|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
THE OLD: THE F-7
THE NEW: The FC-1
By Clemence Manyukwe, Staff Reporter
Last updated: 06/10/2004 06:43:26 Last updated: 06/09/2004 13:42:47
ZIMBABWE has ploughed an estimated US$200m into the purchase of 12 new fighter jets and military vehicles from China, New Zimbabwe.com has been told.
The government's acquisition of the military hardware is set to cause a stink with critics led by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The MDC has already queried the defence budget -- the biggest in the current financial year -- which it says is unjustifiable in peace time.
Due to sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe's regime, Zimbabwe's current fleet of European-made fighter jets is said to be crippled by a critical shortage of spares which has forced the government to look to China and the Far East.
Although the government has refused to disclose the type of aircraft being bought in the secret deal covered by the 1989 legal provision which excludes the acquisition of key military equipment from going through a tender board or to be advertised, sources tell New Zimbabwe.com the aircraft include the FC-1 (Fighter China 1), developed recently to replace the Chengdu F-7. The cost of each plane is US$20m.
The FC-1 was designed by China to replace the F-7 which has been widely criticised by military experts. Pakistan, which like Zimbabwe was using the F-7 is China's biggest customer for the FC-1.
Apart from the 12 jets, Zimbabwe has also put an order for 100 military vehicles. At least six of the jets are expected to be delivered any time this week, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Trust Maphosa told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs.
It is not clear where the funding for the new aircraft is coming from as in the current budget, announced by government in November last year, the army was allocated $815, 49 billion (about US$154 million) with 69 percent expected to be chewed by salaries and the rest going to operations.
Mt Darwin MP Savior Kasukuwere queried the manner in which the purchase of military equipment had by-passed the State Procurement Board, a move he said might result in the army buying equipment which may be expensive, but having a short life span.
Maphosa told the parliamentary committee that the
decision to buy the military hardware from China was a political decision after
the force had encountered problems in procuring spare parts for equipment bought
in Western Europe as a result of European Union sanctions imposed against
President Mugabe's regime.
Zimbabwe has one of the most formidable defence forces in Africa, whose highlight after the country’s independence include assisting the Mozambican government subdue the former rebel Renamo in the 1980s and repelling invasion forces who were threatening to overrun the DRC capital, Kinshasa in 1998.
The Air Force of Zimbabwe has two bases in Manyame
(near Harare) and Thornhill (Gweru) with personnel estimated at about 5 000 in
1999. Currently, the Air Force has the Chengdu F-7 fighter jet, British-made
Hawker Hunters and recently demonstrated newly-acquired Russian-made MiG-23 jets
and Mi-35 helicopter gunships, armed for attacking targets on the ground,
especially with automatic gunfire, but often also with rockets and/or
Additional reporting Daily Mirror
1. Parliamentary Elections 2005
focus of the MDC since our national conference in December last year is on the
Parliamentary election in 2005. We are preparing for those elections. At the
centre of our campaign today is the need to raise
The national campaign involves:
o being part of a broad alliance of all democratic forces representing all shades of political opinion in Zimbabwe – political parties, civil society, advocacy groups, traditional structures and other stakeholders;
o mobilizing our party structures to extend the campaign for a free and fair election – meetings with all elected officials in the party at various levels and designing specific campaign tasks for every individual party member everywhere;
o engaging all community leaders at every level to fight violence and to allow for free political activity in their areas;
o publicizing the five consolidated demands for a free and fair election.
The demands are:
Restore the rule of law. All forms
of political violence must end. Disband the Zanu PF youth militias. The police
and security forces must be impartial in the conduct of their duties. In
o Restore Basic Freedoms and Rights. We are asking the regime to repeal those aspects of the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) that curtail personal freedoms of the people.
o Establish an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Elections are very crucial to any country. They are basic right. We risk perpetuating our misery if we allow Zanu PF to play games with our electoral system. Because of our previous experience, the management and implementation of our elections muse cease to be the sole prerogative of the Registrar General’s office. That office has failed the nation on numerous occasions. We need an impartial body to run our elections.
o Restore Public Confidence in the Electoral Process. This is a crucial matter. Zimbabweans are fast losing faith in elections because of mistrust. We need a clean and accurate voters roll. The roll must be freely available to interested persons and to all political parties. People must vote in a single day; the counting of votes must take place at the polling stations immediately after voting ends.
o Restore the Secrecy of the Ballot. We need a set of confidence-building measures to resuscitate the sanctity of elections and the part they play in national development. Voting must take place in atmosphere that ensures total secrecy. We must change our ballot boxes. We need to use translucent plastic ballot boxes of secure, single piece construction. The practice of forcing chiefs and village heads to line up with their subjects, before voting, outside polling stations must stop.
The International campaign:
The international campaign involves:
n engaging SADC governments and political parties. What we are telling them is that the Zimbabwean crisis will worsen unless the region takes a firm position on the conduct of elections in this country. What we are telling them is that our electoral standards are still very backward and we need their assistance in upgrading them.
engaging civil society in SADC and
beyond. We are saying no-one should come to monitor Zimbabwean elections until
they are conducted in accordance with the SADC norms and standards. There must
never be a repeat of the experience of the last five years where Zimbabwean
elections cause division among civil society and governments in
n Apart from our regular interaction with diplomats, several missions are going into the region with this message.
All we are asking Mugabe and Zanu
PF to do is to ensure that
v The people seek the electoral administrative safeguards to circumvent the violence that was unleashed since February 2000 to this day. We need a safe, free and fair election to avoid the subversion of democratic practices and procedures through unlawful political directives.
v We realise that time is short. To put together an Independent Electoral Commission and to get to work effectively may require more time and resources.
v We are prepared to recommend that the election be postponed to make way for such an important institution to set itself up and get on with the job.
v The idea is to have an election process and a result that would lead to a resolution of the Zimbabwean question, once and for all.
2. LAND & OTHER MATTERS
Questions are being raised as to our views on the latest confusion in Zanu PF over the land issue. Our standard response is that what is happening today vindicates our long-held position that Zanu PF and Mugabe were never interested in resolving the land question. Their intention was to cover up for the crisis of governance, which they created in this country. What happened was a response to our democratic challenge in the 2000 and 2002 elections?
They are now shifting their policy positions almost daily because they never had a land programme in the first place. Last year, they announced that the process was over. Zanu PF does not have the ability to deal with the land question because of the manner in which Mugabe treated that national asset. We shall ensure that there is security of tenure and respect for private property rights anywhere in this country.
believe the first step requires the return of the rule of law onto our land. We
As I have always said our corrective approach will be based on need, not greed. That process will seek to achieve an equitable, transparent, just, lawful and economically efficient distribution and use of land. We want to go further than merely re-organising our land tenure and land management systems. We are committed to the transformation of the communal lands into productive economic units for the benefit of all.
to extend property rights and titles to the communal areas. The intellectual and
creative energies of the people in the rural areas are being wasted. Our
objective is to transform the communal areas and to abolish the dual agrarian
structure in this country. We must have one land tenure system for
Through a Land Commission, we shall audit land tenure and distribution. On the basis of that audit, we will rationalize land allocation. We believe a comprehensive agrarian reform programme is necessary for us to embrace and integrate all types of land tenure and production systems.
Farming is a serious business. It cannot be left to chancers and speculators. Contrary to the state-sponsored propaganda, there are fewer people on the land now than at any time since independence 24 years ago. We warned Mugabe that these desperate so-called new farmers are going to be a source of instability.
What do you expect from a people who lie dumped and abandoned in the bush: with no support, no schools, no medical care, no income, no seed, no skills, no inputs and no food. Nothing! There is a looming disaster in these farms. Hunger, disease, poverty and hopelessness are setting in fast. Many of them are already turning to the MDC for solutions.
3. Corruption and the Economy
Mugabe’s anti-corruption drive has backfired. He is failing to deal with corruption in business after realising that the net is much wider at the top of his party.
We need an independent anti-corruption commission with sufficient powers to investigate and prosecute everybody. Without such a body, Mugabe’s efforts won’t go anywhere. He is scared to investigate senior military and party officials who seized farms, stole farm machinery and scooped all the farm produce worth billions of dollars from white farmers.
Gideon Gono took over as Governor of the Reserve Bank of
He has devalued the currency to a level that is higher than the December black market rate. Nothing has improved. If anything the economy is in a far worse position than in December last year.
He is overseas trying to encourage those Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to send money home. That Zimbabweans are sending money home is nothing new. They have always been doing it.
Mugabe may want their money, but what about their rights? What about their vote? Without a political solution to the crisis, we find ourselves in a situation where Mugabe is sounding more and more like a clown.
Food production is down this year,
our economy is still in free fall --
down this year by another 10 per cent. Industry is down 40 per cent; tourism is down 80 per cent. Nearly 80 percent of all the jobs we had are all gone.
The whole country has been reduced to a flea market. Life expectancy has fallen a year for every year that Mugabe has been in power -- from 59 years on average in 1980 to 36 years now.
I thank you.
The incredible and
utter stupidity of Zimbabwe's rulers
Posted by McQ
Just when you think a situation can't get worse, some dunderhead and his government step forward to disuade you of that notion:
Zimbabwe's land minister said Tuesday that the government intended to nationalize all farmland that it had not already confiscated under a contentious program of land seizures begun four years ago.
The minister, John Nkomo, said the government planned to take control of remaining farmland, abolishing all deeds, and turn it back to farmers under 99-year leases. Leases on wildlife conservancies would be limited to 25 years, he said, because that land is considered more valuable than farmland.
"Ultimately, all land shall be resettled as state property,'' Mr. Nkomo was quoted as saying Tuesday in the government-controlled newspaper The Herald. "It will now be the state which will enable the utilization of the land for national prosperity."
Obviously Mr. Nkomo missed the last century completely as we saw the utter and complete failure of states "utilization of the land for national prosperity" in the guise of the eastern bloc nations.
He's also going to have difficulty blaming the impending failure on whites:
Very little white-owned farmland remains in the nation. The government has already confiscated more than 42,000 square miles of formerly white commercial farmland and game reserves, and only about 500 of the original 5,000 or so white farmers are believed to still hold property.
The result of previous confiscations has been economic havoc:
Zimbabwe's economy has been in free fall since 2000, when President Robert G. Mugabe's government began taking over white-owned commercial farms and redistributing the land, mostly to supporters of his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF.
The confiscations wrecked commercial farm exports as well as the chemical and machine industries, which supported agriculture. Foreign investors also fled, and the resulting shortages of goods and foreign exchange have halted economic growth and pushed inflation as high as 620 percent a year.
So the answer? Why confiscate more farms, of course.
And as to the current economic crisis ... well its just not Zimbabwe's fault:
Zimbabwe's government says its economic problems have nothing to do with the land seizures and can be laid to drought and a Western plot to restore colonial rule.
But since title has yet to be given on the redistributed land previously confiscated, is it any wonder that banks and other financial institutions won't lend money to their "owners".
Nkomo claims that a 99 year lease is tantamount to ownership. Well try running that one by the financial institutions which would be stuck with the default and see how far you get you ditz. They're going to tell you nothing short of a deed will suffice for appropriate collateral.
And Africa wonders why it suffers so ...