By Caiphas Chimhete, kholwani nyathi and
THE main faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) yesterday dismissed the government's price controls as a Zanu PF
Addressing about 1 000 party supporters in Dzivaresekwa, Harare
yesterday, MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, said the price slashing drive by
the government was a ploy to win the support of "gullible" Zimbabweans ahead
of next year's harmonised elections.
"This is a cheap political gimmick. It's useless to cut prices today
and tomorrow you don't find the goods in the shops. Very soon all basic
commodities will run out," he said.
Meanwhile, in Bulawayo, the government's controversial blitz on
manufacturers and retailers to reduce the prices of basic commodities turned
ugly with enforcement teams, led by the police, allegedly engaging in an
orgy of looting goods from shops.
A number of businesspeople who took their time to review prices lost
billions of dollars after the so-called crack teams forced them to comply,
at times under threat of violence.
A number of millers operating from the old Cold Storage Commission
premises were allegedly manhandled by youth militia (Green Bombers) for
failing to comply with the directive.
Nkayi Member of the House of Assembly, Abednigo Bhebhe, the Movement
for Democratic Change pro-Senate's deputy spokesperson, said he lost 50 000
litres of fuel after the so-called crack units seized the keys to the fuel
pumps at his service station in Bulawayo.
The police and the militia forced the attendants to sell the fuel at
$60 000 a litre, although Bhebhe said he had imported it from Botswana.
The raid was in contempt of a Magistrates' Court order allowing Bhebhe
to sell the fuel at $140 000 a litre and warning the police against
interfering with his business.
Bhebhe was dragged to the court by the Price and Stabilisation
Committee on Tuesday, accused of failing to comply with the government
"The police have no respect for the courts and the fuel I am selling
is not from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe but from Botswana," Bhebhe
fumed. "My lawyers are working on papers to challenge the police to stop
harassing me over the sale of fuel which I am importing."
In what analysts describe as a populist move, the government recently
ordered all wholesalers and retailers to return to prices obtaining as of 18
June this year.
Tsvangirai said Mugabe had in the past 27 years systematically
destroyed the economy, once the "jewel" of Africa, because of scorched-earth
"Now he (Mugabe) wants to invade firms. There will be more job losses
and it us the poor who are going to suffer. He is like a snake which kills
what it does not eat."
The MDC leader urged his supporters to register as voters in the
on-going voter registration exercise, saying it was the only way to remove
"We might have support, fill up stadiums, but it doesn't help anything
if we do not go and vote to remove Mugabe." he said.
In Bulawayo, meanwhile, junior police officers, excluded from
monitoring teams, were now allegedly leading syndicates in buying goods in
bulk, channelling them to the black market where they are sold at the old
It is understood the junior officers use their links with the force to
target retailers soon after they are raided by the monitoring teams.
Only senior police officers, soldiers and the Border Gezi graduates
have reportedly been recruited to carry out the operation, leaving the
junior police officers fuming.
The Standard witnessed dozens of the junior officers driving away
shoppers while allowing their colleagues access to supermarkets and shops
where prices had been slashed.
In the ensuing chaos, the police bought most of the goods at the shops
under the guise of controlling queues.
It is feared many of the affected supermarkets and businesses will
incur massive losses as a result of the looting.
BY OUR STAFF
WAR veterans in Masvingo who did not register for the army reserve
last month had their salaries frozen by the government, The Standard heard
The government announced in May all former freedom fighters and
retired soldiers should register for the reserve force.
Sources told The Standard that hundreds of war veterans, who snubbed a
registration exercise last month held at Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA)'s 4
Brigade in Masvingo, had their salaries frozen by the government.
Zimbabwe Liberators' Platform (ZLP) Masvingo provincial chairman,
Femias Chakabuda confirmed the incident and blasted the ruling party for
wanting to abuse the veterans of the liberation struggle.
"Quite a number of war veterans came to us after they failed to get
their salaries last month for the reason that they refused to register for
the reserve on an exercise carried out at 4 Brigade," Chakabuda said.
He said the government wanted to use the war veterans as "their
militia in next year's elections" to unleash violence and intimidate the
The sources said war veterans in Masvingo, numbering more than 1 000,
refused to join the army reserve, arguing that "it was not their duty to
help the ruling party to rig elections".
About 100 war veterans, said the sources, registered for the reserve,
a move that angered government officials who ordered an immediate freeze on
Beginning last month, war veterans had their salaries increased from
$250 000 to $3.6 million, a move analysts said was designed to buy their
loyalty ahead of next year's elections.
Angry war veterans told The Standard last week that when they inquired
about their salaries, they were told the payments had been frozen after they
failed to heed calls to join the army reserve.
"An announcement was made last month that there would be a
registration exercise for us to join the army reserve but we thought it was
not compulsory, so we decided to ignore it," said a war veteran who declined
to be named.
He said: "But when we went to our banks to get our salaries, there was
no money. We were told the government had frozen our salaries because we did
not register for the army reserve."
Vice-chairperson of the war veterans' board, Dumiso Dabengwa, who last
week defended the huge increment awarded to the freedom fighters, could not
be reached for comment last week.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - A Gwanda chief last week allegedly threatened to banish
from her area village heads who support the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), sparking fears of intensified "political cleansing" in Matabeleland
ahead of elections next year.
Chief Ketso Mathe of Bulamba communal lands is said to have "read the
riot act" to the village heads at a hastily arranged meeting in the
She reportedly made the threat after a Zanu PF councillor, Mosda Moyo,
moved a motion calling on her to drop village heads with MDC supporters.
Chief Mathe controls Tshoboyi and Lushongwe, with three village heads
allegedly linked to the MDC - Batang Moyo of Tshoboyi, Zondelwa Dube and
Jackson Ndlovu from Lushongwe respectively.
According to a report written by Batang Moyo of the pro-Senate MDC and
seen by The Standard, the village heads now fear for their lives.
"We attended the meeting addressed by the chief where Councillor Moyo
called on her to either suspend us or boot us out of the area because of our
"He accused us of spreading anti-government messages in our area."
Chief Mathe was not immediately available for comment, neither was the
president of the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs as he was said to be attending
But pro-senate MDC provincial secretary, Petros Mukwena, confirmed the
"The chief is courting a lawsuit because what she did is a serious
infringement of people's rights since there is no law in the country that
says village heads should not belong to the opposition," he said.
Zinti Mnkandla, the faction's provincial spokesman said: "This is only
a tip of the iceberg and it confirms that our chiefs are now Zanu PF chiefs
and not people's chiefs. But these chiefs do not have any power over other
Recently the MDC claimed the police were directing them to first seek
clearance with the traditional leaders before they could hold meetings in
areas under their jurisdiction.
Efforts to contact Ignatious Chombo, the Minister of Local Government,
Public Works and Urban Development to confirm whether this is government
policy were fruitless.
By Davison Maruziva
THE government's obsession with controls scaled new heights last week
when it threatened to ban diplomats from making speeches during national
days, saying such occasions should only be for toasting the well-being and
prosperity of nations.
Samuel Mhango, the divisional head of policy research in the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, gate-crashed the official celebrations marking the 231st
Independence Day of the United States and "invited" himself to the podium to
respond to comments by outgoing US Ambassador, Christopher Dell.
What seemed to have raised the government official's ire were remarks
by Dell, who in describing the American Declaration of Independence and the
power of the concept of government of the people, by the people and for the
people, said this had become so universal that it was even held up as an
ideal in today's Zimbabwe.
"You can imagine, for example," Dell said, "my surprise as I watched
this year's Independence Day ceremonies at Rufaro Stadium and heard Robert
Mugabe himself quote (Abraham) Lincoln's words.
"Nothing, of course, could have underscored more clearly the
difference between what this president claims to be and what he really is
than the irony of him speaking those words against the backdrop of 11 March,
the country's accelerating economic collapse and the growing climate of
desperation and oppression that characterise Zimbabwe today.
"President Mugabe's sad attempt to wrap himself in the mantle of
greatness that is rightly Lincoln's says more than anything, as Lincoln
himself would have put it, my 'own poor ability to add or subtract', could
ever do about the gap between that claim and the reality in Zimbabwe today."
Dell, who has spoken out against the abuse of power and erosion of
liberties during his three years in Zimbabwe, said he hoped he had given
public voice to the hopes, concerns and aspirations that "I know we share,
but which you are prevented from expressing openly. That is why I
categorically reject the tired, oft-repeated assertion by the government of
Zimbabwe, and some others, that this in some way constituted unwarranted
interference in an internal manner."
What appeared to have touched a raw nerve in government was Dell's
prediction last month that Mugabe's regime would collapse before the end of
the year unless he made a dramatic policy shift because "historically, no
government in the world has survived a five or six-digit inflation. Zimbabwe
is already enjoying that figure."
Insisting that he had to respond to Dell's comments, Mhango fumed:
"Diplomats are supposed to be bridge-builders, not bridge-busters."
"I felt it was important for us to respond so that we have a balance.
We believe that national day receptions such as this one," Mhango said, "are
occasions for us to congratulate each other, to say positive things about
each other. They are not occasions to attack or abuse each other.
"One wonders the authority that some have when giving specific time
frames for the meltdown of the Zimbabwe economy. This leaves the impression
the meltdown is being engineered from outside Zimbabwe."
The immediate response to this remark was loud booing and chants of
"Rubbish!" from many of the guests.
But apparently reading from a prepared text, instead of reacting
spontaneously, Mhango said Zimbabwe brooked no interference in its internal
affairs. However, piqued by the jeers, Mhango threatened the government
would ban speeches during national day functions.
Mhango claimed it was his understanding there were not going to be
speeches at the US Independence Day function.
Dell said Mhango was not invited to the Fourth of July reception and
that he (Dell) was not invited to Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations
on 18 April either, "so I did not attend. I see the same rules don't seem to
apply in reverse".
While Mhango said national days were about toasting each other's
national occasions, he offered neither a congratulatory message to the
Americans nor did he say anything positive about them.
But it was Dell, who appeared to have the last word, quoting from
Thomas Jefferson's reference to French writer Voltaire's remarks: "I may
disagree with everything you say, but I will defend to the death your right
to say it!"
BULAWAYO - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)-dominated city
council has called for the eviction of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust
(MZWT) from offices it is renting from the municipality at concessionary
The offices are occupied by Dumiso Dabengwa (pictured), the chairman
of the trust, who is a politburo member of Zanu PF.
Councillors say the former minister has turned the initiative - a
brainchild of the council and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo - into a
Dabengwa has been at the helm of the MZWT, a public trust formed in
the early 1990s to guide the implementation of the Matabeleland Zambezi
Water Project (MZWP) since its formation.
The government has taken over the funding of the project, viewed as
the long-term solution to the city's perennial water problems.
But the snail's pace at which the project is moving has riled many,
including residents and councillors.
In a heated debate during a full council meeting last week, the
councillors said under Dabengwa's leadership, the public profile of the
trust had been "soiled" as it had become a "one man-show".
They said Zanu PF had displaced the public as a controlling
shareholder and was using the trust for selfish ends.
The councillors wanted to block a recommendation giving MZWT the green
light to continue occupying space at the former Bulawayo Art Gallery
Councillor Amen Mpofu said the trust had become Dabengwa's personal
"We will be creating a wrong precedent if we agree to this
arrangement," he said. "The MZWT we know was set up as a public fund-raising
body but now it seems to be a personal project."
Alderman Charles Mpofu said: "I want it to be put on record that I do
not support this because it will appear as if we are not treating our
"We cannot have our officers squatting when we have offices. If we ask
the City Valuer to assess that property we might realise that there are
commercial tenants out there who can pay us better."
It could not be established how much the trust was paying the council
for the offices.
Earlier this year, the council resolved to terminate its lease
agreement with the MZWT, saying it needed the offices for its department of
housing and community services, which was "squatting at the Revenue Hall".
But Dabengwa and the trust have, on several occasions, appealed to the
council to reconsider its decisions.
In the latest appeal, the MZWT begged to be allowed to use a few
offices, leaving some to the council.
Dabengwa said the trust was still publicly-owned and wanted the
council to renew their lease until the construction of the Gwayi/Shangani
Dam - a major component of the MZWP - is completed next year.
The council resolved to review the lease every month "subject to
progress made in the construction of the Gwayi/Shangani Dam".
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - Anti-Senate Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Vice
President, Thokozani Khuphe, is challenging an attempt by the State to
"resurrect" a case two and half years after she was arrested for allegedly
violating the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
Khuphe was arrested on 23 January 2005 at her restaurant in the city
centre during a meeting attended by 80 people.
She was subsequently charged in a Magistrates' Court for allegedly
contravening Section 24 (6) of POSA by "failing to notify the responsible
authority" about the meeting.
The court granted her bail on 10 February 2005 and the following month
the court refused to put her on remand. It advised the State to proceed by
way of summons.
But 30 months after her arrest, Khuphe received summons indicating the
trial would begin on 20 June.
On her appearance at the Magistrates' Court, Khuphe applied for her
case to be referred to the Supreme Court, saying her rights "to a trial
within a reasonable time" had been infringed.
The Magistrate, Loveness Chipateni, threw out the application, saying
it was "frivolous" and "vexatious".
Last Tuesday, Khuphe through her lawyer Job Sibanda applied for a
review of the matter in the High Court, saying Chipateni erred by refusing
her the right to make the constitutional challenge.
Chipateni was cited as the first respondent and the State the second.
"Respondents' reasons for the ruling, when the facts of the case are
taken into account, are so unreasonable that no court in my submission,
exercising its mind to the issue, would have come to the same conclusion,"
Khuphe argued in her affidavit.
"I submit that the reasoning is grossly unfair and unreasonable. It is
for this reason that I now bring the decision of the first respondent to
this court for review."
Khuphe at one time made a court application at the High Court,
charging that the interpretation of the POSA sections under which she is
charged meant that Zanu PF should notify the police whenever it holds its
weekly politburo meetings.
By Leslie Nunu
BULAWAYO - The troubled National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is
reportedly drafting soldiers and police officers to replace the technicians
leaving the parastatal in droves in search of greener pastures, The Standard
Massive developments of the railway infrastructure in South Africa
ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup have seen many companies from there
recruiting Zimbabwean artisans, especially from NRZ.
A number of the parastatal's workers, speaking on condition of
anonymity told The Standard, electricians, artisans and enginemen were
leaving in large numbers because of better pay and working conditions.
"This has also forced the management to recruit technicians from the
Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police to fill the
The workers said the recruitment of soldiers and police officers has
compromised service delivery as most of them lacked experience in the
"Several locomotives serviced by these army and police technicians are
being brought back because they were not serviced properly," said another
source. "They are qualified as fitters in their fields but it is a different
set-up altogether at NRZ.
"In the army they are trained as general electricians, which is
different from being a locomotive electrician, a job some of them are
supposed to be doing here."
But NRZ public relations manager, Fanuel Masikati, denied reports of a
serious brain drain, saying the parastatal was now able to retain critical
staff such as artisans and technicians.
"I can safely say these claims are false, we are not recruiting from
the army and the police force," said Masikati. "Our service delivery and
quality has not been compromised in any way, as we have manpower which is
"In the past, the brain drain affected us. We are training a lot of
apprentices and we are also trying to retain our staff through incentives."
Masikati said essential staff was being given attractive retention
allowances and vehicles as well as access to training programmes.
But, artisans who talked to The Standard told a different story about
the retention allowances.
They said they were being given $1 million retention allowances in
addition to salaries ranging between $1 million and $2 million which
resulted in low morale among the workforce.
STUNG by the government directive on all businesses to slash prices,
players in the tourism industry are working on a pricing model document to
be presented to the Cabinet taskforce on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation.
One major discrepancy they hope to unravel is how a three-star hotel
charges for one room more than Meikles Hotel charges for its executive
Standardbusiness heard last week the document would detail how each
subsector in the industry determines the prices of its services.
The document is being co-ordinated by Glen Stutchbury, Zimbabwe
Council of Tourism vice-president and has input from all the sub sectors:
travel agents, tour operators, car hire firms, airlines and boat operators
Stutchbury told Standardbusiness last week that the compliance report
had already been sent to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
"We are now working on a pricing mechanism that each subsector uses to
determine prices," Stutchbury, said adding that the industry's operations
depended on the market.
Last month, the government ordered all businesses to revert to the 18
Karikoga Kaseke, ZTA chief executive officer, said most of the players
had complied with the directive.
He said a crack team of 10 ZTA officials and 20 police officers was
going door-to-door checking on operators' compliances with the directive. He
said the team had visited all the hotels in the capital and all the players
visited had complied.
Kaseke said the team was not only looking at compliance to the 18 June
prices but also interrogating the prices.
"How do you explain a situation where a single room at a three-star
hotel was more expensive than an executive suite at Meikles Hotel? Something
is wrong with that and we have discovered certain anomalies," Kaseke said .
He would not reveal the identity of the three-star hotel, citing
The tourism industry is picking up the pieces after suffering a
downturn in the aftermath of the 2000 land reform programme.
Under the yet-to-be unveiled blueprint, the National Tourism
Development and Marketing Strategy (NTDMS), the industry is expected to gain
from both traditional and emerging markets through aggressive marketing
By Bertha Shoko
HIV and Aids activists from all over the world met in Nairobi, Kenya
lastweek for three days to map out a way forward on how to make universal
access to HIV treatment and support services a reality, especially in
In Zimbabwe more than 600 000 people are said to be in urgent need of
life-prolonging Anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) but only 60 000 have access to
Standardhealth understands there was no representation from Zimbabwe
at this meeting, although there are numerous networks in Zimbabwe of people
living with HIV and Aids.
Sources say there was no doubt this forum could have provided the
country a networking opportunity in light of the donor fatigue on Zimbabwe's
Chairman of the Zimbabwe Network of People Living with HIV and Aids,
one of the biggest and oldest networks of PLWAs in the country, Benjamin
Mazhindu said his organisation did not attend because they had not been
The activists in Nairobi reportedly discussed how to make HIV support
services such as prevention, treatment, care and support available to people
living with the disease by 2010.
While international non-governmental organisations often meet, this
forum was the first where large numbers of national campaigners met and
discussed what they could do collectively.
Seventy individuals from over 45 organisations worldwide representing
positive peoples' networks, faith groups, labour organisations, youth and
women's advocacy groups as well as NGOs focusing on Aids participated in
Participants included some of the largest Aids campaigning networks in
the world: Action Aid, Africa Japan Forum, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance,
Global AIDS Alliance, Global Union Federations, Treatment Action Campaign
Also in attendance were leading grassroots campaigners such as Gestos
(Brazil), Journalists Against AIDS (Nigeria), NEPHAK (Kenya), SWAK (Kenya),
TALC (Zambia), Thai network of people living with HIV/AIDS, and the Ukraine
Network of PLWH.
Organisers of the meeting, World Aids Campaign (WAC), a South African
NGO based in Cape Town, said the meeting marked "increasing concern over the
lack of progress in the fight against AIDS".
In its update of the meeting, WAC said millions of lives hang in the
balance because world leaders are not serious enough in their commitments to
fight HIV and Aids.
"In the wake of the G8 summit in Germany, in which promises of
reaching universal access by 2010 were weakened by lack of targets and
commitment to sufficient funding, campaigners are stepping up their efforts.
"The lives of millions hang in the balance," said WAC in a press
statement. "Without bold leadership by the G8, few countries will have the
will or the resources to take the necessary steps to care for those with HIV
and to prevent the spread of the virus. Defaulting on this commitment means
endangering an entire generation of adolescents and young people who
constitute more than half of those living with HIV."
UNAIDS estimates that the figure of 11 million needing antiretroviral
treatment by the year 2010 may already be an underestimate by as much as
By Bertha Shoko
PARIRENYATWA hospital, with the largest haemodialysis unit in the
public health sector, has reportedly run out of dialysis fluid, putting the
lives of many patients in danger.
The unit has 18 machines, some said to be old and constantly in need
of repairs. Standardhealth understands that because of the exorbitant prices
of haemodialysis in the private sector, many kidney patients have been
forced to forego this specialist service, putting their health at risk.
Inside sources at Parirenyatwa renal unit say this desperate situation
has existed for the past six weeks, although the relevant ministry has
promised on numerous occasions to look into the matter.
"The sister-in-charge sent an urgent memo to the superintendent about
this matter ages ago," said the source, "but nothing has been done. We hear
they have no money and are trying the best they can. But the rest of the
renal unit is functioning well and offering other services and treatments."
Health experts told Standardhealth kidney patients were supposed to
undergo at least three sessions of dialysis a week. Dialysis helps to rid
the body of toxic wastes because the kidney will not be functioning well
enough to perform this task.
Based on this information, kidney patients in need of dialysis would
need as much as $10 million a week for three sessions in the private sector.
Other than Parirenyatwa hospital, there is Harare Haemodialysis Centre
in Avondale, which is privately-owned and offers this specialist treatment,
for about $2.8 million a session for cash patients.
Patients on medical aid were being asked to pay shortfalls of about
Abigail Munetsi of Warren Park who phoned our offices last week said
she and her mother were forced to fork out "millions of
dollars" in the private sector because of this.
Munetsi fumed: "I just could not watch my mother die, you know. So I
ran around looking for money, because we were told that there was nothing
they could do for us at Parirenyatwa.
"I heard she was ill and I went to bring her from our rural home. What
would she have thought if I had just left her like that, groaning in pain? I
had to do something. But now I owe many people a lot of money."
The sister-in-charge of the renal unit at Parirenyatwa refused to be
named, but referred the matter to the head of the unit, a physician
identified only as Dr Odwee.
He was not available for comment by the time of going to press. When
Standardhealth tried to follow him up at his private practice in Baines
Avenue last week he was said to be "busy in consultation with patients".
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says it will
announce the dates for its "anti-poverty protests" in the last week of this
Lovemore Matombo, the president, said from past experience they had
learnt that announcing the dates before hand would jeopardize their
"For now, we cannot give a date. We will only announce it during the
last week of this month," he said in Harare last week.
Early this year, the ZCTU announced it would stage protests during the
first week of July.
Last week, Matombo said the protests against the continued economic
decline would be held this month.
The ZCTU two weeks ago held a special council meeting to discuss the
modalities for rolling out the anti-poverty protests, which sources said
were "coming in the next few weeks".
ZCTU insiders said it was hoped the protests would grind the country
to a halt, forcing the government to adopt reforms to ensure the stability
of prices and an end to the misery of the workers.
Matombo said: "Zimbabweans are struggling to survive with these
prices. The anti-poverty protests would push for the government to address
the plight of workers by adopting reforms ensuring the stability of prices
and poverty datum line-linked salaries."
Recently, the outgoing United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe,
Christopher Dell predicted that the economic crisis could sweep President
Robert Mugabe's government out of power before the end of the year.
Dell said no government throughout history had ever survived an
economic crisis of the magnitude Zimbabwe was facing, with inflation nearing
seven figure digits and the formal economy barely functioning.
The ZCTU's call for the anti-poverty protests come at a time when
Mugabe has reiterated that the heavy hand of the State security organs would
descend on any anti-government protests.
Mugabe last week promised to play a "rough game" with mining
companies, industrialists and retailers he accused of being part of the
regime change agenda.
Inflation currently at 4 500% is the highest in the world.
Last year, Matombo, his secretary-general Wellington Chibebe and
several human rights activists were severely bashed by State security agents
as they prepared to stage a protest march against declining living
By Bertha Shoko
AT least 34 people, 29 of them children under the age of five, have
died in the past two weeks in a diarrhoea outbreak in the Midlands province,
sources in the health sector told The Standard last week.
The outbreak is the first to be directly attributed to the twin
"curses" in urban Zimbabwe today - the severe cuts in water and power
This contradicts the government's claim that 20 children have died so
far as a result of the outbreak, first identified in Kadoma.
According to authoritative sources, the outbreak is slowly spreading
to Gokwe North district where at least four people reportedly died and 129
cases have been reported to health officials.
In Kadoma, at least 1 890 serious cases of mostly children have been
The Standard was told the outbreak was caused by bacteria called
becoli and the victims were exposed because of
persistent water shortages in the province.
A source said: "The major factors associated with the outbreak are
serious water and power cuts. The power cuts mean that water authorities
have limited time to pump water from reservoirs to the city's water system.
As a result there is inadequate water for both personal and household
hygiene, and people resort to unprotected water sources for domestic use."
There are fears that the situation could deteriorate and health
sources intimated they were "very disturbed" about the slow reaction by the
government which appeared to be downplaying the gravity of the crisis.
"The government must declare this diarrhoea outbreak a national
disaster first and tell the truth about the situation on the ground so that
players in the health sector can come in and assist this community. This is
the first step," said one source.
"Downplaying a problem and hoping the situation will just vanish is
not the solution. These are the lives of people and children we are talking
about and they (the government) ought to be more considerate than this."
Although the Minister of Health and Child Welfare David Parirenyatwa
was not available for comment at the time of going to press, the United
Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) confirmed the disease outbreak but could
not comment on the differences in the government figures and the health
Unicef's Zimbabwe spokesperson, James Elder said they had known of the
outbreak for the past two weeks and were doing all they could "to prevent
any further fatalities".
Elder said as soon as his team heard of the outbreak they quickly
moved in to help affected families and children.
He said the registered deaths were "tragic". "Unicef immediately
ordered emergency supplies from our stores in Copenhagen
-20 000 units of IV fluids. We are currently installing 10 water tanks
in urban high-density areas of Kadoma, IV fluids are being flown in, 100
kilogrammes of chloride of lime and 28 000 water treatment tablets were
supplied," Elder said.
"The death of these young children is tragic. We are now working
closely with the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation to ensure
clean water and proper health care for those affected areas."
BY OUR STAFF
MASVINGO - More than 300 National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
activists and school children were brutally assaulted by police while
demonstrating against the Constitutional Amendment Number 18 Bill on
Thursday last week.
The placard-waving demonstrators also demanded a complete overhaul of
the current Constitution before next year's harmonised polls.
School children from Mucheke high-density suburb, who had joined the
demonstrators during the lunch hour break, were caught in the crossfire.
A 10-year-old Grade IV pupil from Dikwindi Primary School broke his
arm after he was allegedly severely assaulted by the police during the
"I just joined the people who were singing. I didn't know what was
going on but I was surprised when armed police officers pounced on us and
started beating up everyone," said the boy who was being taken to hospital
by his mother.
After beating up the demonstrators, the police officers bundled them
into their truck and dumped them near Mucheke Stadium.
NCA regional chairperson for Masvingo, Marko Shoko, confirmed that
several activists sustained serious injuries.
"Over 20 NCA members were severely assaulted and they sustained
serious injuries. We have already taken them to hospital for treatment and
we want to tell government that we will not tire until our demands are
heard," he said.
But he expressed concern over police brutality when peaceful
demonstrators take to the streets, saying that it was an assault on their
right to demonstrate. "It is a right of all citizens to demonstrate to
express their grievances to the authorities. But when police beat up people,
including school kids, it is an insult to democracy," he said.
Shoko described the demonstration as successful despite the injuries
sustained by the activists.
"The demonstration was successful. We sent a clear message to the
Mugabe regime that we do not need amendments but a total overhaul of the
constitution to allow a level playing field to all parties in next year's
polls," he said.
The NCA vowed to continue putting pressure on Mugabe to accept a new
democratic and people-driven Constitution before next year to pave the way
for free and fair elections.
In March several MDC leaders, including party president Morgan
Tsvangirai, were brutally assaulted when police dispersed a Save Zimbabwe
Campaign prayer meeting in Harare.
Last year, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union president Lovemore Matombo
and his secretary-general Wellington Chibebe were also assaulted by police
while preparing to lead a demonstration against the continued economic
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe National Students Union says riot police
descended on students at the University of Zimbabwe who had gathered for a
general meeting on Wednesday and beat them up.
The University Students Executive Council had called for a general
meeting to address the students on the issue of $1 million top-up fees that
the University is demanding from students resident on the campus.
Riot police arrived and forcefully dispersed the gathering of about 4
000 after throwing teargas canisters and randomly beating up students with
batons. They then arrested a group of students.
"The Students' Union vehemently denounces the unbecoming behaviour by
the law enforcement agencies and condemns the terror campaign that the riot
police have launched on students," said the students' organisation.
In another incident, the University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor
Professor Levi Nyagura has suspended three former student leaders - Maureen
Kademaunga, Prosper Munyanyi and Terrence Chimhav for allegedly inciting
other students to demonstrate.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), battling to contain mass
desertion due to poor salaries, has started evicting teenage children
staying with their parents in barracks, citing a critical shortage of
The action has riled soldiers, who say they are so poorly-paid they
cannot afford to rent accommodation for their families in the city.
Insiders told The Standard the barracks' accommodation crisis had been
worsened by soldiers abandoning their homes in the high-density areas and
suburbs in search of free rations at the camps.
The prices of basic commodities and rentals in urban areas have soared
beyond the reach of many as the country battles a world record inflation
rate of 4 500%.
Disgruntled soldiers staying with their families at Llewellyn and
Brady Barracks in Bulawayo said a circular was recently sent out, advising
that all children aged 16 and above should look for alternative
"There is discontent among the married soldiers as they are being
forced to look for money for rent and food for their teenage children,
outside the barracks. They claim they are not earning enough," said a
soldier, who requested anonymity.
Soldiers staying in the barracks are entitled to free accommodation
and health care. But their children and spouses are not entitled to the free
The directive has seen a number of soldiers frantically searching for
accommodation in suburbs near the barracks.
Army spokesman Samuel Tsatsi said the directive affected selected army
"It is not a national exercise," he said. "Such issues concern
individual barracks and not the ZNA as a whole."
Tsatsi failed to explain the peculiar circumstances in the camps
Since the economic crunch which followed the land reform programme in
2000, there have been reports of widespread desertions from the army and the
police over low pay, as most of them have fled the country in search of
greener pastures in South Africa, Botswana and further afield.
Some end up working as security guards in those countries but are able
to provide for families back home on their salaries.
BY NDAMU SANDU
AN independent research and training organisation has emphasised the
need to rationalise the multiple and overlapping memberships to trade bodies
in Eastern and Southern Africa, so that members enjoy maximum benefits from
In its June 2007 newsletter, the Trade and Development Studies Centre
Trust (Trades Centre) commented positively on the unity of such
organisations as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
and the South African Development Community (SADC) in creating Free Trade
areas and Customs Union (CU).
But it said there were challenges such bodies had to resolve for their
members to enjoy the fruits of regional integration.
"Notable among these challenges relate to the need to rationalise the
multiple and overlapping memberships to these and other RTAs in Eastern and
Southern Africa since it is technically not possible for a country to belong
to more than one CU and apply more than one CET," the centre said.
"Additionally, the current arrangements overstretch national
negotiating capacities and impose financial and bureaucratic burdens on
governments and business in the region."
Trades Centre says in terms of the Southern African Development
Community (Sadc) Protocol on Trade (Article XXVIII paragraph 2), member
states could not enter into a preferential trade agreement with third
They were barred from this particularly if such an agreement may
"impede or frustrate the objectives of the protocol and that any advantage,
concession, privilege or power granted to a third country under such
agreements is extended to other Member States".
It also said that Article 56 of the COMESA Treaty states: "Member
States are free to enter into bilateral or multilateral agreements provided
such agreements are not, and would not be, in conflict and do not undermine
the COMESA FTA and CU."
"Thus, the rationalisation of these groupings will eliminate the
potential tensions from treaty violations, especially by countries with dual
membership. Thus, as the implementation of FTAs and customs unions
progresses the financial strains, bureaucratic complexity and business
insecurity deepen, making the case for rationalisation even more
imperative," it said.
SADC is moving towards the establishment of a customs union and
implementation of a Common External Tariff (CET) by 2010, a Common Market
pact by 2015 and establishment of a Sadc Central Bank and preparation for a
single currency by 2016.
COMESA aims to establish a CET and a CU by 2008 and an economic union
But the Sadc timetable envisages the establishment of an FTA by 2008,
a CU in 2010 and a common market by 2015.
"While the current FTAs of Sadc and COMESA can co-exist, it is
technically not possible for a member state to belong to two CUs and apply
to different common external tariffs (CET). In this regard, addressing the
issue of overlapping CUs with different trade regimes is central to the
harmonisation of RECs in the region," the centre said.
The revelations by the Trades Centre come at a time African countries
are locked in negotiations for the reciprocal Economic Partnership
Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union.
African, Carribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries used to enjoy
unilateral trade preferences with the EU for almost three decades under the
Lomé Conventions. The Fourth Lomé Convention was replaced by the Cotonou
Agreement in 2000, which extends these unilateral trade preferences up to
the end of 2007.
By Pindai Dube
BULAWAYO - There are indications the National Social Security
Authority (NSSA) has been elbowed out of the race for the 30% stake in the
Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) amid claims it is
failing to raise the $60 billion required.
NSSA has been waiting for the past year for approval from regulatory
authorities, such as the Competition Tariff Commission (CTC) to take a 30%
stake in IDBZ.
But it has faced stiff competition from other serious bidders, some of
them with funds readily available to effect the transaction.
Standardbusiness understands NSSA has lost ground to insurance
companies, other parastatals and some heavyweight companies listed on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
The NSSA acting general manager, Amod Takawira, said the parastatal
was facing difficulties raising the funds, "due to the tough economic
"But we believe by the time of the approval from the regulatory
authorities, such as CTC, we will be in a position to get the 30% stake
offered to private investors by IDBZ."
Takawira said NSSA's attempts to obtain the IDBZ shares was in line
with its vision of investing in projects that would appreciate in line with
"The IDBZ shares would provide an ideal investment portfolio because
it is mainly in the development of property projects and such investments
are noble in this hyperinflationary climate as they continue to appreciate
in value," he said.
The government has 70% shareholding in IDBZ and the remainder is up
for grabs, following the withdrawal of the other shareholders, among them
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (10.52%), Zimre Holdings (0.28%), Fidelity Life
(0.18%), Fin Fund (15.86%) Africa Development Bank (0.2%), Staff Share Trust
(6.01%) and the European Investment Bank (0.03%).
In his 2006 National Budget presentation, Herbert Murerwa, then the
Finance Minister pleaded with NSSA to take up equity in the IDBZ.
"I have also invited the insurance and pension funds, including the
National Social Security Authority to take up 30% of equity in IDBZ,"
BY NDAMU SANDU
WHEN Princess Nyathi retired to her rural home after a 20-year
flirtation with a furniture shop, she was confident monthly payments in
pension would be enough to buy the basic commodities.
But five years down the line, Nyathi is bitter after watching her
monthly pension eroded heavily by inflation. "Six hundred dollars five years
ago would buy you groceries, now with the $12 900 payment, you can only buy
half a loaf of bread," she said.
The government recently increased the retirement pension to $250 000
from $12 900 with effect from this month.
Nyathi's predicament is shared by the majority of Zimbabweans ravaged
by high inflation, Zimbabwe's annual inflation, the highest in the world,
which has reduced citizens to paupers.
The situation has been worsened by the collapse of the currency
against major currencies. In January this year, US$1 would fetch $2 500 on
the illegal but thriving parallel market. The rate has risen to $160 000 in
A loaf of bread which was $1 000 in January has risen to $22 000, a 2
200% increase. Thanks to the government's populist intervention in ordering
a slash in prices, the same loaf would have been going for $49 500, a 4 950%
Analysts warned last week that, notwithstanding the government's order
for prices of basic commodities to be slashed, inflation figures were slowly
heading towards the Weimar proportion.
This is moreso, analysts say, as the Central Statistical Office is
still holding on to May figures. But figures leaked from the agency show
that year-on-year inflation for the month of May had surged to 4 530% from 3
713.9% in April.
"It (inflation) will continue rising as all policies in place are
pro-inflationary," said Dr Daniel Ndlela, an independent economist.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono who has in the past
called inflation the "number one enemy", said last month agricultural
mechanisation would increase productivity on the farms, reducing inflation
through the scrapping of food imports.
Ndlela disagrees: "This tractor thing is an election campaign. If we
look at the tractors that came in 2000, you will see that they are now going
to the grinding mills instead of tilling the land."
History has shown that in countries experiencing hyperinflation, the
central bank often prints money in larger and larger denominations as the
smaller denomination notes become worthless. Zimbabwe's largest denominated
note, $100 000 ($100 million if you add the three zeros banished last
August!) cannot buy five loaves of bread at the government-controlled price
of $22 000 per loaf.
Under the Weimer Republic in late 1923, Germany was issuing 50 million
Mark banknotes. The highest value banknote issued by the Weimar government's
Reichsbank had a face value of 100 billion Mark.
One of the firms contracted to print the notes submitted an invoice
for the work to the Reichsbank for 32 776 899 763 734 490 417.05
A loaf of bread which was being sold for 250 Mark in January 1923 rose
to 3 465 Mark in July before skyrocketing to 1.5 billion Mark in September.
In November 1923, the same loaf of bread had a value of 201 billion Mark.
The 500 billion Yugoslav dinar is the world's largest banknote when it
comes to depicted zeros on banknotes.
History is replete with cases when hyperinflation ravages economies.
Angola went through the worst inflation from 1991 to 1995.
In early 1991, the highest denomination was 50 000 kwanzas. By 1994,
it was 500 000 kwanzas. In the 1995 currency reform, one kwanza reajustado
was exchanged for 1 000 kwanzas.
The highest denomination in 1995 was 5 000 000 kwanzas reajustados. In
the 1999 currency reform, one new kwanza was exchanged for one million
Before 1984, the highest denomination in Bolivia was 1 000 pesos
bolivianos. By 1985, the highest denomination was 10 million pesos
bolivianos. In the 1987 currency reform, peso boliviano was replaced by
boliviano which was pegged to the US dollar.
Greece went through its worst inflation in 1944. In 1943, the highest
denomination was 25 000 drachmai. By 1944, the highest denomination was 100
000 000 000 000 drachmai. In the 1944 currency reform, one new drachma was
exchanged for 50 billion drachmai.
Another currency reform in 1953 replaced the drachma at an exchange
rate of one new drachma: 1 000 old drachma. The Greek inflation rate reached
8.5 billion percent.
So, does the government directive on manufacturers, wholesalers and
retailers to slash prices have a bearing on inflation figures?
"I don't know what the official figure will be at the end of the
year," said John Robertson, an independent economist, "but what I know is
that the prices which we pay for commodities will be higher than the
THE current government drive against soaring prices is the same
template of harassment, bullying and threats the State unleashed against
commercial farmers in 2000 under the guise of land reform.
When commercial farmers and opposition supporters were being hounded
off their land, commerce and industry remained silent. When opposition
politicians, their supporters and civic society activists were brutalised
and even killed, industry and commerce stood by and watched in silence.
In May 2005 the government unleashed its anti-people Operation
Murambatsvina, a terror campaign unimaginable in this day and age. The sense
among commerce and industry was always that they would remain untouched and
unaffected. It was always someone else's problem.
But the declaration by Christopher Mushohwe, the Minister of Transport
and Communications, in Nyanga last year that the government would be going
for the manufacturing sector next was the clearest signal that, as in the
case of the Nazis, Zanu PF's outrage had exhausted its other victims and
would soon be targeting the business sector.
For the first time commerce and industry have a sense of the trauma
commercial farmers or the urban victims of Operation Murambatsvina were
repeatedly subjected to when they did not stand up to the regime.
The government and Zanu PF will not give up their current terror
crusade against businesses until, as in the case of the commercial farmers,
they have been driven out of business or until they have pledged
contributions to fund the ruling party's election campaign for the 2008
polls. They will not stop until they have beaten the business sector into
total submission. That is Zanu PF's way of doing things.
This pattern was evident during 2000 when Zanu PF realised that the
opposition MDC was enjoying the support of commercial farmers.
Both President Robert Mugabe and Vice-President Joseph Msika have
accused the manufacturing sector of working with external forces to secure
regime change. Their castigation has produced a predictably mealy-mouthed
response from the leaders of industry. But it won't save them. The assault
on the private sector looks set to continue.
Attack, it is often said, is the best form of defence. The government
knows very well that it has run out of foreign currency and the only way it
can silence calls from industrialists to provide them with the resources to
keep the wheels of industry running is a purge that destabilises the sector.
It will buy the government a breathing space.
The suggestion that "discoveries" of hoarding have been made are the
clearest examples of how both the government and Zanu PF lack appreciation
of how businesses operate. Zanu PF and the government think about the here
and now. Businesses plan for eventualities with timeframes of three to six
months because they factor in potential problems and bottlenecks in the
production and supply chain process.
Zanu PF and the government have relentlessly pursued the
command-structure agenda. First, it was the militarisation of State
institutions and this week the call to war collaborators, veterans, Border
Gezi youth militias and university students to go for recruitment as price
control commissars reinforces this agenda.
Their ill-thought out populist measures have resulted in the total
collapse of the agricultural sector. Now they wish the same fate upon
commerce and industry. If ever any evidence was needed of who the real
saboteurs and traitors are, we have it in abundance.
sundayview by Judith
AT the end of September, Bishop Hatendi received a telephone call at
his house from Minister Kangai, who asked him to convene a meeting of the
Zimbabwe Project trustees as soon as possible for the sole purpose of
dismissing me as director, as he had been given information that I was a
security risk. My father drove up from the ranch to see the distressed
bishop, as well as Father Wardale, who was now based at Makumbi Mission
In his report to head office, Michael had written that after Mildred's
departure from Harare, "the other Trustees, dominated by Garfield Todd, were
in a difficult position. Mildred had acted on information that the other
Trustees did not have and when they went to see government ministers the
same information given to Mildred was not given to them.
"It is difficult to see how Garfield Todd would be given information
about his daughter. I am amazed that he has not stood down on this given his
close personal involvement."
Of course, this further blow from Kangai caused my parents great
distress, which, in a chance meeting, my father confided to Minster Nathan
Shamuyarira. He said my father should see the prime minister, as, according
to him, only Mugabe could stop whatever was happening concerning me. So once
again, my father took up his pen.
Dear Prime Minister,
I am sorry to ask you to take personal note of a matter which for my
family, has caused much distress: the accusations that my daughter Judith
Acton is a security risk and is, therefore, working against the State.
Fr Wardale and I recently met with Cde Kangai who had previously
phoned Bishop Hatendi and had asked him to dismiss Judith from her post as
Director of the Zimbabwe Project. He told us that this was a security matter
and he was unable to give us details, though both Father Wardale and I
protested that it was impossible for us to fulfill our responsibilities to
the former combatants, to the donors, to the staff and to our wider
responsibility to Zimbabwe as a whole if we had to make decisions without
knowing the facts.
Since our meeting with Cde Kangai I have tried to see him again, but
he was away. When I could not meet him yesterday I went to Cde Mnangagwa,
Minister of State (Security). Cde Mnangagwa assured me that there is no
security problem with Mrs Acton: that the only time there had been
discussion about the Todd family as a security matter was in 1981 when we
donated part of our ranch to the Vukuzenzele War Disabled Co-operative. The
wisdom of this action was debated at the time and was accepted.
As I was leaving Cde Mnangagwa suggested I call on the Minister of
Home Affairs in case there was something of which he was unaware. I did
this, and Cde Ushewokunze said that the only question of security which had
come to his attention was in December 1982. A journalist had told him that
he got a certain story from Mrs Acton. After consideration he had torn up
the report, as it was an unsubstantiated allegation.
Our family is close-knit. Mrs Todd is a member of the Mass Media
Trust. Richard Acton, a Senior Legal Officer in the Ministry of Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs left for London last night to consult with Louis
Blom-Cooper QC on the Bickle case on enemy property of which we have been
reading in the Herald. Judith Acton has in her own way fought and suffered
for the liberation of Zimbabwe and is personally responsible for raising
literally millions of dollars in foreign currency which come into Zimbabwe
as a by-product of the work of the Zimbabwe Project.
The fourth is me, a Senator. We are all working for Zimbabwe and the
allegation that one member of our family is a security risk hits us all very
sorely - and, of course, it is an absurd allegation.
I would be grateful if I could meet you at your convenience. I wish to
clear my family of a slur which hurts us all and which damages our ability
to concentrate single-mindedly on serving Zimbabwe.
Eventually, Mugabe did agree to see my father, and after their meeting
my father wrote a synopsis, headed: CONFIDENTIAL TO THE FAMILY.
After some difficulty I at last was given an interview with the Prime
Minister on Wednesday, November 16th 1983 at 10.30AM. When I went into the
office I felt that he was not at ease and, after greetings, he asked me
rather abruptly what I wanted to say. As he had had fairly detailed letters
from me, both at the beginning of the whole matter and then in October I
presumed he had some idea of what was on my mind.
I said that I had come to speak about my family. There was my wife,
who was a member of the Mass Media Trust, Judith who was Director of the
Zimbabwe Project, Richard who was a senior law officer and me, a Senator. I
hoped that he did not regret having made me a Senator?
Mugabe (rather abruptly), "And why should I regret that? "
"Well, I am sure that you do not agree with some of the things I say?
"Well, within the framework of a democracy there is room for criticism
if it is constructive."
"Richard Acton, who is concerned with three major cases in the Courts
at present, considers that it is an outrageous situation where he can be
trusted with so much highly confidential security information while at the
same time his wife is alleged to be considered a security risk."
"Let me say that I knew nothing about any problems with the Zimbabwe
Project until I received your letters."
"I went to see Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa to enquire from him about the
security aspect. He was quite definite in his denial that there was any
security angle to the Zimbabwe Project or to Judith, but as I was leaving he
suggested I should see Herbert 'in case he knows something that I am not
aware of'. So I went to see Cde Ushewokunze, Minister of Home Affairs and
his reaction was the same. There was no security problem. At that point I
thought of leaving the matter but I had spoken to Minister Shamuyarira and
he strongly recommended that I should take the matter to you."
"But why come to me?"
"I considered that if you indicated that my family was acceptable then
we could forget the allegations some people are making. "
Mugabe laughed and then asked, "But who are you concerned about?"
"I haven't come to criticise others or to try to hurt anyone. I am
concerned only to clear my family and let us get on with our work."
"But" . . . and he looked down at my letters which he had spread out
in front of him . . ."you say that Kangai says that this is a security
matter, that he said Lady Acton was a security risk" (For some reason Mugabe
always referred to me as Lady Acton, the title still held by my
"Yes, Minister Kangai said that it was a security matter and that
Judith had to go. However he changed his mind and said no one had suggested
she should be dismissed, but that she should continue as Director. When we
asked for information as to why, Kangai repeated that it was a security
matter and that he was therefore precluded from giving any information at
The Prime Minister then said, very clearly: "Well, at no point has
this matter been a security problem. Sister Janice McLaughlin came to me
with various criticisms. Why did you dismiss her?"
"I don't think you can say we dismissed her for she was not an
employee of the ZP. But we, the Trustees, decided to suspend the steering
committee of which she was a member because the situation had become
unworkable. I was my self present when Michael Behr, a member of the
steering committee, said in a meeting of the whole staff that Judith should
go. The Trustees agreed the matter had gone too far."
"But Janice says that the ZP is a one man-one woman show; that funds
were not distributed even-handedly. I think it should be the need of the
person which decides an issue."
I agreed, and said this was the criterion used.
"But I am told that assistance is given in some areas that are
"Well I went to see Cde Mubako who had had criticisms that Judith had
been prepared to give evidence for Dabengwa."
"Oh, I never suggested that Mubako should take action on this matter.
But it was not just Janice who had criticism. There were others also. It was
held that Lady Acton had Zapu allegiances. Of course that is no crime. I
have Zapu members in my government. But in the light of the criticisms I had
heard I asked Kangai to look into the matter. Maybe he overreacted."
In this way we talked the matter out and it was time to go. A
different atmosphere now prevailed and I hesitated and asked if he had a few
more minutes to spare. He said yes and I brought up the matter of hunger in
Mberengwa and the dangerous shortage of food in the whole area.
"But you said that if we distributed maize in the rural areas all
would be well."
"Yes, but deliveries of maize have been stopped."
"Why has such a thing happened?"
"I do not know but I'm told this has been done while the situation is
"But could they not have assessed the situation without stopping
deliveries? I wonder who could have given such an order?"
At the time my father did not realise the significance of this
conversation, which led to an immediate inquiry into the shortage of maize
in many areas of the country. This in turn led to the unveiling of what
became known as the Paweni scandal, a massive scam through which funds
intended for the purchase of maize were diverted to pay for criminal
overcharging for transporting that maize. When the money ran out, so did
food for the people. This we all learned later.
* Excerpt from Judith Todd's latest book, Through the Darkness, A Life
in Zimbabwe, available from www.zebrapress.co.za.
sundayview by Trudy Stevenson
I only managed to access a list of the mobile voter registration
centres and dates last week on Wednesday 27 June 2007. I am a Member of
Parliament, so am assumed to be both wealthy and able to access everything,
especially government publications, notices etc.
The only way I managed to find a list was by virtue of being an MP,
through the Parliament Reading Room, where I requested all the old
newspapers back to the day Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede announced the
exercise. I am only one of less than 300 MPs and Senators with access to
this Reading Room. What about the other 11 700 000 citizens who are not so
This Mobile Voter Registration exercise - under the guise of a
"National Births, Deaths, Marriages, Voter Registration and Citizenship"
exercise - commenced on Monday 18 June, having been published just once on
Saturday 16 June in the government-controlled Zimpapers publication The
I can no longer afford to buy The Herald every day. Indeed I can no
longer afford to buy any newspaper every day, so limit myself to three
papers a week, the Friday Zimbabwe Independent and the two Sunday papers,
The Standard and the Zimpapers Sunday Mail. Therefore I missed the notice by
the Registrar General, and it has taken me this long and some considerable
research to find out where and on what date the Registration Schedule was
This means that most potential voters have not seen this notice, and
are not aware that there is a voter registration process under way for next
year's municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections.
The ramifications are obvious to anyone with an iota of intelligence.
Only Zanu PF members will be informed where and when they should register,
and indeed they will be herded to the registration centres on the right day
by their village heads, chiefs, political commissars, etc, while the rest of
us languish in miserable ignorance and become disenfranchised.
The second aspect which leapt to my eyes on studying this lengthy
schedule is that, while everyone is supposed to be equal in this independent
Zimbabwe of ours, some are much more equal than others! My own constituency,
Harare North, has been given only five centres for people to register, and
not one of those centres advertised is in low-density professional and
business leaders' area of Mt Pleasant and surrounds.
Mt Pleasant District Office is open everyday for voter registration,
etc. as a sub-office of the Registrar General, but is not advertised!) No,
we have two centres in high-density Hatcliffe, two in medium-density
Mabelreign and one in Marlborough, which, although low-density, is also
down-market as far as income is concerned. Our total registration period is
20 days, and we share one team with Harare East, Mabvuku, Harare Central and
Chitungwiza - that is constituencies at present.
Compare this with other Districts, such as Zvimba District (President
Robert Mugabe's own District) which has 95 registration centres and three
teams dedicated to it for the entire period 18 June - 17 August, that is 60
days, three times as long as Harare North.
Granted there are Zvimba North and Zvimba South, two constituencies
for the 19 times as many registration centres as Harare North, but there are
approximately only twice as many residents in the two Zvimbas as in Harare
North, being only one constituency, for 19 times as many registration
What does this tell us about this exercise? It tells us that Zanu PF
has done a very serious analysis and calculation of risks and possibilities
in this election, and has come up with a strategy to increase their own
constituencies drastically, using the "numbers game", while seriously
reducing the opposition's opportunity to register our voters.
If we want confirmation, look at another District, Marondera. It has
72 registration centres and three teams over the entire period of 60 days.
All the Harare constituencies have 48 registration centres between them for
a population of some 1.5 million people, while Marondera has perhaps 250 000
voters to register at 72 registration centres. The ruling party will gain a
large number of new constituencies, while the opposition is squeezed out of
those constituencies it currently holds through both lack of information on
the exercise and deliberate reduction in number of registration centres.