By Michael Gwaridzo in Harare, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:18am BST 22/07/2007
President Robert Mugabe has promised Zimbabwean army chiefs that he
will step down after next year's presidential and parliamentary elections.
Mugabe, 83, who has led Zimbabwe since it gained independence 27 years
ago, is said to have made the promise at a meeting with senior military
officers two weeks ago, during which he appealed for their help in securing
a victory for his ruling Zanu PF party.
With his country facing unprecedented economic turmoil, Mugabe is
facing intense pressure to step down, both from within his own party and
from the heads of the intelligence services and armed forces.
He was warned by his intelligence chief, Happyton Bonyongwe, in May
that if he stood for president again he would lose, because voters were
suffering as a result of Zimbabwe's economic crisis.
A senior army source said: "Mugabe told army chiefs that he is going
to leave office next year and requires the help of the army to secure
victory. The president said next year's election was a do-or-die poll, and
Zimbabwe needs to win the election to shame what he called 'Western
governments bent on re-occupying us'."
Observers believe Mugabe wants to win the election in order to
preserve his dignity, but may then seek to pass the country's leadership to
a favoured successor. However, he still faces what in a functioning
democracy would be the insurmountable task of securing the votes needed to
Last month, in a bid to quell dismay at the hyperinflation that has
led to shops raising their prices several times a day, Mugabe ordered the
police and army to enforce Operation Reduced Prices, under which businesses
were told to cut prices by 50 per cent.
But his attempt at populism backfired as traders were compelled to
sell goods at less than cost price. Hundreds who failed to comply were
arrested and fined. The edict made it economically unviable to sell many
goods and, after a wave of panic buying, basic commodities disappeared from
Last week came signs the government had embarked on a partial backdown
when the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported that an official task
force on price monitoring and stabilisation had agreed to a 400 per cent
increase in the price of cooking oil. A 750ml bottle of cooking oil had been
priced at 22,000 Zimbabwean dollars (7p), and the product had become almost
impossible to obtain.
According to South Africa's SABC News, the government has also agreed
to talks with manufacturers to discuss prices that will be acceptable to
both sides. The move marks a considerable shift in the government's
position. Earlier in the week vice-president Joseph Msika was quoted as
saying the government was "at war" with business.
Meanwhile, however, shortages of food and fuel are expected to worsen
after the government announced a crackdown on food imports from South
Africa. From August 1, permits will be required for anyone importing
groceries worth more than $200. The government has also banned the use of
Conditions inside the country are now so bad that even middle-class
Zimbabweans have been forced into desperate measures to survive. Nancy
Chaguma, a qualified chartered accountant in her twenties, told The Sunday
Telegraph that she has been forced to turn to prostitution to provide for
herself and her brothers and sisters.
"The economic situation is Zimbabwe is so dire," said Miss Chaguma.
"And one has to be enterprising to survive. I didn't become a prostitute by
design and I know the risks of the profession. Although I insist on using
protection every time, I consider myself dead already, because Mugabe has
turned us into scavengers in a land that was once of milk and honey."
Monsters and Critics
Jul 22, 2007, 17:15 GMT
Johannesburg - The deteriorating political and economic situation in
Zimbabwe was described as 'intolerable and unsustainable' by former UN
secretary general Kofi Annan Sunday.
Speaking about the ongoing conflict in Africa that made continent- wide
peace a still 'distant goal,' Annan remarked: 'The ever downward spiral of
Zimbabwe, for example, is both intolerable and unsustainable; we all have a
stake in resolving the crisis.'
The Ghanaian diplomat, who stepped down as UN head in January, was
addressing Africa's progress in the areas of peace and security, development
and human rights through the fifth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture at the
University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
The lecture, which was inaugurated four years ago, has been previously given
by former US president Bill Clinton, South African Anglican Archbishop
Desmond Tutu, Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai and South African
President Thabo Mbeki. Tutu, Annan and Maathai are all Nobel Peace Prize
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Sun 22 Jul 2007, 13:42 GMT
By Paul Simao
SOUTPANSBERG MILITARY BASE, South Africa, July 22 (Reuters) - Clouds of
flies swarm the courtyard where some 75 exhausted Zimbabweans sit quietly,
munching on loaves of bread and staring through the metal enclosure of their
temporary South African home.
A police officer jots down the names of new arrivals and escorts them into a
tin-roofed barrack lined with barbed wire, meagre protection from the strong
"They are going back," the officer, who would not give his name, said at
this detention centre on the Soutpansberg military base in Musina, 12 km
from the Beitbridge border crossing between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
These would-be-migrants are the unlucky ones among a growing tide of
refugees escaping an economic crisis that has devastated Zimbabwe and
threatens to engulf other nations in the region, principally South Africa.
Up to 4,000 Zimbabweans are jumping the border each day, according to
farmers and other local residents working with South Africa's military and
police to enforce the porous frontier between the two countries.
They say the refugee crisis has worsened in the past month since Zimbabwe's
government began enforcing a radical price rollback scheme intended to stem
soaring inflation -- unofficially estimated at 4,500 percent.
The measures have prompted stores to stop stocking milk, bread and other
basic consumer items, pushing the economy toward collapse and forcing many
Zimbabweans to cross into South Africa to buy food and petrol or look for
Those caught doing so illegally spend a brief spell in a detention centre,
where they are fed and receive basic medical treatment, before being
returned home. For many it is a minor setback, a prelude to the next
"About half tell us they will try to cross again," said Andrew Gethi,
operations officer with the International Organisation for Migration, an aid
group that runs a relief shelter for deportees on the Zimbabwean side of
TEA, BREAD, BIG-CITY DREAMS
Mike Magadzire lurks in the no-man's land straddling much of South Africa's
border with Zimbabwe, darting into the bush at the approach of a passing
vehicle and returning when the coast is clear.
The 20-year-old is typical of the growing number of Zimbabweans scaling
10-foot razor wire fences and braving arrest to cross into South Africa,
where a booming economy awaits.
Like most in Zimbabwe, a former British colony where unemployment has
reached 80 percent, Magadzire has no job or other means of support. How does
"Tea and bread once a day," he said.
He hopes to escape this hard life into South Africa where, like millions of
other Zimbabweans, he has family -- in his case, a brother working in
Johannesburg. "Get to Jo'burg," he said, his face lighting up at the
The dream, however, has become a nightmare for others who have preceded him.
There are growing reports of robberies, rapes and even murders at the hands
of smugglers paid to transport refugees over the border, usually under the
cover of darkness.
Refugees who evade arrest often face an equally harrowing journey to
Johannesburg, where many of the estimated 3 million illegal Zimbabweans
living in South Africa have found work as gardeners, maids and construction
Some penniless Zimbabweans have been picked up while walking the 520-km
route to South Africa's largest city. They also face growing intolerance in
their adopted land, where there is a tendency to blame the newcomers for a
recent spike in crime.
"They steal everything in their path," said a South African farmer in Musina
who asked not to be identified.
Pressure is building on South Africa's government to respond more
effectively to the crisis. The country's main opposition party has proposed
setting up camps to accommodate the refugees, an idea rejected by
A suggestion to turn on an electric fence that runs along the border -- it
is currently switched off -- has been dismissed as inhumane and not in line
with South Africa's liberal policies regarding asylum.
Some officials are hoping the crisis can be defused by South African
President Thabo Mbeki, who is trying to broker a political agreement between
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government and Zimbabwe's biggest
Leaders of other southern African nations asked Mbeki to mediate in March
after Zimbabwe police beat dozens of government opponents in a crackdown
that drew sharp criticism from the international community and renewed calls
for an end to Mugabe's 27-year rule.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: July 22, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: When traditional healer Rotina Mavhunga claimed in April
that she had discovered deposits of refined gasoline seeping from rocks near
a spiritual shrine, the find was heralded as manna from heaven.
Long-suffering Zimbabweans jumped on the news as a welcome respite from
their daily economic gloom - including an acute gasoline shortage - and the
government investigated reports that the liquid had powered a diesel
But on Sunday the bubble burst when state media reported that police had
arrested 50 followers of Mavhunga. The tribal healer herself was on the run.
Government spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira conceded that there were no fuel
deposits, according to the ruling party newspaper The Voice.
"Nothing convincing was found, meaning there were no deposits of diesel in
the area," the paper quoted him as saying.
The healer made headlines with her claims that she had found the gasoline
near an ancestral shrine in the Chinhoyi district, 100 kilometers (60 miles)
northwest of Harare, state radio said.
The witchdoctor told her followers the fuel could last hundreds of years and
was "a gift from ancestral spirits who saw their children suffering because
of the shortages of fuel," the state Sunday Mail, a government mouthpiece,
Traditional healers are held in high regard in Zimbabwe, like many other
African nations, and superstition runs high.
Three top politicians, Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, Defense Minister
Sydney Sekeramayi and Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, in charge of
police, went to the district to investigate the claims - a sign that the
government took them seriously.
But after their visit, "experts said it was scientifically implausible that
diesel would gush out of any rock," the Voice said.
From the outset, fuel industry executives said the only source of the gas
could have been secret underground tanks abandoned by the white-led
colonial-era military in the last days of the guerrilla war that swept
President Robert Mugabe to power at independence in 1980.
The Sunday Mail said it was not clear under which laws Mavhunga or her
followers were to be charged.
Zimbabwe is in the grips of an economic crisis, which worsened after the
government on June 26 ordered sweeping price cuts of around 50 percent on
all goods and services, and cuts of more than 70 percent on gasoline,
bringing the price down to half the cost of importing it.
Gas stations have run dry and have been unable to replace fuel stocks.
Chaotic lines of vehicles were seen at designated gas stations Sunday as
drivers tried to cash in gas coupons, which are to be phased out Aug. 1.
Many vehicles were overloaded with empty fuel drums.
The fuel dealers rationed customers to 50 liters (about 12 gallons) each and
warned of the dangers of storing gasoline at home.
Gas shortages have crippled transportation services and shortages of basic
goods continued to worsen Sunday. Supermarket shelves remained bare of
cornmeal, meat, bread and other staples.
Pharmacies were running out of medication, and bars were running out of
At least 3,000 executives and business managers have been arrested and fined
for violating the government's new price rules since June 26, and officials
have threatened to seize businesses that scale down their operations.
Official inflation is given at 4,500 percent, the highest in the world, but
private financial institutions estimate inflation closer to 9,000 percent,
factoring out reductions on goods that are no longer available.
Moses Moyo in Harare
The two men who engineered the honey trap that caught Bulawayo Archbishop
Pius Ncube in bed with Rosemary Sibanda have now told me: "We are very
bitter. We were promised big money when the job was done, but we've received
The men are private investigator Ernest Tekere and the woman's husband,
Onesimus Sibanda. It was Sibanda who first approached Tekere with the plan
to film the Archbishop (left) secretly.
The result was a dramatically revealing and explicit videotape, showing
Ncube and Mrs Sibanda making love on the Archbishop's bed. The tape was
played on national television, and stills from it appeared widely in
government newspapers, thus saying: "Pius has been embarrassing our leader
for years with impunity. Now is our effectively silencing the courageous
Archbishop's attacks on Robert Mugabe's government.
Tekere told me: "I was first approached early this year by Sibanda, who was
accompanied by someone who called himself Commander Dube. Both men I knew to
be members of the ruling Zanu PF party in Bulawayo. They told me what they
wanted me to do, and I refused. I am a committed Christian."
Two weeks later Sibanda and Dube approached Tekere again. The investigator
secretly recorded the meeting, and he played me a tape of Dube saying: "Pius
has been embarrassing our leader for years with impunity. Now is our
opportunity to nail him and silence him for good."
Tekere said he was still reluctant, until the men made him a cash offer of
US$10,000. "Who in Zimbabwe can possibly refuse such a sum? I have my family
to maintain. So I accepted."
He was paid US$2,000 up front, with the balance to be paid as soon as the
assignment was completed. It never materialised. "They told me the country
is short of foreign exchange at the moment, and they would try and pay me
later. But I know they are conning me." When I spoke to Mr Sibanda, he was
also disappointed. "I was promised US$5,000 to arrange things, and I was
also told I would get a non-constituency parliamentary seat next year. I
have been given no money, and I think all their promises are worthless." But
Tekere is not giving up on the US$8,000 he believes he is owed. "I have
investigated several of the top men in Zanu PF in the past. I have tapes of
their own extramarital affairs. If my money doesn't come I will release
those tapes to the
foreign media." I suggested that might be dangerous. "Let them kill me if
they can. I want my money." Archbishop Ncube has still not denied the
relationship with Mrs Sibanda.
FIRST POSTED JULY 22, 2007
Many investors are willing to take the bet on a post-Mugabe recovery.
William Wallis reports from London with Alec Russell in Johannesburg | July
FOREIGN investors tend to avoid imploding African economies. But a small
crew are bucking the trend in Zimbabwe, lured by plunging asset prices and a
belief that once 83-year-old President Robert Mugabe goes, recovery could be
Leading the charge is Lonrho, the conglomerate that has been seeking to
rebuild the African empire created by the late Tiny Rowland.
It announced on Friday that it had raised an initial pound stg. 32.3 million
($75.5 million) from shareholders towards a new subsidiary -- Lonzim -- to
buy up assets in Zimbabwe with a "significant opportunity for future
David Lenigas, Lonrho's executive chairman, told the Financial Times that he
aimed to raise a total of pound stg. 100 million for the company through a
share offer to be launched in London soon.
He said demand for Lonzim shares was coming from Europe, South Africa and
the Middle East. But it had been strongest among institutional investors
including US pension and hedge funds.
Mr Lenigas thought this was driven by a broader appetite for African risk.
"They see Africa as the last big investment frontier. Africa is where Asia
was 30 years ago," Mr Lenigas said.
Looking beyond current figures for Zimbabwe -- 15,000 per cent inflation and
an economy shrinking by 12 per cent a year -- he said the country's
infrastructure, skilled workforce and farming potential provided the basis
for a solid recovery.
Lonzim would focus on recapitalising companies that had been starved of
credit, buying up and rehabilitating hotels and game parks.
It would also target commercial property and build stakes intransport,
construction and aviation.
"We are trying to hold these things together and wait for recovery," Mr
Lonrho -- whose name derives partly from the old British colony, Rhodesia --
has a long history in Zimbabwe. But others with less experience are betting
on the country, too.
Botswana-based Imara asset management launched a $US13.5 million ($15.3
million) fund to invest in Zimbabwe earlier this year, the day after Morgan
Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, emerged battered from a Harare jail.
It is a "punt", concedes Mark Tunmer, Imara's chief executive.
But he adds that the country's natural and human resources are still there
and people are "prepared to put their cash down on that in the expectation
of a return to free markets".
One such punter is Sean Jackson, a British entrepreneur based in Cambridge,
who invested in land in Poland in the aftermath of communism there. His
stake has increased by about 20 times since then, he says. He is now looking
at Zimbabwe as a similar long-term investment opportunity.
Kola Karim, chief executive of Shoreline Energy International, a Nigerian
group, says he hopes to seal two deals in Zimbabwe in the next month -- both
with European companies who have had enough there.
"We are not going to asset-strip. We can buy big international names for
cheap and stay in partnership with locals to drive the business as we have
done, for example, in Tanzania and Uganda," he said. In one case he hoped to
acquire a company for roughly a tenth of its 1997 value.
There is concern among some Zimbabwean businessmen that properties will be
sold off at rock-bottom prices.
"But the investors are not seen as vultures," said the chief executive of a
Bulawayo-based small manufacturing firm. "It gives us hope for the future
that people from the outside are interested."
At a Bulawayo business forum this week, many members seemed determined to
batten down the hatches and not to sell.
There may be other disincentives to investors on the way. Possibly the
greatest would be the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill, which the
Government has promised to pass into law within a month. This would
authorise the authorities to seize 51 per cent of the shareholding of
foreign firms in order to "empower" black Zimbabweans.
Dianna Games, director of Africa@Work, a southern African business
consultancy, expressed caution, saying that the bill -- and recently
enforced price cuts on many commodities -- had changed the climate from one
of an "investment opportunity to a bit of a fire sale".
"There is a lot of talk around dinner party tables (in South Africa and
Zimbabwe)" about opportunities, she said. But it was far from clear that the
situation would be transformed when Mr Mugabe finally left power.
July 22, 2007
By Tonny Mafu
Johannesburg - Bulk grocery buyers from Zimbabwe have streamed into the
South African border town of Musina, making purchases of up to R20 000 a
This comes in the wake of severe shortage after the Zimbabwean authorities
enforced price cuts this month. Retailers across the country were left with
empty shelves, after consumers cleaned out all stock at reduced prices.
The shortage of basic groceries has increased the number of shoppers
crossing the border into South Africa. Musina's retailers of household goods
have experienced a huge increase in sales.
One beneficiary of the wave of Zimbabwean buyers is Spar, the largest
retailer in the border town. Pieter Koekemoer, the store manager, says sales
have increased by 75 percent in the past three weeks. The increase in
turnover has been driven by bulk buyers, who are also known as runners.
These customers can buy goods worth up to R20 000 at a time. Their purchases
include cooking oil, sugar, bread and soap. Spar's bread sales have doubled
in the past month to 5 000 loaves.
Koekemoer says there has also been a rush to beat a deadline set for July
31, after which Zimbabweans will require a licence to buy in bulk for resale
The Zimbabwean government has accused businesses of profiteering on the
country's spectacular meltdown, now in its seventh year.
The economic crisis has seen inflation soar to about 4 500 percent, the
highest in the world. This has been aggravated by a strong black market in
foreign currency and consumer goods.
Authorities have also recently banned the private purchase of fuel in
In the past few weeks, Koekemoer says, buyers from Zimbabwean hotels and
lodges have been crossing the border to make bulk purchases of luxury goods
such as olive oil, olives and tuna.
Zimbabweans in transit from regions such as Gauteng, uncertain of the
availability of consumer goods at their destinations, have been "buying as
much as they can" of groceries on their way home.
Benefits to businesses from the shopping spree have also extended to
employment. Koekemoer says Spar has hired 12 more workers to help with the
increased volume of customers.
On why shoppers are choosing Spar, Koekemoer says bulk buyers get discounts
of about 5 percent for purchases of R3 000 or more.
"It is frightening how much money these people can carry and it is difficult
to understand where they get it [the money]," he says.
This view is echoed by Mashudu Mulea, the manager of the Musina branch of
Ellerines. He says more than half of the furniture store's cash sales
consist of purchases by Zimbabweans.
"They are boosting our cash flow as they buy [for] cash," he says. These
customers buy items worth between R2 000 and R3 000 each visit. Goods bought
include fridges, stoves, appliances, home theatre systems and bedroom
Koekemoer says some Zimbabwean buyers use foreign credit cards from as far
afield as Ireland to pay for their purchases. "They have foreign bank
accounts," he notes.
Retail stores are not the only businesses riding high on the Zimbabwean
crisis; KFC Musina is also making a meal of the troubles.
According to the fast-food outlet's manager, Johannes Mahafha, weekly sales
have increased by a third from R30 000 to R40 000. Zimbabweans buy fried
chicken and other meals from KFC while they wait for transport to take their
groceries home. These shoppers account for half of the store's sales.
Mahafha says KFC sells bigger meals when the Zimbabwean crews head home.
"Normally when they go home they get the larger take away priced for about
R90," he says. During each sitting, shoppers order a meal worth between R20
Jane Murimbi, a shopper from a township in Masvingo, says she comes to
Musina on a monthly basis. There have been no groceries at all back home in
the past month, she says, and "things are relatively cheaper at Musina
Murimbi says she makes a profit of about 66c in the rand when she resells
the groceries back home in Masvingo after making the 500km round trip to
"I am earning a living through this buying and selling" she says.
Meanwhile, Mulea says Zimbabweans buying furniture are able to get a refund
of the value added tax (VAT) paid at the point of sale. The SA Revenue
Service refunds them at the border. VAT is equal to 14 percent of the value
of purchases, but it does not apply on some groceries, such as bread,
cooking oil and soap.
Murimbi says refunds make it cheaper for bulk purchases.
By Stephen Bevan in Musina, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:56pm BST 21/07/2007Page 1 of 2
Like the thousands of others who trekked across the border this month,
Kudakwashe Vandira brought nothing but the clothes he was wearing and the
vague hope of a better life.
What little spare cash he had saved up had been stolen by the guma
guma - the gangsters who prey on desperate Zimbabweans as they try to flee
illegally into South Africa.
"We paid someone 100 South African rand (£7) to take us from the
Zimbabwean side to the South African side, but then we met robbers and they
took all our money," said Mr Vandira, 20, a jobless builder who was seeking
work to support his elderly mother back home.
"They had a pistol and clubs and they beat my friend, so his tooth has
been knocked loose. Yes, it's a risk but it is better than being in
Grim stories like Mr Vandira's are now all too common in Musina, a
former mining town that is the first place refugees reach after the 12-hour
trudge from the border. While most "illegals" then head on to Johannesburg
and other big cities, many of the most destitute remain in Musina, stranded
because they lack the price of the fare.
Most either camp out in the bush or live in squats on the edge of
townships, unable to earn a living legally, where they are blamed for a
massive wave of petty crime and theft. Unless they get deported by the
border police, however, none ever contemplate going back.
Instead, with Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe's presidency slipping ever
deeper into economic crisis - characterised by 4,500 per cent inflation and
growing shortages of basic foods and fuel - the flow of migrants has grown
from a trickle to a flood.
So severe is the problem that the United Nations and South African
government have begun drawing up new contingency plans for a sudden mass
exodus of people over the border. The Sunday Telegraph understands that the
blueprint includes provisions for setting up a refugee camp in Musina, and
giving Zimbabweans official refugee status for the first time.
The issue is highly sensitive for the South African government, as
according refugee status to immigrants would give them an automatic right to
stay in the country. Crucially, it would also be an explicit admission that
the situation in Zimbabwe had reached crisis point, something that Thabo
Mbeki's ANC-led administration has long refused to admit.
Last week, the Zimbabwean government was forced to back down from its
disastrous campaign to force businesses to slash their prices by half, after
a wave of panic-buying across the country cleared the shelves of every
supermarket, and companies were driven close to bankruptcy.
But with Zimbabwe suffering a severe drought, and the World Food
Programme now raising its estimate of the number of people there needing aid
from 300,000 to one million, the proportion fleeing is sure to grow.
Although there are no reliable figures for the number of people
crossing the border illegally, anecdotal evidence suggests that they are
coming in their hundreds, if not thousands, every day. One recent report
suggested that South African border police were arresting and deporting 500
daily. An estimated three million Zimbabweans - nearly a quarter of the
population - are thought to be already resident in South Africa.
Once a quiet backwater, Musina now has the feel of a gold rush town as
local businesses grow rich on the back of trade with the people of its
increasingly desperate neighbour. Zimbabweans with the correct paperwork
cross the border every day to buy staples such as bread and fuel, which are
either unavailable at home or cost many times the price. A new four-lane
highway being built between Musina and the border crossing is testament to
the flourishing trade along the route.
The profile of those coming over is changing, however, according to
Hannes Nel, whose fruit farm is near the border. "Before, it was men looking
for work," he said. "Now it's family groups, women with children, even old
people. It's all sorts."
Professional hunters - a lucrative business in this sparsely populated
area of thick bush, rolling hills and dramatic rock outcrops - and local
farmers complain that the "illegals" cut their fences, destroy their snares,
break pipes for water and are also responsible for burglaries and murders.
The presence of so many clearly desperate people is also blamed for
frightening away foreign tourists.
Despite the problems, official efforts to stem the flow of illegal
immigrants seem half-hearted on either side. The border is marked by three
impressive-looking fences, including an electric one in the middle, but it
is easily evaded by pushing sticks under it until wires touch and it
No border guards patrol the Zimbabwean side, while there are widespread
reports of illegal immigrants paying South African soldiers and police to
look the other way as they cross.
Nor, despite dramatic reports of immigrants wading through fast-flowing
waters dodging crocodiles and hippos, is the mighty Limpopo river, along
which the border runs, any real barrier. For 10 months of the year the
Limpopo is virtually dry, and all the immigrants have to do is walk across
its sandy bed.
Joe Nyati, 18, another Zimbabwean illegal immigrant, told how he was caught
by South African police last month as he crossed the border after dark, for
the first time. After spending the night in a former barracks which has been
converted into a holding centre, he was deported back to Zimbabwe the next
"The same night I crossed again," he said. "I was coming across the river at
night with my friend when the guma guma attacked us. There were 15 of them,
all young men, they had guns and knives.
"They took everything except my underwear. But after they had gone, we
carried on to the fence and climbed over."
Now Mr Nyati works illegally in Musina as a garden boy, earning 200 rand
(£14) a month. It is a telling indication of just how bad things are in
Zimbabwe that he should be prepared to take such risks for so little reward.
"I finished school two years ago but there was no work," he said. "It's easy
to stay here and if they catch me and deport me, I'll just come back the
The call to set up refugee camps locally has already been taken up by South
Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance party. In a letter to the home
affairs minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the party's deputy home affairs
spokesman, Les Labuschagne, said: "Refugee camps would be the only way to
make sure that these people are adequately housed and fed until they are
able to return to Zimbabwe."
The South African government, apparently reluctant to acknowledge the
problems caused by Zimbabwe's economic freefall, has dismissed the
Democratic Alliance party's letter as "nothing but cheap political point
A home affairs ministry spokesman said: "Refugees are supposed to be
integrated into our communities and not kept in camps as the DA proposes."
He added that such measures would only be introduced in the event of a major
Jack Redden, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees in South Africa, confirmed, however, that "revisions" were under
way to existing contingency plans, drawn up in conjunction with the South
African government, in case of a major refugee crisis.
He refused to say what the plan said about setting up refugee camps, but the
head of the local municipality, Abram Luruli, confirmed a site had already
been identified on a disused army base, six miles from Musina.
For some of those leaving Zimbabwe, such camps will come too late. Ennie
Lelushi runs the Child Resource Centre, a day care facility for orphans and
vulnerable children on Musina's outskirts. Almost half the 479 children she
has on her books are Zimbabwean, some of them brought in by guma guma who
double as people traffickers.
"If you don't have the money to pay them, they'll do bad things to you," she
said. "One boy told us that when he came over the border, he was with a
mother and her baby. The guma guma said the child would cry and give them
away, so they took it, killed it and threw it in the river."
July 22, 2007
By Peta Thornycroft
Lubumbashi - Why was fugitive Billy Rautenbach deported from the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) to Zimbabwe on Thursday? Why not last week or the
week before, when he was flying to and from Lubumbashi?
An international warrant for his arrest was issued months ago as South
Africa wants him to stand trial on allegations of massive fraud.
Many in Lubumbashi believe Rautenbach - long accused of stealing cobalt from
Gecamines in his days as the state mining company's chief executive - has
been felled by a furious fight over the jewel in the DRC copper crown,
There are two camps trying to buy control of the company, which is just
coming on stream.
The first is a relative newcomer to the DRC, Israeli company Dan Gertler
International (DGI). Its principal, Dan Gertler, has his head office in Tel
Then there is British firm Central African Mining and Exploration Company
(Camec), which, in anticipation of Rautenbach's problems with South Africa's
National Prosecuting Authority, bought his DRC assets last year.
On Thursday Rautenbach flew out of the DRC on his executive jet for the last
time - in this phase of his life - after nearly a decade of wheeling,
dealing, threatening, and perhaps doing the normal round of "favours" in
Harare and Lubumbashi.
To his credit, unlike some whose only mining activity in the DRC is on the
world's stock markets, Rautenbach also does real mining. He digs out the
earth, processes the ore, and exports the valuable metal; he also pays taxes
and earns valuable foreign currency for Kinshasa.
Now he has gone to ground on his estate in the exclusive Umwinsidale suburb
on the outskirts of Harare, and is not answering his phones.
Perhaps Rautenbach, who is one of the largest shareholders in Camec, is
musing more on his vast wealth and whether the Zimbabweans will expedite his
extradition, than on being kicked out of Lubumbashi.
On Thursday Andrew Groves, the chief executive of Camec, in his normal
volley of bombast, denied that Rautenbach had been forced to fly out of
Lubumbashi as a prohibited immigrant, as claimed by Moise Katumba, the
governor of Katanga.
"He has been in and out regularly on business and will be back again. This
is all political and we know the press is putting out lies. We know who they
[the press] are working for.
"Camec doesn't need Billy Rautenbach. We did at the beginning but now we
have a fully competent staff running the operations. He is just a
shareholder now," Groves said.
He added: "We are looking forward to George Forrest becoming chairman of the
Forrest is the chief executive, and the largest shareholder, of Katanga
Mining, which is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
He has a long and chequered history in the DRC. He is a street fighter and
survivor, who actually lives in Lubumbashi, is active in mining and employs
thousands of Congolese.
He is extraordinarily rich, and his early wealth is mired in the nasty
histories of Angola and the DRC, but today he is genial and wants the DRC to
prosper. His three sons have remained in the country, work in his firms and
are there to stay.
While Forrest will say nothing on the record, his associates claim that he
has decided to get into bed with Camec to stave off the assault he believes
is coming from Gertler, Camec's rival for Katanga Mining.
"Katanga Mining is in good shape. It is the only game in town right now,"
Forrest said in an interview in Lubumbashi this week. This is at least part
of the reason the battle for his company is heating up.
When Camec began its raid, buying 23 percent of the shares in Katanga
Mining, the latter's major Canadian shareholders took measures to stop an
attempted takeover. At that time, DGI had bought 17 percent in Katanga
Gertler got into DRC when he took a majority stake in state diamond firm
Société Minière de Bakwanga for $15 million (R103.6 million), but that
project is not going well.
Then, in a record two weeks of negotiations in 2004, Gertler secured a
stunning joint venture in Katanga with Gecamines. Now called Nikanor, it
owns cobalt and copper deposits as well as a concentrator plant and is
already on stream.
Gertler was at President Joseph Kabila's wedding before elections last year,
and is reportedly close to important people in Kinshasa.
He vastly overpaid Zimbabwean businessman John Bredenkamp for his assets in
Bredenkamp knew nothing about mining, his world has always been tobacco and
military hardware. He got the mining assets for free in the first place, a
gift from the late DRC President Laurent Kabila.
Bredenkamp was on the rack, down to his last $20 million or so, his
properties in Europe were mortgaged, and he had to flog off or lease out a
couple of his aircraft.
He needed to sell DRC mining properties, including the world's richest
cobalt deposit, Mukondo.
Bredenkamp was owed about $10 million for supplies he provided to the
Zimbabwe National Army, which fought on Kabila's side in the war in the late
1990s. He had been the guarantor of payment for Russian helicopters for
So Kabila's gift was part in lieu of unpaid debts and partly to compensate
the Zimbabwe government.
Rautenbach also got into the DRC as part of Kabila's obligations to
Whether either men ever paid off the Zimbabwe government, which provided the
army and critical support to Kabila, is mired in a dark corner of untold
history in a bleak period of the DRC's tormented past.
Suffice to say they got into the DRC because they were Zimbabwean citizens -
seen by Kabila as allies of President Robert Mugabe - and both men were
protected by powerful forces in Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF.
Rautenbach was made chief executive of Gecamines and given valuable copper
claims in partnership with the Zimbabwe government. He was forced out of DRC
when Kabila accused him of stealing cobalt. His assets were taken away and
given to Bredenkamp.
But the tables turned.
With Harare's influence - and because he went to court and won the case -
Rautenbach was suddenly handed half of Bredenkamp's assets in Katanga in
2004, which now included a half share of Mukondo, the cobalt mountain that
is said to be the richest in the world.
So with Bredenkamp in a financial crunch, unable to pay creditors in the
DRC, and knowing nothing about mining, he leased his share of Mukondo to
Rautenbach. And it did well, exporting 600 tons a month.
Last year Bredenkamp offered Mukondo and the concentrator to Rautenbach for
about $20 million, but Rautenbach laughed and offered half that amount. The
two men were at war.
Suddenly, in June last year, Bredenkamp was summoned to Kinshasa for an
interview with Joseph Kabila, Laurent's son, who would soon become the DRC's
first democratically elected president.
A deal was struck in mysterious circumstances and Gertler massively overpaid
Bredenkamp roughly $60 million for his cobalt mountain and the concentrator.
Bredenkamp returned about $8 million, maybe to pay off the Zimbabwe
government, or for Kabila's election campaign, but he never disclosed
details of that transaction.
With Bredenkamp flush again and out of the way, Rautenbach tried to lease
Mukondo and the concentrator from Gertler, who turned him down even though
maintaining those assets without production cost him about $750 000 a month.
So the cobalt mountain is dormant, the concentrator is idle, and
Rautenbach's, or rather Camec's, valuable exports have ceased.
Camec did not reveal that to shareholders until press reports forced it to
do so late last year.
Meanwhile, Forrest, the old DRC fox, was building Katanga Mining, which
comes on stream this year, at a time of superb copper prices and abundant
skilled personnel, and the confidence of world markets..
But who will win? It does not look good for Camec right now, with Rautenbach
out the picture, however much Groves protests that the Zimbabwean is not
needed any longer.
Camec is a troubled firm, with questionable ability to develop its assets,
staff problems and, perhaps most importantly, it has offended powerful
people in Kinshasa.
After it lost revenue from Mukondo, Camec built a metals producing plant in
Luita in Katanga, but no one is sure how much it costs to produce the
metals, and there are serious questions about the longevity of the hastily
Forrest gave a clue to the possible outcome when he said: "Rautenbach is not
only interested in mining on stock exchanges, he is prepared to get his
hands dirty and actually get involved in mining in Katanga." - Independent
July 22, 2007
By Tonny Mafu
Johannesburg - The economic meltdown in Zimbabwe has brought fortune for
some enterprising citizens.
As the number of Zimbabwean immigrants working in South Africa has
increased, so have the remittances of money and shipments of groceries over
This phenomenon has led to the formation of transport crews who carry goods,
money and letters on behalf of the working migrants.
One of the entrepreneurs, who did not want to be named, has been in business
He transports about R20 000 worth of groceries to Zimbabwe each week. He
also delivers R6 000 to relatives of his clients.
"I have 100 regular clients, more people have come over," he says. The
average amount a client sends on each trip is about R600. Each week about a
dozen people send parcels and money.
While parcels cost between R50 and R150 to transport, sending money can cost
up to R15 for each R100. This business can earn transporters R5 000 a trip
"My position has improved ever since I started this business," the
The business has also created jobs for exiled Zimbabweans. The entrepreneur
originally drove an old Peugeot himself, but he now employs six people as
drivers and assistants and his fleet has been upgraded to three new Toyota
"I pay about R6 000 each month for all three cars," he notes.
When asked why his instalment was relatively low, he says he paid higher
deposits to the banks.
His earnings are invested in South Africa, where he recently bought a house
for R620 000. He pays taxes to SA Revenue Service, depending on the income.
The permit to transport goods across the border costs about R1 500 a year.
Additional taxes paid during each trip to Zimbabwe vary between R500 and R1
However, if the Zimbabwean situation returns to normal, transporters of
goods may see a decline in business.
"I think business will suffer," the entrepreneur says. "I am planning to set
up a new venture here."
Jane Murimbi, a trader from the city of Masvingo near the famous Zimbabwe
Ruins, says cross-border transporters have been useful for shipping bulk
groceries. She pays R10 for each lot of groceries.
Compared with conventional movement of parcels to Zimbabwe, less formal
cross-border operators are a lot cheaper.
The post office charges about R1 610 for a 10kg consignment. Courier company
DHL levies a fee of R1 341 for a 10kg parcel, while cross-border
transporters charge about R200 for the same package. An added advantage is
that they do door-to-door delivery and recipients get their goods within a
The system hinges on trust, with no contract signed between the sender and
A number of factors explain the success of cross-border operators. The
existence of different foreign exchange rates has led people to avoid using
formal financial institutions. Banks exchange rands for much fewer Zimbabwe
dollars than the black market, and because of inflation, Zimbabweans prefer
to hold the foreign currency they get from relatives abroad and only convert
it when buying goods.
The Zimbabwean currency has recently plunged to rates of about Z$400 000 to
the US dollar in the black market, widening the differential with the
official exchange rate of Z$250 to the greenback.
Sources have said that even senior government officials were making a
killing by borrowing US dollars at the official rate, converting these in
the black market and then paying off the loan at the official exchange rate.
Zimbabwe's inflation rate, estimated at 4 500 percent, is the highest in the
world. By receiving cash directly from cross-border operators and hoarding
it, Zimbabweans are cushioned from inflation, since the exchange rate
normally changes with inflation.
While the Zimbabwean dollar falls, the purchasing power of foreign currency
remains more or less unaffected, and in some instances is boosted. - Tonny
FRANCISTOWN: Botswana businesses are making a kill as droves of cross border
shoppers flood the country's northern most city to do their shopping as the
Zimbabwe government crackdown on prices gains momentum.
The Zimbabwe Cabinet Taskforce on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation
recently ordered businesses to slash consumer prices by 50 percent or more
"to cushion poor consumers that are at the mercy of profiteers".
The Zimbabwean media recently reported that "following government decrees,
consumers are caught up in a mad shopping spree" which saw the shelves of
many shops emptied, some closing because they were operating at a loss".
"Consumers have cheered the price cuts but store shelves have emptied and
left the poor even worse off," reports the Zimbabwe Financial Gazette online
Generally, there is a general outcry against hefty price increases on basic
commodities like sugar, bread and cooking oil which forces Zimbabweans to
cross the border into Francistown where they ransack the shops to fill their
The Zimbabwean crisis is no longer limited to fuel shortages, as the
government-led price blitz forced some traders to close shop. There is also
a serious shortage of basic commodities in the shops that still survive.
Titus Mosweunyane, a manager at the local Score Supermarket rated the
Zimbabweans as among their best customers. "Zimbabweans buy more than
Batswana because of their situation back home. They share their troubles
with us that consumer prices on many goods are high back home.
"They buy stuff like cooking oil, Cremora coffee creamer, bread and other
cereals for their needs," revealed Mosweunyane.
Mosweunyane rates Zimbabweans as good buyers because they regularly buy in
large quantities. A customer might buy a crate of 12 two-litre bottles of
coking oil which is rare for locals.
"They also buy basic stuff like cornflakes, sugar and bread which they take
back home," he said.
The managing director of Meriting Spar Supermarket in Francistown, Archie
Mbakile, also indicates that he has benefited from the price crack down
across the border.
It has been almost a month now that Meriting Spar has been enjoying the
patronage of the Zimbabweans seeking basic goods from the shop.
"The stuff they buy heavily includes the long green bar soap, cooking oil,
sugar and bread," said Mbakile.
He remarked that even some stuff that was supposed to be very cheap in
Zimbabwe like Mazoe orange crush, which is made in Zimbabwe, is very
expensive as compared to Francistown. "Basically, they buy all their monthly
grocery needs from here".
Mohutsiwa Dikgakololo, a manager at Nswazwi Spar in Francistown says: " They
buy mainly cooking oil and green soap bars. The other thing they buy a lot
of is bread".
Generally, he said it was not easy to distinguish a Zimbabwean from the
locals until you talk to them, says the businessman.
At month end, Zimbabweans who are used to long queues back home join the
Batswana at almost all the chain shops in town.
Some use their own transport and others use public transport.
The shopping windfall also benefits local private car owners and public
vehicle operators who often transport them to the border village of
Price controls in Zimbabwe have also encouraged the expansion of the
black-market. Zimbabwean traders buy low quality electronic goods in bulk
from the Chinese shops in Francistown for re-sale back home.
Regulated business continues to collapse due to the unfriendly price
controls in Zimbabwe, the one time breadbasket of Africa.
It has become a norm that at month end Porsche motor vehicles bearing
Zimbabwe number plates compete for parking spaces at major shopping
complexes with the locals and other visitors.
High inflation levels in Zimbabwe have grossly eroded the purchasing power
of most urban and rural households. Three months ago, the country's Central
Statistics Office placed the annual inflation rate at about 3,713.90
In some quarters, Zimbabwe's run away inflation is estimated to have reached
about 5,000 percent.
July 22 2007 at 11:37AM
President Thabo Mbeki's effort to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe is
hanging by a thread because President Robert Mugabe is refusing to negotiate
a new constitution with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
The new constitution is a key item on the MDC's negotiations agenda.
Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF party are represented at the talks by
Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, the respective justice and labour
The MDC is represented by Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube, the
respective general secretaries of its two factions.
Chinamasa and Goche had failed to arrive in Pretoria almost two weeks
ago for the start of the substantive negotiations about how to resolve the
However, the two did arrive this week and met Sydney Mufamadi, the
local government minister, who Mbeki has charged with running the day-to-day
negotiations, and Frank Chikane, the director-general in the presidency.
Chinamasa and Goche told Mufamadi and Chikane that they were under
strict instructions from Zanu-PF not to discuss a new constitution and
wanted that item deleted from the agenda.
They said that the present Zimbabwe constitution, which has been
amended 18 times, was serving the country well. Zanu-PF would be prepared to
amend it, but not adopt a new one.
They said the MDC was free to suggest any amendments it wished and
parliament would consider them. Chinamasa and Goche have since have since
returned to Harare.
Sources said Mbeki was now desperate to salvage the talks and had
summoned Biti and Ncube to Pretoria to hear their views on the tough Zanu-PF
Biti and Ncube were due to begin meetings with Mufamadi and Chikane on
Friday before meeting Mbeki this weekend.
The MDC factions seemed unlikely to budge on the need for a drafting a
completely new constitution, which they regard as central to resolving the
Zimbabwe crisis, sources said.
If Mbeki fails to persuade the parties to break the impasse, he will
have no progress to report to his regional peers at the annual summit of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Zambia next month.
SADC leaders mandated Mbeki to conduct the Zimbabwe mediation effort
at a special summit in Dar es Salaam in March.
Mbeki gave his first progress report to the SADC at the African Union
summit in Accra, Ghana, last month. At that time he said that progress had
been made because the parties had agreed on an agenda.
But on Friday the Zimbabwe Independent reported, once again, that the
talks were dead because of the impasse over a new constitution.
Sources close to the negotiations said that although imperilled, the
talks were not dead in the water.
It is unclear, however, how Mbeki might salvage them.
Mugabe reportedly suspects that Mbeki is sympathetic to the MDC demand
for a new constitution.
But sources believe Mbeki might try to persuade the MDC to shelve its
demand for a new constitution if Zanu-PF creates conditions for free and
fair elections next year.
Although the MDC has argued that free and fair elections and a new
constitution for Zimbabwe are inseparable, that is not necessarily so,
sources said. Many of the conditions for an internationally acceptable
plebiscite could be met without wholesale constitutional review.
They included the restoration of banned newspapers, international
supervision of the elections by the United Nations, ending political
violence and amendments to draconian laws that inhibit opposition political
Even opposition demands for an overhaul of constitutional bodies could
be met through amendments, rather than by writing a completely new
"Let's not say collapse yet, but I agree the talks are hanging by a
thin wire," said one highly placed source.
The talks are being held behind a veil of secrecy and so no official
confirmation of the state of play is possible. - Foreign Service
This article was originally published on page 3 of Sunday Independent
on July 22, 2007
ZIMBABWE: Analysts say that now might be a wise time to invest.
10:00 PM PDT on Saturday, July 21, 2007
By CELEAN JACOBSON
The Associated Press
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - The risks of doing business now in Zimbabwe are
high: Shelves are bare and fuel tanks empty following government orders to
slash prices in half to bring down the soaring inflation rate.
The government has threatened a takeover of businesses, triggering fears of
a repeat of the confiscation of farms that started in 2000 and is blamed for
triggering the economic collapse.
Edgars, a leading South African clothing retailer with stores in neighboring
Zimbabwe, saw its chief executive in Zimbabwe arrested last weekend for
"tardiness in changing prices" as the government ordered last month. He was
released, and while Edgars' management says times are difficult, it is not
pulling out of Zimbabwe.
In fact, analysts predict that those who can afford to wait -- even if it
takes years -- will see good returns on investments.
"Zimbabwe's difficulties are a reality," said Goolam Ballim, chief economist
for Standard Bank, one of South Africa's leading banks with interests in
"But any rebound will benefit entrepreneurs," he added, saying he was
confident in the ability of the southern African country rich in minerals to
Zimbabwe once had one of the most diversified economies in southern Africa.
Growth in 1980, when British colonial rule was toppled and Robert Mugabe
became president, was a record 12 percent, and the country was the world's
second-largest tobacco exporter, accounting for 30 percent of the world's
tobacco trade. Now it is a basket case with official inflation of 4,500
percent -- unofficially 9,000 percent -- the highest in the world.
Many see the possibility of stability in Zimbabwe pegged to mediation
efforts led by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki is trying to get
Mugabe's party and his main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change,
to work together to bring the country back from the brink.
"The mediation is a small window of opportunity," said Brian Raftopolous,
director of the Solidarity Peace Trust, a human-rights group. "The biggest
stumbling block to this is of course the Mugabe regime itself -- it's
determination to make the mediation as difficult as possible."
"The region is looking at ways to help stabilize the Zimbab-wean economy,"
Some analysts believe that for entrepreneurs with deep pockets and strong
nerves, this is the time to invest in Zimbabwe, saying tobacco farms and
mineral rights can be picked up dirt cheap.
They point to examples of the mineral- and oil-rich Congo and Angola, where
the first hint of political stability saw investments reap massive returns.
"As prices fall, you are able to buy more assets with incredible potential,"
said Tony Twine, senior economist at Econometrix, an economic consulting
From The Herald, 21 July
President Mugabe has extended the term of office of Police Commissioner
Augustine Chihuri by another one year, with effect from September 1 2007.
Commissioner Chihuri was appointed as police chief in 1993. According to a
notice in yesterday's Government Gazette, President Mugabe extended Comm
Chihuri's term in terms of the Constitution and the Police Act. Comm Chihuri
succeeded Commissioner Henry Mukurazhizha who resigned in 1991.