By Nelson Banya Fri Jun 22, 8:46 AM ET
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's currency plunged to new depths on Friday as
the U.S. ambassador to Harare predicted galloping inflation will force
President Robert Mugabe from office before the end of the year.
The Zimbabwe dollar, which is pegged to the U.S dollar and was effectively
devalued by the central bank to 15,000 to the greenback in April, was
trading in the 170,000-200,000 range on the thriving black market on Friday.
Just a week before, the black market exchange rate was about 95,000 to one
U.S dollar, and 2,500 to one in January.
Once a regional bread basket, Zimbabwe has suffered chronic food shortages
since 2001 and is gripped by an economic crisis critics blame on Mugabe's
controversial policies such as the seizure of white-owned farms to resettle
In an interview with the British Guardian newspaper, U.S. Ambassador
Christopher Dell said Mugabe's government was effectively "committing regime
change on itself."
"I believe inflation will hit 1.5 million percent by the end of 2007, if not
before," he said. "I know that sounds stratospheric but, looking at the way
things are going, I believe it is a modest forecast."
Economic analysts said the latest plunge of the Zimbabwe dollar was largely
due to public fears that inflation would only get worse coupled with
speculation that the Central Bank itself was now purchasing foreign currency
on the black market to finance agriculture and other projects, although this
could not be independently confirmed.
Mugabe -- Zimbabwe's sole rule since independence in 1980 -- has accused the
southern African country's opposition and Western countries of plotting to
unseat him and has been accused by critics of a draconian crackdown on
On Friday, Zimbabwe's High Court ruled that hearings in the case of five men
accused of plotting to topple Mugabe would be closed to the public and the
media -- the latest sign of political tensions gripping the country.
CENTRAL BANK WARNING
The defiant leader, 83, has said he will stand for re-election after his
current term ends next year and denies allegations that his government has
committed human rights abuses.
The fall of the currency prompted central bank head Gideon Gono to warn that
authorities could soon crack down on illegal foreign currency trading.
"It has become inevitable to fully crack the whip on those institutions and
individuals who are willfully breaking the banking, anti-money laundering
and exchange control laws," Gono said in comments carried by the official
Prices of fuel and basic consumer goods have risen sharply over the past two
weeks, with the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe saying the cost of living for
an average family of six has almost doubled in one month.
Official figures released by the Central Statistical Office show that prices
doubled within one month in April, with the monthly inflation figure topping
The state agency is yet to present May data, but analysts put the
year-on-year figure above 4,500 percent and expect the trend to continue.
Eight successive years of recession has left four out of five Zimbabweans
without jobs and many struggle to feed their families, a situation analysts
say could further stoke political tensions.
"People have completely lost faith in the currency and that means they have
lost faith in the government that issues it," said Dell, who is close to the
end of his posting to Zimbabwe.
"Things have reached a critical point. I believe the excitement will come in
a matter of months, if not weeks. The Mugabe government is reaching end
game, it is running out of options."
(Additional Reporting by Sophie Walker in London)
June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe's dollar plummeted 67 percent on the black
market this week, forcing some retailers and gasoline stations in the
capital, Harare, to stop trading.
The currency, officially pegged at 250 against the U.S. dollar, sold for as
much as 300,000 a dollar on the streets, where most Zimbabweans exchange
their foreign currency, money traders said. It has depreciated from 100,000
earlier this week and from 3,000 to the dollar on Jan. 20.
``Inflation and the exchange rate are running away and out of control,''
John Robertson, an independent economist, said in an interview today from
Harare. ``We're on a slippery slope that must be coming to an end now.''
Inflation in Zimbabwe, the world's fastest-shrinking economy, accelerated to
4,530 percent in May, according to NMBZ Holdings Ltd., a Zimbabwean bank.
The nation's statistics agency hasn't released figures for May yet.
The southern African nation is in its eighth successive year of recession
after President Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned commercial farms for
redistribution to black subsistence farmers denied land during white rule.
That slashed export earnings, sparking shortages of everything from motor
fuel to the country's staple food, corn meal.
Zimbabwe's central bank has printed money to pay debts, fueling inflation,
and on April 26 devalued the nation's currency for exporters by 98 percent.
Fuel retailers in Harare have started refusing to accept local currency
because they are unable to keep pace with its depreciation.
``The black market rate has plummeted in the last 10 days,'' said Stephen
Forsythe, who owns the Emerald Hill fuel outlet in Harare's northern
suburbs. ``At this rate, I can only afford enough foreign currency to buy
half as much fuel every three days. You can't run a business like that, so
unless I charge in foreign currency, I have to stay closed.''
Retail stores in the capital also began closing their doors yesterday.
``There are thousands of items on our shelves and the law says they all have
to display a price,'' Josiah Membgwe, a manager at the Helensvale
Supermarket in Harare, said in an interview. ``We spent the whole afternoon
and most of the night re-pricing everything. If this carries on we'll spend
more time pricing goods than we do selling them.''
The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the
main-opposition Movement for Democratic Change held talks in Pretoria
earlier this month aimed at ending a political impasse in the southern
The talks made progress toward writing a new constitution, an opposition
demand ahead of elections next year, an official close to Mugabe said
Zimbabwe's government is to blame for the collapse in the currency,
``Fiscal indiscipline and the uncontrolled printing of money are part of an
accumulation of issues, but government doesn't have an answer any longer,''
he said. ``The problems are now bigger than the government.''
To contact the reporter on this story via the Johannesburg
bureau on email@example.com
Last Updated: June 22, 2007 10:17 EDT
22 June 2007
IN THE past few weeks, the world has seen former Liberian president Charles
Taylor face his jury at a special international tribunal in Sierra Leone.
The International Criminal Court is also trying him in The Hague for crimes
against humanity, allegedly committed during the 1991-2000 civil war in
Also hitting the news was the decision by Edinburgh University's senate to
strip Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe of an honorary degree awarded in
1984, following years of campaigning by politicians and students.
At the same time as pressure was put on the university's senate, South
African publisher Jacana Books took the brave step of publishing for
international distribution a report originally published 10 years ago by the
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe and the Legal
Resources Foundation. The original title was Breaking the Silence: A Report
on the Disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands, and it is now
republished as Gukurahundi.
This is the name given to the 1980s slaughter of mainly Ndebele at the hands
of Zimbabwe's Korean-trained Fifth Brigade, said to have been a pet project
of Mugabe's. According to the report, a conservative estimate of 20000
people were killed.
Elinor Sisulu, known for her work with the Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition, writes
in the introduction to the report that Gukurahundi, a Shona word meaning
"the first rain that washes away the chaff of the last harvest before the
spring rains", once had pleasant connotations. She says the more recent
campaign, Operation Murambatsvina, in which the Mugabe government deployed
police and army units to destroy the homes and businesses of people around
the country, has echoes of Gukurahundi. "Once again the imagery of cleansing
is used. Murambatsvina literally means to remove filth. The poverty-stricken
urban masses are described by the police chief, Augustine Chihuri, as a
'crawling mass of maggots bent on destroying the economy'."
Sources close to Mugabe say that, above all, he fears being sent to The
Hague to face up to the litany of human rights abuses committed under his
rule since 1980. But this is unlikely to happen.
Despite recent claims by the Catholic Bishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, that
more people die in Zimbabwe each year than died during the entire
20-year-long bush war, the end to Mugabe's rule will most probably be
contingent on an attractive exit package, in terms of which he will go into
exile and receive an amnesty that will rule out any criminal prosecution.
According to the charge sheet against Taylor, he is allegedly responsible
for the deaths of 50000 people. Many would argue that Mugabe is responsible
for the deaths of three times that number and should be tried for crimes
Questions also arise about how to deal with Mugabe's cohorts, some of whom
were actively involved in human rights abuses.
Air force commander Perence Shiri was once known, during his tenure as
commander of the Fifth Brigade, as the "Butcher of Bhalagwe Camp"- a
reference to the brigade's Matabeleland headquarters. Shiri reported only to
Mugabe and took orders from only him. What would the International Criminal
Court make of Shiri and others? Would he and Mugabe ever get a fair trial?
The meticulously compiled evidence in the republished report is compelling.
In Lupane in March 1983, 62 young men and women were killed in a mass
shooting on the banks of the Cewale River. As Sisulu points out, unlike the
massacre at Sharpeville, when shock waves of condemnation reverberated
around the world, the silence that surrounded the Lupane and other killings
was deafening. Just two of many eyewitness accounts are detailed in the
report and they should, by rights, present a strong case for justice.
It is debatable whether it is in Zimbabwe's interests to let Mugabe get off
scot-free in the event of a negotiated settlement that would lead to free
and fair elections in Zimbabwe. Talks kicked off this week in Pretoria
between the ruling Zanu (PF) and both factions of its main opposition party,
the Movement for Democratic Change. It will take time for the fruits of
these first and faltering negotiations to become known.
Sources say that an amnesty from prosecution for Mugabe may be offered,
although he will never be free from the threat of prosecution in individual
civil cases. The evidence is stacked against him.
But there has to be some sort of accountability, and there can be no
forgiveness for past atrocities without contrition. And judging by his
attitude since the Gukurahundi, Mugabe will never be contrite.
Hudleston writes for Business Day's sister newspaper, The Weekender.
'Sources close to him say that, above all, he fears being sent to The Hague'
By Tichaona Sibanda
21 June 2007
Revised projections of food availability in the country indicate that
millions of people will need food aid by the end of July and not November,
as predicted by two United Nations food agencies.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme predicted
in May that a poor harvest coupled with a worsening economic crisis will
leave more than four million people in Zimbabwe in need of food assistance
by the end of this year.
Agricultural expert Seiso Moyo said there was a need for food relief not
only for people in rural areas but many others in urban areas. The country
has only managed to make available 400 000 tonnes of food aid, out of the
required 1,8 million tonnes.
Moyo explained that most of the grain imported into country had been
clandestinely sold or bought by wholesalers and supermarket giants with
close links to the regime. 'When the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organisation and the United Nations World Food Programme came up with those
figures they had looked at food on the ground, but all that has gone and it's
being re-sold to retailers at exorbitant prices by dealers linked to Zanu
(PF),' Moyo said.
The Zanu (PF) regime has monopolised the distribution of food aid in the
country and is reluctant to acknowledge there is a food crisis in the
country. Between now and the next rainy season almost 1,4 million tonnes of
food is now required, but the regime seems unconcerned about the urgent need
to request food aid from the international community.
Moyo says that because of the very unstable dollar many retailers are now
charging in forex for food.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
In response to a recent report suggesting the health service has collapsed
in Zimbabwe, the BBC News website asks a dental surgeon (name withheld for
safety concerns), 55, about how he keeps his private practice going.
Inflation is already 3,714% - the highest rate in the world, and just one
adult in five is believed to have a regular job.
"It has become extremely difficult to practise normal dental procedures
that require a quotation because what you quote today will have changed by
the time you start the procedure.
The only practical thing is to quote a patient in US dollars.
We take this approach because the currency is so unstable.
Obtaining materials, equipment, spare parts and replacements is very hard to
do because there are no suppliers in the country.
One cannot buy foreign currency from the government. Buying from the
parallel market is the only way.
I have to send anything that needs repairing to South Africa and payment has
to somehow be arranged between myself and the company there... getting the
money to them is a real nightmare.
Basic things like local anaesthetic, sutures and bandages are always scarce.
My wife travels to Dubai to buy my supplies.
We are operating under difficult circumstances indeed.
But I am determined to carry on. We Zimbabweans, we persevere.
Despite what some say, Zimbabwe's health system has not collapsed
completely. I say this because patients can still visit hospitals where they
will receive treatment, albeit limited.
And there is much lacking.
Qualified personnel have immigrated en masse. Then there's the issue of
post-operative care... because of the lack of drugs and other items
necessary that specialised care requires many operations are not possible at
government-funded hospitals here anymore.
Private clinic and hospitals are still operating though.
Our most current problem is my staff not being able to afford their
transportation to work and then back home again each day.
It is the most recent difficulty. So far we are getting round it by
subsidising. I can't keep increasing their salaries outright because then
they will just get taxed at a higher bracket.
Instead we call it a travel allowance.
A lot of my colleagues have left and gone to neighbouring countries or
overseas. But if you have been in practise a long time - 27 years, like me -
you own your own practise, your home... What does one do?
You can't just pack your bags and leave. I can't. Who will look after
everything I have worked so hard to get?
Poor country, poor family
I trained overseas and then I came home because I felt I had a contribution
The worst scenario I have in my personal life is that I cannot provide for
all of my children's needs.
When I was at college overseas I used to tell my friends that I was poor. I
came from a poor country and a poor family.
All my father owned was a bicycle.
But, I would tell them don't worry, once I am a professional I will go back
to my country and become successful and wealthy. Life would be good.
But now, because of the situation in Zimbabwe, I find that I am calling on
those same friends of mine again to help with my children's tuition fees.
It is very hurtful to feel that you can't look after your own children. "
Saturday 23 June 2007
By Tsungai Murandu
HARARE - Displaced former Zimbabwean white commercial farmers incurred
losses of more than $8.4 billion during their violent ejection from their
properties seven years ago, a survey showed.
The survey, jointly undertaken by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
(ZHRNF) and the Justice for Agriculture Trust (JAG), showed that the immense
financial losses were inflicted upon the farm owners and workers in the form
of lost incomes, habitation, health services and access to clean water and
sanitation that contributed to a high death rate.
"The amount of damages for which the Zimbabwe government should be liable,
for giving open support to the land invasions, would have catastrophic
consequences for an economy already in precipitate decline," said the
Zimbabwe is the middle of an eight-year-old economic meltdown that
government critics have blamed on President Robert Mugabe's ill-conceived
policies such as chaotic farm seizures that decimated the mainstay
The crisis has been marked by crippling shortages of foreign currency, which
have triggered sharp increases in the cost of living and made most basic
Currently estimated at 4 530 percent in May, the country's inflation rate is
the highest in the world while unemployment has reached an unprecedented 80
The ZHRNF and JAG researchers also found that only six percent of the former
white farmers are still farming and that around 65 percent of those
dislodged from their properties were still in the country.
"This is significant as it shows that most white farmers identified
themselves as Zimbabweans, not British," the researchers noted.
Mugabe used the refusal by Britain to fund the land reforms as an excuse to
eject the former white farmers from the land, arguing that the British were
responsible for compensating their kith and kin whose farms were
compulsorily acquired by the government.
Agents of the government inflicted widespread human rights violations upon
white farmers and black farm workers during the seizures of white-owned
farms from 2000 to 2005.
A total of 53 022 people - farmers, farm workers and their families - were
identified by the survey respondents as having experienced at least one
human rights violation.
The abuses included assaults, torture, being held hostage, unlawful
detention and death threats.
"If this figure from the limited survey is extrapolated to include all
commercial farms nation-wide, the number of people suffering abuses during
the farm seizures could be more than one million," concluded the survey.
The researchers interviewed 187 former commercial farmers conducted over six
months between 2006 and this year. - ZimOnline
Fri Jun 22, 2:57 PM ET
HARARE (AFP) - A judge on Friday threw out a bail bid by six Zimbabweans
facing charges of plotting to overthrow veteran President Robert Mugabe
saying they were fears they could flee, their lawyer said.
"The judge said they not be granted bail because there is a danger that they
might abscond," lawyer Charles Warara told AFP after the bail hearing held
behind closed doors.
"He also said the decision was arrived at to allow the police to make
further investigations, since they said (Albert) Matapo has connections
outside the country."
The six men, including retired army officer Matapo, have been accused of
fomenting a push to topple Mugabe and, according to a copy of the charge
sheet seen by AFP, replace him with Rural Housing Minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa is seen as one of 83-year-old Mugabe's possible successors.
The prosecution said Matapo conspired with his co-accused and recruited
various members of the security forces in preparation for the alleged coup.
Matapo allegedly planned to incite soldiers to take over the government and
later declare himself interim ruler before installing Mnangagwa as
Samkange said his clients were not planning a coup when they were arrested
during a meeting in the capital.
He said the meeting was to discuss the formation of a new political party.
The judge had earlier agreed that the hearing be held behind closed doors
after the prosecution had argued for a ban on press coverage in order "to
protect certain names which have been mentioned in the case".
Another defence lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, unsuccessfully argued that it was
in the public interest to hold the case in an open court.
"There are names which have been mentioned maliciously and perhaps with evil
intent, names like Mnangagwa," Samkange said.
By Carole Gombakomba
22 June 2007
The German government said Friday that it was looking into claims by Harare
that two legislators of Zimbabwe's ruling party were denied visas to join a
Wiesbaden forum of lawmakers from Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and the
Press officer Michael Ebel of the German Foreign Office said officials in
Berlin were looking up visa application reference numbers published today by
the state-controlled Herald newspaper in Harare and presented as evidence
senators Forbes Magadu and Godfrey Chipare of the ruling ZANU-PF PARTY were
denied German visas.
Participation by Zimbabwe's delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary
Assembly in Wiesbaden was called off late last week due to the alleged
denial of visas, though Sen. Clarissa Muchengeti and opposition legislator
Nelson Chamisa received theirs.
With the ACP-EU assembly formally opening Saturday, Zimbabwean Ambassador to
Belgium Gift Punungwe on Friday submitted a draft resolution prepared by
Harare's delegation and concerning Britain's alleged failure to keep a
Punungwe told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
the alleged British failure to make good on a commitment to fund Zimbabwe's
controversial land reform program had been a root cause of the country's
present economic woes.
But analyst Farai Maguwu challenged these assertions, saying in an interview
that the Zimbabwean government's claim Germany denied visas in violation of
the Cotonou Agreement is unfounded as Harare continues to violate its own
The Cotonou Agreement was signed by the African, Caribbean and Pacific
states and the European Union in June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin. The treaty set
a partnership in the reduction of poverty and the integration of ACP
countries into the world economy.
Fri Jun 22, 11:57 AM ET
HARARE (AFP) - A judge ordered a bail hearing for suspects accused of trying
to topple Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to be held behind closed doors
Friday to protect the identity of the alleged ringleaders.
"This case is a very sensitive one," high court judge Tedius Karwi said,
granting a prosecution request to bar the media in order "to protect certain
names which have been mentioned in the case".
"Therefore, I order that the case be held in camera and that this court be
cleared of all other persons except the legal representatives," Karwi said.
Prosecutor Lawrence Phiri had asked the judge to bar the public and press
from the hearing, arguing that holding the proceedings in an open court
would prejudice ongoing investigations.
"There are certain names which have been mentioned which need to be
protected and other investigations are still ongoing," Phiri said.
"Public knowledge will prejudice these investigations."
Lawyer Jonathan Samkange argued that it was in the public interest to hold
the case in an open court.
"There are names which have been mentioned maliciously and perhaps with evil
intent, names like Mnangagwa," Samkange said.
"Members of the public would like to know for example why Mnangagwa's name
Six Zimbabwean men including a retired soldier are in remand prison facing
charges of plotting to topple the long-ruling Mugabe and, according to a
copy of the charge sheet seen by AFP, replace him with Rural Housing
Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa is among those seen as Mugabe's possible successor.
The prosecution said the alleged ringleader Albert Mugove Matapo, a former
Zimbabwe National Army officer, conspired with his co-accused and recruited
various members of the security forces in preparation for the alleged coup.
Matapo allegedly planned to incite soldiers to take over the government and
later declare himself interim ruler before installing Mnangagwa as
Samkange said his clients were not planning a coup and that they were
arrested while holding a meeting to form a political party.
(AFX UK Focus) 2007-06-22 20:09 GMT:
HARARE (Thomson Financial) - The Zimbabwean government on Friday published a
bill designed to ensure that a majority stake in all public-owned companies
ends up in the hands of the indigenous black population.
The draft indigenisation and economic empowerment bill provides, Agence
France-Presse reported, for the establishment of an empowerment fund which
will offer assistance to the "financing of share acquisitions" from the
public-owned firms or assist in "management buy-ins and buy-outs".
"The government shall, through this act ... endeavour to secure that at
least 51 percent of the shares of every public-owned company and any other
business shall be owned by indigenous Zimbabweans," reads the bill.
Some of the firms dually listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and London
Securities Exchange firms include Old Mutual, NMB bank and Hwange.
Multi-national firms that may be affected by the new policy include Barclays
Bank, Bindura Nickel Corporation and mining giant Rio Zim.
The bill defines indigenous Zimbabweans as any person who, before
independence in 1980 was "disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the
grounds of his or her race, and any descendant of such person, and includes
any company, association, syndicate or partnership of which indigenous
Zimbabweans form the majority of the members or hold the controlling
The bill also states that no projected or proposed investment, shall be
approved unless a controlling interest is reserved for indigenous
All government departments, statutory bodies will also be asked to procure
51 percent of their goods and services from businesses in which controlling
interest is held by indigenous Zimbabweans.
Last year, many of Zimbabwe's platinum, diamond and other mineral mines
warned that they would be forced to close if veteran President Robert
Mugabe's government takes a majority stake in the companies.
The Chamber of Mines, representing 200 mining houses in Zimbabwe, said
proposed amendments to the Minerals and Mines Act would effectively kill off
investment needed to keep the mines open. tf.TFN-Europe_newsdesk@thomson.com
From Business Day (SA), 22 June
In a rare sign of progress in talks between the Zimbabwean government and
the opposition party, an official close to President Robert Mugabe said
yesterday that headway was made towards writing a new constitution before
next year's elections. The talks, held in Pretoria on June 16-17, achieved
more than was expected, the senior official with Mugabe's Zanu PF said
yesterday in Harare. The official asked not to be named, after President
Thabo Mbeki requested that the talks be kept confidential. He also said a
dispute over the recognition of Mugabe as the legitimate head of state had
not been resolved. The opposition refused to recognise Mugabe, in power
since 1980, because of rows over the parliamentary polls in 2000 and 2003
and the presidential elections in 2002. William Bango, spokesman for the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, said in Harare
yesterday that talks had focused on the "forthcoming elections in March"
next year. The opposition was "anxious", he said. In March this year, the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), which includes Zimbabwe and
SA, appointed Mbeki to mediate between Mugabe and the MDC. Mbeki is to brief
the SADC on the progress with his Zimbabwe mediation efforts at the end of
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said yesterday in Pretoria that this
would take place on the fringes of the African Union summit in Ghana. In an
attempt to continue the media blackout on the process, Pahad said he was not
aware of the widely reported meeting between Zanu PF officials and the
opposition. "As foreign affairs, we are not aware of any meeting that has
taken place," he said. It was reported delegations from the two parties met
in Pretoria at the weekend, and agreed on an agenda on what the parties
wanted to be done to halt the country's collapse. Foreign affairs spokesman
Ronnie Mamoepa repeated the cabinet's decision not to comment on the
mediation process . "The view of the mediation team is that SA has been
mandated by SADC. Any report will be made to SADC, rather than us splashing
it all over the show before SADC knows what we are doing," said Mamoepa.
Pahad said: "You should ask who is leaking . somebody is leaking despite our
commitment not to say anything." Further talks would be held within weeks,
the anonymous official said. Zimbabwe's economy is in its eighth successive
year of recession, after Mugabe began seizing white-owned commercial farms
for redistribution to black subsistence farmers denied land during white
rule. But the process was fraught with corruption, with much of the best
farmland going to Mugabe's cronies. The land grab slashed export earnings,
sparking shortages of everything from fuel to the staple food, maize meal.
The inflation rate climbed to 4530% last month, the highest in the world,
according to NMBZ Holdings, a Zimbabwean bank. The country's statistics
agency has yet to release figures for May. Alois Masepe, an independent
analyst in Harare, said: "The economy is going to dictate the country's
future, not political talks."
By Lance Guma
22 June 2007
This week saw the passing of World Refugees Day on 20th June but for
Zimbabwe that day could very well be commemorated everyday. According to the
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum the country is now officially the biggest producer of
refugees in Southern Africa. Two field researches done at the border in
Messina and the main Marabastad Refugee reception office in Pretoria have
shown that there is a shocking rise in the number of those fleeing the
Forum coordinator Gabriel Shumba said in the past couple of years it was
Operation Murambatsvina that made people flee, while this year the
hyper-inflationary environment is to blame. Their report documents how
people are being killed by crocodiles in the Limpopo River while one
Zimbabwean was killed by a lion while crossing the border a few weeks ago.
Every year hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are fleeing a devastating
economic and political crisis that seems to have no solution. South Africa,
the United Kingdom, Botswana and the United States are some of the more
popular destinations. Shumba said Botswana alone deported 6000 Zimbabweans
in one week sometime this year, while South Africa deported over 100 000
Over 5000 refugees in South Africa converged in various cities to mark World
Refugees Day this week. Undoubtedly Zimbabweans made up a significant number
of these and all told of harrowing tales of police abuse, lack of proper
accommodation and a struggle for acceptance in South Africa. Particularly
devastating for Zimbabwe's economy is that educated professionals are still
leaving in their thousands while continuing the massive brain drain.
As if to emphasize how big the problem is South Africa now has over 4
refugee organisations dealing with Zimbabweans. The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum,
Zimbabwe Association of Refugees, Zimbabwe Refugees Association (ZIMRA) and
Zimbabwe Refugees Forum. Just last week the Association of Zimbabwe
Journalist's website reported that the number of blind people fleeing to
South Africa was fast increasing.
ZIMRA founding secretary general, Peter Muzanenhamo said the Zimbabwean
government had failed to help this community of vulnerable people just like
it has failed other citizens. These blind refugees are now begging on the
streets of Johannesburg. 'This clearly shows how Mugabe and his government
have failed, if you see the handicapped and the blind leaving the country,'
Muzanenhamo said. ZIMRA, which assists blind Zimbabweans in Johannesburg
with blankets and food, says the number is estimated to be above one
thousand for those in Johannesburg only and that the numbers were increasing
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
June 22, 2007
(It's official! The Zimbabwe dollar has replaced the Zambian Kwacha as the
subject of jokes among Africans.)
We have received reports that foreign currency dealers in Zimbabwe are
scrambling for bidders after the informal rates more than doubled on
Thursday causing the economy to virtually crash. The US dollar was
reportedly fetching as much as Z$400,000 and shops closed early to change
prices on products. Very few petrol stations had fuel and many were
rejecting the local currency. A litre of petrol is selling at Z$150,000 and
prices are changing while people wait in long queues. Dealers say this is
the worst it has ever been. And headlines around the world are using words
like "crash" "madness" and "plummets."
Other reports we received said some food shops were also not accepting the
Zimbabwe dollar. Official figures released last week said inflation was
4500%. But financial experts say it is at least 9000% and probably more.
Recent predictions that the economy would collapse within six months may be
optimistic since life on the ground clearly shows that already things are
hardly functioning. Minibus operators raised fares again by 50% this week,
after they went up last week. Civil servants such as teachers and nurses are
failing to report to work, as they have no money for transport. Many
security guards are also failing to pitch up for work as are many other
employees. There are wildcat strikes everywhere as workers fail to make ends
meet. Power and water cuts have drastically affected businesses and created
health hazards for institutions that cannot flush their toilets.
Politically this spells trouble for Robert Mugabe and the ruling elite. Tim
Hughes, a research fellow at the South African Institute of International
Affairs, believes we may be entering a phase in which the economic implosion
in Zimbabwe will have the type of political implications that the opposition
has never achieved. He said it may well be the final straw and lead to
political change. Hughes explained that South Africa is acutely aware of
this. He added: "Certainly since the SADC mandate from March this year, the
whole of the SADC community is aware of the economic, social and
humanitarian imperatives of finding a resolution to the Zimbabwe crisis."
Meanwhile, prices of basic commodities are due to increase again on Monday.
The Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe published their "Weekly Economic Bulletin"
Friday, based on information from the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
(CZI). It said the price for a loaf of bread will increase from the current
Z$25,000 per loaf to between Z$35,000 and Z$45,000. Local commuter fares
will go up from Z$35,000 to Z$50,000 per trip.
We asked Hughes what he thought Mugabe will do, faced with this
unsustainable situation. He said: "I have no doubt that Mugabe's preferred
option is to remain president for life, to nationalise whatever assets are
left in the economy, that is to say minerals etc, and to use the proceeds
from that to support his inner sanctum."
No one can accurately predict the future, but what is certain is that
Zimbabweans are suffering and there seem to be no solution in sight, unless
there is political change.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Violet Gonda
22 June 2007
A delegation of political, civic and church leaders is winding up a tour of
Europe as part of an initiative to engage the international community on the
situation in Zimbabwe. The group, working under the Save Zimbabwe Campaign
banner, includes MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur
Mutambara, ZAPU leader Paul Siwela, National Constitutional Assembly
Chairman Dr. Lovemore Madhuku and leader of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance
Bishop Levee Kadenge.
Dr Madhuku said the group held joint meetings with European leaders to also
demonstrate that they are a united group of people who are fighting for
democratic reforms and lobbying international opinion in relation to
elections due to be held next year.
However the Mugabe regime has accused the group of acting in bad faith and
"launching an anti-Zimbabwe campaign in Europe," but Madhuku dismissed this
saying this is a pro-Zimbabwean campaign not just in Europe but worldwide.
The leaders are expected to return to Zimbabwe this weekend where plans
would be made to tour parts of Africa and North America.
Dr Madhuku said: "Each part of the world has a specific role to play. Africa
has its role, which is more or less to take a prominent role in advocating
for reforms in Zimbabwe. Europe has its own role - it will have to play an
important role in mobilizing resources for reconstruction when change takes
place in Zimbabwe. So we are not fools who are just moving around."
The civic leader said it was important to inform people, as each part of the
world has its own misunderstandings about the crisis in Zimbabwe. He said
some leaders in Europe did not know the full extent of the flawed electoral
process and did not understand why the opposition was threatening to boycott
the elections. While in parts of Africa, Robert Mugabe had hoodwinked some
people into believing that the fight was against former colonial power
The group said they stressed to the European leaders that they should help
push for reform via African institutions like the Southern African
Development Community (SADC). "So what we are telling Europe is, it must
play its role via institutions that have been created in Africa to resolve
On the issue of the ongoing talks between the political parties Madhuku said
civic society is still not happy because it is not being informed adequately
on the progress. Madhuku pointed out: "What has happened so far is simply
discussions about an agenda. It says nothing about whether these parties
will agree. We still are very skeptical about the SADC initiative and we
know for sure that that there is not a lot of seriousness by South Africa on
He said even though he is moving around with the opposition leaders one of
the issues which keep complicating the situation is the lack of openness on
the issue of talks. "The opposition would want at given times, and when it
becomes convenient to itself, to remain as an opposition political party and
then at other times it wants to work as a pro-democracy movement. These are
The outspoken civic leader said: "The fact that we are moving together and
the fact that we share certain points does not mean we have completely
resolved some of the problems that we have faced in the past. There is still
that difficulty that the opposition is not open. Its not transparent in some
of its initiatives and some of it is on how the opposition has been handling
the whole mediation effort. We are very unhappy about this situation."
Meanwhile, Morgan Tsvangirai is due to address supporters at a rally in
Luton in the UK on Saturday afternoon. The event will be held at Lewsey
Community Centre, Landrace Road, Luton LU4 0SW.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 06/23/2007 02:35:44
A ZIMBABWEAN court on Friday removed from remand the leader of the country's
main trade union who was accused of assaulting a police officer at a
roadblock last year.
Wellington Chibebe, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) was arrested in August last year during the change-over to a
new currency on allegations of resisting arrest and assaulting a police
He subsequently appeared in court and was charged under section 176 of the
Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act.
The court also released him on $2 000 bail on September 4.
In court, his lawyer Alec Muchadehama denied that his client had attacked
the policer offcer.
He said: "I wish to have this placed on record. His arrest and subsequent
detention was unlawful. He was stopped at a roadblock where police were
illegally searching for bearer cheques. He advised them that he had been
searched before by other police officers along the way.
"He never resisted the police, neither did he intend to escape. The collar
of his gold shirt was torn as the policeman, sergeant Sylvester Makonyonga
Chibebe also filed a constitutional appeal with the Supreme Court
challenging the constitutionality of the law under which he had been
charged, on the grounds that it seeks to oust the Roman Dutch Law which
guides the country's legal system.
In a statement Friday the ZCTU information department said: "The State will
proceed by way of summons pending a Supreme Court hearing. Cde Chibebe is
challenging some sections of the Criminal Law and Codification and Reform
Act Chapter 9.23 under which he was being charged and the matter is still to
be heard at the Supreme Court."
Last year , Chibebe and other trade union leaders were hospitalised after
being assaulted while in police custody following their arrest on September
The unionists were arrested ahead of a planned nationwide demonstrations to
protest against the worsening economic crisis.
In an interview Friday, Muchadehama confirmed the court outcome.
New Zimbabwe (London)
22 June 2007
Posted to the web 22 June 2007
MORGAN Tsvangirai, the leader of a faction of Zimbabwe's feuding opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will address a rally in Luton, England,
Tsvangirai made his first public appearance outside Zimbabwe with rival MDC
faction leader Arthur Mutambara at a news conference in London on Thursday.
The two leaders are on a European tour aimed at building international
support and showing that the opposition is united after months of
Mutambara and Tsvangirai are part of a Save Zimbabwe Coalition delegation
which includes opposition Zapu leader Paul Siwela, National Constitutional
Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku, and a Zimbabwe National Students Union
Despite the apparent public show of unity, expectations that Tsvangirai
would address the Luton rally with Mutambara evaporated on Friday after
officials said Mutambara would not be attending.
A brief statement from Lynette Mhlanga, the secretary for information for
the Mutambara faction in the UK cited "circumstances beyond our control" for
"The President of the Movement for Democratic Change Professor Arthur
Mutambara will not be attending nor addressing any meeting in Luton,"
Mutambara, reached by telephone on Friday morning, said he was on his way to
France with Tsvangirai and other Save Zimbabwe Coalition officials and
referred all questions to Mhlanga.
The developments will raise new questions about chances of the two MDC
factions reuniting in future. Talks aimed at healing the rift broke down a
month ago, but some MDC officials were quietly hoping the two leaders'
European tour would bring them closer together and raise the prospect of
presenting a united front in general elections next year.
On Thursday, both Mutambara and Tsvangirai had emphasised the importance of
presenting a united front. In separate interviews, Tsvangirai and Mutambara
both said the opposition needed to mobilise behind one candidate in
presidential elections scheduled for March, to ensure every opposition vote
counted against Mugabe.
"Zimbabwe is burning, we can't bicker among ourselves," Mutambara said.
"We have been branded as divided and confused and directionless, and we are
saying to the international community that we are capable despite our
differences to work together," he said.
However, Tsvangirai said a leadership contest was "unthinkable" and that he
believed he should be the opposition candidate.
"Of course no one will stop anyone from contesting," he said.
The MDC split into two factions in October 2005 over policy differences.
Efforts to unite the two groups have all fallen flat. Political analysts
warn that without forming a coalition or outright unity, the MDC has
potentially wrecked its chances of challenging President Robert Mugabe in
general elections due next year.
Addresing journalists on Thursday, Tsvangirai said runaway inflation and the
Zimbabwe dollar's worst crash in memory will increase pressure on President
Mugabe to allow free and fair elections.
Tsvangirai said Mugabe needed to consider elections as a way out of
Zimbabwe's economic crisis.
"He's got an economy that's down on its knees, he knows he cannot sustain
it," Tsvangirai said. "He knows he has an army that is jittery. He knows all
his popular pillars of support are up against him."
The rally will be held at Lewsey Community Centre, Landrace Road, Luton LU4
0SW on Saturday, June 23, 2007 from 1- 4 pm.
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
22 June 2007
Trustees of the University of Massachusetts on Thursday passed a resolution
that rebuked Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for what the panel called
his "brutal and bloody regime," though the trustees did not revoke his
The state university, whose main campus is in Amherst, Massachusetts,
bestowed an honorary degree on Mr. Mugabe in 1986, in recognition of his
"humane revolutionary" actions which the commendation said led to Zimbabwe's
This week the UMass trustees stopped short of stripping Mr. Mugabe of the
degree only because there was no provision in the school's bylaws for such a
The academic rebuke came just a few weeks after the University of Edinburgh
in Scotland stripped Mr. Mugabe of another honorary degree, citing mass
killings that occurred in the Matebeleland region in the early 1980s under
A statement issued by the University of Massachusetts trustees said Mr.
Mugabe had "degenerated as a political leader and a human being" through
actions leading to the "near disintegration of health, education, and other
Spokesman Bill Wright of the office of the university's president told
reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the
intention of the trustees was to send a strong message to Mr. Mugabe.
Saturday 23 June 2007
By Patricia Mpofu
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) on Thursday boycotted
a meeting to discuss a social contract with business and the government and
insisted it would forge ahead with plans to call nationwide worker protests
to press for better pay and living conditions.
The Thursday meeting was called by the Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe
(EMCOZ) and was attended by senior government officials.
ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibebe described the meeting as
irrelevant, adding that there was nothing meaningful to discuss at the
meeting because there is no agreement yet between labour, business and the
government on a social contract.
"We had no business there. Why should we participate in a meeting to confuse
the long suffering workers?" asked Chibebe.
Three government ministers, Obert Mpofu, Sylvester Nguni and Nicholas Goche
addressed the closed-door meeting on the respective role of their ministries
under the social contract.
Mpofu heads the industry and international trade ministry, Nguni is the
minister of economic development while Goche heads the social welfare
Earlier this month, the Zimbabwean government claimed that the three
partners in the Tripartite Negotiating Forum had signed three protocols to
work together in the search for solutions to Zimbabwe's eight-year old
But the ZCTU denies signing the social contract document arguing that it
only signed the Incomes and Price Stabilisation protocol.
The labour body says a pre-requisite to a genuine social contract would
include honesty among partners, transparency and the respect for democratic
values and human rights.
ZCTU deputy secretary general Japhet Moyo said the union had no plans to
suspend work stoppages penciled in for July to press the government to
address the country's eight-year economic crisis.
"The agreed position is that every three months, we will stage some form of
activity as long as employers do not meet our demands which we sent them
last September. Our stance still stands that in July we will have some
action," said Moyo.
A country-wide work boycott called by the labour federation last April
failed to have the desired impact after workers in Harare and Bulawayo and
other smaller towns report for work while shops and factories opened for
business fearing a government backlash if they appeared to support the
President Robert Mugabe's government, which is battling its worst ever
economic recession, accuses the ZCTU of pushing a political agenda to oust
it from power. The ZCTU is a strong ally of the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party. - ZimOnline
Saturday 23 June 2007
By Nigel Hangarume
HARARE - The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has insisted that their A side
tour of Zimbabwe will go ahead despite protests by their players'
representatives who have expressed fears their team will not be safe in the
A senior Zimbabwe Cricket board member yesterday dismissed the West Indies
Players Association (WIPA)'s fears as unfounded, insisting security was
guaranteed for the team.
The WICB yesterday said they would only consider stopping the tour if WIPA
provided "cogent evidence" that it was unsafe to play in Zimbabwe.
The Australian government last month barred their national team from touring
Zimbabwe in September, not on security grounds, but as a way of protesting
against President Robert Mugabe's human rights record.
"We will have to proceed unless the West Indies Players Association provides
us with overwhelming reasons why we shouldn't," WICB communications chief
Tony Deyal said.
"The door is still open on this tour, but we have been asking WIPA to show
us what cogent evidence they have to make them come to the decision that the
tour should not go ahead."
However, WIPA insists it would be unsafe for the Caribbean team to tour
WIPA president Dinanath Ramnarine yesterday said the WICB had disrespected
the players by sanctioning the tour despite their concerns.
"It is very unfortunate that the WICB would go to everybody else and then
come to us - the most critical people - last," he told the media.
"We have a role and a responsibility to protect our members and we will
continue to do so. You can go on any website, and you can see what is taking
place in Zimbabwe."
A senior Zimbabwe Cricket board official said plans for the tour were going
ahead, with players already camped in Harare.
The tour is scheduled to start on June 30 up to July 26.
"We are planning ahead because we have not been officially told that the
West Indies are not coming," the official said. "But I think the security
concerns they are raising are unfounded and blown out of proportion. It's
safe here, and we have assured them." - ZimOnline
Fri, Jun 22, '07
The West Indies Cricket Board is attempting to salvage the A-team tour to
Zimbabwe despite being faced with players refusing to tour and confusion
over the safety advice given regarding the wisdom of the trip even
Cricinfo is reporting that Sylvester Joseph, who was originally named as
captain last week, has declined the invitation to lead the side or take
part. Daren Ganga was also offered the role on Thursday and also turned it
down. The latest name in the frame is Rawl Lewis.
There is also increasing speculation that the WICB is struggling to find
enough players of a decent enough standard to fill the squad without it
losing credibility. They are due to leave in a week and yet nobody has been
named, despite daily assurances that an announcement is imminent.
What is certain is that once again, as happened with the senior side before
their tour of England, a West Indies team will set out with little
Meanwhile, assurances from the West Indies board that CARICOM had given its
blessing on player safety have been denied by Eddie Green, CARICOM's
assistant secretary general.
He said that Tony Deyal, the WICB's corporate services manager, had been
told that "the Bureau of Heads the opinions were split and we need to send
out a formal request to all Heads which we did two weeks ago. I have not
spoken to him since and the official decison will be made on June 30."
Yesterday, Deyal told reporters that the WICB had "received a no-objection
letter from ... Greene".
That now seems to be incorrect.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
22 June 2007
A spokesman for the Combined Harare Residents Association said Friday that
the group opposes the Z$1.144 trillion (US$6 million) supplementary budget
for 2007 proposed by the Harare City Commission, whose legitimacy the
association also challenges.
Association members resolved at a public meeting Thursday night to keep
withholding rates to back their demand for elections to replace the
appointed commission. The central government is expected to extend its term,
which ended June 9.
CHRA Spokesman Precious Shumba told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the boycott of rates for water and other services
will have an impact because such rates are the commission's main source of
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
firstname.lastname@example.org with “For Open Letter Forum” in the subject
+263 (011) 610 073 If you are in trouble or need advice,
please don't hesitate to contact us - we're here to help!
+263 (04) 799 410 Office Lines
Letter 1 – Sally Bown
Dear Mr. Whitehead,
Mr. Rodrigues has sent us your report that 80% of our wildlife has been
wiped out and that rhino are now seriously targeted.
Please can you advise whether the poaching of these rhino was reported to
the authorities and when and where it occurred.
Could you also advise us of the statistics and criteria used to assess
80% of our wildlife being wiped out?
This evidence and factual information is very important if we are to take
this any further and obtain results. We would be pleased if you would
assist us by supplying it as soon as possible.
Letter 2 – Gerry Whitehead
My first question to you is where have you been for just over 7 years?
Have you in the past 7 years been around the country to look for
yourself, did you visit Chipinda Pools or Mabalahuta to investigate the
poaching by staff and the hunting in the park by Safari Outfitters when
it was reported?
You could not have carried out an independent investigation into the
wildlife situation in Zimbabwe otherwise you would not be asking me to
supply all the evidence for you. I am sure that you will find out how
dangerous it is to carry out an unbiased investigation like this.
Most cattle ranches and game ranchers lost all their wildlife in the
first three years, not only that they also were very badly deforested,
several farmers were murdered. We collected hundreds of photos of this
destruction which went world wide; I cannot believe that you are unaware
of the evidence that glares at you when you drive around. You can also
pick this up from the game sensors reports that wildlife people have to
submit to parks before getting a hunting quota. You would have to check
these reports out carefully yourself because there are those who have
lost confidence in change coming and so increase their figures to get a
Gono Re Zhou near Chipinda pools has been settled by over 5000 people,
most now with brick houses, all the well worn cattle paths head straight
for the centre of the park, for six years now their crops have failed, do
you believe for one minute that it is not devastation there. Go and see
for yourself, but don’t think that you can ask the Warden or any of
his staff if the people in the park are poaching, they will just deny it
because they themselves have been forced by low wages and the economic
situation in the country to delve into nefarious activities.
Re the rhino situation, have you checked with the wildlife sanctuaries
and Conservancies who are our Rhino custodians? In the Lowveld contact
Rob Styles of buffalo range and Clive Stockil or Roger Whittal of the
Save Conservancy where just lately 4 rhino have just been poached and yes
these people are doing their best to prevent and catch the perpetrators.
The position on the progress of apprehending these people is sensitive as
you will find out when you contact them. My investigations indicate that
we have lost 12 rhino in the Conservancies and very likely all the rhino
in the park.
If you are genuinely concerned about our wildlife, I suggest that you put
together a politically unbiased team to investigate the wildlife
situation in the country before it is too late, many will assist you.
Letter 3 – Tourism Consultant
Zanu is very keen to revive the tourism industry and there are regular
reports of exciting initiatives from various Zanu heavies.
I believe that Zimbabwe is a world heritage site in terms of agriculture.
A "Big Five" approach could be applied to marketing a guided tour of
One of the Big Five could be David Stevens' home and the Police station
that he was abducted from prior to his execution.
A trip to Terry Ford's homestead and Martin Olds' homestead would
illustrate Zanu's ingenious modus operandi to implement their
I imagine a visit to Roy Bennet's Charleswood Farm, Chimanimani, to
inspect the "Zanu deveopments" in the coffee industry would a most
welcome event for the tourists.
Kondozi is probably best kept to last of "The Big Five" - a truly
brilliant example of Agriculture Zimbabwe by all accounts.
A trip to Kariba might be thrown in to show the tourists a pair of oxen
ploughing under an unused centre pivot, on the way.
Tour guide positions might best be offered to participants of the
new agricultural order like David Hasluck, Colin Cloete, Nick Swanepoel,
Tim Henwood, Stoff Hawgood, Paddy Millar, Joseph Made, Andries
Ferreira and Hendrik Olivier - and they would be paid in the highly
sought after Zimbabwe dollars of course.
This would offer a hands on blend of youth and experience of Third
Chimurenga Assistant Architects to the tourists.
It could be marketed as a Unique African Experience.
"Touch the Third Chimurenga."
Letter 4 – Eddie Cross
I see lots of signs that the cattle prod has been used! There is lots of
dust, confused cattle are running in all directions and the crack of the
long whips and the cries of the herders are all going great guns. The
MDC/Zanu teams fly to SA today and talks start tomorrow – as
scheduled some time ago even though the initial discussions failed to
take off because the
South Africans could not get Zanu PF into the pen.
Blair spoke to the Libyan leader and he in turn invited Mugabe to Tripoli
for discussions, the Malawi leadership also had Mugabe over for tea.
After Smith’s experience with coffee in Pretoria in 1976, Mugabe
should know what tea with a regional President means. I suspect that Mr.
Mbeki was furious at the prevarication by Zanu PF as he was right in the
middle of the G8 summit in Germany and news of a hiccup would not have
been welcome at all. I am sure the power dial on that cattle prod was
screwed up to maximum!
Then we have the extraordinary sight of several Zanu PF functionaries at
the World Economic Forum meeting in Cape Town saying that Mr. Mugabe
would be out of office shortly and Zanu PF would then tackle the task of
rebranding themselves. They also said what we all know, that economic
recovery could not begin until he is out of the way.
How true the talk of an attempted coup might be, is anyone’s guess,
but there probably is some fire behind the smoke, or is it just dust in
the dip tank pen? For sure the armed forces are as fed up as any of us
with the rapid deterioration in the economic situation.
The question we must all ask, is this our “ground zero?”
Where the Americans got that saying from I am not sure but its meaning is
quite clear. We are at a turning point and what I want to know is what is
around the corner?
I think there are some specific pegs on which we can hang our hats. First
is the process underway in South Africa. It seems clear to me that no
SADC leaders are blinking. Mugabe and Zanu PF are going to get the full
treatment in the democratic dip tank. We will get major changes to the
way the next elections are going to be held and might even get some
constitutional changes. So at last the people of Zimbabwe are going to
get an opportunity to vote in a way that will allow them to express their
Secondly, we can now be sure that heavyweights in Zanu PF have decided
that Mugabe must go – and as soon as possible. They actually
thought that a long time ago but now that they have come out in the open
on this issue it looks as if we might actually expect some movement on
that front – a pity really because I would like to see him in the
dip tank and then dealt with on the other side. That may not happen now
but he is a wily opponent and a master
Thirdly, we are fast approaching the point where we simply cannot cope
with the rapid changes in the economy. Fuel went over Z$100 000 a litre
this week, the US dollar is trading at 120 000 to 1, the Rand is
approaching 15 000 to 1 and the pound is off the scale. This means prices
have doubled in a week. I run a supermarket and we are marking up
everything but simply cannot keep pace. No matter what we do when
pricing, everything we sell is below replacement cost and you can only
carry this for so long before grinding to
There is talk that the Reserve Bank will cut another three zeros off our
currency next week and this would mean that one Zimbabwe dollar would now
equal one million of the “old” dollars. Chaos reins in
commerce and industry and those in the public sector are frantic. How do
you keep up with these sort of changes when you have a government which
is still trying to hold bread at Z$825 for a 700 gram loaf? Recent
legislation on prices and incomes – launched with much fanfare as
the solution to our inflation problems, lay down that a business person
can go to jail for 5 years if he/she violates this sort of crass
Power cuts, for whatever reason, are now a serious issue. Crops are going
without water, essential services are being affected and the lives of
millions being made even more unbearable. This week a group of
international NGO’s sent an urgent memorandum out saying that these
conditions could lead to a total collapse in 6 months. I think they are
right in the basic premise but wrong on the timing, we cannot take much
more of this.
So are we at “ground zero”? I think so and am just a little
apprehensive that the powers that be have left this situation too late to
really control and manage the outcome. We cannot bring the elections into
2007, there is just not enough time to do all that is required and hold a
free and fair election thereafter. So we are going to have to have some
sort of short-term emergency help to stabilize the economic and
humanitarian situation while the political agenda is tackled.
This simply will not happen if the talks starting tomorrow morning do not
run their course and produce an outcome that all involved will buy into.
Zanu PF is in a clear minority in this scenario and has little or no room
to manouvere. They must now prepare themselves for a new dispensation and
if they cannot do that fast, they will be marginalised and cast aside.
The question everyone is now asking is the MDC ready? We are battered and
bloodied by recent activities of this dying regime, but we are not out by
any means. We have no money, little left in terms of infrastructure and
equipment, our Head Office stands almost completely empty in Harare
– staff and visitors are terrified of even visiting the building.
But make no mistake; we have the people with us. I am constantly asked
why we have not reunited the two leadership groups that claim the name
MDC? The reasons are very simple, the people are not divided or confused,
they know what and whom they want to take the reins in government. If the
MDC allows the people to decide who will represent the Party in the next
elections we all know who will emerge.
We are not prepared to compromise the right of the ordinary person in the
MDC to choose who will represent them in the coming contest. I am pleased
that our policy position is now almost ready and should be published
soon. This will then give all who have Zimbabwe’s interests at
heart a chance to read what sort of New Zimbabwe will emerge from the
ashes of the old order under MDC stewardship.
Ground zero is for all of us in one-way or another, it’s also a
unique opportunity to build a new structure to replace what we have lost
in the destructive processes of our 9/11.
Letter 5 – Jean Simon
Dear Willy and waMangwende
Just so you don't misunderstand me this time.
If you don’t like what the CFU is doing, roll your sleeves up and
And gentlemen, please make sure of your facts before you make accusations
against Doug Taylor Freeme. He works very hard with little thanks for the
farmers and ex farmers of Zimbabwe.
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice