Tuesday 12 June 2007
By Farisai Gonye
HARARE - Zimbabwe's hardliner Minister of Lands Didymus Mutasa on Monday
repeated threats to expel the few white farmers left in the country and said
a United Nations (UN) report warning of more food shortages in the southern
African country would not deter the Harare government.
"The position is that food shortages or no food shortages, we are going
ahead to remove the remaining whites. Too many blacks are still clamouring
for land and we will resettle them on the remaining farms," he told
ZimOnline by phone.
Mutasa, who is also in charge of state security and distribution of
government food aid, said the Harare administration was under pressure to
return some farms to whites or that it "spares those remaining because we
are facing food shortages".
The Lands Minister, who is one of President Robert Mugabe's closest
confidantes, did not say who was pressuring Harare to return seized farms or
stop evicting remaining white farmers but he vowed "we would rather all die
of hunger, but knowing full well that the land is in the hands of black
He defended falling production on former white farms given to blacks as a
learning curve and promised the cash-strapped government would do more to
provide resources and farming skills to new black farmers in order to boost
production beginning next season.
A report released last week by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and
the World Food Programme said more than four million people or about a third
of Zimbabwe's population of 12 million would face serious food shortages by
early next year.
Critics blame Zimbabwe's food crisis directly on Mugabe's haphazard
fast-track land reform exercise that displaced established white commercial
farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded
Food production plunged by about 60 percent as a result while chaos in the
agriculture sector because of farm seizures also hit hard Zimbabwe's once
impressive manufacturing sector that had depended on a robust farming sector
for orders and inputs.
Most of Zimbabwe's firms have operated at about 30 percent of capacity since
the beginning of farm seizures in 2000, this in a country where unemployment
is more than 80 percent. - ZimOnline
Tuesday 12 June 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO - Three Zimbabwean clergymen had a weekend to forget last Sunday
after they were detained and interrogated by state security agents for
distributing toys and sweets to children in Masvingo town.
In a bizarre case highlighting deep levels of paranoia in government, the
state agents accused the three, Reverend Sonykis Chimbuya, Pastor Peter
Bondai and Pastor Mugondi, of distributing opposition campaign material.
Mugondi and Bondai were only released after they were interrogated for more
than three hours while Chimbuya was kidnapped and dumped along the
Masvingo-Great Zimbabwe highway hours after his arrest.
The Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents accused the three
churchmen of distributing campaign material for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party, Zimbabwe's biggest opposition.
Narrating his ordeal to ZimOnline yesterday, one of the three pastors said
they were arrested by the state agents while distributing some sweets and
toys to children in Masvingo town.
"They just came to us and picked us one after the other. They asked us about
the material we were distributing to various church organisations," said one
of the churchmen.
"One of us was kidnapped and was only released after they had proved beyond
doubt that the items we were distributing were in fact toys," he said.
The three clergymen said they were now living in constant fear after their
harassment at the hands of the CIO agents last weekend.
The CIO agents had also demanded that the three write down their sermons and
present them to the secret agents for vetting before delivery.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa could not be reached for comment on
President Robert Mugabe last month warned church leaders to steer clear of
politics after Catholic bishops denounced the Zimbabwean government over its
human rights record.
Mugabe has had a long-running spat with Bulawayo-based Catholic archbishop
Pius Ncube whom he accuses of dabbling in politics under the cloak of
religion. - ZimOnline
Tuesday 12 June 2007
By Menzi Sibanda
BULAWAYO - At the crack of dawn, 35-year old Thabani Zulu, wakes up and
rushes to meet some friends at a spot in the sprawling working class suburb
of Nketa in Zimbabwe's second biggest city of Bulawayo.
On this dark and wintry early morning, Zulu together with six of his friends
begin their 15-kilometre walk to work in Bulawayo's Belmont industrial zone.
With transport costs ballooning to unbearable levels each month as part of a
general worsening of economic hardships, hard-pressed Zimbabweans say they
have no choice but to walk to work on some days of the month to save on
This has seen many workers forming "walking clubs", aptly called 'Sisedubeni
sonke', in the vernacular Ndebele language, which roughly translated means
'we are together in this suffering'.
The 'walking clubs' are a vivid illustration of how things have collapsed in
"The cost of living is just too high and one cannot really afford to invest
your entire salary, no matter how small, on transport alone," says Zulu as
he sets the pace with a sprightly walk.
"What happens is that we team up as workers and leave our homes around 5 o'clock
in the morning for work. We are seven in our group and we have nothing to
fear even when we travel at night.
"We realised that traveling as individuals was very risky . . . That is why
we decided to come together to form this group," says Zulu.
Zimbabwe, once a shining model of economic success in Africa, is in the grip
of a severe economic crisis most critics blame on President Robert Mugabe's
mismanagement of the economy.
The economic crisis has manifested itself in widespread poverty, rising
unemployment and the world's highest inflation rate of over 3 700 percent
and which is expected to rise further when government statisticians release
new figures this week.
The few Zimbabweans who are still lucky to hold on to a job are struggling
to make ends meet. For some of these workers, one way of cutting costs is to
walk to work.
The average Zimbabwean worker earns about Z$400 000 a month, way below the
Z$1.7 million that the consumer rights body, the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe says an average family of five needs per month to survive.
The workers say they would rather embark on these arduous trips to and from
work to beat high transport costs.
Transport operators last week hiked fares by 50 percent with a single trip
from most suburbs in Bulawayo to the city centre now costing $15 000, up
from Z$10 000 that commuters used to pay previously.
For Sibangani Dube, walking to and from work is physically taxing but
"I earn $400 000 a month and it would not make sense to squander all that
money on transport costs. Although one gets very tired after walking to and
from work, at least one gets his salary 'intact' at the end of the month,"
Zimbabwe's economic crisis has since the beginning of the year triggered
wildcat strikes by workers pressing for more pay. Doctors, nurses as well as
teachers have all downed their tools this year demanding better salaries.
Although the Zimbabwean government relented to worker demands to raise
salaries, the salary increments have since been eroded by run-away
Even those in middle management positions in companies are feeling the heat
from the current economic crisis.
A company manager who spoke to ZimOnline says he has had to resort to
cycling to work as he can no longer afford to buy fuel for his car.
"It's quite ridiculous that a manager has to travel by bicycle. It makes one
lose respect in the community. But what can we do in this economy?" he says
with a grin.
Respected Bulawayo-based economic commentator Eric Bloch says government
must quickly address the crisis to stem off the continuing flight of skilled
manpower from the country.
"If they are a serious government, they should work hard to improve the
welfare of workers. Everyone is struggling . . . that is why we are
experiencing an unprecedented exodus of professionals," said Bloch.
With no solution in sight to Zimbabwe's eight-year economic crisis,
thousands of other workers here in Bulawayo will soon join these mushrooming
walking clubs to cut on transport costs. - ZimOnline
He's been targeted by nasty rumors and threatened with death. But Archbishop
Pius Ncube is still stepping up his efforts to speak out against Zimbabwe's
By Scott Johnson
Updated: 6:20 p.m. ET June 11, 2007
June 11, 2007 - It's Sunday morning at St. Mary's Cathedral in downtown
Bulawayo and the pews are crowded. Pius Alick Ncube, archbishop of the
Roman Catholic Church here in Zimbabwe's second-largest city, peers out at
the assembled parishioners over the rims of a pair of thick bifocals and
takes a breath. Then he bellows forth his rage. "This government doesn't
have the holy spirit," he fumes. "They know what I think of them." A
collective sigh moves through the crowd. In the farthest aisles, men and
women clutch at each other, laughing and snickering. A few exchange knowing
glances. "I'm not going to let them off the hook," Ncube continues. "These
men are liars. They are murderers. They are only working to make themselves
It is not easy to be a voice of opposition in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe;
legions of secret police and government enforcers make sure of that. When
opposition activists do speak out they are often kidnapped and beaten and
left in the open, or by the roadsides miles from their homes. Many
thousands more have fled over the years. But Ncube, a bespectacled quiet
man who lives next door to St. Mary's, where he preaches, has stayed behind
in his hometown, a bastion of anti-Mugabe opposition. And every day that he
does, he gets angrier and angrier at what he says are government crimes
against the people. "This government kicked 700,000 people out of their
homes, these were good homes, some of them had running water, some of them
had electricity," he rails to the faithful, and then pauses as the crowd
nods its head in a collective sign of approval. "And the government tore
these houses down." Ncube is referring to what has become known in
Zimbabwe as Operation Murambatsvina, a 2005 government "slum-clearance"
operation in which entire housing settlements were torn down en masse, their
residents--many of them opposition supporters--forcibly removed and told to
disappear. Many thousands of the victims remain homeless. "How can they
have the holy spirit if they don't care for their own people?" Ncube asks.
Ncube has made it his personal mission to deliver prayers that indict
Mugabe. For his critical public stance, Ncube, who speaks in a quiet,
deliberate voice and often keeps his eyes lowered to the side, has earned
increased scrutiny from the state. He believes his phone is tapped. He has
received death threats. State agents routinely follow him around on his
visit to local parishes or public events. They even recently paid a visit to
his home beside the church. But Ncube is undeterred. "I will not excuse him
anything," he says. "Mugabe is an evil man and the only way for him is to be
kicked out of power."
The once-quiet country priest has stepped up his rhetoric in recent months.
In early March, Ncube and several other bishops met in Quera, about 100
miles from Bulawayo, to discuss what role, if any, the church should play in
Zimbabwean politics. On April 5, the Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference
issued a pastoral letter criticizing Mugabe for his human-rights violations.
Entitled "God Hears the Cry of the Oppressed," the letter was read out in
churches across Zimbabwe. Government officials promptly described the letter
as malicious and inaccurate, but Ncube was buoyed by the reaction from his
flock. "They were very pleased, they told me, 'for so long we were wishing
you would talk'," Ncube says.
By Carole Gombakomba
11 June 2007
Two more activists of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
held in Harare in an alleged bombing plot were granted bail Monday, but
police continued to hold them on charges other than those covered by the
magistrate bail ruling.
Bail of Z$1 million (US$20) was set for Amos Musekiwa, who is accused of
complicity in the March bombing of ZANU-PF offices in Mbare. Bail for
Ishmael Kauzana, accused of bombing a Marimba police station, was set at
Lawyer Alec Muchadehama, representing the two men, said the magistrate also
dismissed a case in which five other activists who have since been released
were charged with firebombing the ZANU-PF offices in Mbare.
Muchadehama told reporter Carole Gombakomba that other cases, including that
of Glen View parliamentarian Paul Madzore and other opposition members
accused of receiving paramilitary training in South Africa, would be heard
later this week.
By Carole Gombakomba
11 June 2007
Striking junior and senior resident doctors at Zimbabwean state-run
hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo said Monday they would return to work
Tuesday following the receipt of government bank deposits in their accounts
over the weekend. Other health care workers and hospital support staff
returned to work last Thursday.
The residents had demanded that their monthly salaries be increased to at
least Z$70 million plus car loans of US$3,000. It was not clear whether the
government met those demands - a representative of doctors said he could not
disclose how much was paid to the residents because negotiations with the
Health Minister are still in progress.
Hospital Doctors Association President Amon Siveregi told reporter Carole
Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the residents' decision to
return to wards was also prompted by the knowledge that patients were
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
11 June 2007
There is some movement in European diplomacy to lower objections to the
attendance of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at an EU-Africa summit
scheduled for later this year, so that the gathering will not be derailed as
it was in 2003 when African leaders boycotted the planned event over
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted as saying at last week's Group of
Eight summit that Mr. Mugabe's "unspeakable acts" and policies to which the
European Union objects "cannot be the case that we do not work with a
Set for December in Lisbon, the EU-Africa summit will be the first in seven
A European Union official told VOA that something of a consensus was
emerging that the summit should proceed even if Mr. Mugabe insisted on
The African Union has insisted that neither Zimbabwe nor Mr. Mugabe be
excluded from the summit, implicitly threatening another boycott. Meanwhile,
outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken a softer line on
Zimbabwean participation, mainly because South African President Thabo Mbeki
is now mediating the Zimbabwean crisis at the behest of the Southern African
Senior correspondent Luis Costa Ribas of Portugal's SIC Television told
reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that that while
Portugal does not support Mr. Mugabe, it wants to see the summit to go ahead
Sydney Masamvu, an International Crisis Group senior analyst for Southern
Africa, said Merkel's statements indicated that some in Europe saw too much
economic potential in Africa to risk another summit failure over the
By Irwin Chifera and Patience Rusere
Zaka East & Washington
11 June 2007
Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party retained a parliamentary seat up for grabs
in a by-election in the Zaka East constituency of Masvingo Province marred
by low turnout and charges that opposition supporters were intimidated by
ZANU-PF's Livingstone Chineka, a retired brigadier general, won with 11,152
votes to 1,117 for Nicholas Shanga of the United Peoples Party and 622 for
Lameck Batirai of the Zimbabwe People's Democratic Party. Police and
election observers said the vote was generally peaceful, but UPP officials
said Central Intelligence Organization agents threatened its supporters and
representatives at a number of polling places.
Correspondent Irwin Chifera reported on the contest for the seat which fell
vacant in March when the ZANU-PF incumbent, Tinos Rusere, died.
Though the Zaka East by-election did not feature significant political
violence, some observers said the intimidation of non-ZANU-PF activists fit
into an emerging pattern as the ruling party steps up its campaign for
elections in early 2008. Local elections will be held in January, and
presidential and general elections follow in March.
Economist and political advisor Eddie Cross of the Movement for Democratic
Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai said intimidation is on the rise in
rural areas where his party's organizers are increasingly banned from
holding rallies and local chiefs and headmen have received orders from above
to block MDC political activities.
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe has also received credible reports that in
opposition strongholds like Binga, Matabeleland North, non-governmental
organizations have been accused of campaigning for the MDC and forced to
shut down operations.
Programs Manager Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition,
recently in Zaka East, told reporter Patience Rusere he sees more violence
11th Jun 2007 21:25 GMT
By Dennis Rekayi
HARARE - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono, has reiterated that
inflation is Zimbabwe's number one enemy, with 33 percent of it relating to
food and food items alone.
Speaking at a ceremony to handover farming implements beneficiaries of the
land reform programme, Gono said it followed therefore that "our attempts to
boost agricultural productivity on the ground is actually an ancillary and
incidental part of our core business".
Gono said "the task of feeding the country and therefore reducing inflation
through increased food supply cannot be left to one Government institution
or ministry, one province, one group of people, one political party or
gender. It has got to be a shared responsibility".
He defended the central bank for getting involved in almost every facet of
the country's economy.
"Many may wonder why Your Central Bank gets involved in some of these
activities which, on the face of it, appear to be outside our core mandate
of inflation fighting," he said.
"Many may also wonder why the Central Bank and its staff spent their time
outside the Bank visiting farmers and miners, visiting provinces and mines
instead of staying in our beautiful offices, enjoy our tea and fold our arms
in the face of the many challenges facing our economy."
Apparently turning to President Robert Mugabe, who was at the function, Gono
said: "May I take this opportunity to clarify and say, Your Excellency that
when a country is under siege, as indeed we are, the Nation expects us to do
more than sitting and drinking tea from our offices."
He said farmers getting assistance from the RBZ and the government would
lose their implements and support if they did not put it to good use.
"Once we have given out loans, we need and are expected to follow them up to
ascertain usage on the ground, hence our visiting districts and provinces
throughout the country," he said.
Gono said senior civil servants, ordinary farmers in the various districts,
members of the judiciary and the clergy who are farmers have also not been
forgotten from this programme.
"We have earmarked 20% of the tractors and implements to our war veteran
farmers, allocated some tractors and implements to women and youths farmers
who are excelling in their districts and recognized our traditional chiefs
from each district in the country where cropping takes place. We have also
recognized our legislators whether they be Members of Parliament, Ministers
Under Phase 2, Gono said, we plan to cover the same spectrum until all key
farmers are resourced.
He said the implements were on hire-purchase basis and "if no primary
productivity at the beneficiary's farm is taking place, we reserve the right
of repossession and reallocation of the equipment".
"We say this because there will be some beneficiaries who will be tempted to
receive these tractors, implements and harvesters only to make exorbitant
sums of money through leasing them out," said Gono.
"We are not discouraging hiring out to neighboring farms but we expect that
when we visit beneficiaries, we see improved farming methods, improved
yields and output deliveries at the individual level."
The DDF has received 22 new tractors and implements for use in the districts
and provinces, Gono revealed.
Mugabe was the guest of honour at the handover ceremony held at Farmec
Warehouses in the heavy industrial sites.
Accra, June 11,GNA- Zimbabwean civil society organizations on Monday called
on President John Agyekum Kufuor to, as Chairman of the African Union (AU),
use his office to ensure peace and tranquility in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean crisis, according to the group, should be high on the agenda
of the forthcoming AU Summit in Accra. Speaking to newsmen in Accra, Dr
Lovemore Madhuku, Chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly of
Zimbabwe and leader of the group said the AU was the appropriate organ to
take up issues relating to the Zimbabwean crisis.
He said all Africans should intervene in the economic lapses and human
rights abuses confronting the country saying, "the call for democracy,
freedom of speech and expression and the respect for human rights must no
longer remain the task of only Zimbabweans, but a collective responsibility
of the entire continent." Dr. Madhuku also called for constitutional
amendments to the Zimbabwean Constitution which would be done through a
comprehensive discussion and debate proposals.
"All that we are asking for as Zimbabweans is the rights to free and fair
elections and the opportunity to assert our rights to debate", he added. 11