Zimbabwe's Split Opposition Movements to
oust Mugabe are divided, demoralized and cash-strapped. Some fear
frustration could lead to violence.
By Robyn Dixon, Times Staff
HARARE, Zimbabwe - A conservative white businessman
expressing a passion for freedom, tradition, polite manners and the British
royals sits at his long shiny boardroom table in Zimbabwe musing on plans to
try to topple President Robert Mugabe.
With the same dedication
he devotes to his business, he composes, hides and secretly distributes
fliers, sometimes swapping cars to dodge arrest.
"When you are
working for your country in a state of crisis, it's just such a thrilling
experience. It's just such a wonderful emotion to be involved with people
who are doing the same thing," he said in a quiet, clipped voice. "In
today's modern world, it doesn't really happen that much
His aim, like that of other regime opponents, is
simply to render the country ungovernable. But the big question is how to do
Sokwanele, the ghost organization to which he belongs, and a
similar underground movement called Zvakwana (both meaning "enough is
enough" in different African languages) are multiracial movements that
eschew violence, each struggling for change by trying to mobilize people to
resist the regime.
The nation's March parliamentary elections
were condemned by the United States and European Union as neither free nor
fair. However, Mugabe did not employ the type of overt violence he has used
in past elections, and his victory was endorsed by powerful African allies
such as South Africa. He followed up with a national police operation to
scatter urban opposition supporters by demolishing informal shacks and
traders' stalls across the country.
At this point, Zimbabwe's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change is as deeply demoralized and
divided as it has ever been. The limited impact of a two-day general protest
strike the MDC organized in June has raised doubts on whether its plodding
brand of peaceful resistance can ever pose a threat to the regime. The
organization is almost broke, squabbling and believes itself to be
infiltrated at the highest levels by the state intelligence organ, the
Central Intelligence Organization.
Zvakwana and Sokwanele are more
innovative, leaving fliers in buses or pasted up in small rural shopping
areas, distributing "revolutionary" condoms branded with the exhortation to
"Get Up, Stand Up," hiding anti-regime messages in matchboxes or wrapping
soap or candles in them. Yet these too seem to have had little effect in
encouraging people to actively resist the government.
regime has ruthlessly suppressed even small street protests. Despairing of
decisive leadership from the MDC, some regime opponents such as the Roman
Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, are simply praying for the
81-year-old Mugabe's death.
"People in Zimbabwe, myself included,
pray that God should take him because we can't change anything here," Ncube
said. "We are under constant oppression. There's nowhere to run. He has all
the guns and all the aircraft. All the laws are on his side. Parliament is
just his rubber stamp. He divided the churches and bought some support from
Ncube said the MDC general strike was badly organized. But
David Coltart, a prominent MDC lawmaker, said it had limited effect because
the regime did not care about damage to the economy. "Clearly we have to
change tack now. We have got to have strategic, peaceful strategies that
will make this regime wake up."
Most regime opponents agree
they need a new approach, but few have specific ideas on what forms of
protest might work.
Money is just one problem.
a movement absolutely strapped for cash. We don't even have enough money to
publish pamphlets to call people out into the streets," Coltart
"We certainly don't have enough money to buy lots of orange
scarves. The Orange Revolution [in Ukraine] cost hundreds of millions which
we just don't have."
The Zvakwana website (www.zvakwana.com) conveys the despair regime
opponents feel with scathing sarcasm, but the group's anger is directed at
the MDC as much as at the regime.
The site displays a picture
of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on a rum bottle label, with the words,
"Captain Morgan, Extra Light." A rum cocktail recipe calls for drinkers to
garnish the drink with plenty of appeals to the international community,
pour it, then "put your feet up, and sip slowly while watching other
revolutions unfold on TV."
"We have to become our own leaders. We
need to lead by personal example, whether by organizing small house meetings
to discuss challenging the regime, or making and distributing our own
leaflets, or standing up to institutional repression by refusing to pay
taxes in any form," the Zvakwana site said.
"We cannot go face
to face with an enemy that has all the state machinery at its disposal so we
must work with stealth like a thief at night."
and Zvakwana support ousting Mugabe through a peaceful, popular revolt.
Zvakwana is more imaginative in its approach, using condoms, soap and
candles to get its message out whereas Sokwanele concentrates on
President Robert Mugabe ignored warnings from
senior security officials that his government had "got it all wrong" in
executing the controversial Operation Murambatsvina.
Mail & Guardian has learnt that the state security organ -- the Joint
Operations Command, consisting of the army, airforce, police and
intelligence -- had told Mugabe three weeks ago during a weekly briefing
that the Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo, had overstepped by
"demolishing people's houses rendering them homeless". Mugabe was reminded
that the operation was only supposed to target informal traders in the
cities, but the President had felt "there was no going back
Sources in Zanu-PF told the M&G that Mugabe came
under fire at the Politburo meeting two weeks ago for not discussing the
operation with the party's supreme organ or the cabinetbefore it was
implemented. "The whole process was bungled from the start. Mugabe is
putting on a brave face but he is getting it from all factions in the
party," the source explained. "There was a strong feeling that haphazard
decisions were now being arbitrarily taken without proper coordination and
The fallout has already resulted in the
resignation of central committee member and MP Pearson Mbalekwa. Retribution
for his action was swift. On Thursday morning Mbalekwa himself fell victim
to the government's eviction squad. "Today they have come and taken all the
equipment at my farm. They want to repossess it under the pretext that it is
underutilised. Right now they are loading equipment into government trucks.
My farm is being laid bare. This is all political. They are attacking my
source of livelihood," he told the M&G.
that the demolitions saga has divided Zanu-PF and that senior members are
likely to quit the party. "A lot of people in the party are fed up, that I
know. But they can't come out in the open out of fear. They know who is
behind all this in Zanu-PF but you will never get to know who initiated it
and why because they are all condemning it now."
no consultation in the party. It seems someone was annoyed by the outcome of
the elections in urban areas and is now making all Zimbabweans
UN site inspections This week
intelligence agents were dispatched to Bulawayo and Gweru ahead of United
Nations special envoy Anna Tibaijuka's scheduled inspection of sites and
communities affected by the evictions.
Tibaijuka was shocked
to hear that people were destroying their own homes and that the demolitions
were continuing despite government undertakings that the campaign had been
"Why did you destroy your own house," Tibaijuka asked
an elderly woman in Luveve township in Bulawayo. "We were going to pay huge
fines and were afraid of the police. If we don't destroy our homes there is
a huge fine," she replied.
"I am very sorry for coming at
night but I bring you greetings from UN secretary general Kofi Annan,"
An altercation ensued between the UN envoy,
who has been in the country for two weeks to assess the impact of the
displacements, and three Cabinet ministers - Informal sector minister
Sithembiso Nyoni, Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi and resident minister
for Bulawayo Cain Mathema.
"I was brought up in a rural home,
then went to live in the cities, I don't think it's appropriate to send
people there [rural areas] because they will always come back. Rural
repatriation does not work. People are here [urban areas] because that's
where they earn their livelihood. Urbanisation is a good
"Gweru was very cold and I can't imagine people living
in the open. We are here to minimise that suffering," Tibaijuka
Her comments drew a sharp reaction from Nyoni: "It
takes political will to take such action. It takes such a bold decision to
galvanise the whole nation into doing this. If we hurt anyone, we are sorry.
Zimbabweans are not cleaning the cities of the poor, but we are cleaning the
poverty, turning around the economy."
"In discouraging evictions of such a nature we are not encouraging
Then Mohadi had his dig admonishing the UN
envoy not to "worry about the methodology. There are many ways of going to
Johannesburg. You can walk, fly or drive by road but the objective is the
same. We are not criminalising poverty. We are not repatriating people to
rural areas so that they become poorer. Many of the people that were living
in the slums had decent houses, but were renting them out in order to live
in squatter camps."
Mathema also weighed in: "Slums are
a characteristic of Africa. Those who colonised Africa started
Tibaijuka was visibly irritated by the ministers'
reticence. After learning that plans were underway to make 313 stands
available to accommodate a thousand people in Bulawayo, she asked: "So what
happens to the rest who can't get stands?"
responded: "Some will have to go back to their rural homes. We are busy
vetting them. We have even discovered some are of foreign origin, they come
from Malawi, Zambia and so on."
Tibaijuka replied: "We are
all part of SADC (Southern African Development
Mathema's comeback: "They will have to sort out
Ministers barred from council
The three ministers were barred from attending a meeting with the opposition
mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube and his council where the envoy was told: "We
woke overnight to realise that vendors, who were operating legally, had been
chased and thrown out of the city without the knowledge of the city
Now we are caught in an unenviable position of
having to raise billions of dollars that were never budgeted for to finance
Tibaijuka is expected to leave
Zimbabwe within a week and submit her findings to UN Secretary General Kofi
President Thabo Mbeki told journalists that he met
Annan on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Libya and that they
had agreed to await the report before deciding on a course of
It is important that churches in Zimbabwe feel they are not
isolated and have the support of South African churches. This is according
to Professor Russel Botman, the president of the South African Council of
The SACC, together with all Africa Conference of
Churches (AACC), will be leaving for Zimbabwe on Sunday. The delegation will
be hosted by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.
"I think what is
important is that churches in Zimbabwe are feeling that they are not
isolated, that they have the support of the churches in South Africa, that
they can speak to us and that we will act in ways that will support and
strengthen their situation," he says.
Keeping an eye on Zimbabwean
situation Almost a year ago, during a tri-annual SACC meeting, the council
took the decision that the SACC leadership should keep an eye on the
situation in Zimbabwe, Botman explains. The delegation will subsequently
report on the situation in Zimbabwe at the council's midterm meeting as to
enable the Church to decide on a response, he adds.
In addition to
meeting with church councils in Zimbabwe, the delegation will also meet with
the country's political leaders and civil society. Botman says the
delegation would like to give the leadership the message that the churches
are concerned about the plight of poor people, and also receive the leaders'
feedback on the matter.
"Finally, we will have to take a decision about
what we will do with all the information we will be bringing back to the
country," he says.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's long-time confidant and one of
Britain's richest men, Nicholas van Hoogstraten, sent shock waves through
the banking sector last week when he announced his controlling stake in NMB
Van Hoogstraten, who has admitted bankrolling Zanu PF in the
past, has amassed enough shareholding in the bank to become the largest
single individual investor in the financial institution.
Van Hoogstraten, whose land in Zimbabwe was spared in government's violent
land seizures because of his close connections with Mugabe, now holds about
20% in NMB Bank.
It is believed that van Hoogstraten is now
also the largest individual shareholder in Hwange Colliery with about a 30%
stake through his company Messina Investments and interests in the second
largest shareholders, Edwards Nominees. He is second only to government
which owns 38%.
He revealed that he was now the largest
shareholder in NMB at an annual general meeting last Thursday. Although he
did not say how much stake he held in the bank, van Hoogstraten told
directors that he was now the major shareholder. Brokers who attended the
AGM said van Hoogstraten complained to the directors that the annual report
had not been sent to him on time as a majority shareholder. They say he also
complained about the delay in the distribution of proxy
"As the largest shareholder in the bank, he expected to
have received them on time," a stockbroker who attended the AGM
The latest NMB share register shows van Hoogstraten's
company, Messina Investments, as the fifth largest shareholder in the bank
Sources however said his stake was larger through other
smaller companies. The sources say he also has strong links with Palisades
Ltd, the fourth largest shareholder in the bank with 9,75%. Palisades is
registered in Great Britain where the businessman has the bulk of his
It could not be established by yesterday how the new
shareholding in the bank would affect former directors and key stakeholders
James Mushore, Julius Makoni, Otto Chekeche and Francis Zimuto who fled to
the United Kingdom last year during the financial crisis.
Market sources said the former directors, who owned 35% of the bank at the
time through their family trustees, could have shed portions of their
shareholding to van Hoogstraten, giving him a majority
The new shareholding gives him powers to
influence appointments to the board and management.
Chirundu Project threatens wildlife habitat Daniel
Calderwood GOVERNMENT is planning a massive agriculture and housing project
in the Zambezi Valley on land designated for wildlife heritage, the Zimbabwe
Independent can reveal.
The Zimbabwe Conservation and Development
Foundation (ZCDF) said in a statement the development, known as the Chirundu
Project, is set to cover parts of Mana Pools National Park as well as the
Hurungwe, Chewore and Sapi Safari areas.
These areas are
protected by the Parks and Wildlife Act and are also designated as World
In a statement this week, ZCDF said the project,
which covers a total of 1 000 square kilometres will be launched in early
November and has since been approved by an unnamed senior government
official. The project is initially aimed at building 600 low-cost houses as
well as cultivating areas to be used for commercial agriculture. The initial
cost of the project is US$30 million that is set to cover agricultural
The ZCDF condemned the plan saying it would have terrible
effects on the environment and wildlife.
"It will be dire for
well-developed communities of a diversity of trees and woodlands," the
foundation said. "Threat levels to a vast array of fauna will accelerate in
the short term. The balances of these sensitivities will most certainly be
disturbed in the immediate term."
Wilderness Africa Trust executive
director Ian Jarvis said he backed the views of the ZCDF and raised his own
concerns over the development of the project.
"The destruction of
the east bank of the Sabi Valley occurred in a similar project under the
name of the Middle Sabi Project. It is believed that the Zambezi Valley is
far more sensitive. There is inadequate electricity and fuel to develop such
a large project," Jarvis said.
"Valuable tourism will undoubtedly be
negatively affected," ZCDF said.
However, Tourism minister Francis Nhema
told the Independent that he was not aware of the project in the National
Parks area. "Who is building there? How can they?" Nhema
Johnny Rodrigues and John Fulton, chief executive officer
and chairman of ZCDF respectively, said the project would lead to the
destruction of an area that is internationally known for its natural
wildlife, habitat and environment.
ZCDF believes that over 380
species of fauna alone will be directly affected by the human impact on the
area. The air, soil, water and waste pollution will be disastrous to the
"highly sensitive region".
Commenting on the proposed irrigation
scheme to be supplied by water from Zambezi River, ZCDF said it was sure
that clear procedures had not been followed.
The ZCDF is adamant
that "it is highly unlikely that permission has been secured from the
tri-lateral accord on the Zambezi River water usage that exists between
Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique".
"It is furthermore unlikely that
any agreement between the projects developers' and Zimbabwe's
water-management authorities has been conducted
The ZCDF not only believe that there will be
extreme damage to the natural environment and species but the habitation of
humans in an area that is dominated by tropical diseases must be considered
According to the ZCDF poaching is already a huge problem and
can only increase as well as the destruction to the natural
Fulton was not prepared to make a statement or comment
on any further information about what the ZCDF know about the Chirundu
Project and their views towards it developing further.
Govt clueless about fuel crisis Ray
Matikinye GOVERNMENT is clueless about when the fuel crisis will end but is
pinning its hopes on an elusive end to its international
Leader of the House and Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa
last week blamed the current economic crisis on sanctions imposed by the
European Union and the United States "and some in Zimbabwe who have been
lobbying and campaigning for the continuation of these
He was answering a question by Job Sikhala, MP for St
Mary's, when the transport blues encountered daily by urban commuters would
Said Chinamasa: "The economic difficulties we are going through have
been caused by unofficial sanctions imposed against this country. We are
unable to access international credit facilities."
admitted that no country could operate "like we are doing".
in the world, including the USA, can operate like we are doing on a cash
basis - whether to buy fuel, or import electricity," Chinamasa
"So, until that political isolation is terminated, we will
continue to face these challenges and there is no way I can give you a
deadline of the time on which those sanctions will be removed. When those
sanctions are terminated and we trade at no cost like other countries and we
trade normally, then we should be able to see that the shortages become a
thing of the past," he said.
Chinamasa refused to be drawn into
responding to Luveve-Pumula MP Esaph Mdlongwa's question whether Zimbabwe's
isolation by progressive nations stemmed from government's defiant
Masvingo South MP Walter Mzembi had told parliament
earlier that investment by internal and external investors depended on
sacrosanct rules such as fair and reasonable return on investment and
protection of ownership rights.
"All the mentioned rules and more are
essential to trigger investment interest in any country," Mzembi said during
a debate on the president's address.
"The current disjuncture
between the body politic and the economic sphere has accentuated the
economic malaise afflicting our nation."
POPE Benedict XVI on
Saturday endorsed the stance taken by Catholic bishops in Zimbabwe in
condemning the state-sponsored "clean-up" operation and government's human
The Pope said Zimbabwean bishops should remain "a voice
that speaks with authority on what is right and true of peace and
"In your preaching and teaching the faithful should be able
to hear the voice of the Lord himself, a voice that speaks with authority of
what is right and true, of peace and justice, of love and reconciliation, a
voice that can console them in the midst of their troubles and show them the
way forward in hope," the Pope said in an address at the end of the bishops'
A Zimbabwean delegation comprising eleven members of the
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference visited the Vatican during the
five-yearly ad Limina Apostolorum where the Pope commended them for the
action they had taken.
The bishops who visited the Vatican include
the Archbishop of Harare, Robert Ndlovu, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius
Ncube, Archbishop Alexio Muchabaiwa of Mutare, Archbishop Michael Basera of
Masvingo (president), Bishop Angel Floro of Gokwe, and Auxillary Bishop
Patrick Mutume of Mutare.
Others in attendance were Fathers Alfonse
Mapfumo, Father Matthew Jonga and Father Albert Serrano.
said with the publication of the bishops' pastoral letter, The Cry
the Poor, the delegation had brought the wisdom of the Gospel and
the rich heritage of the Church's social doctrine to bear upon the thinking
and practical judgments of the faithful both in their daily lives and in
their efforts to act as upright members of the community.
bishops described Operation Murambatsvina as "cruel and
President Mugabe is a devout Catholic.
difficulties of the present moment, the Church in Zimbabwe can rejoice in
the presence of so many communities vibrant in faith. Future priests, for
their part, should be helped to present the fullness of the Catholic faith
in a way which truly addresses and responds to people's difficulties,
questions and problems," the Pope said. - Staff Writer.
Police guard Msika's shop Loughty Dube POLICE in
Bulawayo are providing all-night security at a shop owned by Vice-President
Joseph Msika in Gumtree suburb against state regulations that bar them from
guarding private business properties.
Police details from Hillside police
station have been dispatched to guard the shop since robbers broke in late
last year and stole goods worth millions of dollars.
protection unit officers guard the grocery shop situated next to the
vice-president's homestead in the suburb at night, arriving every evening
and leaving at dawn, investigations by this paper
Police spokesman, Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne
promised to investigate the matter but said police were under
no obligation to provide security to private business properties of senior
Police officers at Hillside police station
confirmed that they were guarding the shop since last year. "There is
all-night security at the shop, a policeman is stationed there from eight
o'clock in the evening until six in the morning," said a police officer who
Gumtree residents confirmed that police guard
the shop but said the times the police report for duty was unusual hence
most people were not aware of their presence.
In July last year
robbers broke into the shop and looted a variety of goods worth $8,4 million
after the policeman on duty left his post unattended.
The gang of
robbers from Mzilikazi suburb was subsequently arrested. Sources in the
police force said the policeman who was on duty on the day of the robbery
had since been disciplined over the incident.
Zim tops humanitarian crisis list By Nqobani
Ndlovu/Susan Mateko ZIMBABWE tops the list of Southern African nations facing
the greatest humanitarian crisis sparked by poor governance, high HIV and
Aids infection and recurring drought, the executive director of the World
Food Programme said on Wednesday.
According to the I-Newswire, James
Morris, addressing a UN Security Council briefing in New York, said more
than four million people in the country, the highest in the region, were in
urgent need of food aid.
He added that HIV and Aids claimed a million
lives in the region last year alone, and was also impacting negatively on
the country's ability to produce food for its people.
this year, it had been estimated that 3,5 million people will need emergency
food aid. That figure has more than doubled to 8,3 million, with the return
of drought conditions to some areas. More than four million people are at
risk in Zimbabwe, 1,6 million in Malawi, 1,2 million in Zambia and 900 000
"At the same time, the prevalence of HIV was not only
taking a toll on lives and reducing life expectancy, but was also directly
undermining the capacity of communities to produce enough food. The impact
of that catastrophe was enormous," Morris said.
remarks fly in the face of government claims last year and earlier this year
that the country has enough food. Last year, President Mugabe went to the
extent of telling international donors off, arguing that the nation had
enough food to feed its people.
Zimbabwe enters its fourth year of
The HIV infection rate in the country is among the
highest in the region and reportedly claims close to 3 000 people every
week. Life expectancy in Zimbabwe has been cut to a mere 35
As a result of the high infection rate, Morris said the people
of North America, Europe and Japan could "expect to live twice as long as
compared to the locals in Zambia, Malawi or Zimbabwe".
noting natural disasters like drought as the causes of food shortages,
Morris said: "Globally, hunger was a symptom of failure to cope with natural
disaster and to overcome social inequities, ethnic strife and racial hatred.
But addressing hunger and malnutrition - and saving the women and children
who suffered the most - required the co-operation of those in charge where
those very failures took place.
"Chronic hunger in the African
countryside was a destabilising influence that undermined political
stability and security," he said.
Speaking at the same meeting,
United States, Romanian and Tanzanian
representatives, Anne Woods
Patterson, Mihnea Ioan Mosac, and Tuvako Nathaniel Manongi respectively,
condemned the clean-up operation in Zimbabwe, saying it had worsened the
humanitarian crisis in the country.
Patterson urged the government to
end the "slum demolition campaign" that had left 420 000 people homeless and
to engage in dialogue to end the political impasse and also halt economic
She said United States, which was ready to assist Zimbabwe
with food, was disheartened by government policies that only compounded
problems of poverty.
Patterson said: "The United States stood
ready to assist Zimbabwe with large-scale food assistance, as it did from
2002 to 2004, but it was disheartened that government policies were making
the problem worse.
"Zimbabwe's meltdown affected trade, investment
and food security throughout Africa," she said.
THE Bulawayo City Council is
facing a water deficit of 55 000 cubic metres a month, a situation that has
forced the cashstrapped local authority to ration water.
four supply dams - Mzingwane, Lower Ncema, Inyankuni and Insiza - but
currently only Inyakuni and Insiza supply water due to low
The city's deputy director of engineering services
Simela Dube, addressing a press briefing at the council offices this week,
said drought conditions in the country had forced council to introduce water
"Capacity problems are due to drought which has resulted
in very little inflows into Mzingwane and Lower Ncema dams during the rainy
season and as a result we are faced with a water deficit," Dube
He said the city was now relying on only two supply dams that
do not use pressure pumps but the force of gravity to draw
Dube said the city's demand for water was more than the dams
could provide at the moment.
"The dams (Inyankuni and Insiza) can
supply 90 000 cubic metres of water a day and the city's demand is 145 000
cubic metres a day. So we had to cover the deficiency by introducing water
rationing," said Dube.
He added that the dams' water levels were 38%
of capacity and had enough water to last the coming 15
Engineer Dube said council was talking to the Zimbabwe
National Water Authority to resuscitate 41 boreholes at the Nyamandlovu
aquifer to alleviate the water shortages. - Staff Writer.
Harare City Council broke Augustine
Mukaro GOVERNMENT'S proposed national reconstruction programme to benefit
thousands of families rendered homeless by the controversial clean-up
campaign could be headed for a dead end as one of the key partners, the
Harare City Council, is broke.
Council acting finance committee
chairperson, commissioner Prisca Mupfumira, revealed that the local
authority was facing a serious budget deficit.
"The performance of
the economy in general has exposed the operations of the city to
unmanageable levels through the increases in price of commodities such as
fuel, electricity, and water treatment chemicals," Mupfumira said when she
presented the 2005 council budget.
"Furthermore, the high levels of
inflation, high interest and exchange rates as well as foreign currency
scarcity have compounded the economic decline and hence council was
experiencing a serious mismatch between income and
Council minutes dated May 30 show that council has
plunged into serious financial crisis and was forced to defer payment of the
May salaries so as to settle a ballooning debt with the Zimbabwe Revenue
"The town clerk reported that the city had encountered
problems in paying salaries for May 2005 on time due to the demand by Zimra
for outstanding Pay As Your Earn," the minutes say.
been declared broke twice over the past year with employees' salaries having
to be paid directly from rate collection halls.
Zimra on the other
hand has been threatening to place the city on a garnishing order over
World leaders close in on Mugabe Dumisani
Muleya WORLD leaders have fiercely denounced President Robert Mugabe over the
widely-condemned demolition blitz and political repression which have
reduced Zimbabwe to an international outcast. This week United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan added his voice to the growing chorus of
Leaders from the powerful Group of Eight (G8) rich
nations and Africa are now speaking with one voice on Mugabe's failed
leadership that has spawned an economic crisis, pauperising a vast swathe of
While Mugabe has been claiming it was only former
colonial powers opposed to his rule who were vocal, countries that supported
Zimbabwe's liberation struggle have also turned against
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government endorsed
Mugabe's hotly disputed re-election in 2002, this week joined the fray,
describing Mugabe as a dictator who does not deserve aid.
usually reticent Kremlin leader's remarks came as Danish Prime Minister
Anders Fogh Rasmussen rounded on Mugabe, saying he was an autocrat who
should be denied assistance.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
launched a withering attack on Mugabe's regime putting paid to any prospect
of European Union help.
"In Zimbabwe the government has already trampled
over democracy and over basic human rights," Straw told the European
parliament on Wednesday.
Australian and New Zealand leaders said they
would intensify measures to squeeze Mugabe's regime whose officials are
banned from the two countries as well as the United States and European
South African President Thabo Mbeki has said he would only
take a position on the demolition crackdown after the United Nations envoy,
currently in Zimbabwe to assess the impact of the programme, has released
her report. But pressure is mounting on him to speak out on the
deteriorating situation across the Limpopo.
Annan's special envoy
Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka has been in the country for almost two weeks
investigating the crackdown. On Wednesday she criticised government's
implementation of the exercise which has thrown thousands of people onto the
streets - without shelter, food, water or sanitation facilities. Thousands
are now detained in refugee camps like Caledonia Farm.
ahead of the G8 summit African countries should speak out on the Zimbabwe
"I've often tried to tell them they cannot continue to treat
these situations as purely internal," said Annan. "It starts as internal but
it becomes a regional problem. Nobody invests in a bad neighbourhood and if
you have just one or two countries behaving that way, that hurts
The African Union has been trying to probe Mugabe's
"clean-up" campaign although its envoy has been barred from working here.
This has put Mugabe on a collision course with the AU, something that could
worsen his isolation.
Even close friends are defecting from Mugabe's
corner. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Mugabe's erstwhile ally, showed how
far he has drifted when on Monday he suggested British Prime Minister Tony
Blair was a progressive leader. Mugabe considers Blair his sworn
Gaddafi also made pointed remarks about African leaders who go
begging for aid.
Blair and US President George Bush have slammed
Mugabe for human rights abuses and misrule. Bush has said Zimbabwe poses an
"unusual threat to US foreign policy".
The US has classified
Zimbabwe as an "outpost of tyranny", alongside North Korea, Iran, Burma,
Cuba and Belarus.
Putin, who has not publicly commented on Zimbabwe's
economic and political crisis, said Western countries should stop
subsidising the corruption and incompetence of inept
"We should not be afraid to stop aid to dictators, like
Zimbabwe's Mugabe," he said on Wednesday ahead of the G8 summit which
started in Gleneagles, Scotland on Wednesday.
Mugabe at a press conference with Bush in Copenhagen on Wednesday. Zimbabwe
was expected to feature at the G8 summit which will discuss Africa's
Mugabe has been praising countries like Russia and China as
his major allies in the face of isolation largely by Western
Russia funded and provided arms to one of Zimbabwe's main
liberation movements, Zapu, and its armed wing Zipra, while China bankrolled
Zanu and its military arm Zanla.
China and countries in the
Far-East that Mugabe claims are his closest allies are increasingly
interlocked with the economies of Western countries.
President Olusegun Obasanjo said he would not become embroiled in a public
row with Mugabe but offered his "good offices" to resolve the crisis
Murerwa contradicts Mugabe on clean-up Dumisani
Muleya FINANCE minister Herbert Murerwa has contradicted President Robert
Mugabe's claim that the clean-up programme should have been implemented
before the March general election, saying it was not budgeted for and was
Murerwa told parliament on Wednesday that Operation
Murambatsvina was not budgeted for because "we had not anticipated this
He was responding to a question from opposition Movement
for Democratic Change MP Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga on why government
was now allowing "unbudgeted expenditure" when it said it would not do
"Well, it is very clear that when we announced the 2005 budget we
had not anticipated this programme. So it will translate into some parts of
2005 budget being re-prioritised to accommodate this expenditure," Murerwa
This means Mugabe could have misled United Nations
secretary-general Kofi Annan's envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka when they met
last week on Wed-nesday.
Mugabe told Tibaijuka his government had
planned the demolition blitz - meaning it was designed earlier - before the
March 31 parliamentary election but it could not be implemented because
government would be accused of trying to destabilise the MDC's urban
He claimed he had promised during the campaign to
implement the programme after the election. However, there is no evidence of
him saying so except pleading with urban voters to support his party which
lost all but one urban seat.
Mugabe's former Information minister
Jonathan Moyo said he agreed with Murerwa that Operation Murambatsvina and
Operation Restore Order were unplanned because when he was in government
there was no such project on the drawing board.
"The Minister of
Finance is right and I agree with him when he says this year's budget did
not anticipate this programme - which requires massive resources - because
it was simply not there," Moyo said.
"You can't budget for phantom
programmes. If there was such an exercise on the planning desk I would have
known about it because I was in government and would have naturally been in
charge of its communication strategy," said Moyo.
the programme was planned but avoided because he was scared of being accused
of attacking MDC strongholds is a futile attempt to hoodwink the UN envoy.
It won't wash," Moyo said.
Since Tibaijuka arrived last week,
government has been frantically trying to mislead her fact-finding mission
through a series of smokescreens that are now blowing away in the face of
stark realities on the ground.
The state-controlled media's attempts
to distort Tibaijuka's statements have also failed as the UN rebutted
falsification of its envoy's remarks saying she could not be held
responsible for remarks made in her presence by ministers.
also tried to take in journalists at the African Union summit in Sirte,
Libya, this week when he claimed nobody had been displaced and rendered
refugees by his ruthless crackdown. He did not mention Caledonia Farm.
European Union closes Caaz account Godfrey
Marawanyika/Chris Goko THE European Union last month ordered a freeze on the
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz)'s bank account as part of
measures to tighten economic and travel sanctions on the Zanu PF
The EU and the United States imposed an economic and travel
ban on President Robert Mugabe and close political aides in 2002 after the
roundly condemned presidential election.
At the same time US
President George Bush successfully lobbied Congress to implement the
Zimbabwe Democracy Act.
Under the Act, Zimbabwe is not eligible to
benefit from any sort of financial
assistance either from the US
government or firms registered in that country.
account was closed mid-last month as the EU feared the funds would be used
to bankroll Mugabe's various activities.
When the account was frozen,
Caaz was forced into frantic efforts to raise money for June's staff
The closure of the account is also set to affect Caaz's
procurement of aviation equipment, officials said.
Caaz used some
of the funds to meet its salary bill, but June's forced closure obliged the
parastatal's management to scrounge around for money to pay the wages.
Foreign currency in the off-shore account was liquidated into local currency
to pay salaries and fund operations.
David Chaota, Caaz's acting
chief executive officer, confirmed the account freeze earlier this
However, he could not be drawn into revealing the name of the
bank, citing confidentiality.
"We had problems with our European
Union-based account, but we are trying to regularise everything," Chaota
"I cannot disclose the name of the bank for obvious reasons,
but like I said, we are trying to resolve everything," he
Chaota said they were getting assistance from the government,
although he did not explain the nature of the help.
The Caaz boss
confirmed that they had to run around the capital to calm down foreign
airlines and travel agents who were panicking over the
Caaz, he said, had to reassure air travel players that
they were no longer conducting their billing via the International Air
Transport Association (IATA) system. This will now be done locally. Before
the ban airport tax was deposited into the Caaz off-shore account via the
IATA billing system. The tax is now being deducted locally and paid directly
to a Caaz account in Zimbabwe.
The government, through Transport
and Communications minister Chris Mushowe, has since been briefed about the
EU's latest move.
Meanwhile, Air Zimbabwe, which until last month was
battling to settle its billion dollar debt with IATA, has managed to pay up.
According to correspondence between the national flag carrier and the IATA
manager for Financial Services Cedric Chretien, Air Zimbabwe has cleared its
US$1,4 million debt.
Attacks jeopardise plans to lure farmers Augustine
Mukaro GOVERNMENT'S quest to get white commercial farmers back on the land
could hit a brick wall after their representative body this week took a
swipe at government for failing to restore law and order in the agricultural
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president Douglas Taylor-Freeme in
a statement this week said farmers had been subjected to constant
harassment, abuse, threats, loss of property and equipment. He described the
situation on the farms as unacceptable.
"Government has on many
occasions indicated that the land reform programme has been completed but
despite assurances from the relevant authorities, forced evictions, seizures
and threats continue," Taylor-Freeme said.
"This is unacceptable. CFU
strongly objects to the constant lawlessness that prevails in the districts
where an average of five farmers per week are subjected to forced
evictions," he said.
Taylor-Freeme said despite numerous appeals to
the law enforcement authorities to investigate these incidents, they
"There is no respect for court orders made either
by the High Court or the Administrative Court of Zimbabwe," he said. "CFU
calls upon government and law enforcement agencies to bring an end to this
senseless violence, threats and intimidation, and appeals to them that the
perpetrators of the latest beatings be apprehended and brought to
Taylor-Freeme's protest follows an attack on three farmers
from the Middle Sabi area over the weekend.
Farm 28 owner Phil
Mennie was last weekend attacked and severely beaten by six
"Mennie was left unconscious," one farmer from the Sabi
area said. "He had to be rushed to Harare for treatment."
was producing 60 hectares of citrus, 120 hectares of wheat and soya beans on
rotation and 40 hectares of seed maize.
Contacted for comment, Mennie
said he could not give details as he was pursuing other
Farmers who spoke to the Independent said a wave of violent
evictions hit the Middle Sabi region over the past two weeks, with over a
dozen farmers thrown off their properties.
"Chipangai Estate is
one of the farms that have fallen victim to the current eviction wave," he
Taylor-Freeme said two other farmers were subjected to minor
assault, and an attempted hit and run.
"It would appear that
despite numerous calls made to the relevant authorities, no assistance was
given and the appeals fell on deaf ears," he said.
He warned that
the food situation in the country would not improve as long as anarchy
prevailed on commercial farms.
"The past agricultural season has been
difficult with basic commodities in short supply," he said. "There is need
to show respect for each other's lives and property so as to allow the
agricultural sector to play its role in the economy. Government has to put
an end to these senseless incidents, to stabilise the agricultural sector,
and ensure that every farmer is given an equal opportunity to contribute
towards enhancing national production," he said.
An estimated 400
white commercial farmers remain on the farms out of the 4 500 who worked the
land before the inception of the often-violent land reform programme in
Murambatsvina targets Sam Levy Nomalanga Masina AS
the controversial demolition campaign spreads to the northern suburbs, the
Harare City Council has set its eyes on the prestigious Sam Levy's Village
in Borrowdale that was built without council approval in the early
The office park and shopping mall, owned by tycoon Sam Levy,
was built without permission from the city council, making it an illegal
structure according to the current clean-up definition.
on which the mall wasconstructed was originally desig-nated as residential.
It is alleged Levy built the mall without getting the requisite land
change-use permission from the Harare City Council.
The council this
week confirmed that the village could be demolished under the
"We have a critical issue against Mr Sam Levy about that
office park," said council spokesman Leslie Gwindi. "Technically, that
structure is illegal because it was not built with permission from the
"We are going to discuss the issue with him very soon. We
are working towards regularising every structure and Sam Levy's building is
no exception. It will be dealt with in the same manner that we dealt with
other illegal structures."
The village is located in Pomona along
Borrowdale Road and is one of the most upmarket shopping malls in the
country. It houses offices, supermarkets, banks, car dealerships, nightclubs
The construction of the shopping mall was the subject of
contention in the early 1990s, with the residents' association led by David
Samudzimu leading the charge to stop the multi-million dollar project, one
of the biggest such undertakings then.
The alleged involvement of
politicians saved the mall which is popular with Harare shoppers in the
northern suburbs escaping congestion in the CBD.
During 1989 and
1990, the residents of Borrowdale obtained two court orders to stop the
construction of Sam Levy's Village arguing that the area was designated only
for residential purposes.
It is alleged that Sam Levy sought the
intervention of then Minister of Local Government, the late Enos Chikowore,
and Joseph Msika, the current vice-president.
reportedly sought assistance from the then Local Government secretary, Dr
Mariyawanda Nzuwa, now the chairman of the Public Service Commission, and
the then town clerk, Edward Kanengoni. Although professional advice was
available to him from the then director of works, the late Tongai Mahachi
and the then director of physical planning in the Ministry of Local
Government, Jonathan Zamchiya, Levy went ahead with construction of the
He did this, it is alleged, in the safe knowledge that
the senior government officials he had spoken to would back his project.
Government slapped with 32m euro suit Godfrey
Marawanyika AS forex shortages continue to bite, a Netherlands bank, ING, has
instituted a 32 million-euro (about $386,5 billion) legal suit against the
Zimbabwe government for defaulting on loan repayments, it has been
Government is cited as the first defendant, while international
telecommunications company Intelsat Ltd is the second.
lawsuit is for a default on loan agreements entered into by the government
represented by the Ministry of Finance on July 9 1994, November 28 1994,
February 21 1997 and December 5 1997.
According to papers filed by
ING in the Supreme Court of Bermuda that were also served on the ministry
this week by the Deputy Sheriff, ING is seeking that government meets the
costs and interest of the debt.
The loans were advanced to Zimbabwe
to pay for telecommunications services and installations carried out by
ING is one of the world's largest financial services
companies, offering banking, insurance and asset management in over 50
In the application, ING lawyer Nathaniel Turner of
Attride-Stirling & Woloniecki said the government must pay the
outstanding amount before further proceedings can be
Intelsat Ltd is a provider of satellite communications
services worldwide, supplying video, data and voice connectivity in over 200
Turner said government was required within 22 days after
receipt of the court papers to act or face litigation in the courts in
Zimbabwe has since 1999 been experiencing acute shortages of
foreign currency which have resulted in it failing to meet its own critical
import essentials and to settle its overdue
Zimbabwe's foreign obligations are currently at US$4,5
Only last week the International Monetary Fund voiced its
concerns over the country's parlous foreign currency situation.
GOVERNMENT'S response to a crisis is often a good
indicator of the effectiveness of its policies and the astuteness of its
leadership. Crisis situations are unavoidable but three things usually
happen, depending on how a situation is dealt with: The difficulty can
linger on with constant ramifications or it can be quickly dealt with and
heroes are born. There is also a good chance that a crisis can degenerate
into a tragedy.
A government which mismanages an economy cannot
manage a crisis and is most likely to star as a villain in national
tragedies like our own economic rot.
I am not going to talk
about its management of the economy because the results are there for even
the most politically naïve to see. I am more worried about the mismanagement
of the fuel crisis. The country was virtually dry these past two weeks even
though we were promised in May by the "monetary authorities" that the
problem would be solved in three weeks' time.
promises constitute mismanagement of a crisis. An administration that's
bereft of ideas to come out of a sticky situation will lie that a solution
is on the horizon. The problem will soon be "a thing of the past". Such
hopeless statements are coined to create the false sense of action. Keeping
the affected and afflicted in suspense is a better ruse than telling them
the painful truth. Let them hope against hope.
If evidence was
needed that the current crisis was not being managed, this was provided by
government seizing fuel from private organisations to give it to the army,
the police and intelligence officers. I got at least half a dozen calls this
week from companies whose reserves had been raided by the authorities
ostensibly to keep "strategic wheels" of government business
On Saturday I witnessed three army Mazda Familia
sedans laden with men who appeared to be going fishing - judging by the
fishing rods protruding from windows of the cars. They were heading down
Lomagundi Road, probably to Manyame Dam or further afield to Mazvikadei Dam.
These are the strategic arms of our society getting preference ahead of
companies that should deliver goods or bring in supplies.
The same goes for the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority whose vehicles get
preferential treatment ahead of us commoners at service stations. It is
evident that government needs to collect revenue but companies and
individuals have to make the money first. I hope it is not true, as we have
heard, that Zimra inspectors driving Peugeot 306s or Ford Bantams have an
allocation of over 200 litres each a month.
There is no
equitable distribution of fuel because manufacturers and service providers
do not have any. Ambulances and undertakers' vehicles cannot get fuel yet
soldiers going fishing have full tanks. Chefs in the army use three-tonne
trucks to run errands to their farms or simply to buy lunch. Are all those
up-and-down trips in Chinese-built trucks necessary?
This is a
clear example of mismanaging a crisis by failing to prioritise sensibly.
There are civil servants in middle-management positions with allocations of
300 litres a month. It is frightening to imagine what permanent secretaries
and ministers are allocated in the same period.
As a result of
these skewed allocations in an environment of shortages, fuel has found its
way onto the black market where it is selling for anything up to $100 000 a
litre instead of $10 000.
Kombis, which are also getting
preference at service stations, are some of the biggest suppliers of the
black market. Carrying passengers is no longer as profitable as simply
parking the bus and selling the fuel to those who are not strategic enough
to get it at service stations.
Why are fuel attendants allowed
to fill up vehicles from the scrapyard which at times don't have engines but
carry improvised tanks of up to 200 litres? Where is our police force to
deal with the black market? Who cares especially if there is no mechanism to
deal with the scourge of corruption?
The government is not
managing this crisis at all. It is simply turning it into a tragedy. Where
is the new Industry and International Trade minister to protect companies
from this unfair treatment by his colleagues? Or simply, who is managing the
The little fuel that is available could go a long way
if there was strict monitoring to ensure that there is reduced consumption
for everyone. When we are all being told to tighten our belts, chefs with
insatiable appetites still burn scarce fuel from Harare to Chitungwiza every
night to visit prostitutes. And Gono thinks that people with this mindset
can lead an economic recovery. Shame on these immoral
I do not believe this government has what it takes to
get us out of this crisis. Cynicism sets in when trust for government goes
out. When this happens citizens respond to the national crisis with
expressions of disgust and shortcuts of their own. It becomes every man for
himself. Can government convince me that it's managing the fuel shortages
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s damning
Article IV findings after a recent visit to Zimbabwe to assess the economic
situation have further exposed the fallacy of government's claims of an
The IMF's statement on its overall impression of the
economic state of affairs in Zimbabwe was also an indictment of Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono who had assisted Zanu PF's election campaign with his
repeated assertions that the economy was on a recovery path.
who ministers see as "Mr Fix It" - has put himself in the firing line by
promoting Zanu PF propaganda on the economy. Now that the economy is in
serious trouble he has inevitably become the fall guy of President Robert
Mugabe's leadership and policy failures.
During the run-up to the
March 31 general election, Gono parroted the Zanu PF political line that
there was an economic turnaround even though it was evident that recovery
was an illusion.
This raised serious questions about his capacity to
deliver in an environment fraught with the dangers of partisan politics and
pitfalls of political naivety.
It has always been clear to everybody
who cares to put on their thinking caps that the current economic crisis
cannot be resolved without fundamental political reforms.
because the boundary between the discipline of economics and politics in
reality is wafer-thin. The two conflate and influence each other. Bad
politics breeds economic failure.
Gono masqueraded as the nation's
Messiah claiming "there was no room for failure" when delivering his largely
rhetorical monetary policy statements. This left many wondering whether or
not he really appreciated the depth of the structural problems embedded in
the economy and the social crisis facing the country that was the direct
product of Mugabe's misrule.
It also left many wondering if he understood
the complex political problems confronting him in his job. There was no
evidence from his statements that he factored in those dynamics in his
As the situation on the ground now clearly shows,
Gono and his team were out of sync with the prevailing realities. Barely a
month after the disputed election, economic and social conditions started
deteriorating at an alarming pace.
Zanu PF had been holding the
floodgates to secure an election victory by blocking rational economic
decisions and as soon it let go, the problems came flooding
Severe shortages of foreign currency, fuel, electricity, water,
food and basic commodities resurfaced with dire consequences. Hoping to
resist the incoming tide, Gono delivered his monetary policy statement in
May which triggered the current demolition blitz.
In his statement
Gono made a number of threats and admitted he was naïve on some issues such
as dishing out money like confetti, something the IMF said was inflationary,
and urged government to build more jails to put black market traders in.
This was seen as the trigger for the ongoing destruction campaign which Gono
has publicly said he supported.
But as the IMF said, the chickens are now
coming home to roost. The crisis has dramatically worsened and the situation
by and large is worse than when Gono came in in December 2003.
modest achievements on the inflation front and relative price stability are
now being reversed with great rapidity and intensity.
Contrary to Gono's
claims of an expected GDP growth of between 2 and 2,5%, the IMF said it
expected "output to decline sharply due to continued difficulties in
agriculture". It said the problems had been worsened by drought and
intensification of foreign currency shortages.
"The mission projects
that, on the basis of present policies, the budget deficit will increase
markedly in 2005, partly due to the cost of higher food imports, interest
payments and higher pension costs," the IMF said.
"Together with the
RBZ's substantial producer and credit subsidies, these deficits would fuel a
sharp increase in money supply, and hence inflation, by
The IMF said although authorities indicated their desire to
address these problems by taking measures to contain further increases in
the budget deficit, the outlook was gloomy.
outlook is further clouded by the gravity of the food security situation and
implementation of 'Operation Restore Order', which threatens to worsen
shortages, contribute to lower growth, and aggravate inflation pressures,"
"As indicated in previous rounds of discussions, the mission
stressed that the magnitude of the economic problems confronting Zimbabwe
calls for a comprehensive policy package that should include decisive action
to lower the fiscal deficit, a tightening of monetary policy, and steps to
establish a unified, market-determined exchange rate."
It said the
package should also include structural reforms, such as the removal of
administrative controls, to ease shortages and restore private sector
"A rebuilding of relations with the international community
is a critical part of the effort to reverse the economic decline," it
"We hope the authorities will work more closely with us to
formulate and implement such a policy package, which would help stabilise
the economy and improve the welfare of the Zimbabwean people."
June 20, Zimbabwe's arrears to the IMF amounted to US$295 million, showing
its inability to repay. This has left Zimbabwe facing expulsion from the
institution through a compulsory withdrawal process.
withdrawal is the last step in a series of escalating measures that the IMF
applies to members that fail to meet their obligations under the Articles of
On February 16, the IMF board decided to defer for six
months consideration of Zimbabwe's compulsory withdrawal, offering the
country another chance to strengthen cooperation with the Fund in terms
of policies and payments but Zimbabwe has failed to prove it was serious.
Economic analyst John Robertson said the IMF position shows it has lost
confidence in Zimbabwe.
"The statement confirms that we are doing things
the wrong way and they are saying that additional damage has been done to
the economy since the last time they came," Robertson said. He said the
statement indicated that even if it survives the chop Zimbabwe is still a
very long way from getting the balance-of-payments support it so desperately
needs from the IMF.
The IMF concerns came as Finance minister Herbert
Murerwa prepared to present his mid-term fiscal policy review which analysts
say, given past performance, will do nothing to restore confidence in the
economy. In his budget last year Murerwa claimed agriculture would grow by
28% this year.
Fiscal policy has virtually been abandoned because of
government's lack of a settled economic programme. This has had grave
consequences for Gono's agenda. A monetary policy statement in a situation
where fiscal policy has collapsed is largely inconsequential.
sooner Gono understands this the better, otherwise he will continue to drive
the economy into a ditch waving a bogus economic recovery flag.
The G8 Summit: Bob Geldof's nonsense By John
Pilger THE front page of the London Observer on June 12 announced, "US$55
billion Africa debt deal 'a victory for millions'."
The "victory for
millions" is a quotation of Bob Geldof, who said: "Tomorrow 280 million
Africans will wake up for the first time in their lives without owing you or
me a penny...".
The nonsense of this would be breathtaking if the
reader's breath had not already been extracted by the unrelenting sophistry
of Geldof, Bono, Tony Blair, the Observer et al. Africa's imperial plunder
and tragedy have been turned into a circus for the benefit of the G8 leaders
due in Scotland next month and those of us willing to be distracted by the
barkers of the circus: the establishment media and its
The illusion of an anti-establishment crusade led by
pop stars - a cultivated, controlling image of rebellion - serves to dilute
a great political movement of anger.
In summit after summit, not
a single significant "promise" of the G8 has been kept, and the "victory for
millions" is no different. It is a fraud - actually a setback to reducing
poverty in Africa. Entirely conditional on vicious, discredited economic
programmes imposed by the World Bank and the IMF, the "package" will ensure
that the "chosen" countries slip deeper into poverty. Is it any surprise
that this is backed by Blair and his treasurer, Gordon Brown and (US
president) George Bush; even the White House calls it a
For them, it is an important facade, held up by the
famous, naive and the inane. Having effused about Blair, Geldof describes
Bush as "passionate and sincere" about ending poverty.
called Blair and Brown "the John and Paul of the global development stage".
Behind this front, rapacious power can "re-order" the lives of millions in
favour of totalitarian corporations and their control of the world's
resources. There is no conspiracy; the goal is no secret.
spells it out in speech after speech, which liberal journalists choose to
ignore, preferring the treasury-spun version.
The G8 communiqué
announcing the "victory for millions" is unequivocal. Under a section headed
"G8 proposals for HIPC debt cancellation", it says that debt relief to poor
countries will be granted only if they are shown "adjusting their gross
assistance flows by the amount given": in other words, their aid will be
reduced by the same amount as the debt relief. So they gain nothing.
Paragraph two states that "it is essential" that poor countries "boost
private sector development" and ensure "the elimination of impediments to
private investment - both domestic and foreign".
The "US$55 billion"
claimed by the Observer comes down, at most, to $1 billion spread over 18
countries. This will almost certainly be halved - providing less than six
days' worth of debt payments - because Blair and Brown want the IMF to pay
its share of the "relief" by revaluing its vast stock of gold, and
passionate and sincere Bush has said no. The first unmentionable is that the
gold was plundered originally from Africa.
The second unmentionable
is that debt payments are due to rise sharply from next year, more than
doubling by 2015. This will mean not "victory for millions", but "death for
At present, for every $1 of "aid" to Africa, $3 are taken
out by Western banks, institutions and governments, and that does not
account for the repatriated profit of transnational corporations. Take the
Congo. Thirty-two corporations, all of them based in G8 countries, dominate
the exploitation of this deeply impoverished, minerals-rich country, where
millions have died in the "cause" of 200 years of imperialism.
the Ivory Coast, three G8 companies control 95% of the processing and export
of cocoa - the main resource. The profits of Unilever, a British company
long in Africa, are a third larger than Mozambique's GDP. One American
company, Monsanto - of genetic engineering notoriety - controls 52% of the
maize seed in South Africa, that country's staple food.
not give two flying faeces for the people of Africa. Ian Taylor at the
University of St Andrews used the Freedom of Information Act to learn that
while Blair was declaiming his desire to "make poverty history", he was
secretly cutting the government's Africa desk officers and staff. At the
same time, his "department for international development" was forcing, by
the back door, privatisation of water supply in Ghana for the benefit of
British investors. This ministry lives by the dictates of its "Business
Partnership Unit", which is devoted to finding "ways in which DfID can
improve the enabling environment for productive investment overseas
and...contribute to the operation of the financial sector". Poverty
reduction? Of course not.
A charade promotes the modern imperial
ideology known as neo-liberalism, yet it is almost never reported that way
and the connections are seldom made.
In the issue of the Observer
announcing "victory for millions" was a secondary news item that British
arms sales to Africa had passed $1 billion.
One British arms client is
Malawi, which pays out more on the interest on its debt than its entire
health budget, despite the fact that 15% of its population has
Brown likes to use Malawi as an example of why "we should make
poverty history", yet Malawi will not receive a penny of the "victory for
The charade is a gift for Blair, who will try
anything to persuade the public to "move on" from the third unmentionable -
his part in the greatest political scandal of the modern era - his crime in
Although essentially an opportunist, as his lying demonstrates,
he presents himself as a Kiplingesque imperialist. His "vision for Africa"
is as patronising and exploitative as a stage full of white pop stars (with
black tokens now added).
His Messianic references to "shaking the
kaleidoscope" of societies about which he understands little and "watching
the pieces fall" has translated into seven violent interventions abroad,
more than any British prime minister for half a century.
an Irishman at his court, duly knighted, says nothing about this. The
protesters going to the G8 summit at Gleneagles ought not to allow
themselves to be distracted by these games. If inspiration is needed, along
with evidence that direct action can work, they should look to Latin
America's mighty popular movements against total locura capitalista (total
They should look to Bolivia, the poorest
country in Latin America, where an indigenous movement has Blair's and
Bush's corporate friends on the run, and Venezuela, the only country in the
world where oil revenue has been diverted for the benefit of the majority,
and Uruguay and Argentina, Ecuador and Peru, and Brazil's great landless
people's movement. Across the continent, ordinary people are standing up to
the old Washington-sponsored order. "Que se vayan todos!" (Out with them
all!) say the crowds in the streets. Much of the propaganda that passes for
news in our own society is given to immobilising and pacifying people and
diverting them from the idea that they can confront power.
current babble about Europe, of which no reporter makes sense, is part of
this; yet the French and Dutch "no" votes are part of the same movement as
in Latin America, returning democracy to its true home: that of power
accountable to the people, not to the "free market" or the war policies of
rampant bullies. And this is just a beginning. - New Statesman.
Regime determined to shoot itself in the foot By Chido
Makunike WHATEVER the real reasons for the Mugabe regime's astonishing
actions over the past few weeks, it is amazing that it seems so surprised
and ill-prepared for the barrage of criticism it has deservedly received
from much of the world.
It is a measure of how steeped in
self-delusion this regime is that it seemed unable to predict that making
thousands of people homeless and income-less in the midst of economic
decline, hunger and overall national malaise would win it no friends or
In the weak attempts of regime propagandists to defend the
violent demolitions of many homes, one of the excuses has been "similar
actions have been carried out in other countries in Africa and
Those propagandists have so little ammunition to do their
job that wrong actions of other governments are now being used to justify
those of the Mugabe regime. It is no longer the best actions of other
governments by which this regime wants to be compared and judged, but the
If Kenya, Nigeria, or Mexico have displaced and made homeless
thousands of their citizens in as brutal and unplanned a manner as the
Mugabe regime has done, surely that is hardly a defence of those
The regime has whined about the "unfairness" of so much
world focus on its
latest anti-people military action.
the world focusing on and criticising us so harshly when there are worse
disasters elsewhere?" they complain. Part of it is the fascination at the
amazing antics of a regime that works so hard to shoot itself in the
True, there are many other repressive regimes in the world, but
none seem to work as hard to attract unfavourable attention as this
Zimbabwe is amazing to many people because it is an example of a
country that is very rapidly moving backwards in almost every respect, and
under the enthusiastic supervision of its ruling regime!
this to China for instance, a country also under the heel of a repressive
government. But that repressive government has at least a shrewd economic
sense, making that country's economy one of the world's most dynamic. If we
are going to be ruled by a repressive, backward regime, why couldn't we have
at least the consolation that it does one or two things right? Instead we
are not only oppressed, but are oppressed by a bungling regime that can't
seem to get anything right!
It is interesting to reflect on just how
much of a lost opportunity this bungled "clean-up" operation has been. With
just a little more thought, and less of the emotional sadism of wanting to
cause maximum misery to the greatest number of people, it could have easily
been done in a way that would have won the regime many
A well- planned campaign to build houses and trading
structures for the informal sector would have won widespread support from
the public and showed the regime in a rare favourable light. Instead it has
been forced by the widespread outrage to hastily scramble to appear as if
they had a plan in the beginning.
This rush to destroy before
having any plan to deal with the consequences of the destruction has now
become a hallmark of the Mugabe regime. This is exactly what happened with
the land-reform effort that was fuelled more by blind anti-white hate and
political expediency than by a plan to improve the welfare of the black
majority. As a result, agriculture overall is still in decline years after
Why should we expect that a regime that so recently
and so thoroughly messed up agriculture would do any better with "cleaning
up" the towns and making conditions any better for the informal
Speaking of which, if there is still a chronic lack of
various critical farming inputs every year, where are the trillions of
dollars in resources to undertake the promised massive housing effort going
to come from? There is no money for basic factors of production like fuel
and fertiliser, but we are expected to believe that there will be plenty of
money available for cement, bricks as well as the fuel to ferry them for a
reconstruction project for hundreds of thousands of citizens suddenly made
refugees in their own land? Give me a break!
And even if all the
trillions being talked about were real money and were really available,
shouldn't that money instead go to reviving our moribund agriculture before
anything else? At a time of stretched resources and economic crisis, which
is more important, pretty cities or increased productivity on the land and
in the factories?
In a more enlightened country one would see the
president and his ministers ameliorating the misery of the citizens by
making public tours of the areas of devastation. It would be a way of
showing sympathy and solidarity with the people sleeping out in the
But in Zimbabwe, the rulers fear that would make them appear
soft. In the midst of this devastation, the supreme ruler is not with the
people, but is off to the Middle East, lecturing the world on some esoteric
point of international diplomacy while his country falls
As sad as the last weeks in particular have been, there have
been some occasions for comic relief.
One of them was new
Information deputy minister Bright Matonga challenging arch Mugabe critic,
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to come to Zimbabwe.
"Come and see
for yourself how well things are working here," effectively pleaded
Matonga, finding it difficult to reconcile his proven love
for the British with the politically-correct mantra of demonising them, is
so stumped by the Herculean task of trying to make a rogue regime look good
that all he can think of is appealing to his British in-law - his tezvara -
to come and visit!
Bright, that idea is dim: you are supposed to be
demonising the British, not betraying your strong links to
YET again, undoubtedly motivated solely in order to deflect blame
from the real causes of the Zimbabwean economic morass, the political
hierarchy is alleging that Zimbabwe is the victim of unjust, malicious and
economically-crippling trade sanctions.
They repeatedly contend that
the European Union and the United States have imposed stringent sanctions
which preclude trade and financial interaction with Zimbabwe. They state
that not only are there no justifications for such sanctions, but also that
those sanctions are a primary cause (if not the only cause) for the myriad
of economic ills that beset Zimbabwe. And they amplify upon such contentions
by citing, as corroborative examples evidencing the existence of such
sanctions, that most, if not all, lines of credit have been withdrawn from
Zimbabwe, that balance of payments support is not forthcoming (and hence the
immense scarcity of critically required foreign currencies), and that the
USA does not accredit Zimbabwe with AGOA status, which accords manufacturers
of textiles and clothing elsewhere in Africa with favoured, duty-free access
to USA markets.
The claims that Zimbabwe is cruelly, and without
foundation, burdened with such sanctions were frequently a theme of the
former Minister of Fiction, Fable and Myth, now vehemently opposed to the
same government that was the recipient of his vociferous castigation until
1995, and of his total enthusiastic support until the end of 2004. And he
ensured that the diverse media then controlled by him regularly restated the
claims that Zimbabwe was iniquitously oppressed by trade sanctions,
He, and his media, recurrently argued that the
supposed trade sanctions were a deliberate strategy of Zimbabwe's alleged
enemies to destroy the Zimbabwean economy in order to bring about the
collapse of the government.
Since his departure from the governmental
benches in parliament, and from his ministerial post, the media which he had
vigorously controlled and manipulated has continued to publish frequent
attributions of Zimbabwe's economic distress to the trade sanctions which
they, and government, have so frequently used in the past to divert the
attention of the populace from the real causes of that economic
But recently it has been not only the state media that has
continued to promote the theory that Zimbabwe's economic woes are due to
trade sanctions. Many of the political "elite", including the president and
several of his ministers, have once again resolved to promote that theory in
many of their speeches, including at recent congresses of some economic
However, the fact is that no country currently applies
legislated trade sanctions against Zimbabwe. The only sanctions that exist
are the targeted sanctions of the European Union and USA, directed
specifically and exclusively at less than 200 leading members of the
Zimbabwean government, its ruling party, and certain public servants in high
The Presidium, cabinet ministers and deputy ministers, politburo
members and various permanent secretaries have been targeted, to the extent
that they are barred from travel (other than for purposes of gatherings of
the United Nations and associated organisations) to any countries in the
European Union, USA and certain (but not all) Commonwealth countries. These
persons are also barred from operating bank accounts and holding investments
in any of the countries applying the targetted sanctions.
none of those countries have applied trade sanctions against Zimbabwe or any
of its people, other than the few specifically stated targets. In fact, most
of the countries are actively trading with Zimbabwe, supplying products and
services to Zimbabwe, and importing goods and commodities from Zimbabwe.
Moreover, although the extent thereof has diminished, many of them continue
to provide humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe, supporting non-governmental
organisations engaged in health-care, education and support for the
The argument that withdrawal of lines of credit prove the
existence of trade sanctions is spurious in the extreme. Virtually no
financier, no banker, and no supplier, anywhere in the world, including
those in Zimbabwe, is willing to extend credit to those who are proven
defaulters in the settlement of debt, or to those who have little or no
prospect of timeous settlement of debt and repayment of credit facilities
availed to them. To do so is contrary to the fundamental principles of
prudent business practice, and that is the sole reason for any lines of
credit having been withdrawn. Moreover, despite such withdrawals, there are
still some suppliers who are providing credit terms to their Zimbabwean
The same circumstances pertain to the provision of balance of
payments support. The principal provider of such support, internationally,
is the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and various other international
banking entities, most of whom take their lead from the IMF.
has a very considerable and grossly overdue indebtedness to the IMF, and
that entity is precluded, in terms of its constitution, from making advances
of any nature to countries whose arrears in debt repayment are such as to
exceed prescribed default levels. In fact, so great is Zimbabwe's default,
that its membership of the IMF is suspended, and there have been serious
considerations that Zimbabwe's membership should be terminated.
the IMF will continue to show patience with Zimbabwe, in anticipation of
transformation, and not take such a drastic action. However, the
non-provision of balance of payments support by the IMF is driven by its
constitution, and not by any act of imposition of trade sanctions. In turn,
bodies such as the World Bank, European Investment Bank, donor states and
others, cannot provide balance of payments support, not because any of them
are seeking to impose trade sanctions, but because their ruling structures,
and the fundamental principles of fiscal prudency and of good and sound
corporate governance, so dictate.
Gono in danger of Operation Overload ZIMBABWE council
of chiefs president Chief Fortune Charumbira said last week it was important
for the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition MDC to work together for the
development of the country.
"Let's not continue scolding each other," he
said. "Let's solve our household problems."
We hope in his heart of
hearts he knows who has been responsible for the deadlock in the talks
between the two parties. Certainly not the MDC. How do you achieve unity of
purpose with a national president who prefers partisan triumph over the
national interest, a ruling party that claims a false two-thirds majority as
a trick to unilaterally amend the constitution and a leader who insists an
opposition party with more than a third of the popular vote is a Tony Blair
Charumbira should be aware that the national interest is being
mortgaged simply to keep Zanu PF in power. Zimbabweans are paying heavily
for Zanu PF's love of power for its own sake. While it is obvious even to
the most blinkered Zanu PF supporter that the party has absolutely no clue
about how to move the country forward, the personal prejudices and pettiness
of those in power make it well nigh impossible for Zanu PF leaders to
contemplate an accommodation with a legitimate opposition which still enjoys
the goodwill of the international community.
Charumbira should make
that message clear to his bosses.
he chief should benefit from a
close reading of the Sunday Mirror's Scrutator column of last week on
Zimbabwe's economy. We don't believe the structural adjustment programme of
the early 1990s is the major cause of our current problems. First and
foremost, when the programme was adopted we were fed the lie that it was a
Secondly, no greater harm could have been inflicted
on the economy than what has happened in the past five years when government
opted to destroy the agricultural sector while at the same time claiming it
to be the mainstay of the economy. Blaming Esap is as helpful to the current
crisis as a man chasing his own shadow - it gives the illusion of doing
something when the result is certain failure. It's as futile as blaming
Cecil John Rhodes for Operation Murambatsvina.
But we agree entirely
with the Scrutator's point that the political leadership must first
"acknowledge the mess we are in, honestly analyse its causes" before working
out a realistic policy of recovery.
Unfortunately we have a political
leadership that believes its own lies about "external forces". It will not
accept the self-evident truth that it has become part of the malaise. The
task ahead will be arduous. As the Scrutator has painfully noted, the skills
base has dissipated, the private sector is alienated while "society at large
is becoming immersed in . cynicism at the growing social and economic
The long and short of it is that we have a governing class
blinded by hubris to the fact that it has forfeited the goodwill of its
citizens and of the international community. It believes only in its own
e were interested to read in The Voice a story
complaining that songs composed to celebrate Zimbabwe's Silver Jubilee had
been prematurely "snatched from air". The songs composed to "augment" this
historic occasion had "vanished from the airwaves even though the country is
still in celebration mood", bemoaned the writer.
In the wake of the
tsunami and the fuel crisis, can anyone be said to be in "celebration mood"
we wonder? The writer said the "artistes" concerned were "crying fowl" (sic)
that their "efforts have gone uncrowned". Can the editor of The Voice tell
us which fowl is crying foul at the moment? The one atop the building
housing the paper's offices?
Soon the cat was out of the bag. National
Productions boss Justice Dhliwayo let it be known that "some of the songs
are still in the hands of Mukoma Charamba". This was a reference to
Information secretary George Charamba. So the guy won't allow us to
celebrate "our first ever Silver Jubilee" because of his feud with Dhliwayo?
What a "fowl" up!
he paper also reported that the Umdala Wethu
Silver Jubilee Gala in Beitbridge was spoilt by the inclusion of PaxAfro
among performers. This was because the group was founded and wholly funded
by Professor Jonathan Moyo "who recently turned rebel", the writer pointed
"Professor Moyo has insulted the gains of the struggle by turning
against the ruling party that delivered the people of Zimbabwe from colonial
bondage," was the final verdict of "a member of the public".
is now an enemy of the people again? It would however be interesting to hear
what the victims of the Mugabe tsunami have to say about past and current
obody can accuse Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono of
lacking energy. Addressing delegates to the Zimbabwe Institution of
Engineers last week he announced that the RBZ had launched 12 operations to
complement government's clean-up onslaught.
These will include
Operation Restore Confidence and Goodwill that is aimed at attracting
investors and tourists; Operation Buy Zimbabwe will promote import
substitution; Operation Restore Fuel and Electricity Supplies will put in
place sustainable strategies for securing energy supplies while Operation
Support Exporters will enhance production for the export market. At the same
time Operation Attract Investment will be focused on expanding the
productive capacity of mining, manufacturing, tourism and
Operation Fight Inflation and Unemployment is designed to
create a stable business environment while Operation Support Kumusha is
aimed at boosting the Homelink scheme.
Operation Support SMEs will
assist the informal sector while Operation Irrigate Zimbabwe will promote
food security, as will Operation Food Security itself. Then there is
Operation Kubatana/Ukubambana (Unity of Purpose) and Operation Kutaura
Chokwadi (Accurate Information).
All this is very impressive. But is
there not a danger here of Operation Overload? How realistic are all these
initiatives and do they not first require certain essentials to be put in
For instance Operation Restore Confidence and Goodwill will have
to see a complete restoration of the rule of law before investors or
tourists return. Roy Bennett was explaining to a South African TV audience
on Carte Blanche on Sunday night that he had won six court orders to protect
his Charleswood Estate from the ravages of the army, police and CIO but they
were all completely ignored.
ast Saturday Ignatious Chombo
told the Herald the government would ignore a High Court order to halt
construction of model homes at Whitecliff Farm.
In both cases property
owners were exercising their right to seek judicial redress; in both cases
the state did what it liked, in Bennett's case inflicting random cruelty
upon his livestock and forcing him off his property.
of properties protected by bilateral investment agreements have seen their
investments expropriated. Potential tourists have heard the president, his
ministers and state newspapers attacking their countries in virulent and
racist terms. They have read about the police arresting people for
criticising the president. They have seen video footage of blackboots
demolishing structures and assaulting township dwellers.
This is not
a country they would want to visit or invest in.
What prospect is there
for Operation Irrigation when previous irrigation equipment has been
vandalised or stolen? It is said aluminium irrigation piping found its way
into Mbare's informal sector as coffin handles!
Operation Restore Fuel
and Energy Supplies will depend upon the availability of forex. The IMF has
made it clear there will be no balance-of-payments support until there is a
national consensus on economic recovery. That depends in turn upon a
What steps have Zanu PF taken to secure such an
agreement? What steps are they taking to restore the rule of law? Where is
Gono's energy and commitment to reform must be commended.
But should he be engaged in the giant delusional exercise the government is
conducting called Operation Cover-Up, especially when he knows as well as we
do that the main obstacle to the attainment of his goals remains blocking
he Sunday Mail persists in deluding its readers about
the role of the Commonwealth Observer Mission in 2002. It repeats the lie
that the head of the mission General Abdulsalami Abubakar was not
responsible for authoring the final report on the presidential poll but had
it "forced down his throat by the British-controlled
The Commonwealth put out a strong statement after this
charge was first made repudiating it as a crude lie. But Zimbabwe's state
media, it would appear, hasn't woken up to the reality that Africans
themselves are now a more formidable nemesis for this regime than Blair or
How else do we explain the "surprise" and "shock" that greeted news
of the arrival of African Union Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga on a
fact-finding mission for AU chair Alpha Konare last Thursday? The Sunday
Mail could not conceal official indignation about the visit - that Africa's
key agency was investigating the waywardness of its most fist-waving
Africanist member which claims to be the authentic voice of the continent's
Nyanduga's visit was "unprocedural", we were
Wasn't this the same term applied when the African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights last year adopted a damning report on Zimbabwe
which the authorities in Harare ignored because, they argued, it had been
sent to the wrong ministry?
The Sunday Mail was so shocked by
Nyanduga's visit that it wasn't sure what to call him. He started off as
Bahare Tom Nyanduga. Then became Bahame Tom Nyanduga. And then ended up as
ince his release last week Roy Bennett
has helped the outside world to appreciate the shocking conditions in
He described in detail the slow and terrible death of
the prisoner sleeping next to him. Worst, he said, were the screams of the
people being beaten.
Was he vengeful?
"When you see the hate and
vitriol coming out of Patrick Chinamasa when he is talking about race you
have to pray for him," was Bennett's response.
Will he give
"There has been too many people buried, too much history of hardship
to allow an evil mafia dictatorship to suppress us."
People cannot be
expected to just sit down and take it, he said. But he reserved his most
trenchant remarks for the South African government that aids and abets the
tyranny north of its border.
What is so evident about all this is that it
is Chinamasa's and the government's reputation that has suffered from the
spiteful imprisonment of Bennett. He has emerged the decent and dignified
man he always was. And after seeing Carte Blanche's documentary on Heather
Bennett's support among the people of Chimanimani, nobody in their right
mind would believe Samuel Undenge won that seat freely and fairly despite
his facile crowing in the state media last week.
By the way, could
Reuters editors please say when "Mr Mugabe's government denie(d) charges
that inmates suffer abuse in its prisons".
Reuters ritually inserts
denials of this sort in its copy in the interests of "balance". But when was
the last time you heard a minister making such a preposterous
e had a significant concession from the president
recently. Explaining the evictions under Operation Murambatsvina, he was
quoted by the BBC as saying they were delayed ahead of the March election
for fear it would be said "that we were preparing the way for our own
victory and affecting the MDC adversely.
"But now after elections
when the MDC has won we decided to undertake the operation".
for that Mr President. And an obvious point: If you had revealed that you
were going to dispossess hundreds of thousands of people, you would have got
even fewer votes than you did? Right?
Muckraker is advised that a number
of notices have gone out to proprietors of restaurants in residential areas
instructing them to close down. We are watching Chinese establishments with
more than passing interest to see if they are affected in any
hief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku appears impressed with
things Chinese. Receiving a Chinese ministerial delegation he said good
political relations with China had not been translated to the
"The reality of the matter is that political relations between
Zimbabwe and China are very strong and are getting stronger by the day and
yet, and quite regrettably, the judicial relationship between the two
countries is non-existent," he said. Chidyausiku said Zimbabwe had a lot to
learn from the Chinese.
Apart from "modernising" their judiciary to
make it more "accessible to the people", it is difficult to know what he had
in mind. The Chinese judiciary is thoroughly partisan and judges are
promoted on the basis of their compliance with government
In a country with an independent judiciary, judges do not
feel compelled to follow the latest political fad of the government. They
instead uphold the law and the rights of their citizens. Zimbabwe's "Look
East" policy may appeal to many ruling-party supporters but it is not a
policy that the majority of people necessarily support, especially when
it undermines their livelihoods.
SIGNIFICANT isn't it that President Mugabe was not afforded an
opportunity to rubbish the West at the African Union Summit in the Libyan
coastal town of Sirte this week.
He has used previous such events to
grandstand as Africa's authentic statesman. That claim is looking
increasingly threadbare as Africa seeks to take a distinctly different
African heads present in Libya were careful not to pour scorn
on Tony Blair or George Bush but appeared keen to foster co-operation with
the rich nations and promote trade. Even Mugabe's once strong ally Muammar
Gaddafi this week did not hide his appreciation of Blair's efforts on the
African continent. And he made some pointed remarks about beggars in the
The continent, unfortunately for President Mugabe and those
handling international relations for Zimbabwe, is moving forward with a
serious quest to eradicate poverty through more equitable trade and debt
Mugabe returned from Libya without the moral support he had
hoped for from his African brothers to prop up his failed state. Gone are
the days when he would touch down at the airport to announce agreements that
would bring fuel and food flowing into the country. He came back without
The sad state of the country which faced Mugabe on his return
should educe in him introspection on the task to hand and why things have
degenerated to the current abysmal depths.
He knows what needs to be
At the G8 meeting in Scotland this week leaders from rich countries
agreed to a huge debt relief package for 14 African countries. AU leaders in
their resolution this week implored the rich nations to ensure debt
cancellation would be "applied by all creditors (multinational, bilateral
and commercial), including the African Development Bank" and that "all
African countries must benefit from this measure".
But they knew in
their hearts there was no prospect of that. Zimbabwe is not on the list of
countries to benefit from debt cancellation. Contrary to his public
statements, Mugabe would be very happy for Zimbabwe to be a beneficiary of
the West's "benevolence". The country's foreign debt is currently sitting at
US$4,5 billion of which US$295 million is owed to the International Monetary
Mugabe's conduct is the measure used by developed nations to
determine whether Zimbabwe should be given assistance or not. And he has
with Operation Murambatsvina once again blotted his copybook.
were significant statements on Wednesday from two world leaders about
Mugabe. Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen at a joint press conference
with Bush said: "We should not be afraid to stop aid to dictators like
Zimbabwe's Mugabe. I urge the G8 to make no compromise in the demand for
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose observers
endorsed the March poll, used identical language. "We should not be afraid
to stop aid to dictators like Zimbabwe's Mugabe," he said in a speech at the
The statements of disapproval of Mugabe's rule are getting louder by
the day and unfortunately the whole country, especially its most vulnerable,
has suffered as a result. The country is in dire need of foreign currency
injection through balance-of-payments support or bilateral grants. The
obstacle to such support being extended, according to donors, is their
disapproval of President Mugabe's damaging rule.
But he claims that
he is right and they are wrong. They want to take away Zimbabwe from him, he
pretends. He would rather keep his Zimbabwe in its current state of
desolation in the name of sovereignty!
He is wrong because he should act
in the interests of Zimbabwe to rid the country of poverty, disease and
In Sirte on the sidelines of the Summit, Mugabe disputed that
there was demolition of properties in Zimbabwe. "It's a clean-up operation
and that's what all countries do," he said. He claimed no one had been
displaced by the operation.
"Where are they (the displaced people)?
We don't know about those. It's just nonsense." The blinkers are firmly in
place. But may we introduce the president to Caledonia Farm and to the area
adjacent to Gwinyai Primary School in Mbare where the displaced are living
in the open. If Mugabe is not well-informed of the Zimbabwean story then he
should get out and see things for himself.
A government that is keen
to extract its people from poverty has to be responsive, representative and
serve the interests of the nation. That is the precondition for
Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi emphasised this in media
reports this week.
"I think it is time for Africans to stop blaming
everyone except themselves for the dire situation we find ourselves in," he
told news agencies. "We need to own up to our own shortcomings in the past
and come up with alternative strategies and implement them."
the time for Zimbabweans to take a critical look at our ability to deliver.
Rich countries have learnt one thing about giving money to unaccountable
leaders: you don't build societies by throwing money at them.
Asked by a
reporter in the early days of Mikhail Gorbachev's rule what the West could
do for Russia, one disgruntled pensioner was clear: "Don't give them any
money," she said of the Soviet nomenklatura. "They'll only steal it, waste
it or lose it."
Forex/fuel crisis bites building contractors Eric
Chiriga WHILE government is busy destroying homes in the name of cleaning up
urban areas, building contractors and materials manufacturers are operating
at below capacity due to lack of fuel and foreign currency.
the year foreign currency shortages worsened, creating serious problems in
sourcing imported raw glass, glue and critical spares," PG Industries
(Zimbabwe) Ltd (PG) said.
The company said manufacturing output fell
to below 50% of capacity due to unscheduled shut downs of both Zimboard and
Plate Glass Manufacturing.
PG said it was planning to reduce
investment in manufacturing and to dispose of properties.
involved in the manufacture and distribution of building
"With evidently no immediate solution to the prevailing
critical shortage of diesel and petrol in the country, the Zimbabwe Building
Contractors Association (ZBCA) is seriously concerned about the devastating
impact this is having on operations," Concordia Rukodzi, the chief executive
officer of the ZBCA, said.
Rukodzi said without fuel, which is
very essential for the operation of plant and machinery, the work of
contractors had virtually ground to a halt.
She said because most
contractors had been hard-hit by the fuel crisis, management and supervision
of building projects had also been severely compromised.
instances contractors have been forced to suspend building operations and
park their vehicles and other equipment due to lack of diesel and petrol,"
She however said the construction industry should
benefit immensely from the massive housing projects being proposed by
government, depending on the availability of fuel.
operations manager at United Builders Merchants (UBM), a division of Radar
Holdings, said they were unable to import building materials due to foreign
"We are experiencing a shortage of building
materials that are not locally manufactured, for instance taps and copper
tubing," Gomba said.
He said Clay Products, one of their suppliers,
was also failing to deliver clay pipes due to foreign currency
Gomba said the shortage of standard wooden doors was due to
the destruction of forests during and in the wake of government-inspired
"During the land invasions a lot of forestry,
particularly pine trees, was lost
and it takes about 25 five years
for the trees to be fully grown."
He said the fuel crisis had also
dealt a big blow to their distribution activities.
recently embarked on a clean-up campaign named "Operation Murambatsvina"
resulting in the destruction of homes and other shelter in urban areas. The
operation left thousands of people homeless.
It has since launched
"Operation Garikai" under which it has undertaken to construct more than 20
However, human rights groups have condemned the operation
saying government was responsible for the emergence of the so-called illegal
RBZ reins in black market Godfrey Marawanyika IN a
bid to discourage parallel market trade, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
has flooded the market with $1 000 notes and $5 000 bearer cheques instead
of the higher $20 000 and $10 000 denominations.
The $1 000 and $5 000
bearer cheques can be accessed via automated teller machines and in banking
Officials said the decision to dish out the lower notes was
also taken to contain money supply growth (M3) which has increased from
219,4% in November last year to 222,6% in December.
was against a backdrop of deceleration in M3 growth for most of last year
from a peak of 490,9% recorded in January.
Over the past two months,
the market has been experiencing daily average shortages of $920,7
The sources said government and the RBZ were worried about
dealings in foreign currency on the black market. They also said the RBZ
wanted people to use other forms of money like cheques and making payments
using ATM swipe cards.
"There is a major problem of parallel
market dealings which forced the bank to release huge quantities of $1 000
notes on the market. This should greatly reduce foreign currency dealings as
people would now carry huge bags which are a security threat," the source
"There were also concerns from the government about liquidity
on the money market."
The source however ruled out the
possibility of the country running out of paper to print bearer cheques
which are found in $20 000, $10 000 and $5 000 denominations.
paper used to print the $1 000 note is imported from Germany.
has also imposed limits of $20 million on cash withdrawals per person from
Before the client accesses his/her money the bank needs
authorisation from the Reserve Bank.
A $1 000 note cannot buy a
slice of bread.
The central bank did not respond to questions sent to
them last week.
In May, the central bank devalued the Zimbabwe dollar
by adjusting the diaspora exchange rate at the foreign currency auction from
US$1: $6 200 to $9 000 - a massive 45% devaluation.
adjustment was targeted at containing the rampant parallel market and giving
exporters incentives to stimulate foreign exchange
Despite the adjustment, the measure has failed to close
the yawning gap between the official and parallel market
The local currency has crashed to US$1:$25 000 on the black
market while the South African rand is trading at around R1:$3 200 compared
to the official rate of R1:$1 000.
SAA slashes flights to Victoria Falls Godfrey
Marawanyika IN a move likely to further hurt Zimbabwe's economic recovery
efforts and the tourism sector, South African Airways (SAA) has halved its
direct flights to the prime resort town of Victoria Falls due to the low
volume of traffic.
Prior to the move, SAA flew directly to Victoria
Falls at least 14 times a week, but it will now only have seven
Officials at SAA, one of Africa's largest airlines, said the
South African flagship had launched new direct flights from Johannesburg to
Livingstone just across the Zambezi.
At its peak in 1997, tourism
contributed 6,5% to the gross domestic product, but since the 2000 farm
invasions the sector's operations have hit rock-bottom.
manager for Zimbabwe Getrude Banda this week confirmed the latest
"We will be starting three direct flights to Livingstone with
effect from Saturday. We will now have seven flights to Victoria Falls
instead of 14," she said. "But we will keep our options open on the Victoria
Banda said they had not seen a major improvement in
terms of traffic from Zimbabwe.
"This is a game of numbers. There
has been a 15% decline of passenger uplifts from Zimbabwe since
Operators in the aviation industry have over the past five
years grappled with shortages of foreign currency and low traffic volumes.
The sector has also been dogged by uncertainty over the availability of Jet
A1 fuel in the country.
A number of airlines have been forced to
either re-fuel in South Africa or in Zambia while many have dropped their
flights to Zimbabwe altogether.
Some of the major international
airlines that have stopped flying into Zimbabwe are Austrian, Swissair,
Lufthansa, Balkan, Qantas and KLM.
Meanwhile, Banda confirmed there
were negotiations going on for a possible business partnership between Air
Zimbabwe and SAA.
"We did sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Air
this year but other discussions are taking place," she
"I cannot say anything more on that. Talk to Air Zimbabwe for
Air Zimbabwe general manager Tendai Mahachi
could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of the
The overtures to SAA by Air Zimbabwe will also include the
possibilities of sharing facilities and codes.
AirZim faces competition on busy Dubai route Roadwin
Chirara COMPETITION is heating up for national carrier Air Zimbabwe on its
recently introduced Dubai route as Air Malawi has muscled in with direct
flights to the Middle East from Harare.
The Malawian carrier on June
17 launched three flights a week to Dubai compared to the current two
offered by Air Zimbabwe.
The Dubai route, which has proved lucrative
for other airlines, has yet to generate revenue for the national airline. On
its maiden flight, Air Zimbabwe managed to carry only 49 passengers, far
below the required break-even load of 60 on its long haul
It only managed to carry one passenger on its return flight
from the Emirate city on its 260-seater Boeing 767.
to Dubai, which was introduced as part of the airline's "Look East" policy,
Air Zimbabwe has been flying to Singapore and China.
The airline is
yet to launch its service to Bangkok, Thailand, which had been scheduled for
May 20. Airline staff say the company management had reviewed the route
after the poor performance of the other flights to Asia.
like all parastatals has been battling to operate viably with the company
surviving on funds allocated for its operations through the national
The company's chief executive officer, Tendai Mahachi,
recently denied the airline had benefited from funds under the Productive
The airline had been reported as the largest beneficiary
under the facility with $1,1 trillion dollars having been availed by the
central bank as part of its turnaround strategy.
Fortunes for the
national carrier further dipped when its Boeing 737 made an emergency
landing in Johannesburg after encountering technical problems injuring six
people on board.
Air Zimbabwe is currently in partnership with Air
Malawi on the Lubumbashi route. But it will now be competing on a route
where a number of African airlines are well established, observers say.