FIRE gutted part of the five-star Elephant Hills Hotel in Victoria Falls on Tuesday causing extensive damage. The hotel has been closed temporarily while bookings are being transferred to The Kingdom and The Victoria Falls Hotel.
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party of Robert Mugabe faces a by-election this
weekend which analysts describe a key indicator of political opinion.
The by-election comes ahead of next year's presidential elections, and
follows the death of a prominent member of President Mugabe's party in a car
crash in April.
The run up to the vote in the town of Bindura, just 35
miles (56km) from the capital, Harare, has been marked by violence and tension.
Just last week as Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) campaigned in the town, there were clashes between
his supporters and Zanu-PF activists.
The MDC said its cars were stoned and shot at. Reports from Bindura say there
is now a heavy police presence after more clashes on Thursday.
The ruling party won the constituency in national elections last year by a
Land invasions have exacerbated Zimbabwe's economic
But widespread violence in the poll left at least 31 people dead in the
country, most of them opposition supporters.
This by-election comes only eight months before President Mugabe faces
presidential elections next April, and is taking place in the middle of a grave
The country has said it faces a shortage of foreign exchange, inflation and
unemployment are very high and Zimbabwe will need to import at least 500,000
tonnes of grain to avert food shortages by the end of the year.
Bindura’s ‘most wanted’ leads Manyika campaign
Augustine Mukaro A LEADING member
of aspiring MP Elliot Manyika’s Bindura by- election campaign team is a wanted
criminal in the Mashonaland Central town.
Jack Salim, wanted in
connection with 14 cases of robbery and violence, is on the police most-wanted
list. Salim is a key member of Manyika’s campaign team which has engaged in
violent confrontations with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change across
the length and breadth of the sprawling constituency.
In the reception
area at Bindura police station his picture is on the chart of wanted people in
Sources at the Bindura magistrates’ court have expressed
surprise that the police have to date not arrested Salim despite coming into
contact with him on a daily basis.
Police in Bindura confirmed that
Salim was on their wanted list and was at one time arrested by a police officer
called Paribendipo. He was apparently released on the instructions of senior
Zanu PF officials.
Sources in the town said Salim was also a beneficiary
of part of the $2 million splashed out by the government in the town, ostensibly
to support self-help projects. All the beneficiaries are understood to be close
to the ruling party.
The by-election, which is being held tomorrow and
Sunday, pits Manyika of Zanu PF against Elliot Pfebve of the MDC. Pfebve lost to
the late Border Gezi in last year’s parliamentary poll by a margin of less than
2 000 votes.
Money is being distributed under the guise of loans for
self-help projects, in most cases in the absence of any project proposals from
beneficiaries or subsequent accountability.
Last week the deputy
minister of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation, Shuvai Mahofa, handed over $2
million to Manyika for disbursement. The source said visits to homes of
beneficiaries showed no signs of any projects taking off. He said the money was
actually being used to intensify the terror campaign aimed at ensuring that
Manyika won the by-election.
Pfebve has questioned why the money was
only made available when elections were due.
“Zanu PF wants to deceive
the electorate with cash to win votes but we have realised their dirty tricks
and are educating the electorate on it,” he said.
“They are capable of
doing anything to win an election. They have tried even to eliminate me through
violent attacks and ambushes. But our message is clear; that people should go to
vote in large numbers because that is the only way left for their voices to be
Last weekend opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Pfebve,
together with other MDC officials in a 13-vehicle motorcade were ambushed by
more than 100 Zanu PF youths led by Salim. The motorcade was attacked at Chiveso
shopping centre on its way to Mupandira Business Centre where Tsvangirai was due
to address a rally. Though the senior officials escaped unhurt, five people
sustained serious injuries and most vehicles had windows shattered. One vehicle
belonging to Dr Tichaona Mudzingwa, MDC’s secretary for health, was burnt.
“Of the five who were seriously injured, two might not recover because
of the severity of the injuries sustained. But what is shocking is that though
we are the victims we are now under arrest for allegedly causing the violence,”
said Tapera Macheka, the MDC chairman for Bindura.
Those still detained
at hospitals include Peter Mangurenje who lost an eye in the skirmish and is in
a critical condition at Parirenyatwa Hospital.
Munamato Mutevedzi this week threw out the case of the 14 MDC supporters
arrested on allegations of causing violence, citing lack of evidence.
The magistrate ruled that the accused were actually the victims whose
properties were destroyed in the violence.
In his judgement Mutevedzi
said: “What makes this case surprising is that there are no complainants of
the people who were assaulted.
“No single name of assaulted people has
been referred to in the report, which makes it surprising who reported this case
to the police. It therefore compounds the defendants’ claim that the accused
were arrested when they came to report the case to the police,” Mutevedzi said.
The Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, has appointed three extra judges to
the supreme court.
The justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said the new judges were needed to
handle a growing number of cases, but the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change said the move appeared to be aimed at filling the court with judges
favourable to the governing ZANU-PF party.
Mr Chinamasa said the court was expecting an increase in the number of
appeals, including some brought by white farmers who he said were aiming to
frustrate the government's programme of land reforms.
The government has targetted thousands of white-owned farms for
redistribution to the majority black population.
Zimbabwe's government has suspended
the accreditation of British Broadcasting Corporation journalists working in the
country. Information minister, Jonathan Moyo, accused the BBC of deliberate
In a letter to the BBC, Mr. Moyo said the broadcaster distorted comments
President Robert Mugabe made in a speech to parliament about the nationalization
of commercial farms. In particular, the minister said, Mr. Mugabe had been
reported by the BBC as saying that quote "the forcible acquisition of farms"
In his speech to parliament on Tuesday, President Mugabe said what he called
"land reform" would continue. Mr. Moyo said the president had mentioned nothing
about forcible acquisition in his speech, and he added that "President Mugabe
made it clear that land would be acquired in terms of the law."
An amendment to the constitution forced through parliament last year by Mr.
Mugabe's party allows the government to seize land without compensation for
resettlement of poor people. The government has said it will pay for
improvements to the land. More than four-thousand farms have so far been listed
for seizure by the government.
Responding to the ban by Mr. Moyo, the BBC expressed its disappointment with
government move and said it stood behind its report.
Political analysts have strongly criticized the latest action against
journalists, and predict that even tougher measures will be taken in the next
few months. The head of the information division of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, Learnmore Jongwe, says the government wants to prevent
impartial reporting of the presidential elections next year.
Local and foreign journalists have been coming under increasing pressure in
the last 18 months. Three foreign journalists have been refused work permits
this year, while in February a bomb destroyed the presses of the independent
newspaper, the Daily News. Last year, an editor and a reporter of a Harare
newspaper were tortured by the army after the paper published a story on a
possible military coup.
And the pressure is likely to continue as new laws are being drawn up to
monitor journalists. Press freedom organizations say they suspect that the laws
will be used to limit objective reporting.
farmers on Thursday accused Zimbabwe of dumping agricultural products on their
market, in violation of the rules governing the regional Free Trade Area (FTA)
signed last year.
Zambian farmers at their annual congress here said
Zimbabwe has been dumping wheat, dairy, oil seed and horticultural products on
the Zambian market, contrary to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern
"Trade with Zimbabwe has been the biggest problem,"
said Songowayo Zyambo, executive director of the Zambia National Farmers Union
"Zimbabwe has a lot of economic problems, and because of their
desperate efforts for foreign exchange, has been dumping a lot of products on
Zambia," Zyambo told the farmers congress.
He said the ZNFU has formally
filed a complaint against Zimbabwe at the COMESA secretariat on the damage that
dumping was doing to Zambia.
Dumping is the selling of goods in another
country at below the market prices in that country.
with Zambia and has written to Zimbabwe over the issue. This is how far COMESA
can go because (it keeps) on saying it's up to our government to act," Zyambo
said, adding that the Zambian government has reacted too slowly on the
Zyambo said the Zambian farmers will for the first time be part
of the trade negotiating team with Zimbabwe next month, where they intend to
raise the dumping problem and propose a bilateral treaty within the COMESA
"ZNFU has advised government to use the COMESA treaty to ban
Zimbabwean imports causing injury to the Zambian products. Unfortunately, our
government has been too slow and, in certain cases, misguided," Zyambo
Trade from within COMESA accounts for only 15 percent of Zambia's
imports. Of that amount, 83 percent of the COMESA imports are from Zimbabwe,
On October 31 last year in Lusaka, nine out of COMESA's 21
member countries -- Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius,
Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- agreed to join the FTA and look towards a customs
union, a single currency and common central bank by 2025.
1994, COMESA now has a total population of 350 million people, with a combined
gross domestic product (GDP) of some 153 billion dollars.
not in the FTA: Angola, Burundi, the Comoros, the Democratic Republic of
Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, the Seychelles, Swaziland
New British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Brian Donnely,
said on Thursday that his government wanted to re-establish the friendly
relations the two countries enjoyed before the current controversy over the land
issue, news reports said.
Donnely, who was presenting his credentials at State House
in Harare, told reporters after a one-and-half-hour meeting with President
Robert Mugabe that he conveyed to the Zimbabwean leader a message of friendship
from British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Relations between the two countries have
not been that cordial since 1997, when Blair spurned Mugabe's request for
Britain to honour its independence promise to fund land reforms.
Following his re-election in May, Blair wrote a conciliatory
letter to Mugabe, who had written to congratulate him, raising hopes that the
two countries could be back on talking terms soon. "I am here to represent my
country and give the position of Britain in line with what my prime minister has
said in so far as working together to solve difficulties and differences between
our countries," Donnely was quoted saying. He said, however, that working with
Zimbabwe did not mean that Britain had changed its position on fundamental
Zimbabwe has been chosen by the Association
of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) to be the seat of its Ethics, Peace and
Justice Commission, a body mandated to lobby governments and civil
organisations to promote justice and respect for human rights in
AEA, an umbrella body of the National Evangelical Fellowships
from 46 countries in Africa, formed the commi- ssion in response to the
frequent denial of justice to citizens as a result of regional and
ethnic conflicts and general human rights abuses on the continent.
Bulawayo-based commission would also bring into focus issues of intolerance
and poor governance. According to Patson Netha, the executive secretary of
the commission, one of 10 under the AEA, the body's first task was to
establish correspondent desks within the 46 African countries where the AEA
was represented. "There are different problems linked to justice in different
countries, and it will be the role of this commission to promote it," Netha
"Some of these problems have to be dealt with region by region or
even country by country, that is why we would like to have desks dealing
with issues of ethics, justice and peace throughout the continent. It
will not be easy, but it is possible," he said. Netha said the
establishment of the commi- ssion, set to complement work covered by the
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and the Zimbabwe Council for
Churches, arose out of a need to monitor justice within the
"From the ethics component of the commi- ssion, we feel that
people need to seriously look at issues of morality and ethical codes, for
instance, in tackling corruption," he said. But would the commission have
teeth to bring to light unresolved cases of injustice, corruption and
violence? "We believe that if all of us in Africa speak out against
injustice, we will make an impact," said Netha.
"The need to promote
justice has always been there, but we have not all been rising to that
challenge. "We will endeavour to do our best in Zimbabwe to ensure that
justice prevails for all faiths and for those who do not belong to any
faith," he said.
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe Media Update # 2001/28 Monday 16th July
to Sunday 22nd July 2001
In describing the death of an
Odzi settler as murder, the state print media abandoned all the basic
restrictions surrounding the reporting of incidents involving criminal
charges. The purpose of these restrictions is founded upon the fundamental
principle that accused individuals are innocent until proven guilty in a
court of law. The conduct of the state media in this case has pre-empted
the court investigation and raises the question of whether the trial of
the white commercial farmer involved in the fatal accident may have been
compromised by such unprofessional coverage. While The Herald (16/7) did not
actually describe the accident as murder in its initial report, the story
did quote the Minister of Information, Jonathan Moyo, as describing it as
".a callous, premeditated, cold-blooded murder of the Ku Klux Klan type
of murders." Relying on unnamed sources, the state media reported the
incident as a deliberate act of racism arising out of the government's land
reform programme and used this stance to cover the looting of nearby
farms by angry war veterans sympathetically. The Daily News missed the
initial story, and subsequent reports confined themselves to events
following the incident, as should have been the case with the
state-controlled media in coverage of incidents involving a pending
trial. Notably, The Zimbabwe Mirror (20/7) ran a story quoting the
brothers of the dead man attacking the state-owned media for
politicizing the death of their brother. But none of the media managed to
provide a clear context to the incident, and the state media's coverage of
it reflects the biased and politicized pattern of its coverage of violence
in other parts of the country, particularly in Bindura where a by-election
is due this weekend. The progress of the US Zimbabwe Democracy Bill was
also a subject of much debate during the week under review.
Settler's Death. In addition to allowing Minister Moyo to describe the death
of the Odzi settler as murder, The Herald (16/6) also employed
accusatory language to describe the incident, saying: "A commercial
farmer in Odzi.allegedly ran over a resettled farmer.dragged him for about
20 meters under his truck before dumping the body in full view of other
settlers." The paper's heavily racist comment also clearly referred to the
incident as murder, likening it to racist murders that have taken place
in South Africa and the United States. And it noted that war veterans had
demonstrated remarkable restraint by not retaliating "against the white
commercial farmers," who, the paper claimed, "seem bent on triggering
another bloodbath that will justify the imposition of sanctions." In this
way, the paper not only perpetuated the prejudice against the white farmer
involved in the killing before his trial, but also managed to suggest that
most white farmers were inciting violence. The next day, the news columns of
the paper simply described the incident as murder when it reported that war
veterans had taken over the farm belonging to the commercial farmer
allegedly responsible for the death ".as tempers flared following the
murder of a peasant farmer allegedly by a white commercial
farmer." The Herald (19/7) compounded this error by muddling the story of
the man's remand with vague references to eye-witness reports apparently
not raised at the court hearing. It also referred to the incident as murder
in its headline, "Odzi murder slammed" of a story about those condemning
".the brutal murder of a Mutare man." Despite the fact that the same
edition of the paper reported the farmer as appearing in court facing a
murder charge, the accompanying story clearly sought comment from a number
of people on the basis that the farmer had already been found
ZBC's coverage of the settler's death was little better. While it
did not directly refer to murder, it used the incident to portray the
impression that it was the result of a racist attack and that white
farmers were generally violent and were harassing peaceful peasants
occupying their farmlands. ZTV made no attempt to balance its initial
coverage of the event the previous evening or in its follow-up stories
(16/7, 8pm) only quoting settlers and war veterans. In one of its reports
that night, it quoted war veterans' acting chairman, Patrick Nyaruwata, as
saying that his organization had received reports that other white farmers
had been harassing settlers on designated farms. ".If the whites start
fighting us, then we have to retaliate..." he was quoted as saying, thus
giving the impression that white farmers were provoking settlers and war
veterans. He was not asked to provide examples or give viewers some idea of
the scale of the problem. Nor was independent opinion sought, or those of
the white farming community. Similarly, the same report quoted the war
veterans' secretary- general, Andy Mhlanga saying, ".This is now the time to
show the white minority that we are very, very angry about their action.
We urge all war veterans countrywide to make sure that people in designated
farms leave with immediate effect." ZTV did not subject this inflammatory
statement to any scrutiny or provide alternative opinion. Nor were the
police consulted over the legality of such a threat of summary
eviction.. A similar impression was given by a report on ZTV's 6pm and 8pm
bulletins two days later (18/7), in which a settler was allegedly shot
by a Nyabire farm security guard. The story contained a startling
revelation from war veterans' spokesman, Andrew Ndlovu, saying he had
received a call from the President's Office informing him of incidents on
other farms. ZTV never asked him why the President's Office should be
contacting him about such incidents. Nor did it ask the President's Office
whether it thought the war veterans were a form of law enforcement agency
supplementing the activities of the police. The Daily News missed the
original story and concentrated on the reaction of the war veterans
following the incident (17/7) and reported the incident itself in the barest
detail, presumably because the paper was aware of the sub judice reporting
restrictions that exist in relation to events leading to criminal charges.
The Herald also focussed on the war veterans' reaction (17/7) and both
papers stated that the commercial farmer was due to appear in court
facing a charge of murder. The Daily News (19/7) carried a report of the
white farmer's remand hearing under a somewhat misleading headline, "Police,
Court Deny Odzi Farmer Right to Lawyer", which referred to the fact that
the lawyer was advised not to attend for security reasons: "'I stayed
away on the advice of the police and court officials,' Ndlovu said. 'They
feared that my presence might ignite an already tense situation,'" the paper
reported the lawyer as saying. But the story also reported that the lawyer
had attended the hearing in the afternoon. The next day (20/7) the same
paper devoted a story and a front page photo to the farmer's young black
wife and in so doing appeared to be using the fact to refute the state media
allegations that he is a racist.
The Zimbabwe Democracy Bill The
Herald (16/7) reiterated ZBC's allegations in its bulletins the previous
evening that - according to eye-witnesses - the Odzi farmer involved in the
death of a settler had boasted that he had wanted to kill 15 settlers to
"celebrate" what he thought was the passing of the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill
by the US Senate. It is impossible to tell if this was the state media
exploiting the weaknesses in The Zimbabwe Standard's original story
(reported here last week), but the claim certainly highlighted the
inadequacy of the early reports on the progress of the Bill. Following up
the Sunday story, The Daily News (16/7) reported the comments of an
International Crisis Group, but then compounded the confusion initiated by
The Standard by reporting that the Democracy Bill had received ".approval by
the US Congress." Despite the fact that the daily also appeared to correct
its mistake by virtually repeating The Standard's explanation, it made
matters worse by stating that the stage was set for "the proposed law to
sail through the House of Representatives." So, had it been approved?
Unfortunately the private press was unable to clarify the matter. That could
only be obtained from the state owned media. Responding to The Standard's
inaccurate headline of the day before, Zimpapers (16/7) and later, the state
broadcaster, quoted Zimbabwe's ambassador to the U.S., Simbi Mubako,
(Radio and TV 16/7, 8pm) and the visiting black American politician, Andrew
Young, (20/7, 6pm and 8pm) saying that the Bill had not yet become law and
explaining the Congressional procedures the Bill needed to pass through
before it did. (These were: approval from the Senate's full foreign
relations committee, the Senate itself, the House of Representatives, a
conference between the House and the Senate, and finally to the American
President.) Mubako and Young both gave the impression that the Bill was
still a long way from becoming law, but the state-owned media failed to ask
either of them for some estimate of the time it would take for the Bill to
pass through all these legislative stages. Coverage of the progress of the
Bill in the private Press clearly suffered from a lack of understanding of
the American Congress's legislative procedures and provided the Minister of
Information (Jonathan Moyo) with an opportunity to attack The Daily News and
The Standard. The Herald (18/7) reported him accusing the two papers of
".spreading false and malicious news against Zimbabwe with the hope of
promoting chaos, social breakdown and conflict." However, the state Press
also lacked any dispassionate analysis of the Bill's likely effects or
clarification of its passage through Congress. The Herald (18/7) carried
an excessively lengthy, one-sided defence of the government's "good
governance" record by Mubako under the heading, Why Sanctions Are Not The
Answer. The article discredited itself in the second paragraph by claiming
that the title of the Democracy Bill was ".a misnomer because there was not
and has never been a crisis of democracy in Zimbabwe since the advent of
majority rule." The Herald (21/7) carried a second attempt to peddle state
propaganda in another opinion piece headlined, US: Why Try to Protect
Past Injustices?, which completely ignored the present injustices taking
place in Zimbabwe. In an effort to correct its errors of the previous week,
The Standard (22/7) quoted a US political consultant as saying that the Bill
was "on course" and that, in fact, the full Senate Foreign Relations
Committee had approved the Bill "unanimously", and not the
sub- committee, as the paper had reported originally. This seemed to have
moved the Bill further down the legislative pipeline, but the story failed
to enlighten its readers on this matter. The paper also reported that the
Bill could be approved by the US Senate in September but didn't explain
where it would go from there. And while an inside opinion piece fulminated on
why the government should be so upset about the Bill if it was allowing
democracy to flourish in Zimbabwe, the unattributed article also
attacked Moyo, describing him as a "heartless mercenary" for defending
the indefensible. This article, under a 'national news' logo, should have
been clearly identified as an opinion piece. Nor should it have reported
that, "Elsewhere, in the current issue of The Standard, a US Senator
reiterates that the Bill was approved by the committee." Only Ed Stewart,
described in The Standard's front-page story as a "US political consultant",
was reported to have said the Bill had been passed, not a Senator.further
compounding the confusion already in the minds of the paper's
readers. The Standard also published the Bill in full without providing any
explanation of its content.
Political Violence and the Bindura
By-Election Political violence in the countdown to the Bindura by-election
continued to receive considerable coverage in the week under review. But
most was piecemeal and biased depending on which media was reporting the
incidents. While The Daily News continues to provide horrifying evidence of
what appears to be a concerted campaign of violence against opposition MDC
supporters around the country (16/7 with a picture), and in Bindura (17/7),
Zimpapers continue to report attacks on ZANU PF supporters by MDC youths
(The Herald 18/7). MMPZ notes with concern that while the state media
continue to obtain unhindered comment from the police, the private Press,
particularly The Daily News, appears to be having difficulty seeking
information from the ZRP. In two of its stories (17/7) the paper
reported that the police had refused to comment. One sought a police
response to the claim by the MDC's Bindura candidate that the "application
of the law by the police is selective because MDC and Zanu PF members are
treated differently." And the other sought police comment about police
protection for traditional chiefs. In that story Assist. Comm. Wayne
Bvudzijena was quoted as saying: "You know I don't talk to The Daily
News." For what it's worth, the police should be reminded that they are a
public institution and are obliged to provide information relating to
issues of public concern. Such partisan treatment of the media exposes
the bias of the police force and compromises its reputation to carry out its
duties "without fear or favour".
As with the coverage of previous
by-elections, media reporting focused on political violence to the exclusion
of the contesting candidates' campaign policies. Reporting in all media of
the Bindura by-election was limited to events rather than critical
election issues, possibly because the politically volatile conditions
have overshadowed the candidates' campaign agendas. There were piecemeal
reports of what the candidates have to offer in separate articles in the
state owned press. The Herald (19/7)'s article headlined, "Battle of two
Elliots on next week" missed the opportunity to profile the candidates. The
spokespersons for the two parties were interviewed instead of the
candidates. ZANU PF's information secretary, Nathan Shamhuyarira, was quoted
in the article saying "Giving land to the landless people is a
distinctive feature of our party's achievements" and, ".the
revival of the youth brigades to instill discipline and political
consciousness among the youths." These were cited as some examples of the
party's campaign policies. The MDC's information and publicity officer,
Learnmore Jongwe was merely reported as expressing his hope for the party's
success in spite of ZANU PF's violence and intimidation programme
against the MDC. It was only in The Sunday Mail (22/7) lead story, "Election
fever grips Bindura," that Jongwe gave a brief outline of the party's
policies for the constituency.
ZBC only reported (21/7, ZTV 6pm and
8pm) the Zimbabwe Council of Churches statement denouncing violence and
ignored the actual incidents of political violence, especially in Bindura.
All radio (22/7, 1pm) only made side reference to the violence in Bindura in
a story that was similar to that in The Sunday Mail, which accused MDC of
bussing hundreds of youths to Bindura to intimidate people. No comment
was sought from the MDC. In any democracy the public broadcaster is obliged
to provide the electorate with balanced, fair and adequate information on
the candidates in any election and what they have to offer the
electorate. In the Bindura by-election, ZBC, as the public broadcaster,
is mandated to cover both the ZANU PF candidate, Elliot Manyika and
MDC's Elliot Pfebve. However, during the week under review, the state
broadcaster aired seven items on the ruling party's Manyika (Radio 1/3 and
2/4 had two stories each, while ZTV carried three) and ignored Pfebve
altogether. On July 21 (ZTV, Nhau/Indaba and 8pm) ZANU PF's Shuvai Mahofa
was shown presenting a $2m cheque to Manyika for projects in Bindura.
The footage also showed some women who were putting on Manyika's campaign
regalia. The reporter did not analyse the vote-buying implications of such a
donation, which was made barely a week before the election.
U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) Integrated Regional Information Network
ZIMBABWE: Skirmishes in Bindura ahead of
JOHANNESBURG, 27 July (IRIN) - The calm that had returned to
the volatile Bindura constituency was shattered on Thursday following
skirmishes between ZANU-PF and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) youth,
the state-controlled ‘Herald’ reported.
According to the report, two
truckloads of young MDC supporters attacked the hall where ZANU-PF officials
were expected to hold a meeting. Other news reports, however, blamed ZANU-PF
members for instigating the violence. Police had to disperse people with
The political temperature in Bindura has been rising steadily as
the MDC and ZANU-PF campaigns gathered steam, the report said. Elliot
Manyika of ZANU-PF and Elliot Pvebve of the MDC are contesting the position
left vacant by Border Gezi in April. There had been general peace
and tranquillity across the constituency following weekend clashes between
the two parties, but by Friday police were maintaining a heavy presence.
JOHANNESBURG, 26 July (IRIN) -
Leaders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were expected
to meet South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Pretoria on
Thursday to discuss Zimbabwe’s worsening political and economic crisis, the
‘Financial Gazette ’ reported.
The newspaper said MDC president Morgan
Tsvangirai, his deputy Gibson Sibanda and secretary-general Welshman Ncube
left Harare on Wednesday for South Africa at the invitation of the powerful
Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
also expected to address COSATU’s executive committee. COSATU is a member of
the tripartite alliance that governs South Africa along with the ANC and the
Communist Party. The report said Tsvangirai would brief the COSATU leadership
on political developments and the labour unrest in Zimbabwe. The trio, the
newspaper added, were also scheduled to hold talks with ANC deputy president
Jacob Zuma, national chairman Patrick Mosioua Lekota and secretary-general
Tsvangirai was quoted saying that his meeting with the
ANC leaders would centre on the crisis in Zimbabwe and what the South African
government could do to avert a total collapse of its northern neighbour. He
said it was clear to the ANC that the importance of stability in Zimbabwe to
South Africa was beyond President Robert Mugabe or the MDC. “We will take
the opportunity to give them a frank assessment of the situation in
Zimbabwe and what role the ANC government can play in solving the crisis as
an influential regional power,” Tsvangirai told the ‘Financial Gazette’.
He said his party would discuss the land reform issue, the breakdown of
law and order and the decline of the political and economic situation
in Zimbabwe, among others.
JOHANNESBURG, 26 July (IRIN) -
Bread shortages could be on the horizon in Zimbabwe after the decision by
some large milling companies to ration flour supplies to bakers, the
‘Financial Gazette’ said on Thursday. The newspaper quoted milling and baking
industry sources saying that supplies had been cut by between 15 and 40
percent because of shortages of locally grown wheat and the high cost of
importing supplies to meet the shortfall.
“Currently one miller (Blue
Ribbon) is rationing flour,” National Bakers Association chairman Mark Prior
was quoted saying. “The largest miller (National Foods) is currently
considering rationing but has yet to introduce rationing of flour.
major reason for the introduction of rationing is the shortage of wheat
supplies in the country. Not all the millers are affected, but the major mill
has a shortage of stock.”
Industry executives said the government’s
decision not to assist the private sector with wheat imports, forcing millers
to resort to the parallel market, would force flour prices up in the next few
months, resulting in “astronomical” bread prices at a time when consumers
could be facing serious shortages. Bakers said bread shortages were
inevitable if flour rationing by large millers continued because smaller
millers could not meet the shortfall left by bigger companies.
smaller mills have just sufficient (stocks) to see them through to the next
harvest at current off-take levels. They cannot accommodate new customers or
increased off-take,” Prior said.
On Tuesday, Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe denied that the country would face food shortages, and said the
country would import maize if there was a shortfall. “We have done well in
agriculture, except in regard to one crop, maize,” he said.
the staple grain used to make a thick porridge which serves as the main
source of starch for Zimbabweans.
His ministers of finance and
agriculture, as well as the government’s agriculture monitoring system, have
agreed with the warnings of a looming shortfall.
SPORTS administrators in Zimbabwe have
declared its cricket set-up "racist at heart", and have introduced sweeping
measures to fast-track blacks into the sport.
Speaking at a press
conference, Zimbabwe Cricket Union chairman Peter Chingoka was quoted by the
Daily News as saying that the sport was to undergo a "rapid
With immediate effect, a minimum of four blacks are to be
selected in the 14-man squad, as opposed to the current three. The figure is
also set to rise to six in time for the World Cup in 2003 that takes place
in South African and Zimbabwe.
"The future of Zimbabwe cricket rests
on this being implemented very, very quickly," Chingoka said.
to ensure we are able to feed the pipeline so that players in the national
squad have the desired level of performance for this country."
also plans to make sure that black occupy up to half of the positions in
teams and administrative bodies. The captain or vice-captain of the team that
goes to the World Cup must also be black, according to the new
The move applies to the selection panel as well, with blacks
comprising fifty percent of the panel with immediate
Zimbabwean cricket has had an uneasy history since achieving Test
status a decade ago, as black Zimbabweans - who comprise 99 percent of
the country's population - chose football as their favourite sport.
Jockeying for the Bulawayo deputy mayoral post, which
becomes vacant at the end of this month, has intensified with four councillors
vying for the post ahead of the executive mayoral election pencilled in for the
beginning of September.
The four are incumbent deputy mayor David Ndlovu and Mike
Batandi Mpofu from the ruling Zanu PF, while Charles Mpofu and Matson Hlalo are
expected to contest on Movement for Democratic Change ti-cket. Council sources
told the Zimbabwe Independent that intense lob- bying for the deputy mayor's
post was in progress.
In the past councillors had discarded voting along party
lines. "The lobbying for the deputy mayor's post is tense and there is serious
back-biting amongst the aspiring contestants, but few have come out in the open
on whether they are contesting or not," said a source. Last year the two MDC
councillors were voted to chair two committees in a secret ballot. Zanu PF has
16 councillors at the town house, the MDC three, while three others are
Mpofu told the Independent that he was conte- sting the
deputy mayor- ship post and said he was optimistic of winning. "I am currently
lobbying to improve my chances in the race, and I am hopeful that if councillors
do not vote on party lines, then I will win," he said. Councillor Ndlovu also
confirmed his candidacy while efforts to contact Hlalo and Mpofu this week were
Information minister Jonathan Moyo is today expected to face
further criticism when he leads a team of government officials to a national
symposium in Bulawayo that will also feature opposition spokesmen and civil
Last week Moyo faced a barrage of hostile remarks at a
meeting of church leaders at the Victoria Falls. Government officials expected
to attend the two-day symposium are Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, governor
of Matabeleland North, Obert Mpofu, and an entourage of as yet to be confirmed
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MPs Learnmore Jongwe
and Tendai Biti, government critics Lovemore Madhuku, Professor Masipula Sithole
and John Maku-mbe, and controversial clergyman Pius Ncube are also expected to
address the gathering. The symposium has been organised by the Bulawayo
Dialogue, a regional-based pressure gr- oup for good governance, under the title
"The political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. Any lessons for Africa and what
is to be done?" The symposium is expected to offer debate on crucial topics
affecting the country.
Last week in Victoria Falls, Moyo was dressed down by
Zimbabwe Council of Churches leaders who accused him of abusing the state media.
The criticism by the church leaders was in response to the minister's speech in
which he attacked the private media and the British and American
Bulawayo Dialogue programmes co-ordinator Jethro Mpofu told
the Zimbabwe Independent that topics likely to be covered during the sympo- sium
included the land issue, the abandoned con- stitutional reform process,
inter-party conflict, the human rights issue, the country's economic decline,
Zimbabwe's inter- national relations and electoral democracy.
EDITORIAL July 27, 2001
Posted to the web July 27, 2001
THE industrial index closed at a new record high of 51
180,39 on Wed-nesday, propelled by the massive surge in Old Mute's share price
from $448 last week to a phenomenal $625. With the London price being 155 pence,
the implicit Zimbabwe dollar to US dollar exchange rate is 284:1, which is a 42%
premium to the parallel rate of $200:US$1 as against the premium of between 20%
and 25% that has been the norm in the past.
What this means is that there is a very real perception that
the Zimbabwe dollar forex rate is expected to blow out "to alarming levels" as I
commented on last week. On the other hand, I wonder what would happen to the
share price if exchange controls were imposed. One hopes that the authorities
are not even contemplating such an adverse move. There is no doubt that the
enactment of the GMB to be the sole buyer of wheat and maize has serious
implications for grain supplies in the ensuring future. The volatility prize for
the week must surely go to Interfresh.
The shares traded at 200 cents last week and by Monday had
reached 351 cents for a gain of 75% in three days. On Tuesday the shares traded
down to 340 cents before closing at 260 cents the very next day, a drop of 26%
in two days. Macmed, the suspend- ed health care and scientific supply provider,
which was floated to the public in mid-August 1998, was suspended from the ZSE
on October 11 2000 as its debt position became untenable. Whilst initial
pre-listing forward deals were executed at 200 cents plus, except for a brief
speculative flurry in mid-March 1999, Macmed's shares had consistently traded
below their issue price of 150 cents.
Macmed's troubles we- re precipitated by the liquidation of
its majority shareholder, Macmed South Africa amid allegations of trading irre-
gularities and fraud. Its export performance was adversely affected given that
its Ruwa factory was specifically established to export to the South African
operation. Furthermore, capital expenditure financing commitments that had been
made by Macmed South Africa were rendered obsolete, resulting in the Zimbabwean
company having to secure expensive short-term borrowings. These borrow- ings
stood at $129,6 million as at March 31 2001. The company has now circulated a
document in terms of a "Deed of Compromise and Arrange- ment with Creditors and
The proposal seeks to offer a solution to the company's debt
problems and in so doing avoid a final liquidation order. The provisional
liquidator in the proposed deed has reached agreement, subject to certain
conditions, with Westminster Holdings Ltd (WHL), a company based in the Channel
Islands which has health care interests in the UK. This will involve the
purchase by WHL of the $129,6 million bank debt and subsequent restructuring
thereof, and of certain land and buildings and book debts own- ed by Macmed.
These transactions involve a debt-equity swap, with WHL offsetting the purchased
debt against an issue of 450 million ordinary shares at a par value of 10c and
2,5 million 10c preference shares at $10, totalling $70 million.
Part of the balance of the acquired debt will be used to
settle the purcha-se of land and buildings, which will be leased back to Macmed,
and book debts, to the tune of $20 million and $18 million respectively. The
rest will be converted into a long-term loan owed to WHL which, along with a
restructuring fee of $5 million, will amount to $26,6 million. This loan will
bear interest at a rate pegged to the prevailing CABS com-mercial mortgage bond
rate. Remaining local creditors will be settled in full in 12 equal monthly
instalments, but the out- standing amounts will be exclusive of interest accrued
- the date of the interest freeze is not stated - and will not bear interest
during the one-year period.
Foreign creditors will be converted at approximately
$57:US$1 and will also be settled in the same manner as above. WHL will also
undertake to assist Macmed both in the sourcing and, where required, as a lender
of last resort, of working capital finance. Allied to that, management
assistance would be provided to boost the recovery process. If the proposal is
denied and Macmed is in fact wound up, the effect would be that secured
creditors would receive 69% of their outstandings, where-as the preferred and
con- current creditors would receive no payment. This is based on the
realisation values of the company's assets as assumed by the provision- al
liquidator, of $118,5 million.
Assuming the liquidation process could be wrapped up at a
faster rate than the one-year debt repayment schedule proposed in the deed, the
liquidation option may be preferable to the secured creditors, given the high
inflation environment prevailing. Sha- reholders and the remaining creditors,
however, will be big losers. It can thus be argued that the acceptance of the
deed is the preferred route. Not only will the creditors be guaranteed payment
in full, albeit over a 12-month period, they also stand to gain from future
business generated by Macmed which, with a clean balance sheet and strong
backer, will be able to focus on its core business.
From a social perspective, the continued existence of the
company will benefit the shareholders who perhaps one day may recover their
capital in nominal terms and the employees of the company, who will still have
their livelihood. Management and WHL are bullish about a recovery as the health
sector is critical to the country. If and when the economy does begin to
recover, the funds that will be channelled to the health delivery sector by both
the government and donors should result in increased business generation for
Macmed and this should in turn impact positively on its profitability. Also,
exports are already showing signs of recovery and at current levels are almost
generating enough forex to cover import requirements. The Ruwa factory is
operational once more as the company that took over the tender lost by Macmed SA
on its liquidation has contracted Macmed to continue exporting to them.
The secured creditors seem to have agreed with the above
sentiments and have already accepted the terms of the deed. The corporate
reporting season commences in earnest next month. Most of the banking entities
are expected to publish explosive earnings grow-th. What will be of inte- rest
in analysing each bank's results will be the movement in net interest margins,
other income and treasury commissions, the latter assisted by the substantial
"turns" on forex trading and the provisioning levels for bad debts. Some of the
corpora-tes may also surprise the market, given the parallel exchange rates and
price inelasticity of many of their products.
Pointers to look out for will be as to whether depreciation
charges are realistic in this hyper-inflationary environment, borrowing levels,
net cash flow generation and the cost of labour. But to me, the outlook section
will be the most important. If we think that the last six months period has been
a horror story ala Alfred Hitch-cock, wait for it! We are going to have extreme
nig-htmares over the next mo- nths which even Rambo may struggle to survive.
Whilst exporters are at present in ecstasy, they may well have to take the big E
to cope with the economic turbulence that is staring us in the face.
Therefore expect an exciting and highly volatile stock
market trading period over the next month or so. In passing, what has happened
to Econet, once the darling of the ZSE? Over the past year, the share price has
underperformed the industrial index and this trend has intensified over the last
month. Could it be that the company's success story has now become a bore? l
Tony Fisher is the managing director of Tetrad Financial Services (Pvt) Ltd.
Busani Bafana PRINCE Zwidekalanga
Khumalo, the great grandson of King Lobengula, has distanced himself from the
current government-sponsored land redisstribution programme which he says is a
political issue he cannot be associated with.
Khumalo (47), who traces
his ancestry to King Mzilikazi who is credited with the founding of the Ndebele
state, was reported by the state media as endorsing the fast-track land
resettlement programme. But in an interview yesterday, Khumalo said any
political links in his personal capacity would jeopardise his cultural
responsibilities and dilute the work done in promoting culture and the envisaged
restoration of the Ndebele monarchy.
He said politicking would further
compromise any future dialogue planned with government when the time came for
discussions on bringing back the monarchy in Matabeleland.
Bulawayo-based government weekly, the Sunday News, carried a story last week
claiming Khumalo supported the government on the land issue. Khumalo maintains
the article was fabricated and portrayed him in a negative light.
is nothing that I said that gave a slant of support to the land reform programme
as it is being carried out now,” said Khumalo.
“I remain mute about the
current exercise. I stress that this is for politicians and not my business. I
am apolitical and very cultural,” he and very cultural,” he said.
representative of the Khumalo clan on various committees working to promote
culture and the history of the Ndebele people and their way of life, he said the
issue of land was political because it was linked to the economy of the country.
Because of his mandate of cultural revival he would be compromised if he got
entangled in politics, he said.
“Due to the success of cultural
programmes I have initiated in Matabeleland and the realisation of some
opportunist quarters of the community, somebody somewhere is trying through such
manipulative statements to use me to get a following in Matabeleland,” said
Khumalo, who is currently working on the memorial programme for the 133th
anniversary of King Mzilikazi’s death.
The commemorative events starting
on September 14 will culminate in a public event on September 15. Khumalo is
also involved in the preparation for the 75th anniversary of Highlanders
Football Club to be held at Old Bulawayo, the site of Mzilikazi’s royal
homestead just outside the city.
“I do not want to be used,” he said. “I
remain a cultural person and I intend to hurt nobody that has a right to own
property in Zimbabwe. I refuse to be associated with politics at this moment.”
Meanwhile, former Rhodesian prime minister Sir Garfield Todd is livid
about reports that he supported the 1987 unity accord between President Mugabe
and Joshua Nkomo. Todd, regretting the constant abuse of Nkomo’s name, said he
could not be associated with the ruling party which had turned a blind eye to
violence and lawlessness.
“No reasonable Zimbabwean could urge his
fellow citizens to unite behind a party which uses violence and lawlessness to
maintain its power,” said Todd in a statement this week.
person could want any continued association with a party which has undermined
Zimbabwe’s constitution, harmed our judiciary, emasculated our police force,
distorted all other organs of State, devastated our ravaged land, employed
dreadful brutality against fellow humans black and white, young and old who are
brave enough to stand against the current tides of terror,” he said. said.
Muleya THE ruling Zanu PF is stepping up efforts
to regain lost ground in its once-safe Manicaland strongholds ahead of next
year’s crucial presidential election but it is bumping into a wall of
Sources yesterday told the Zimbabwe Independent that Zanu PF
politburo heavyweights Ignatius Chombo, Oppah Muchinguri and Didy- mus Mutasa
were leading the charge to dislodge the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) in Manicaland.
Chombo, who is also Local Government
minister, last week led a powerful delegation which included Muchinguri, also
Manicaland provincial governor, to Chimani-mani communal lands to try and
recapture the area which is currently under opposition control.
Chimanimani seat was won by the MDC’s Roy Bennett after he beat Zanu PF’s
Munacho Mutezo in last year’s general election. But Zanu PF had since been
battling to reclaim the area which it saw as part of its “possessions”, a source
The ruling party recently listed Bennett’s farm to undermine the
popular commercial far-mer and robust MP in the district as part of its wider
strategy to reclaim the opposition-controlled constituency. The targeting of
farms perceived to be owned by opposition sympathisers was rife.
understood that the ruling party is anxious to retain support in the eastern
districts before next year’s presidential poll to avoid defeat.
last year mopped up seven out of 14 constituencies in Manicaland province while
Zanu PF got six seats and Zanu (Ndonga) one. It also vaporised Zanu PF support
in rural Matabeleland and all urban areas.
Bennett yesterday co-nfirmed
in an interview Zanu PF had been trying hard to push him out of his constituency
by targeting his property.
“Government rece-ntly attached my farm and
Zanu PF supporters immediately started pegging and sub-dividing it without
following laid-down acquisition proce- dures,” Bennett said. “It’s part of their
campaign to get back the area from the MDC.”
However, Bennett pointed
out that people in the area were vehemently opposed to the seizure of his farm
because he had a close working relationship with them. The MDC legislator has
been assisting communities in his constituency in many ways well before he
“Zanu PF does not want us to help the people,” said
Bennett. “Before the election last year the Chimanimani Development Association
which I chaired was helping people during the Cyclone Eline with food relief and
other material things. But Zanu PF was opposed to that,” he said.
tried to stop the distribution of relief materials from the EU and other donors
like Help of Germany but they failed.”
Bennett said Zanu PF and
government officials were currently struggling to drive people onto his property
in order to eject him from the farm.
“They have been trying to resettle
people on my farm but the people are refusing,” he said. “Last week on Wednesday
Chombo and Muchinguri brought four Police Support Unit personnel and two plain
clothes policemen to resettle the people but as soon as they went away the
people left again,” he said.
The MDC MP said Chombo’s group last Friday
also held a meeting with the Chimanimani Rural District Council chief executive,
the district administrator, councillors, and members in charge of different
police stations in the area.
It is understood Zanu PF is now threatening
to purge from the area’s local government structures all those who did not
support its agenda.
Sources said the ruling party promised chiefs and
headmen more money if they mobilised people on its behalf in Chimanimani. It was
said the councillors were promised bicycles.
The Chombo delegation also
visited Nedziwa Growth Point and addressed a poorly- attended meeting. Before
the team left, sources said it distributed buckets of maize to people working at
the local market place.
It is understood a Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC) crew from Mutare was last week, at the time Chombo was
traversing the district, also criss-crossing the area “giving lessons about the
liberation struggle to students at several schools”.
Sources said the
ZBC “taught” the students about the “history of the liberation war and where
they were coming from”.
Meanwhile, sources said Mutasa, MP for Makoni
North, was on Monday in Chimanimani district pushing the Zanu PF agenda to
recoup lost support. Mutasa was said to have been in the company of Mutezo, Jane
Knight, a Mai Machiwana and three state security operatives.
visited Rusitu Mission and Hode School where they wanted to see a teacher by the
name of Hudenge. The teacher was hauled before a kangaroo court and warned that
he would be fired if he supported the MDC,” a source said.
summoned to their meeting another teacher called Chitambo from the same school,”
said the source. “He was forced to denounce the MDC.
Forward Maisokwadzo THE Zimbabwe
Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) has vowed to intensify its raids on private
businesses despite President Robert Mugabe’s call on Tuesday for an end to
company invasions, it has been learnt. The raids have led to many company
Joseph Chinotimba, ZFTU vice president, yesterday said his
union — widely seen as a tool of the ruling party — would proceed with the
company raids in its efforts to resolve labour disputes.
“We are an
authentic and registered union with more 500 000 members,” said Chinotimba.
“Many people are inviting us to solve their problems and both workers
and employers are happy with what we are doing. Workers are getting their money
which is what we want as a union,” said Chinotimba.
In his first
statement on the company raids, President Mugabe on Tuesday said workers should
desist from any actions which would result in the unnecessary closure of
Asked about President Mugabe’s stance on company invasions,
Chinotimba said: “My thinking was that President Mugabe was referring to that
unregistered Zanu PF union and others which want to steal workers’ money, not
ZFTU,” he said. He did not elaborate on the unregistered union.
officials will go wherever we are called and tomorrow (Friday) we will be at
Glendale Spinners. We are also waiting for the doctors and nurses to call us,”
Chinotimba said on Wednesday he visited Jetmaster (Pvt) Ltd
where “I talked to the workers without fighting anybody”.
He said all
industry was looking for their assistance, which made it difficult for President
Mugabe to stop his union from representing the people.
“There is nothing
which can stop us. Varikuwanda varikuda rubatsiro kwatiri kupinda ZCTU (There
are many who are coming to us for help than those going to the ZCTU),” claimed
Chinotimba, in a telephone interview from Bindura where he was campaigning for
the ruling party’s Elliot Manyika who is contesting the Bindura by-election over
THE Department of
Information in the President’s Office which is well-known for its dislike of
“night appointments” on Monday this week made its own night appointment of a
so-called “committee of experts” to look into the level of professionalism in
the media industry.
They are supposed to make recommendations on this
very vague brief next month.
There are no prizes for guessing the
recommendations of a committee headed by a medieval media mandarin who recently
spent a whole programme on ZBC trying to convince Learnmore Jongwe to read a
1976 letter written by some American in order to understand US foreign policy.
There is very little in this committee to describe its members as
experts on ethics in the media or indeed anything else. The inclinations of the
likes of Tafataona Mahoso, Vimbai Chivaura and Rino Zhuwarara are well-known.
How can they competently sit on such a committee and talk about ethics when they
have been silent while journalists fell victim to state-sponsored violence?
What has most probably earned Chivaura this appointment on the committee
is his appearance on the ZBC cultural programme hosted by Claude Mararike
discussing Shona totems and history. Media ethics should come as a completely
different dish for him.
Mahoso is a Zanu PF apologist who knows little
or nothing about the essentials of modern journalism judging by his long-winded
and unreadable contributions to the state media.
Zhuwarara is head of
the media department at the University of Zimbabwe but, like his colleagues in
the department, he has not taken any discernible interest in what happens to the
media. The whole committee is intensely partisan and lacks credibility even
before it has set about fulfilling its tall mandate.
The guys from the
university have been a major let-down for us here in the media, including those
in the state-owned media. They have steadfastly failed to rise to the occasion
when issues of critical national concern have called for informed discourse from
those tasked with media teaching at the highest institution of learning.
They were nowhere to be found during the crucial national referendum
last year. They have said nothing about torture or assaults on journalists. We
have not heard them comment on state ownership of the broadcast media or
propaganda transmitted nightly by the ruling party masquerading as news.
What then is their said expertise based on? What exactly does Moyo
define as an expert? Are these the people who are going to define for us Moyo’s
promised statute on freedom of information and protection of privacy?
Let’s wait and see. But our fear is that this is another waste of public
money just like the Chidyausiku constitutional commission.
spokesman, assistant commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena is becoming increasingly
difficult to believe. He told the Herald on Tuesday all the 14 youths arrested
for allegedly causing violence in Bindura belonged to the MDC. That sounds too
much like propaganda.
How can all the arrested be MDC supporters when we
are told the clashes involved groups of two opposing parties? Are we to believe
the MDC youths were fighting among themselves, and therefore that this had
nothing to with political rivalry in the constituency?
It is no secret
that Bvudzijena has declared in the past that he will not comment when asked to
do so by journalists from the privately-owned press. Can such a policeman still
be trusted to speak with impartiality about what is happening in the country? We
According to a Daily News report, the MDC convoy that was
attacked by Zanu PF youths last weekend had just passed through a police
roadblock where they had been subjected to rigorous search for weapons etc.
But all of a sudden the Herald tells us “police discovered several
firearms and pieces of ammunition from the 14 suspects”.
Are we being
told something here about the diligence and effectiveness of police roadblocks,
or is this one of the many “invented” stories the professor is always accusing
the independent press of publishing?
While the Daily News photographer
managed to get a picture of the Zanu PF mob picking up stones and logs and clad
in T-shirts emblazoned with Zanu PF candidate Elliot Manyika’s image, the ZBC
and the Herald literally turned their lenses the other way. Theirs was to tell
the party story as best they could.
Still in Bindura, Zanu PF last week
distributed $2 million for development projects. We don’t know where the money
might have come from. Our only curiosity is why such development money should
come immediately prior to the election. If this is not classified as vote-buying
then nothing will be.
We know when Border Gezi died in a car crash on
his way to Masvingo he was reportedly carrying similar largesse for Zanu PF
supporters just before the mayoral election. Although the money ultimately made
it to the destination, apparently it did not sway people’s decision. But that
does not stop it being part of a huge corruption scandal to buy people’s votes.
Muckraker understands Information minister Jonathan Moyo is spending
almost every week in Matabeleland these days. His journeys take him far into the
rural areas of Nkayi and Plumtree. In Plumtree he is reportedly trying to
fast-track a university in the form of Chibero teachers’ college. That
should come in handy for those who have fast-tracked themselves onto the land.
But doesn’t proper planning dictate that the university should have come before
resettlement? This might just be another case of too little too late for the
people of rural Matabeleland.
Professor Moyo’s child prodigy, Munyaradzi
Hwengwere, was this week giving us a bit of his CV to the Sunday Mail. He said
MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe had no right to criticise him about his lack of
media experience because he was more qualified academically. He did his postgrad
while Jongwe was still struggling with his first degree. But he had even more
Hwengwere said he was more than qualified to head the
ZBC’s newly-created Newsnet department because he had observed South Africa’s
transition from apartheid to majority rule in 1994. He got all the necessary
experience while at the University of Natal in Durban where he was a student
Muckraker feels that our readers are letting Moyo off the
hook too easily. Most of them will say they no longer watch Newshour because of
Moyo and his comrade-in-arms, Joseph Brown, aka Chinotimba.
yes. But not Jonathan Moyo. It looks like shunning TV would be a victory for
him. That is precisely his mission. To frustrate everybody who has a brain away
from the screen so that he can spread his pernicious propaganda with maximum
effect because there will be no one to counter it.
The best thing is to
fight back, eye-ball to eye-ball until we see who blinks first. Frustrating
intellectuals out of public life has been a tactic of all corrupt and despotic
regimes over the ages. The next thing everyone will be telling us is there is no
need to vote because all politicians are immoral and preach lies.
Frederick Chiluba of Zambia was wont to say before he became president: “Never
trust a politician.”
Supa Mandiwanzira appears extraordinarily anxious
not to allow any guests on his Talking Business programme to allege that the
bombing of the Daily News premises was the work of government.
of course what everybody thinks. But Mandiwanzira is right to point out that
there is no factual basis for such an allegation and it should therefore not be
repeated as fact on his programme.
What should be said on his programme
is that firstly the blast occurred 48 hours after a an explicit threat to the
newspaper by the Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo and late war veterans
leader Chenjerai Hunzvi, and secondly, that police have made no progress
whatsoever in six months of investigations.
So why has Bvudzijena, who
is so forthcoming on every other topic, not been asked why the police have been
unable to produce any suspects or make any arrests?
presumably regards himself as a journalist. Journalists should be curious. Is he
not just a little curious as to why no progress has been made, why nobody has
even been interviewed by the police, let alone charged? Is this not a matter for
legitimate public concern that should be aired on programmes claiming to inform
And why has no progress been made in investigations into
last year’s bomb attack on the same newspaper where a South African
photo-journalist was arrested because he happened to be at the scene sooner than
Would it not be true to suggest that police and intelligence
inactivity has given rise to talk of a cover-up and to legitimate speculation as
to who planted the bombs? We need to ask: who could do it and then prevent any
investigation of the crime?
The public want answers. Mandiwazira should
help provide them instead of stonewalling on behalf of the Ministry of
We were pleased this week to read the lucid remarks of Dr
Mandivamba Rukuni on the land issue. It will be recalled that he headed a
commission of inquiry into the land problem some years ago and that its
recommendations are gathering dust on the shelves of State House.
Speaking to the Chartered Institute of Secretaries, Rukuni said Zimbabwe
should break out of the political time-warp in which it was caught.
biggest problem facing the people of Zimbabwe today is that we are locked in
time and space and that we are dealing with the political and economic realities
of the past. Zimbabwe should look beyond the conflicts of the past. We are
operating way behind schedule,” Rukuni said.
Calling for political and
economic realignment, he said economic realignment should be about treating land
as an economic resource. He pointed out that Bill Gates did not need one square
inch of land to become the world’s richest man.
“In Africa, particularly
Zimbabwe, the difficulty is compounded by the notion of land nationalism,”
Rukuni said. “Nationalism is a political philosophy of the last century. It is
already more than 150 years old. Thirty or 40 years ago people were prepared to
kill in order to call themselves Zimbabwean, but my children will not have to —
they are living in the information age.”
He warned that if Zimbabwe
suffered a drought this year it would be forced, like Ethiopia, to beg for maize
from the international community for the first time in its history.
those who govern us don’t seem to care. President Mugabe told guests at a lunch
to mark the opening of the new session of parliament this week that if there
were food shortages this year, Zimbabwe would simply import what was needed. He
didn’t say where the foreign currency to pay for the imports will come from.
Meanwhile, ministers who oppose his economically suicidal policies — and
there are a good number of them — will be alarmed by his depiction of Nkosana
Moyo as a coward with no spine.
Moyo was brought into government
precisely to give it an aura of respectability. He departed in despair having
got his family out of the country first. Now Muga- be is looking for other
“cowards” in his entourage.
The growing sense of panic in the ranks of
the ruling class may explain the number of ministers whose families now live
abroad. A significant number of Zanu PF luminaries have children at universities
in Britain and the United States, or sons and daughters who are working
overseas. In some cases wives have been dispatched to join them.
crisis at homes deepens Mugabe’s minions are feathering their nests abroad. Is
it this knowledge that led to the president’s latest outburst?
his contention that the economy would never collapse, we had on the same day
Simba Makoni’s statement that it already nearly has.
“I would have to be
foolish to deny what is evident to everybody in broad daylight, even in the
darkness of night — our economy is in crisis.”
Poverty was entrenching
itself at a rate that was alarming he said.
So who are we to believe? A
delusional president attempting to mislead the public as to the facts? Or the
man he has entrusted with the management of the economy?
A DEADLY computer virus
has run amok in Zimbabwe, hitting possibly hundreds of unsuspecting e-mail
One of the worst hit
companies is The Daily News. The newspaper’s main e-mail address was
yesterday bombarded with hundreds of messages carrying a computer virus that
steals documents from a user’s files or even destroys documents resident in a
computer hard drive. Investigations yesterday revealed that many other
Zimbabwean e-mail users, whose documents are currently in circulation, are not
aware of this development. The mail intercepted at The Daily News shows that
subscribers whose mail and private details were being literally stolen and
circulated, were mainly from banks, insurance companies, Internet Service
Providers (ISPs), universities and the media. Some of the documents stolen
included minutes of meetings at First Bank and Econet, as well as the
confidential memos of members of staff at The Financial Gazette. Messages
from Cottco and various subscribers at Nicoz in Bulawayo have been hit, while a
Chapman Golf Club document whose subject is“Checklist PGA” has been circulated
by the virus. Many messages from academics and universities were similarly
forwarded to e-mail addresses. All the documents carry a random file name
with doc., bat, ink or pif appended to them. The body text of the e-mail
attachments carries a simple message such as, “Hi! How are you? I send this file
in order to have your advice. See you later. Thanks” or “Please let me have your
comments.” Zimbabwe Online (ZOL), an ISP whose servers are equipped with
anti-virus software, has warned that the virus could devastate the country’s
networked computer systems. “Over the past few hours, we have been
intercepting this virus at the rate of seven per minute,” said David Behr of
ZOL. “If the virus gets into your computer, it will send copies of itself to
everyone on your e-mail address book and it also attaches some of your
documents and sends those to the recipients, potentially circulating your
company information to a wide audience,” he warned. Meanwhile, Jacob Jackson
of Reliant Computers has warned people to read any virus warning message. He
urged them to delete any message whose content approximates what The Daily News
TONIGHT - Oliver Mtukudzi in
concert at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, London. 8:00 pm to 10 :00 pm. £15 in
advance, £17.50 at the door.
In this issue :
Shooting the messenger -
Scared cronies lying low -
No remand for Bindura accused -
CIO in renewed bugging offensive -
Flour rationing begins -
ZWNEWS - Yesterday many subscribers experienced substantial delays in receiving
their copies of ZWNEWS, and some did not receive at all. This was not our
fault. Widespread delays occurred throughout Zimbabwe's email network
From BBC News, 26
Zimbabwe acts against
The Zimbabwe Government has suspended all
accreditation of BBC correspondents in the country, accusing the corporation of
"distortions and misrepresentation". Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said he
objected to a television report by Africa correspondent Rageh Omaar about a
speech by President Mugabe earlier this week. The BBC says it stands by the
report. In a letter sent to the BBC, Mr Moyo said the report was at variance
with what President Mugabe had said about the land issue, and was distorted to
"give a false impression that there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe". The letter
said: "Your reporter clearly used the words that the president 'vowed to
continue with the forcible acquisition' (of land), yet these words were nowhere
in the president's speech." It went on: "There is a world of difference between
'forcible acquisition' and 'lawful acquisition'". Mr Moyo said his ministry "has
suspended all accreditation of BBC correspondents in Zimbabwe pending agreement,
if at all possible, on ethical and professional code of conduct."
A BBC spokesman said: "We are disappointed
with the decision. We will certainly be discussing the situation with the
Zimbabwean Government to try to resolve it as soon as possible. Rageh Omaar's
report had also carried a frank interview with the country's finance minister,
Simba Makoni, in which he gave a gloomy assessment of the Zimbabwean economy. He
admitted in the report that there were major economic problems, that tourism had
virtually collapsed and that manufacturing was suffering lots of closures". In
February this year another BBC correspondent Joseph Winter and a South African
journalist were expelled by the Zimbabwean authorities. No officially reason was
given but Joseph Winter fled with his family in the middle of the night. Just
last month the correspondent for the Daily Telegraph had to leave after the
government refused to renew his work permit. The government is accused of
cracking down on the media ahead of presidential elections next
From The Financial
Gazette, 26 July
Mugabe’s scared cronies
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s embattled
government is talking tough in the face of rising international pressure, but
political analysts said its senior members are showing signs of worry over their
future. Many are taking seriously threats of sanctions against Harare and want
to lie low to distance themselves from Mugabe’s controversial record, they said.
In private, government officials are praying for a way to avert ruinous
sanctions from the West, the analysts added. Zimbabwe is in deep political and
economic crisis after a violent campaign last year by self-styled independence
war veterans to seize land and crush the opposition. It is grappling with a fuel
shortfall, a hard currency crisis and looming food shortages which threaten to
spark street protests. In a report published at the weekend, a Brussels-based
think-tank said Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party elite should face targeted
personal sanctions if he did not allow free and fair presidential elections
early next year.
The International Crisis Group said the United
Nations, the United States, the European Union and other key global players
should coordinate policy towards Zimbabwe to prevent it from collapse. It called
for a strategy similar to one adopted by the West towards Yugoslavia, which
would include imposing travel restrictions and freezing assets held overseas by
Mugabe, his family and senior aides. "There is a sense of panic when you talk to
some of these people," said Emmanuel Magade, a political commentator and law
lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. "It’s dawning on some of them that the
world mood has changed and things could get pretty tough," Magade said. The US
Senate Sub-committee on African Affairs last week approved the Zimbabwe
Democracy and Economic Act proposing sanctions against Zimbabwe, Mugabe, his
political associates and their families, and passed it to the House of
Representatives. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has said attempts to impose
sanctions against Harare have already failed. But reflecting the government’s
worries this week, he said sanctions were supported by those "actively and
openly advocating the use of dirty tricks" against Zimbabwe.
Solomon Nkiwane, a political science professor
at the University of Zimbabwe, said many Zimbabwean officials were worried about
targeted sanctions because their wealth is abroad, where their families also
live. "For all their rhetoric, some of these people will be so vulnerable," he
said. "The best way for some of them is to negotiate, but some are also worried
that abandoning their current strategy could lead to loss of power." Over the
years many top Zimbabwe officials have sought help in sending their children to
schools in Europe, America and Canada and some have homes there, Western
diplomats said. "The stance that the international community is taking is
producing some noticeable movement from the Zimbabwean side," one European
diplomat said. "But we don’t know whether it will produce the results that the
international community is looking for, for the benefit of all Zimbabweans," the
In the past year Mugabe has taken a hard line
but analysts said lately he seems to be giving way to diplomacy. Only last month
he said Harare was ready for talks with Britain on land reform but would not
succumb to threats of economic sanctions. Former colonial power Britain has been
a fierce critic of Zimbabwe’s controversial drive to seize white-owned farms for
redistribution to landless blacks. Mugabe has accused London of trying to
mobilise sanctions against his government. But he has accepted proposed talks
with a Commonwealth ministerial team to try and break the deadlock over land.
Mugabe has been counting on African support on the issue, but fellow African
leaders watered down a resolution critical of Britain at a regional summit in
Zambia earlier this month. Many political analysts believe Mugabe’s Zanu PF
would have lost last June’s parliamentary elections to the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change had its supporters not resorted to violence. At
least 31 people were killed before the polls, which were fought on the state of
the recession-hit economy. Many say riots are possible over food shortages due
to erratic rains and lost production caused by the farm invasions.
From The Daily News, 26
Court declines to
remand MDC members in custody
Bindura magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi on
Tuesday threw out the State’s request for the remand in custody of seven members
of the MDC when they appeared before him facing charges of public violence.
Tichoana Mudzingwa, 59, the MDC secretary for health, Biggie Chigonero, 42, the
party’s vice-chairman for Mashonaland Central Province, Henry Chimbiri, 35,
Leonard Chisvo, 30, Nicholas Gatsi, 34, Sarah Alfai, 51, and Cecilia Goteka, 50,
were arrested on Sunday following an attack by Zanu PF supporters on MDC
president Morgan Tsvangirai’s convoy in the Bindura constituency. A by-election
pitting Elliot Manyika of Zanu PF and Elliot Pfebve of the MDC is due on
Saturday and Sunday. The seat fell vacant when the incumbent, Border Gezi, died
in a road accident in April.
Emmanuel Muchenga, for the State, alleged that
the seven were in a convoy going to Nyava growth point where Tsvangirai was to
address a rally. He alleged that the seven were in a Datsun Pulsar vehicle
driven by Mudzingwa and a commuter bus driven by Chigonero. He further alleged
that the vehicles had stopped at a Zanu PF base, Chemakunguwo, at Chiveso
village and attacked the occupants. The Datsun, valued at $175 000, was totally
destroyed. Ruling on an application by the seven’s lawyer, Innocent Chagonda of
Atherstone and Cook, for the court to refuse to put them on initial remand,
Mutevedzi cited previous court rulings that the prosecution had to produce
sufficient evidence that an offence had been committed.
Chagonda said the seven were arrested when
they went to report the attacks by Zanu PF supporters to the police. Mutevedzi
said the State had done a "shoddy job" and should not have made the request for
remand. He said the seven had not acted in concert. Mutevedzi said: "An offence
of public violence can only be committed acting in concert. If each acts on his
or her own it does not constitute public violence. Most surprising is that there
are no complainants, not even a single name. It becomes surprising who
reported." He said the destroyed Datsun belonged to Mudzingwa and none of the
seven, particularly Mudzingwa, had committed any offence. Mutevedzi said: "In
fact, it is ironic that the property owner was brought to court as the
From The Financial
Gazette, 26 July
The Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
has bought state-of-the-art spying equipment as it steps up a campaign of
surveillance and bugging of Harare-based Western embassies and international aid
agencies it suspects of mobilising financial resources for the opposition, it
was established yesterday. Top intelligence officials said yesterday the
equipment, believed to be either from Russia or Israel, had been bought after
Parliament approved the amended Political Parties Finance Act earlier this year.
The Act, hurriedly drawn up by the government in May to prevent foreign funding
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), bans any Zimbabwean
party from receiving financial donations from anyone abroad.
The sources said the equipment, whose purchase
price was not given, allowed the CIO to increase markedly its surveillance of
aid agencies and embassies which the government believes are channelling funding
to the MDC. These aid agencies and embassies are likely to be expelled from
Zimbabwe once the spy agency has evidence that they are breaking the law. As a
result of the CIO’s increased surveillance work, fixed telephone lines at
virtually all the suspected aid agencies and embassies have been bugged, the
sources disclosed. The CIO is even establishing and recording the identities and
frequencies of movements of people who visit these aid agencies and embassies,
in addition to opening mail directed to these organisations, they
According to an official document shown to the
Financial Gazette this week, top on the list of the aid agencies being targeted
by the CIO are Germany’s humanitarian foundations Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES)
and Friedrich Naumann Foundation. "The FES is top on our list because we have
good pointers that it is funding MDC programmes in violation of the law," one
intelligence official said. The German organisation’s representative in
Zimbabwe, Felix Schmidt, was yesterday reported to be on leave abroad but FES
has previously denied charges it funded the MDC. Also listed on the document are
the Dutch non-governmental organisation Hivos, Canada’s International
Development Agency, Sweden’s International Development Agency and the Danish aid
organisation DANIDA. Another Danish aid agency, MSO, and a Norwegian aid
organisation known as Norad are also under the CIO microscope.
Virtually all Western embassies in Zimbabwe
but particularly the United States, the British, Swedish and the German
embassies had also been put under strict surveillance, the sources said. The
movement of diplomats from these missions was also being monitored as part of
efforts to prove who they associated with. Some of the homes of representatives
of these aid agencies and embassies and their private land lines had been put
under strict surveillance to enable the CIO to assess their contacts in
Zimbabwe. Security details also monitored movements of people in and out of
their private residences. Another security official said: "The government will
not hesitate to act on those aid agencies which break the law. Whether one
disagrees with a law or not, the fact is that the law was passed by a
democratically elected Parliament and this means that it ought to be respected
whether one agrees with it or not. Imagine what would happen to me if I entered
the United States or Britain and broke any of their laws which I disagreed
Representatives of some of the aid agencies on
the CIO hit list who were interviewed yesterday said they were aware that they
had been put under strict surveillance. "We know we are under closer scrutiny.
It’s a general thing happening to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and we
know that most of our meetings are being monitored," said one Western diplomat
who refused to have his name and aid agency named. Another diplomat said he
suspected that people working on behalf of state security officials had recently
even tried to drop a sophisticated small item in his office which would enable
them to listen to all discussions he had with visitors. Virtually all the aid
agencies listed have nonetheless been on record in the past emphasising that
they do not fund political parties but development projects in
It was not possible this week to ascertain the
exact nature and workings of the imported CIO equipment, its cost and the exact
countries from where it had been purchased because the sources declined to
disclose these details. The Financial Gazette however understands that it could
have been bought from Russia and Israel. Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo told
the Financial Gazette’s political editor Sydney Masamvu three weeks ago that the
government was aware that several NGOs were involved in subversive activities
under the guise of voter and anti-AIDS education and would soon move to curtail
their alleged activities. "We are aware of a number of international NGOs that
are involved in subversive activities," he said. "We have been monitoring them
and we will be moving to ban them and expel them from the country shortly,"
Nkomo said. He did not name the targeted NGOs, but said: "There is a need for
dry-cleaning in that sector. We, as a government, will not allow any form of
diplomatic intervention to frustrate this exercise." Efforts to get comment from
the minister in charge of the CIO, Nicholas Goche, have failed since Monday.
Goche’s mobile phone number 011 201 923 has been persistently switched off. CIO
director-general Elisha Muzonzini could also not be contacted because his
secretaries refused to transfer this reporter’s telephone calls to him saying
they are not allowed to do so.
From The Financial
Gazette, 26 July
Millers Ration Flour,
Bread Shortage Looms
Serious bread shortages could be on the
horizon in Zimbabwe following the decision by some large milling companies to
ration flour supplies to bakers, the Financial Gazette learnt yesterday. Milling
and baking industry sources said supplies had been cut by between 15 and 40
percent because of shortages of locally grown wheat and the high cost of
importing supplies to meet the shortfall and avert food shortages. Escalating
wheat costs prompted millers to raise flour prices by about 30 percent on
Monday, which will result in a 15 to 20 percent bread price hike, possibly next
"Currently one miller (Blue Ribbon) is
rationing flour," National Bakers Association chairman Mark Prior said. "The
largest miller (National Foods) is currently considering rationing but has yet
to introduce rationing of flour. The major reason for the introduction of
rationing is the shortage of wheat supplies in the country. Not all the millers
are affected, but the major mill has a shortage of stock."
There was no immediate comment from Ian Kind,
managing director of National Foods, which has about 50 percent of the local
market. Although Prior yesterday said rationing was imminent at the company,
industry sources said National Foods had in fact begun rationing on Monday.
George Chinsen, managing director of Blue Ribbon Foods, confirmed that his firm
had begun rationing flour and had not been taking on any new customers in the
past three months. "The difficulty that we all have is that the season's wheat
crop is only coming in October and we are running out of local wheat supplies,"
he said. "This has been compounded by the fact that we can't get foreign
currency to import wheat and we are getting foreign currency at over $200 to the
US dollar on the parallel market."
Industry executives said the government's
decision not to assist the private sector with wheat imports, forcing millers to
resort to the parallel market, would continually force flour prices up in the
next few months, resulting in "astronomical" bread prices at a time when
consumers could be facing serious shortages. Bakers said bread shortages were
inevitable if flour rationing by large millers continued because smaller millers
could not meet the shortfall left by bigger companies.
"The smaller mills have just sufficient
(stocks) to see them through to the next harvest at current off-take levels.
They cannot accommodate new customers or increased off-take," Prior said. Bread
shortages and high prices could trigger social unrest similar to food riots that
hit Zimbabwe three years ago when food prices skyrocketed. "That (possibility of
unrest) is extremely likely because what is happening now is much more serious
than what we had a couple of years ago," said economic consultant John
Robertson. "Then we had the money to import. You can buy your way out of a
situation if you have the money, but when you have run out of money you have no
options. The government, assisted by Dr Made (Agricultural Minister), were
persuaded not to take seriously the suggestion that there would be food
shortages and now they are seeing the result of that."