International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: July 28, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe has promised to print more money
for underfunded municipal projects - at the height of the government's
campaign to cut retail prices to tame the country's hyperinflation.
The Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece, reported Saturday that Mugabe
told a meeting of local councilors that they should put more pressure on
government ministers to improve service delivery.
"Where money for projects has not been found, we will print it," Mugabe was
quoted as saying. "Some ministries need to be pushed not by me at the top
alone because I do not see what they do at the bottom. Push them at the
bottom," he said.
The printing of money is generally regarded as a recipe for further
inflation - which is officially 4,500 percent in Zimbabwe - though estimated
to be at least twice as high. The government last month ordered sweeping
price cuts of around 50 percent, accusing store owners and businesses of
fueling the inflation.
The price cuts have left shelves bare of cornmeal, bread, meat, milk, eggs
and other staples across the country with businesses saying they can't
afford to sell at the new prices. Some 5,000 executives, managers and gas
station and store owners have been arrested and fined for defying the
government's price cut order since it was issued June 26.
Zimbabwe is in the grips of its worst crisis since independence from
Britain. Power, water, health and communications systems are collapsing, and
there are acute shortages of staple foods and gasoline, some of it required
for gasoline-driven generators.
Unemployment is around 80 percent
Water storage drums were sold out in one main Harare hardware store on
Friday as water shortages worsened. The state water utility said it suffered
new breakdowns at its pumping stations during the week.
Amid daily power outages which have forced Zimbabweans to light fires for
cooking and heating water, a woodlands park used for classes on conservation
faced collapse through the loss of trees to "wood poachers," state radio
School groups visit the woodlands for classes on the habitat, bird life and
wild animals kept in the bush of the park.
The radio said illegal wood cutters were denuding the two square kilometer
(494 acres) area of indigenous msasa trees and other hardwoods favored for
In a further sign of Zimbabwe's woes, Vice President Joyce Mujuru lambasted
the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare for the death of kidney patients
for lack of dialysis machines.
This was after the biggest government hospital group acknowledged Friday
that 10 of its 18 kidney dialysis machines were awaiting repair and imported
spare parts needing scarce hard currency.
Dozens of patients needing dialysis now fear for their lives.
But Mujuru accused officials at one hospital - Mpilo - of not installing the
machines in the first place even though she personally sourced the equipment
from abroad in 2004.
"This is the sort of ineptitude that we have always been complaining about,"
she told The Herald.
Lack of hard currency for imports is crippling the health sector - like
other parts of the economy.
Pharmacists on Friday advised AIDS patients to stock up with their drugs
while they could after local manufacturers warned they would soon run out of
imported raw materials. Some 20 percent of Zimbabweans are infected with the
"This medication is for life," said one pharmacist who asked not to be named
for professional reasons. "Interrupting the dosage is disastrous."
Sat Jul 28, 12:27 PM ET
HARARE (AFP) - A faction of Zimbabwe's divided opposition said on Saturday
that the country could not wait for outsiders to liberate them from on-going
political and economic problems, an official said.
Arthur Mutambara, leader of the breakaway faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change, told a news conference that although the MDC leadership
had resolved to engage Southern African Development Community mediation
efforts there was a need for home-grown solutions.
"More significantly, the council noted that Zimbabweans cannot outsource
their emancipation and liberation to foreigners," Mutambara said after a
meeting of his governing national council here.
"We must not be solely dependent on the (South African President Thabo)
Mbeki initiative. We must have an alternative programme of action on the
ground that seeks to achieve conditions for free and fair elections."
Mbeki, who has often come under fire for failing to publicly criticise
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, was appointed by fellow leaders of the
Southern African Development Community to act as mediator between the
government and the opposition MDC.
"We would like to give the mediation an opportunity to deliver, however we
must be masters of our own destiny, we must have an alternative programme of
action on the ground that allows us to fight our battles in our own country
as Zimbabweans and not mortage ourselves and be completely dependent on the
mediation efforts," he said.
The council meeting also decided to intensify defiance campaign activities
against Mugabe with other political and civic society organisations, he
Mutambara launched a scathing attack on opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
for rejecting a coalition agreement between the two factions.
"Fellow Zimbabweans, it is with a heavy heart that we announce that our
colleagues have rejected a united front of all democratic forces that would
have increased the opportunity to defeat the regime of Robert Mugabe."
Once a major force challenging Mugabe's grip on power, the MDC has been torn
by infighting since Tsvangirai decided to boycott Senate elections in
Sat Jul 28, 7:11 AM ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's former finance minister Chris Kuruneri has been
acquitted by the high court for allegedly smuggling money abroad to build a
house in South Africa, a lawyer said Saturday.
Kuruneri was arrested in April 2004, and faced seven counts of breaching
Zimbabwe's exchange control laws by allegedly transferring 500,000 US
dollars, 37,000 British pounds, 30,000 euros and 1.2 million South African
rand to buy and renovate an eight-bedroomed mansion.
"He is now a free man after the high court acquitted him yesterday
(Friday)," lawyer Jonathan Samkange told AFP.
Kuruneri was arrested at the height of the Zimbabwean government's
anti-graft crusade, becoming the most senior official to face charges of
The ex-minister had always denied charges of funneling foreign currency to
South Africa to buy a mansion in an upscale Cape Town suburb and a luxury
Kuruneri was released in July after spending more than a year in a remand
prison and 10 appeals for bail, and has since been living under house
In 2004, high court judge Susan Mavangira convicted Kuruneri on charges of
breaching the citizenship laws after he confessed to holding a Canadian
passport in addition to a Zimbabwean diplomatic passport.
Zimbabwean law does not allow dual citizenship.
With Zimbabwe on the brink of collapse, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
is pinning his hopes on election strategies and democratic development. But
can that ever really be enough? Oliver Burkeman asks him
Saturday July 28, 2007
When a country's inflation rate reaches 4,500%, things begin to happen that
are so surreal, so Alice In Wonderland, that for those looking on from
abroad, it's almost possible to forget that they are also desperately
tragic. A banana in Zimbabwe now costs as much as several large houses did
seven years ago. Some of the nation's poorest people are multimillionaires:
a night watchman, for example, might earn two million Zimbabwean dollars a
month, but that's too little to feed a family - and in any case, four-fifths
of adults have no job in the legitimate economy. The elite still get to go
golfing, but they pay for their drinks before they start, because the price
might have rocketed by the end of the round. "What does 4,000% even mean?
It's hard to imagine," says Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's opposition leader,
as if he can't quite grasp it himself. "It means that the cooking oil you
bought today, within three days may sell for three times what you paid for
it. That's what it means. And for the ordinary person, who has no means? It
means death. The kiss of death."
Tsvangirai is in London, visiting the TUC headquarters and rallying support.
He's perched, with characteristic restlessness, on the edge of a table (he
insists it's "much more relaxing" than sitting in a chair). He looks
refreshed and dapper in a charcoal-grey suit - barely recognisable alongside
news photographs taken earlier this year, after he was arrested en route to
a prayer rally outside the capital, Harare, and severely beaten by police.
They knocked him unconscious, fractured his skull and caused major internal
bleeding; they also badly injured several other members of his party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The photographs show Tsvangirai in
evident pain, with scars where doctors had shaved off a portion of his hair
to mend the fracture. "It's all hidden back there somewhere now," he says,
touching his regrown curls lightly with his palm.
The beating was an act of high-profile brutality and intimidation, even by
the standards of Robert Mugabe, the 83-year-old freedom fighter turned
despot presiding over Zimbabwe's accelerating implosion. Tsvangirai had
turned 55 the night before the attack, and stayed up late at home, partying.
"We were up until 12 o'clock, celebrating - all happy, all enjoying
ourselves. But I think, at the back of our minds, everyone was conscious
that something was going to happen soon."
The next day, on the doorstep, his wife Susan "jokingly" warned him not to
get himself arrested at the rally. As he drew near, Tsvangirai heard that
members of the MDC's leadership had been arrested, so he called in at the
police station to investigate. "Somebody there said, 'You are wanted
outside.' I went out and as soon as he saw me, [a policeman] said: 'Where
have you been? Why are people beating the police?' I said, 'Which people?'
He said, 'Lie down!' So I lay down and 15 people came over and beat me all
over. I just went out... when I regained consciousness, I was bleeding." Two
weeks later, hundreds of police raided the MDC's offices and, in
Tsvangirai's words, "vandalised the whole place."
The MDC leader's international profile is, he believes, why he's still
permitted to travel around the world, and he's in London in between rounds
of negotiations involving the MDC and Mugabe's Zanu-PF, taking place in
South Africa and brokered by president Thabo Mbeki. Tsvangirai is cautiously
optimistic. But a few days after we meet, when he has returned to South
Africa, the Zanu representatives stop showing up at the talks.
The situation in Zimbabwe has been complex for a long time, but these days
it is chillingly simple. Not too many years ago, it was relevant to point
out that Mugabe, whatever his faults, had led a successful liberation
struggle against Ian Smith's illegal whites-only rule, and to note that
farmland redistribution of some sort - if not the chaos Mugabe unleashed -
might have been long overdue. Today, thousands are homeless as a result of
slum clearances; life expectancy has plummeted to 37 for men and 34 for
women; food aid has been withheld from regions that voted for the MDC in the
last election, starvation is growing, and there is a fuel crisis. (Mugabe's
minister of national security, asked about deaths from disease and
starvation, once said, "We don't want all those extra people.") Critical
newspapers have had their offices bombed and their journalists tortured; the
BBC and other foreign media organisations have been banned from reporting
inside the country.
"Mugabe epitomises a conflicted personality, and evokes conflicting
emotions," Tsvangirai says. "On the one hand, he's perceived as a very
principled liberation fighter. On the other, he's a villain and he's driven
Zimbabwe to where it is today... These parties [such as Zanu-PF], they are
liberation parties! But they would rather retain power without referring to
the people. They would rather have one-party states and rule by decree. We
cannot collaborate with that." He insists his beating backfired: "People can
say to themselves, 'Yes, we are being beaten. But the party leader is also
being beaten. So it's not like he's sending us out as cannon fodder.
Everyone is sacrificing.'"
Mugabe has a legendary knack for presenting himself as the champion of the
oppressed, even as he oppresses them: though Zimbabwe's recent elections
have been anything but free and fair, he has persuaded millions to vote for
him. But the trick may not work for ever. The police and soldiers who
enforce his rule need to eat, and his powerful supporters in Zanu have
business interests now teetering on the brink of collapse with the rest of
the economy. (Mugabe recently ordered shops to halve the price of food, but
this measure simply drove the few remaining products off the shelves and on
to the black market.) The departing US ambassador to Harare, Christopher
Dell, has predicted the regime could fall within six months.
"Are we now in the endgame? Of course," Tsvangirai says. "We are in a
transition phase. The only question is, which transition?" In other words:
democracy, or another Zanu strongman to fill Mugabe's shoes? "But either
way, it is certainly an endgame, because things are spiralling out of
control. You know, you can rig an election, but you can't rig an economy."
Tsvangirai vividly remembers the day Smith declared independence, cutting
Rhodesia adrift from British colonial rule. The future MDC leader was 12,
the son of a rural carpenter and the eldest boy in a family that would grow
to nine children. "A teacher came running in and said, 'Smith has declared
independence!' I said, 'What does that mean?' He said, 'It means the whites
have declared they're going to rule independently. This is totally
unacceptable!' He was a bit politically conscious, I remember."
Tsvangirai went to work in a nickel mine, and stayed for 10 years. As black
nationalists began their armed struggle against Smith's rule, he became
active in trade union politics; following Smith's overthrow, he became a
prominent union leader. "During the night [in the war], you would experience
rocket attacks on the mine, all that kind of thing. So it was some life. My
generation was the one that experienced the freedom. But we fought for that
Today, the main criticism levelled at Tsvangirai is that he doesn't fight
hard enough - that all his talk of "election strategies" and "transitional
democratic development" is puny in a country where violent intimidation is
rife, elections are rigged and a bloody, anarchic uprising seems ever more
imminent. "It's delusional for the MDC to believe they can ever win an
election while Mugabe's people are in power," says Peter Tatchell, the human
rights campaigner who has twice tried to make a citizen's arrest of Mugabe.
"The MDC is a pale shadow of the ANC: it's nowhere near as well organised.
Many of the activists are incredibly courageous, but they don't have the
strategic and tactical understanding."
Tsvangirai's most vocal domestic critic on the anti-Mugabe side is Pius
Ncube, the Zimbabwean Catholic archbishop, who recently called for Britain
to launch an armed raid on his country. The MDC has been riven with internal
conflicts, and Tsvangirai's overbearing personality, Ncube says, is getting
in the way of the fight for democracy. "They are thereby actually
disappointing the people of Zimbabwe, because Mugabe can always give excuses
and say the opposition is not even united," Ncube - himself currently
embroiled in an alleged sex scandal, fomented by Mugabe - has said. "They
must inspire their people, to stand up and be ready to be self-sacrificing,
ready to face pain."
That's a harsh thing to say about a man who has twice faced treason charges,
whose supporters are regularly beaten by government forces and who has
received strikingly little in the way of international support. Many African
leaders have been unwilling actively to oppose former freedom fighter
Mugabe: Mbeki, for example, has preferred to speak only of "quiet
diplomacy". The wider world has not proved much more supportive. There are
limited sanctions in place against government officials, some of whom are
also subject to an EU and US travel ban. But in December Portugal, which
holds the EU presidency, plans to welcome Mugabe to a summit in Lisbon,
despite the ban. "Mugabe has murdered more black Africans than even the evil
apartheid regime," Tatchell says, "yet there's no global solidarity for the
struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe, no mass protests. They've been badly let
Tsvangirai, with a politician's readiness, dismisses his detractors as
armchair critics. "Oh, it's in the nature of movements like ours to be
blamed and criticised," he says. "It's a reflection of the frustration of
having no change, because people want change yesterday... You just have to
accept that, as a pioneer of this new experience - the new democratic
movement - you're going to receive a lot of flak."
Something dramatic will happen in Zimbabwe, and soon. What's far from
certain is that Tsvangirai will be able to have any say in events as they
unfold; the country may simply collapse, or find itself with another
undemocratic ruler. (The MDC is rumoured to be conducting back-channel talks
with disaffected Zanu members, but Tsvangirai's lips are sealed: "These
things are not talked about," is all he'll say.)
But if Tsvangirai's path forward is enormously unclear, his ultimate
destination is not. "Among some African leaders, there's a nationalist
sense, which says we will do it our own way. But for us - the
post-liberation generation - we find it unacceptable to have an 'African
democracy' or a 'European democracy'," he says. "Democracy is a universal
attribute. It's not: 'Let's try to make adjustments, so we have an African
standard.' Not the lowest common denominator. I am committed to the optimum
democratic idea." That would include some kind of justice for Mugabe and his
cronies. "You cannot ignore the outcry of the victims. The country will need
national healing. You cannot allow the perpetrators to get away with
It's early evening and a member of Tsvangirai's contingent is fussing around
him, worried he might be getting tired. The concern seems misplaced:
tiredness does not appear to be part of his repertoire. "You should come
with us campaigning on the road," says Hebson Makuvise, Tsvangirai's London
representative, when I mention this. "Then you would see that this man, he
is not a human being." Tsvangirai overhears us. "Ridiculous," he says
quietly, but he's beaming at the accolade. He won't be sleeping much in his
hotel, either, he insists: "I don't think I will ever have a peaceful sleep
outside Zimbabwe, outside my country."
It comes across as a classic, cheesy politician's line. Tsvangirai is good
at these. But rescuing Zimbabwe, of course, will take inconceivably more.
Monsters and Critics
Jul 28, 2007, 13:31 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - The life of Zimbabwe's paper money has been extended
by another year, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Saturday.
Zimbabwe's latest set of bearer cheques was introduced in July 2006, when
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono slashed three zeros from the local dollar
to make life easier for Zimbabweans struggling with bulging purses and
The bearer cheques, available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 100, 1,000,
10,000, 50,000 and 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars, were supposed to be a stop-gap
measure until the economic situation was normalized and a new currency could
They were due to expire at midnight on Tuesday.
But what appeared to be a tacit admission of just how far Zimbabwe still has
to go to tame inflation, Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi says they will
now be in place until July 31, 2008, according to the Herald.
Zimbabwe stopped publishing official inflation figures two months ago, when
the annual rate was more than 3,000 per cent.
There are widely-differing estimates as to what the rate may now have
reached: the Zimbabwe Independent weekly suggested on Friday that based on a
comparison of food baskets provided by the state Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe, the figure was now 13,000 per cent.
In early July, President Robert Mugabe introduced a controversial blitz on
prices, ordering shop owners and managers to reduce the price of goods by at
least 50 per cent.
Operation Reduce Prices was touted as an inflation-reducing measure but
indications so far are that many basic goods were seized from shops and are
now reappearing on the black market, at highly- inflated prices.
Because Zimbabwe's bearer cheques are not properly produced money, there are
sometimes reports of counterfeits. Earlier this month, police uncovered a
Zimbabwe-dollar counterfeiting ring at the Plumtree border post with
Botswana, according to state media this week.
Their elaborate counterfeiting kit included bottles of anti- dandruff
conditioner, yeast and a local brand of bleach. Eight Botswana nationals
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
The shelves in Zimbabwe's stores are bare, but in a leafy suburb
of Harare it's a different story, Sebastien Berger reports Robert Mugabe's local supermarket is unlike any other shop in
Zimbabwe. Elsewhere there are gaping empty shelves where bread, butter, sugar,
meat and the staple maize meal should be. But at the Spar in the Borrowdale Brooke suburb of the capital
Harare, close to the president's palatial hillside residence, almost anything is
available, including focaccia bread, sun-dried tomatoes and cigars. The difference typifies a nation where a small ruling elite
enjoy lives of wealth and privilege, while the vast majority exist in grinding
poverty and struggle simply to survive. The president's local Spar is one of the few shops in the
country with an undiminished supply of bread amid an economic and agricultural
crisis that has seen inflation spiral to more than 4,500 per cent. The government-set price for a loaf is Z$22,000, less than 10
pence, and queues of people can spend hours waiting to buy the one or two
packets they are allowed. At the Spar, though, half-size fluffy white loaves are Z$70,000.
One ordinary shopper looked at the price, clicked his teeth in resignation, and
walked away. Elsewhere in the shop, a 400g box of infant formula was
Z$299,000 and 250g of butter priced at Z$497,000. The frozen food section was replete with fish - Z$766,000 for
six fishcakes - as well as shrimps and squid. There is no sign that Zimbabwe's feared price inspectors, who
have arrested or charged nearly 5,000 managers and firms across the country for
not heeding the official price capping, have come to call, or any concern they
might visit. Asked how the shop was able to stock bread when so few other
merchants can obtain supplies - which they would have to sell at a crippling
loss - an assistant laughed and said: "I don't know." The supermarket's ownership may have something to do with it.
The proprietor is Ray Kaukonde, the governor of Mashonaland East province. He is
also a close lieutenant of Solomon Mujuru, a former army commander whose wife,
Joyce, is one of Mr Mugabe's two vice-presidents. The clientele are similarly
well-connected. Borrowdale Brooke is Harare's plushest suburb, full of mansions
that are home to the highest-ranking comrades of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, as
well as to the country's richest businessmen. On the other side of the city, in the sprawling dormitory suburb
of Chitungwiza, the TM superstore is a forlorn contrast. There is no bread, no
fresh meat, no maize meal, but plentiful supplies of condiments, packet soups,
and lavatory paper - items that few here would describe as essentials. Few shoppers even bother to go. What they can afford is not
available, and what there is they do not
The shelves in Zimbabwe's stores are bare, but in a leafy suburb of Harare it's a different story, Sebastien Berger reports
Robert Mugabe's local supermarket is unlike any other shop in Zimbabwe. Elsewhere there are gaping empty shelves where bread, butter, sugar, meat and the staple maize meal should be.
But at the Spar in the Borrowdale Brooke suburb of the capital Harare, close to the president's palatial hillside residence, almost anything is available, including focaccia bread, sun-dried tomatoes and cigars.
The difference typifies a nation where a small ruling elite enjoy lives of wealth and privilege, while the vast majority exist in grinding poverty and struggle simply to survive.
The president's local Spar is one of the few shops in the country with an undiminished supply of bread amid an economic and agricultural crisis that has seen inflation spiral to more than 4,500 per cent.
The government-set price for a loaf is Z$22,000, less than 10 pence, and queues of people can spend hours waiting to buy the one or two packets they are allowed.
At the Spar, though, half-size fluffy white loaves are Z$70,000. One ordinary shopper looked at the price, clicked his teeth in resignation, and walked away.
Elsewhere in the shop, a 400g box of infant formula was Z$299,000 and 250g of butter priced at Z$497,000.
The frozen food section was replete with fish - Z$766,000 for six fishcakes - as well as shrimps and squid.
There is no sign that Zimbabwe's feared price inspectors, who have arrested or charged nearly 5,000 managers and firms across the country for not heeding the official price capping, have come to call, or any concern they might visit.
Asked how the shop was able to stock bread when so few other merchants can obtain supplies - which they would have to sell at a crippling loss - an assistant laughed and said: "I don't know."
The supermarket's ownership may have something to do with it. The proprietor is Ray Kaukonde, the governor of Mashonaland East province. He is also a close lieutenant of Solomon Mujuru, a former army commander whose wife, Joyce, is one of Mr Mugabe's two vice-presidents. The clientele are similarly well-connected. Borrowdale Brooke is Harare's plushest suburb, full of mansions that are home to the highest-ranking comrades of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, as well as to the country's richest businessmen.
On the other side of the city, in the sprawling dormitory suburb of Chitungwiza, the TM superstore is a forlorn contrast. There is no bread, no fresh meat, no maize meal, but plentiful supplies of condiments, packet soups, and lavatory paper - items that few here would describe as essentials.
Few shoppers even bother to go. What they can afford is not available, and what there is they do not want.
July 28, 2007 Edition 1
No ban has been imposed on food imports into Zimbabwe but permits are
required to import bulk foodstuffs for resale, the Zimbabwean embassy in
South Africa said yesterday.
"There are no new regulations coming into effect on 1 August. It's business
as usual," said ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo. "No ban has been imposed."
However, those wanting to import bulk foodstuffs for resale should apply for
permits or licences.
Earlier this month, a media report said the Zimbabwean government would ban
the import and export of goods for resale or disposal without a permit. -
Saturday 28th July 2007
Dear Family and Friends,
There is a different feeling in the air this week - the stirring of dusty
leaves on thirsty trees, a clearer colour to the sky and the calls of birds
not heard for the last few months. The changing season at least brings a
feeling of hope and a tantalizing promise of sanity to a time of utter
madness which many people are saying may well be the final straw for them.
In the fourth week of government ordered price-cuts, it would be absurd to
list the things we cannot get because they are now too numerous and include
most foodstuffs and basic toiletries.
Almost everyone is living entirely off their pantries and gardens, on food
parcels sent from people outside the country or simply going without the
bare essentials required for every day nutrition and existence.
It has become almost impossible to keep up with the changing statements
coming from the government and things are as a clear as mud. It makes you
dizzy trying to follow the announcements: close, open, banned, unbanned,
allowed, forbidden, can import, can't import. The rules, lists and
regulations have reached ludicrous proportions and, as it was with the
farms, there does not seem to be a master plan at all except perhaps the
desire of the government to control, absolutely and completely, every facet
of life in Zimbabwe.
Shops, supermarkets and businesses that we all thought would close down have
not done so because of the government threat to take over companies that
folded. Shop workers know their jobs are hanging by a thread and they have
the look of fear and resignation in their eyes. It is the same look that
invaded farmers, evicted farm workers and then independent journalists had
in their eyes as their lives and livelihoods collapsed. It is the same look
that we saw on the faces of people whose homes were bulldozed by government
two winters ago.
As each of the last seven winters have come to an end and the promise of
warmth and renewal has returned, it has been hard to believe that season
after season has been squandered and food supplies have got less and less.
Politics, farming and food supplies is where this all began and must surely
be where it will all end too.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.
Friday 27th July 2007
Dear Friends. Someone who knows I come from Zimbabwe said to me just
yesterday, 'I don't know if it's my imagination but I think there's
increased coverage of the situation in Zimbabwe over the last few weeks'. He
was referring to the UK media, of course, and - as if to prove his point -
the BBC's flagship news programme Newsnight covered the opening of
parliament in Harare this week with a commentary to the effect that while
Robert Mugabe rode in a Rolls Royce with all the pomp and ceremony befitting
a Head of State, albeit a failed state, the Zimbabwean people were suffering
shortages of even the most basic means of survival. That report was on
Tuesday the 24th July 2007. The same story was covered in The Times and The
Telegraph but, that apart, there has been a steady drip of news coming out
for the last couple of weeks. Papers like The Guardian and The Independent,
not noted for their coverage of Zimbabwe, have both carried stories about
Zimbabwe and the steadily deteriorating situation in the country.
For three or four weeks now the media in this country has been concerned
with the floods; the heaviest rains since records began with major rivers
breaking their banks and thousands of people flooded out of their homes,
without fresh drinking water or power. It was major news so it was quite a
surprise that any other story should make it into the headlines but last
night it was ITV who turned the spotlight on Zimbabwe in their 10.30 News
broadcast that is watched by millions. Using a hidden camera ITV showed
horrific pictures of the men and women beaten by the police for taking part
in NCA demos up and down the country. We saw the demonstrators running,
literally running down what looked like Samora Machel Avenue only to be set
upon minutes later by the police and hauled away. The film then moved to the
private clinics where the people were being treated. There were dozens of
them and we saw them lying on the floor, too exhausted even to stand, while
they waited to be treated for broken limbs, bruises and lacerations. There
were men and women of all ages, ordinary people, many of them deeply
traumatized by the experience. Their faces told the story, their eyes wide
with shock at what had been done to them by brutal men with baton sticks,
fists and heavy black boots.
I read today that the mothers were ordered to leave their babies at one end
of the room at the police station while they lay face down on the floor and
the police took it in turns to beat them and even to walk all over them
while they lay there. For five hours it went on and the children wailed and
screamed in terror as they saw their mothers being beaten and trampled on by
men in uniform, men who are themselves husbands, brothers, fathers and
uncles. And what was the reason for this savage brutality? These brave and
wonderful ordinary Zimbabweans, armed with nothing more that their banners,
had dared to demonstrate for a new constitution. They demonstrated not just
in Harare but up and down the country they took to the streets in their
hundreds to demonstrate the will of the people, zvido zvevanhu.
Watching the ITV coverage, I felt a deep sense of shame, a) that I was not
there with my brothers and sisters sharing their pain and b) that I had ever
doubted the courage of the ordinary people to bring about change in
Zimbabwe. Time and time again it is the ordinary men and women of Woza and
the NCA who have risked life and limb for what they believe in only to be
beaten back by a ruthless regime armed with all the crushing apparatus of
the state machine. But a machine needs men to operate it and it is those
same men who are prepared to beat, torture and even kill their own people in
order to keep Robert Mugabe in power. How do they sleep at night? How do
they go home at the end of the day and look into the eyes of their own
innocent children and answer the question Maswera sei baba? How was your
Political analysts and learned academics may drone on and on, week after
week, about the causes for all this mayhem; they may give us learned
analyses of the political ramifications of this or that policy but the truth
is that until they too find the courage to get out on the streets with the
people this nightmare of repression and brutality in Zimbabwe will never
end. We all know that the end will not come because of Thabo Mbeki's
intervention; it will not come because of SADC's mealy-mouthed platitudes or
the West's passive outrage or the AU's continuing inaction. The end will
come when the people of Zimbabwe stand together, united in courage and
determination to tell the dictator what sort of future they want for their
children. Last night the British people saw that courage demonstrated by the
brave men and women of the NCA. Of course, in Zimbabwe, the likes of
Tafataona Mahosa and ZTV will ensure that ordinary Zimbabweans don't see the
same footage but you can be very sure, the world is watching.
Ndini shamwari yenyu. PH
Friday, July 27, 2007 - By John J. Metzler, Special to The China Post
Arriving at the opening of Parliament in his Rolls Royce flanked by
ceremonial cavalry, Robert Mugabe presented the perfect image of an African
president enjoying the pomp, circumstance and spectacle of power. Comrade
President Robert Mugabe's one-man rule since independence from Britain in
1980 has been characterized by many things, but a strong sense of arrogant
entitlement leads the list. Sadly, he has successfully turned a once
bountiful land into a ruin of famine, inflation and political repression.
Zimbabwe is named for the mysterious stone ruins of a lost African or
Arab civilization, long gone but widely recalled for the stone bird
carvings. Today the southern African land resembles not the resplendence of
the lost kingdom but of the ruins of a country which did not have to turn
out that way.
The once robust Zimbabwe economy is in freefall. Owing to the
disastrous and vengeful land redistribution program, wanton corruption, and
mismanagement an African breadbasket has been turned into a starkly empty
basketcase. Confiscation of white owned farms, forced relocation of 700,000
black city dwellers into wretched tribal areas, and political repression of
the MDC opposition party has created a noxious environment.
Now in the midst of 6,000 percent inflation, 80 percent unemployment,
and the persistent blame-the-British game, Comrade Bob talks of
nationalizing industries both domestic and multinational and arresting
"business profiteers." This rings of classic socialist jargon and a
guarantee for deeper disaster. Since the so-called land reform program in
2000, the GDP has declined an almost unbelievable 40 percent.
To gauge the decline, look at the value of the national currency.
London's Financial Times states, at independence "When Mr. Mugabe took over
as prime minister in April 1980, the Zimbabwe dollar stood at US$1.50. Today
at the official exchange rate (Z$250 to the U.S. dollar) it is worth less
than half a cent, while at the much more realistic parallel rate of
Z$100,000 to the dollar it is all but worthless."
Zimbabwe's population is in freefall too. Officially the country has a
population of 12 million but with a life expectancy for men at 37 years and
34 years for women, among the lowest in the world. Meantime, over the past
few years a minimum of three million people have fled to neighboring South
Africa; at least 3,000 people a day enter South Africa illegally. About
1,000 are caught and sent back daily. This exodus is both crippling to
Zimbabwe and destabilizing regionally.
Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, decried the spiral of events
in Zimbabwe, as "intolerable and unsustainable."
Ruining Zimbabwe's agricultural horn of plenty is a bit like turning
Kansas and Nebraska into corn and wheat importers or taking Ukraine (as the
Soviets did) from a farm exporter into a land of famine.
The U.N. World Food Program estimates that a third of the population,
about 4 million people needs food aid. Now a regional drought has cruelly
compounded the crisis.
The chaos in Zimbabwe has severe regional implications; first and
foremost the food shortages threaten the inhabitants and threaten to turn
this ex-British colony Rhodesia into another failed state. Second, the
agricultural shortfalls affect exports to neighboring states, especially
Zambia and Mozambique who depended on Zimbabwe farms. Third, Zimbabwe's
political and economic instability affects South Africa and Botswana.
In a misguided spirit of "African solidarity," neighboring states,
especially South Africa, have not seriously pressured the Mugabe regime into
political decompression. The fallout from the ongoing humanitarian crisis
has not reached the high water mark and will soon spill over the African
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic
and defense issues. He can be reached at email@example.com.
by Maria Mackay
Posted: Saturday, July 28, 2007, 10:02 (BST)
Operation Mobilisation (OM) has appealed for prayers to bolster its staff
currently serving in troubled Zimbabwe.
Inflation is sky-rocketing in the southern African country where, according
to official government data, inflation stood at 3,713.9 per cent in April
2007. The Zimbabwean Government is yet to release the rates for May and
June, fuelling speculation that they are too horrific to reveal to the
A price slash, meanwhile, sparked a rush to stores which has now left many
State television reported that the Zimbabwean Government now plans to import
200,000 tonnes of maize from Tanzania, with the possibility of an additional
200,000 tonnes from Malawi, in order to avert massive food shortages.
According to OM's team in Banket, the shop next to their centre has no food
left in it.
"There are queues in the banks of up to two hours to withdraw a maximum
daily limit of the equivalent of US$22 cash," said OM. "Fuel is scarce.
Power cuts can last for up to 20 hours a day and matches and candles are no
The charity added, "Phone lines to the country are out of operation so we
are unable to get further information from our OM teams."
OM is asking Christians to pray for OM Zimbabwe leader Mike van Vuuren and
his family who are living in "survival mode", the charity said. The charity
also appealed for prayer for Edwin Derera who leads a community centre
project and is being harassed by the Zimbabwean authorities, and also Vicky
Graham who runs a medical clinic single-handedly in a rural area and is
struggling to find the necessary medicines.
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
28 July 2007
Posted to the web 28 July 2007
SOME State and church universities face imminent closure as they are running
out of money and several have increased fees drastically, or are considering
Zimbabwe Open University and the Midlands State University, both in the
State system, have already raised their fees, ZOU from $70 000 a semester to
$1 million, and MSU from $124 000 to $20 million.
The University of Zimbabwe, the National University of Science and
Technology and Solusi University are among other universities contemplating
They all argue that they need a lot of extra money just to stay open and all
wish to maintain or improve their standards.
Salaries are usually the highest single item of expenditure in any
university, school or college and need to be high enough to attract and
retain suitable highly qualified staff.
Salaries have not been frozen in the recent freeze on prices of goods and
The other escalating cost facing universities and other educational
institutions is the cost of teaching materials.
This price escalation runs way ahead of the general inflation, since so many
materials -- especially at higher levels -- are imported.
However, before raising fees, all higher learning institutions are required
to submit fees-ordinance to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education
before they can increase fees.
The ministry will then scrutinise the submission before turning down or
approving the new fees structure.
According to an official in the ministry none of the universities submitted
the fees-ordinance. ZOU had initially increased its fees to about $5
million, but reduced them to $1 million this month.
An official at MSU who declined to be named confirmed that fees had been
increased to cover operational costs and not to defy the Government
directive to freeze prices.
"We have to increase our fees because we need to pay our staff, among other
requirements, and the cost has gone up," the official said.
He said the institution was also trying to provide quality education and
maintain high standards.
"For us to maintain our high standards we have to retain our highly
qualified staff, buy books among other learning requirements," he said.
A senior official at the ZOU echoed the same sentiments, adding that large
chunks of fees paid by students go towards salaries, leaving a little for
research and learning materials such as books.
"We have also been forced to scale down our expenditure and forego certain
programmes," the official added.
He said most institutions were finding it difficult to operate with these
An official in the admissions department at the UZ could not give the new
fees for the country's premier learning institution.
"We are currently charging $45 000 a semester but the fees are being looked
"Government has not yet approved the new fees structure that is why we are
unable to give offer letters," he said.
Some parents and students have criticised the MSU for increasing fees
without any justification.
"It is not reasonable to increase fees from $124 000 to $20 million. Even if
they give various reasons, we still feel that this is not justified."
The universities are also citing escalating operational costs among other
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
28 July 2007
Posted to the web 28 July 2007
THEY sleep around blazing fires on almost all roads leading to Mbare Musika,
with their greasy overalls and safety shoes on, waiting for "clients" in the
dead of night. While sitting by the fireside, they take turns to look for
old tyres, all manner of discarded plastics and cardboard boxes to keep the
fire roaring while taking jibes at each other.
So crude are some of the jokes they make that they usually end up at each
They also play dangerous games close to the road -- mock battles popularly
known as chikudo -- to kill the time. Pushcart operators, human "Scanias",
hwindis, jegas or simply vakomana vezvingoro as they are often called, are
an intriguing lot.
To borrow a line from Jane Austen's novel Emma, the blokes are largely
"coarse and unpolished".
On first sight, one can mistake them for hopeless baskets fallen over the
top, but alas there are qualified technicians, motor mechanics and those who
have studied English, Geography or Management of Business (MOB) at Advanced
Level among them.
Some jegas can easily pass for social commentators because of their
experience with customers of different classes, brushes with the law and
exposure to the vagaries of life.
"Jobs are hard to get these days. I did mechanics but I can't find a
suitable job. That is why I am in this business, but I only hope things will
work out one day," said Richard Muuswa, standing next to his "office", a
pushcart. But who can blame him? The late Simon "Chopper" Chimbetu used to
appear on stage in a designer suit which he justified on the grounds
"ndinenge ndiri muhofisi mangu (I'll be in my office)".
Jegas seem to live on beer. It might be interesting for doctors to check how
much blood is in their alcohol, certainly not the other way round!
They drink anything from Chateau, Skippers, Chibuku, kachasu to wine.
When it's time to eat, one of them can be seen tucking into three loaves of
bread and a freezit.
Some also buy double portions of sadza with half-cooked beans and matumbu
which are sold throughout the night at some home-based "takeaways" a stone's
throw away from Mbare Musika.
As early as 5am, the jegas can be seen sitting around a fire at one of these
"kitchens" slurping while helping themselves to mountains of sadza sold at
They usually have more than three scuds fastened to their pushcarts and gulp
the contents while transporting their customers' loads to different
destinations across the city.
"Kufa kwemurume kubuda ura", "Kuguta kushanda", "Hama maoko" and "Kugarika
tange nhamo" are some of the inscriptions one finds on most pushcarts.
On sight of a lorry or pick-up truck laden with goods, they literally fall
over each other to land the "contract" to offload the goods and secure them
on the carrier of a bus going to "Masvingo netara", Mhondoro, Chihota,
Gokwe, Nyamapanda or some other unusual destinations such as "Kitsi Yatota",
"Eh, e-eh mudhara, don't listen to these young boys. They are thieves and
cannot handle things properly. Give me the contract and you will see
wonders," said one of them who identified himself as Makwiramiti, while
fending off a challenge from a colleague.
"Manje mazoruza manje amai. Mukomana uyu haana maoko akanaka saka zvose
zvamatenga zvinogona kupwanyika pano apa," the colleague hits back.
What however, surprises people is that they play sick jokes but when they
get the contract, they actually join hands depending on the financial muscle
of the customer.
Huya kuMbare, sang John Bunga "Mr 10 Days under Water" about Mbare and true
to his words, there is everything for everyone in the teeming suburb.
No job is too big or too small. They can transport goods for even up to 30
kilometres on foot, as long as the customer is prepared to pay -- mari yako
People who usually seek the services of vakomana vezvingoro are lodgers,
traders, travellers and anyone wishing to travel long distances with their
The prevailing economic challenges, characterised by fuel shortages, have
pushed up the demand for jegas' services.
"We often deal with lodgers who are at times evicted in the middle of the
month and happen to have very limited cash to hire a truck. We charge
relatively cheaper rates to move from one suburb to another," said one of
the pushcart operators who identified himself as Tatenda Maromo.
He said on a busy day, he can pocket up to $1 million.
"My job pays well. I have sound working conditions because I work at my own
pace. I am my own manager and no one pushes me around like a wheelbarrow,"
said Maromo while downing opaque beer from a five-litre container.
The pushcart operator also said he was looking forward to buying another
cart because his present one was constantly breaking down.
Shebeens use pushcart operators when they want to hoard beer.
The shebeen queens -- conspicuous by their crude language, tight-fitting
jeans and a penchant for shouting obscenities -- often send the guys with up
to 20 crates of scuds and bottled beer for refilling at liquor wholesales
across the city's high-density suburbs.
Some families that cannot afford to hire ambulances use the pushcart
operators to take their sick relatives to hospital.
Lately, some families -- mostly in Epworth -- have been using the pushcart
operators to carry coffins to their final resting places.
While the pushcart operators provide valuable service in the ghettos, they
are a nuisance to the motoring public.
At times they shoot through red robots, risking life and limb, and also
exposing the lives of other road users to danger.
It is not unusual to see the guys, usually dirty and sweating all over,
shouting obscenities in the middle of the road, accusing motorists of giving
them a raw deal.
The human "Scanias" sometimes bump into cyclists and vehicles, whereupon
they apologise "profusely" and make it known to the affected motorist that
they don't have the capacity to repair the damage.
"Blaz kutsvaga compensation kwandiri hazvina kutombosiyana nokutsvaga
matamba pamuzhanje. I can't afford to pay for this damage, sorry hako mwana
waamai vangu," they say, of course, with intent to end the discussion
immediately and get back to business.
They also sometimes supply their victims with false addresses in the event
of an accident when, in fact, they are of no fixed abode.
Some vegetable vendors have also on numerous occasions lost out to the
pushcart operators who simply vanish into alleyways with goods.
"I don't trust these guys, my son. I'd rather carry my tomatoes on my head
than hire them because they steal the goods or misrepresent that your boxes
are missing. I am a Christian and I don't like the way they talk. I just do
not like the way they conduct themselves, so I'd rather do things by
myself," said gap-toothed Mbuya Madzingira who sells vegatables in Mabvuku.
In the event of genuine accidents, she added, the guys do not pay back
anything because they are not insured. Pushcart operators usually play
hide-and-seek with the police because at times they are hired to transport
Bus operators do not want to see them either, because at times they collect
money from unsuspecting travellers and issue them with fake tickets
purporting to be bona fide conductors.
Whether they are welcome or not, the jegas are here to stay and demand for
their services remains high at bus terminuses, whether it's Mbare Musika,
Renkini in Bulawayo, Musika weHuku in Sakubva or Makaranga in Gweru.
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
28 July 2007
Posted to the web 28 July 2007
VICE-PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru yesterday lambasted the Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare for letting kidney patients die, yet there are dialysis
machines gathering dust at Mpilo Central Hospital which she donated more
than four years ago.
Cde Mujuru, who is on a tour of parastatals in Bulawayo, was speaking during
an interview in the city after visiting the Pig Industry Board station.
"My heart bleeds when I read that people are suffering because there are no
dialysis machines at Mpilo Central Hospital, when I donated some to the
institution," she said.
"In fact, there are some people I know personally who have died as a result
of the problem."
Cde Mujuru said there seemed to be no tangible reason for the delay in the
installation of the renal equipment which she sourced from abroad in July
2004 under a broad-based initiative code-named "Dandito Project".
The Vice-President donated a total of 54 dialysis machines, shared equally
among Mpilo, Bindura and Parirenyatwa hospitals.
"I would like to challenge the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to
explain why the 18 machines I donated to
Mpilo Hospital have not been
installed when people are suffering" she fumed.
"This is the sort of ineptitude that we have always been complaining about.
In fact, I should have been coming here with President Mugabe or
Vice-President Msika to commission the dialysis machines that I sourced."
Dialysis machines act as artificial kidneys and remove waste, known as urea,
from the body.
Renal patients are supposed to be dialysed at least four times a week, but
many are treated once a week because of the shortage of machines and high
The Chronicle yesterday reported that scores of renal patients throughout
the country were now fearing for their lives after the only dialysis machine
which was functional at Mpilo Hospital broke down while machines at
Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare were also reported not to be working.
Renal patients from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South,
Midlands and Masvingo are the worst affected as they have not had any
sessions for more than a week after the dialysis machines broke down last
However, officials yesterday evening said the machine at Mpilo had since
The majority of the patients last had the life-saving dialysis sessions on
Tuesday last week.
Last year, it was reported that the renal equipment sourced by Cde Mujuru
had not been installed at Mpilo Hospital, as the renal unit at the
institution had to be refurbished first.
It was also pointed out that a shortage of foreign currency had resulted in
delays in the installation of the equipment.