Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:20PM BST
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's parliament on Tuesday began debating a law
empowering authorities to monitor phones, mail and the Internet to protect
national security, a move seen by critics as part of an official crackdown
on the opposition.
While rights groups are concerned President Robert Mugabe's government will
use the Interception of Communications bill to infringe on privacy and
further trample freedom of speech, officials have described it as integral
to fighting crime.
"We are all subject to this law ... and Zimbabwe needs to mitigate against
those who use technology to commit crime as is the norm globally," Transport
and Communication Minister Chris Mushowe told parliament.
He noted that the United States, Britain and South Africa had similar
The bill is expected to be passed by the lower house of parliament on
Wednesday and then go on to the upper chamber. Mugabe's government, which
has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, has a two-thirds majority
in both houses.
If passed, the bill will give the state the authority to monitor the phones
and mail of anyone suspected of threatening national security or involvement
in criminal activities.
Critics say the bill is motivated by Mugabe's desire to punish and keep
closer tabs on the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe's main
opposition party, amid rising unrest in the economically strapped southern
Opposition legislators said they feared the government would abuse the law.
"This law is about the interception of fundamental rights of our citizens
and this house should refuse such frivolous and outrightly undemocratic
laws," said Nelson Chamisa, one of only a handful of MDC legislators who
participated in the debate.
"Most provisions are injurous and the law will be used as an arrow aimed
against trade unions, civil society, media and political parties involved in
genuine political engagements," Chamisa said.
Zimbabwe's parliament on Tuesday also approved the Suppression of Foreign
and International Terrorism Bill, which the government said would enable the
country to fight international terrorism and mercenary activities.
SW Radio Africa (London)
12 June 2007
Posted to the web 12 June 2007
More information has become available about the Indigenous Empowerment Bill
the government is drafting, in its efforts to target all privately owned
companies in Zimbabwe. And it appears the government is after much more than
first expected. The Bill is reported to be in its final drafting stages by
the Attorney General's office and will be completed in the next two weeks
for presentation to parliament by early July.
Essentially the Bill will require all foreign companies to sell 50% of their
shares to locally owned firms or risk losing their license and registration.
The companies must also ensure that half of their business is done with
local companies and in return they will be given tax breaks and other
economic incentives. The government itself will be required to procure 75%
of its goods and services from locally owned companies and to deal only with
indigenous banks and accounting firms.
Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Tsvangirai MDC, dismissed the Bill as
a ZANU-PF ploy to acquire and vandalise private firms the way the party took
over and destroyed agriculture. He said: "We have a corrupt regime being run
by an 83-year old geriatric so simply changing the structure of those
companies will make no difference." Biti explained that black Empowerment in
itself is not a bad policy but in this case it is ZANU-PF empowerment. He
said: "You will find the same thieves living on those farms will be the same
beneficiaries of this Bill."
Biti added: "Black Empowerment is being done in South Africa, but
differently. You will find they enacted the legislation within 10 years
after independence. Ask ZANU-PF where were you for the last 27 years?" Biti
believes investors will simply run away when this Bill goes through.
The government has been criticized for pursuing this policy after taking
over agriculture and destroying it. Government cronies that took farms
illegally during the so-called Land Reform Programme failed to produce for
the nation and millions now face hunger. Biti said: "Six years after this
Land Reform you will find we cannot produce 600,000 tonnes of grain. That
programme was pure looting, pure asset stripping by ZANU-PF chefs."
Top economists in the country have said the government takeover of private
industry will mean the end for Zimbabwe's economy. And with a majority in
parliament, ZANU-PF will easily pass the Empowerment Bill into law.
International Herald Tribune
By Greg Mills Published: June 12, 2007
Southern African diplomats are engaged in trying to mediate a peaceful
resolution to the Zimbabwe crisis. Progress will depend on the appetite of
Zimbabwe's elite for change and the extent of their desperation.
Unfortunately, many are making a lot of money out of the country just the
way it is.
The conventional wisdom is that Zimbabwe is at the point of imminent
economic and social collapse, and that this will trigger widespread unrest
and deep-seated political change. Such wishful thinking does not intersect
with rational analysis.
On paper, Zimbabwe has moved from breadbasket to basket-case, its once
fast-growing economy shrunk by half in just a decade. Ten years ago,
Zimbabwe was a net food exporter, with a buoyant agriculture and mining
sector. Today, agricultural output is less than half of what it was at its
peak in the late 1990s, and tobacco, the main export crop, is just
The budget deficit is an unsustainable 50 percent of gross domestic product.
Inflation is now more than 3,700 percent. Four out of five Zimbabweans are
unemployed. Half of the country's 11 million people are dependent on foreign
food aid. More than three million people have fled the country. One in five
of the population is afflicted with HIV or AIDS. Life expectancy is down
from 60 at independence in 1980 to 36.
How then are a large number of people still making money?
The politically well-connected can purchase the U.S. dollar at the official
rate of 250 Zimbabwe dollars at a time when the market rate is at least 100
times greater. This enables arbitrage on everything from luxury goods to
essential imports, notably fuel from South Africa.
It does not matter that there is insufficient foreign exchange for basic
food and power imports. The state relies on international largess in the
form of aid and credits to ensure that these keep flowing.
This system requires political connections and ensures loyalty. It demands
economic schizophrenia, operating simultaneously inside and outside the
market economy. Few legitimate businesses can turn a profit in Zimbabwe.
This explains why President Robert Mugabe is still popular among his
followers. They have been bound to him by the distribution of previously
white-owned farms to his supporters. More than 3,500 farms have been seized
by the state. The country's 4,000 white farmers were always easy prey in a
country where the politics of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party are defined by
the 20-year liberation war against white rule.
This also explains why Mugabe is going all-out to retain power, contrary to
the interests and apparent demands of his fellow leaders in southern Africa.
His stake in democracy - leveling the playing fields so that the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change can function free of violence - is today
limited by his personal post-presidential options, even if it is encouraged
by the MDC's chronic infighting.
If the perverse economic incentives on offer to his followers were removed,
Mugabe could fall from power quickly. He might also find himself before the
International Criminal Court, facing charges not only for his recent actions
in Zimbabwe but also for those in Matabeleland in the early 1980s, which
caused the deaths of more than 20,000 people. At 83 years of age, Mugabe has
less to look forward to than he has to fear from his past.
Mugabe's current actions may appear inexplicable to those who operate
according to principles of common good and fair play. In the circumstances,
they are entirely rational - and venal.
Political patronage has opened up opportunities for instant wealth for a
small number of Zimbabweans. Yet even this feeding trough is shrinking given
the destruction of the farming sector, once the foremost foreign exchange
earner. Arbitrage opportunities will also disappear as faith in the
depreciating local currency lead to dollarisation.
This economic fact of life, not the pleas of foreign diplomats, will
inevitably change things in Zimbabwe. While impossible to avoid, this
conclusion will take still more time so long as the economy is still earning
enough foreign exchange through remittances as well as mineral and some
Thereafter recovery will be painfully slow, contrary to international and
opposition hopes and aspirations. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said
the international community must fund the rebuilding of a "shattered"
Yet the history of aid bringing succor, development and recovery to Africa
is poor to the point of pathetic. The worst sanctions currently aimed at
Zimbabwe are not the ones leveled by America and Europe against Mugabe and
his leadership or the voluntary cutbacks on donor assistance. The economic
censure most difficult to change is that imposed by free markets and
investors. Such sentiment takes generations to shape positively.
When Zimbabwe's economy reaches the bottom and Mugabe is finally ejected,
the painful process of economic recovery will take at least as long as the
decline, now more than a decade.
Greg Mills heads the Brenthurst Foundation, dedicated to strengthening
African economic performance.
12 Jun 2007 18:56:58 GMT
HARARE, 12 June 2007 (IRIN) - Firewood has become Zimbabwe's hottest
seller, with demand shooting up since the introduction two weeks ago of
widespread and prolonged power outages to give the irrigation of winter
wheat fields a priority allocation of dwindling energy supplies.
Chamunorwa Chimombe, a beneficiary of President Robert Mugabe's fast-track
land reform programme, which redistributed of white-owned commercial
farmland to landless blacks, now spends his day sipping beer beside the busy
highway connecting the capital, Harare, to the town of Mazowe, while he
sells firewood from trees felled on his newly acquired farm.
It is the huge pile of wood he sits on top of, rather than the small
handwritten sign, 'Firewood for Sale', that draws his customers. Within
minutes of an IRIN correspondent's arrival at the roadside stall, a
well-dressed woman driving one of the latest all-terrain light delivery
vehicles stopped at the woodpile.
She asked Chamunorwa to fill the back of her truck with as much firewood as
possible and had no qualms about paying the asking price of Z$1 million
(US$16 at the parallel market exchange rate of US$1 to Z$60,000), because as
long as there is firewood, urban households have fuel for cooking and
heating during the winter.
Chamunorwa told IRIN the sparse rainy season left him with a very poor maize
harvest, a situation replicated throughout the country. More than a third of
the population will require food assistance by early next year, according to
a joint report by the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation
and the UN World Food Programme.
"The majority of resettled farmers [on former commercial farms] depend on
natural rainfall, which should start falling in November, but between now
and then I will be vending firewood to people from Harare, who are desperate
for firewood, as they do not have adequate electricity. Many new farmers
have actually discovered that it is more lucrative to sell firewood than to
farm," Chamunorwa told IRIN.
Two weeks ago, the Zimbabwe Electricity Company (ZESA) introduced national
power cuts of up to 24 hours a day to divert energy supplies to farms to
provide irrigation for growing winter wheat. The government planted 76,000
hectares of winter wheat in a bid to meet the projected 400,000 metric tonne
"It does not necessarily mean that our domestic consumers would be
disconnected on a daily basis. We are trying to share the same little cake
that we have among more people," said ZESA chief executive Ben Rafemoyo,
explaining that the power outages would be erratic.
"We urge our consumers to understand that this is being done for a worthy
cause. Load shedding and power cuts are a balancing act and their frequency
will vary with demand," he said.
Democratic Republic of Congo cuts off Zimbabwe
Rafemoyo expected the power cuts to end in August, when the wheat crop
matured, although reports in the state-controlled daily newspaper, The
Herald, said on Tuesday that energy supplies would become scarcer because
the Democratic Republic of Congo's national power utility, Societe Nationale
d'Electric (SNEL), had given notice that it would stop supplying electricity
to Zimbabwe after ZESA failed to pay the US$5 million it owed in arrears.
The Herald reported that Zimbabwe imported 100mW a month from SNEL at a cost
of US$715,000, 200mW from Mozambique, up to 450mW from South Africa and as
much as 300mW from Zambia. It is not known if ZESA is also in arrears to
Zimbabwe used to be self-sufficient in producing fuel for power generation
and curing tobacco, but the foreign currency shortages and an annual
inflation rate of above 3,700 percent have made it almost impossible to
maintain and replace mining equipment and railroad stock, leading to
coal-supply problems that have severely affected industry and forced some
tobacco farmers to import coal from neighbouring Mozambique and Zambia.
New farmers have generally struggled to produce crops since acquiring land
from the white farmers, a consequence blamed by analysts on a prolonged dry
spell and the government's failure to provide farmers with agricultural
inputs in time for planting.
The timing of the power shortages and the poor harvest has resulted in an
unexpected windfall for farmers who benefited from the land redistribution
"In the unlikely event of the government importing enough electricity for
everybody in the near future, then we will run out of clients, which is why
we are selling as much firewood as possible," Chamunorwa said.
The goal is to sell as much as possible during the widespread power outages
and the new farmers are rapidly denuding their land of trees. Farms on the
fringes of the city have been denuded the quickest, because petrol to drive
to farms further away remains in short supply. Customers are given a choice
of hard and soft woods, as hard woods typically burn longer.
"I don't see how you can expect me to worry about environmental degradation
at the expense of my wellbeing. I think the solution is very simple: if the
government generated and imported enough electricity, then few people would
be interested in buying firewood," said Chamunorwa.
The effects of the logging spree are easily seen in the streets of Harare,
where avenues of trees have been felled and the sight of people carrying
large bundles of freshly cut wood in the city's central business district is
a common sight.
Adolph Virimai, who lives in the upmarket Harare suburb of Mabelreign, told
IRIN: "Ordinarily, I would have wanted to install a generator or use solar
energy to provide alternative energy, but that is too expensive for me. I
would rather settle for firewood, which is much more affordable. Right now
we are in the middle of winter, when we need energy to cook and to warm our
Pombiyadonha Bhokisi, another farmer turned firewood vendor, said he had
begun buying wood from adjacent farms for resale to city dwellers unable to
afford the journey from the city.
"I hire several trucks to bring in firewood from nearby farms for resale in
Chitungwiza [a satellite town 35km from Harare] where I stay, and because
firewood is in high demand I expect to buy my own second hand truck soon to
enable me to ferry the firewood."
Mugabe's regime has been widely condemned in the West
In 1960, Harold Macmillan, then British prime minister, made a statement in Cape Town referring to what was taking place in southern Africa as "the wind of change." He had correctly read the feelings of the black masses.
Eventually, the British government abolished the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. In 1964, Northern Rhodesia became Zambia and Nyasaland became Malawi.
But white people in Rhodesia rejected that wind of change and, in November 1965, Ian Smith, by force, took over in a "Unilateral Declaration of Independence".
It was treason against the colonial ruler, the British monarchy. Soon Smith had arrested a number of African leaders, including Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo.
By now Harold Wilson was the British premier, but he showed signs of hopelessness. He called meetings aboard the Tiger and Fearless navy ships. But neither meeting showed tiger claws, and both were fearful of the rebels in Rhodesia.
I spoke with Wilson myself, but there was no progress. And, sadly, Smith's rebel regime went on.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe freedom struggle was continuing, but handicapped because its key leaders were locked up.
Even talks with another British prime minister, Edward Heath, did not help. I could see clearly that no matter who became prime minister of Britain, they would do nothing about the Rhodesia situation.
It was South Africa that was in charge. I concluded that the settlers were interested in keeping Southern Rhodesia under white rule so that they could have a buffer against advancing African independent states.
In 1974, I decided to meet John Vorster, South Africa's then-prime minister. We met at the bridge between Zambia and then Southern Rhodesia, in Vorster's white train, for three nights.
He had to leave on the third night because he was not feeling well. But as a follow-up to our discussions, he freed our colleagues in Zimbabwe's liberation movements.
There was, of course, not a single dull moment in the struggle for independence in our region. In August 1979, Commonwealth countries from all over the world met in Lusaka to consider many issues - but the most serious one was the Zimbabwe situation.
In the end it was Britain's new prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who agreed Britain would hold a conference on the future of Zimbabwe in London. She asked me to be around at what became known as the Lancaster House talks, in case difficulties arose in the negotiations.
At the talks, the people of Zimbabwe were assured that they were going to be independent the following year, 1980.
But that wonderful news was conditional. The new government of Zimbabwe was not to deal with land issues but was to "leave that in the hands of the British government".
Nationalists from Zimbabwe accepted this rather harsh and complicated condition.
The Thatcher government had begun to deal with the land issue, as did her successor, John Major.
But when Tony Blair took over in 1997, I understand that some young lady in charge of colonial issues within that government simply dropped doing anything about it.
I ask you to consider the implications of the long struggle. The nationalists, who had the regaining of land as a key objective of their struggle, were now being told the British government, which promised to look after that issue themselves, was not going to go ahead with it.
The Zimbabwean government waited patiently for more than 10 years, but the British government defaulted.
We must remember the occupation by Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes removed African people from fertile lands to hilly and unfertile lands in favour of settlers.
And remember that, later, while neighbours became independent, Southern Rhodesia was grabbed by white settlers, led by Smith. In the struggle, many people were killed.
There have been allegations of corruption in relation to land allocation. Well, the corruption should have been dealt with by all. Stopping the land programme, and doing nothing, was not the solution.
I do not believe it is right to demonise Robert Gabriel Mugabe. It is notable that he and his colleagues have not expelled from Zimbabwe people who did terrible things to them.
A star is born
Of course, there are some things which President Mugabe and his colleagues have done which I totally disagree with - for example, the police beating of Morgan Tsvangirai.
It is not that I think Tsvangirai can make a good leader - I see him as the [former Zambian leader] Frederick Chiluba of Zimbabwe - but beating him or even sending him to prison will not be the right thing.
On the other hand, given their experience, I can understand the fury that goes through President Mugabe and his colleagues.
Now, let me reveal that when Blair was elected British prime minister, I wrote a poem in his favour, called A Star Is Born To Us. Indeed, his feelings for Africa have been very good.
But then came the two Bs, Blair and George Bush, and their terrifying act of March 2003 - the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I condemned the two Bs publicly, denouncing the criminal invasion.
Now my prayer is that the Zimbabwe issue will be treated differently by Blair's successor, Gordon Brown.
It is also my humble prayer that South African President Thabo Mbeki and his regional colleagues will meet Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who will be ready in his soul, mind, and body to respond to the advice they give him and the people of Zimbabwe.
How should Western leaders treat President Mugabe? Has he been demonised unfairly? A selection of your comments will appear below.
The Western world has a big responsibility in making Mugabe what
he is today. Remember the massacres in Matabeleland and Midlands in the mid
1980s? What did the West do to stop this? Did they condemn Mugabe... no... its
only now that he has killed white farmers that the West are now demonising him.
The people in the 1980s were not human beings, according to the West, as they
were not white. Imagine if those people were white, do u think Mugabe wouldl be
in power till this day? I don't think so.
irvine ndou, Perth, Australia
In my opinion this man should be put before the Court of Human
rights in The Hague for what he has done.
Paul Ellis, Staffs UK
I think Mugabe should give way to new generation and stop
behaving like a toddler. He deserve what comes his way.
Amanda, Amersfoort Holland
A senior states man has hit the nail on the head. Mugabe has his
own mistakes like beating of opposition leaders and corruption in land
allocation, but to be fair with him he has been patient over land issue. In
Africa we own land and it is different from the west where ownership is
conferred using a deed. In Africa it is a birth right to have land inherited
from parents. This explains why local people love him and those conditioned by
western training demonise him. Those of us who have been to Zimbabwe wonder how
this was tolerated for a long time. Mugabe minus his shortfalls corruption and
beating opposition members is a true African hero who has love for the local
people at heart.
Boyson Moyo, Muzzy Malawi
Why do these Mugabe apologists always insist on blinding the
masses? This land policy is not about the British or Zimbabwean people. We had a
referendum in 1999 where 55% voted against the constitutional amendments which
would have resulted in the expropriation of land because people saw through the
trick. If Mugabe really respected his people he would have listened to them then
and not only then but even now by giving them a fair vote. No this is not about
black or white Zimbabweans, Rhodesians or British.., this is about Mr. Mugabe's
insistence on clinging to power at all cost, it's as simple as that, why do we
have to go at great lengths to try and justify the unjustifiable, complicate the
simple, and comprehend the incomprehensible?
Njabulo, Johannesburg, South Africa
Mugabe has been unfairly demonised by the West including its
media. There are far more brutal despots in Africa than Mugabe; the only problem
is that Mugabe dared touch what the West treasured so much in Zimbabwe, the land
its (the West's) kith and kin(White settlers) brutally and unfairly grabbed from
Black Zimbabweans before independence. It seems the trick for some African
leaders is: serve the interests of Western governments and you will be
'canonised' and left alone to brutalise your people as much as you want without
anyone condemning you. And it seems to be working in some African countries with
worse leaders than Mugabe!
Ayo Olwa, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Whilst I think Kenneth Kaunda's piece on Robert Mugabe does make
one pause for thought, it certainly does not address the treatment of the
Zimbabwean people, and the effective destruction of the Zimbabwean economy, and
ultimately this is how he will be remembered in his final years.
Yes Mugabe has been demonised, we Africans look at him as one of
Africa's greatest Heroes. He is one of the few leaders who has continued with
the struggle against imperialism in all its forms notably the new kind
(neo-colonialism), he's given back the Land to its rightful owners what else
would a poverty stricken man wish for but to rebuild his family name that was
once mighty before the rule of the white man that took away his most treasured
Herman Kalinte, Barking Essex United Kingdom, Home country: Uganda
The one sided ramblings of a one time dictator who was single
handily responsible for bankrupting the Zambian nation. Lest we forget he also
nationalised once profitable mines and industries, only to be privatised again
several decades later. In my opinion K.K is just another elder African statesman
with no credibility.
Mike , Johannesburg
Thank God for Kenneth Kaunda's reminiscences. Mugabe remains a
hero, although he is fighting against improbable odds and has alienated even his
fellow Zimbabweans in his struggle to restore land to his people. I'm afraid,
given global (political and economic) power relations Mugabe cannot win this
battle without the trade support of his brother African countries. The problem
is that African countries have not begun to think or act in that direction
Obasi Ogbonnaya, Abuja, Nigeria
"All men are created equal..." I don't think Mr. Mugabe is a bad
person. With the bitter experiences of the past he can't accept the direct and
indirect colonial rules going on anymore....Yet there are always ways to solve
issues....through negotiations, peaceful constructive talks....One thing that
some westerners always forget is that all young African students of today are
going to be the leaders of tomorrow, and what they have been through will affect
their sense of cooperation, and domestic policies of tomorrow. The Africans
respect the western policies and the western should also respect the African
policies or rather negotiate for consensus.
Stevie, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The responses from leaders in Africa in support of Mugabe all
follow the same line: he is a freedom fighter who liberated his country from
white suppression rule and therefore is beyond criticism. What a sad fallacy.
Remember that Winston Churchill, the hero who had liberated the UK from the
Nazis was removed from power through elections after the war. This did not make
Churchill less of a hero. It did assure that the UK could move on after the war.
It is very sad that, partly through the blind support of other African leaders,
this same process was not allowed to take place. Now Zimbabwe is burdened with a
leader ruining his country and guess what: this does make him less of a hero.
When history will look back at him he will be seen as that hero but also the
leader that failed in letting his country move on and in the process destroyed
Arnoud Snepvangers, Basel, Switzerland
It is a tragedy that African politicians excuse each and every
crime and atrocity they commit against their own people with the crimes their
White peers commit, today and in the past. He is right though when he states
Mugabe and his colleagues have not expelled people from Zimbabwe who did
terrible things to them. No, instead they are torturing and killing Zimbabweans
like no other leader before him. I assume for the victims it makes no difference
whether they are tortured by a White or Black president. Unfortunately neither
prayers nor Mr. Mbeki will change anything. I wonder what Mr. Kaunda is actually
trying to tell us.
Reinhard , Cape Town
Unfairly treated is an understatement and he and the Zimbabwean
people are not isolated in this issue. If you're not liked by Britain and the
US, then you and your people are in for a lot of suffering. This is the new form
of bondage and colonialism that has always characterized the relationship
between the west and the rest of the world. I firmly believe that just as
minority voices gained momentum in centuries past to cry against slavery and
other forms of bondage and just as we are appalled at the brutality of
westerners of those years, so will future generations judge the Tony Blair and
George Bushes of our time.
Saiku M Bah, Freetown, Sierra Leone
I myself live in the west. The redistribution of the land seemed
only to be done to provide the regime's backers with a payoff for loyalty. But
the Land issue is irrelevant now, and people that continue to discuss it only
show how out of touch they are. The issue now is the security. The government
has passed law after law restricting personal freedom. Reports coming out of the
country are of a security forces out of control. With rape and murder everyday
events for those who even hint of straying out of line. This, the clearance of
the slums and the stifling of the opposition are what needs to be discussed now!
Nich Hill, Portsmouth UK
President Mugabe surely has been unfairly by the west, led by
the UK over the land issue. Unfortunately the land has been given back to its
rightful owners, the black majority. And for those who had a regime change
agenda, Mr Blair has failed to affect it in Zimbabwe. The same for Mr Bush. What
a combined failure by these two in Zimbabwe and Iraq.
Simeone Rumhiba, Zimbabwe
The comments by Kaunda are ramblings. How on earth can anyone in
their right mind excuse what Mugabe has done? Let's face it, the land deal with
the British has never been withdrawn, but Mugabe will not abide by the
conditions of fair and sustainable land distribution. Instead it is parcelled
out to mostly government supporters, ministers and military officials in order
to stay in power. It really is that simple. Mugabe has got off very lightly, and
I pray that one day he will face justice for the thousands of (mainly black)
victims of his Gukurahundi massacres and subsequent "clamp downs". Let's not
mention the more than four million of us of have had to leave the country as a
result of the madness going on there.
Alex Nhando, Zimbabwean in Budapest
If Mugabe had more than his share of troubles when fighting for
independence, he should have learnt from his experiences and become wiser and
more humane and just. Instead he has become far worse than his former colonial
masters in mistreating and misruling his people. What is deeply disturbing is
the deafening silence on part of other African leaders when it comes to
criticising their counterparts and their misdeeds. One has the impression that
black African leaders, in general, have entered a conspiracy to slowly send
Africa to hell.
Jai Singh, Kaiseraugst, Switzerland
It is only people who have read the history of Zimbabwe in depth
are able to understand the current situation in Zimbabwe. From the time Zimbabwe
was occupied the issue of contention was land. The land was parcelled among the
whites with impunity. The Africans were relocated to the wastelands. For your
own information African cattle were not even allowed to mate with whites cattle
or even allowed to graze in so called white lands. The only solution is to share
the fertile lands equally.
Louis Mpande, Lusaka, Zambia
New Zimbabwe (London)
12 June 2007
Posted to the web 12 June 2007
SIX of the seven activists from Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) charged with firebombing offices of the ruling Zanu
PF party in Harare finally won their freedom on Monday after being held for
two months in remand prison.
Amos Musekiwa, the seventh man arrested on the same charges, was granted
bail and remains on remand.
The six MDC activists -- Hatred Mutasa, Chumudara Amisi, Moses Mutasa, Peter
Bokosi, Edmore Munyofa and Fungai Katurudza -- had their application for
refusal of further remand granted.
Last week, police released six other activists -- including journalist Luke
Tamborinyoka -- facing charges of undegoing military training in South
Africa. Prosecutors withdrew the charges.
Glen View MP Paul Madzore and 11 other activists facing charges of setting
off several petrol bombs across the country also had the charges withdrawn
before plea. So far, 18 of the 31 men arrested in police raids around Harare
have been cleared of the terror charges.
But Madzore and the 11 activists who had their charges altered last week are
yet to apply for refusal of further remand on the second charge of
undergoing banditry training in South Africa.
Magistrate Gloria Takundwa set bail for Musekiwa at $1 million on Monday. He
was ordered to report three times a week to the CID law and order section in
Harare. Musekiwa was also told he should reside at his given address until
the finalisation of the case and not to interfere with investigations.
In her ruling, Takundwa said that the state had failed to provide the six
other co-defendants with a trial date. Prosecutors could still use summons
to bring the men to trial if they wish to, the magistrate advised.
The seven men were being accused of gathering at Stodart Hall in Mbare armed
with four petrol bombs, a hand grenade and an anti-riot tear gas canister on
March 27 this year.
The prosecution alleged that the group bombed the Joshua Nkomo Zanu PF
district offices in Mbare with the ammunition, injuring seven occupants and
destroying property worth $4,5 million.
Police alleged that they recovered a pair of sandals belonging to Musekiwa
at the bombing scene leading to his arrest.
The MDC denies charges of unleashing a reign of terror targeting police
stations and passenger trains.
"All these charges are frivolous and a desperate attempt to implicate the
MDC," said Nelson Chamisa, an MDC spokesman. "What is disturbing is that
innocent people have been made to serve a prison term by being detained all
this time on false charges."
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
12 June 2007
Posted to the web 12 June 2007
ZESA Holdings is failing to service a US$5 million debt with its Democratic
Republic of Congo supplier, leaving the company with no option but to cut
off supplies to Zimbabwe.
An official from Zesa, who declined to be named, revealed that Zesa's
failure to service the debt would negatively impact on the already worsening
power situation in the country.
"Zesa is failing to pay about US$5 million to the DRC and the company has
since cut off supplies.
"As such, the debt has adversely affected our power imports. The DRC power
utility has suspended its power exports to Zimbabwe, leading to the
burdening of the already weak local power supply. Despite the imports, we
had a deficit and now it's worse because of the debt," the source said.
Before the cut-off, Zimbabwe was importing 100MW per month from Snel, the
DRC power utility.
Last year the cost of importing electricity rose from $5 billion to $600
billion per month, precipitated largely by the weakening of the Zimbabwe
dollar against the major currencies.
This was against a total income of $340 billion per month.
Zesa currently imports 33 percent of Zimbabwe's electricity needs, in
roughly the following proportions: 200MW from Mozambique and up to 450MW and
300MW from South Africa and Zambia respectively.
The 14-member Sadc region is facing severe power shortages forcing the
traditional exporters to limit supplies to Zimbabwe in order to meet their
own growing needs.
Zesa has the capacity to generate all the country's electricity needs as
well as export, but has been hamstrung by spate of operational problems,
notably erratic coal supplies, vandalism and theft of electricity
infrastructure, as well as shortages of foreign currency.
At present, Zesa generates a combined 1 250MW at Kariba and Hwange power
Kariba generates 750MW, Hwange 500MW while small thermal power stations
contribute a meagre 100MW to the national grid.
June 12 2007 at 03:41PM
Kinshasa - Democratic Republic of Congo denied a report on Tuesday by
Zimbabwe state media that it had cut off power supplies to the
energy-starved southern African state.
"There was a problem with the line over the weekend. A cable fell. But
we worked on it Saturday and Sunday," Energy Minister Salomon Banamuhere
told Reuters. "We fixed it on Sunday at around 20h00, and there is now
electricity going through."
Official media in Zimbabwe reported earlier that Congo had cut
electricity supply over non-payment of a $5-million (about R36-million)
Zimbabwe is in the midst of an economic crisis that has produced the
world's highest inflation rate of above 3 700 percent, unemployment of
around 80 percent and chronic shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency.
The country has grappled with chronic power shortages over the last
two years but has suffered severe blackouts in the last few days after some
of state-owned power utility ZESA's generators broke down and it failed to
buy coal for the others.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
June 12, 2007
There have been conflicting reports about electricity supply to Zimbabwe
from the region, while massive cuts continue to affect businesses and daily
life in the country. The state paper The Herald reported Tuesday that power
to Zimbabwe from the Democratic Republic of Congo had been cut off because
ZESA Holdings is failing to service a US$5 million debt with its DRC
supplier. The report quotes an unnamed official at ZESA as saying: "The DRC
power utility has suspended its power exports to Zimbabwe, leading to the
burdening of the already weak local power supply. Despite the imports, we
had a deficit and now it's worse because of the debt."
But on Tuesday there was also a Reuters news agency report which said the
DRC had denied The Herald report. Reuters quoted energy minister Salomon
Banamuhere as saying: "There was a problem with the line over the weekend. A
cable fell. But we worked on it Saturday and Sunday," The Congolese minister
also said the problem had been fixed on Sunday and there is now electricity
While these conflicting reports circulate, power cuts continue to slow down
business around the country, making simple daily routines impossible. Our
Bulawayo contact Zenzele described the last two weeks of power cuts as the
worst he has ever seen in his life. He said the central business district in
Bulawayo was experiencing power cuts during the day without warning. Clients
booked to use sound recording studios in their building had to be cancelled
after travelling from other cities because there was no power for three
quarters of the day on Monday. Students at the National University of
Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo took exams without power on
Tuesday. This means computers were not operational, and it is not clear yet
whether the exams went smoothly.
Zenzele said life in the high-density suburbs has become dangerous because
the towers that light up the streets at night have no power. Thieves can
attack with ease after dark. The power cuts also mean fuel stations shut
down and ATMs are offline.
The Herald said: "Zesa has the capacity to generate all the country's
electricity needs as well as export, but has been hamstrung by spate of
operational problems, notably erratic coal supplies, vandalism and theft of
electricity infrastructure, as well as shortages of foreign currency." But
the paper did not mention massive corruption and mismanagement that has
plagued all parastatals during the 27 years ZANU-PF has been running the
country. As with many other issues that need to be dealt with in Zimbabwe,
critics and the opposition insist what is needed is a solution to the
national political and economic crisis.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Yesterday I bought fuel for Z$57 000 a litre, today the price is Z$85
000 to Z$90 000. I have just spoken to a taxi driver and he said that the
standard fare from the high-density townships to the City Center was Z$15
today - going to Z$20 000 tomorrow and then Z$25 000.
The currency continues is collapse and is now trading at 10 000 to 1
against the Rand and anything from 75 000 to 100 000 against the US dollar.
Maize meal is again out of stock as is cooking oil and sugar. We bought a
loaf of bread yesterday from Lobels for Z$30 000 and other bakeries are
at Z$24 000.
The government stipulated wage for a domestic worker is less than Z$15
000 a month, the wage of a farm worker less than Z$40 000 a month and a
worker in industry probably gets about Z$500 000, not enough for bus fare.
tea with the widow of a Supreme Court Judge on Sunday - her pension is Z$90
000 a month - one US dollar.
We are now experiencing power cuts for up to 20 hours a day, the City
has just announced that they are going to cut water supplies for 8 to 10
hours a day. A meeting was held last week with local industrialists who were
told that they were going be cut as well - both power and water and they
said that this would have a catastrophic effect on their operations.
There is a limit as to how much of this we can take. Even the most
optimistic of characters is now uneasy about the situation and the
government shows absolutely no ideas as to how to fix the problem. We
have now had continuous economic decline since 1998, the reasons are
entirely home grown as we have had no sanctions imposed on us, our trade
relations are normal and we even get about US$600 million a year in aid.
Today the headline in the local State controlled paper was "Reserve
Bank starts distribution of farm equipment". Mr. Mugabe was on radio and
television making all sorts of noises about this and claiming that this
initiative will solve our food shortages. Such statements just make us
shudder, they demonstrate absolutely no understanding of what is
causing this economic collapse and no concept at all as to what is required
start some sort of recovery. As for Gideon Gono distributing agricultural
implements! That must make all our previous Reserve Bank Governors turn
in their graves.
Really, enough is enough, it is time to go. Mr. Mugabe and his entire
cabinet should admit failure, resign and call fresh elections. Stop
messing about with the electoral system and voting conditions, give the
back what they fought for in the liberation struggle - real democracy. Allow
others to stand up and offer themselves for leadership, allow the
people to ask them what their solutions would be and then trust the people
decide who is to take power and try to turn things around. Zanu PF has
utterly and there can be no more prevarication on this issue.
Bulawayo, 12th June 2007
Santa Barbara News Press
LOUISE WATT, Associated Press Writer
June 12, 2007 9:01 AM
LONDON (AP) - Inflation and shortages in Zimbabwe, whose goverment is
accused of ruining the economy, are leading its citizens abroad to use
high-tech ways to help out their loved ones at home.
Zimbabweans abroad have found ways to pitch in - giving part of their
earnings in South Africa, for example, to businessmen there, who then truck
food, cooking oil and other scarcities across the border.
Now Internet-based companies are offering a high-tech solution: Go online
and buy loved ones back home everything from fuel and food to generators.
The Web site Mukuru.com offers an alternative to long lines at gas stations
short of fuel. Once a friend or relative has logged on and paid for fuel,
the company sends a text message to the recipient's cell phone in Zimbabwe
containing a 10-digit number the person can exchange for vouchers at a
designated coupon office. They can then fill up their car at stations that
import fuel independently and sell at market rates, rather than having to
scramble for fuel when it becomes available locally at prices heavily
subsidized by the government.
Two other sites, Zimbuyer.com and Zimland.com, offer a virtual shopping
center of Zimbabwe goods. Sitting in front of their computer abroad, people
can pay for Zimbabwean staples such as sadza - corn meal - and a popular
brand of baked beans, or even TVs and power generators, that are then
delivered to addresses in the country's three largest cities within 72
hours. Buyers can log on to check the delivery status.
Mukuru.com founder Rob, who gave only his first name out of concern for his
family in Zimbabwe - where criticism of the government and its management of
the economy can be dangerous - came up with the idea when he worked for a
multimedia firm. His site is run by eight Zimbabweans based in Britain, home
to the second largest immigrant community of Zimbabweans after South Africa.
He said cell phone users in the West were fixated on the pictures they could
put up on their phone screens or take with them, or features like using
their phones as radios. But in the developing world, he said, ''the power of
the mobile phone was the SMS'' - text message.
Africans in general have pioneered the use of cell phones to transfer value
by using airtime as a virtual currency. Phone users can sell airtime for
real money, or trade it for something else, thereby avoiding the relatively
high costs of transferring small amounts of money through banks.
In 2005, the most recent year for which figures were available, Zimbabwe had
668,000 cell phone subscribers, a penetration rate of 5.6 percent - twice
the penetration of land lines - according to the U.N.'s International
Telecommunication Union, which is responsible for standardization,
coordination and development of international telecommunications.
In Zimbabwe, the technology met a stark need. Thea Fourie, a South
Africa-based analyst for independent market analysis firm Global Insight,
said scarce goods and high unemployment in Zimbabwe, combined with salaries
not keeping up with the rises in goods and services, meant any transfer of
money to Zimbabweans from abroad could help.
In the United States, some retailers offer services which allow immigrants
to buy large appliances and other goods for their families back in Central
America. But the Zimbabwean Web sites have a more vital task due to the
country's political situation.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is accused by critics in the West and at
home of ruining what was once an African economic success story with a
chaotic and often-violent campaign to seize thousands of white-owned
commercial farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans. Mugabe defends the
program as a way of fixing severe imbalances in land ownership inherited
from British colonial rule. He blames food shortages in a country that once
was a regional breadbasket on years of crippling drought, and has cracked
down on dissenters.
Fourie said that while some Zimbabweans could be helped by money from
abroad, it would have only a ''marginal'' impact on overall economic
performance in Zimbabwe, ''because the whole problem is so structured around
the political aspect.''
A Zimbuyer.com spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear for
his family in Zimbabwe, said that the site's most popular items were cooking
oil, soap, rice, meat, and corn meal.
''Also people are buying the power generators a lot because there are
20-hour power cuts in Harare now,'' he said.
The company is run by four Zimbabweans in Britain and the United States.
Douglas Siwira, a 41-year-old businessman living in England, uses Mukuru.com
to buy fuel for his family in Zimbabwe. He praises the ''promptness'' of the
Mukuru.com started in February 2006 and now has 6,500 customers all over the
world. It also allows those registered on the site to pay for satellite TV
for and transfer money to people in Zimbabwe, and plans to offer additional
minutes of mobile airtime by the end of the month.
Zimbabweans are allowed to have foreign currency accounts in local banks,
but the money can only be changed at the official exchange rate. So
Zimbabweans living abroad also protect their earnings by keeping them in
foreign banks and transferring money only as needed.
The companies may have started with the idea of helping their countrymen.
Now they are looking at expanding to other parts of Africa where it is
easier to operate. Mukuru.com has already started offering services to South
Africa and now plans to branch out into Kenya and Zambia by July, Malawi by
August and Ghana by the end of the year.
''I think the tragedy of the situation is we're least excited about
Zimbabwe,'' said Rob. ''We're out to spend time and money in Africa. We want
to be putting billboards up, we want to be sponsoring attractions and music
On the Net:
By Violet Gonda
12 June 2007
The state Herald newspaper alleged on Tuesday that leading opposition
officials were among scores of beneficiaries of Robert Mugabe's farm
mechanisation programme. This program is supposed to revive the agriculture
sector, destroyed by government, by providing farming inputs. Part of this
scheme involves the setting up of technical colleges to produce ox-drawn
carts and ploughs to help communal farmers produce food.
The newspaper listed several "beneficiaries" from different sectors of
society. The paper then went to extraordinary lengths to emphasise the
alleged participation of opposition officials in this controversial scheme.
Some of those mentioned include one of the MDC leaders Professor Arthur
Mutambara, his deputy Gibson Sibanda, their secretary general Professor
Welshman Ncube, the deputy leader of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction
Thokozani Khupe, the opposition chief whip in parliament Innocent Gonese and
Tsvangirai-MDC MP Giles Mutsekwa.
We could not get a comment from some of the opposition officials as they
were in parliament but Professor Mutambara dismissed the report as
propaganda. He said: "This is totally false. Its complete nonsense. I am not
doing any farming at all in Zimbabwe. I have no farm in Zimbabwe and I am
not a beneficiary at all of Robert Mugabe's criminal activities in the
Mutambara said this was a complete fabrication meant to tarnish the brand of
the opposition and create confusion and divisions. He said the opposition
opposes the way the government handled the land reform programme and will
not be part and parcel of Mugabe's criminal conduct.
He said: "Yes as a party we believe in a land revolution. We believe in a
fair transparent and equitable use of land in our country but not the
criminal activities which Mugabe is carrying out in our country."
Giles Mutsekwa of the Tsvangirai MDC also denied the reports. The legislator
said most people, including himself, were taken by surprise to read the
Herald and discovered their names amongst people who were supposed to have
benefited from this programme. Mutsekwa said: "But I am not a beneficiary. I
don't intend to be one. I am not a farmer and have no intention to be one
and therefore I don't need the equipment."
He also said some parliamentarians were tricked by the Reserve Bank Governor
Gideon Gono into attending the ceremony where Mugabe was handing out the
farming equipment. The Mutare North MP said: "Gono sent invitations to
various MPs pretending that this was actually a programme that invites
members of parliament to see what importations the Reserve Bank has done for
the purpose of agrarian performance in the country, only to be caught
unaware when they got there and President Mugabe was also there and that the
occasion was to distribute some equipment and the lot! So it was dishonest
on the part of the Reserve Bank Governor himself."
Hundreds of thousands of farm workers were left without work and were
displaced after the regime sponsored a violent land invasion campaign in
2000. White commercials farmers were evicted from the farms which resulted
in the collapse of the agricultural sector.
Professor Mutambara said Mugabe literally took the land and gave it to his
friends and cronies: "That is not land revolution so he cannot reach out to
us through criminal conduct. No, we reject that hand of friendship and
Mugabe can go to hell and hang!"
Mutsekwa said the latest move by the government is a desperate attempt to be
seen by the international community, especially by regional leaders, as a
government that wants to extend its hand of friendship to the opposition. He
also said this was also an attempt to blackmail and divide the opposition.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
12 June 2007
By Never Kadungure
Zimbabweans wishing to apply for visas to enter the United Kingdom will now
have to physically attend an identity check process at the company
contracted to process the applications. The new measures come into effect
from the 21st June and are aimed at cutting down visa fraud and ensuring
that the person who applies is the one actually intending to visit the UK.
All applicants will have their digital photographs and fingerprints taken as
part of the process. The British Embassy has however said there are no extra
fees for this new measure. It's reported the new measures form part of a
worldwide bio-metric way of processing applications and protect people's
identities from fraudulent applications.
"From June 21, 2007, there will be two major changes to the application
process in Zimbabwe. All persons applying for UK visas must lodge their
applications through the British Embassy's commercial partner, VFS Global
Limited. All visa applicants, irrespective of nationality, will have to
apply in person at this Visa application centre and have their finger scans
and digital photograph taken," said the Visa Application Centre in a notice.
"All applicants should ensure that their fingertips are free from any forms
of decoration, abrasions or other markings and that any facial cuts and
bruises have healed or disappeared prior to providing their biometric data
as these may affect their ability to provide acceptable finger scans and
photographs. Digital photographs cannot be taken with applicants wearing
head coverings that hide the face, dark glasses or neck coverings. From June
21, unless otherwise, all visa applicants must have their finger scans and a
digital photograph taken.'
"The application cannot be processed if an applicant refuses or cannot
provide acceptable biometric data," the statement said.
Nehanda Radio: Zimbabwe's first 24 hour internet radio news channel.
Thanks to its neighbor's economic disaster, South Africa grapples with one
of the largest- and most brutal-illegal migrations in the world
By Paul Salopek
Tribune foreign correspondent
Published June 12, 2007
MUSINA, South Africa-The greasy brown river sliding past this African border
town might seem eerily familiar to Americans.
First, there are the concrete international bridges that span its waters,
linking a relatively affluent community on one side - tidy, well-paved,
replete with American franchises such as Kentucky Fried Chicken-with a
dustier, much poorer town on the other.
Then there are the illegal immigrants. They hunker by the hundreds in the
riverside brush, waiting for nightfall to crawl under a porous border fence.
Grim-faced law-enforcement agents hunt them down in trucks equipped with
flashing police lights. So do posses of angry civilians, most of them white,
many of them armed, and all of them outraged by what they see as a dangerous
lapse in border controls.
Squint, and the scene could pass for the banks of the Rio Grande between the
United States and Mexico - except, that is, for the jaded baboons ambling
among the human pedestrians on the bridges and a sign identifying this muddy
waterway as the Limpopo River, the troubled frontier between Zimbabwe and
South Africa, and the finish line for one of the largest illicit migrations
in the world.
"They get robbed and raped by criminals, extorted by our cops, and eaten by
crocodiles," Jacob Matakanye, a South African human-rights advocate, said of
the tens of thousands of undocumented Zimbabweans who have stampeded past
this remote port of entry. "That doesn't stop them. Nothing does."
Illegal immigration revealed its awesome power to divide American society
once more Thursday when the U.S. Senate, bitterly divided, shelved the most
ambitious immigration reform bill in a generation.
But as Americans continue to recriminate, argue and agonize over the issue,
they might spare a kind thought for Africa's youngest democracy, where the
same vexing problems-flimsy borders, xenophobia and questions of national
identity-are roiling the public mood just 13 years after the end of white
On the surface, the two countries couldn't be more different in their public
stance on illegal immigration. In the United States, even liberals who
support granting citizenship rights to undocumented immigrants - and
President Bush finds himself awkwardly in their camp-must frame their
arguments in terms of national security and promise future border
crackdowns. By contrast, in South Africa, which prides itself as a beacon of
ethnic tolerance in the world, a grudging acceptance of illegal immigration
is the unofficial rule.
Not that it has much choice.
Some immigration experts here say that 10 percent or more of South Africa's
43 million people may be in the country illegally, the majority of them
impoverished Africans seeking a better life in the continent's economic
powerhouse. With South Africa unable to afford more patrols along its 2,500
miles of land border, and realizing that illegal immigration keeps feeble
neighbor Zimbabwe from total collapse, South African President Thabo Mbeki
conceded last month that the enormous human influx "is something we have to
A gantlet of dangers
Yet coexistence hardly describes life on the Limpopo River. A level of
misery and desperation hangs over this border that south Texas can never
Hundreds of people - some walking 3,000 miles from Somalia with only the
clothes on their backs-filter every day through the backcountry around
Musina on well-beaten trails. At the approach of vehicles, they melt into
bushes where the amagumaguma-local slang for the gangs of smugglers, thieves
and rapists who prey on the migrants-also skulk.
"If you don't have money, they will beat you and strip your clothes," said
Bernard Sibamda, 25, a Zimbabwean toiling on a border farm. "People walk
naked into town."
Sibamda carried a slingshot to defend himself. He smiled bleakly at the
impotent toy. Nearby, a Somali almost lost his hands recently when border
thugs tried to hack them off, according to the International Organization
for Migration, a United Nations agency that helps deported migrants return
home. And such brutality isn't limited to criminals. In 2004 a South African
army captain and four soldiers were convicted of systematically raping and
robbing Zimbabwean "border jumpers"-one of many instances of violent abuse
by South African authorities on the border, human-rights groups claim. Last
month a soldier on patrol shot and killed an unarmed Zimbabwean man.
Illegal immigrants interviewed in Musina also accused the South African
police of constant shakedowns. The price of freedom after being arrested: as
little as 100 rand, or about $14. The South African government has
acknowledged problems with petty corruption. The agency responsible for
immigration, the Ministry of Home Affairs, is being overhauled.
Finally, as if the human gantlet weren't enough, there is the random cruelty
The crocodile-gnawed bodies of immigrants wash up occasionally on the banks
of the Limpopo, said activist Matakanye, who helps Zimbabwean farm workers
at the Musina Legal Advice Center.
And every year during the rainy season, the river itself kills scores of men
and women seeking low-paying jobs in South Africa's bustling farms and
In February, 45 Zimbabweans drowned as they held hands trying to cross the
river, the police reported. Another group of 60 swimmers died the same way
last year. Such tragedies are routine enough that they barely register in
the South African media.
"If you stay in Zimbabwe, you starve," said Kenneth Marara, 28, an
unemployed factory hand from Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, who was sleeping
with a crowd of other undocumented migrants at a bus stop in Musina. "It is
better to die here."
Zimbabwe in tatters
Once an African breadbasket, Zimbabwe has been hollowed out by years of
drought and the ruinous economic policies of strongman Robert Mugabe. Its
inflation rate was calculated in May at 3,700 percent-the highest in the
world. In Musina, immigrants said the Zimbabwean government couldn't even
afford the paper to print its passports anymore, so almost nobody carried
one. The UN World Food Program estimated Wednesday that more than a third of
Zimbabwe's 11.8 million people will face food shortages this year.
Nobody knows how many Zimbabweans have ducked into South Africa. Immigration
analysts say 2.5 million to 3.5 million-roughly a quarter of Zimbabwe's
population. Even the lower figure equals the number of refugees displaced by
the war in Darfur.
"There is a real backlash taking place against Zimbabweans now," said Sally
Peberdy, a researcher at the Southern African Migration Project, an
immigration think tank in Johannesburg. "Xenophobia is definitely on the
In fact, anti-foreigner sentiment has been smoldering - and sometimes
exploding - in South Africa for years.
Despite the country's reputation for cultural tolerance, decades of
isolation under apartheid have predisposed many South Africans - black and
white-to distrust immigrants, Peberdy said. One survey conducted in 1997
revealed a degree of paranoia about strangers that was exceeded only in
Russia. Resentful South Africans are torching Somali shops and beating up
Zimbabweans, human-rights groups say. Increasingly, Zimbabweans are also
blamed in the media for South Africa's notoriously high crime rate.
The government is responding by quietly ramping up deportations. Buses,
police vans and dusty trains ease through Musina, disgorging thousands of
bedraggled Zimbabweans at the border bridges.
The number of Zimbabweans expelled from South Africa has rocketed tenfold
since 1994, to more than 127,000 last year. South Africa is also sending its
law-enforcement agents to the U.S. for border security training. Others are
getting U.S. Border Patrol training at an American-run law-enforcement
academy in neighboring Botswana, officials said.
For some South Africans, though, that still isn't enough.
"I can't even jog on my own property anymore because of the numbers of
Zimbabweans coming through-it's a safety risk," said Gideon Meiring, a game
rancher whose land sprawls over one of the main immigrant routes south of
the Limpopo River. "There have been terrible murders of farmers up here, and
it's 99 percent certain that it was Zim people who did it."
Meiring heads a watchdog group of white farmers who help patrol South
Africa's border region. Like the controversial Minutemen sentries in the
United States, they are making a largely political point: Illegal
immigration threatens South Africa's prosperity and stability. But their
robust methods would raise eyebrows even among anti-immigrant groups across
Last month Meiring and 14 other farmers mobilized to intercept a truckload
of undocumented Zimbabweans speeding down a local highway. With removable
police lights flashing atop their cars, they ran the driver off the road and
detained 11 migrants. Others scattered into the fields.
"These people use our hospitals, our schools, our government housing,"
Meiring said, echoing familiar sentiments from the immigration debate in the
United States. "We've somehow got to make it more difficult for them to
Loveness Khumbula, a 25-year-old Zimbabwean mother, has reached her private
threshold of difficulty.
On May 28 the petite illegal immigrant was charged by a wild buffalo while
trudging through the bush east of Musina. The beast chased her off a small
cliff. She sprained her leg, and the 9-month-old daughter strapped to her
back suffered a severe concussion. About the only thing extraordinary about
her story on the raw Limpopo frontier was that she wanted to go home.
"My mission here is finished," Khumbula said softly in the local South
African hospital where she and her baby were recovering. "I will not stay in
New York Sun
By MARK Y. ROSENBERG
June 12, 2007
Late last month, the Bush administration announced a tightening of fiscal
sanctions against the Sudanese government of Omar al-Bashir, which the
United States holds responsible for genocidal actions in Sudan's Darfur
region. The White House also asked the Security Council to consider more
robust international sanctions - including an arms embargo. Mr. Al-Bashir's
regime has so far largely ignored the United Nations, refusing to allow the
full deployment of U.N. peacekeepers and blocking the delivery of
humanitarian aid in Darfur.
Even in propositional form, the American and British push for sanctions was
met with immediate opposition from Russia and China, Sudan's major backers
in the international arena. A more surprising opponent was South Africa,
which assumed non-permanent membership in the Council this year. South
Africa's resistance to sanctions is at odds with its iconic status as a
human rights success story, its claims to moral and political leadership on
the African continent, and its participation in Darfur-related peacekeeping
efforts. The South African claim that diplomacy is working is belied not
only by the ongoing murder, rape, and expulsion of Darfur's non-Baggara
peoples, but also by Sudan's intransigence vis-āvis U.N. intervention.
South African opposition is especially remarkable given the importance of
sanctions in the demise of the country's apartheid regime. After the U.N.
General Assembly revoked South Africa's credentials and declared apartheid a
"crime against humanity," the Security Council mandated an arms embargo in
1977. Despite initial reluctance, by 1985 America and the European Community
had placed costly economic sanctions on foreign investment, government
loans, and a range of crucial goods. Without discounting the role of South
Africa's civic groups, these international sanctions were critical to the
country's achievement of majority rule.
Nevertheless, South Africa's position on Sudan is woefully consistent with
the country's recent activity on the international stage. So far this year,
South Africa has allied with Russia and China to thwart a Security Council
resolution urging democratic reform in authoritarian Burma; nearly
undermined the Council's fragile compromise over placing sanctions on Iran;
and failed once again to meaningfully condemn Robert Mugabe's tyrannical
regime in Zimbabwe.
Despite the disclaimers of South African diplomats, there is little doubting
the government's general opposition to supporting Western pressure on
repressive regimes. This stance reflects two objectives of South African
foreign policy: first, to consolidate its leadership position among African
states; and second, to move the locus of international decisionmaking away
from the West and toward emerging powers more representative of the
developing world. Whatever the merits of these ambitions, it is clear that,
to achieve them, the government is willing to forget the significance of
external pressure in realizing a free and democratic South Africa. By
opposing Western-led initiatives and siding with authoritarian, severely
repressive, and militarily belligerent states, the South African government
is helping to stymie the expansion of the same basic human rights it fought
so long to achieve.
Consider the Burma vote, justified on procedural grounds: because the
country's military junta is not a threat to "international peace and
security," the resolution was more a matter for the U.N. Human Rights
Council than the Security Council. However, no one outside Havana or
Riyadh - both members of the body - believes the Human Rights Council to be
even a half-effective advocate of the rights it is mandated to uphold. Asked
about his reaction to the vote, Archbishop Desmond Tutu told reporters he
was "deeply disappointed.. It is a betrayal of our own noble past." Likewise
South Africa's opposition to military and financial sanctions on Iran.
Recent events have revealed that Iran's autocratic government is almost
certainly pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program. South Africa's
opposition to the sanctions-supposedly motivated by concerns about
restrictions on nuclear energy production-is bizarre for a country widely
considered an exemplar of nuclear responsibility.
Closer to home, South Africa continues to coddle Mr. Mugabe's dictatorial
regime in Zimbabwe. Mr. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have overseen an
evisceration of political and civil freedoms and the collapse of the
country's once vibrant economy; hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans have
fled to South Africa. Still, South Africa's government has refused to
seriously condemn Mr. Mugabe, an erstwhile hero of the struggle against
white minority rule. In March, a widely publicized crackdown on
oppositionists saw South Africa-in its most strongly worded statement to
date-merely urge their ally to respect "the rule of law" and the "rights of
all political parties." However, South Africa later opposed bringing the
Zimbabwe issue before the Security Council, and the government has shown no
indication of supporting (even rhetorically) European Union and American
sanctions on Mr. Mugabe's regime.
And then there is Sudan. While the genocide charge is contested, Khartoum is
certainly complicit in an ongoing and vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing;
hundreds of thousands are dead and over 2 million are displaced. South
Africa's opposition to sanctions may score loyalty points with African
states, but at a steep price: a freer hand for the perpetrators of yet
another African crime against humanity, and the further betrayal of South
Africa's "noble past."
Mr. Rosenberg is the Southern Africa analyst for Freedom House and a
doctoral student of political science at the University of California,
Please take note that the City of Harare advertised its Supplementary Budget
totalling $1, 144 trillion on Thursday 8 June 2007. This budget, according
to the advertisement is available for inspection at Town House foyer and at
all District Offices during working hours between 8am-5pm. They indicated
that on Wednesdays, the budget is open for inspection until 4pm.
The City of Harare says it spends 51,7 percent of the total budget on core
administration which covers the Harare Metropolitan Police ($61 billion),
Emergency Services ($44 billion) , Health ($129 billion) , Planning and
Engineering ($33 billion), Housing ($84, 3 Billion), Schools ($9, 3 billion)
and others not specified which gobbles $230, 03 Billion.
The City's main sources of income, totalling $1, 146 trillion are refuse,
rates and supplementary charges, housing rentals and other sources not
It is ironic that the proposed rates increases will take effect from 1 July
2007 while residents have until 8 July 2007 to lodge their objections to the
proposed budget. This exposes how the illegal commission flagrantly tramples
on the rights of residents and disregard their involvement.
Residents objected to the 2007 budget, but the City of Harare commission,
backed by the overzealous Ignatius Chombo, approved and is implementing the
What CHRA has done is to engage in an intensive campaign to stop payment of
rates altogether until there is legitimate authority at Town House.
Those willing to object must do so between now and 8 July 2007.
STOP PAYING YOUR RATES TO AN ILLEGAL COMMISSION!
Combined Harare Residents' Association
Mobile: 011 612 860 or 0912 869 294
"Stand Firm. Be of Good Courage"
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Nigerians in Zimbabwe appear to be bearing the brunt of Mugabe's seeming
contempt for their former leader.
By Mike Nyoni in Harare (AR No. 116, 12-June-07)
What began four years ago as a personal tiff between Zimbabwe's president
Robert Mugabe and his then-Nigerian counterpart, Olusegun Obasanjo, is
gradually swirling into xenophobia against Nigerian nationals in Zimbabwe.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono last week gave the sentiment an official
seal, and extended his attack to other nationals from Asia.
Mugabe was angry that at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in the
Nigerian capital of Abuja in 2003, Obasanjo had supported
Zimbabwe's continued suspension from the club of former British colonies.
Heads of government at the meeting said Mugabe had not made enough reforms
for the country to be readmitted after it had been suspended for human
rights violations a year earlier.
South Africa's president Thabo Mbeki, who supported Mugabe, lost the vote to
the other members of the troika on Zimbabwe, Prime Minister John Howard of
Australia and Obasanjo. Mugabe immediately announced that Zimbabwe would
withdraw from the Commonwealth if it was not readmitted - which it did at
the end of the year, with Mugabe describing the Commonwealth as "a useless
club where people drink tea and make speeches".
From then on, government spin-doctors have made unsavoury remarks about the
former Nigerian leader, accusing him of being used by outgoing British prime
minister Tony Blair to settle personal scores with Mugabe. The attacks
reached a crescendo in the aftermath of Nigeria's recent presidential
election, won by Umaru Yar'Adua.
Zimbabwe state media accused Obasanjo of "fixing" the outcome to ensure his
favourite candidate won against his fiercest rival, former vice-president
Atiku Abubakar. As if to confirm the hostility between the two African
states, Mugabe did not attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new Nigerian
In the face of a relentless economic decline of 3,700 per cent inflation and
a contracting job market where unemployment is reckoned at more than 80 per
cent, Zimbabweans have turned against the weakest scapegoat for their
plight - blaming foreigners for crowding them out of
the indigenous economy.
This week a senior official of Zimbabwe's small traders' association in the
capital Harare accused Nigerians of taking over most city shops at the
expense of Zimbabweans. He told a state radio programme that Nigerians had
occupied "all the corner shops" in Harare to trade in trinkets.
"You see an empty shop today," he complained, "and when you ask [Harare
City] Council officials if you can lease it, you are told it has been taken.
You return tomorrow and you will find a Nigerian there selling trinkets."
He said Nigerians were most likely paying in foreign currency or bribing
"We are not saying foreigners should not come and invest in Zimbabwe," he
said. "What we are saying is that Zimbabweans should get first preference.
These are foreigners, they have somewhere to go. Where do we go if we can't
find shops to operate from in our own country?"
Gono last week lent weight to this negative perception of not just Nigerians
but other foreign nationals whom he accused of abusing government
hospitality to engage in black market foreign exchange transactions.
"Some of the purveyors of this trade [in foreign currency] are
non-Zimbabweans who have come all the way from their mother countries in the
region, some from West Africa, South East Asia, and beyond, under the banner
of [existing] friendly relations and [those] being forged between Zimbabwe
and their countries," he said.
"We cannot, and will not, allow any shadow forces to interfere with, or
derail our turnaround programme, which we are putting back on the rails with
There was no mistaking the governor's references, mainly to Nigerian and
Chinese nationals who have recently been accused of dealing in foreign
currency and selling narcotics in the Harare central business district.
Chinese traders, in particular, have been accused of undermining the local
cotton and footwear industries by flooding the market with substandard
products. This is despite Mugabe's Look East policy, which has sought to
strengthen trade between Zimbabwe and Asian countries. The policy began
after western governments slapped Mugabe with targeted sanctions over human
rights violations and his disputed re-election in 2002.
The traders' association official said if foreigners wanted to bring genuine
investment, they should look for long-term projects that create employment
for Zimbabweans. "Why do they come all the way from their country to engage
in petty trading?" he said.
The official said there was a need for clear government policy guidelines on
what investment projects foreigners could undertake. Many Nigerians, he went
on, had escaped prosecution in their country, had come to Zimbabwe and
entered into marriages of convenience to hide from the law. And, he claimed,
"most of them are engaged in illicit business., including prostitution and
Gono said the lifestyles led by foreigners in Zimbabwe were not commensurate
with their official businesses.
"You go to their shops in the city centre and you find one or two items on
the shelves," observed Gono. "But look at the vehicles they drive, look at
where they live and you can be sure the shops are a front for illegal
An official in the foreign affairs ministry, who refused to be named, denied
that there was growing xenophobia against foreigners, and Nigerians in
particular. "There is nothing like that," he said. "Why should we be
fighting our own African brothers?"
He, however, warned that foreigners should not violate Zimbabwe's laws
hoping to hide behind their foreign citizenship. "They will be arrested like
anybody else," he said.
He also denied that there was bad blood now between Mugabe and Obasanjo, "He
is gone, that is all. Why should Comrade Mugabe be fighting a civilian?"
Mike Nyoni is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.
By Tichaona Sibanda
12 June 2007
A meeting of Zimbabweans in the diaspora held in London on Monday resolved
to take its case to the African Union's Court of Justice, if the government
insists on denying them the right to vote in next year's elections.
The regime has removed the right to vote in the country's parliamentary and
presidential elections next March from the estimated 25 to 30 per cent of
the population now living outside the country.
Approximately 3,5 million Zimbabweans live in exile and almost all have been
effectively disenfranchised by a regime which fears above all, that the will
of the people may prevail in the election. Luka Phiri, a member of the MDC
London Forum that hosted the meeting, said it was also agreed that there is
a need to lobby South African President Thabo Mbeki on the issue.
'The meeting came out with two options-- to lobby Mbeki so that our issue be
included in the mediation talks and secondly if that fails, to approach the
African Union to hear our case,' said Phiri.
Phiri added; 'As a part of the huge and intricate process set up by Mugabe
to conceal the will of the people and to rig the elections, he has decided
without a referendum to deny us our basic constitutional right to
participate in the election.'
Monday's meeting was to show that Zimbabweans in the diaspora were not
willing to accept this blatant theft by the regime. The majority of them
were forced to leave the country through political repression and the years
of Zanu (PF) misrule that has completely destroyed the economy.
Three months ago the Zanu (PF) led regime set it's rigging machinery in
motion by announcing that it will deny the 3,5 million Zimbabweans living in
exile the right to vote in next year' presidential and parliamentary
elections. Zimbabwe Election Commission spokesman Utloile Silaigwana told
the state controlled Herald that only those on official government duty
outside the country would be eligible to vote in the elections. He said
those living in exile will not vote, because the country's electoral laws
have not changed.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Is government bid to halt downward economic spiral all its cracked up to be?
By Mike Nyoni in Harare (AR No. 116, 12-June-07)
Officials have persuaded business and labour to sign a "social contract"
with government, but some observers are sceptical about whether it can stall
the economy's slide towards disaster, while others question the government's
motives and sincerity.
But the historic significance of the occasion is that since the social
contract concept was first mooted in 1996, it is the first time that
government has signed it, showing an admission on its part that urgent
action must be taken to halt the economy's downward spiral.
Perusing the protocols signed in Harare early this month, one is left in no
doubt that government is promising far more than it can deliver. The
partners signed three protocols on stabilising incomes and pricing,
restoring productivity and managing foreign currency.
The preamble to the first protocol sums up the characteristics of a
dysfunctional economy and is also an acknowledgement by all parties,
including government, of the enormous problems facing the economy.
On the public stage, government continues to blame the economic malaise on
western sanctions, however.
The contract lists the following as major problems facing the country: a
shortage of foreign currency and basic commodities; hyperinflation; low
levels of savings and investment; an unsustainable budget deficit; high
unemployment; and low capacity in industry and in the key agricultural
It also notes high income differentials, widespread poverty and a crippling
brain drain, which has affected the country for nearly a decade.
The purpose of the contract is for the three partners - government, business
and labour - to agree on operational and behavioural approaches that will
help cure the above economic ills for the benefit of society. In essence,
government must provide an environment conducive for business to operate in
by encouraging investment and guaranteeing its protection.
Business should avoid bad practices like overpricing of goods but should
promote industrial productivity and employee safety, while labour must make
reasonable wage demands commensurate with productivity.
As an agreement between "equal partners" the social contract was negotiated
on the basis of three key principles: tolerance for each partner, a common
vision and acting in good faith. All three protocols, which took effect at
the moment of signing, are to hold for the next 12 months.
For its part, government undertook to cut its budget deficit to 10 per cent
of GDP, as this has been identified by labour and business as one of the
major causes of rampant inflation (officially at 3,700 per cent). Government
pledged to bring month-on-month inflation to below 25 per cent by year-end;
to review tax incentives for workers; and to reform the public service,
which currently takes up 75 per cent of its wage bill.
It was also agreed that printing of money fuels inflation and that control
of the foreign currency exchange rate is costly and counterproductive as it
"encourages unethical business practices" such as trading on the black
market. Wholesale price controls were also identified as a major cause of
price distortions, which fuel the black market in scarce commodities.
All parties pledged to promote industrial harmony. Business promised to
supply goods and services at affordable prices and raise productivity.
Labour, the weakest of the "equal partners", in terms of bargaining power,
said it would fight for fair wages for workers and their empowerment through
share ownership in the companies they work for.
But analysts in Harare say the contract could become a victim of its own
A senior member of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, speaking in his
personal capacity, said the whole enterprise could crumble due to cynicism
and opportunism by business and labour, borne of previous failures by
government to meet its side of the bargain.
A labour analyst with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said it would be
difficult for workers to exact high wage concessions from employers, given
their small numbers and their inability to press their demands through
industrial action. "It is in the interest of government and business to talk
about industrial peace and harmony but certainly not in the interest of
workers," he said. "Already there is plenty of room for friction. Business
would very much love not to pay high wages to boost the bottom line."
An economic analyst at a major commercial bank said there was a lot of
"duplicity" going on. He said it was not possible for business to sustain
"affordable" prices so long as there was no foreign currency in the formal
banking system. "Both government and business know that," he said. "Once
business starts raising the issue of input costs government will turn around
and accuse them of reneging on the social contract."
He said so long as agriculture remained comatose there would be very little
foreign currency generation and added that the cost of production would
always be determined by the cost of foreign currency, "a scarce commodity".
"Government cannot control what happens on the black market and businesses
which want to survive have to respond to those costs," he said.
The only other sources of foreign currency, the partners accepted, were
foreign lines of credit by business, remittances by Zimbabweans in the
diaspora and foreign direct investment, all of which are beyond the control
of the cooperating parties.
A political scientist in Harare said the deal was no more than a publicity
stunt by government to show that it was doing something about the economy.
The other partners clearly had their arms twisted into signing the contract,
he said, adding that the government stood to benefit more from it because it
had no solution to the country's spiralling crisis. Through the contract, it
would be in a better position to control what business and labour do.
"These are entirely utopian ideals by people who don't mean what they say,"
he said. "For Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono this is an endorsement of
his so-called economic turnaround strategy although we all know things are
getting worse. Workers know that.
"Business is equally guilty. All the partners are talking about a common
goal, a common vision and good faith but we know the truth. When the social
contract was mooted for launch on March 31, business rushed to increase
prices without any regard to costs. Since the latest signing, prices of
basic commodities have skyrocketed."
The political scientist said there was no mutual trust, let alone good
faith, between the social partners and pointed to the arrest in February of
business executives for increasing the prices of basic commodities without
government's approval and the beating of trade union leaders last year for
demanding better wages and free antiretroviral drugs, which had bred
He reserved the last word for government. "Government is not looking beyond
next year's elections," he said. "Can you imagine how government can reduce
its deficit when it is raising civil servants' salaries by 600 per cent? And
it is unrealistic to expect government to talk of reforming the civil
service ahead of such a crucial election. They are part of its tools of
survival. Only the naīve can expect a cut in the civil service."
He pointed to the need for food and power imports as some of the key demands
which government could not forgo.
Government recently announced plans to increase the police force from the
current 29, 000 to 50,000 in preparation for the joint presidential and
parliamentary elections scheduled for March next year. "Those people will
need to be paid, yet we are told of a protocol which will reduce government
spending and inflation. This shows you that Gono will have to keep the money
printing press at full throttle. The whole thing about price stabilisation
is a bad joke," he said.
Callisto Jokonya, president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
(which represents business in the social contract), said people were putting
the cart before the horse. He told a radio talk-show programme that no
contract had been signed. "What was signed by the partners last week are
protocols," said Jokonya. "There are still five more protocols to be signed
before we can talk of a social contract in its true sense.
"The actual social contract should specify who does what and performance
should be measurable. Once that is done, with commitment by the social
partners, economic turnaround is achievable in three months."
Gono, who acted as the "advisor" in the negotiating process, urged caution.
"The journey has just started," he said soon after the protocols were
signed. "In strategy they say the devil is in the details of
Before the ink was dry on the social contract, power utility Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority, ZESA, on June 4 increased power tariffs by 50
per cent and the Harare city council adopted a supplementary budget to
increase rates and other charges at the beginning of next month. This will
see a new wave of price increases as business passes the new costs to the
The government has put in place the National Prices and Incomes
Stabilisation Commission which industry and international trade minister
Obert Moyo say is now ready to begin its work of taming daily rises in
prices of goods and services. But by allowing quasi-state enterprises like
ZESA to increase tariffs, the government has already shown its lack of
sincerity, say observers.
Mike Nyoni is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe
By Fred Thompson
Monday, June 11, 2007
If there's a hell on earth, it's probably Zimbabwe. Life expectancies
in the landlocked nation in the South of Africa are the world's lowest.
Reports say women live an average of 35 years; men a bit longer. Four in
five people are unemployed. Government printing presses run day and night to
produce enough money to keep the military from rebelling, so inflation is at
an annual rate of 3,700 percent and rising. Cash loses over ten percent of
its value everyday.
It wasn't always that way. Before Robert Mugabe's government took
power a quarter of a century ago, this land was one of the most prosperous
in Africa. Known as the breadbasket of south Africa, it exported food to the
rest of the continent. Then Mugabe was elected. He used his office to
destroy his own market economy, silence the press, murder his opposition and
persecute minority ethnic groups, black and white alike. Zimbabwe was, by
any account, the most disastrously managed economy on the planet.
Two United Nations agencies have just released a report saying that 4
million people in Zimbabwe are in danger of starving. That's a third of the
entire country's population. Take note that I said "two United Nations
agencies" are predicting the mass starvation.
The reason I want you to take note of that is that, last month, the
same United Nations elected Mugabe's Zimbabwe to lead the UN Commission on
Sustainable Development. That's the organization charged with promoting
sound long-term economies.
Now you might ask why a country in economic freefall would be chosen
by the UN to advise the rest of the world about economic growth. But you
might also ask why Iran was made vice-chair of the UN Disarmament Commission
last year -- even as it ramped up its nuclear weapons program and threatened
to destroy Israel. Or, for that matter, you might wonder why Libya was made
chair of the Commission on Human Rights -- as Libyans don't even have basic
The UN never seems to have good answers, but I'll offer one. Robert
Mugabe was given chairmanship of the commission because his view on
sustainable development fits right in with much of the UN's.
He claims that third-world poverty is caused by free market economies
like Americans' -- and like the one that once made his country the envy of
his region. He blames free and prosperous countries for the suffering that
comes with tyranny and corruption. The sad thing is; Mugabe gets away with
it, in part, because he has the glamour and prestige of the UN behind him.
Now we have to keep in mind that while the UN is hopeless in some
respects, a Security Council vote provides political cover for some timid
nations to do the right thing -- like help us in Iraq. Also, UN humanitarian
assistance, like the World Food Program's, run by Americans, do much good.
But it's a constant challenge at the UN, and the reason we must always have
a strong ambassador there willing to blow the whistle when they do
Fred Thompson is an actor and former Senator. His radio commentary airs on
the ABC Radio Network and be blogs on The Fred Thompson Report.
KOENIGSTEIN, Germany (Zenit.org): Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe
is training young men to reinforce his police units, using brainwashing
techniques in army camps, says Archbishop Pius Ncube.
The archbishop of Bulawayo told the organization Aid to the Church in Need
that President Mugabe is using such extreme pressures to increase state
He explained that at a recent gathering of priests, some of these young
police arrived and insisted on attending the meeting.
When they were refused access to the non-political meeting, they demanded to
speak to the chairman.
Archbishop Ncube explained that the increase in state interference and
intimidation has been widespread, especially with next year's elections
"This intimidation campaign is aimed at breaking the people," said
Archbishop Ncube, commenting on the more than 600 people who were recently
arrested, tortured and held for weeks.
The situation in the country is becoming ever more critical, with inflation
More and more people are leaving the country, among them many children and
young people, some of whom cross the border on foot without anyone to
protect them, according to Archbishop Ncube. Some become victims of sexual
exploitation, he added.
Altogether, an estimated 3.5 million of the country's 12.9 million
inhabitants have fled or are in the process of fleeing.
Currently, one in 10 children is already an orphan, making Zimbabwe the
country with the highest rate of orphans in the world, the archbishop said.
There are 38,000 households run by children alone.
Archbishop Ncube appealed urgently to the West to help the people of
Zimbabwe. The Church is striving to provide charitable help, but, he
concluded, this is no more than "a drop in the ocean."
The Reserve Bank is set to introduce new Zimbabwe dollar bills soon, to
replace the bearer cheques currently in circulation in a move aimed at
helping consumers battling with worthless bundles of money.
Details of the introduction of the new family of legal tender emerged this
week amid reports that the biggest bill would be a Z$1,000 note while the
smallest would be a Z$1 note.
It is believed the new currency, reportedly designed and printed by a German
company, Giesecke & Devrient (G&D), will return Zimbabwe to stability and
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono is expected to give Zimbabweans 24 hours
to hand in their bearer cheques for the new currency before it is
demonitised "anytime soon." The governor believes this is the only way to
rein in speculation and punish black market dealers holding on to huge
amounts of money.
Bearer cheques, essentially money printed on ordinary paper without any
security features, were introduced in 2003 as a temporary expedient.
The largest bearer cheque currently in circulation has a face value of
$100,000 (worth US$2, meaning Zimbabweans have to carry large bundles of
cash for even small purchases.
June 12 2007 at 08:54PM
South African President Thabo Mbeki said on Tuesday he had been
encouraged by the attitude of Zimbabwe's government and opposition since
being tasked to mediate an end to their bitter feud.
"We ... are encouraged in this regard by the positive attitude evinced
by the protagonists in that country," he told MPs in Cape Town during debate
on the presidency's annual budget.
The parties, Mbeki said, "do recognise that the people of Zimbabwe
expect of them nothing less than concrete action to extricate them from the
difficulties they face currently".
Mbeki was asked in March by fellow leaders of the South African
Development Community to mediate between the regime of Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change ahead of
elections next year.
The MDC is currently threatening to boycott the elections over fears
that they will be rigged while Mugabe has accused the opposition as acting
as stooges for the former colonial power Britain.
However in a marked change of tone from recent speeches, Mugabe made a
point of welcoming the presence of senior opposition members who attended a
ceremony that he addressed in Harare on Monday.
Mbeki's team has been in touch with both sides but the president has
yet to meet directly with either Mugabe or MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mbeki, who has refused to publicly criticise Mugabe as part of a
heavily criticised policy of quiet diplomacy, reiterated on Tuesday that "we
intend to move with speed in executing this mandate".
Mugabe is widely blamed for Zimbabwe's seven-year economic and
political downturn marked by world record inflation, 80 percent unemployment
and a recent violent government crackdown on opposition activists. -
12th Jun 2007 09:58 GMT
By Nothando Motsipe
TEARING and falling blinds hang loose on the wooden dusty window seal as
dignitaries from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare take their seats.
The Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa, dressed in charcoal black
designer suit, a stark contrast of his officers clothes most of whom showed
that they were either cheap quality Chinese pieces or have been purchased
from cross border traders who smuggle clothes in bales, would soon walk into
this 1970s ministry conference room beaming with a smile of confidence,
obviously oblivious of the rot going on right under his nose.
The courageous smile on his face emanated from the knowledge that the
outgoing United States Ambassador Christopher Dell would make public a
donation of Antiviral Drugs worth about US$15 million spread over three
years to benefit more than 40 000 HIV and AIDS victims in this southern
It is the state of dilapidation of this Kaguvi Building, named after one of
Zimbabwe's most respected heroes, which houses some of the many government
departments in central Harare.
A stench from the rest rooms greets visitors disembarking from the huge
elevators which hobbles making noises that cannot be explained, darkness in
it as its inside lights have since failed. Electric wires hang loose on its
roof while its floor tiles have since disappeared.
Flush systems have disappeared leaving unfilled holes on the walls in the
toilets. Some wash basins are cracked while the water system shows that it
failed a long time ago. An enterprising officer came up with a noble
solution to the failed water system by writing in bold blue magic maker:
"Out of order. Please do not use."
Instead of having the system repaired the ministry officials discovered that
it was easier to write such a notice instead of getting the problems fixed.
Tissue racks have since disappeared and to expect tissue paper in this
toilet is like making a demand for the moon.
Small nail holes on the walls show that there once were mirrors hanging on
some poor starving civil servants have found good use of the mirrors.
The urinary system is the source of the stench as no running water is
flowing leaving all liquid deposits to dry up on the steel. Door handles
have been employed elsewhere maybe by the civil servants whose "take home
cannot take them home" any longer.
Meanwhile, in the conference hall, the smiling Parirenyatwa is greeted by a
1980 portrait of President Mugabe whose frame is giving in. It will not take
a year before the wood forming it rips it pieces before poor 1980 Mugabe
picture falls off.
Behind Parirenyatwa is a huge wooden frame containing a giant fading
Zimbabwe map. The frame shows that it fell of the hooks where it used to
hang and no one has cared to hang it back.
Furniture polish was last applied more than a couple of months ago judging
from dust that had gathered on the furniture. The furniture is also fast
changing in colour, a sign of hunger for furniture polish.
As the delegates continued to troop in, the US Ambassador walks in with his
entourage to make public this important donation to resuscitate 40 000
Zimbabwean lives but can America not make a donation to resuscitate an
ailing government which has a pattern of receiving goodies from well wishers
but cannot service it own offices.
In the thick of dust, Dell would announce to the frail looking civil
servants, officials from the National AIDS Council and members of the media
that the American government would provide drugs and test kits worth US$6
million per year bringing the total annual government of the United States
contribution to HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment in Zimbabwe to
US$31 million. So much from a government working on regime change in
This invites Parirenyatwa's beaming smile of approval and a bootlicking
"The United States government support for health programmes in Zimbabwe has
been very consistent since independence," Parirenyatwa said.
Two women civil servants munching into a loaf of plain white bread,
meanwhile, await the arrival of the death trap known as the elevator.
"Civil servants, we are now beggars," said one of the women drawing laughter
The state of affairs at Kaguvi building is symbolic of all government
buildings and institutions countrywide as government fails to raise money
for capital expenditure to renovate infrastructure. Some buildings have not
been renovated since independence and systems in such cases are bound to
Visitors to the country who happen to come into contact with government
buildings and service will be quick to notice that Zimbabwe is a country
that has been driven to the dogs. The once haven of southern Africa has now
become a bread basket case because of failed government policies.
Zimbabwe is in its seventh year of economic collapse and services have
continued to suffer as the ruling elite fight for survival.