|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
The warning comes the day after a 48 hour stayaway which brought the country to a standstill.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo said: "All the workers want an indefinite stayaway from work to force the government to bring about change."
The government has not yet reacted to the threat of an indefinite stayaway.
Business owners in the capital, Harare, said that 90% of factories were shut on Wednesday after employees failed to turn up for work.
Most banks and building societies were closed, but some shops were reported open.
Key economic indicators, 2000
GDP growth: -6.1%
GDP per head: $544
Total debt per head: $406
A factory owner who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals told AP news agency: "I had four of my 30 guys come in and it wasn't worth firing up my machines and I sent them home.
But state radio said the response had been patchy and that it was mainly "business as usual.
Reports said the second city of Bulawayo was at a virtual standstill.
Three journalists who went there to cover the story had been detained by the police, but have now been released without charge.
Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis since independence and the petrol price rises imposed by the government on 12 June have further increased inflation, already running at almost 60%.
They have generally been called in protest at what the unions call economic mismanagement by the government of Robert Mugabe, leading to a huge decline in living standards.
In 1999, the ZCTU was instrumental in forming the Movement for Democratic Change which is now the official opposition party with 56 seats in parliament.
The MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, expected to challenge Robert Mugabe in presidential elections next year, used to be the ZCTU's leader.
A group of South African tenant farmers has invited the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, to join a rally of land invaders.
Joachim Hlatshwayo said his Mpumalanga labour tenants' committee had sent an invitation to the 77-year-old leader – who since last year has masterminded a campaign of occupations of white-owned land – to Zimbabwe's high commissioner in South Africa.
Mr Hlatshwayo said: "We want President Mugabe to advise us on how to proceed to get land. The group's members are largely in Mpumalanga, in the north of the country, and in the Free State, in the centre.
As part of President Mugabe's campaign to stay in power, begun in February last year, there have been more than 1,500 occupations in Zimbabwe, almost all of them against white owners of land. It is understood that a far greater proportion of South Africa's arable land is white-owned.
Yesterday, trade unions in Zimbabwe staged the second day of a two-day general strike in which they said 90 per cent of workers had stayed away from their jobs. The action was called to protest a 70 per cent increase in fuel prices.
Patrick Nabanyama – One year on
Patrick Nabanyama was abducted on 19 June 2000 from his house in Nketa, Bulawayo. He has been missing since then. His family, friends and concerned citizens are still looking for him. There will be a Memorial march and prayer meeting for Patrick on Saturday 7 July. The march commences at 9:30 am at St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral on the corner of Lobengula Street and 9th Avenue, and proceeds to the Presbyterian Church on the corner of Jason Moyo and 5th Avenue. The prayer service starts at 11:00 am.
It would be appreciated if the following could be observed: Dress code - black, or otherwise suitably attired for this sombre occasion; no political attire, literature or placards; Bring flowers if you can. This is a non-political and an inter-denominational occasion. All Zimbabweans regardless of their political or religious beliefs are encouraged to attend to show unity for democracy and human rights. With this Memorial the Friday Vigils for Patrick Nabanyama will cease. There will be no vigil this Friday, 6 July.
From The Guardian (UK), 5 July
West will monitor Mugabe re-election
Harare - The Zimbabwean opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said yesterday he had secured pledges from Britain, Europe and the US to provide independent observers for next year's presidential election, when he will stand against Robert Mugabe. With seven parliamentary by-elections pending, Mr Tsvangirai is anxious for foreign monitors to be present in the coming months to prevent the intimidation of voters. There were widespread complaints of fraud and violence during last year's parliamentary elections.
The diplomatic offensive by the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has coincided with a two-day general strike by an estimated 3m Zimbabweans in protest at the government's recent 70% increase in fuel prices. Speaking in London yesterday, Mr Tsvangirai repeatedly distanced the MDC from direct involvement in the strike, but commented: "Increasing petrol prices [so much] has been suicidal. It's completely insensitive. If they are going to adjust the prices they should do it in a way people can still afford fuel."
In the past week Mr Tsvangirai has been received at the state department in Washington, by the new British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and by three EU commissioners: Chris Patten, Neil Kinnock and Poul Nielsen. "Whereas before people were prepared to listen to the MDC but regard it as a protest movement, now there's acceptance of the MDC as a political party," said Mr Tsvangirai. Late last month the EU set a two-month deadline for Mr Mugabe to end Zimbabwe's political violence and interference with the independence of the judiciary, and guarantee freedom of speech.
Industry and commerce remained largely closed on the second day of the national strike, which was called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions as a protest against economic mismanagement. Although the anti-government strike was peaceful, local residents reported that army units had beaten people in Chitungwiza, Budiriro and Dzivarasekwa. The government stepped up its campaign yesterday to portray the strike as a failure. The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation described the strike as unsuccessful and the work of foreign agents. The government-controlled Herald newspaper said that thousands of workers tried to go to their jobs but were locked out by white factory owners trying to sabotage the government.
From ZWNEWS, 5 July
Maize shortage: for the hungry, dangerous deadlines are slipping
By Michael Hartnack
While President Robert Mugabe’s government continues to dismiss experts’ warnings that the country faces dire maize shortages, time and money are running out. United Nations food experts say that since the South African railway system cannot cope with shipping more than 30 000 - 40 000 tonnes of grain a month to Zimbabwe, the country must begin imports now to meet a forecast 600 000 tonne deficit impacting next March. In April, presidential elections are due in which Mugabe faces the strongest challenge of his two-decade rule from Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
As well as the rail capacity problem, maize imports should begin while the country still has some foreign exchange to pay for them. Reserves had "practically run out", Finance Minister Simba Makoni admitted June 26. Exporters were ordered to hand over 60 percent of their earnings to the central bank at the "official rate" of Zimbabwe $55 to U$1, while the "unofficial rate" soared to Zimbabwe $160/U$1 in a blatant "parallel market" run by airlines, bureaux de change and other dealers. The official rate is, in reality, a disguised 65 percent surtax on the honest exporter who repatriates his earnings.
The surrendered funds will be used to pay for hand-to-mouth imports of fuel and electrical power, much of it from South Africa, and the continued presence of Zimbabwean troops in the Congo. Makoni acknowledged last week that the Zimbabwe dollar was "over valued," but was publicly disowned by his colleagues in the ruling ZANU-PF party when he urged devaluation. The impasse raises questions about whether Makoni’s future in the Mugabe Cabinet. After 12 frustrating months, fellow "technocrat" Nkosana Moyo recently quit as trade minister, faxing his resignation from Johannesburg.
"There is no need for the Government to import any maize,’’ Agriculture Minister Joseph Made insisted recently. ``It is absolutely untrue that we will have to import maize. I have been round the country to see there is plenty of maize in the communal and resettlement areas. I am confident no-one will starve since the maize is there." However, the Bulawayo Chronicle, a state-run newspaper, reported that 120 000 people are already facing starvation in the Gokwe South area of the Midlands.
And, despite Made’s denials of any impending crisis, The Herald, the main state-run newspaper, in a significant move reported July 3 that the Government plans to ban all private trading in maize. The paper said the government suspected white farmers of ``attempting to create false shortages by hoarding grain." Farmers, millers or private traders who disregard the measure will have their stocks or reserves confiscated," warned The Herald, which usually reflects official thinking closely. The Herald said emergency legislation will be rushed through Parliament to restore the parastatal Grain Marketing Board's monopoly over grain. The monopoly was abandoned six years ago under economic liberalisation policies sponsored by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The projected maize shortages follow the invasions of white-owned commercial farms by ZANU-PF supporters – now being stepped up in increasingly chaotic fashion. Last week, the Commercial Farmers Union reported that all but 300 of its members' 5 500 properties were now subject to designation orders. A further 18 pages of notices appeared in Friday's Herald. Astonishingly, seven properties owned by South Africa's Oppenheimer family been removed from the list. Mining circles believe Anglo American's giant Unki platinum project at Shurugwe will now proceed after years of delay. "They must have been going through the deeds register picking up every white owned rural property," said CFU deputy director Jerry Grant. Schools, golf clubs, church missions and even the Feruka oil refinery grounds were listed.
Instead of the 5m hectares Mugabe said he would take, nearly 8m ha are now under the hammer. Promises that only foreign, absentee, or multiple owners would be designated, and that competent farmers would be left with at least one property, have proved hollow. Mugabe’s ploy appears to be to sustain his party’s grip on power by making farms part of a system of ZANU-PF patronage. And there are doubts whether it will be possible for future farmers, black or white, to obtain finance and sustain commercial production in the state of insecure tenure to which they are being reduced. "Be part or us, or part of someone else, in which case join that someone," raged Mugabe, referring to white farmers during an hour-long harangue to the Zanu PF central committee on June 29.
From News24 (SA), 4 July
Zim sacks grain body
Harare - The Zimbabwe government on Tuesday sacked the governing body of the country's Grain Marketing Board (GMB) in a bid to ensure food security, Lands and Agricultural Minister Joseph Made said on Tuesday. Made said the move was to allow the government to be directly involved in the operations of the parastatal which is responsible for marketing food grains in the country. The dismissal comes in the wake of reports of food shortages, which the government has vehemently denied.
"Due to the strategic importance of GMB in terms of food security for the nation, it is imperative that decisions regarding its operations are implemented expeditiously and effectively in the interests of the people," Made told a news conference. Made said some sections of the Zimbabwean society were creating artificial shortages of food in the country. "I am aware that there are a number of people who are involved in activities ... meant to create an aspect of shortages," he said. But he said he would move to apply measures that would ensure that "maize is secure for the good of the economy as this a staple".
The board was appointed in June last year and its term was to expire in July 2003. "It has been found necessary to bring forward the expiry date of the current board of directors of GMB," he announced. But he stressed that sacking of the directors was not an indication of problems or looming shortages. "I do emphasise that this exercise has to do more with our strategic needs, it's not the other way round of saying what is the problem," Made said.
From The Financial Gazette, 5 July
Govt thwarts Gubbay’s job bid in region
The Zimbabwe government has taken steps to halt any possible plans by judicial services departments in Botswana and Namibia to give beleaguered former chief justice Anthony Gubbay a senior judicial post, official sources in Harare said this week. Although Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa quickly denied any involvement by him and his officials in efforts to thwart Gubbay’s possible appointment, this newspaper has it on good authority that the government had de-campaigned Gubbay once it had emerged that the judicial services in the two countries could consider him for a job.
The two countries have in the past recruited several retired Zimbabwean judges. The Namibian government has already appointed a retired Supreme Court judge, John Manyarara, to its High Court bench in addition to two other Zimbabwean judges already serving there, Simpson Mtambanengwe and Niel Gibson. "I need to reiterate that we never forced Gubbay to resign. He resigned of his own accord. I also wish to state that I and my officials are not part of efforts to thwart his appointment by anyone," Chinamasa told the Financial Gazette. "In any case, if I may speak on his behalf, he is already nearly 70 years old and he retired voluntarily to take up his pension. Why would such a man who opted to retire of his own accord before his term expired want to take up another job? Why would he do that?" he asked.
Gubbay was quoted in the Zimbabwean media at the weekend as telling guests at a farewell party in Harare that he would have wished to serve his full term but had been forced to go. The former chief justice has elected to maintain his silence even in his retirement. His former secretary at the Supreme Court said yesterday Gubbay was still not ready to give any interview to the media. The Financial Gazette was thus unable to verify with him whether he was indeed interested in working in these two countries or whether the government had reacted hastily to mere rumours.
But a senior justice ministry official said: "The bottom line is that it would have been highly inappropriate for a senior judge who has retired in controversial circumstances to then immediately take up another job in a neighbouring country. It would have been an indictment on us. Once information had emerged in our corridors that Gubbay could be linked to any of the benches in the region, we took steps to inform the relevant authorities of our concerns. I am sure they understood us though the discretion is theirs. It didn’t matter whether he had indeed applied or not at the time we heard the information." The sources said it would, however, suit the government if Gubbay was to get a job in England, as was also being rumoured, as Harare would want to use this to confirm its own unfounded charge that Gubbay represented British interests on the bench.
Sources close to Gubbay said they understood his reasons for not wishing to talk to the Press now or comment on his forced resignation and future plans because this would still expose him to enemies in the volatile period ahead of presidential elections due next year. "As for his next moves, the professionals in Namibia may be interested in him but the biggest stumbling block would be President Sam Nujoma. I wouldn’t know about Botswana but President Festus Mogae seems to be reasonable," one source said. There was no immediate comment from the judicial services of Botswana and Namibia.
Comment from The Guardian (UK), 5 July
Power to the workers
Mugabe faces a popular revolt
President Robert Mugabe's government declared this week's general strike called by Zimbabwe's trade unions illegal. That the vast majority of the country's 1.2m employed workers bravely chose to ignore the ban suggests that it is Zanu PF's choking grip on Zimbabwe that lacks legitimacy. The intimidatory threats issued by the despised "war veterans", who have turned their attention in recent months from white-owned farms to factories and businesses, were also ignored. Mr Mugabe's thugs would no doubt like to provoke the sort of violence with which they have been associated in the past. And as before, the security forces have tried to prevent free and fair reporting. That very little violence has so far occurred is vastly to the credit of Zimbabwe's citizens, not to a government that is now in a virtual state of war with its own people.
Mr Mugabe was right about one thing this week: this mass action is not just about the recent 70% rises in fuel prices, or the resulting inflationary impact on the cost of basic foodstuffs. It is not simply about an economy broken almost beyond repair, about schools without resources and hospitals without medicines. Nor is it only about corruption in high places, about the assaults on an independent judiciary, about the government's contempt for the rule of law. Mr Mugabe said the strike was, at heart, political. And he is correct. It represents an enormous challenge to his own continued tenure as president. And more than that, it challenges the power monopoly enjoyed by Zanu PF since independence over 20 years ago.
If last year's general elections had been properly conducted, the ruling party might already be out of office. By his egregious conduct then and since, Mr Mugabe has gone a long way to guaranteeing not only his own eventual downfall but also that of the movement he once honourably led in the battle against white minority rule. At age 77, he cannot last forever. His neighbours know it. His smarter associates and Zimbabwe's many overseas friends know it. His people know it and would wish to be shot of him. Yet by clinging to power, against all reason, and trying to fiddle yet another term next year, Mr Mugabe looks set to ensure that much that he painstakingly built up will be torn down with him. A man who was one of Africa's most respected revolutionaries is now on the wrong, losing side of a popular revolution. The clock is ticking. It is a great pity he cannot hear it.
From The Financial Gazette, 5 July
Moyo in trouble with chefs?
Vice Presidents Joseph Msika and Simon Muzenda are trying to persuade President Robert Mugabe to fire Information Minister Jonathan Moyo because he has become a liability and is alienating potential Zanu PF supporters in urban centres ahead of crucial presidential elections due next year. It also emerged this week that security reports compiled for Mugabe by the spy Central Intelligence Organisation had questioned Moyo’s conduct and raised concerns about the implications of his continued stay in office.
Mugabe, however, believes that Moyo is doing a good job and wishes that his other ministers could match Moyo’s robust rhetoric on national issues, authoritative official sources said. They said Muzenda, believed to be the architect of important appointments in the government, and Msika had agreed that both the party and the government were "better off without Moyo". "If President Mugabe insists on retaining Moyo in Cabinet, then Muzenda and Msika believe that he should be moved to another portfolio," one source said.
The two vice presidents are due to discuss a planned Cabinet reshuffle with Mugabe following the recent deaths of Cabinet ministers Border Gezi and Moven Mahachi. They are also expected to discuss ways to rejuvenate the party ahead of the presidential election next year and top on their agenda is Moyo and his effectiveness during that campaign, the sources said. The Movement for Democratic Change’s Morgan Tsvangirai is challenging Mugabe in the presidential poll.
Muzenda, Msika, Mugabe and ruling party chairman John Nkomo meet regularly as members of the party’s presidency to discuss issues affecting Zanu PF. The sources said Nkomo, the Minister of Home Affairs, was also not an admirer of Moyo but did not link him to the alleged bid to oust Moyo. They said the two vice presidents believed that Moyo’s overzealousness in dealing with political opponents and his general lack of experience was costing the party and the government crucial political support. "The two vice presidents are disenchanted with Moyo’s role as a government spokesman," said a top source close to Muzenda. "They both believe he has done more to antagonise and alienate potential supporters. Muzenda has particularly questioned how Moyo can be a government spokesman when he has never addressed a major rally," the source said.
Msika told the Financial Gazette this week that it would be outrageous of him to discuss the performance of a Cabinet minister in the Press. "I don’t know what you are talking about . . . Why don’t you talk to him (Moyo)? I never talk about another minister publicly. If I am not satisfied with the performance of a minister, I would talk to him directly," he said. Moyo himself refused to be interviewed on the matter. When he returned a call from this newspaper, he launched into a tirade against this reporter before he banged his phone down. "I am not going to talk to you. You people have become politicians and you have personally been writing things that are not true so please go ahead," he screamed before slamming his phone down.
Muzenda could not be reached for comment but an official in his office who refused to give his name over the phone said appointments to Cabinet were the prerogative of Mugabe and not Muzenda nor Msika. "They (Muzenda and Msika) are also appointed by the President and they don’t have any influence over the appointment of others," the official said. However, other sources said Mugabe always consulted his two vice presidents before making these appointments. "That is precisely the reason why people with close links to Muzenda and the late vice president (Joshua) Nkomo found their way into the Cabinet. Although Mugabe has the final say over these appointments, he consults his deputies," one source said. "In fact, I remember very well that during the 1995 Cabinet appointment Mugabe asked Muzenda and Nkomo to bring their own nominees. That was why people like (Stan) Mudenge, (Cain) Mathema and many others close to the two vice presidents ended up with ministerial positions."
Apart from Msika and Muzenda, the sources said Moyo had also fallen out of favour with most of his Cabinet colleagues, with the notable exception of Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made. One Cabinet minister who requested anonymity said he believed the ruling party would lose the presidential ballot if Moyo remained in charge of the government’s information dissemination machinery.