|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
From the Financial Times [UK]
Zimbabwe's deluge of doubt
By Tony Hawkins
Published: July 18 2001 17:00GMT | Last Updated: July 19 2001 09:06GMT
If the last three days are any guide, Zimbabwe's financial markets have already written President Robert Mugabe's political epitaph - "Après moi, le déluge".
It has been a week in which, despite a surge in the inflation rate to a 20-month high of 64 per cent, the country's leading banks, Standard Chartered and Barclays, cut their prime lending rates to 33 and 32 per cent, respectively.
Meanwhile, on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, the industrials index bounced past the 50,000 mark for the first time. In the foreign currency market, the parallel rate for the Zimbabwe dollar is verging on Z$200 to the US unit - a premium of more than 260 per cent over the Mugabe government's official rate of Z$55.
In their own ways, each of the markets represents an accident waiting to happen. On the ZSE, industrial share prices have risen 180 per cent since the start of the year against a background of a sliding economy, a deepening political and social crisis, and a collapsing currency.
The explanation is simple. Along with the rest of the world, Zimbabwe investors are sellers of their own currency, piling into foreign currency and driving the parallel market premium from 30 per cent a year ago to 260 per cent today.
On the logic that no one wants to hold Zimbabwe dollars as the country lurches towards hyper-inflation, there has been a flight to the stock market, expensive cars, property and even the leading export, tobacco.
In the last three weeks alone, industrials have surged 28 per cent taking the average price-earnings ratio to nearly 22 and, driving the yield on stocks to less than 0.5 per cent. Financials, including the currency hedge par excellence, the Old Mutual, have led the charge.
Nine listed banks - only Barclays an international player - have a market capitalisation of Z$144 billion ($2.6bn at the official exchange rate). They are worth some 36 per cent of estimated GDP of around Z$400bn. The industrials market, excluding the dual listed counters, has a market cap of more than Z$364bn or 90 per cent of GDP.
Something will have to give and when it does the speculative asset price bubble that is tempting investors with get-rich-quick paper gains will burst. There is no consensus on when that might happen, but market nervousness is certain to grow as next March's presidential elections approach. Market analysts predict growing investor caution as elections near. Some say publication of half-yearly results will hit the much-overpriced banking stocks, possibly signalling an end to the bull market.
Whatever the outcome of the presidential poll - the smart money is on opposition Movement for Democratic Change candidate Morgan Tsvangerai - there must be a drastic, painful economic adjustment.
Interest rates will soar possibly to three-digit levels; the official exchange rate will have to be substantially devalued, on current projections by economists to around Z$140 to the US unit.
It will be little short of remarkable if the episode passes off without a significant number of corporate and banking casualties.
Only then will the markets begin to count the true cost of the Mugabe deluge.
The independent Financial Gazette newspaper quoted unnamed senior government sources as saying the deal was brokered between President Robert Mugabe and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who visited the country last week.
Under the arrangement, Libya is to supply fuel worth $360m a year in exchange for exports of Zimbabwean products.
Zimbabwe's economy is in deep recession, which has caused a shortage of hard currency to buy imports like fuel and medicine.
Zimbabwe needs about $40m of fuel imports each month, but supplies have been erratic for more than 18 months, since the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe had its credit lines cut over mounting debts.
The reported agreement will mean that each quarter, $90m will be released for fuel supplies to Zimbabwe.
Last year Libya gave Zimbabwe a $100m financial package.
Earlier this month Zimbabwean trade unions held a two-day national strike, protesting at 70% fuel price rises.
The government is due to hold talks with unions soon, seeking to avert an indefinite strike.
Zimbabwe's economy is in recession and the country's problems have deteriorated due to the halting of donor aid over President Mugabe's land reform plans.
July 19 2001 at 12:40PM
Harare - Zimbabwe's government has struck a $360-million (about R2,9-billion)
deal under which it will source fuel from Libya in exchange for exporting
products to the North African country, the private-run Financial Gazette
newspaper reported on Thursday.
The paper quoted unnamed senior government sources as saying the deal was brokered between President Robert Mugabe and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who left the country on Saturday after a two-day visit.
"The deal will guarantee fuel supplies to Zimbabwe for at least a year, and is renewable, which means this could be the end of the country's fuel problems," one official said.
State media reported last week that Gaddafi discussed with Mugabe the possibility of Libya providing petroleum products to ease a crippling fuel shortage Zimbabwe has suffered for the past 19 months. Last year Libya gave Zimbabwe a $100-million financial package.
|Fuel supplies have been erratic|
|Problems worsened by the suspension of aid|
Zimbabwean blasts Young on land
ATLANTA AND THE WORLD
Don Melvin, Moni Basu, Ernie Freda and Keith Graham - Staff
Thursday, July 19, 2001
Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young has spent decades working on African issues. The high regard in which he is held on the continent is thought to have helped Atlanta win the right to host the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
But a Zimbabwean newspaper publisher who visited Atlanta last week blasted Young's attempt to mediate an end to that country's land crisis as distinctly unhelpful.
"The way he started it all has cost him a lot of credibility," said Trevor Ncube, the publisher and chief executive of the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard. "He's come across as somebody who's shooting from the hip."
The majority of land in Zimbabwe is owned by white people, who make up only 1 percent of the population. In the past year, veterans of Zimbabwe's war for independence, with the encouragement of President Robert Mugabe, have occupied a number of white-owned farms. And the government has slated more than 5,000 white-owned farms for seizure.
Increasingly vocal critics, including the primarily black political opposition, charge that Mugabe, 77, is inflaming the land issue because he fears losing next April's presidential election.
African leaders worry that turmoil in Zimbabwe could contribute to instability in the region. In June, at the request of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Young met with Mugabe. After the meeting, Young said that any solution to Zimbabwe's troubles must include Mugabe, because he alone has the credibility to get the war veterans off the land.
But Ncube said Young wasted a chance to be a respected mediator because he "endorsed Robert Mugabe 100 percent," and added that Young seems "ill-informed."
"How he jumps to conclusions is regrettable, to say the least," the publisher said.
Young was traveling in Africa and could not be reached for comment. He will go to Zimbabwe late this week to talk again with Mugabe and with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
But Sika Awoonor, vice president for communications at Goodworks International, Young's company, rejected Ncube's comments as unfounded, and noted that Young was mediating at the request of influential Africans.
"Other African leaders have deposited a certain amount of confidence in him," she said.
From The Star (SA), 18 July
Zim farmer in chains, lawyer kept from court
Harare - Farmer Phillip "Blondie" Bezuidenhout, 51, appeared briefly in a magistrates court in the eastern city of Mutare on Wednesday on charges of murdering a squatter by running him down in his truck. In a two-minute hearing in a court jammed with ruling Zanu-PF party militias, magistrate Hosiah Mujaya remanded Bezuidenhout in custody to appear again in two weeks. No charges were put to him and he was not asked to plead. Bezuidenhout, handcuffed and in leg-irons in the courtroom, was not legally represented. Police had advised his lawyer not to enter the court, legal sources said, in case he was attacked by so-called guerrilla war veterans, despite the presence of scores of police, some armed with service revolvers, in and outside the court.
Lawyer Chris Ndlovu declined to comment, but the sources, who asked not to be named, said: "The war veterans wanted to have a word with him. It was not safe for him." On Saturday Ndlovu had to flee a mob of war veterans when they demanded to know why he was "defending a farmer who killed a black man". The affair is expected to move to the high court in Harare on Thursday where Bezuidenhout plans to ask a judge for bail. Magistrates are barred by Zimbabwean law from granting bail to suspects in murder cases.
Mayhem descended on the small farming district of Old Mutare on the eastern city's outskirts on Saturday last week after Bezuidenhout ran over and killed a squatter in his truck as he passed through a mob allocating themselves plots on his farm, Tara. Families in the area fled as veteran-led mobs ransacked and looted five farmers' homes in revenge for the killing and threatened to plunge the district into chaos. The state-controlled media seized on the incident as a "premeditated Ku Klux Klan-type murder", but Bezuidenhout has apparently told his lawyer that he drove into Fibian Mapenzauswa – who was the financial manager of a major Zimbabwean industrial company – as the man walked out of a crowd milling on the road and into the path of the farmer's vehicle.
Police reacted on Monday by saturating the area with paramilitary police who restored order. Farm union officials said several people had been arrested for looting and stolen property had been recovered. "It's quiet; there've been no problems," Judy Wilson, administrator in the area for the Commercial Farmers' Union, said Wednesday. "Let's hope it stays like that." Residents in the area said police had cleared squatters from Bezuidenhout's farm on Wednesday. Tara is one of about 60 white-owned farms not to have been listed formally for seizure by the government for resettlement. Mapenzauswa was the first squatter to have been killed by a landowner in 18 months of violent harassment of farmers by militias. A total of 28 farm workers and eight farmers have been murdered since the invasions began, but only a handful of arrests and no prosecutions have taken place.
From The Daily News, 18 July
Ministers threaten students with death
Masvingo - Two cabinet ministers last week threatened students and college authorities in Masvingo with dismissal or even death if they supported opposition parties ahead of the 2002 presidential election. Stan Mudenge, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Samuel Mumbengegwi, the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, said they were concerned at the students and their principals’ support for the opposition parties. The ministers met student leaders and principals from Masvingo, Bondolfi and Morgenster teacher training colleges, Masvingo Technical College and Mushagashe Vocational Training College.
According to the minutes of the meeting held at Bondolfi Mission last Friday, the ministers said the only way teachers and students could guarantee their safety was to support Zanu PF. Mudenge said: "You are going to lose your jobs if you support opposition political parties in the presidential election. As civil servants, you have to be loyal to the government of the day. You can even be killed for supporting the opposition and no one would guarantee your safety." Mumbengegwi, the Zanu PF chairman for Masvingo province, said he was troubled by reports that some teachers supported the MDC. Mumbengegwi said: "We cannot continue to pay our enemies. People have to know which side of their bread is buttered." A college official who refused to be named said: "The aim of the meeting was to intimidate student leaders and members of staff."
The ministers’ threats come after the transfer last month of more than 100 teachers from Masvingo Urban to rural schools for allegedly supporting the MDC in the run-up to the Masvingo mayoral election. The MDC’s Alois Chaimiti beat Zanu PF’s Jacob Chademana by more than 2 000 votes to become Masvingo’s executive mayor. The Masvingo regional director of education, Obert Mujuru, yesterday confirmed the transfers but refused to give details. Aeneas Chigwedere, the Deputy Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, last month said his ministry would not provide security to teachers affected by violence perpetrated by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters for supporting the opposition.
From News24 (SA), 18 July
'Murder' could sink agriculture
Harare - The death of Febian Mapenzauswa, 31, a prospective settler on Phillip Bezuidenhout's farm in the Odzi commercial farming area near Mutare, has come at an unfortunate time for commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe, white farmers say. Apart from raising emotions and granting the rowdy war veterans and government an excuse to get at the community, Mapenzauswa's death threatens to scuttle the delicate negotiations between the farmers, the UN, Britain and other international agencies on the resolution of the prolonged agrarian reform programme.
"If anything, Mapenzauswa's death has hardened feelings among government officials and war veterans," said Peter Shorayi, an agricultural economist. War veterans immediately ordered all farmers on listed properties off the land and announced that they planned to disregard calls by the government for a peaceful co-existence on occupied farms. Confused farmers are reported to have taken up refuge in nearby towns and cities. Mapenzauswa's death has attracted the ire of war veterans who are now back in large numbers on most commercial farms, directing the looting, intimidation and other acts of brutality among the white farmers, their families and workers.
"We have deployed an additional 2 000 cadres countrywide to monitor the situation," said Andrew Ndlovu, the war veterans director of "projects". "All farms in the Odzi area must be seized," said Nyasha Mupfungaidza, another war veteran. "Like what Muammar Gadaffi said, we have been lenient for such a long time that we have been labelled invaders of our own land." Gadaffi was in Zimbabwe last week and made highly racial and inflammatory statements throughout his speeches at rallies organised for him on occupied farms. Ndlovu said the Odzi incident was a declaration of war by white Zimbabweans. "We are forced to take the law into our hands," he said. "We are prepared to put every farmer on the road and make sure that their next destination is out of this country."
The veterans have the support of the government and widespread anxiety now grips the entire white commercial farming community following a fresh, heightened campaign to purge them from their properties under the guise of resettling landless black peasants. "We, as a community, are in a desperate position," said Neill O'Donovan, a rancher in the Midlands town of Shurugwi. "We have been under a terrible scene since February 2000. No privacy, no security, no life, no support in our country. We have been badly treated and have seen our choices dwindle by the day."
Contrary to government propaganda, Mapenzauswa was a finance manager with a newsprint manufacturing company in Mutare. He was not a landless peasant. He died after he was allegedly run over by Bezuidenhout on Saturday when government officials started pegging plots on Tara Farm, owned by the Bezuidenhout family. The farmer was immediately arrested and is facing a murder charge, which he denies, alleging that Mapenzauswa died in an ordinary car accident. Tara Farm is one of three owned by the Bezuidenhout family. The other farms are Brooksville and Welverdien owned by Fritz and Charles Bezuidenhout. By Tuesday, all the farms were overrun by bands of government supporters.
Since the government lost in the February 2000 referendum for a draft constitution, Zimbabwe has been plunged into a major political campaign, initially targeted at the June parliamentary election, and later extended to the 2002 presidential poll. In these campaigns, white Zimbabweans, particularly commercial farmers, became instant victims because of history and unproven accusations that they supported the opposition. "We and our community and our workers have been subjected to the most unimaginable forms of harassment and brutality ever seen in this country in the last 20 years," adds Muriel Peters, of Wedza/Macheke farming area. "Our crime, it seems, has been the fact that we are descendants of European settlers who came here two centuries ago and colonised this land. I have no other home apart from here."
All along, the government, through the use of ruling party militants and war veterans, occupied commercial farms to cut off the assumed support for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - a young political party that scooped half the votes in June. In the process, the government supporters disrupted agriculture, invoked history to justify violence and polarised race relations in Zimbabwe. Five commercial farmers and 31 opposition supporters died in the melee.
The government proceeded to list all commercial farms as part of its populist effort, resulting in so much confusion and the international positioning of Zimbabwe as a pariah state where the rule of law is non-existent and basic civil liberties are disrespected. Although the land-grab programme was declared illegal several times by the country's courts, the government has persisted in encouraging settlers to move in, threatening the production of agriculture and pushing the country into a food crisis. The winter wheat farming districts of Macheke, Marondera, Mazowe and Beatrice have so far been unable to put much to the ground because of constant disruptions.
A Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) spokesperson said most farmers faced a further dilemma arising from the size of the farm debt. "The debt owed to banks and financial institutions now runs into billions of dollars and unless the government halts its push, the entire financial sector is exposed," said the spokesperson. "Once a farm is listed, everything stops. The banks want their money, our workers' lives are threatened, our own survival is in doubt and the world literally crashes in your face," adds O'Donovan.
Agriculture is Zimbabwe's economic mainstay, but the government does not seem to appreciate that any dislocation of the sector would bring the country to its knees, said Shorayi. "The current overtures involving the UN, Britain, the UNDP and other agencies to break the impasse on the land question were designed to avert a potentially damaging national disaster," he said. A range of diplomatic initiatives are underway to resolve the land problem and resuscitate the economy in light of the pending food shortages expected at the end of the year. Zimbabwe has to import more than 700 000 tonnes of the staple, maize, to meet a shortfall caused by a decline in production and erratic weather patterns last season.
For much of the year, the government refused to accept that the situation was bad, until Finance Minister Simba Makoni told the nation that his budget performance would be severely dented by the reality of food shortages. As a result, the government on Monday classified maize, maize meal, wheat and wheat flour. They are now controlled products and the government's Grain Marketing Board is now the sole buyer, a position threatening the viability of the poultry industry which used to source the maize independently.
Millers and private traders who disregard this new measure will have their stocks or reserves seized by the government and their silos closed. Although the reasons the country faces a shortage are very clear, the government says it suspects commercial farmers of attempting to create false shortages through hoarding. Farmers disagreed. "Maize is a problem for the farmers," said Peters. "It is bulky and difficult to store. No farmer would want to keep it longer than necessary."
Other than watch the hype until the presidential election next year, white commercial farmers have fewer and fewer choices. The government seems determined to vent its anger on this tiny community with the hope of a turn-around in its waning popularity, analysts said on Tuesday. "All this can be traced back to that fateful day in February last year when President Robert Mugabe decided to turn his back on the rule of law, allowing the law of the jungle to take over on the commercial farms," says an editorial comment in the independent Daily News. "He must know his own political future will depend on how soon he can curb this violence."
From The Financial Gazette, 19 July
Govt seeks legal channel to extend land seizures
The government, bogged down by legal and financial problems in implementing its fast-track land reforms, is now seeking a Supreme Court order to extend the seizure of white-owned commercial farms until the end of the year, it was established this week. The commercial farms, hundreds of which are being seized every fortnight, are meant to resettle millions of landless blacks under the reforms, already declared illegal by Zimbabwe’s highest court, that are spearheaded by the ruling Zanu PF party. Party supporters and veterans from its 1970s war of independence have settled on many of the illegally acquired commercial farms to press for speedier resettlement. The internationally condemned exercise has triggered countrywide lawlessness as police continue to turn a blind eye to crimes committed by Zanu PF supporters on the farms during the occupations.
In court papers submitted this week, the government wants a Supreme Court interdict issued last December proclaiming July 1 this year as the deadline for acquiring more land for resettlement to be extended to the beginning of November. The Supreme Court ruling had ordered the government to stop acquiring more land for resettlement by the beginning of this month and that by that date, the state should have produced a workable land reform plan and re-established law and order on farms. Lands Minister Joseph Made, Local Government’s Ignatius Chombo and Rural Resources Minister Joyce Mujuru are the applicants on behalf of the government of the urgent chamber application filed on Monday seeking to extend the deadline.
The government argues that if the matter is not heard as a matter of urgency, the land acquisition exercise and the whole land reform and resettlement programme might be adversely affected. The farmers’ organisation, the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) which has been cited as the respondent, still has to react to the application that is set to be heard next week. CFU lawyers Coghlan, Welsh & Guest confirmed in a letter to the Registrar of the Supreme Court that the government’s application had been referred to their clients and counsel. "You will appreciate that the record is substantial and that the matters involved in this application are of enormous consequence to Zimbabwe as a whole and to many farm owners and hundreds of thousands more people who work on the farms," the lawyers’ letter reads.
The CFU has been under pressure from the government to drop all litigation on the land issue as a pre-condition for opening dialogue on land reform. Last year’s Supreme Court interdict prohibited government ministers responsible for the resettlement programme from taking any further steps in the acquisition of land after July 1 this year. In its ruling then, the Supreme Court said there was no land reform programme in Zimbabwe as envisaged in the Constitution. The government now says it has already seized more than 2 500 farms measuring more than 3.5 million hectares on which 104 000 families had been resettled. It has also listed another 2 500 commercial farms which it intends to acquire for further resettlement under the fast-track programme. In its new application, the government argues that it has since fulfilled conditions set by the Supreme Court prior to the July 1 deadline and that the land reform programme is now in place and the rule of law restored on commercial farms.
From The New York Times, 17 July
Political climate complicates food shortage in Zimbabwe
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe faces a food shortage in the coming months, and while such shortages are not unknown in the country, this time the reasons behind it - and the ways out of it - are especially complex, aid officials say. Other shortages, such as the one in 1998 when Zimbabwe needed to import about 400,000 metric tons of corn, have not crippled the country, and typically, this year's projected shortfall of 447,000 tons would not have been cause for too much alarm either, officials say. Zimbabwe, however, is hardly the same place it was even a few years ago. With its economy a wreck, the country is in no position to help itself. With its president, Robert Mugabe, the object of scorn in Western capitals because of his suppression of the political opposition and his support of farm seizures, Zimbabwe is isolated from the very countries that would be expected to come to its aid. "In normal circumstances, this should be manageable, but I don't think we're talking of normal circumstances," Elliot Vhurumuku of the Famine Early Warning System Network said in a telephone interview from the capital, Harare.
The shortfall is one result of a confluence of factors: some parts of the country were still struggling this year to recover from major flooding in early 2000, and many, especially in the south and east, endured erratic rainfall patterns. The planting of corn, the country's staple food, has fallen, driven down by the widespread farm invasions sanctioned by the government and further hurt by the crop's declining price. Meanwhile, hard currency, which would ordinarily buy Zimbabwe out of such a poor harvest, is scarce, a result of a big drop-off in tourism and falling production of the country's key exports, tobacco and gold.
Last week, after months of doing little publicly about the problem, Mr. Mugabe assembled a cabinet task force to oversee the Grain Marketing Board, which controls the import and export of corn. While encouraged by the government's acknowledgment of the problem, some international aid officials worry that with presidential elections scheduled for early next year, Zimbabwean political leaders will press too hard to keep the price of corn down and end up doing grave damage to agriculture. Already, some farmers have been switching to more lucrative crops like soybeans and the pepper plant, from which paprika is derived. If the price of corn is held down too much, many more will abandon it, setting up much bigger shortages next year, the officials say.
Donor nations, including the United States, are monitoring the situation, and while aid officials do not expect the West to withhold aid, the political tension is making communication more complicated. The United Nations Development Program, which has been charged with coordinating international efforts in Zimbabwe, is serving as a bridge between Mr. Mugabe's government and the West. It is a delicate task; in declining to be interviewed, United Nations officials explained that the working relationships are simply too fragile to put at risk.
Zimbabwe was one of Africa's more stable countries until last year, when its struggling economy went into a free fall as political turmoil grew. But it is still a long way from the food crises that have struck in Angola, Congo and Sudan. George Heymell, a program adviser for the United Nations World Food Program, said in a telephone interview from regional headquarters in Maputo, Mozambique, "We are not at the point where W.F.P. would have to move in with emergency assistance, and I don't know if we're ever going to get to that point." Still, the agency is not taking chances and is sending in one or two food specialists to help lay the groundwork for any relief effort that might be needed.
Last October, people rioted for three days in the capital and other cities after food prices surged. The country has remained restless. Last week the price of bread was doubled for the second time in two months. With the harvest down from last year, and with the foreign currency needed to import food and other essential goods like fuel in short supply, hunger and frustration could become more widespread. According to two recent reports, one by the Famine Early Warning System and the other by the World Food Program and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Zimbabwe needs between 200,000 and 600,000 tons of corn and other grains, depending on how deeply the country dips into its reserves. Such quantities of food cannot be imported overnight, and that is why, aid officials say, the effort must begin now. "If the moves are taken now," Mr. Vhurumuku said, "there is time to counteract the problem."
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe has seen its maize market halted as the government
takes control of trade in grain, while across its borders South African farmers
are forging ahead with a top quality maize harvest.
In Zambia the government has launched an appeal for food aid, with the Zambia National Farmers' Union predicting a 2000 to 2001 maize harvest of 490,000 tonnes, some 30 percent less than the previous season.
South African maize futures prices have bucked the normal trend during peak harvesting periods by rising sharply on expectations of higher demand because of shortages in the region.
South Africa is expected to produce 7.04 million tonnes of maize this season versus last year's exceptional 10.1 million tonnes.
Domestic consumption is between seven and eight million tonnes a year, but the country has carryover stocks from last season of about two million tonnes.
July white maize contracts are at 933 rand ($113.5) a tonne, 48 percent higher up on a year ago. White maize is a staple in African diets.
The privately run Zimbabwe Agricultural Exchange (ZIMACE) said there was no trading on Tuesday after the government introduced new regulations giving a monopoly on all trade in maize and maize meal to the state Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
Officials at the exchange said they were still assessing the government notice to work out its implications on future trade.
The exchange, however, recorded higher bids for maize at 9,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($162.2) a tonne, while offers to sell rose to Z$10,500.
Industry officials have said maize producers are unhappy with the GMB's buying price of Z$7,500 fixed in April, which they said prevents them from recouping their input costs.
ZIMACE said the previous week had been characterised by large trading volumes, reflecting worries over supply after a sharp reduction in 2000/01 output.
The US-based Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) says Zimbabwe will run out of maize by February 2002 if there are no imports to augment domestic supply. The agriculture ministry maintains it still has not assessed a need for imports.
Industry officials say the country will need to import up to 800,000 tonnes of grain.
The government has accused white commercial farms, who produce about 40 percent of the national maize crop, of hoarding grain to create artificial shortages and hiking prices in retaliation for the state's drive to seize white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
High quality SA maize
South African maize farmers in the central and western parts of the country are waiting for parts of their crops to dry out, but more than 50 percent has already been harvested nationally.
"The quality of South Africa's maize is superb and the harvesting is generally going very well," said Bully Botma, the chairman of Grain SA, the producers' umbrella body.
OTK, one of the country's largest agricultural companies, said 75 percent of the maize in its area had been delivered, of which more than 90 percent was grade one. The harvest was seen coming to an end within a month, said spokesman At de Lange.
In the key North West province area covered by the North West Co-operative, farmers had reaped about 50 percent of their maize and 92 percent of it was of grade one quality, said co-operative spokesman Gert du Bruyn.
"It has been a pretty mild winter and some maize still has too much moisture. We need frost to dry things out," he said.
In the Free State Co-operative area 80 percent of the maize had been harvested, with 93 percent being grade one, but harvesting had slowed as farmers switched to planting wheat.
"Some of the maize is still a bit wet and farmers are letting it dry out on the land while they plant wheat. We think by mid-August the harvesting will be completed," said co-operative spokesman At Kruger.
Zambia maize output falls
Zambia's maize output is seen sharply down in 2000/2001 (April-March) and the government has launched an urgent appeal for aid for two million people facing severe shortages, industry leaders have said.
The main growers' Zambia National Farmers' Union (ZNFU) said maize production was down by 30 percent in 2000/2001 to 490,000 tonnes.
"We face a severe deficit and we have appraised government of the situation," said ZNFU director John Clayton.
Zambian Vice-President Enock Kavindele issued an urgent appeal for food aid, saying some two million people faced food shortages and his government needed 98,000 tonnes of maize.
ZNFU said that figure referred to peasants who required handouts, but another 150,000 tonnes of maize would have to be imported for the open market.
Kavindele blamed the shortfall on unusual weather, saying some growing areas had received heavier-than-usual rains while others faced a mini-drought.
Poor maize prices for last year's crop had led to some farmers withholding their grain from the market this year as they tried to avoid last year's losses.
ZNFU President Ajay Vashee said the 2001 to 2002 crop would depend on how the government responded to the lack of credit and fertilisers and to marketing problems. - Reuters
|ZBC appoints Moyo’s man|
7/19/01 9:51:25 AM (GMT +2)
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has appointed a protege of
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo to the strategic
position of head of Newsnet.
In this newly created
position, Munyaradzi Hwengwere, currently Presidential spokesman, will be in
charge of both radio and television news. This was the position previously held
under a different name by long-time broadcaster Anani Maruta, who was tipped to
take over even as director-general of the restructured State-run broadcaster
during its recent shake-up.
Although senior appointments at ZBC are announced by chairman Gideon Gono, it is an open secret that Moyo appoints whom he wants in the upper echelons of both ZBC and Zimbabwe Newspapers, where there has been a similar shake-up of editors.
Effectively, Moyo exercises greater control over the State broadcaster and the government’s newspaper empire than any of his predecessors, Nathan Shamuyarira, the renowned journalist and Zanu PF’s information supremo, included.
Once a hot favourite of Moyo, Maruta was ditched at the last minute in a surprise move by the minister. For years Maruta had enjoyed a monopoly over assignments close to President Mugabe, both at home and abroad.
But yesterday all that became history.
The new man in charge of news at ZBC, Hwengwere, 32, is the principal Press secretary in the Department of Information and Publicity in the President’s Office. He and permanent secretary, George Charamba, have worked as a closely knit team under Moyo since the former ministry was reduced to a department with the appointment of the new minister. They have churned out State propaganda relentlessly and have waged a vicious campaign to demolish the privately-owned Press. Success has, however, remained elusive.
Hwengwere is a former student of Moyo at the University of Zimbabwe.
Last month, the ZBC appointed Alum Mpofu, another close associate of Moyo, chief executive officer of the corporation. Mpofu is currently employed by the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
Announcing the appointment yesterday, Gono said Hwengwere was the most
suitable person to head Newsnet. Hwengwere, however, does not have any
practical experience in either the broadcast or the print media.
But he holds a Master of Arts degree in Media Studies from the University of Natal, South Africa, a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and Administration and a postgraduate diploma in Media and Communication Studies, both attained at the UZ.
His other previous working experience is confined to short stints as a
strategic planner at Diccomm Advertising Pvt Ltd, a local advertising house, and as an assistant personnel manager at Indarama Gold Mine.
Medelina Dube, 40, a producer and presenter with ZBC’s Radio 4, was
appointed head of radio services. She has 14 years' experience
She holds a diploma in journalism.
Jennifer Tanyanyiwa, a chief law officer in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, was appointed to head ZBC's corporate affairs.
Tanyanyiwa, 34, holds a Bachelor of Law degree, a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB) and an advanced diploma in legislative drafting.
Douglas Dhliwayo, current head of television news, will now head the
production services department. Dhliwayo, 45, joined ZBC as a reporter in 1980. He holds certificates in journalism and TV news production.
Mike Chingosho is the new ZBC head of finance and administration.
Previously, Chingosho, 43, worked as group treasury operations head at the Zimbabwe Development Bank, and in various capacities at the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and Circle Cement. He holds a Bachelor of Accountancy degree and a Master of Business Leadership degree.
Amon Matambo, a computer engineer at ZBC, was appointed head of broadcasting technology.
|Death threats may be silly but deadly to freedom|
7/19/01 8:55:57 AM (GMT +2)
MATURE voters, acutely
aware of their inalienable right to vote for the candidate of their choice,
cannot be swayed by silly death threats made by cabinet ministers trying to suck
up to their president.
Stan Mudenge and Samuel
Mumbengegwi are reported to have made similar threats at a meeting with student
leaders and the principals of a number of colleges in Masvingo early this month.
In case they themselves don’t know it, they sounded absolutely silly
threatening adults with expulsion and even death if they continued to support the opposition. They could have been asked by their audience who they thought they were to make such threats.
But then that would have been unnecessary, as they are both Zanu PF Members of Parliament and cabinet ministers of a government led
by a president who has himself made death threats to his political
There have been no reports of the audience¹s reaction to the threats issued by the ministers at Bondolfi Mission, the alma mater of many citizens who have distinguished themselves in a number of fields of human endeavour.
We suspect most of the targets of the threats left the meeting feeling a little annoyed that the two men could believe they were immature enough to be cowed by the threats.
On the other hand, some of them may have felt a little amusement at the spectacle of these two fairly educated men making threats, which they must have known, made them look absolutely silly to their listeners.
Very few voters still believe that whatever they do in the privacy of the ballot box is secretly recorded by hidden cameras- or satellites high up in the sky - to be produced as incriminating and incontrovertible evidence of their betrayal of Zanu PF.
Most now believe firmly that there is no way anybody from the resident, the cabinet ministers, the war veterans to the CIO can know who they voted for, unless the voter decides to tell them. So the vote is still secret and if Zanu PF thugs decide to attack someone on the suspicion that they voted for the opposition, then it can only be on suspicion and in normal circumstances, people are not convicted on suspicion.
But politically, Zimbabwe is not enjoying the most normal
of circumstances. In fact, the politics of this country have contained such an abnormally large dose of violence, free and fair elections at whatever level, by the reckoning of many experts, are not possible for the foreseeable future.
Incidentally, it is ironic that Mudenge and Mumbengegwi repeated a threat made to the voters of Masvingo before the election for the
executive mayor of the town last May. Josaya Hungwe, the provincial governor made a similar threat.
Considering how decisively the people of the town reacted to that threat -by voting for the opposition candidate - one is inclined to wonder if the two men have no regard at all for the lessons of history. Moreover, even going back to the results of both the referendum and the June 2000 election that followed it, a pattern has emerged: most people have become too thick-skinned to be frightened of these threats of death if they vote for the opposition.
Some are either willing to take the risk or are determined that nothing short of a nuclear holocaust will deter them from making their choice. Others may believe that the threats are being perpetrated by a paper tiger, someone who is threatening only in appearance, but is in reality quite ineffectual. Unfortunately, Zanu PF and its war veteran allies have proved recently that they can kill their opponents.
One of the Zanu PF luminaries, Joseph Chinotimba, still faces an attempted murder charge for allegedly shooting an unarmed woman. Other war veterans are appearing in the courts for allegedly killing opposition members during the election campaign for the 2000 election.
Still others, named in a court as the alleged murderers of two opposition activists in Buhera, remain untouched. In other countries, fearless citizens would have brought civil action against the two men.
Without sounding biased in favour of one party or another, we believe the people must always be aware of their constitutional right to make their own free choice. They should not let death threats or threats of any other kind detract them from their determination to exercise their free will.
Only in that way can they help nurture the fledgling democracy Zimbabwe is trying to build from the ashes of a one-party dictatorship which has plunged the country into its present morass of political and economic uncertainty.
|Peta refuses to be drawn into mudslinging match with Moyo|
7/19/01 10:05:54 AM (GMT +2)
BASILDON Peta, the
secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), on Tuesday said he
would not be drawn into a mudslinging match with Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of
State for Information and Publicity.
He was commenting on the
minister’s attack on him in the State-controlled weekly, The Sunday Mail. In the
article, Moyo accused Peta of being an MDC-Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
He alleged Peta was abusing his position as secretary-general of ZUJ to
“become a pro-MDC and ZCTU functionary”.
Peta denied the accusations.
Peta, 30, a recipient of three international awards in journalism, alleged that Moyo still wanted to oust him from ZUJ and was determined to do anything to influence his employer, The Financial Gazette, to sack him for contributing to foreign publications about the deteriorating situation in the country.
Said Peta: “I have nothing against him personally as he has against me. He has tried several strategies to get me out of ZUJ, but he has failed. I was given a mandate by the ZUJ membership and I have the support of all members, including employees of ZBC and Zimpapers.”
Peta said he gives research assistance to the Kenya-based Ford Foundation and Witswatersrand University (Wits) of South Africa.
Ford is suing Moyo over misappropriation of funds, while Wits has accused him of breach of contract.