|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has said that George Bush and Tony
Blair are "liars" and should stand trial for genocide, state television
reported on Sunday, just days ahead of a crucial visit to Africa by the US
"They have told lies to the world. They have committed genocide, and they
are criminals these two, Bush and Blair," Mugabe told thousands of
supporters at a rally Saturday in southern Zimbabwe.
Stepping up anti-Bush sentiment ahead of his visit to the region next week,
Mugabe said the US president and the British prime minister should stand
trial for invading Iraq.
"They have to stand before the international court to answer for their
international crimes," the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) showed
Bush is due in South Africa on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a tour of
several African countries including Botswana, Uganda, Nigeria and Senegal.
According to an earlier report, Mugabe warned Bush not to tell southern
Africa's leaders how to run their countries during his visit.
"If he (Bush) is coming to dictate to us to how we should run our countries,
then we will say 'Go back. Go home Yankee," Mugabe was quoted as saying.
"Any dictating to us will never be heeded by any of us in this region,"
Bush wants South African leader Thabo Mbeki to put pressure on the
79-year-old Mugabe and Zimbabwe to hold fresh presidential elections.
The US and Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change rejected
Mugabe's victory in presidential elections last year, saying the poll was
rigged and marred by violence. - Sapa-AFP
Elias Mudzuri: 'We thought Mugabe would deliver. But things just get worse'
Monday Interview: Mayor of Harare
By Anne Penketh
07 July 2003
Serving as a city mayor after campaigning on
an anti-corruption platform is
risky enough in most countries that have known decades of one-party rule. In
President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, it looks positively suicidal.
In little more than a year in office, Elias Mudzuri, 46, the Mayor of
Harare, and the city's first leader from the ranks of the opposition, has
faced police harassment, a smear campaign, arrest and now suspension for
challenging the endemic corruption that has marked the Mugabe era.
Mr Mudzuri was triumphantly elected in Harare, with 80 per cent of the vote,
in March last year, in elections that brought in three other mayors from the
Movement for Democratic Change. In Harare, the council changed hands, with
MDC councillors taking 44 of the 45 wards.
Mr Mudzuri, a former city council engineer who calls himself Engineer Elias
Mudzuri on his visiting card, identified corruption as the number one issue.
"My main mission was that I would not tolerate corruption. That still is my
main mission. They are stopping me because I was getting to the core of the
corruption," he said.
Mr Mudzuri was suspended on 29 April for refusing to accept directives sent
by Ignatius Chombo, the local government minister, and for not delivering
clean water to the 4.5 million residents of Harare and neighbouring areas
served by the city council. As Mayor, Mr Mudzuri is responsible for
providing services such as water, sewerage and rubbish collection.
The trouble, said Mr Mudzuri, is that Mr Chombo issued a directive every
time the city council identified a corruption case. And his response to the
accusation of failing to provide chemicals for the water is: "If anything,
it is the government that failed to give fuel, food, anything basic ... The
government is overall in charge of what we should be doing. They simply
wanted me out."
After flying home from London today, at the end of three weeks' enforced
leave, Mr Mudzuri will try to return to his mayoral office in defiance of
"I'm still a Mayor," he says, pointing out that he has challenged the
government order through the courts. There has not yet been a verdict
although the case was heard on 27 May. "The suspension is illegal. I shall
remain at work until the court has made its ruling," he said.
Mr Mudzuri's administration had begun to expose "a lot of things" as he and
his colleagues worked to overhaul the auditing and accounting system at City
Hall, he said. What sort of things? "There were contractors being overpaid
money when they didn't deserve it. You find that a contractor is paid Z$18m
[about £13,500] for doing nothing. And we also exposed certain officials at
a high level who were stopping us from getting to the truth. We discovered
that some land had been given to the ruling party supporters, not through
As the investigations proceeded, however, Mr Chombo decided that all matters
connected with finance had to go through his office, "which is why nothing
ever happened. Chombo wanted to interfere and stop me every time. But I
refused to take illegal directives, which is one of his main accusations
against me," Mr Mudzuri said.
In January, as civil unrest mounted throughout the country amid worsening
food and fuel shortages, Mr Mudzuri was arrested for holding an illegal
meeting, under draconian laws pushed through by Mr Mugabe before a
controversial presidential election in which he won another six-year term.
But this was not Mr Mudzuri's first brush with the law: in May 1999, when he
was a council engineer, he was on his way to a memorial service for his
brother when he was involved in a car accident in which his another brother
was killed. The car was a write-off.
Although no foul play was suspected, the authorities claimed later that he
had used the car illegally for a private purpose. "I was refusing to toe the
line, so they had to find some way of pushing me out," Mr Mudzuri said. He
was fired, and it took him two and a half years to clear his name. His
appeal went as far as the Supreme Court, but the case was withdrawn by the
council after his election as Mayor.
Like many of his generation, Mr Mudzuri was a "freedom fighter" alongside Mr
Mugabe in the struggle against white minority rule, which ended 23 years ago
with independence. Looking back at why so many former supporters turned
their backs on Zanu-PF, Mr Mudzuri, who is a high flier within the Movement
for Democratic Change, can see no single pivotal point. "It started a long
way back. Over 10 years, people thought things would change. We thought that
our hero Mugabe was going to deliver. Then you give up after some time
because things are just getting worse," he said.
Ironically, Mr Mugabe once encouraged the formation of other political
parties, which gave rise to the Movement of Democratic Change, set up by its
current leader Morgan Tsvangirai, a trade union leader at the time. Mr
Mudzuri was another founding member.
Mr Mudzuri is convinced that the Zimbabwean President, who is 79, has to
step down. "The country's on its knees, the economy's not working, after 23
years he has no new ideas. He has to go but I think he wants assurances that
no one will touch him."
The opposition remains intent on a peaceful regime change, if free and fair
elections can be held, he stressed. But he called for international pressure
to be brought to bear so that human rights in Zimbabwe were respected, to
create a level playing field on which internationally scrutinised elections
could be held.
"This is where we challenge the international community to say 'you can't
leave somebody to oppress his people'. Look at all these treaties they
signed at the Commonwealth, the SADC [Southern Africa Development
Community], on human rights. There is no single country where you have seen
so many MPs go to prison, or a mayor going to prison for addressing people,"
"All the Zimbabwean people are asking of the international community is an
environment for free and fair elections.
"If that could be created, and there were free and fair elections, and the
police and army were controlled by someone else, we are home and dry. We
just need an election. We believe that if Mugabe wins a friendly election he
should continue to be President, and he knows that he cannot win a free and
fair election. That is our only challenge."
In the meantime, the West, and the Commonwealth, stand by while "people are
beaten, they go to hospitals, then people give up. We need intervention to
stop the beating, torture of people, the invasion of people's privacy, the
abuse of human rights. The intervention must come, otherwise we are all
going to give up. We're all going to die."
Mr Mudzuri argues that it is in Britain's interest for Zimbabwe to regain
its stability; he contends that half a million Zimbabweans have fled to
Britain to escape the turmoil. South Africa has even more reason to
intervene, he said, because there is a constant flow of refugees across its
Asked if he was disappointed with the attitude of the South African
President, Thabo Mbeki, who has adopted a "softly softly" approach towards
Mr Mugabe, Mr Mudzuri replied: "I wouldn't want to say I'm disappointed with
Mbeki. I think he should have done more, and he knows that he is the biggest
trading partner, and he cannot just look away because all our citizens are
running to South Africa. More than a million citizens have run to South
Africa, and he cannot ignore that. And he cannot ignore that the opposition
is always in prison. I've been arrested, the Mayor of Bulawayo has been
Mr Mudzuri said that Mr Mbeki should be in the front line with Nigeria and
Don Mackinnon, the Commonwealth secretary general, in preparing the ground
for fair elections in Zimbabwe.
The presidential election in March last year, in which Mr Mugabe won
re-election over Mr Tsvangirai, was condemned as flawed by many countries.
"The major issue is that Mugabe is irrelevant. The major issue is, let's go
back to the election, and whatever discussions they want to come to, we want
to go back to an election supervised by the international community."
The MDC is calling for negotiations on a transitional authority that would
head the country for an interim period before an election. Mr Mudzuri
compared the situation to that after the independence war in 1978, in which
an interim government paved the way for elections in 1979.
"We need a transitional authority that could pick up a person like [Nelson]
Mandela, whom I believe should run something like what happened during the
time of Lord Soames, who came up with an interim team for three months, and
the two forces which didn't trust each other came up with a solution that
"So we are saying that the same thing could be employed here, because we
have a difficult person here who claims sovereignty, with an opposition
which has won the election, but which was stolen from them.
"All we are saying is that we still want to legitimise this, by going to an
election. With the possible suspension of the constitution for three months,
with the police and army under an interim leader, I'm sure we would have
peace," he said.
Zimbabwe Reiterates Reconstruction Aid Offer to Angola
Angola Press Agency (Luanda)
July 5, 2003
Posted to the web July 7, 2003
Visiting Zimbabwean minister of Public Works and Housing, Ignatius Chombo,
Friday in Luanda reiterated his country's readiness to assist Angola with
The minister reaffirmed this after an audience granted to him by Angolan
prime minister, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos.
During the meeting that he regarded as being
of courtesy, the two officials
exchanged views on the existing relations between the two countries.
Concerning cooperation, Ignatius Chombo assured that the support being
offered by his country could focus on the rehabilitation of infrastructures
destroyed by war, such as bridges and roads and even on the construction of
fresh economic houses.
Ignatius Chombo, who is in Angola since Wednesday, at the head of a
delegation that includes 15 businessmen and bankers, met with his local
counterpart, Higino Carneiro, visited the cement factory "Nova Cimangola"
and other undertakings and tourist resorts in central Kwanza-Sul province.
During his Thursday's meeting with the Angolan colleague, minister Chombo
said his country was ready to assist Angola with its reconstruction.
He said on the occasion that Angola's problems concerned all member
countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), therefore
deserving total support from the countries of the region.
Minister Chombo is closing his Angola visit today with the signing of a
protocol of cooperation between the two countries.
Children Murdered to Rescue Failed Businesses
The Herald (Harare)
July 5, 2003
Posted to the web July 6, 2003
Harare grade two pupil Sam Nhamoinesu was on his way home from school when a
twin-cab vehicle suddenly stopped next to him.
There were four men in the vehicle and one of them beckoned him to come
nearer. At first Sam was hesitant but after assurances from the men that
they meant no harm he obliged.
"Maybe you have forgotten I am
your father's friend and I used to visit your
home long ago. Actually we are on our way to your house right now so we want
to give you a lift, get in," said one of the men with wry smile.
Sam reluctantly accepted the offer without knowing the evil intentions of
The twin-cab took off at high speed and after an hour Sam realised that he
is now in an unfamiliar place. He pleaded with the men to take him home but
Sam was taken to a secluded place where he was murdered and his body parts
removed for ritual purposes. They were to be sold to a businessman to
improve his fortunes.
The above scenario is similar to several cases of ritual murders that have
been reported recently.
In ritual murders, human body parts are mixed with some herbs in the belief
that this enhanced one's business and usually such advice came from the
One wonders what has really gone wrong in the Zimbabwean society that has
driven some people to commit such diabolic acts just for the love of money.
About two weeks ago, an eight-year-old girl from Nangalanga village under
Chief Siabuwa in Binga was allegedly killed and her body thrown into a river
along the Binga-Karoi road in what is suspected to be a ritual murder.
The girl is believed to have been murdered in the bush near her homestead
while on her way from school.
Her body was later recovered underneath the bridge with cuts on her throat
and mouth while her private parts were missing.
Furthermore, three suspects recently appeared in court in connection with
the grisly murder of a 75-year-old widow in Domboshava communal area in
Goromonzi district. The suspects were alleged to have raped the widow before
killing her on the instructions of a Harare businessman who wanted to use
human brain for ritual purposes.
The three suspects were allegedly paid $900 000 for the job.
It was alleged that after axing the woman to death, the trio broke the
skull, extracted the brain and some blood as these were supposed to be mixed
In a similar incident last month, four men kidnapped two teenage boys from
Mbare who were on their way to see a friend.
The kidnappers blindfolded the boys before taking them to an unknown house
where they were supposed to be killed for ritual purposes.
The teenagers were lucky to escape death as the businessman told their
kidnappers that they had brought older boys and he wanted younger ones.
The two boys were later dumped in the Msasa area where they were rescued by
a security guard while still blindfolded.
What is particularly disturbing about ritual murders is that in most cases
the actual killer is the only person arrested, convicted and sentenced while
the traditional healer and the paymaster are left to go scot-free.
There has never been a case where the paymaster or the advising healer have
been brought to court, let alone arrested.
It appears the only way to deter ritual murders is to make it very clear
that everyone who is a partner to this crime will be punished accordingly.
A Harare businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, castigated some
unscrupulous businesspeople who resorted to ritual murders in order to boost
"Such practices should be condemned by all right thinking people," he said.
"The success of any business depends on proper planning coupled with
perseverance not the use of black magic."
He said it was painful for a parent to lose a child through a ritual murder.
Prominent sociologist and Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association
president, Professor Gordon Chavunduka, lambasted traditional healers who
gave advice on ritual murders.
"As an association we do not condone such practices and we discourage our
members from being part of this evil," he said.
Professor Chavunduka conceded that indeed some traditional healers were
advising their clients to commit ritual murders as a way of enhancing their
He said it had not yet been scientifically proven that ritual murders
improved one's business.
"I believe this does not work at all but some times there is coincidence in
that after someone has performed the rituals, the prospects of his or her
business brightens and psychological this may lead one to believe that the
rituals have worked," said Professor Chavunduka.
Police spokesman Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said investigations
involving ritual murders were complex.
"Normally when we are investigating such cases, the accused implicate the
traditional healer but it is difficult for us to arrest the healer because
of the lack of evidence unless if he/she was directly involved in the
murder," he said.
The practice of ritual murders is not unique to Zimbabwe, as this is fairly
common in other countries in the region especially in South Africa.
According to a recent survey in South Africa at least one person falls
victim to ritual murders each month in that country.
Other experts, however, believe that the ritual murders in the country are
beyond 10 every month, many of the victims being children.
Criticism of Mugabe divides U.S. blacks
Rachel L. Swarns NYT
Monday, July 7, 2003
WASHINGTON When the TransAfrica Forum decided to speak out last month
against Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, for condoning the jailing,
beating and killing of black opposition party supporters, it shouldn't have
been all that surprising.
After all, for decades, TransAfrica, a research and lobbying group based
here, has been speaking out on the struggles of Africans on the continent
In the 1980's, for instance, it led the anti-apartheid marches that helped
press the American government to change its policy of "constructive
engagement" with the white government of South Africa.
In the 90's the group protested against the repressive black regimes in
Haiti and Nigeria.
In this latest action the president of TransAfrica and other prominent black
Americans from Africa Action, an advocacy group here, from Howard University
and from church and labor unions wrote a public letter to Mugabe, assailing
what they described as the "increasing intolerant, repressive and violent
policies of your government."
But the decision to condemn Mugabe publicly - which was hailed as long
overdue in some quarters - has also touched off an outcry among some black
intellectuals, activists and Africa watchers. Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe
since white rule ended in 1980, is still considered a hero by some
African-Americans. And in some e-mail messages and on radio talk shows, the
signers of the letter have been described as politically naïve, sellouts and
misguided betrayers of Africa's liberation struggle.
Angry critics have sent e-mail messages to those who signed the letter,
saying in one instance that they "do not represent African-Americans."
The furor has highlighted a long-simmering debate about how to respond to
authoritarian leaders in Africa when those leaders happen to be black.
Bill Fletcher Jr., the president of TransAfrica, says black Americans cannot
afford to romanticize African leaders if they hope to remain relevant to the
struggles on the continent. They must be willing to condemn wrongdoing, he
said, even if that means criticizing some revered leaders.
"When the enemy was evil white people in South Africa, that was easy,"
Fletcher said. "But when the enemy becomes someone who looks like us, we're
very skittish about taking that on."
"It's very difficult to accept that a ruling class has emerged in Zimbabwe
that is oppressing its own people, but you've got to face the reality," he
said. "I felt like we had to speak out."
In the 1970's some blacks quietly questioned whether they should continue
supporting Uganda's violent despot, Idi Amin, but decided against
criticizing him publicly. In the 1980's some Africa watchers made a similar
decision about Angola's government, which was dogged by complaints of
In 1996 Carol Moseley Braun, an Illinois Democrat who was a senator then,
stirred a furor when she flew to Africa to visit General Sani Abacha,
Nigeria's corrupt dictator. By then TransAfrica and other prominent black
individuals and organizations had already started a public campaign to
criticize and isolate Nigeria's government, which was detaining and killing
"We view the political repression under way in Zimbabwe as intolerable and
in complete contradiction of the values and principles that were both the
foundation of your liberation struggle and of our solidarity with that
struggle," the group said in its letter to Mugabe.
Critics complain, however, that Fletcher and his colleagues are playing down
the importance of the ongoing struggle for land in Zimbabwe. They say Mugabe
has been demonized in the West because he decided to seize white-owned farms
on land stolen from blacks during British colonial rule. Zimbabwe's tiny
white minority - less than 1 percent of the population - owned more than
half of the fertile land until the government began seizing most of it in
"I'm not on his side with respect to his repression of the opposition,"
Ronald Walters, a professor of government at the University of Maryland,
said of Mugabe. "But I am on the side of the people who claim there's a
justice issue in terms of the land. You can't escape the racial dynamic, and
you can't escape the political history."
Some critics say the violence in Zimbabwe has mostly occurred between
supporters and opponents of land redistribution. They also fear that the
Bush administration, which has signaled that it might intervene in Liberia,
might use the letter from TransAfrica and Africa Action to suggest that
prominent black Americans favor an American intervention in Zimbabwe.
Fletcher said he would vigorously oppose an American-led military
intervention in Zimbabwe. TransAfrica also opposes the idea of sending
American troops to Liberia, saying an African peacekeeping force financed by
the American government would be preferable.
The New York Times
Government Continues to Blow Reserve Bank Funds
Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)
July 4, 2003
Posted to the web July 6, 2003
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s
weekly advance to government continues
to escalate, shooting up from $3,8 billion in early March to $50,3 billion
by the end of April.
The central bank says Zimbabwe's economy has been contracting since 1996
when both productivity and economic activity nose-dived from their peak
attained in that year.
In figures for May released this week, the central bank
said weekly advances
to government steadily ballooned from $3,793 billion on March 14 to $50,291
billion on May 16.
The RBZ did not shed light on what projects the money had been used for, but
analysts speculate that the bulk of this borrowing went to pay salaries of
the bloated civil service.
In less than two months the figure more than doubled.
The RBZ said during this time lending to banks increased while credit to
Total government domestic debt as of March 14 stood at $344,9 billion, which
increased to $446,101 billion as of May 16.
The RBZ said: "During the week ending April 30 2003, cheque transactions
amounted to $708 billion. Of this, 84,2% constituted high value items, and
the remainder, low value. By volume, low value transactions accounted for
80%, while 20% related to high value."
Despite government insistence that commercial agriculture was flourishing
and tobacco chalking up billions, the bank said Zimbabwe's foreign currency
earnings from the golden crop continued to decrease.
The tobacco farming community has not been spared by government's fast-track
land resettlement programme which has witnessed large-scale commercial
farmers removed from their land and replaced by new farmers with less
Some of the new farmers diversified into maize production instead of
tobacco - a major foreign currency earner.
The RBZ said as of May 9 this year, cumulative tobacco sales amounting to
1,9 million kilogrammes of tobacco had been sold at an average price of
US$1,83 per kg.
This compares to 4,7 million kg sold at an average price of US$1,81, during
the corresponding period last year.
In its unaudited results for the six-month period ended April 30,
heavyweight tobacco firm Tobacco Sales Floors Ltd (TSL) this week told
shareholders that urgent attempts needed to be made to revitalise tobacco
production over the next few months.
TSL said: "Latest estimates of this year's tobacco crop indicate a volume of
approximately 80 million kg, less than half of last year's production. The
prospects for next year's crop are similarly poor."
Government however continues to insist that more tobacco would be sold this
year because of the "huge success" of the small-scale farming sector.
The small-scale sector has faced nightmares because tobacco is an expensive
crop to grow and commercial banks have refused to lend new farmers money,
saying the industry was now high risk.
The RBZ said since 1995 Zimbabwe's output and productivity had followed a
This pattern means that the country's productivity had been rising and
falling in tandem with economic performance.
"This confirms the fact that a country's productivity growth plays an
important role in helping it achieve economic growth and higher standards of
living," the RBZ said in its report.
SA public rush to help Zim animal lover
July 06 2003 at 12:12PM
By Edwin Naidu
South Africans have
come to the aid of a Zimbabwean animal rights activist
featured in The Sunday Independent last week.
Meryl Harrison was threatened with death following her battle to save or
mercy-kill domestic animals in Zimbabwe that are starving, being tortured or
She has a potentially fatal condition that results in a rapid heartbeat. The
ailment requires surgery that she cannot afford.
On Tuesday, listeners to the John Robbie Show on Talk Radio 702 pledged
almost R60 000 and offered material assistance for the operation that could
save Harrison's life. A heart surgeon and another medical expert have
pledged surgery services should she require an operation.
'It was an extraordinary outpouring of charity'
Robbie said that after reading the report in The Sunday Independent the
radio station decided to interview Harrison, 64, because of her courageous
attempts to help distressed milking cows on Zimbabwean farms occupied by
so-called war veterans.
"We spoke to her on Tuesday; her story was amazing. Afterwards, on air, I
asked her how much she would need for the operation, and she said R60 000.
We didn't launch a special appeal but just mentioned that perhaps listeners
may be able to help," he said.
Robbie said the station had been inundated with calls of support in cash and
kind: "It was an extraordinary outpouring of charity. We had pledges, offers
of flights from three different airport companies, ambulance services, among
He said Talk Radio 702 would arrange for Harrison to be flown to
Johannesburg for a medical examination to determine what treatment she
"This was a special morning for us because she didn't talk about wanting
help, she was just doing her job but our listeners told us they wanted to
help her," he said.
'I'm so overwhelmed by everyone's generosity'
Robbie said although the station had supported major fundraising campaigns,
including raising more than R1-million for Cotlands baby sanctuary, it had
occasionally made special appeals for those in need of help.
"On my show not so long ago we made an appeal for help to send a young black
athlete who did not have the money to compete overseas. When someone comes
forward with a need, if we can, we help, and it's our listeners who show
On Friday, Harrison, who had another busy week rescuing animals on another
farm in Zimbabwe, said she was overwhelmed at the generosity of the people
who had offered her financial and material help. "I was on my way to the
farm when I received a call. I just parked on the side of the road and began
to cry," she said.
Harrison said she would be arriving in Johannesburg on July 14 to undergo
tests by a local heart specialist.
"I'm so overwhelmed by everyone's generosity, now I just want to get fit and
return to work," she said.
Bulawayo faces severe food crisis
BULAWAYO – Efforts by the municipality and welfare organisations to
tackle the impact of severe food shortages in Zimbabwe’s second city are
being hampered by the unchecked rise of people needing food aid and the lack
of an urban international food aid programme.
According to statistics from the Bulawayo City Council, 119 deaths due
to malnutrition and related causes were recorded in Bulawayo over the first
four months of this year. The majority of them were of children under five
years and elderly people over the age of 50.
These groups are among the people who have been hardest hit by the
severe shortage of maize-meal and bread, Zimbabwe’s staple foodstuffs. The
shortages are the result of drought and a controversial government land
reform programme that has cut food production by more than 50 percent.
Although the Bulawayo City Council could not provide statistics on
food insecurity in the city, municipality officials said the situation was
“out of control”.
Most people in Bulawayo have gone for more than three months without
maize-meal and bread and are being forced to rely on expensive alternatives.
Basic commodity prices have risen significantly in the past year, making
food unaffordable for low-income earners.
Bulawayo Executive Mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube told the Daily News:
“Council is aware of the gravity of the hunger situation and we have since
approached several welfare organisations to assist in feeding the people,
especially orphans whose number is increasing by the day.”
He said the municipality has launched a pilot supplementary feeding
programme for children under five years at clinics in the city’s
high-density areas of Mzilikazi, Mpopoma and Tshabalala.
The programme has the financial assistance of Help, a German
The Bulawayo mayor said there were plans to extend the programme to
all other clinics in the city next month.
Individual councillors, the Catholic Church and other welfare agencies
have also stepped in to help tackle the impact of food insecurity in the
But the assistance they are able to give is only a drop in the ocean
as food insecurity worsens in Zimbabwe.
United Nations agencies say about 5.4 million people need emergency
food aid in the country, about one million of them in urban areas, which are
not part of the food aid programmes run by international humanitarian
International humanitarian assistance has been concentrated in the
rural areas, where more than four million people are threatened with
But Bulawayo municipality officials said food insecurity in urban
areas was also becoming critical.
Bulawayo alderman Charles Mpofu of Nketa suburb, which has a large
population, said there was little maize coming from the state-controlled
Grain Marketing Board, the country’s sole grain trader.
This has worsened food shortages in the city, severely affecting
terminally ill people who require stable diets to maintain their health.
“A combination of hunger and illness surely reduces the life span of
the person. People now look up to us as their councillors to assist them and
they are always on our doorsteps asking for help,” said Mpofu, adding that
there were about 1 500 terminally ill people in his ward.
Zimbabwe’s economic crisis, dramatised by high inflation and
unprecedented unemployment, has also worsened the problem, with basic
commodity prices so high that many people are forced to reduce the number of
meals they have a day.
Mpofu said a bucket of maize-meal, for instance, was selling for $6
Another Bulawayo councillor, David Ndlovu of Nkulumane 12, said there
were about 4 200 people in his ward in urgent need of food aid.
“We have had no maize-meal deliveries in the past three months and I
don’t know how people are surviving. When people have no food, it has an
impact on the death rate, especially among people suffering from HIV/AIDS,”
The Catholic church and Methule, a humanitarian organisation whose
Ndebele name means “relieve”, are running supplementary feeding programmes
in Ndlovu’s ward.
Methule is funded from the AIDS fund and caters for AIDS orphans,
while the church feeds people as and when it has food supplies.
Stars Mathe, the councillor for Cowdray Park, one of the largest
suburbs in the city, is also running a supplementary feeding scheme catering
for children, breast-feeding women and terminally ill people.
The programme has been running since December last year and
beneficiaries are given soya porridge on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and
More than 4 000 children in the suburb are fed under the programme
while at least 11 200 adults are also in need of food aid and are constantly
seeking Mathe’s help.
The programme is supported by the local clinic, which screens needy
A community health officer at the clinic, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, said the clinic used to refer up to 10 children a week for the
feeding programme, but this number has since risen.
The health officer told the Daily News: “We have discovered that some
of the children would not be suffering from any disease when they are
brought to the clinic. It would just be hunger, so we refer them to Mathe,
where they are included in the feeding programme. We then monitor the child’
s progress every month to ensure that they are improving.”
The wards in Cowdray Park have been sub-divided into 17 sections with
an average of 250 children a section, each allocated 20 kilogrammes of soya
meal a day. Feeding is done between 12 noon and 2 pm and includes some
From Sandra Mujokoro
Bread shoots to $1 000 a loaf
BAKERS yesterday unilaterally hiked the price of bread from $550 to
$1 000 a loaf following a more than 1000 percent increase in the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB)’s selling price of wheat.
Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe chairman Armitage Chikwavira, who is
also managing director of Aroma Bakeries, told The Daily News that the bread
price increase was necessary if bakeries were to remain viable.
He said the price of bread had been kept artificially low for too
long, adversely affecting Zimbabwe’s baking industry.
Bread is one of the basic commodities whose price is controlled by the
government, which has to be consulted before manufacturers can increase the
price of controlled goods.
Chikwavira said an application for a bread price increase had been
submitted to the Industry Ministry, which had yet to respond.
“The problem is that government has kept (price) controls on bread.
Before you can increase the price of bread, you have to apply to the
government, through the Ministry of Industry and International Trade, which
we have done. The government has not responded to our needs, outlined in our
“In the absence of that response, bakers have resolved to effect the
$1 000 price,” he said.
It was not possible to reach Industry Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi for
comment on the matter yesterday. His mobile phone went unanswered.
The Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe chairman said the bread price hike
had been necessitated by the increase last Thursday in the GMB’s wheat
selling price from $30 100
a tonne to $366 584, an increase of 1 117.9 percent.
He said millers had in turn been forced to come up with a price that
would enable them to remain viable.
“That viability price has been arrived at $886 000 for a tonne, up
from $102 000 a tonne, an
increase of 868.53 percent,” Chikwavira said.
“The millers have already started paying the new GMB price of $366
584,” he added. “In order to remain viable, they have to pass on that price
to the bakers, which they have done effective from Friday last week.
“The bakers now have two options, first being to stop production
altogether if they can’t pass on the increase to their consumers, or they
have to continue producing and charge higher than the government gazetted
price of $225 for every loaf. If they want to continue, they have to charge
the higher price, which has now been worked out to $1 000 a loaf.”
However, a snap survey by The Daily News yesterday showed that some
shops were selling a loaf of bread for $1 100, with few others retailing it
Chikwavira said the price increase was a “life-and-death” issue, with
most bakeries likely to close down if the government forced them to reverse
the hike. This would result in thousands of workers being left unemployed,
Analysts yesterday said the bread price increase would hit hardest on
long-suffering Zimbabwean consumers, who have already been adversely
affected by high prices resulting from commodity shortages and rampant
Shortages of basic commodities have spawned a thriving black market
are out of the reach of many low-income earners.
Inflation, which reached a record high of 300.1 percent in the year to
May, has also pushed up the cost of commodities, making them unaffordable
for many people whose salaries have not kept pace with soaring inflation.
Consumers, many of who are unlikely to receive significant cost of
living adjustments this year because of the impact of the economic crisis on
local companies, are already reeling from last week’s hike in public
Public transporters increased their fares by up to 150 percent last
week, pushing them up to between $600 and $800 a trip in some areas.
By Precious Shumba
Government to take over building of Tokwe-Mukosi dam
MASVINGO – The government is to take over construction of the giant
Tokwe-Mukosi dam in Masvingo, according to President Robert Mugabe.
Addressing about 10 000 supporters at the dam site, Mugabe said the
government, which has failed to pay the Italian company contracted to build
the dam, would now go it alone on the project.
The government was supposed to pay 75 percent of the costs of the
project in foreign currency.
Mugabe told supporters: “We are now building the dam ourselves and it
means we have to work hard. We are still very far from completing the
project because of financial problems. We just must finish it. Even if it
means we have to forego our meals, we have to do it.”
The Italian contractor, Salin Impregilo, is however still on the site.
Although Salin Impregilo spokesman Stephen Mukoti could not be reached
for comment yesterday, he told The Daily News in an earlier interview that
the company was still working at the dam site. He said: “We are at the
moment drilling some tunnels, which means some of our staff are on the
Construction of the dam started in 1997 and was supposed to be
complete by March last year.
Work had to stop on several occasions because the contractor was not
paid by the government. The initial cost of the project was pegged at $300
million, but has since ballooned to over $7 billion.
The Italian company was supposed to be paid 75 percent of the project
cost in foreign currency while 25 percent was to be paid in Zimbabwe
Early this year, the government requested the Italian company to
consider changing the earlier arrangement by accepting all the payments in
Travellers stranded as fuel blues continue
HUNDREDS of long-distance travellers were yesterday stranded at
Harare’s main bus terminus because of worsening fuel shortages exacerbated
by a fuel coupon system introduced for public transporters last week.
Travellers who spoke to The Daily News yesterday, some of them
attempting to return to their places of employment, said they were unsure if
they would be able to secure transport.
“I have been here since 7 am but not a single bus going to Mt Darwin
has come and I am really worried about whether I will be able to make the
journey or not,” said Ernest Chakohwa, a schoolteacher in Mt Darwin.
There were very
few buses at the Mbare terminus, with many people who did not have
urgent journeys opting to return home.
Another stranded traveller, Lorraine Gombera, said she had been forced
to go back to her home in Highfield on Saturday after she failed to find
transport at Mbare Msika.
“I am told the bus which goes through Howard Mission is grounded due
to lack of fuel,” said Gombera. “So I was hoping that some operators would
ply the route but it seems this fuel shortage problem is dimming our hopes.”
Travellers said unscrupulous commuter omnibus operators were taking
advantage of the fuel shortages by charging exorbitant fares to ferry people
to their destinations.
Public transport operators said the transport crisis was partly the
result of a fuel coupon system introduced by the government last week in an
attempt to wipe out a thriving black market for petrol and diesel.
The black market is the result of a severe fuel crisis that has
crippled the operations of several local companies and public transporters.
Public transporters said the new system had contributed to a reduction
in the number of public vehicles on the roads because the coupons were only
being issued to operators with certificates of fitness and road permits.
DRC doctors refuse to take up residences
SEVERAl of the 77 medical personnel brought from the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC) to work in Zimbabwe’s public hospitals are
reported to have refused to move into their allocated residences at Harare’s
Parirenyatwa Hospital, saying their rooms were smaller than they had been
Hospital insiders said the doctors had been given a single room each,
which was too small to accommodate their families.
Some of the doctors were seen by the Daily News crew yesterday
afternoon milling outside Parirenyatwa Hospital’s doctors’ residence with
their luggage, wives and children, demanding that they be taken to where
they would be staying.
They, however, refused to talk to the Daily News when approached for
The hospital’s clinical director, Sydney Makarawo, who was said to be
the only person who could comment on the matter on behalf of the hospital,
was said to be away.
Meanwhile, the strike by junior and middle-levels doctors at public
hospitals continued yesterday with no solution in sight to resolve the
impasse between them and their employer, the Public Service Commission
The doctors went on strike on
Friday, barely two weeks after the Labour Court ordered them back to
work after they embarked on another industrial action over remuneration.
The strike resumed after the PSC failed to meet its earlier commitment
to address salary anomalies
resulting from its job evaluation
The exercise was supposed to address discrepancies in the salaries of
all civil servants who, however, say it has left them worse off.
Hospital Doctors’ Association president Phibion Manyanga said the
strike would continue until the government addressed the salaries issue and
“We expect the strike to spread to all the district hospitals from
Monday (today) as we have now communicated with all the doctors to resume
the strike,” Manyanga said.
Nurses at the capital city’s major referral centres – Parirenyatwa and
Harare Central hospitals – yesterday said they were turning away patients
because of the strike.
Parties resolve to oppose polls under Constitution
ZIMBABWE’S opposition political parties will oppose any major
elections proposed under the country’s present Constitution, it was learnt
The resolution was made at the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)’
s parties’ convention, held in Masvingo at the weekend.
Parties that lent their weight to the resolution were the Movement for
Democratic Change, the National Alliance for Good Governance, United
Parties, the Democratic Party and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union.
Democratic Party president Urayayi Zembe, who represents opposition
parties in the NCA task-force, told The Daily News: “The political parties
that are members of the NCA are committed to this consensus.
“They will not accept any general elections or presidential elections
to be held under the current colonial Lancaster House Constitution.”
Zembe said the political parties that attended the NCA meeting would
present the resolution to their members in an attempt to reach a consensus
on the matter. The situation will then be reviewed in September.
NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku however said the opposition political
parties were not calling for a boycott of elections, but wanted to prevent
elections from taking place under the current constitution.
The NCA has been lobbying for reform of Zimbabwe’s 1979 Lancaster
House Constitution, which it says has vested President Robert Mugabe with
too many powers.
Madhuku said the political parties wanted an independent electoral
commission to take over the administration of polls in Zimbabwe. The body
would be in charge of voter registration, announcement of election dates and
the voting process.
These are functions presently under the control of the country’s
Registrar General’s Office, which has been accused of being biased towards
the ruling ZANU PF, charges that it denies.
Meanwhile, the NCA’s Masvingo meeting went ahead this weekend even
though it had initially been barred by the police, who have to be informed
of proposed public meetings under the controversial Public Order and
The police had indicated to the NCA that the meeting, which began on
Friday, could not go ahead because Mugabe was supposed to address a rally in
NCA spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said the police had reversed the ban
and allowed the convention to go ahead.
“We were later allowed to hold our meeting by the police’s Law and
Order section. They, however, told us that we should not chant slogans at
the meeting. We were also barred from attacking the President and his
Office,” he said.
Mwonzora said the police had also indicated that all speakers must be
vetted and that the meeting must be confined to the venue.
Some of the speakers at the convention included former ruling ZANU PF
secretary Edgar Tekere, Madhuku as well as legislators Job Sikhala and
Public meetings whose organisers did not seek permission from the
police have been forcibly broken up by the riot police in the past.
Wheat shortages set to continue, say experts
Shortages of wheat are set to continue in Zimbabwe as preparations
for the 2003-2004 planting season have been described by agricultural
experts as largely inadequate.
The shortages have so far affected millers and bakeries with adverse
consequences on food security and employment.
Low harvests from the 2002-3 crop have also led to serious bread
shortages and a price hike of the commodity.
Experts say that only 80 000 metric tonnes of wheat will be produced
this year, compared to 130 000 mt in 2002.
To encourage wheat growing the government has increased the producer
price from $70 000 to $150 000 a tonne.
Farmers, however, say the cost of inputs are still not matched by the
recently announced prices. This year shortages of fuel and fertiliser has
meant that fewer fields have been planted. Those that can afford it have
been forced to turn to the parallel market.
A spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union said the Ministry of
Energy had supplied farmers with fuel but the rations were not enough.
Former managing director of the state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB)
and opposition MP, Renson Gasela, said the problems facing wheat farmers
cannot be seen in isolation.
“We have to look at the fuel problems, the power shortages and how the
economy is performing in order to find solutions to the wheat shortages,” he
Hardest hit was the irrigated crop, which requires electric power to
run the pumps.
In April, an economist at the
Commercial Farmers’ Union, Kuda Ndoro, said only a quarter of the
irrigated wheat crop had been planted due to power shortages.
“At the moment industry, including the agriculture sector, is
operating at only 30 percent of capacity because the Zimbabwe Electricity
Authority is unable to meet power
“There is no power for irrigation on the farms. If nothing is done to
augment supply this will affect the performance of the winter cereals,”
Away from the fields, bread shortages continue in most of Zimbabwe’s
cities and towns. Until last month when bakers unilaterally increased the
price of bread without the consent of the government, bread was found mainly
on the parallel market at almost twice the government gazetted price.
In May the government pegged the price of a loaf at $250. This is a
far cry from the $350 to $600 that is charged on the parallel market.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has since January 2003 been urging
Zimbabweans to boycott bread which it says is being overcharged by bakers.
The council suggested Zimbabweans consider options such as sweet
potatoes. Such a call, however, would have done little to avert the job
losses facing thousands in the industry.
Tuckshop owners in Harare’s high-density suburbs, who rely mostly on
selling bread, said business was poor and many had contemplated closing
Bezel Gandiwa owns a tuckshop in Harare’s high-density suburb of
“The supply of bread has been very erratic. In some cases we have gone
for a week without receiving any bread at all,” Bezel said.
Wheat is the second most important cereal crop consumed in Zimbabwe
The shortages forced the GMB in May to import 62 000 mt at a cost of
$15 billion, and has made a request for foreign currency to the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe to purchase a further 100 000 mt of wheat from Brazil. To cover
needs, the import bill could climb to US $55.2 million.
But many small-scale bakeries have closed shop already, complaining
that they cannot access enough supplies. Large milling and baking companies
are equally feeling the pinch with the GMB only supplying a maximum of 6 000
mt per week to Zimbabwe’s three big milling companies.
Although the government’s latest economic revival initiative, the
National Economic Revival Programme has agriculture as its foundation,
farmers say it will not work as long as fuel and foreign currency shortages
Zimbabwe being mortgaged to foreigners
If a man comes up to you in the street and asks you for your wallet,
do you beg him to take your cellphone too?
Do you strip off your clothes and shoes and give them to him and then
lie down on the tarmac and say: “Oh please, here are my house keys, this is
my address, go and clean out
everything else I own too?”
No I haven’t gone mad, but I begin to think Zimbabwe has, because this
is exactly what we are allowing our government to do and have been for the
last three years and four months.
Zimbabwe has so many national assets that belong to each and every one
of us and yet, day by day, month by month we are just giving them away.
To Libya, a country most of us know absolutely nothing about, we have
given farms and hunting concessions.
Then we gave them service stations and hotels and now our government
talks of giving them our oil pipeline and Msasa fuel storage facilities.
To Libya, a country whose leader has been in power for 33 years, and
to whom 57 young Zimbabwean people recently went for some sort of “training”
, we have sold our souls.
To the jointly owned Belgian and French Total Fina Elf, we have sold
the Beitbridge storage facilities and are in the process of selling 51
percent of the shares in Zimbabwe’s oil blending enterprises.
To China, we have awarded tenders to work parts of our farming lands –
the very land that the government tells us
every day belongs only to black Zimbabweans.
“Our land is our prosperity” is the ZANU PF slogan and yet they cannot
give it away fast enough.
To a country on the other side of the planet, we have sold our pride
To South Africa’s Reserve Bank we have handed over surety and
the value of R82.5 million (Z$8.83 billion) in the last few years.
What are these sureties – mines perhaps or the Hwange coal reserves or the
To a country whose leader will not say that the murder, torture and
rape of Zimbabweans are human rights abuses, we have mortgaged our present
What about the national jewels that have been sold that we do not know
about? How did we pay for all the water cannons and riot gear that came from
How did we pay for the fuel that has come from Kuwait and Angola? What
did we give to Malaysia and Indonesia in exchange for their kindness to our
To the ZANU PF elite, the army and political chefs, we gave all our
farms, our homes, the jobs of half a million workers and the food on our
tables. We gave them the wildlife conservancies, the game and the indigenous
We gave them the dams and boreholes we had built, the millions of
kilometres of underground water pipes, irrigation lines and reservoirs.
Then, when we had given them all this, we let them tell us what a
shambles it was all in.
We let men who had taken all these precious national and individual
assets conduct an audit and say: “Oops, sorry Zimbabwe, we’ve taken
everything but we still cannot grow food for you, put petrol in your cars or
bank notes in the finance houses.”
To a party that has taken away our freedom of speech, movement and
association, we have given our self-sufficiency, diversity and food from our
So who owns Zimbabwe now that our national treasures and family jewels
have been given away? Is it Libya or China, Kuwait or Belgium, South Africa
or ZANU PF? It certainly isn’t us, the ordinary Zimbabweans.
When our government has given, sold or mortgaged everything in our
country, what will there be left for your children and mine?
How many decades will it take for us to buy back the family jewels,
the birthrights that our government have given away?
The national treasures are almost all gone. Our children, be they of
ZANU PF or MDC parents, will have nothing to inherit.
Colin Powell was right when he said that soon there would be nothing
left to ruin in Zimbabwe. The biggest irony of this tragedy is that our
government is turning us into a foreign-owned colony faster than we can read
their slogans that
proclaim “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again!”
By Cathy Buckle
Cathy Buckle writes on social issues
No time to waste on food crisis
ELSEWHERE in this newspaper today we carry a report
indicating that Zimbabwe will not produce enough wheat to meet
domestic demand because preparations for the 2003-2004 agricultural season
have been inadequate.
Zimbabwe is expected to produce only 80 000 metric tonnes of wheat
this year, compared to 130 000 mt in 2002.
This is at a time the country is already said to need 221 000 tonnes
of maize to feed 5 422 634 people between January this year and March 2004.
About one million of those requiring emergency food aid are in urban areas,
previously left out
of food aid programmes and where several deaths from
malnutrition have already been reported.
United Nations agencies say the country needs to import close to 1.3
million tonnes of food commercially or through food aid provided by donors
to meet the nation’s minimum food
But while the country further braces for the impact of another year of
food insecurity, international aid agencies have indicated that they plan to
reduce humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe because of expectations of a
slightly bigger harvest this year.
According to a June report from the UN’s World Food
Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation,
cereal production for consumption in Zimbabwe is estimated at 980 000
tonnes in the 2003-2004 season, 41 percent higher
than the previous agricultural season.
But international humanitarian organisations point out
that this is about half less than the 2000-2001 harvest
and is not enough to meet the country’s consumption requirements.
While all this is happening, there is little evidence that the
government is at all ruffled by threats of a serious humanitarian disaster.
Indeed, there is even confusion about whether Harare, which clearly
does not have the capacity to tackle the food crisis on
its own, has approached international aid agencies to ask for an
extension of food aid programmes.
The WFP last month indicated that the Zimbabwean government had
written to the UN agency to request it to extend its
humanitarian assistance programme, although it had yet to make the
country’s food aid requirements known.
But Lancester Museka, permanent secretary for the Social Welfare
Ministry, tasked with dealing with Zimbabwe’s food
crisis, indicated in a local weekly newspaper last week that the
government had yet to make a formal appeal for food aid
because it was “still waiting for information from experts in the
We can only hope that this apparent confusion is not an
indication of the state of affairs within the ministries of Social
Welfare and of Lands and Agriculture, and that those in charge have sat down
to do the basic planning needed to prevent a
serious humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
While we appreciate that the government is battling a severe foreign
currency crisis, it nevertheless needs to have a plan for importing the
wheat and maize required to feed food insecure Zimbabweans who are unable to
fend for themselves in a harsh environment.
The government needs to come out clearly on Zimbabwe’s food aid
requirements, information that foreign humanitarian agencies need if they
are to adequately respond to the Zimbabwe crisis.
It is crucial that farmers are provided with enough seeds and other
inputs in preparation for the 2004-2005 agricultural season. Failure to do
this will mean that Zimbabweans will be discussing exactly these same issues
that are of concern now this time next year.
But next year might not come for many Zimbabweans whose situation is
already grimly desperate and for who time is rapidly running out.
More than 100 people are said to have died from malnutrition already
this year and hundreds more could suffer the same fate if nothing is done
urgently to alleviate their suffering.
Absolutely no time can be wasted.