The Sunday Times, UK
July 8, 2007
Hunger and Aids kill a generation
Christina Lamb, Plumtree, southern Zimbabwe
GRANDMOTHER Ndlolo Dube sits on the dusty ground outside her mud-and-pole
hut and looks out on a land that has never seemed so dry and unforgiving.
The field that was supposed to feed her and her four orphaned grandchildren
is littered with dead broken maize stalks.
"No rain," she says, as she shows the half-full 50kg bag of maize that is
all the family has harvested this year. It is the third year running that
the harvest has failed, but this time is by far the worst. "It's just enough
to last two or three weeks, then I don't know what we'll do."
At every hut, every village, it is the same story. Plumtree and Figtree
sound as if they should be verdant places but severe drought has left the
area, like much of southern Zimbabwe, with 95% crop failure. People sit with
dazed expressions, fuddled with hunger. The United Nations World Food
Programme estimates that 4m people will need food aid.
Shortages are no longer new in this country where President Robert Mugabe's
violent land seizures have seen the destruction of commercial farms that
provided work for millions and food for the whole region. But this year they
come amid inflation estimated to have reached 10,000-15,000%.
By the end of June prices were doubling daily. Last week the government sent
in police and militia youths to force shopkeepers to lower prices. Many
responded by locking their doors and suspending business.
Dube has no idea how she and her family will survive for the rest of the
year. "I have no cow, no goats, nothing," she says.
When I ask how often they eat, she replies: "Morning and evening."
Surprised, I ask what they ate that morning. "Nothing," she says. And the
previous evening? "Nothing." It turns out that they often go for days
Sometimes the children get so hungry they chew green fruits from a tree
known as African chewing gum, even though they know they will end up with
Two of Dube's grandchildren - 10-year-old twins Kwenza Kele and Flatter -
take me with them to collect water. They are smaller than my seven-year-old
back home. The water-hole has a fence of twisted logs to prevent cows
defecating but it is green and putrid water, topped with scum.
This year's maize harvest is expected to be 500,000 tonnes, compared with
the 1.4m tonnes needed. But Pius Ncube, the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo,
believes the shortages will help Mugabe in the run-up to elections next
"The government is very happy about the food situation as they know they can
use food to make people vote for them again," he says. "They use every
At the next village, Grandmother Dedi Ndlovu is complaining about pain in
her legs. She harvested just 20kg of maize for her nine grandchildren, eight
of whom are orphans. "Not even half a bag," she says. "In the past we would
get six or seven bags. Sometimes I think, what if I get sick and die? What
will happen to these children?"
It is a while before I notice something even more eerie than the impending
famine. These are villages of grandparents and grandchildren. There is
nobody of my age. In a whole day we meet only one person between the ages of
20 and 50.
"All the young people have either died or gone," explains Pastor Raymond,
the local clergyman.
Many have fallen victim to the lethal combination of Aids and hunger. Others
are part of an exodus of 4m Zimbabweans forced for economic and political
reasons to leave their country.
In the towns I have noticed fewer people on the streets, but it is only in
these villages that the figures are brought home. This is a country that has
lost an entire generation.
Amid the breakdown of society - 20-hour power cuts, water shortages,
collapse of the phone system - nobody I ask, whether government official,
diplomat or aid worker, has any idea what the population of Zimbabwe is any
"That's the $25m question," says a US diplomat, suggesting the figure may be
as low as 8m, instead of the 12m usually cited.
In 15 years, life expectancy has fallen to 34 years for women and 37 for
men, by far the lowest in the world. What some call a silent genocide has
left Zimbabwe with more orphans than anywhere else in the world - 1.4m
according to Unicef.
At Bulawayo's vast West Park cemetery, it is easy to spot the recent
arrivals - a large plot freshly dug, with row after row of graves, barely a
plank's width between them. The gravestones tell their own story. All were
born in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Over on the other side in the children's section is a line of tiny earth
mounds, the graves of babies who have died in the past week.
At the edges of the graveyard are odd areas of tossed earth. "People come in
at night and bury their relatives secretly at the margins because they
cannot afford proper burials," explains Pastor Useni Sibanda, who leads a
church in Bulawayo and speaks for the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, an umbrella
grouping of church groups and other civic organisations.
Those who can join burial clubs - macabre savings groups where people in a
street or a workplace join together to pay for each other's dead. Others
register sick relatives under false names at hospitals, knowing they cannot
afford a funeral.
Nobody knows how many have died of hunger. But doctors in Zimbabwe say the
population's chronic malnutrition, combined with HIV, leads to the onset of
full-blown Aids far faster than anywhere else in Africa.
Father Oskar Wermter, a German Jesuit priest working in Mbare, Harare's
oldest township, has spent 37 years in Zimbabwe and says he has never seen
things so bad, even during the liberation war.
"How do people survive in this situation?" he asks. "The answer is many just
don't but you don't see them."
He cites the case of Chipo Kurewa, a lively teacher in her forties whose
home was bulldozed during Operation Murambatsvina (Drive out the Filth) in
which 700,000 people saw their houses and businesses demolished.
"After that, she was in constant trouble, struggling to find work and
accommodation and then diagnosed HIV-positive," says Wermter.
He took Kurewa to a centre to get anti-retroviral drugs, but then she
disappeared. "One day I got a phone call from Botswana. It was her - she'd
gone to find work. About six weeks later she arrived in a terrible state. A
kind lady in Gaborone had put her on a bus. But she had meningitis. Three
days later she was dead."
I ask after Stella, one of his parishioners, who had taken me round Mbare 18
months ago to see those who lost their homes in Murambatsvina. I remembered
her flamboyant clothes and vivacious manner, despite the horror we were
seeing and the risks we were taking.
"Dead," he replies. "This is becoming a land of the elderly and very young,
the unqualified and under-qualified - in other words, the most vulnerable."
There are other effects too. All the children I speak to are much older than
their size would suggest, and a recent study found that more than one in
three people in Harare suffers mental disorders. The main reasons were
inability to find food and having belongings taken away by the authorities.
Zimbabwe is not yielding photographs of children with stick limbs and flies
on their mouths, the images we usually associate with famine in Africa.
Something more sinister is under way, almost as if life were just draining
out of the country.
At a shack selling firewood in Emakhandeni township, just outside Bulawayo,
Sibanda stops to load up and says: "If the middle classes have been so
pauperised that teachers are forced to become prostitutes to feed their
family and use firewood because there's no more power, imagine what's
happening to the most marginalised."
Inside the shack, a girl of 15 lies dying on a bed, her blankets soiled and
life fading away. Her lips are parched and her eyes flicker weakly at us.
The family do not even ask for help. They know it is the same in every shack
in every township. Besides, even if we got her to hospital, there would be
At Mpilo hospital in Bulawayo, the Japanese-funded paediatric unit was
opened in 2004 and is remarkably clean and modern. Inside there are numerous
empty beds. Few can afford the bus fare to the hospital.
The only medicines have been donated by a foreign aid agency. On the babies'
ward, none is connected to a monitor and only two have drips, even in the
By one cot sit a couple whose seven-month-old daughter desperately needs
intestinal surgery, but who have been told they must buy a drip, which they
cannot afford. "We had to borrow to pay the bus fare to get here," says the
father as he watches his wife cradle the sick child.
There are only two young nurses to staff the ward of 45 seriously ill
babies, treating, cleaning and feeding them.
"Anyone that can go has left the country," says one of the nurses, pointing
out that her monthly salary of Z$3.2m (£4.50) barely covers her bus fares of
Z$120,000 a day. "I eat nothing during my shift as I can't afford it."
The only reason she and her colleague are still here, she says, is they are
newly qualified and the government is withholding their diplomas. "They're
doing it deliberately to stop us going."
There is no sign of any doctors. According to a Unicef official, 50% of all
health posts in Zimbabwe are vacant and there are more Zimbabwean nurses in
Manchester than in Bulawayo.
It is not just doctors who are leaving. Over the past few years, the
University of Zimbabwe has seen its number of lecturers fall from more than
1,200 to just over 600. According to the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe, more than 5,000 teachers left between January and April this year.
The magnitude of the exodus becomes starkly clear across the border in South
Africa, to which the majority of people flee. At the Central Methodist
Church in central Johannesburg, Zimbabwean refugees are literally spilling
out onto the road.
More than 3,000 sleep there every night, cramming the corridors and steps,
each with a zipped bag containing all they could carry.
Yet every person I talk to is a professional: accountants, bankers,
headmasters. One was the clerk of the High Court - forced to flee, he says,
because he witnessed the secret police interfering with ballot boxes during
a legal challenge by the opposition to presidential elections.
Most have left because the alternative was to starve. "We just couldn't
afford to feed our families," says a group of teachers recently arrived from
a school in Masvingo.
They have to leave the church by 7am every day and wander the streets hoping
to pick up work as labourers or gardeners, or just begging. One man earns
more in a day's gardening than he did in a month of teaching science in
Most of the refugees are men looking for money to send back to their
families. But on the ground floor is a room packed with women and children.
One woman, Joyce, sits watching her two-year-old son and four-year-old
daughter scrape leftovers from someone's pan of sadza (grain meal).
"My husband passed away and I couldn't get work in Bulawayo," she says. "I
thought if we came to South Africa we might still have hope of a life."
It was a hazardous journey, crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo river
with the two toddlers on her back. "But I kept thinking there is nothing
left for us in Zimbabwe," she says.
"The numbers have been going up dramatically this year," says Bishop Paul
Verryn, who has fought off parishioners' protests to shelter the
Zimbabweans. "We used to see five or 10 arriving a day but for the last few
months it has been 20 or more. It's a cataclysmic collapse of a country."
The Sunday Times, UK
July 8, 2007
IT WAS 10 minutes after the time arranged for lunch with one of President
Robert Mugabe's ministers and I had no idea whether the next person through
the door would be him or someone from the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO), Zimbabwe's feared secret police.
Not only was I working without a permit - punishable with two years in
jail - but I had also once been denounced by Mugabe's spokesman as an "enemy
of the state" for my reporting.
The meeting was a risk for the minister, too. But our go-between said he
wanted the world to know that some in the regime were unhappy.
It had to be a trap, I thought. Then the minister walked in.
"I've been reading your book [about Zimbabwe]," he said, "and the CIO are
outside." Then he laughed.
It was not funny. Mugabe's prisons are filthy, overcrowded and rife with
tuberculosis and Aids.
We looked at the menus. Entrées started at Z$700,000 - two weeks' wages for
most Zimbabwean people.
"Prices are crazy," I said. "Yes, we need to knock off some more zeros," he
"It's because of our own policies. If this were a company and Mugabe was
chief executive, he would have been fired long ago."
I told him I had met many Zimbabwean professionals whose salaries were less
than the bus fares to work. Surely the situation was not sustainable?
"The question is, will we wake one morning to the need to change or stay
blind and let change be forced upon us?" he replied.
"We know we will be the first victims of any forced change.
"What's keeping us going is remittances from Zimbabweans who left the
"Without those, 50% of the people who are struggling to survive at the
moment would die."
However, when I asked whether he or other ministers spoke out in cabinet
against Mugabe, he laughed again.
"You outside are very naive. You have to realise that both the cabinet and
the politburo [the supreme policy-making body of the ruling Zanu-PF party]
all centre round one figure: Robert Mugabe.
"Look where the cabinet came from - 80% or 90% were nobodies before. They've
made everything because of him, got rich, got farms . . . They don't
consider this a failure - to them it's an incredible success."
The Zimbabwean newspapers were full of reports of a foiled coup attempt so I
asked about threats from the military.
"Look, if it was real it wouldn't be all over the paper," he replied.
"I wouldn't be surprised if those officers said to be involved suddenly
As the bill came, totalling almost Z$4m (£10,000 according to the official
rate, about £5.80 at the market rate), we returned to the economy.
"It's like a dam with the wall about to crash in on us," he said.
"If we don't create diversionary channels. the wall will come crashing in
and wash us all away.
"That's enough, I think," he added, consulting his Rolex and pulling out
several large bricks of bank notes.
Two days later I heard that the general supposedly behind the coup had died
mysteriously when his car hit a goods train.
Sat Jul 7, 2007 11:12AM EDT
By Nelson Banya
HARARE, July 7 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe police arrested 17 more business
executives for defying an official price freeze, as the ruling party
endorsed the government's tough stance on businesses, state media reported
President Robert Mugabe's government last week ordered prices of basic goods
and services slashed by half and deployed a crack enforcement unit, which
has arrested more than 200 business people for breaching the price controls.
The move, which sparked panic buying from shoppers who rapidly emptied shop
shelves, was taken after prices of many goods tripled within a week.
Inflation, the highest in the world, has rocketed above 4,500 percent while
four in five adult Zimbabweans are jobless.
The official Herald newspaper reported on Saturday that 17 more top company
executives were arrested on Friday in Harare and Bulawayo for offences
ranging from failing to display prices to overcharging. Those arrested
include managers at fuel stations, who were also ordered to cut prices.
Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka warned of a broader crackdown on business
people and black market vendors, enjoying roaring trade as goods become
scarce in formal shops.
"Those people who work in cahoots with economic saboteurs will have
themselves to blame because our crack teams will be conducting sporadic
raids on all individuals who sell basic commodities in front of shops and in
their backyards at exorbitant prices," he said.
The leader of the main faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, said Mugabe's government had run out of ideas to
resolve the economic crisis.
Addressing a rally in the working class suburb of Dzivarasekwa in the
capital on Saturday, Tsvangirai said the price freeze would compound
Zimbabwe's ecnomic woes.
"This is a political gimmick for next year's election, but it is going to
backfire because more people are going to lose jobs and they are going
without basic goods," Tsvangirai said.
"What we expect are policies that ensure more jobs, more food and a better
life for all."
Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu, who ordered the price
freeze last week, told the Herald the ZANU-PF central committee -- the
ruling party's policy-making body -- had adopted plans for tighter price
On Friday, the government formally issued a legal instrument for the price
freeze, which requires businesses to seek the industry minister's approval
before raising prices.
Most shops have run out of basic goods such as sugar, salt, bread and beef
as shoppers rushed to stock up, fearing shortages as the price freeze takes
effect. Now the attention of bargain-hunters has turned to clothing shops,
which have also been ordered to cut their prices.
The country's leading clothing retailer, South African-owned Edgars Stores
Limited, announced on Saturday it had cut all prices by 50 percent,
triggering a stampede at its outlets.
Mugabe, facing growing pressure from the crisis, has accused firms of
raising prices as part of a plot to unseat him. The 83-year-old leader has
threatened to seize and nationalise foreign companies he accuses of working
to sabotage the economy.
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence from Britain in 1980, who
says he will seek re-election in 2008, says the economy has been sabotaged
by Western foes, led by Britain.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: July 7, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Almost two weeks after ordering sweeping price cuts, the
Zimbabwean government announced a new law Saturday enabling it to enforce
Stores shelves remained empty of corn meal, bread, meat and other basic
foods after police and government inspectors raided shops and businesses to
force them to slash prices of basic commodities by around 50 percent.
Industry Minister Obert Mpofu issued an official notice known as a statutory
instrument that made it an offense to defy the edict on prices or fail to
display new price tags on goods on display, state radio reported Saturday.
Police also announced the arrest of 17 business leaders Friday for flouting
the government directive to lower their prices, the radio said.
They included company directors and sales managers, police spokesman Oliver
Mandipaka told the radio.
At least 200 businesses have already been charged for alleged price
violations and 40 market vendors were arrested for hoarding goods.
Mandipaka said some managers had gone into hiding or taken vacation to avoid
police action against them.
"We want to warn them we will pursue them up until they face the full wrath
of the law," he said.
Some businessmen thought they could "beat the system."
"This criminal habit will not go unchecked," Mandipaka said.
Earlier, police warned goods would be seized and offenders arrested, but
gave no indication of maximum penalties or jail terms that could be applied.
Under previous powers given to a state appointed prices and incomes
commission businessmen could face up to five years in jail if convicted of
President Robert Mugabe warned manufacturers Friday not to defy the
government-ordered price cuts by cutting production or their businesses
would be seized.
Hundreds of war veterans and ruling party militiamen and loyalists turned
out at his party headquarters.
"We say to factories, 'You must produce,'" Mugabe told cheering militants,
many brandishing posters supporting the crackdown on shops and businesses.
"If you don't we certainly will seize the factories."
Mugabe urged the militants to report to authorities what he called "wayward
Zimbabweans" either overcharging or stopping production in efforts to thwart
attempts to revive the economy.
Speaking in the local Shona language he asked the militants to be "the eyes
and ears" of the authorities.
Some businesses have shut down, saying lowered prices stopped their
operations being viable.
The government ordered the price cuts in a bid to curb inflation and stop
profiteering and overcharging by businesses. The falling prices caused
stampedes, panic buying and near-riots by impoverished Zimbabweans.
At least two store managers were hospitalized in Harare, one with a broken
jaw, when they tried to restrain crowds grabbing reduced items from the
Long lines of cars waited at gas stations still selling scarce fuel Friday
after Mpofu ordered the gasoline price halved. Most gas stations ran out of
supplies on Saturday.
"It looks like the country will run dry in the next few days and everything
could come to a standstill. It doesn't make sense," said one fuel industry
executive. He asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation from ruling
Official inflation is running at 4,500 percent, the highest in the world,
though independent financial institutions estimate real inflation is closer
to 9,000 percent.
Sat 7 Jul 2007, 15:32 GMT
HARARE, July 7 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said on
Saturday there was no need to create a new constitution, resisting
opposition demands for a new charter before elections next year.
"President Robert Mugabe says the current constitution serves the nation
well and there is no reason to change it," state radio said, citing the
president at a meeting of his ruling ZANU-PF party.
Critics say Mugabe -- 83 and Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence from
Britain in 1980 -- has manipulated the existing constitution to tighten his
grip on power.
The opposition has demanded a new draft before next year's polls, in which
the veteran leader says he will run.
Mugabe's government has amended the constitution adopted at independence 17
times and last month proposed new changes to allow joint presidential and
parliamentary polls in 2008.
Critics say the move may allow give ZANU-PF, which dominates parliament, a
free hand to pick Mugabe's successor and hurt mediation efforts by South
Africa to help end a political crisis.
South African President Thabo Mbeki was tasked last March by regional heads
to mediate between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
That followed sharply rising tensions after opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and dozens of other MDC members suffered serious injuries after
being arrested by police at an aborted prayer rally in Harare.
Mugabe accuses the MDC of being stooges of Zimbabwe's former colonial power
Britain in an effort to oust his government, as punishment for seizing and
redistributing white-owned commercial farms to landless blacks.
The president has previously rejected calls for a new constitution. Last
year, he told a group of church leaders pushing for political reforms that
the current national charter was "sacrosanct".
HARARE, July 7 (AFP)
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday called a
government directive to halve prices of goods and services "crooked"
economics, while police announced arrests for alleged price freeze
"(President Robert) Mugabe's economics is crooked," Tsvangirai told hundreds
of supporters at a rally in the populous Dzivaresekwa suburb of Harare.
"The price cuts will not work amid the current shortages," he said.
Tsvangirai's statements came as police announced on Saturday that they had
arrested 17 company managers and 54 suspected foreign currency dealers in a
crackdown on price freeze violators and black market dealers.
On Wednesday last week, Mugabe warned that his government would seize and
nationalise firms he said were profiteering excessively in a bid to incite
Zimbabweans to revolt against the state.
Mugabe, the target of a limited range of Western sanctions after allegations
he rigged his re-election five years ago, frequently blames the country's
plight on Western critics and in particular the former colonial power
Zimbabwe is in the throes of an economic crisis characterised by four-digit
inflation, shortages of basic foodstuffs like cooking oil and sugar, and
By Sebastien Berger in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 1:37am BST 07/07/2007
The Zimbabwean regime and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) begin secret negotiations today, as the country descends into
The talks, described as "substantive" and expected to be face-to-face,
are being mediated by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and will take
place in Pretoria.
This represents a last-ditch effort by South Africa, with British
support, to find a negotiated solution to Zimbabwe's crisis.
The country is in the throes of hyperinflation - officially put at
4,530 per cent a year but estimated to be much higher - and a collapsing
currency, with the regime ordering price cuts only to see entirely
predictable panic-buying emptying the shops and businesses refusing to sell
products at a loss.
At the insistence of the hosts, a cloak of confidentiality has been
thrown over the discussions in South Africa, but sources have disclosed
details of the agenda to The Daily Telegraph.
With presidential elections due in March, the MDC is demanding the
abolition of Zimbabwe's deeply flawed electoral roll, notorious for
excluding huge numbers of likely opposition supporters.
Instead it wants anyone to be able to vote on production of a valid
national identity card, and for Zimbabweans abroad to be allowed to
participate in the election.
The MDC is also calling for an independent election commission to
replace the existing one, which is appointed by a parliamentary committee
stuffed with Mr Mugabe's allies, and for international observers to be
allowed to cover the polls.
It also wants the repeal of the Public Order and Security Act, which
bars public gatherings of more than four people without police permission,
and for restrictions on the media to be lifted.
British sources say that easing President Robert Mugabe, 83, into
retirement and ensuring that he is not a candidate in the next election is
the unspoken objective of all parties, including the South Africans.
For its part, the delegation from Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party wants the
MDC to recognise his re-election in 2002, in a poll condemned by
international observers. It also wants the opposition to accept the seizure
of white-owned land, which triggered the economic collapse.
Zimbabwe is hugely dependent on South Africa, not least for
electricity, and Mr Mbeki has long been criticised in the West over his
policy of engaging Mr Mugabe. South Africa described the 2002 poll as
"legitimate and credible".
But observers say Mr Mbeki has been humiliated by Mr Mugabe's repeated
failure to honour promises, and the South African leader, who must step down
in 2009, is concerned about his legacy. Equally, he wants to avoid being
embarrassed in front of southern African presidents, who all appointed him
as a mediator.
"I'm an optimist about this particular initiative and the commitment
that Mbeki has shown," said Ivor Jenkins, director of the Institute for
Democracy in South Africa.
"The economic crisis is now so severe that Mbeki realises this is the
moment, the final chance to save it all. He realises political
reconstruction is first required, and the sooner that project can start,
particularly in his time, then he can lay claim to it. That's why his
commitment is quite high."
Whether Mr Mugabe and Zanu-PF stick to any deal - and whether the MDC,
which is split into two factions and torn by infighting, can build on it -
remains to be seen.
But Sten Rylander, Sweden's ambassador to Zimbabwe, added: "South
Africa is engaged. It must be possible to lead Zimbabwe into a better
July 07, 2007 Edition 1
Sixty percent of Zimbabwe's wildlife has been wiped out through rampant
poaching and organised plunder by newly resettled farmers and cartels headed
by powerful politicians, conservationists said.
Johnny Rodrigues, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told
The Standard newspaper that traditionally respected hunting seasons and
quotas had been ignored, resulting in uncontrolled hunting throughout the
The task force is a nongovernmental organisation that monitors wildlife
populations in the country.
"In the past," said Rodrigues, "the hunting season ran from April to October
and the breeding period would be from November to March to give female
animals an opportunity to breed and raise their young. Now all the hunting
ethics have been thrown out through the window as people are hunting
throughout the year."
Hunting ethics require hunters not to shoot female animals in order to
ensure the species continue to reproduce. That has now been abandoned in
order to raise as much foreign currency as possible from mainly foreign big
Players in the wildlife industry were not available for comment as they were
attending the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(Cites) in the Netherlands. But Information and Publicity Minister
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said the statements from the environmental activists were
designed to influence the decision in which Zimbabwe wants to be allowed to
trade in ivory.
"They are just being alarmist and that is not what we want," Ndlovu said.
"Of course, we can never have a perfect set-up where there are no poachers."
Concession holders were also over-hunting instead of adhering to prescribed
quotas, Rodrigues said.
As a result of the plundering of wildlife, many Zimbabwean animals may soon
join the list of endangered species, among them the hippopotamus, leopard
and roan antelope. The lion, python and the blue duiker were already on the
list of endangered animals.
"In Hwange National Park, which used to have a good lion population,"
Rodrigues said, "there are only 22 male lions left and 200 females. The lion
population has been decimated in part as a result of concession holders who
allow their clients to hunt the lions in the national park, then drag them
out and claim to have shot them inside the concessions."
Concession holders on the borders of game parks and their clients are only
supposed to shoot animals that stray into their areas. He said the lions
were popular with big game hunters because of their mane. "If the hunting is
properly controlled and ethics adhered to, we would not have reached the
stage where we have such a dangerously low number of the big cats."
Rodrigues said with every male lion that was killed, a new lion would take
over the pride of females. "The negative effect of that is that when a new
male takes over a pride of females, he kills all the cubs in order to
establish his dominance and start producing his own cubs. And if that
happens over several months, the lion population will be hunted into
extinction in Hwange National Park and other places where that is
In Hwange National Park, rogue concession holders were accused of chasing
animals into their concessions, where they were massacred by the hunters,
waiting with their guns. As a result of unethical hunting, a lot of young
elephants whose mothers had been mowed down with guns had died, while the
lucky ones were adopted and raised by their families.
Rodrigues said before the land reform exercise, 60% of the wildlife
population in Zimbabwe was found on game farms and conservancies, while the
rest were in national parks and game reserves.
But now, only the Save Conservancy - out of a total of 15 - had some
wildlife, while 98% of game on the other conservancies had been wiped out
through poaching and illegal hunting. Land-hungry Zimbabweans resettled on
conservancies teeming with wildlife resorted to poaching game for
consumption and for resale.
Rodrigues said the already endangered rhino population was under fresh
threat as the population was being systematically depleted through organised
crime in which prominent members of society had been fingered. Elephants
were also being randomly shot under the guise of providing meat during
national gatherings, although the main aim was for the ivory.
"In the last five years, the black rhino population at Matusadonha Park has
been reduced from 40 to just eight, while at one conservancy in the Midlands
the black rhino population had plummeted from 54 to 21. At Gaulays Ranch
near Bulawayo, from an original 52, only 26 of the animals were alive and
had been translocated to Bubi Ranch, while four rotting carcasses without
their horns were discovered.
Rodrigues said during the recent independence celebrations, 100 elephants
had been slaughtered, allegedly to provide meat for merrymakers, although
their tusks could have been the prime targets. Nothing had been said about
the whereabouts of their giant tusks.
.. More information on the elephants from www.savetheelephants.org -
|Sir Ronald Sanders is a business |
executive and former Caribbean
diplomat who publishes widely
on small states in the global
community. Reponses to:
July 7, 2007
Harare - Manufacturers in Zimbabwe who cease production of basic commodities
as a result of government-imposed price controls will be nationalised,
President Robert Mugabe warned on Friday.
Shelves in stores throughout Zimbabwe have been bereft of basic goods in the
last few days after producers of basics such as bread and cooking oil
reacted to the government's order to freeze prices by simply ceasing
But in a speech to students in Harare, Mugabe denied that the price freeze
would prove a flop and accused manufacturers who claim that production is no
longer viable of being part of a Western plot to topple his government.
"We are saying to all factory owners you must produce," Mugabe, said to the
applause of supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party in the capital.
"If you don't produce, we certainly will seize the factories."
On Wednesday last week, Mugabe warned that his government would seize and
nationalise firms he said were profiteering excessively in a bid to incite
Zimbabweans to revolt against the state.
The following day, the government ordered a blanket freeze on the prices of
all goods and services, previously limited to essential products, saying
prices could only be raised with government approval.
Since then however, supermarkets have run dry of essential products although
they remain widely available on the black market at vastly higher prices
than that ordered by the government.
Zimbabwe's economy is in a state of virtual collapse, with the government
failing to reverse an upswing in inflation which is now widely thought to be
way above the 5 000 percent, the highest in the world.
Mugabe, the target of a limited range of Western sanctions after allegations
he rigged his re-election five years ago, frequently blames the country's
plight on Western critics and in particular the former colonial power
Domestic opponents are frequently painted as nothing more than puppets of
Britain, a charge Mugabe renewed on Friday.
"What we have seen is that some (manufacturers) were growing greedy at the
expense of the majority while some had been recruited by the British and
agreed to cause turmoil," Mugabe said.
He said the British having realised that they failed to stop the land reform
"...they thought if they could impoverish the masses through price increases
they might unseat Mugabe's government.
"They planted their people and bought some of our people here. We will not
allow people to be bought." - Sapa-AFP
Arab News, Saudi Arabia
7 July 2007
There are clear signs that South Africa is running out of patience with
neighboring Zimbabwe as that country's currency goes into free fall and the
flow of refugees escaping to South Africa, already estimated at some three
million, threatens to grow. These exiles are fleeing not only the virtually
impossible task of surviving in a wrecked economy but also the increasing
violence with which the administration of President Robert Mugabe is
handling popular protests and those who lead it. Two respected Africans have
recently spoken out, one in support of Mugabe and one against him. Kenneth
Kaunda, the former president of Zambia launched a defense of the Zimbabwean
president saying that he should not be demonized and that his critics did
not understand the long guerrilla struggle he and his Zanu-PF party had lead
against colonial oppression. By contrast this week, a leading Zimbabwean
prelate, the Roman Catholic Bishop Pius Ncube has called for foreign powers
to intervene to overthrow Mugabe.
Both men are profoundly wrong. Kaunda's apologist argument is specious. Many
former freedom fighters have turned into competent peacetime politicians.
Robert Mugabe is however not one of them. In the 27 years since independence
he has run the country and through a mix of incompetence and corruption has
indeed run it into the ground and had done so even before the outside world
began to apply sanctions, in protest at fixed elections and crushing of
political opponents. His refusal to acknowledge his failure is worsened by
his intolerance of dissent. Bishop Ncube's call for outside intervention is
arguably more dangerous, since many will listen to him too. South Africa
could probably send in troops and bring about regime change within hours.
But it rightly rejects this option.
It is for the Zimbabweans to solve their crisis. Since peaceful public
protest has been ruthlessly suppressed, other methods must be used,
including strikes and noncooperation, which may well have the effect of
sabotaging the last feeble legs on which the economy totters. Even the mass
of Mugabe's supporters is suffering the effects of his incompetence. It is
only the top-level cronies with dollars to spend on the smuggled necessities
of life who are surviving the economic melt down. Zanu-PF's once
unquestioning and largely tribal support for the administration will not
survive when its members realize their once privileged economic position has
Outsiders, particularly South Africa, should only be intervening in two
ways. The first is to continue to pressure the Mugabe regime to quit and
hold proper elections for a government that can start the massive task of
economic recovery. The second is to give whatever humanitarian support and
aid is possible, without in any way bolstering the government in Harare.
South Africa is clearly feeling the burden of supporting Zimbabweans who
have fled to its soil. The rich West can ease that load by helping feed and
shelter these unfortunate people. But this must be all. Just as there are no
excuses for the economically illiterate Mugabe regime, so there is also no
excuse for outside intervention to overthrow it.
From SW Radio Africa, 28 June
By Violet Gonda
It has emerged that Joseph Mwale, the notorious CIO agent who has been on
the run from law since 2000 for his alleged role in the murder of two MDC
activists, is working at the Zimbabwe embassy in Lusaka. According to The
Zimbabwe Times website: "Mwale's posting in Lusaka effectively scuttles
efforts to bring the much feared intelligence operative to book for the
alleged gruesome murder of Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya." This is
despite the Attorney General's office ordering the immediate arrest of
Mwale, for the assassination of the two MDC activists who were brutally
murdered while campaigning for MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai during the
2000 Parliamentary elections. Defence Lawyer Sheila Jarvis said: "If he is
in fact in Zambia, I would assume the Zambians are either totally unaware of
the story and unaware of the identity of Mwale. In other words he must have
been given a new identity." She said the African Union Charter condemns
political assassination in any form and impunity in any way. Jarvis added:
"I can't imagine that the Zambian government would be happy with a situation
where they were seen to be harbouring somebody accused of political
assassinations." Chiminya was opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's election
agent whilst Mabika was a young opposition supporter. The two were set on
fire after being beaten with iron bars and other weapons at Murambinda,
Buhera North on April 15 2000.
Defence lawyers say the police had been present during the assassinations
and despite several attempts to bring the principle offender Mwale to court
the police have made no effort and in fact allowed him to roam free. The
facts regarding the killings were widely reported but nothing has ever been
done to bring Mwale to book, despite the strong evidence against him. He was
known to be an official in the President's office. Part of a legal document
written by Jarvis to the Attorney General's Office in 2006 read: "Surely
using a state-issued AK rifle to intercept his victims and bludgeon them
unconscious before burning them alive was aggravating? Yet it is known he
was promoted after the killings, and reportedly put in charge of the
President's Office for Manicaland Province." According to newspaper reports
Levison Chikafu, a senior officer in the AG's office in Manicaland, ordered
the police to present Mwale's docket to their offices on or before 6 October
2006 but have not received a progress report to date. It's reported the
docket disappeared from the police station. The opposition and some Mutare
residents say they used to see Mwale around Zanu PF offices in Mutare, even
though there was a warrant for his arrest. Lawyers say there cannot not be a
trial until Mwale is apprehended and is brought to court with the other two
suspects who were granted bail. Mwale has led a very busy life since 2000
including helping police officers and war veterans raid and invade
Charleswood farm owned by opposition official Roy Bennett.
Saturday 7th July 2007
Dear Family and Friends,
Zimbabwe has been engulfed in a macabre and tragic frenzy this week and
frankly, it beggars belief. Across the country what has been called a
"Taskforce" has been unleashed by the government to force shop owners and
businesses to cut their prices by 50%. The price cut enforcers are army men
in camouflage clothes, police in uniform and large numbers of youth
militia.They go from shop to shop and simply pick on items they want reduced
: SLASH THAT PRICE, is the phrase we are hearing again and again and then
products have to be sold for less than they were purchased for. Shop owners
who refuse to cut the prices face arrest and having their goods seized. Some
have been assaulted, others had their premises trashed and windows smashed.
The result of it all, inevitably, is rapid collapse and many goods and foods
have now become completely unavailable including all the staples which were
already difficult to find such as flour, oil, sugar, salt and maize meal.
Joining the list now are most other normal household products in daily use
such as soap, candles, matches, milk, eggs, margarine, rice, bread and the
list grows longer by the hour and day. As the prices are ordered down hordes
of people with bagfuls of money swarm behind and buy up all the stocks.
Shops are displaying signs announcing that only one of each item may be
purchased but entire gangs are moving around in dozens and just cleaning
This week in my home town, all types of meat have become completely
unavailable as butchers were ordered to sell for less than half the price
they had paid to abattoirs. One supermarket in the centre of the town was
empty of all goods by mid week, another two were not far behind - both
saying they expected to be out of business in the next few days - a week at
most. In both of these outlets there were aisle after aisle of completely
empty shelves. It was heartbreaking to see pensioners and desperately poor
people looking for bargains but finding none and then looking for basics and
finding none of those either.
Outside a major wholesaler, groups of young men stood around waiting for the
"militia taskforce" to arrive so that they could buy up everything as the
prices were slashed. The car park was nearly full of luxury vehicles -
pajero's, twin cabs, SUV's. even a Lexus - all filled with men talking
incessantly on cellphones and women in tight jeans and artificial hair -
their vehicles already bulging with 'slashed price' goods, many pulling
trailers also stuffed to overflowing.
I went to one almost empty supermarket and stopped near a young policeman in
a pick up truck without number plates that was loaded to the hilt with
'slashed price' goods. It was a bitterly cold morning and a barefoot and
slightly retarded man was sitting on the tar shaking and shivering with
cold. He stretched his hands up to the policeman and said: "Chingwa"
(Bread). The policeman ignored him and turned away, calling out cheerfully
to another young policeman, also in uniform, who was staggering out with
more booty. Again the shivering and barefoot man asked for bread but they
both ignored him. I could not stop tears filling my eyes and although I had
virtually nothing left I bent down and folded a note into his hand; he
clapped his hands in thanks and as I stood up I caught the eye of the young
policeman. There was no compassion or empathy there, just arrogance. For a
moment I remembered how it felt after the farmers and their workers had been
thrown off and someone had helped me when I was utterly desperate. He had
said to me: There but for the grace of God go I. Now there are so many more
in that place of need.
All week as the situation has deteriorated people have been comparing what
is happening now to shops and businesses with what happened to farms. A huge
crisis seems just a few days or perhaps a couple of weeks away, as stocks
dwindle, warehouses empty and we simply run out of food. As I write this
letter the government are continuing to applaud the price cuts and say they
will take over the businesses that close down.
Please keep the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans, particularly the old, sick,
handicapped, frail and unemployed in your prayers in this most shocking
Until next week, with love, cathy
East African Standard, Kenya
By Amos Kareithi
The Standard Group Limited has entered into negotiations with a leading
African media company, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), for a
strategic partnership. On Friday, SABC Managing Director Dr Snuki Zikalala
met with The Standard Group Chief Operating Officer, Mr Paul Wanyagah at the
KTN offices in Nairobi.
The Group's Editorial Director, Mr Kwendo Opanga and KTN's Managing Editor,
Mr Katua Nzile, attended the discussions. Zikalala said his organisation was
in the process of rolling out a Pan African News channel, which will reduce
over reliance on major international news organisations that depended on
"Africa has been portrayed as a dark continent that is plagued by war and
disasters. We want to be an alternative voice," said Zikalala.
He pointed out that some of the media organisations have distorted Africa's
image and filed stories from countries where they had no reporters.
"We are better-placed to cover Zimbabwe than CNN or BBC who have no
journalists there. It is time Africa shed off the colonial mentality of over
dependence on foreigners for news," he said.
The new channel, whose testing starts today, targets four million viewers
across the continent and will open bureaux in Africa and in the Diaspora.
Mens News Daily
I hope nobody thinks that next week will be business as usual. This week the
private sector has gradually wound down its operations. The retail sector -
most retailers carry stock for a month approximately, are the last to shut
down but already you can see empty shelves and shortages of all the fast
moving basic items are now widespread.
Butcheries and bakeries that work on stock levels of about a week are
already closed as their stocks ran out. The same with filling stations.
Manufacturers must work with quite significant stock levels - especially of
imported items and they will run these down and then close unless there is a
U-turn on the part of the government and new directives which are half
There are no signs as yet as to what the State will do when this shutdown
occurs. But all that we are seeing and hearing right now are threats and an
insistence that this situation is going to be maintained for some time.
The most immediate problem is the very basics - fuel for transport and the
essential foods, maize meal, rice, bread, meat and milk. By Monday all of
these will be virtually unobtainable. Farmers with pigs and poultry are
pondering what to do with their animals as they run out of stock feed, dairy
farmers also face huge problems as they cannot pay their feed bills and must
start winding down - how do you tell a cow in milk, used to being milked
three times a day, that she must stop producing?
Hundreds of thousands of workers and non-formal sector businesspersons are
being faced with no work and are being forced to stay home - at present on
full pay, but in a few weeks what then? There is no law to turn to; there
are no political leaders to go to with any sort of sense and authority. We
are in the hands of a madman who has nothing to lose but his life and has
his back to the wall and is using the only tools that he knows to try and
stay afloat while the country drowns.
How will the average Zimbabwean respond? Friends of mine are doing a day
trip to Francistown in Botswana - just 200 kilometers away, today. They will
buy what they need for next week and return. A few will do the same. Others
are going on holiday, unable to stand the specter of seeing all that they
have built up over the past decades swept away. They are the lucky ones -
what about the rest?
There is only one way out and that is across the Limpopo. I must warn South
Africa that they will now face a huge upsurge in economic refugees and they
had better brace themselves for that if nothing effective is done to halt
this madness. I mean hundreds of thousands of new, desperate, hungry
Zimbabweans flooding in and disappearing into the vast urban slums that
surround all South African cities.
The alternative is a military coup led by the junior officers with the
compliance of some in the ruling Party who see that this situation is not
sustainable and that it is creating a regional crisis of substantial
proportions. Such an event would close the door to the SADC process under
way today in South Africa and plunge the country and the region into a huge
political crisis that would require military intervention. Am I being
alarmist? I do not think so. The actions of this rogue regime in the past
week have been enough to tip us over and into a state of crisis we have
never faced before.
Irreparable damage is being done to the country and if this is not stopped
in its tracks by immediate and radical measures taken by regional
governments very serious consequences are going to follow.
The humanitarian and economic crisis that is about to break out in Zimbabwe
is simply staggering and certainly way beyond the capacity of the country to
handle on its own.
Bulawayo, 7th July 2007
By Ecumenical News International
7 Jul 2007
An alliance of southern African Christian organizations has called for the
African Union and other key groupings on the continent to intervene to stop
human rights violations allegedly being perpetrated on Zimbabweans by the
country's government - writes Takesure Matarise from Harare (ENI).
"We note with sadness that, since 2000, Zimbabweans have suffered gross
human rights abuses," the alliance, known as the Regional Faith-Based Joint
Initiative, said in a 5 July 2007 statement.
It added, "We appeal to the Southern Africa Development Community, African
Union and Pan-African Parliament to hear the urgent plea and cry of the
suffering Zimbabwean people and to act accordingly and urgently."
In 2000 and 2005, President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party won general
elections in which it registered huge losses in urban areas. Human rights
organizations have since alleged widespread reprisals against urban
The alliance is made up of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops in Southern
Africa, the Association of Evangelicals in Africa - Ethics, Peace and
Justice Commission, and the Ecumenical Documentation and Information Centre
in Southern Africa. The alliance says it is working to promote solutions to
the deteriorating socio-economic and political situation in Zimbabwe.
"We urge the Zimbabwean government to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe
have access to their basic rights of food, water, housing and education,"
the alliance said in its statement.
More than 80 percent of Zimbabwe's 13 million people are unemployed, and the
annual inflation rate is currently estimated at 10 000 percent and rising.
"Life expectancy has moved from 55 years to about 34 years over more than 20
years of misrule," the alliance stated. "The health delivery system has
totally collapsed. It is also disheartening to note that Zimbabwe has moved
from being the regional bread basket to the region's foremost beggar," the
A United Nations special envoy sent to Zimbabwe in 2005 estimated that more
than 700,000 urban dwellers were left homeless in a government campaign
called "Operation Murambatsvina", which means "Operation Drive Out Trash" in
Shona, the language spoken by the majority of Zimbabweans.
The government said the operation was a slum-clearance exercise intended to
rid Zimbabwe of criminal elements. Opposition politicians, however,
described it as retribution against the urban population for not supporting
Zanu-PF in parliamentary elections.
[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is
jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World
Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of