called lockups are
not completely watertight: if a rival bidder comes along with an offer 7% or
more higher than Camec's bid, then it will be free to accept the better
Nevertheless, Katanga's chairman, Art Ditto, conceded this weekend that he
now had to "explore alternatives" - code for seeing if there was another
company out there that might be prepared to top Camec's offer.
One suggestion - although not one being advanced by Ditto - is that RP
Explorer Master Fund, which has a stake in Katanga, may try to engineer a
merger with another DRC copper miner, Nikanor, where it also has a
Camec might want to play down Rautenbach's role. But in a recent research
note - written before the drama at Lubumbashi airport - Credit Suisse
analyst Jeremy Gray suggested Rautenbach would indeed have a significant
part to play.
Gray said: "Having George [Forrest] on the ground in DR Congo alongside
Billy Rautenbach makes for a powerful combination."
For Edmonds, the Rautenbach affair is unfortunate. In particular, the DRC
government's clear unease about what Rautenbach has done in its country, let
alone in South Africa, will revive memories of controversy surrounding White
Nile, the exploration company floated on London's lightly regulated AIM
market by Edmonds in February 2005.
White Nile's shares listed just a month after the signing of a peace
agreement to end two decades of civil war in Sudan. Then, days after their
market debut, the shares were suspended. Edmonds said that the company had
secured the rights to a 60% stake in a promising oil exploration block in
But there was a problem. White Nile had been granted its rights by the
government of southern Sudan. Meanwhile, Total, the French oil company, said
that it had been given the rights to explore as long ago as 1980: in other
words, the authorities in southern Sudan did not have the right to award the
block to someone else.
Authorities at the London Stock Exchange looked into the matter to satisfy
themselves that White Nile could substantiate its claims to the exploration
acreage, but allowed share trading to resume.
White Nile insisted then and continues to insist to this day that it has a
legal right to the Sudanese exploration territory. But the company was
forced to announce two weeks ago that White Nile's position was less than
rock solid. Indeed, the company had been asked to leave.
The announcement - from the southern Sudan authorities who had granted the
concession to Edmonds' company two-and-a-half years ago - came as a shock.
White Nile's operations manager pointed out that the company had already
spent $18m (£9m) on seismic testing alone. The company said it was "seeking
urgent meetings" with the government of southern Sudan to "clarify the
situation". Nothing further has since been said publicly.
White Nile's share price is now little more than half its level early last
month, but the company is still worth nearly £250m - although it has few
significant assets outside Sudan.
Total certainly has grounds to claim control over the disputed block. Sudan's
peace treaty between the north and south was signed in January 2005, a month
before White Nile announced its move into the country.
And the agreement could hardly have been more explicit. A section of the
240-page peace accord was devoted to "Existing Oil Contracts".
It said: "Contracts shall not be the subject of renegotiation . . . the
Parties agree that 'existing oil contracts' mean contracts signed before the
date of signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement."
On the face of it, that would seem to cover the Total concession: the French
firm secured its rights decades earlier. Naturally, lawyers are continuing
to argue over the exact interpretation of the agreement - hardly surprising,
given the importance of the block to White Nile's future.
Against this background, the murmurings from Kinshasa about Billy Rautenbach's
past activities in the DRC are striking uncomfortable chords for Edmonds and
the investors who have backed him.
The whole controversy about White Nile has turned on a dispute about its
legal rights to ownership of oil-exploration assets. Edmonds cannot afford
any controversy in another of his companies. Neither he nor Rautenbach was
available for comment this weekend.
Last month, the new DRC administration embarked upon an exercise to review
60 mining concessions, most of which were negotiated during a six-year war
in the country and the three-year transitional period that followed.
The exercise is more far-reaching than most observers had expected. The DRC
government has enlisted help from Rothschild in Paris and from the Carter
Center in an attempt to pin down exactly who owns what - and, more
importantly, who should own what.
The DRC clearly has Rautenbach in its sights. He has always denied
wrongdoing. But when the Kinshasa authorities announced his expulsion, they
said: "Mr Rautenbach has amassed a large number of mineral and other assets
in the DRC during the civil war and subsequently. The government of the DRC
is making strenuous efforts to clean up the mining sector."
For Camec, Rautenbach is looking like a liability.