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Lawyer's protest march in Bulawayo 27 June 2007
In solidarity with a resolution, passed by the Law Society of Zimbabwe on
13th June 2007, to close all law offices throughout Zimbabwe and not
attend court on the 27th June 2007, in protest against the recent attacks
and arrest of members of the legal profession, lawyers in Bulawayo
requested by the Law Society to gather at the High Court in Bulawayo
lunch time on Wednesday the 27th June 2007 and to march to the offices
the Governor of Bulawayo to present a petition. I participated in the
and this is my first hand account.
When I arrived at the steps
of the High Court I observed that there was a
detachment of riot police
standing on the steps. When I walked across to
them I was advised that the
march had been declared illegal and that I could
not remain on the steps of
the High Court. There were two other lawyers
present and they advised me that
other colleagues who had already been
dispersed by the riot police had moved
off down Herbert Chitepo Street
towards the Governor's office and were trying
to regroup a block away. I
then walked down Herbert Chitepo Street with these
lawyers and we found the
rest of our colleagues regrouped a block away from
the High Court.
Approximately 15 of us then commenced our march to the
Governor's office but
soon after starting to march we came under the close
attention of Police
vehicles including at least one Landrover from the "Law
department of CID. These vehicles trailed us as we walked the 3
the Governor's office. On approaching the Governor's office we
another detachment of riot police stationed outside the
As we arrived at the entrance the commanding officer of the
ordered them to spread out and stand at the ready with the shields
and batons drawn. We were ordered to stop, told that our march was
and that we should disperse immediately and failing that force would
to break up our march. We then explained to the officer that we
deliver a petition to the Governor protesting the attacks and
arrests of our
colleagues in Harare. The officer was not interested and then
reinforcements and again threatened us and ordered us to disperse.
noticed that further detachments of riot police and other policemen
arrived and that we were encircled. At the same time a crowd had
around us and they were ordered to disperse by the police which they
Clearly if they were going to have a full go at us they did not
bystanders getting in the way. After protesting again we asked the
to take our petition to the Governor which he refused.
decided to leave the petition at the feet of the officer as it was
we were not going to be let through the police barricade. Having
done so we
then turned to march back to the High Court. As we did so we were
ordered to disperse which we ignored. Shortly after that a further
of policemen of policemen arrived armed to the hilt with shotgun
velocity FN rifles. After walking a block being trailed by this
other riot police we were stopped again, this time by the
commander of the
police truck. He told us that we had not dispersed and that
if we did not do
so immediately force would be used against us and that we
We once again ignored the order and walked a further block,
almost as far as
the High Court building. At this juncture we noticed further
arriving and having decided that we had made our point we then
went to our respective offices.
I was very proud to be
part of such a courageous group of lawyers. For those
of you reading this not
from Zimbabwe let me remind you that our march was
not filmed by any TV
station as there are no independent TV stations in
Zimbabwe. Nor was it
covered by any independent journalists as there are no
newspapers left in the country. The march was also
conducted in the full
knowledge that not a single police officer has been
prosecuted for all the
offences they have committed over the last 7 years.
During the last 7 years
numerous unlawful assaults have been perpetrated by
policemen against law
abiding Zimbabweans who have been exercising their
constitutional right to
peaceably demonstrate. The march was also conducted
in the knowledge that
those policemen and women responsible for the vicious
attack on Law Society
President Beatrice Mtetwa a few weeks ago have not
been arrested or
prosecuted, nor will they be.
Accordingly the march was conducted in the
knowledge that the police may
well have used extreme force to break up the
march and that what is more
that there would be no-one present to record what
Of course nearly all the lawyers who participated in the
have represented many exceptionally brave political and civic
have been demonstrating for years and who have been brutally
tortured by the police. To that extent the actions of this band
is not remarkable. However in the fluid state that Zimbabwe is in
still required great courage for these lawyers to go beyond the
security of their offices to stand in solidarity with others who
for their rights, and indeed the rights of all Zimbabweans, before
It is also of course pathetic that lawyers, who are after all
the High Court of Zimbabwe, were denied the right to gather on
the steps of
the High Court. But that is part and parcel of a police state
courts and the law itself are just cumbersome appendages which
disregarded or abused by the regime in power.
I have one
abiding memory of yesterday's events and that concerns the
expressions on the
faces of the riot police who formed the barricade outside
office. Although they were brandishing batons and undoubtedly
inflicted great harm on us, when I looked into their eyes I saw
for what they had been ordered to do. In fact if I came away
with any emotion
it was one of pity. The officer in charge was hesitant in
giving his orders
and almost apologetic. Most of the men under his command
were in tattered
uniforms and many looked malnourished. When we avoided a
confrontation they looked relieved and although they trailed us they
menacing in anyway. The policemen in the reinforcement truck were
but it struck me that they were the core group of loyalists. It
that we are perhaps now up against a paper tiger; it seems to me
regime is now protected by a thin veneer of die hard loyalists but
majority of those in the police understand what is needed if their
the future are to be realised - the current band of kleptomaniacs
voted out of office.
I was reminded yesterday of one of my favourite
poems by Arthur Hugh Clough:
SAY not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be
It may be, in yon smoke conceal'd,
Your comrades chase e'en now
And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired
waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look,
the land is bright!
For all the depression that abounds in Zimbabwe
today, for all the concern
that this dreadful regime will continue in power
for ever, I have the sense
that the tide of popular opinion is silently
flooding in and that this
regime will soon find itself
David Coltart MP
28th June 2007
NB Photographs of
the march are posted on the photos section of my web site
Hands off our companies, say Zimbabwe
June 29, 2007,
By Brian Hungwe
industrialists have reacted with anger and
shock to the remarks by Robert
Mugabe, the president, this week that they
are now part of a regime change
agenda following accusations that they are
unjustifiably hiking commodity
prices to instigate a revolt.
On Wednesday, Mugabe
threatened to seize and nationalise
companies illegally externalising
foreign currency and those failing to
adhere to government-controlled food
Mugabe was not mincing his words at
the National Heroes
Acre yesterday as he addressed mourners gathered for the
burial of the one
of the country's army generals who died in a car accident
last week. After a
week of rocketing price hikes on almost all commodities
shelves. Mugabe was adamant that the increases were
unjustified and that
they were a ploy to push his government out of
came on the back of skyrocketing prices of
consumer goods, some of which
have gone up by nearly 1000% in less than
seven days. In a chilling warning
to industry, Mugabe said there was going
to be a clampdown on industry
Callisto Jokonya of the
Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries, told the SABC that the government has
to understand the
unfavourable economic environment they are operating
under. "What has caused
the prices to go up is because of the shortage of
foreign currency, and the
underperforming economy," he
Mugabe lashes at Blair
Mugabe has no kind words for Tony Blair, the former
British prime minister,
whom he believes that he is behind the international
sanctions Zimbabwe is
under. Mugabe says the price hikes are part of a wider
and subtle regime
change agenda, involving the British government.
Jokonya said: "It is unfortunate that the president has
chosen to believe
that. I believe he has enough advisers and the machinery
to know what
exactly is going on".
Daniel Ndlela, an economist,
said: "The cause is there for
everybody to see. Business is actually closing
down instead of expanding. If
the industry was profiteering, they will be
The industry has already proposed an
with Mugabe to address the prices issue this coming week.
For now, basic
food commodities are disappearing from most supermarkets,
finding their way
onto the black market. Economists say that the forthcoming
it happen, will be crucial to address
Worsening economic crisis `like living in hell'
29, 2007 04:30 AM
REUTERS NEWS AGENCY
years into their worst economic crisis in memory, many
life couldn't get any harder.
Then prices jumped another 300 per cent and
landlords started charging rent
In a country where
rocketing inflation has made balancing family accounts an
exercise in both
frustration and futility, the sudden threefold surge in
prices of many daily
goods over the past week has added a new level of
like living in hell," said James Mbambo, a hotel cleaner. "You might
am exaggerating, but I tell you sometimes, I don't want to wake up
For Zimbabweans the past week marked a new low as the
plunged further against the U.S. greenback.
of some basic foodstuffs - including bread, milk and the staple
maize meal -
doubled while public transport fares jumped threefold.
Many workers earn
far below the minimum wage and borrowing money from
employers, relatives and
friends to pay for housing and bus fare every month
has become a
Many others are being subsidized by relatives who have sought
refuge overseas since Zimbabwe's economy started falling sharply
Foreign currency sent from abroad is mostly changed
into Zimbabwean dollars
on a black market where the rates are about 10 times
those set by the
country's central reserve bank.
market traders generally operate from street corners and
bus stations where
deals are struck very quickly.
The money - including huge wads of
Zimbabwean dollars carried in satchels
and bags, and sometimes in the trunks
of cars - changes hands in buildings,
away from prying
Zimbabweans' battle against the fastest rising prices in the world
of an economic crisis many blame on President Robert Mugabe's
The government counters by saying western policies, such as
undermined what had been one of the continent's most vibrant
Inflation, which clocked a record 3,720 per cent in April and
today to be much higher, is a stark reminder of the southern
nation's recession, which has left three-quarters of the country's
On Tuesday, Mugabe's government ordered prices of
basic goods to be cut in
half - a move which simply pushed prices back to
the levels of mid-June.
Meanwhile, the 83-year-old Zimbabwean president
also threatened to seize
foreign companies, including mines, that have
raised prices and cut output.
Analysts said the nationalization
threat appeared to be aimed at winning
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party votes in next
year's general election - echoing the
government's campaign of farm seizures
ahead of elections in 2000 that ended
in economic disaster.
analyst Tony Hawkins said the government was employing a political
distract people from the economic crisis that has left four in five
Zimbabweans without jobs.
A Tragic Murder In
Jonathan Bellamy talks with Zimbabwean Robert
On Thursday 21st June, City Drive presenter Jonathan Bellamy interviewed
Zimbabwean Robert MacDonald in response to the tragic news that on Sunday 10th
June two members of his family had been murdered by soldiers when the minibus
they were travelling in was stopped at a roadblock.
From our news reports we get a little feedback of what life is like in
Zimbabwe but there's nothing more revealing and clear than hearing it directly
from people who live or have lived in Zimbabwe and have gone through some of the
trials that have taken place there over recent years.
Jonathan: Good afternoon Robert
Robert: Good afternoon
Jonathan: Robert, I just want to ask you a little bit about your
background, cause at the moment apparently more people die in Zimbabwe than in
Iraq which sounds like a staggering statistic cause we get so much focus of what
is happening in Iraq. Can you try to give us an overview of what life is like in
Zimbabwe at the moment?
Robert: Well more people die in Zimbabwe than Iraq and the Dhafur regions put
together. Life is a living hell in that country.
Jonathan: And this is all with Robert Mugabe's administration. How do
you view the administration then Mr MacDonald, living under it?
Robert: People are crying, we are free at last, we are free at last; but they
didn't know the hidden agenda of Robert Mugabe, and as the years went on he's
tightened his grip on the political situation in Zimbabwe by eliminating vast
amounts of his opposition. In one area of Matabeleland, he sent in the foot
brigade that killed 20,000 people by slaughtering them.
He has apologised for this, but what does apology do; and we find that people
are disappearing never to be seen again. Families are ripped apart; people are
burnt in their homes. Political people are assaulted and killed, even people
like Morgan Tsvangirai are assaulted and near to death and there are no
medicines; the hospitals there have no medicine; no food for the starving
millions, and he's refusing international aid.
Jonathan: Mr MacDonald, I know that you yourself have gone through
torture and beating. Would you be able to describe that and just explain the
background to it as well?
Robert: Well I had a very profitable mixed farming ranch business in Zimbabwe
and 40% of my profits were shared between the workers on the farm. It was highly
profitable. One evening I was raided by the so-called war veterans and the CIO,
which is the Central Intelligence Organisation. I was dragged outside and tied
to a tree, and they left me there and went to the village where my workers were
and they herded the villagers into a house and set the house alight, and my
co-workers perished in that fire. They came back and they started beating me and
they started to have a wild party, slaughtering some of the cattle, feasting,
beating me every now and then. After three days with a broken arm and a broken
leg and a broken nose, I was taken down to the river and thrown in and left
there for the crocodiles to eat. I came too and managed to crawl to a village
three miles away to ask for help.
Jonathan: Why did they do it Robert, what's the
Robert: Well, Mugabe is colour blind. He's not just after the white farmers
and the white businesses. He kills more of his own people, and there's a hatred
of the past colonial system and he's never forgiven that and he's trying to
eradicate that. But meanwhile he's making his own people suffer.
Jonathan: For yourself Robert, you're a Christian I believe aren't
Robert: I am.
Jonathan: How, as a Christian, do you look back on what you've
suffered at the hands of the hit squad, how do you focus and reconcile the
experiences you've been through?
Robert: Well, it's difficult you know. But when I think of what my Lord went
through for me on Calvary, that He went all the way and died for me while I was
a rotten sinner, I got nothing to hate. I don't hate that man, I hate what he's
doing. I pray for him that somehow he might find the saving grace of God.
Because in the eyes of God there is no big sin - no small sin. Sin is sin and
God loves the sinner and wants the sinner to repent. So I've got no business to
hate. But I'm fighting for change. I'm telling people to become aware of the
problems in Zimbabwe; the suffering, and for them to pray and try and pressurise
their peers and the political systems in the West to do something concrete and
Jonathan: You mention how you're facing it in terms of your own
history and experience, but I understand in the last couple of weeks since we
put the article
up on the site, you've had some more sad and terrifying developments in your own
Jonathan: Can you just explain what they are?
Robert: They were travelling in a mini-bus and they were stopped at a
roadblock and everybody in the mini-bus was shot dead.
Jonathan: This is your sister-in-law and nephew?
Robert: That's right. You see, the soldiers haven't been paid for two years,
and they pillage, they rape; they murder, they raid the farms wherever they can
get a bit of food. They kill and take for themselves. You know there's no law
and order left in the country anymore.
Jonathan: How did you manage to escape from Zimbabwe?
Robert: It took me a month to cross the border. I swam across the Limpopo
into South Africa where I was hospitalised for six months.
Jonathan: And what about the rest of your family?
Robert: My wife and my daughter were placed under house arrest in a town
called Bulawayo, and she had been beaten several times and arrested. And then
just before Christmas I managed to raise a bit of funds and she escaped through
the bushfelt, through the jungle, and people helped her to swim across the
crocodile infested Limpopo river.
Jonathan: Wow. Robert now that you are here in the UK and you can
honestly speak out much more freely. What is your focus? Obviously you are doing
this interview with us, you're raising awareness. What would you want to
encourage listeners in a response to what you're sharing?
Robert: To pray, to pray and to pray, and then to get hold of their local
political figures, their MPs, and speak to them. Write them letters. Pressurise
them to go up into the parliament of this country to tell them - please act,
save some lives and act; cause it's only through us waging international
condemnation and the governments pressurising the border countries like South
Africa to stop treating Mugabe with gloved hands, that something can happen.
Things are dreadful you know, words cannot explain what's going on there. You
know you can paint a picture, but people can't realise the true horror story
called Zimbabwe. They cannot realise really what is going on. When the
graveyards are overflowing, villages are empty; just young children are there -
no grown ups. Why - because of Mugabe. And yet the West is soft-pedalling. You
know it's a difficult thing to ask another country to act; but I'm praying that
if the people in England get together and pray, and persuade their political
figures to do something concrete, things may change and thousands of lives may
It might sound dramatic, but I assure you it's not dramatic. It's far worse
than what you've heard about this afternoon or what you've read in the
newspapers. It is far far worse.
Jonathan: Mr MacDonald, we really appreciate you coming on Cross
Rhythms and sharing some of your story. Like we said, there is an article
on the Cross Rhythms website which expands what we've been talking about in more
detail. It mentions in there that EU sanctions might perhaps be beginning to
work on the Zanu PF party and also that like you are saying, there are ways that
we can respond in the West. There's a draft letter that we can send to MPs and
an on-line petition. But I just want to thank you very much for coming on line.
I just wonder whether you would like to pray for the people of Zimbabwe? And we
just stand with you in prayer as you pray for that nation and the people, for
that to end.
Robert: O God, you hear the cry of the tens of thousands, of the hundreds of
thousands of people lifting up their hands and crying out for help. Lord we
pray, move on us of the people in the free world to stand together in prayer
that there might be some action and some precious lives may be saved not only
from a Christless eternity, but that they might have the opportunity to live a
normal life to hear the good news, that Jesus is full of life today. That there
is hope, feel not hopeless. Lord we need people to stand together. Lord, make it
Jonathan: Amen. Mr MacDonald thank you very much for sharing your
story and it's a privilege to have you on Cross Rhythms.
Robert: Thank you. Bye.
Jonathan: If you want to get involved and you want to help support
from a Western perspective, there are things you can do. You might think you
can't, but there are things you can do.
on the Cross Rhythms website was written by Difference
Magazine and they have a website where you can log on and join an on line
petition. You can also download draft letters, which you can send to your MP, so
that the issue gets raised within parliament.
To read more about the situation in Zimbabwe please read the Cross
Rhythms Life Article - 'A
Chance For Change In Zimbabwe'.
The opinions expressed in this article are not
necessarily those held by Cross
Opposition seeks AU team to monitor Zimbabwe
Accra, Ghana, June 28, (PANA) - Zimbabwe opposition party,
Movement for Democratic Change, on Thursday accused the ruling ZANU- PF
party of intimidation prior to next year's election and called for an
independent monitoring team from the AU four months ahead of the election.
MDC vice president, Thokozani Khupe told a press conference on the
Zimbabwean conflict, organised on the sidelines of preparatory meetings
ahead of the AU Summit in Accra, that an independent election monitoring
team "is the only way Zimbabweans can have democratically free and fair
She said "any election result that will be
contestable will have
catastrophic consequences for the country and for the
that the MDC "is pleased with SADC initiative in which
President Thabo Mbeki
was appointed to intervene between them and
"We have given all our support and believe that the solution
Zimbabwean crisis can only be realised through negotiated
The Movement called for a level
playing field in the elections where
every eligible Zimbabwean voter who has
an ID can exercise their democratic
right to choose who should lead
Khupe said the MDC has been denied access to the electorate
the Public Order Act, which prohibits gathering without police
and has also been banned from holding rallies for the next three
The Movement called for the abolition of repressive media
Access to Information, Protection and Privacy Act to guarantee the
of the press.
The MDC said it supported the land
reforms underway in Zimbabwe, but
rejected the manner in which it is being
It called for the repeal of all repressive media laws before
Zimbabweans go to the polls next year, and asked the AU member states to
beak the silence on the abuse of power in Zimbabwe.
Army on high alert
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
rise over coup plot, price hikes
THE government has put all national security
services on high alert in the
wake of an alleged foiled coup plot against
President Robert Mugabe and
rising political tensions fired by escalating
commodity prices over the past
Official sources said this week
that the government feared that its
"enemies" could use the alleged coup
plot to depose President Mugabe's
government by fomenting trouble among
Government critics are, however, sceptical of the
authenticity of the
alleged plot to oust the head of state involving serving
and former army
officers, and regard it as part of the cut-throat battle
But government officials insisted that
the alleged coup plot made it
imperative to rally security services - the
army, police and the secret
The national Joint Operations
Command (JOC), a grouping of cabinet ministers
and heads of security
services, has met to review the state of the security
preparedness, the sources say.
The Financial Gazette has confirmed that two
more military figures have been
arrested in connection with the alleged coup
plot. Their identities and
ranks could not be immediately
Didymus Mutasa, State Security Minister and chairman of the JOC,
confirmed that the supreme security arm, whose influence is now
seen to be
greater than that of Cabinet, had discussed the matter but
elaborate, saying the issue was sensitive.
"I don't think I
should comment as yet as the issue is very sensitive and of
security," said Mutasa. "As chairman of JOC, I fear that if I
anything regarding the issue you are referring to, I might
There are some issues that as JOC we are looking into and
these, as I stated
earlier, are very sensitive."
Other JOC members at the national level are
Kembo Mohadi, the Minister of
Home Affairs, Defence Minister Sydney
Sekeramayi, the head of the Central
Intelligence Organisation, Happyton
Bonyongwe, Police Commissioner Augustine
Chihuri, and commanders of the
Zimbabwe National Army and the Air Force of
It is believed the
controversial order for retailers to reduce prices was
made after a meeting
of the JOC.
Police were observed at supermarkets yesterday checking to make
retailers were adhering to the government directive to slash
Meanwhile, Charles Warara, the defence counsel for the six men
trial for their alleged involvement in plotting the coup,
yesterday that one more suspect appeared in court this week and
in custody to July 2.
Another suspect arrested last week was
released, but the police have since
launched a manhunt for him.
has appeared in court in connection with the matter. He was
remanded to July
2. The police are also looking for another individual,"
original six men accused of being the brains behind the coup are Albert
Matapo (40), a former army officer, Olivine Marola, Shingirai Mutemachani
(20), Nyasha Zivuku (32), Oncemore Mudzurahona (41), Emmanuel Marara (40)
and Patson Mapfure (46).
Affidavits and medical reports indicate that the
six men were severely
assaulted and tortured in custody.
They all denied
plotting to oust President Mugabe in their affidavits.
Retailers speak out
RETAILERS have spoken out on
government charges that they are profiteering,
saying such allegations were
Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu on Monday
retailers and manufacturers to cut the prices of basic foodstuffs
bread, salt, sugar and mealie meal by up to 50 percent, claiming a
spiral in prices was part of a plot to undermine President Robert
But Willard Zireva, chairman of the Retailers
Association of Zimbabwe, which
groups the country's largest supermarkets and
retail shops, told The
Financial Gazette yesterday that the profiteering
charges were unfair as
retailers were only one part of a supply chain that
includes other players
such as manufacturers and transporters.
stage will formal retailers refuse to comply with the laws of
will comply, and anybody going out to say retailers are
profiteering is not
being honest, because our margins are not out of line,"
disputed charges that the retailers' profit margins were excessive,
they were negligible.
"Retailers do not dictate price. It is dictated by the
chain. We have the
lowest margin of the chain and we react from what would
have happened on the
chain," he said.
Zireva could not say whether
retailers had encountered challenges in
receiving new stock from
manufacturers after the latest government measures.
He said retailers would
abide by the government decree, but raised the
spectre of shortages
"We will comply and we will leave it to the rest of the chain. If they
(manufacturers) cannot supply, then we too cannot do anything," he
By the end of business yesterday, Zireva said, no retailers had been
for flouting the new pricing measures, although pricing enforcement
had visited shops to check on compliance.
. -Staff Reporter
Govt in U-turn over price increases
Kumbirai Mafunda and
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Repor
THE government has threatened to take over
private companies said to be
deliberately raising prices to overthrow the
ruling ZANU PF.
But as the impact of an order to slash prices began to be
industry, yesterday, it turned out that the government had in
authorised many of the price increases it now says are part of a plot
Bakers said yesterday that they had incurred massive losses
in Harare alone returned over 100 000 loaves of bread,
anxious to avoid
recording losses themselves.
It has emerged that
government, through the National Incomes and Pricing
Commission (NIPC), had
in fact approved a new bread price on Monday.
That evening, however, Industry
and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu
told state media that he was
ordering retailers to reduce prices by half.
According to an agreement signed
on Monday by bakers and the NIPC, a copy of
which The Financial Gazette has
obtained, entitled "NIPC Compromise
Agreement Bread Products", the newly
established commission authorised a
wholesale price of $46 000 and a retail
one of $49 500 for a standard brown
and white loaf of bread.
also permitted bakers to wholesale a loaf of super white and whole
bread at $55 000 and sell it at a retail price of $60 000.
David Govere, National Bakers Association chairman Vincent
Bread managing director Burombo Mudumo, a representative of
Bakers Inn and
Superbake, and a representative of the Small Bakeries
Association signed the
The compromise was reached after the NIPC had earlier in the day
an agreement with the Millers Association of Zimbabwe to supply
flour to the
bakers at $10 million per tonne.
The National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe undertook to supply 50 percent of the
bakers' fuel requirements at
$8 000 per litre. The fuel has already been
delivered to some of the
Baking industry executives yesterday said retailers had
declined to buy
bread from them at the wholesale price of $46 000.
industry continued to count its losses yesterday, President Robert Mugabe
threatened to seize private companies he accuses of sabotaging his
Speaking at the burial of Armstrong Gunda, a senior army
official who died
last week, the President said: "Yes, we have economic
challenges that we
face as a country. But it is the attitude of some of our
that is a cause for concern. We have snakes in our
He warned: "Yes, you have done it in the past. Let me tell you that
now going to match you pound for pound. Industry and all the other
I warn you to take note. This nonsense of escalating prices must
is a message going out to bakers, cement manufacturers, and those
"This is not going to b
Mugabe accused unnamed mining companies of externalising their
warned the government would seize offending companies.
"We will seize those
companies. We will nationalise them if they do not
straighten their ways,"
President Mugabe has on several previous occasions made such
they were mostly aimed at foreign-owned
Yesterday, he suggested even local companies were now part of what
as a British sponsored plan to drive him from office.
Friday, the government gazetted the Indigenisation and Empowerment
which is designed to give local shareholders 51 percent of all
operating in Zimbabwe. We are able to score even if the game is
we diligently defend our own side. None of you will win."
Maths not adding up: CSO
Central Statistical Office (CSO) is reviewing its method of calculating
inflation and will, as a result, delay the release of May
Moffat Nyoni, acting director of the CSO, said May's annual
which, according to leaked documents rose to 4 530 percent,
would not be
released soon and the agency was reviewing the consumer price
basket it uses
to calculate the data.
"There has been criticism of our
basket," Nyoni said, declining to give
"As technical people we
might move in a different direction if we find that
we have issued data that
has misled the public. But we are looking at
whether there is any
justification in the criticism," said Nyoni.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor, Gideon Gono, has in the past said it
might be necessary to change
the components of the consumer price basket.
Independent economists have
interpreted this as indicating government's
displeasure with the sky-high
Nyoni said: "It's safe to say that the release of the
(May) figures is
Early this month, the government
promised to reduce monthly inflation to
below 25 percent by the end of the
year after signing a price and wage
protocol with business and
Month-on-month inflation has peaked at 100.3 percent, but a surge in
in the past week is seen driving the economy deeper into
Nyoni's announcement is the latest chapter in the increasingly
release of inflation data by his office over recent months.
April, March data was delayed by a week, only to be announced in a
policy statement. Last month, April figures were again delayed,
released to the Herald, which heavily toned down its reporting. -
RBZ men nabbed in US$58 000 bribery scam
Senior Business Reporter
TWO Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials
have been arrested for
allegedly soliciting a US$58 000 bribe from a listed
company to facilitate
the remittance of dividends.
have declined to name the firm, it has been identified as
one of the
country's largest tourism and retail companies.
Police spokesperson Wayne
Bvudzijena yesterday confirmed the development,
saying the two officials
were arrested last Saturday after they fell into a
trap jointly set by
police, the RBZ and the company.
The RBZ had reportedly turned down an
application by the company for foreign
currency to pay dividends to its
foreign shareholders. The two RBZ
officials, it is alleged, then approached
the company offering their
assistance in getting the application
"The officials approached the company, which wanted to make
dividends seeking to facilitate payment and a trap was set up
their arrests," Bvudzijena said.
He denied speculation three
of the company's directors had also been
PDL-short tax-free threshold riles ZCTU
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says the government
one of the key agreements of the social contract when it announced
tax-free thresholds that fell short of the poverty datum line (PDL)
the Incomes and Price Stabilisation Protocol, it was agreed that
would not be charged for earnings below the PDL, which stands at
Reacting to the government's widening of the tax-free
threshold from $100
000 to $1.5 million, ZCTU secretary general Wellington
Chibebe said the
adjustment was far below workers' expectations.
the new tax reforms announced by Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi
Monday, workers earning below $1.5 million a month will no longer be
required to pay income tax on the pay-as-you-earn basis.
This is the
first time income tax reforms have been made outside of a budget
a tacit acknowledgment by government that inflation is out of its
The adjustments resulted in the next tax band being widened from $5
to $25 million, above which income will be taxed at 47.5 percent.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions maintains its stance that those
below the Poverty Datum Line should not be taxed. The little that
gain through negotiations has been chewed up by high income taxes.
continue to negotiate for government to earn more in taxes while
poor," said Chibebe.
While state media said the decision to increase the
tax-free threshold made
the government the first member of the Tripartite
Negotiating Forum to
implement a major policy signed under the social
contract, labour says the
move represents the first violation by the state
of the Prices and Incomes
The ZCTU, whose
relations with the government have been strained since the
formation of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, refused to fully
social contract document signed earlier this month by the
business and the rival Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions.
"The ZCTU demands
that there be a review of the taxation policy so that low
income earners are
not taxed. Of concern is the fact that businesses are
taxed at 30 percent.
Companies are into business for profit, while workers
work to earn a living.
Workers should not be deprived of their right to live
by being taxed to
death," Chibebe said. "The government should be more
sensitive to the needs
of workers", he said.
"Those earning below PDL levels should not be taxed. We
call upon workers to
brace for action and thus liberate themselves from
slavery," he said.
Tax bands were last adjusted in the 2006-2007 national
budget in December
Since then, inflation has soared to 4530
percent in May, wiping out all
previous tax concessions. Mumbengegwi is
expected to announce a
supplementary budget soon.
More wheat imports needed, govt warned
Clemence Manyukwe Staff
A PARLIAMENTARY committee, which has predicted a drastic drop in
yields after establishing that only a tenth of the hectarage for the
projected winter crop was planted, has urged the government to set aside
additional funds for grain imports.
In its second report on the state
of preparedness for winter wheat
production, the portfolio committee on
lands, land reform and resettlement
said although the deadline for winter
wheat planting was May 31, only 8 000
hectares had been planted by May
The committee said the anticipated poor yields were due to a lack of
planning by state agricultural agencies.
The government initially
intended to have 80 000 hectares put under winter
wheat, but reduced the
hectarage by 4 000 hectares to match the amount of
water available on the
advice of the Ministry of Water Resources and
"The government should start mobilising resources now for the
winter wheat, since pointers on the ground seem to indicate a
the committee recommends.
It said the winter wheat
programme had been hit by a number of problems such
as power outages and
Although 13.9 million litres of fuel were needed for the
season, only five
million litres had been secured 15 days before the
"While the fertiliser situation was somewhat better than
seasons, your committee feels that the authorities still need to
house in order," the report says.
The committee pointed out
that there were too many parallel government
agricultural programmes without
clearly defined roles or resources.
It cited as examples farm programmes
under the District Development Fund,
the Agricultural and Rural Development
Authority and the operation
Maguta/Inala programme, which is run by the
The committee said there was lack of proper planning and coordination
agricultural sector, and hence "the same problems keep on recurring
crop sector to the other, year in and year out."
Angry lawyers take back to the streets
LAWYERS yesterday marched in protest against what they see as
acts of state violence against the legal profession.
lawyers handed in a petition to the office of the Minister of Justice,
and parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa.
In April, police violently
crushed a protest by the lawyers.
It is believed police only allowed
yesterday's protest march to go ahead
because of the presence of a group of
South African judges in the country.
In the petition, the Law Society of
Zimbabwe (LSZ) said it was concerned at
the "relentless and unjustified
attacks" on its members for actions taken
during the course of their
The lawyers said the attacks have also been targeted against law
working in the Attorney General's office.
Attorneys that have
been either attacked or threatened are the deputy
secretary of the LSZ,
Lawrence Chibwe, Alec Muchadehama, Andrew Makoni and
Otto Saki. Richard
Chikosha, a prosecutor, was also attacked for agreeing to
the granting of
bail to a group of opposition activists accused of
of the Legal Practitioners Act, legal practitioners are entitled
represent their clients without fear of being harassed and intimidated by
the authorities.section 18 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe equally entitles
persons charged with any criminal offence to the full and secure protection
of the law, which includes the right to legal representation by a legal
practitioner of their choice," reads part of the petition.
cannot be fully enjoyed in an environment where legal
vilified, intimidated, harassed, assaulted, arrested and
carrying out mandates given to them by the most supreme law of
Meanwhile, a parliamentary report says morale among judges,
prosecutors has plummeted due to poor working
The parliamentary committee on justice, legal and parliamentary
said: "Staff morale was very low. All sections complained about
and poor working conditions.
"The committee believes that
the honesty and integrity of judges,
magistrates and prosecutors will be
enhanced if they resolve not to succumb
to bribes. Their remuneration and
other conditions of service must be
committee, headed by ZANU-PF legislator for Makoni East Shadreck
said the lack of adequate resources had affected the smooth
courts throughout the country.
Court libraries, which are necessary for
research, were ill equipped, and
this compromised the work of
Court buildings were not properly maintained, furniture was broken
ablution facilities were dilapidated and unusable.
"The head offices
of the civil courts at Fourth Street must be closed
because the place is not
habitable and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs must
find an alternative building as a matter of
urgency," the report says.
IBA takes keen interest in Bubye
Clemence Manyukwe Staff
THE International Bar Association (IBA), the global lawyers'
will closely monitor the trial of Adele and Michael Farquhar,
Bubye Minerals who are accused of asset stripping at River Ranch
The married couple regard their arrest as intimidation designed to
them to end their wrangle with River Ranch Limited, which is partly
ZANU PF bigwigs Solomon Mujuru and Tirivanhu Mudariki, for control
rich diamond mine in Beitbridge.
River Ranch Limited denies
intimidating the pair and instead alleges that
the Farquhars stripped the
mine of assets.
High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu last week adjourned
the trial to
September 10 after ruling that the first state witness in the
Ranch Limited chairman George Kantsouris, should produce
back some of his testimony.
In an interview on Monday,
Bubye Minerals lawyer Terrence Hussein confirmed
the pending involvement of
the IBA in his clients' case.
"Yes it is true that the International Bar
Association has expressed an
interest in observing the conduct of this
matter in the High Court and
Supreme Court of Zimbabwe, to ensure that it
meets both national and
international legal norms and standards," Hussein
"It entails the IBA allocating a legal observer of international repute
standing to scrutinise documents and observe proceedings in this
Asked why the international body was keen to observe proceedings in
matter, Hussein said: "It does that usually on matters where there is a
or a danger that the legal process might be subjected to external
and pressures, which result in the perversion of the rule of
The IBA, established in 1947, has a membership of 30 000 lawyers and
195 bar associations and law societies in various continents.
IBA's website says the body "influences the development of international
reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the
The involvement of the IBA in the River Ranch controversy focuses
international interest in the matter.
The dispute has already
attracted the attention of the United Nations and
the World Diamond Council.
'We only want your food'
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff
AID groups will not be allowed unfettered access to the needy in
East although large sections of the province need food aid
provincial governor Ray Kaukonde has said.
He said the
province was experiencing severe water shortages that have
livestock situation in Mashonaland East.
Said Kaukonde: "We need to take
urgent measures to ensure that we get food
for some of our people in the
province who did not harvest enough in the
last farming season due to poor
"The problem that we have is one of failure to admit that the
not good at all. Food problems in this province are not
exceptional to the
province, but to the whole country, and there is need to
move with speed to
ensure that these people get the food they urgently
Areas in dire need of food, according to Kaukonde, include Mudzi,
Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe and Chikomba.
He said: "The province is
also facing water shortages since the province did
not realise good rains.
Our livestock has been the most affected as animals
have to walk long
distances to access water and that is not good for the
despite his call for aid, Kaukonde said the provincial administration
not allow non-governmental organisations (NGOs) unfettered access into
Mashonaland East, a regurgitation of the ZANU PF mantra that aid groups have
a "hidden agenda".
"In as much as we need the assistance of the donors
organisations in the upliftment of our people's lives,
we will not allow
those NGOs with hidden agendas to come here and engage in
"We believe NGOs are there to assist the government
in feeding its people
and not politics. They (NGOs) should leave politics to
concentrate on feeding the people. If they do that we will
work together but
if they don't, then we will have a problem," Kaukonde
According to the 2002 National Census Report, Mashonaland East province
over 1.3 million people, with the number expected to have doubled since
Of Fishmongers, Makoni and The Six Months
YOU know an election is around the corner in Zimbabwe when
plotted, predictions are predicted, and "Selous Scouts" are
government's dusty propaganda vault.
And you know the
opposition's goose is cooked when all that Zimbabweans can
talk about is a
flurry of plots and the predicted self-destruction of
Mugabe's administration, and when ZANU PF is again talking
about weeding out
dangerous reformists from within its own ranks.
Already, a coup plot has been
plotted, say police, and a judge has stoked
the intrigue by ordering that
the press be barred from covering the trial.
But that pales in comparison to
a freshly uncovered sophisticated plot to
destabilise the economy by a
coalition of vile capitalists, the Fishmongers,
who, according to one
government minister and one Herald columnist, have
"Selous Scouts" and "noxious weeds" like Simba Makoni
in their grand
Then there are the predictions. A report prepared for the Heads of
Contact Group, a group of 40 heads of aid agencies in Zimbabwe,
economy will go belly-up by December.
Shops will shut down,
banks will close, streets will fill with starving
protesters, and government
will declare a state of emergency and put the
country on lockdown.
which, we are told, the Fishmongers will come riding in. According to
foreign media, donors are waiting for the day Zimbabwe "transitions to a
rational, technocratic government" so they can move in with US$3 billion in
It is into this storm that Makoni has strayed. He stepped down as
minister in 2003 after his pragmatism left him stranded; not
surprising in a
Cabinet then including the likes of Jonathan Moyo and
Now, Makoni's latest sin is telling a BBC debate on Zimbabwe
economic crisis must not continue.
Asked for evidence that ZANU
PF recognises the depth of the crisis, and what
it was doing about it,
Makoni said: "At the surface, the indicators are not
there. But there is a
process ongoing within the party, within Zimbabwe, and
even with some of our
friendly partners. There is an agreement that the
state of affairs cannot
and must not go on, and that it must be reversed."
And his reward for
sounding "rational and technocratic"?
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu,
never once accused of being tactful,
has called Makoni a
Ndlovu told the Chronicle: "In any revolution there are
sell-outs. Some of
the Selous Scouts were blacks. However, you would expect
that a member of a
party would know what channels to use to air out their
grievances if they do
not see eye to eye with the leader of their
"But that is the sort of democracy that we have in this country, that
can say what you want against government outside the country and come
and still eat your lunch and supper nicely."
And last Saturday,
Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru took up the freedom
thrust at such forums, those who aspire to govern us outdo one another
distance themselves from politics of liberation. We saw that last week in
Makoni's sentiment was "a degradation of national politics,
much of it owing
to neo-colonial liberalism, which seems to be taking
Manheru helpfully revealed that the "rational, technocratic" ones
possibly be bona fide ZANU PF.
The capitalists have "enlisted
soothsayers from within the ruling ZANU PF,
in the process suggesting they
are a natural development of, and an offshoot
from the block of the national
liberation project. They are not."
It gets agricultural. These "reformists"
and "technocratic politicians" are
a sinister, "noxious weed" that must
immediately be "carted to the edge of a
centre of the maize field is where the real ZANU PF crop
around the edges, but still safe from the "reformist"
schemes swirling all around it.
So while ZANU PF works at the weeding,
opponents are groping for hope.
One old hope-raiser is to predict President
Mugabe's looming demise. It's a
prediction that has been made many times
before, usually ahead of elections.
Morgan Tsvangirai has twice predicted it,
"within months". But ZANU PF has
Instead, it is Tsvangirai's own
party - now bickering over cabinet posts it
does not even have - that stares
ruin in the face.
So, like most other Zimbabweans and foreign analysts, the
join the star-gazing masses.
The Zimbabwe debate, it must
be said, cannot sink any lower than it has sunk
It is as though
you are going through an odds-and-ends store catalogue; the
talks, the collapse, the sell-outs, and the hopes of a "rational"
minority resisting being "carted off to the edge of the maize field"
According to the "six months" report, "doubling the
inflation for each of the seven remaining months of 2007
gives 512 000
percent (year-on-year), thus the economic collapse is expected
end of 2007".
It is difficult to see the basis for this latest
prediction of an imminent
"collapse", on one hand because - with a two-litre
bottle of Mazoe orange
crush reaching $600 000, bus fare to a thankless job
as high as $80 000 and
an entire population reverting to candles and buckets
- some believe the
country has already "collapsed".
But on the other
hand, and perhaps more plausibly, because Zimbabwe's long
into anarchy has been staved off by its ability to absorb
abuse through a
robust informal economy - really a mixture of foreign
currency dealing for
the unemployed, and, for those still with a formal job,
stealing from the
As aptly put by economist David Mupamhadzi, "Zimbabwe's economy has
all conventional logic."
But, sadly, so has the debate around
possible solutions to this mess.
ZANU-PF standoff: no solution in
Charles Rukuni Bureau
SQUABBLES continue to rock ZANU-PF's
province, which remains the only one yet to be restructured two
elections to elect a new executive should have been held. And
it seems a
taskforce that was set up to bring order to the province has
failed to do
Observers say the squabbles
in the province cannot
be resolved as long as members of the politburo from
the area continue to
meddle because all they are interested in is imposing a
panders to them but has no following at
National party chairman John Nkomo told
supporters at the weekend that there was only one legitimate
executive led by Macloud Tshawe.
is leading the legitimate executive. He is the
one who reports to the
central committee," Nkomo was quoted by a local daily
as saying. "Don't be
misled by anyone claiming to be the real ZANU-PF. I am
here having been sent
by the Presidium and if there is anyone who does not
report to it that is
not the real ZANU-PF."
Nkomo said people should not
be misled by elements
loyal to former provincial chairman Jabulani Sibanda
because the former war
veterans leader was expelled from the party. He said
Sibanda only sought
personal glory and was causing confusion in the
Sibanda could not be contacted for comment on
allegations. Several calls to his mobile number went
Some party cadres, however, said Nkomo
using Sibanda as a scapegoat because Sibanda was suspended from the
over four years ago and was replaced by an elected executive led by
Ncube's executive was suspended
allegations that it was linked to the abortive Dinyane meeting in
at which it is alleged that the organisers planned a "smart coup"
have seen the appointment of Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa
vice-President, with Tenjiwe Lesabe and Patrick Chinamasa being nominated
vice-President and national chairman
The group was allegedly opposed to the
of Joice Mujuru as vice-President and wanted to get rid of
Joseph Msika and
One of the suspended
members said Nkomo was trying
to intimidate people to support Tshawe's
executive by claiming that it had
the backing of the Presidium. Tshawe's
executive is an interim executive and
not an elected
"If the executive really has the support of the
Presidium, Nkomo should have just spoken in his capacity as national
chairman. But the moment he tries to hide behind the Presidium we begin to
suspect something is fishy because we know that the Presidium cannot
publicly challenge what he has said even if it is not true," the member
Elections for the Bulawayo province were
take place on April 29 but they could not be held after national
Elliot Manyika discovered that more people had been locked outside
Hall, where they were to take place, than were
It was decided that an audit of the party
should be carried out before the elections could be carried out.
been at a stalemate since, though the party set up a taskforce
Richard Ndlovu, the deputy national commissar, to sort out the
A source within the party said the problem
Bulawayo was bigger than people wanted to admit because vice-President
Joseph Msika had dissolved all party structures soon after the suspension of
the Ncube executive in 2005.
Black market shadow hangs over price slash
PEOPLE in Bulawayo went on a shopping spree on Tuesday, clearing
shelves of Mazoe orange drink and washing soap - the two major
whose prices had been slashed in response to the government's call
retailers to reduce prices by half.
But the volumes in which
people were buying have sparked fears that the
products could be heading for
the black market, where they would end up
being even more expensive thus
reversing the aim of the government to
provide hard-pressed Zimba-bweans
with basic commodities at affordable
Most people felt that though
the price reductions were welcome, they would
be short-lived, as the
products would soon disappear from supermarket
shelves. Besides, most
businesses had defied the government directive, which
could lead to a nasty
"The price reductions are not sustainable at all and there is
no reason for
manufacturers to reduce their prices because nothing has
changed," Clifford Moyo, a sales executive with a distribution
"For me, the first thing that has to be done is to strengthen
dollar. As long as it is playing yoyo in the market, prices can
The Zimbabwe dollar has been falling on the market over
the past few weeks.
Reports last week said it had plunged to a record $300
000 to the greenback
in "large off-shore deals" which are open to big
business. It was trading at
around $165 000 to the United States dollar on
the open market for small
Rates plunged on Tuesday following
rumours that Botswana and South Africa
might change their currencies because
millions were being held outside their
systems. Zimbabwe removed three zeros
and changed its currency a year ago
after it discovered that trillions had
been stashed in neighbouring
countries and even as far as Britain.
government issued a directive on Monday to the business community to
prices by half and revert to prices that prevailed on June 18.
International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu said manufacturers,
retailers were unjustifiably increasing prices as a ploy to
illegal regime change.following the failure of illegal economic
Local manufacturers face extinction
Synodia Bhasera Own
MANUFACTURERS of controlled commodities could easily be
wiped off the face
of the domestic market unless something is done to
correct price distortions
that favour imported products.
conducted by The Financial Gazette last week made startling
Local products are fast losing ground to foreign ones, which
locally at much more competitive prices.
The trend has posed an
imminent threat of more job losses, company closures
de-industrialisation of significant proportions unless swift action is
to rid the market of price imperfections.
Except for bread, mealie-meal and
sugar, - whose landed cost is higher than
the retail price - consumers can
enjoy huge savings by importing from any
neighbouring country rather than
While the retail prices vary from shop to shop, this trend
cuts across all
locally manufactured products surveyed by The Financial
Gazette such as bath
soap, cooking oil, washing soap and chicken among other
Their quality has deteriorated as well due to sub-economic prices
forcing manufacturers to cut corners in order to minimise
Analysts said it was not a compliment that bread is among the
stands out on the list.
"It simply means the bread industry
is dying slowly because of unrealistic
prices," said a local economic
commentator. "As for other products, these
will soon vanish from the
supermarket shelves. The cost of producing each
unit is going up with each
passing day due to inflation. These overheads are
now concentrated over a
small production base due to capacity
under-utilisation. All this is making
our products less competitive," he
The bread industry is not the
only sector incurring huge losses owing to the
industries are operating at the mercy of their bankers, a quick way to
bust in view of the sharp interest rate spike seen in the past three
Capital expenditure projects have had to be suspended because of
The situation may become worse if threats by
Industry and International
Trade Minister Obert Mpofu are anything to go
Mpofu this week ordered the reversal of price increases effected recently
June 18 levels, in what is likely to leave manufacturers of bread,
oil, sugar, salt, mealie-meal among other things, in the
The average cost for 2kg rice in Zimbabwe is $703 666 while 10kg of
going for R30 in South Africa ($600 000 using the parallel market
A 2-litre bottle of cooking oil is going for $420 000 while the same
sells for R16 ($320 000) in South Africa.
However, there are
certain products, which are cheaper if acquired in
Zimbabwe such as bread
The average cost for a 10 kg packet of mealie meal is $130
333 while in
South Africa it costs for R35 ($700 000)
A local analyst
said it was suicidal for government to put a ceiling on
prices without first
stabilising the costs of production.
"Companies are likely to respond by
withdrawing from those products affected
by the price controls and moving on
to other products that are not affected
by state controls," said the asset
Analysts warned that local manufacturers might fail to reclaim the
markets until market forces are allowed to allocate resources.
same applies to export markets, where local products are becoming less
competitive due to an unviable exchange rate regime.
In its latest
survey, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries said the
increased government control over pricing was becoming a major
"Industrialists were also operating in a highly policed and
intimidating environment and this has not enabled rational
decisions," the survey noted.
The survey, which among other
things, recommended the removal of exogenous
distortions arising from
controls, said manufacturing output has shrunk by
18 percent compared to the
Whereas 54 percent of the respondents were pessimistic of the
2005, the figure increased to 77 percent last year.
average capacity utilisation for the sampled firms was 33.8 percent
The reasons vary from the shortages of foreign currency needed
to import raw
materials and spares, fuel shortages, price controls and power
"The business community is ready to compete and is not in favour of the
preferential treatment of a particular sector over another that then leads
to price distortions.there is need to allow market forces to determine the
prices of key products and services so that an equilibrium of prices can be
established by the market. We submit that well intended government imposed
controls will only result in shortages of the controlled commodities in the
official markets," it said.
A few home truths never hurt anyone
a definition of paranoia somewhere, which describes it as a situation
which "you cannot think of anything that is your fault." And going by the
utterances of government officials, apologists and propagandists, it is
obvious toxic levels of the malady exist within the
The delusions of persecution and the need to prove the
infallibility have become so all-encompassing and all-consuming
question has to be asked if there is still anyone in officialdom
to the legitimate business of running the country. The hoodwinking
populace for political survival through buck-passing and blaming
has become such a core function of government that it is no
everything else has fallen apart so spectacularly.
As far as
government apologists and propagandists are concerned, the
of affairs prevailing in the country, which now affects
every facet of
modern existence, is the fault of every conceivable scapegoat
authorities presiding over the chaos. And no one is currently
everything to promote this fallacy more enthusiastically than the
of Information and Publicity, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.
Last week he launched into
an angry but unwarranted tirade against former
finance minister, Simba
Makoni, whom he described as a sell-out and likened
to the notorious
Rhodesian Selous Scouts. Makoni, who is widely speculated
to have lost
favour within the inner-circles of the corruption-embracing
because he is considered "too clean", was blasted for attending
Economic Forum in South Africa about a fortnight ago and "telling
it like it
is" when giving his views on the situation on the ground in
Makoni incurred Ndlovu's wrath for telling delegates attending
Economic Forum that there was a "grasp" within ZANU PF that a
process had to take place in Zimbabwe. He said: "However, there
is a process
underway within the party and within the country and with our
a solution to be found. There is engagement within the nation
current state of affairs cannot go on."
Instead of advising the
government to stop burying its head in the sand and
accepting these sober
and constructive views expressed by a respected former
Development Community (SADC) executive secretary, the
Makoni of "embracing the neo-liberal agenda" of the West.
As is usual for
those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status
quo, Ndlovu did
not explain how calling for a solution to a crisis that has
caused so much
human misery can be regarded as an act of betrayal.
But latching on to the
same tenuous argument, one of Ndlovu's propaganda
sheets, The Chronicle,
accused Makoni of "supporting a strategy to bring the
economy to its knees."
The paper did not say how anyone would waste time
plotting against an
economy that is already on its knees. It chose to ignore
the fact that
Makoni was advocating a process that would in fact reverse the
rapid hurtling towards the precipice.
In apparent self-contradiction
representing "a slip of the tongue" about
what is really the sore point
within the ruling party, the paper said in the
same breath that the motive
of people like Makoni was "to topple the
government before the March 2008
general elections, which the West knows the
opposition would never win". The
paper's spin shows to what ridiculous
lengths the attempt to attribute the
untenable situation in Zimbabwe to
everyone else except its authors, the
ZANU PF government, is being taken.
The people of Zimbabwe would have to be
total Zombies to believe these
fabrications despite what they can see for
themselves on the ground.
Ndlovu, however seems determined to continue
peddling this discredited form
of totalitarian propaganda, which has
nevertheless failed "to do the trick"
for the past seven years since its
introduction by its original architect,
Jonathan Moyo. Last weekend, the
Minister was breathing fire and brimstone
against a favourite target,
outgoing American ambassador, Christopher Dell.
The envoy has been cannon
fodder for government spin-doctors and the state
media for the greater part
of his three-year tour of duty because of his
forthright evaluation of
Zimbabwe's economic and political woes.
Ndlovu accused Dell of "celebrating
the misery of the Zimbabwean people
brought about by illegal sanctions" and
rapped him for repeating "hateful
utterances" against the government of
Zimbabwe. He declared: "The government
of Zimbabwe is in a much stronger
position now politically and economically
than ever before. Events on the
ground speak for themselves."
It may indeed be true that after its resort to
brute force and other
heavy-handed measures to subjugate the suffering
people of Zimbabwe, the
government could consider itself to be in a stronger
position. Ndlovu and
his colleagues in government need to ask themselves
what good their
intransigence and bravado are when they prolong human misery
They should examine their consciences and see if they are not
celebrating the people's misery by refusing to repeal repressive
legislation, restoring the rule of law and embracing a culture of democratic
and accountable governance.
While Ndlovu fumed at being told some home
truths by the American
Ambassador, the price of bread doubled from $25 000
to $50 000 while that of
a two-litre bottle of orange crush, the popular
Mazoe, soared from $179 000
to $500 000. The price of other basic
commodities rose by more than 300
percent while bus fares trebled. These are
not signs of a stabilising
economic atmosphere in which inflation will be
brought to below 25 percent
from more than 4 500 percent by the end of the
year as Ndlovu claimed. The
clampdown on producers and service providers to
reduce prices will not work
as long as the government expects everyone else
to make sacrifices while it
sticks to its own repressive position.
adds insult to injury by trying to fool the people about a
economic situation that will implode unless the government
suggestions of people like Makoni and Dell. Contrary to the claim
commentators have ulterior motives to effect regime change, they
offered advice that could ease the plight of the ordinary Zimbabwean if
government stopped being so obsessed with scoring points and focused on
national interests and aspirations.
The government has been attacking and
labelling observers like Dell, Makoni
and others who have been brave enough
to describe things as they are instead
of telling the authorities what they
want to hear. The government has
denounced such people over the years
although most of what they have
forecast has come to pass. By telling the
truth and suggesting solutions,
foreigners such as Dell and other Western
envoys based in Harare have shown
greater empathy with the suffering people
of Zimbabwe than their own
government. The gratuitous doses of propaganda
the government places so much
faith in have failed to improve things and
soften the constant kicks in the
teeth it subjects the populace to.
Vending now only hope for millions
Stanley Kwenda Staff
. . . but police and municipal authorities work tirelessly to keep
off the streets
WHEN a Mbare bound commuter omnibus collided with
a goods train early this
year in Dzivarasekwa, killing 13 people, the
accident sparked an outcry
about the rampant disregard of both road and rail
But behind that accident lies another tragic and
untold story about the
struggle against poverty being waged by thousands of
Zimbabweans who now
depend solely on vending for their livelihood, as the
continues to crumble.
Most of those who perished in the
accident were vendors on their way to
Mbare Musika to order vegetables and
fruits for resale in their
neighbourhoods. Mbare Musika is the major trading
market for vegetables in
Thousands of Zimbabweans have taken up
vending as a way to eke out a living
but they face daunting odds.
their determined fight to pluck themselves out of poverty, local
and the police appear to have ganged up in what the vendors
regard as a
relentless campaign against hard-working men and women trying to
An army of police officers and municipal police engage in
with vendors on the streets of Harare throughout the day,
merchandise, which the vendors allege is then unfairly forfeited to
individual policemen and council workers and not the state.
instances, the vendors are brutalised and treated as if they have
heinous crimes when all they do is selling vegetables, sweets,
cigarettes at street corners.
"I don't know what these people want us to do.
We have tried to obey all the
laws of this country by avoiding stealing or
killing other people, but they
are testing us to the limit," said Onias
Mugabe, a street vendor operating
at the corner of Rezende Street and Speke
Avenue in the capital.
"People say they are being robbed by street kids in
town but they forget
that there are people like us who are forced to snatch
items from passers-by
because we usually have nothing left after the
municipal police confiscate
The vendors toil for long hours.
Their day starts at 3 am when they make
their way to the Mbare market to
order produce for resale.
From Mbare the vendors return to their homes and
lie low for the rest of the
At about 5pm, the vendors stir into
action, making their way into the city
centre to hawk their wares.
hope that by this time the dreaded municipal police, who disrupt their
activities, would have knocked off.
The vendors have learned all kinds of
survival techniques, including
standing a distance from their wares, to
confuse plainclothes municipal
police officers, many of whom are graduates
of the controversial National
Youth Training Service.
It is a cat and
Those who are daring enough to trade by day know they have to
play hide and
seek with the police.
"You have to be always alert or you
lose everything," said a vendor who
regularly has to run with a child
strapped on her back during raids.
The vendors also have to endure flagrant
violations of their rights.
This reporter saw a female vendor having her
clothes torn as she was
manhandled by marauding policemen who left her
semi-naked as she tried to
avoid arrest and retrieve some of her
Those who try to resist arrest are taken to Cleveland House, a
office building, where they are locked up in a small office and
beatings before being fined.
But why does it seem so
difficult for the city council to organise proper
selling points when it
knows vending is now the only means of survival for
hundreds of thousands of
"We have organised various selling points for the vendors
through out the
city, but they do not want to use these, preferring to roam
about the city
in a haphazard manner," Harare City Council spokesperson
Percy Toriro told
The Financial Gazette recently as the local authority
municipal police trainees on the hapless vendors.
past, established vending structures were a common sight in central
but most of these were demolished during Operation Murambatsvina in
winter of 2005.
At that time, vendors were banished from their stalls and
dumped in an open
dusty space next to the Harare Show grounds.
harassment of vendors is not confined to the city centre alone.
is also underway in the high-density suburbs where thousands of
busy streets and pavements, selling anything from toothpaste to
these areas, the municipality hires Zimbabwe Republic Police officers
because it knows its moves could provoke stiff resistance from impoverished
In these areas, the regular police are more ruthless, burning
other items used by the vendors.
But despite this campaign by
local government authorities against the
informal traders, those engaged in
the practice say they have no choice but
to continue to take their chances
as long as there are no formal jobs.
A superficial victory
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
controls could spark shortages, feed black market
TO the naïve consumer
struggling to make ends meet under Zimbabwe's
environment, it could have been a case of
receiving a gift, out of the blue,
on a silver platter: Finance Minister
Samuel Mumbengegwi increased the
tax-free thresholds by over 1 400 percent,
while Industry Minister Obert
Mbofu ordered prices of key selected
was immediate, but it belonged not to those who were intended to
If one were to visit the supermarkets early morning on Tuesday
after news of
the price restriction was announced, one would have assumed
suddenly become so deep pocketed that they could quickly empty
so early in the morning.
Well, after all, they had received
an unforeseen boost to their coffers from
Mumbengegwi through the revised
tax thresholds - they had more cash to
anticipate in July, and so they could
spend recklessly on basic and
supplementary budget before parliament has been the normal
handing out such incentives to the poor workers, but
Mumbengegwi, who takes
no effort to conceal his I-don't-care attitude, might
chose to forgo that
ritual even when it is evident the annual national
budget was spent within
three months of the current year.
Inevitably, the supplementary budget could
amount to no less that 500
percent of the entire year's budget, and what a
revelation government could
be allowed to accommodate increased expenditure
requirements caused by
inflationary pressures when producers are
criminalized for doing the same.
But to Mpofu's move, retailers had reacted
cunningly: They moved swiftly by
withdrawing products from the shelves,
leaving only products the minister
would dare not touch because they do no
Well, for the patriotic, that is callously criminal; after all,
alleged during his press conference announcing the price controls
businesses were hell-bent on unseating President Robert Mugabe's
government - and making Mpofu jobless in the process - by stoking social
discontent through unjustified price hikes.
"Government is aware that
these escalating price increases are a political
ploy engineered by our
detractors to effect an illegal regime change against
the ruling party,
Zanu-PF, and the Government following the failure of
sanctions," Mpofu told his audience of journalists on
government, he said, could not "stand idly while this situation
Indeed the rate of price escalation is a spot of bother to
population, whose incomes have been eroded by hyperinflation
over 4 500 percent year-on-year for May, but remains
unannounced by the
government to this day.
The government has argued that
retailers should not hike prices of goods on
their shelves, even when the
cost of replenishing stock is escalating daily.
Inevitably, supermarkets have
largely ignored this unsupervised policy,
until Mpofu's unfriendly gesture
If the retailers had gone ahead and sold down at levels prescribed
they would have made a loss on the stock.
After all, the error
with the price control regime has been to police the
retail point ignoring
price escalations at the source or supplier point
Naturally, if retailers are
forbidden from charging economic prices, they
will be unable to buy from the
If the suppliers cannot sell their goods to retailers at viable
will quit buying from farmers who will be stuck with products
sell to the marketplace.
Consequently, they might stop
producing the controlled products, creating
shortages on the
Farmers are already not producing enough crops because selling prices
low due to controls.
Government now has tooth to deal with alleged
profiteers through the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act, which
But imposing criminal charges for
price increases is likely to discourage
manufacturers from obtaining
higher-priced replacement supplies; this would
limit consumer access to
The good intentions by the government in embarking on
price controls have
previously proven to be disastrous, benefiting a clique
of largely ruling
party cronies who have been the major drivers of the
underground markets for
products in short supply.
We might be going for
another shallow victory!
ALL hell breaks
loose! This, in a nutshell, sums up the chaos spawned
countrywide by the
desperate measures the government has had to resort to in
order to tame
galloping inflation, which critics now equate to a ticking
In spite of the overly ambitious projections bandied around under
partially signed social contract, prices of all goods and services have
through the roof in the past two weeks in response to successive
batterings suffered by the Zimbabwe dollar against major
levels by which the prices have gone up since June 1 when
and business appended their signatures to the various
protocols that were to
result in price stability are unprecedented in the
eight years of the
country's biting economic recession.
In no time at
all, the cost of living has swung from bad to worse. Sadly,
responses from the powers-that-be are not helping the situation.
of frustration, Industry and International Trade Minister, Obert
been prescribing what could easily pass for a political manifesto
as a cure
for cost-push inflation. Maybe, the central bank - thrust at the
initiatives to turn around the country's economy - should have
what may not necessarily require "extraordinary solutions".
associates claim the Industry and International Trade Minister, who
the eight-member Cabinet taskforce on Price Monitoring and
aware of the consequences of the government's actions, but
does not want to
be seen to be out of step with his colleagues, known to use
where a screwdriver could have done the trick.
"Government is aware that
these escalating price increases are a political
ploy engineered by our
detractors to effect an illegal regime change against
the ruling party, ZANU
PF, and the government following the failure of
illegal economic sanctions,"
said Mpofu. "As a government, we cannot stand
idly while this situation
continues," he added, sounding more like a
Mpofu did not know - he is a servant of the people. As such the
expects him to act, and act fast, to stem the chaos within the
of his ministry. It is, however, one thing to do good, and
quite another to
do wrong, as is currently the case. The consequences of
this may be too
ghastly to contemplate.
Former industry minister, Nkosana Moyo, discovered he
could not sing from
the same song-sheet as his colleagues in government
after he had been
drafted into President Robert Mugabe's Cabinet in July
2000. Ten months down
the line he did the correct thing by resigning. Mpofu
will obviously not
resign, as doing so will prove he is no indoda sibili
Unfortunately, his taskforce is undermining the National Incomes
Commission (NIPC) which, we warned last month, would not be
autonomy to function freely.
It is so unfortunate that the
government believes that the price hikes are
the work of saboteurs,
forgetting the economic carnage caused by its
disastrous economic policies.
It could be that the powers-that-be are
relying on the government media for
Granted, bad apples should be sieved out of the system, but
innocent entrepreneurs who are giving their best under very
conditions will not help. The NIPC can throw everyone seen not
orders behind bars, but that will change nothing.
supermarkets, wholesalers, manufacturers and bakers for a tsunami
that is a
result of government actions and overlooking the cost build-ups in
entire production chain is definitely suicidal. All the government is
is to drive the few formal businesses, which are operating at a third
their normal capacity, into the shadowy economy. Alternatively, they can
stop producing. In the end, it worsens the plight of the ordinary citizen as
basic goods and services only become available on the black market, where
the prices are exorbitant. No sane entrepreneur can commit scarce resources
to sell at a loss unless the state is prepared to subsidise his or her
output. But why should the taxpayer subsidise a profitable enterprise?
is unavoidable that costs will continue to escalate for as long as
production is constrained. The solution partly lies in political reforms,
confidence building and stimulating supply response. We don't see Mpofu's
strategy working in a democracy. Business should also appreciate that
unjustified price increases would make imports much more competitive and in
the process rob them of their domestic markets.
The Finance Ministry has
done well by voluntarily relaxing tax-free
thresholds and the taxable bands,
in a move that will free substantial
resources into the depressed economy.
The challenge should extend to
employers who should reward their workers
competitively to stimulate demand.
While slashing prices under the guise of
protecting consumers is the easiest
way to bring down inflation, it has been
many governments' waterloo.