International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: June 29, 2007
ACCRA, Ghana: Officially, heads of state attending the African Union summit
this weekend will be discussing plans for a United States of Africa, a
continental body that does away with national borders.
Unofficially, the key discussion will be about the things pulling Africa
apart - allegations of genocide in Sudan's Darfur region and the brutal
crackdown in Zimbabwe.
Protests have been banned until the final day of the three-day summit on
Tuesday, and 2,000 policemen have already fanned out across this sea-facing
capital. Protests planned include one calling for an end to the violence in
Darfur and a second by Zimbabwean activists who traveled here to decry
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
On the sidelines of the summit, South African President Thabo Mbeki is
expected to present a report on the progress of his attempt to mediate a
solution in Zimbabwe. Earlier this year, Zimbabwe's top opposition leader
was hospitalized after police violently broke up a meeting he was attending.
The mediation sessions between Zimbabwe's ruling party and opposition groups
are being held in South Africa, and Mbeki is to brief delegates from his
region during the summit on what, if any progress has been made, South
African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad has said.
Darfur - where an estimated 200,000 people have died - was to be the focus
of a teleconference address by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir on Saturday.
Al-Bashir abruptly canceled his trip to Ghana following the death of a close
adviser. Darfur's problems are expected to be addressed by members of his
The main official agenda item is an idea first proposed four decades ago: a
Nana Akufo-Addo, a Ghanaian who chairs the African Union's executive
council, dismissed criticism that the continental body should instead have
devoted itself to pushing for an end to suffering in Darfur.
"In the last 20 to 30 years, we were a continent of disease and hunger with
a debasing image and in some instances, as being in the dirtiest conditions.
This Africa is the Africa we want to stop. How can we organize ourselves?
... Many times and too often, we are afterthoughts - some call us a scar on
the conscience of the world. What can we do to remove that scar?"
Referring to the European Union and to the United States, he said Africa
will be strengthened by coming together, and strength would allow it to
better address its problems.
Although the idea of a borderless, continentwide entity has been accepted by
most African countries, it's remained no more than a slogan due to disputes
on how to proceed.
A 2006 African Union report advocates achieving a United States of Africa by
2015. The report proposes that the AU - currently an organization aimed at
promoting African unity - will be transformed into a government.
But some heads of state such as Libya's Moammar Ghadafi are calling for an
immediate formation of a new, pan-African government.
Alpha Oumar Konare, the departing chair of the African Union Commission,
said that over the past five decades, numerous documents had been adopted
calling for a pan-African body, but that individual states had failed to
"What is the use in adopting so much text and not showing commitment to
them?" he asked. "History will not forgive us if we don't (take) action to
move forward," he said.
Afrique en ligne
Accra, Ghana (PANA) - An African Civil Society Solidarity public
hearing on democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, ended here Thursday in
disagreement. The hearing, organised ahead of the African Union (AU) July
summit, was initiated by local and international rights organisations.
Speakers from Zimbabwe, including lawyers, trade unionists, students and a
journalist, who claimed to be victims of human rights abuse, said African
leaders should put pressure on the government of President Robert Mugabe to
end the alleged violations.
They cited alleged abductions, sexual abuse, arrest and detention
without trial, death and burning of houses, allegedly instigated by the
ruling party headed by Mugabe.
But some speakers, mainly from Ghana, noted the lack of balance at the
forum citing the non-representation of Zimbabwe's ruling party.
Other speakers claimed the negative reports on human rights situation
in Zimbabwe by Western media was a deliberate ploy to discredit the Mugabe
Lanree Arogundade, Coordinator of the International Press Centre,
which moderated the hearing told PANA the political situation in Zimbabwe
could destabilise the Southern African region, with a potential danger for
He said civil society organisations had been able to establish a
medium for the respect of human rights, recalling the role of the
international community against the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
The journalist expressed the hope that the persistence of civil
society would help stop reported rights violations in Zimbabwe.
Accra - 29/06/2007
Saturday 30 June 2007
By Hendricks Chizhanje
HARARE - Zimbabwean police and soldiers on Friday arrested scores of illegal
foreign currency dealers and traders in basic commodities as the government
cracked down on a thriving black market it blames for causing havoc and
distortions in the economy.
Soldiers and police, already deployed in parts of the capital to enforce a
price freeze on basic commodities imposed by the government this week,
raided the Roadport bus terminus in Harare, a hub of the illegal foreign
currency trade, and arrested scores of people for they accused of illegally
trading in forex.
Another crack squad of soldiers and police raided a popular public market in
the low-income suburb of Mbare and arrested several traders. The market has
been flooded with basic commodities - scarce everywhere across the country -
since the government ordered retailers to slash prices by half.
Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka confirmed the arrest of several black
market traders but said figures of how many people had been arrested or the
exact crimes they were likely to be charged for would only be available
"We have just put the operation today and people are being arrested but the
details will be released tomorrow," Mandipaka told ZimOnline.
The parallel market has blossomed in Zimbabwe as the southern African
country's once brilliant formal economy crumbles after eight years of a deep
recession marked by the world world's highest inflation of more than 4 500
percent, shortages of hard cash and just about every basic survival
But Mugabe's government accuses manufacturers of conniving with black market
traders to siphon goods from the formal market to the parallel where they
can super profits because of the extortionist prices charged on the illegal
The government has in the past threatened to send the police to crush the
parallel market and on Thursday, Mugabe threatened to nationalize businesses
that failed to lower prices as directed by the government.
However economists warn that commando tactics favoured by the government
will not work, saying what was required were comprehensive political and
economic reforms to end Zimbabwe's economic crisis and ensure stability of
prices. - ZimOnline
Saturday 30 June 2007
By Tsungai Murandu
HARARE - Some Zimbabwean private schools have started pegging fees at the
parallel foreign currency rate in a move that will also see parents now
required to pay monthly for their children's education.
One of the schools, Gateway School in Harare, told parents in a circular
that fees would now be reviewed monthly and the reviews would be based on
the "Old Mutual Implied Rate" for the United States dollar.
"This would give us an accurate current inflationary increase," the school
said in the circular seen by ZimOnline and signed by one of the school
The decision is meant to hedge the school against the escalating cost of
goods and services and was the outcome of a meeting of the parents held on
Zimbabwe is currently battling world record inflation of more than 4 500
percent in May.
Using the "current" Old Mutual Implied Rate of $168 000;US$1, parents with
children at Gateway Primary School would be required to pay $15 120 000 per
month per child or US$90.
Fees for children in Forms One to Four would be pegged at $17 640 000 a
month or US$104 while Advanced level students would be required to fork out
$18 480 000 or US$110 a month.
"Monthly fees will be paid at a differing Z$ amount as the Old Mutual
Implied Rate shifts on a daily basis," said the circular.
Parents will only pay monthly for fees and no advance payments would be
accepted, according to the circular.
"Parents will not be invoiced but will sign an agreement to cover school
fees in the above method for the year ahead," said the circular, adding that
the fee proposal would be implemented immediately while an application was
being made to the Ministry of Education.
There was no comment from the school authorities nor from the Minister of
Education Aeneas Chigwedere yesterday.
Chigwedere has been on a warpath against the high fees charged by private
schools and in December 2006 threatened to arrest school administrators who
failed to levy fees set by the government.
He has clashed several times with the Association of Trust Schools - a
grouping of private schools - and the battles have often spilled to the
courts, which have ruled in favour of the schools.
Zimbabwe's education system is modelled along that of former colonial power
Britain and was rated among the best in Africa but critics say state
interference in the running of private schools, coupled with its failure to
adequately fund government-run schools has eroded that legacy.
Private schools have the best academic and sporting facilities, with most of
the students excelling in both academia and sports.
Government schools, a victim of state under-funding and mission schools
enroll the highest number of students and have recorded high pass rates
irrespective of dwindling resources, but analysts question whether this is
The pegging of fees in hard cash comes at a time when other service
providers have started demanding payment in the more stable US dollar.
These include the Zimbabwe National Revenue Authority, the Registrar
General's Office, estate agents and vehicle dealers.
The Zimbabwe dollar has been in a free-fall against most major currencies,
with its value collapsing by more than 100 percent since the beginning of
June. - ZimOnline
Saturday 30 June 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO - Bakeries in the southern town of Masvingo on Friday suspended
indefinitely the production of bread and other confectionaries following a
government order issued earlier this week to reduce prices by 50 percent.
The decision to suspend production followed a meeting of the Bakers
Association of Zimbabwe held on Thursday that was called to discuss the
implications of the government order on prices.
A spokesperson of the bakers' association, Osman Taurai, told ZimOnline
yesterday that they had suspended production of bread with immediate effect
because it was no longer viable to do so.
"We cannot continue to operate at a loss by selling bread at $22 000 a loaf.
It is better to close down than to operate under such an environment," said
President Robert Mugabe's government on Monday ordered businesses to revert
to prices that were there on the market as at 18 June 2007.
"We have not been operating at full capacity for the past three years due to
a number of challenges. We had hoped that the government would understand
our position but it appears things are worsening every day," said Taurai.
The move to suspend production will see hundreds of workers laid off joining
hundreds of thousands of other unemployed Zimbabweans who are roaming the
Prices of basic commodities have been on an upward spiral for the past three
weeks, rising by more than 500 percent during the period.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic crisis that has seen inflation
shooting to over 4 500 percent, the highest in the world.
President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday accused businesses of hiking prices to
sabotage the economy and bring down his government. - ZimOnline
Monsters and Critics
Jun 29, 2007, 14:27 GMT
Harare - It seems impossible but Zimbabwe's crippling power cuts are set to
worsen, according to reports Friday.
Many Zimbabweans are shivering their way through a long dark winter because
of extensive outages by the state-run ZESA power utility.
There is rampant cutting of trees as householders resort to buying firewood
for cooking and heating purposes, with likely devastating effects to the
Recently ZESA hiked its tariffs by at least 350 percent, shocking
Zimbabweans already struggling with massive price hikes in shops, buses and
But the price jump still hasn't solved the power problem, according to a
report in the Manica Post newspaper, published in the eastern city of
An official said there were huge operational challenges facing both ZESA
Holdings and Hwange Colliery Company, which supplies coal to generate power.
Hwange does not have foreign currency to import critical spare parts or
machinery, the ZESA official said.
At the moment ZESA is faced with inadequate working capital, ageing power
network infrastructure, which has not been refurbished due to inadequate
capital and vandalism of infrastructure by the public, the official said.
He complained that the brain drain which was affecting all sectors of
Zimbabwe's beleaguered economy was also negatively affecting the parastatal.
'We recently lost six skilled personnel and the company is facing capital
shortages due to the low tariffs we are charging,' he said.
Zimbabwe's shaky electricity situation could be definitively crippled if
South Africa's Eskom power utility follows through with a threat to
disconnect neighbouring countries because it is battling to meet local
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Fri 29 Jun 2007, 11:35 GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has lifted a ban on political rallies and
protests in Harare which the opposition had likened to a state of emergency,
but police permits are still required for such gatherings.
President Robert Mugabe's government imposed a three-month ban on rallies
and demonstrations in February over fears of an opposition uprising in the
face of a growing economic crisis, and had renewed the restrictions in the
past two months.
In a statement on Friday, police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the police
officer in charge of Harare province had on Wednesday lifted the temporary
orders stopping rallies in the capital, including one that was renewed on
"We have lifted all the prohibition orders that had been issued in terms of
the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), banning the holding of all
political gatherings in the four districts of Harare," he said.
Bvudzijena said all political parties had been advised of this, and told
they could now hold rallies in the capital but had to apply for police
approval as stipulated in Zimbabwe's tough POSA law.
"We appeal to the political parties to follow the law, and if they don't
they will have themselves to blame," he said, adding: "The police would not
hesitate to ban rallies if there is any political violence and acts of
Opposition officials were not immediately available for comment on Friday.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has previously
likened the ban on rallies, which was accompanied by a government crackdown
on its leaders, to a state of emergency.
The MDC said Mugabe had imposed the ban in the opposition urban strongholds
to cripple its operations ahead of general elections due by March next year.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF government has routinely used riot police squads to crush
anti-government rallies, most recently on May 8 when they used rubber batons
to disperse a march by human rights lawyers protesting against the arrest of
Tension rose sharply in early March after opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and dozens of other MDC members suffered serious injuries after
being arrested by police at an aborted prayer rally in Harare.
Mugabe accuses the MDC of being stooges of Zimbabwe's former colonial power
Britain in an effort to oust his government, as punishment for seizing and
redistributing white-owned commercial farms to landless blacks.
Britain denies there is such a plot.
Fri 29 Jun 2007, 14:52 GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's gold producers are operating below 20 percent
of capacity while some have suspended operations over a deepening economic
crisis and electricity cuts, the mining chamber said on Friday.
The news came after President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday threatened to seize
and nationalise mines, especially gold producers he accused of smuggling the
metal outside the country and stashing foreign currency earnings abroad as
part of a campaign to undermine his government.
Gold is the main foreign currency earner for the southern African country's
battered economy, accounting for 52 percent of total mineral production and
a third of export earnings.
But producers are now struggling to stay afloat as the economy continues to
slide, with inflation nearing 4,000 percent pushing up production costs
while shortages of foreign currency and fuel continue to worsen.
"Most gold producers are operating below 20 percent capacity with some
having suspended operations completely," the Chamber of Mines said in a
The chamber earlier this month said gold output was expected to fall by 23
percent this year to about 8,700 kg from 11,354 kg last year as producers
faced serious operational problems.
Under Zimbabwe's laws, miners surrender their gold to sole purchaser and
refiner Fidelity, a wholly owned central bank company, and are paid mostly
in Zimbabwe dollars. They get 40 percent in hard currency.
On Friday, the chamber said the Zimbabwe dollar price set last April of
Z$35,000 per gram -- which is $2.33 on the official market but only $0.23 on
the black market -- had been eroded by inflation while their local costs
"Some commodities have increased by as much as 818 percent in two months,
yet the (gold) price remains static as if the relevant authorities are not
aware of the movement in input costs," said the chamber.
Electricity cuts for periods of more than 12 hours a day and delays by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to remit the foreign currency component to
producers had also hampered production.
Mugabe's threats have send fresh jitters into a sector that is still anxious
about proposed amendments to the country's mining laws, which authorities
say will transfer majority ownership of foreign-owned mines to locals and
"strategic" minerals to the government.
June 29 2007 at 01:37PM
By Basildon Peta
Soldiers and police patrolled Zimbabwean cities and towns to enforce
compliance with new price controls as President Robert Mugabe's government
announced that it had extended its freeze on price increases to cover all
The government had initially ordered all wholesalers and retailers to
slash prices on 18 selected basic commodities by half and roll back to the
costs they charged for those basics as of June 18. The order followed sharp
increases in prices of most commodities in Zimbabwe after a massive
depreciation of the Zim dollar in the past two weeks.
Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu announced on
Thursday that the government had since decided to impose a blanket freeze on
price increases on just about everything in Zimbabwe. He urged the public to
co-operate and report retailers who defy the freeze on prices of all goods
The Zimbabwe government also honoured Mpofu's earlier pledge to enlist
the services of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) to force compliance with
the price freeze.
Eyewitnesses reported sightings of soldiers visiting retailers in
parts of Harare and the second capital, Bulawayo, on Thursday.
One retailer said his shop had been ransacked by soldiers who checked
on his pricing.
"They thought I was hoarding goods but I had sold most of my stock
soon after the price freeze was announced," he said.
Most retailers responded to the government order by emptying their
shop shelves, arguing they could not sell their goods at a loss.
Others simply defied the order and continued selling at the banned
prices. They benefited from a panicked population which rushed to buy goods
fearing shortages which have now taken full effect.
The latest rule imposing a blanket ban comes in the wake of Mugabe's
threat to nationalise all businesses charging exorbitant prices.
With official inflation at nearly 5 000 percent, businesses have been
in-creasing prices on a daily basis.
Mugabe has excoriated them, saying this was to frustrate the
population into revolting as part of a regime change agenda "inspired by
Meanwhile, the government has lifted a ban on all political rallies
around Harare. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said it
had received notification that the ban imposed last week had been lifted.
This article was originally published on page 16 of Cape Argus on June
Several independent newspapers have been shut
If approved by the president, the law will empower the government to tap telephone conversations, check emails and monitor cyberspace for material seen as posing a threat to national security.
The bill, described by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), as "badly drafted, self-destructive and disrespectful of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the populace", was recently passed by parliament.
Independent media reports alleged that the government was in the process of installing imported call-monitoring equipment. Nelson Chamisa, a member of parliament from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), claimed during a debate in the House that a phonecall interceptor had been set up outside Harare, the capital.
"Even before the bill has been passed into law, there is already evidence that the little space for freedom of expression that remained has been affected," Foster Dongozi, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalist (ZUJ) and a reporter for an independent newspaper, told IRIN.
"Following parliamentary acceptance of the bill, fear has gripped sources of information and journalists, to the extent that there is a reluctance to release ... [information], thus the reduced capacity by the media to get to the truth," said Dongozi, and cited a case in which a representative of an organisation had refused to talk to him because he was afraid the government had begun monitoring people.
In the interest of national security
The official daily newspaper, The Herald, quoted Transport and Communications Minister Christopher Mushohwe as telling parliament earlier this month that the proposed law was crucial because the advancement in information technology posed a threat to national security.
phone and the internet are now the main sources of livelihood for many
journalists who have been rendered jobless by AIPPA, and it is regrettable that
the government is attempting to put the final nail on media freedom through
another Big Brother law
Under the proposed new law telecommunication providers will be required to install hardware and software enabling the interception of communications.
For the last six years the government has used two other laws - the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) - to stifle freedom of expression.
POSA has been invoked to stop or ban gatherings considered too critical of the government; AIPPA, which regulates media operations through a commission, was used to shut down several independent newspapers. Heavy fines can be imposed on journalists and media houses for printing or airing any information the commission deems to be untrue.
Less room to move
Dongozi said the ZUJ was "dismayed at this renewed onslaught on the media", adding that the government had chosen to snoop on private and professional communication after realising that many people were turning to cyberspace to exchange information.
"The phone and the internet are now the main sources of livelihood for many journalists who have been rendered jobless by AIPPA, and it is regrettable that the government is attempting to put the final nail on media freedom through another Big Brother law," said Dongozi.
law would not be bad if it were not clear that it is intended to cripple the
opposition, particularly in the run-up to next year's presidential and
In submissions to parliament in April 2006, the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) urged that the Interception of Communications Bill be thrown out.
"Zimbabweans have witnessed the promulgation of a number of repressive laws, which have contributed to the shrinking of the democratic space and the operating environment of human rights defenders and activists," the media watchdog wrote.
"The introduction of the ... bill adds to the number of laws which have attacked the enjoyment and furtherance of human rights in Zimbabwe, in particular freedom of expression and the right to receive and impart information among other groups."
MISA-Zimbabwe's legal representatives argued that the bill was unconstitutional, saying that it was in contravention of section 20 of the constitution, which provides for freedom of expression, whereas "interception connotes interference, obstruction, stoppage of flow, seizure and grabbing [of information]".
The MDC said although it had nothing to hide, it suspected that the law would be abused to victimise its members under the guise of preserving national security.
"The bill is yet another tool in the devil's box. An axe is not bad when used to fell a tree, only becoming so when one murders his child with it; similarly, the law would not be bad if it were not clear that it is intended to cripple the opposition, particularly in the run-up to next year's presidential and parliamentary elections," said Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
Without a vibrant, independent media, he told IRIN, the opposition would find it difficult to reach out to the electorate ahead of next year's elections.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), a labour umbrella body whose members have been arrested while protesting against the rising cost of living and unemployment, maintained that the country was not under any security threat to warrant such a law.
"Communication is a human rights issue, and we are concerned that the bill is being pushed through even when there are no signs that the country is under threat of international terrorism or internal war," ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe told IRIN.
The unions were also afraid that if the bill passed into law it would further restrict their efforts to monitor and report labour issues.
SW Radio Africa transcript
Hot Seat Transcript: Tony Hawkins:
Economist Tony Hawkins gives journalist Violet Gonda his assessment on the economic situation in Zimbabwe . US ambassador Christopher Dell predicts inflation will have reached 1.5 million by year-end and that runaway inflation may result in an early exit for Robert Mugabe. Did the diplomat’s remarks spark the crisis last week? And while the political parties are talking about talks, observers say there is a real risk that the talks will be eclipsed by the economic collapse.
Tuesday 26 June
Violet Gonda: Many are predicting a total collapse of the Zimbabwean economy by year end. My guest tonight is Professor Tony Hawkins of the Graduate School of Management at the University of Zimbabwe . He is going to give us his assessment on the situation in the country. Welcome on the programme Professor Tony Hawkins.
Tony Hawkins: Good evening
Violet: Now last week the world's press described the Zimbabwe dollar as collapsed, crashed, and plummeted. Is this true? What does this mean in practice?
Tony Hawkins: Essentially it means that trade in the so called parallel market which is allegedly legal, I say allegedly because the Reserve Bank is the main dealer in this market and therefore it can hardly be illegal. But in that parallel market the exchange rate did dive last week, very sharply from about Z$200 000 to the United States dollars to various numbers as high as Z$ 400/450 000. However since that event we are told that the rate has stabilized somewhat and in fact even strengthened. So it appears there was a bit of over reaction or over shooting as we call it in the business.
Violet: But what caused that in the first place. What really is causing the crash?
Tony Hawkins: Well essentially it’s being caused by there being more sellers than buyers. Nobody really wants to hold Zimbabwe dollars because Zimbabwe dollars are increasingly worthless as a result of the very high rates of inflation. We have inflation of – at the last count which was in May of 4 500% a year – and going up very sharply. Clearly nobody wants to hold the currency like that which is losing its value by the day by the hour and in that situation there has been a scramble for anything else.
Violet: And what about people in the Diaspora are they adding to the inflation woes?
Tony Hawkins: Not really, no. The people in the Diaspora in fact are helping to stabilize it to the extent that they are sending back money which helps to strengthen the exchange rate. In that sense they are contributing clearly. At another level what is happening is that the money that the Diasporans are sending back is in fact being spent in Zimbabwe for people to stay alive. That adds to the pressure to the prices for goods, everyday goods that are increasingly in short supply and therefore prices go up. Shops are putting up their price, withholding stocks and so on.
Violet: And what about the regime itself, is it being affected at this stage? You said earlier that the Reserve Bank trades on the parallel market. Now is the government receiving preferential rates because last week I also heard from one journalist who said Mugabe can actually change every Pound of his and get over 100 000% for that. So is the regime getting preferential rates?
Tony Hawkins: Well there are many accusations of this. The fact is the government claims that the official rate of exchange is Z$250 to the US dollar. Now in fact in the parallel market you can get ZW$250/300 000 to the US dollar. So in theory if you can go to the Central Bank and buy foreign currency at ZW$250 to the US dollar and then go around the corner and sell it on the parallel market for ZW$250 000 or ZW$300 000 or whatever number you care to use you can become a millionaire – a United States dollar millionaire very, very quickly indeed. And there are lots of accusations that this is happening. That certain people are able to get this kind of preferential treatment. I have no knowledge of whether this is the case or not but one does hear these accusations.
Violet: Now I was going to ask that from your observations is this crisis of any benefit to the regime?
Tony Hawkins: Well, I think there is no doubt in my mind that certain members of the government are benefiting from the crisis. I think we have seen it over the period going back to 2000 and before, where people in government we given preferential treatment in terms of access to loans, in terms of access to land, access to farms, access to fuel. They have it; I don’t think there is any doubt about that. The big question is the balancing act for the government is to see whether it can spread the patronage net widely enough to make sure it keeps all its supporters happy and that becomes harder and harder.
Violet: And what happens when retailers refuse to accept local currency, as what’s happening right now, you know even though there is a black market exchange rate of $420 000 to the pound?
Tony Hawkins: Well I think that the story there is that if you are a retailer and you sell a product – let’s say you sell a box of cereal, bran flakes or something – for ZW$200 000, and you do not know when you sell it what it is going to cost you to buy a replacement box of cornflakes. It might be $400 000, it might be $500 000 and so on. So retailers are in this very difficult position of being concerned that they are going to sell what product they’ve got and end up with increasingly worthless dollars that they then have to use to try and buy a replacement 2,3,4 times the price at which they sold their product for.
Violet: So how sustainable is this? A tenant in Belvedere told the news agency IRIN that his landlord had given him notice that from July his rent should not be paid in Zimbabwean dollars but in fuel – of all things. And fuel is currently selling at about Z$220,000 a litre, I understand. Now IRIN reports that his monthly rent will now cost him 80 litres of petrol or about Z$17million. H ow sustainable is this?
Tony Hawkins: Well you know I don’t think it is sustainable but so far people have managed to make a plan and to get by, one way or another. To some extent families increasingly are dependent on money from outside, Diaspora money and various other kinds of support that they have been able to draw on – savings offshore or whatever case it may be. But it’s becoming harder and harder for people who rely on a Zimbabwean dollar income to survive in this situation. And when you hear the kind of story you are telling me about, it’s clearly a grift to the government. The government will say, “It’s obviously outrageously illegal for anyone to try and charge for rent in a product like petrol, fuel and so on. Clearly that is illegal but I have had, and I can’t give the details here, but I had an experience this morning when I had to pay for something and was given a piece of paper that said it was so many US dollars converted at $250 000 to the US dollar and I had to pay X-million Zimbabwean dollars. Now that is the way the world works and you either survive and pay or you do the other things. And I think increasingly we are getting to the stage of this lot not becoming sustainable.
And this is the point I have been trying to make; that the government for months has been paralyzed – remains paralyzed – it seems to believe by propaganda, by making statements about social contracts, threatening to use draconian price controls, by claiming that people have signed the social contract when in fact they haven’t and so on; that these announcements will somehow check the situation. There’s been no single sensible policy move to address the crisis. All there is - is talk and threats, the brain drain and the western illegal sanctions etc but nobody has actually turned around and said; “this is the policy, this is what we are going to do and we are going to do it.” Start doing it. Nothing has happened.
Violet: I will come to that issue just now on what options Mugabe has to deal with the economic crisis. But, back to the issue of how long the country can continue to run on these levels especially when you hear that inflation is between 4500% and 9000% and probably more. How long do you think the country can continue to run on these levels?
Tony Hawkins: There are countries that have gone on for a long time with hyperinflation on these sorts of levels and I think it is impossible for anybody to stand up and say it’s going to be three weeks or three months or three years or whatever figure you’d like to say. I think that the people who are making these kinds of statements – and we have had the outgoing United States Ambassador, we have had various Aid Agencies and NGOs talking about six months and so on. Why six months and not two months? Who knows?
But you have to ask the question. How do you define collapse? When does the economy collapse? What examples do we have of a collapsed economy? Did the DRC economy ever collapse? Did the economy of Somalia ever collapse and so on? The answer is that African economies tend to grind on at very low levels of activity – subsistence levels of activity for long periods of time. It’s only when you get civil unrest or some kind of move of that kind or the government itself decides to change, either because the president or the cabinet or whatever loses the support of their followers or because there is some kind of radical shift in policy. It’s only when those things happen that you get a change in the situation otherwise it can drag on.
Violet: That’s what I wanted to ask you, is there such a thing as an ultimately collapsed economy because already so much is not functioning? You know the health sector, educational sector, food shortages and fuel shortages.
Tony Hawkins: Well there may well be I have never encountered one. I draw parallels between Zimbabwe today and say Mozambique in the early 1990s and at that time when you were in Maputo you could hear the artillery, the guns from not too far away and the taxi that picked you up from the airport stopped halfway from town because it had run out of petrol and so on. But we haven’t gotten to those stages yet and the Mozambican economy never collapsed. It continued and I tend to use that as a parallel to say I don’t see the economy collapsing. Before that happens I see some kind of political change taking place. How that change takes place, what form that change takes place I couldn’t tell you. But I do think that in real life this is what will happen. It seems to me that in the events of the last couple of weeks must be forcing people in government to think about what they should do now. And they must be running options like price controls or freeing the foreign exchange market through their minds.
I doubt that they have accepted yet the need for political or regime change. But there is no doubt in my mind that without that political change the economy will never, will not recover.
Violet: But let’s just analyze or try to analyze the remarks that were made by the US ambassador Christopher Dell you mentioned earlier on. He predicted that inflation would have reached 1.5 million and that runaway inflation may result in an early exit for Robert Mugabe. Now some may say these are bold prophetic statements from the diplomat. Did his remarks spark the crisis last week, in your view?
Tony Hawkins: No I don’t think so, the crisis was there anyway. I don’t know if many people have taken his remarks that seriously. I don’t know how you can predict in this situation where inflation will go. His guess is just as good as anyone else is. His statements were laced with comments about what businessmen say the inflation rate is. But how do businessmen know what the inflation rate is? The only accurate measure of inflation or the nearest thing we have to an accurate measure of inflation are the actual figures prepared by people who do the task on the ground – that’s the government central statistical office. There are others like Price Waterhouse Coopers who have their own numbers, which are subject to a fair number of technical criticisms. So a lot of this is dancing in the dark. You don’t really know what numbers you are playing with. You don’t really know is happening on the ground. There are no numbers or evidence to be able to tell you what is happening and a lot of it is simply what we would call anecdotal. Now anecdotal evidence is sometimes very useful, I am the first to admit it, but at the same time I don’t think you can project forward from one month’s inflation figure or two months inflation figures where it would be in July let alone December.
Violet: Well he is not the only one who has made these predictions and just a couple of weeks ago the Heads of Agencies Contact Group also announced that inflation may reach 500 000% by December or in six months time. And a memorandum that was sent by the consultants for this Aid Agencies was talking about a situation where there is no functioning government or a total breakdown.
Tony Hawkins: Well there is a functioning government at this stage as we know, the fact that the NGOs or the Agencies are saying 500 000% and the US ambassador is saying 1.5million% just shows how great the discrepancies are when you make these kinds of projections. I mean everyone is peering into the dark, everyone is peering into the unknown. Nobody knows and people are making prophetic statements and some prophecies turn out to be right and some turn out to be wrong. I think that’s all that one can say. All I would say is that there is no scientific basis or evidence for making these projections. They are gut-feeling projections. They may turn out to be right and so on but there is no scientific basis for them.
Violet: Right. And on the issue of finding ways of dealing with this crisis - would it be possible to achieve a stable currency by pegging the Zimbabwe dollar to the Rand ? If so what would be the implications of this step?
Tony Hawkins: It wouldn’t be possible to do that because if you peg to a currency like the Rand – the Rand has inflation of at the last count 6% a year and we have inflation of 4 500% a year. So there is no way you can have a peg in that situation, it’s just physically impossible. For a currency to be pegged as for example within the European Union they will have to have pretty similar rates of inflation and when you get to a situation where you have got huge, massive, grotesque discrepancies like this, you can’t peg to anything and therefore I think the only solution really is to freeze the currency and hope that as a result of that you get inflows of foreign exchange that will enable you to stabilize things. But this does imply doing very tough and very difficult things that if this government were to do it would precipitate its demise, its collapse because it stays in power by operating a patronage system, by printing money, by spending money, by giving money to its cronies, to its supporters and so on. But when you say you mustn’t print money, you must stop giving money away; operate a tight fiscal monetary policy then goodnight the government. Their supporters will get fed up pretty quickly.
Violet: But while the political parties are talking about talks in South Africa there, observers say there is a real risk that the talks will be eclipsed by the economic collapse. What are your thoughts on this?
Tony Hawkins: Well if we were going to get an economic collapse then it would lead to an escalation of whatever accommodation that may possibly be reached in these talks. It seems to me the faster the economy deteriorates the greater the pressure for political change, which is what Mr. Dell was very rightly saying and therefore in that sense you get to the point of some kind of political accommodation sooner rather than later. But I think you have to look at that in the context of the people involved – namely the government. There are two things hanging over their heads. One, of course is the point I am making about them being able to work the system financially to their own advantage – and some of them have done that extremely efficiently. We all know that just by looking at their visible wealth and so on. The second is a number of them are facing unpleasant prospects of being dragged of to International Courts at the Hague and places like that and they are going to hang on to offices as long as they can or to use some kind of formula to try and avoid that unlikely or that undesired outcome as far as they are concerned.
Violet: And then of course Mugabe is planning to nationalize everything and some say he can easily take all the private mines for example. If he does this could this pay his bills for years and prolong his rule?
Tony Hawkins: No I don’t think so at all. I think that will in some ways even accelerate it because he doesn’t have the capacity to operate the mines. He doesn’t have the capacity to operate the businesses he is threatening. I think a lot of this is sheer talk. If you think that in 2000 the way to win the elections was to promise to give people land and it worked, what about this time? In 2008 you promise to give people shares in companies but no-one has thought through – you just have to look at the documents and read the statements of government ministers – none of them have thought through how this can be done. What the implications would be and so on. The South Africans have had a long experience of black empowerment and it’s been a slow, painful and in some cases not terribly successful experience but they have made some progress. Now in Zimbabwe where black empowerment is the takeover of foreign property – because there are not enough whites here left to take over much of their property, so it’s taking over foreign owned property and most of that foreign property is owned by South African companies. And what new investment there has been in recent years has come from the Chinese companies or Asian companies it doesn’t really make sense that the government would want to alienate those people by taking over their assets.
Violet: What do you think Mugabe will do though because many believe he is faced with this unsustainable situation?
Tony Hawkins: Well if you read or watch the debate on the BBC that was held by the World Economic Forum in Cape Town just a fortnight ago, there were two ZANU PF spokesmen there. Simba Makoni who is the preferred choice for president of the British and South African governments and Mr. Ibbo Mandaza who you interviewed on your program and both of them who appear to arguing that Mugabe would leave sooner rather than later and this would provide the catalyst for change in the economic situation. Personally I doubt his being prepared to quit but I am not a political analyst or commentator I have no basis to make these kinds for judgments.
Violet: But what do you think will bring Mugabe down first the economy or Mbeki’s initiative
Tony Hawkins: I don’t really see how Mr. Mbeki’s initiative will make headway unless the economic pressures are so great on Mugabe that he is forced to make concessions. I don’t believe it is possible to have an agreement between the MDC and the government without major concessions, massive concession by the government by the government. I also don’t believe the people of Zimbabwe are willing to be governed by a reformed ZANU PF because I think ZANU PF has gone way beyond the point of no return in respect of re-branding and so on. When you have done as much harm as they have done it is very hard to believe that voters if they are given a free and fair opportunity would vote for a continuation of this party regardless of who is leading it.
Violet: And what about the economic pressure?
Tony Hawkins: I think t he pressures are intense but when you are faced with the kinds of options that the top people in the government are faced with you know I think they must be doing their calculations. There is nothing we have seen as yet to suggest that they are facing up to reality instead they seem to be stating - we had the minister of information over the weekend stating that the economic situation was getting better by the day or words to that effect. Now whether he is foolish enough to believe that I don’t know. But that seems to be the party line and you just have to read the Herald newspaper everyday to be told that social contracts or price controls or whatever are going to make the situation work and improve the situation. And I think that as long as that mentality is there it’s hard to see the government giving in and saying we admit that what we have been doing for the last ten years has been a disaster and step down. The only advice is to make sure you don’t vote for these people again, you are not intimidated into supporting these people again that is the only advice I would give.
Violet: and the final word.
Tony Hawkins: The final word is really that there has to be some kind of political resolution of this crisis to this there is no economic solution that is the argument I am trying to put forward. There is no magic plan no martial plan nothing that can turn this situation around without first there being a political solution. I think it is true that the greater the economic pressure the sooner the political accommodation will come. But neither I nor any other economist could give any scientific ground for saying when that tipping point or whatever word you want to use would come it could be three months it could be six months I don’t know and neither does anybody else. That’s all I can really say.
Comments and feedback can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Money-changers are among the few people doing well out of Zimbabwe's
By Norman Chitapi (AR No. 119, 25-June-07)
Hotels in Harare's central business district used to be the preserve of the
well-heeled businessmen and tourists who flocked to Zimbabwe, particularly
from the West.
As high-powered business deals were concluded inside the hotels, the
prostitutes would wait outside to ply their trade. As soon as you stepped
out of the hotel lobby during the evening, scantily-dressed women would try
to attract your attention from behind parked cars. Just in case you missed
the furtive signals, they would pop up beside your car and tap discreetly on
But no more - the ladies of the night have grudgingly yielded to a new and
rapidly growing breed of entrepreneurs, the black-market money-changers.
Unlike prostitutes, Zimbabwe's moneychangers do not operate at night. They
hang around on the approaches to luxury hotels like the five star Meikles
Hotel or the equally prestigious Holiday Inn, occasionally moving up and
down the street to avoid detection by the police.
As soon as you park your vehicle, they are all over you, asking what
currency you want to buy. They have all sorts of foreign currency in every
possible denomination, even though the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's coffers
are empty. American dollars are the most popular, then the South African
rand and the British pound, followed by other currencies.
The traders come in all shapes and sizes, united only by their determination
to drive a hard bargain.
At one end of the spectrum is the well-dressed gentleman leaning against his
slick Mercedes Benz and tinkering with the latest-model cell phone. At the
other is the school-leaver or the woman who looks as though she would be
more at home working at a market stall.
Some are there to change money sent home by their relatives in the diaspora.
Others are agents working for big businesses, desperate to acquire foreign
currency to stay afloat.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has described the thriving black market
trade in foreign currency as Zimbabwe's own "World Bank". Some argue that
the parallel currency trade keeps the economy going when it should long
since have imploded, and that its existence has therefore averted widespread
The black market took off after the Zimbabwean economy began contracting by
an average of four per cent annually in 1997, and especially since President
Robert Mugabe's land seizures from 2000 onwards precipitated a steep
The formal banking system still uses an official exchange rate pegged at 250
Zimbabwe dollars, ZWD, to the US dollar. On the illegal parallel market the
American dollar is worth up to 100,000 or 150,000 ZWD, an astonishing
difference which makes precise comparisons redundant.
In addition - and of course closely linked to the ZWD's devaluation on the
street - the country is suffering alarming inflation rate. In May, prices
showed a 4,500 per cent increase on the same month in 2006. Economists are
even more worried by the rate of increase - prices at the end of May 2007
were 100 per cent higher than they had been four weeks earlier.
Wages have been increasing in nominal terms, too, but nowhere near enough to
keep pace with inflation. The average monthly wage of a factory worker is
800,000 ZWD - a respectable 3,200 US dollars at the official exchange rate
but just eight dollars on the black market.
Rather than try to use the two widely diverging exchange rates as a measure
of comparison, it is more useful to set these wages against the minimum cost
of living level, which the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said was 5.5 million
ZWD for an average family of six in May. Even though teachers and nurses now
earn around four million ZWD a month, their incomes clearly fall well below
the minimum they need to get by.
One of the factors driving inflation is that imported goods are bought using
foreign currency acquired on the black market, so the retail price expressed
in ZWD is accordingly high.
Tonderai, a young man from Eastlea who has never been in formal employment
since leaving high school two years ago, explained how the system works in
practice. He trades in the money his sister sends back from the UK in
"If I change 100 pounds in the bank they will give me 4,500 ZWD," he said.
"A single loaf of bread costs 23,000 ZWD. Work out for yourself whether it
makes sense. On the black market I can easily make 25 or 30 million ZWD from
what my sister sends me a month. How many Zimbabweans who go to work every
morning earn that kind of money?"
Transactions take place right on the street, or out of sight in cars and
even in lifts. Once the deal is done, the traders move further out of town
into the Avenues district, a red-light area which is the haunt of the
big-time currency dealers. Here, foreign currency sells at a premium to
businesses that need to make foreign purchases.
Some of the buyers are private enterprises, both legitimate importers and
also the firms which illicitly bring in fuel from South Africa. Then there
are the government officials who want to buy luxury goods or pay their
children's school fees abroad.
Even government agencies are said to buy currency in this way to fund
essential imports of items like grain and electrical power, as there are not
enough dollars and rands in the country's Reserve Bank.
At only 36, Maxie has made a small fortune importing cars, and regards
black-market currency purchases as essential to his business.
"It's the only way I can preserve the value of my money," he explained.
"Every car sold means more foreign currency for me; then I am able to import
Maxie drives around in a Mercedes, but plans to get a Bentley soon - meaning
another trip to the "World Bank".
Demand for foreign currency looks likely to grow stronger as inflation rises
and confidence in the ZWD declines. That will keep even small-time traders
like Tonderai in business for the foreseeable future, despite the risk of
arrest in what is, after all, an illegal sector.
"Without doing any formal job, I am still far better off than my friends who
get up at five, scramble for transport and return home weary at the end of
the day. It's me who buys them beer every day," said Tonderai.
"They [police] can arrest us, but my brother, nobody teaches you common
sense except common sense itself."
Norman Chitapi is the pseudonym of a journalist in Zimbabwe.
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
29 June 2007
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's cabinet this week tabled in parliament
the so-called Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act providing in
effect for the nationalization of all companies and the redistribution of
The bill, published in the government Gazette, states that it "seeks to
create an enabling environment that will result in increased participation
of indigenous people in Zimbabwe in the economic activities of the country."
Harare's move to take control of all firms including banks and mines, is
reminiscent to many observers of the land reform program on which Harare
embarked seven years ago - and which many blame for the country's current
Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe looked at what
the legislation proposes - and the generally skeptical response to the
By Trust Matsilele
Harare: More than 10 000 farm workers who were affected by the controversial
farm invasions of 2000 are believed to have died following their
displacements a report by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum has said.
Advisor to former president, Nelson Mandela Advocate George Bizos has also
lambasted the land reform programme for its violence nature which has left
According to a report by the human rights non-governmental organisation last
month, a million people living on commercial farms suffered incidents of
assault, torture, being held hostage, illegal detention and death threats.
"More than 10,000 farm workers are believed to have died after their removal
and the consequent loss of employment, housing, nutrition and access to
health-care on the farms,"it estimated.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum said this report was the first detailed
study on the human rights violations against white commercial farmers and
their black workers during the land grab.
"There is a plausible case for crimes against humanity having been committed
in the past seven years by Mugabe's regime.
"There is a compelling need for these to be investigated and the
perpetrators to be charged and tried," it said.
At least 4,500 farms seized illegally by President Robert Mugabe since 2000
have followed the same pattern overwhelmingly, and turned one of the most
robust and enterprising agricultural industries into a model of neglect.
The 4,300 farms seized illegally by President Mugabe since 2000 have
followed the same pattern overwhelmingly, and turned one of the most robust
and enterprising agricultural industries into a model of neglect.
The human rights report says that Mr Mugabe's "ill-ad-vised land reform
process" had "devastated the economy and created an enormous humanitarian
Its findings "point to an organised seizure of land planned by officials,
not a spontaneous seizure by landless blacks, as the Government claims".
It estimated that farmers' and workers' losses amounted to $US8.5 billion.
Compensation of anything near that figure would bankrupt the Zimbabwe
Government, the report said.
Zimbabwe's maize production fell 74% between 1999 and 2004 while the
national cattle herd has shrank by 90% and production of flue-cured tobacco
fell from 237m kg (233,200 tons) to 70m kg.
The United Nations says that 4.1 million people in Zimbabwe are facing
serious food shortages because of the drought poor, management and poor land
From Sydney Saize
MUTARE - FORMER Manicaland area public prosecutor Levison Batorava Chikafu
is suing Zimbabwe Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, police commissioner
Augustine Chihuri and six other senior police officer for Z$5b in damages
for unlawful detention.
Chikafu, who rose prominence following his call for the arrest and
prosecution of two senior government Ministers Didymus Mutasa and Patrick
Chinamasa for alleged public violence, through his attorneys Henning Lock
says he was detained illegally for 100 hours.
The former prosecutor who unsuccessfully tried to have state agent Patrick
Mwale arrested for allegedly murdering two opposition MDC activists in
Buhera in 2000 says the police officers involved acted within the course and
scope of their employment as the servants of the state.
In a letter dated 27 June 2007, copied to Mohadi, Chihuri and six other
police officers the lawyers say as a result of the "unlawful detention and
arrest our client suffered damages in the sum of $5 billion."
"It is our client's intention to sue for the damage aforesaid and claim them
with costs from you and the police officers aforesaid jointly and severally
the one paying the others to be absolved," the letter states.
The six others being sued include the investigating officer superintendent
Phillip Ncube, assistant police commissioner Musarashahama Mabunda,
Superintendent Joshua Dhliwayo, Detective sergeants Mushwete, Chivhuro and
The lawyers in the letter say Chikafu was arrested on 17 April 2007 and
taken to the Criminal Investigations Department, CID Rhodesville, Harare.
They say at the police station Chikafu accused of corruption was told he was
wanted by police in Mutare and was allowed to travel on his own and
surrendered himself to the police in the company of his lawyer Chris Ndlovu.
Chikafu was released as he was advised the police would proceed by way of
summons, but arrested the same day at his home by detectives Mushwete,
Chivhuro and Maponga.
"When our client advised Sup Ncube that our client was released on summons
and that our client should not be arrested and detained on the same charges
he was released on summons, Superintendent Ncube said he was acting on
orders," the letter reads.
The lawyers argue Chikafu having been released and let to travel on his own
to Mutare and surrender himself was testimony he would not abscond.
"The arrest and subsequent detention of our client were wrongful and
unlawful," the letter reads in part.
Mohadi and Chihuri were unreachable to comment on the matter today-CAJ News.
By Ntando Ncube
ZIMBABWEAN civic societies and Human Rights NGO Forum in South Africa called
on perpetrators of sate-sponsored political torture on opposition and civic
society activists in Zimbabwe to be punished and the matter to be on the
political radar of current negotiations between Zanu-PF and opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to resolve the political and economic
catastrophe in Zimbabwe.
The call was made on International Torturer Day seminar held in Johannesburg
in support of torture victims in Zimbabwe organized by Zimbabwe Torture
Victims Project (ZTVP) and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition to reflect the
plights of torture victims and dramatic increase in the incidence of torture
in Zimbabwe since 2000.
Speaking at the seminar, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition-South Africa office
media Manager Elinor Sisulu said torturers in Zimbabwe should be held
accountable for their evils and urged for the matter to be involved on the
current negotiations between Zanu-PF and opposition Movement for Democratic
"Zimbabweans are no strangers to sate-sponsored violence and torture.
Zimbabwean history is characterized by abuses and violence both in the post
colonial period and the post-colonial period. A culture of impunity and lack
of accountability has shielded many from liability and Zimbabwean torture
victims are wondering whether their desire to hold the torturers accountably
will be sacrificed once again as part of a negotiated political deal",
ZTVP projects officer Francis Spencer called on South Africa and
international community to intervene in holding the perpetrators of gross
human rights violations accountable.
"We know that violence and torture has taken place in Zimbabwe and that it
continues to take place with impunity, our demand is for South Africa and
the international community to come in holding the perpetrator accountable.
Today we call for an end to the repression and torture in Zimbabwe we need a
plane of action that involves constructive dialogue between all stakeholders
and civic society within Zimbabwe and diaspora to bring an end to
destruction of a country and its people.
Victims of High profiled murder on the Cain Nkala murder case Gilbert Moyo;
Remember Moyo; Sazini Mpofu; Khethani Sibanda attended the seminar.
Speaking at the seminar Sazini Mpofu accused solders and police in Zimbabwe
for perpetrating torture and failing protect citizens.
"The most worrying issue is that our police and solders in Zimbabwe who
should protect the citizens are the ones who are now increasingly
victimizing and torturing people. They are perpetrating torture and standing
as witness on Zanu-PF and government stage managed cases against opposition
civic society activists", Mpofu said.
By Mercy Mujuru
ZIMBABWE'S mining industry is faced with an imminent collapse due to a
plethora of problems which are going unchecked.
In a statement on Friday (today), the Chamber of Mines said among other
problems, the industry was being negatively affected by lack of foreign
currency, an unviable exchange rate and failure by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe to pay out debts it owes the industry.
The chamber revealed that the central bank was struggling to pay out more
than US$17million it owes various mining companies owing to a serious
foreign currency crunch.
It is understood that although the RBZ has convinced gold producers to
continue delivering gold to its subsidiary, Fidelity Printers and Refiners
on the strength of assurances of prompt payments for deliveries,payment to
the producers has infact been erratic since November last year.
Said the chamber, "These promises have not been honoured.Most gold producers
are operating at below 20 percent capacity with some having suspended
"Although some payments were made in June,the amounts were small, in the
region of US$50000 per producer for a few producers".
The chamber added that some external creditors have resorted to charging
interest on outstanding debts principally owed for goods delivered while
others are insisting on cash before delivery.
"This has eroded all the good will created over the years between gold
producers and external suppliers," the chamber said.
The chamber also called for an upward review of the gold support
price,arguing that the $35 000 per gram support price gazzeted by the
central bank in April has since lost its value, adding that paying it in Z$
made it insufficient to even cover local debts.
"The hyperinflation currently prevailing has pushed operating costs to
levels where the price needs a huge adjustment considering that in the
absence of US$ payment,gold producers are forced to buy all inputs on the
local market (if they are available).
"The support price, at US$650\oz international gold price, translates to
US$1:Z$16747.77 (and) the gap between the revenue rate of exchange and that
for costs has become too wide to be managed through borrowings or support
from principals. If a support price is not adjusted within days, the
collapse of the gold sector is highly likely".
The chamber also said erratic power supply by the government run power
utility,Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority was also negatively affecting
"Some mines are experiencing upwards of 12 hours of daily
interruptions.Besides losing production time,there are issues of damage to
equipment such as electric motors and gear boxes.Some mines have resorted to
working whenever power is available".
Additional challenges included the 100 percent increase in power costs for
June,55percent month on month inflation in April and that for May likely to
be much higher and labour costs which went up by 25 percent in May, another
20 percent in June.
The chamber added that spares and chemicals have shot through the roof, with
some commodities having gone up by as much as 818 percent in less than two
The chamber said for other mineral producers, shortages of foreign currency
in the official system has meant that they are forced to deal with the
parallel market to stay in business adding that RBZ's failure to honour its
promise of adjusting the acceleration factor regularly has also exposed
exporters to viability challenges arising from high input cost movements-
By Tendai Maphosa
29 June 2007
A tour of Zimbabwe by the West Indies A cricket team has been canceled by
the West Indies cricket board. The cancellation of the tour is a serious
setback for Zimbabwe's campaign to return to elite cricket, or "Test,"
status. Tendai Maphosa has more in this report for VOA from London.
The tour by the second string team was scheduled for early next month.
Announcing the cancellation, the West Indies Cricket Board said it would
issue a full statement outlining the reasons. But there is widespread
speculation that the tour was pulled because of security concerns.
The industry publication Cricinfo, in a report issued earlier this week,
quoted Keith Mitchell, the Grenada prime minister, as saying he did not
think it was safe to travel given what he called the instability existing in
Zimbabwe. West Indies Players Association (WIPA) president Dinanath
Ramnarine had also weighed in saying that players were concerned about the
security situation in Zimbabwe.
This latest setback for Zimbabwe cricket follows last month's cancellation
of a tour of the southern African country by Australia's national cricket
team. Announcing the ban, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said
allowing the tour to go ahead would give a boost to the government of
Zimbabwe and its president, Robert Mugabe, whom he described as a "grubby
But other teams are going ahead with their plans to play in Zimbabwe.
A spokesperson for the England Cricket Board told VOA that England is only
scheduled to tour Zimbabwe in 2012 so the issue of touring is not an
And Cricket South Africa's chief executive Gerald Majola told VOA he is not
aware of any security problems in Zimbabwe and his country's tour will go
ahead as planned.
"As far as we are concerned we have an obligation to play against Zimbabwe
and we will be touring Zimbabwe this year. In fact Zimbabwe will be playing
also in our domestic competitions this year," said Majola. "As far as
Cricket South Africa is concerned we have a very strong relationship with
Zimbabwe and we see no reason of panicking or not playing in Zimbabwe we
don't know why others are pulling out but as for us we will be playing in
Zimbabwe is a member of the cricket elite Test nations but suspended
participation in those matches in 2006. That's because most of the senior
players, who happened to be white, resigned. They were protesting the
introduction of a quota system aimed at making the team more representative
of the country's population. Since the departure of the senior players, the
team has not been doing well. Zimbabwe is hoping that one-day international
tours by other countries will help strengthen the national team.
By Carole Gombakomba
29 June 2007
The faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change headed
by MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday submitted a position
paper to an African Union summit urging AU monitoring of Zimbabwe's upcoming
Human rights activists also submitted documents to the AU summit in Accra,
Ghana, as foreign ministers completed the agenda for heads of state meeting
The MDC faction urged the African leadership to send monitors to Zimbabwe
well in advance of a series of elections beginning in Zimbabwe in 2008. The
elections begin with local council elections in January followed by
parliamentary and presidential elections in March in which President Robert
Mugabe, 83, seeks re-election.
Deputy Treasurer Elliot Mangoma of the Tsvangirai MDC faction, told reporter
Carole Gombakomba from Accra that the formation believes the African Union
heads of state and government will give its request serious consideration.
Though Zimbabwe is not officially on the agenda for the AU's top officials
on Sunday, activists say that the crisis could come up in their discussions
through examination of a report by the African Commission on Human and
On Thursday evening in Accra, human rights lawyer Andrew Makoni and
journalist Gift Phiri, arrested by Zimbabwean authorities and, in Phiri's
case, alleged to have been beaten by police, gave testimony to hundreds of
civic activists from around Africa.
Legal Officer Wilbert Mandinde of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media
Institute of Southern Africa said the rights groups groups submitted
resolutions to the summit because recent incidents of alleged unlawful
arrests and police brutality were not contained in the report to be
delivered by the AU's rights commission.
29 June 2007
Media Should Report on Coup Allegations
MISA-Zimbabwe is of the strong view that the news blackout imposed on the
court proceedings in the case of the alleged coup plot has deprived the
public their right to information pertaining to issues of public interest
and national concern.
The blackout has handicapped the media from reporting objectively and
authoritatively on the coup plot on a serious national issue which is
already before the courts and should therefore be in the public domain.
On 22 June 2007 High Court Judge Justice Tedius Karwi ruled that the
proceedings should be held in camera, citing the sensitive nature of the
case. Justice Karwi made the ruling after Lawrence Phiri of the
Attorney-General's Office applied to have members of the public, including
the press, excluded from the proceedings under the Courts and Adjudicating
Authorities (Publicity Restriction) Act.
MISA-Zimbabwe submits that a total news blackout on the court proceedings
is unfair and not in the public and national interest as it gives room to
all sorts of speculations on what exactly transpired and is happening in the
MISA-Zimbabwe argues that the courts and all judicial proceedings should be
public events subject to media reportage so that justice is not only done
but seen to be done. In this regard the media becomes an important player in
conveying the proceedings to the generality of citizens. In a politically
charged environment such as Zimbabwe , issues pertaining to national
security are often clouded with political overtones and innuendos and it is
in the interest of the state that matters relating to threats to national
security and stability are played out in the public and in the open so that
all parties are satisfied.
It is in this regard that the media blackout further fuels speculation and
uncertainty as to what is really happening. Contrary to the views of the
state that this case should be treated with secrecy as it threatens national
security, MISA-Zimbabwe contends that it is in fact the media blackout that
will result in all sorts of speculation and falsehoods which is not healthy
to national interest and security.
In this regard MISA-Zimbabwe calls upon the state to allow the media and
the public access to the court proceedings in this matter in the spirit of
transparency, justice and fairness to the accused and the people of Zimbabwe
For any questions, queries or comments, please contact:
Research and Information Officer
Media Institute of Southern Africa - Zimbabwe
84 McChlery Ave
P.O Box HR 8113
Tel/Fax: 263 4 776165 / 746838
Cell: 263 11 602 448