· Tsvangirai public meetings
· Aid agencies barred from country
By ANGUS SHAW - 4 hours ago
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Just three weeks before Zimbabwe's presidential
runoff, Robert Mugabe is giving the opposition little room to campaign -
detaining its candidate, banning rallies and attacking diplomats who try to
investigate political violence.
Even food is being used as a weapon, American and British officials said,
with a ban on aid agencies ensuring that the poorest Zimbabweans must turn
to Mugabe for help even if they blame him for the collapse of the economy.
The government denied the allegations.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai out-polled Mugabe and two other
candidates in the first round of voting March 29, but did not get the simple
majority necessary to avoid a runoff. In recent days, it has become
increasingly clear that Mugabe does not plan to let Tsvangirai come close to
toppling him in the June 27 runoff.
Tsvangirai tried to campaign around Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest
city, on Friday, but he was stopped at two roadblocks. At the second, he was
ordered to go to a police station about 30 miles from Bulawayo.
About two hours later, he and reporters with him were allowed to leave the
station. They drove back to Bulawayo under police escort.
His spokesman, George Sibotshiwe, said Tsvangirai was questioned by police
for 25 minutes and was told that all party rallies in Zimbabwe had been
"We are dismayed that our president has not been allowed to access the
Zimbabwean people at a crucial stage in this campaign," Sibotshiwe said.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change said police had banned its
rallies out of concern for the safety of Tsvangirai and other party leaders.
Sibotshiwe called the justification "nonsense," and said the ban was "a
clear indication that the regime will do everything necessary to remain in
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said in an interview with The Associated
Press that "people are free to campaign as they choose," but he said
Tsvangirai had consistently broken the law by failing to notify police of
"For now, we are just warning him," Bvudzijena said, "but sooner or later he
might end up being arrested."
Tsvangirai left the country soon after the first round of voting, and his
party has said he was the target of a military assassination plot. He has
survived at least three previous attempts on his life. Tsvangirai returned
to Zimbabwe in late May to campaign for the runoff.
The government-controlled media has focused on Mugabe and ZANU-PF, all but
ignoring Tsvangirai's campaign, raising the question of whether Zimbabweans
in isolated rural areas even know the opposition leader has returned.
Tsvangirai's party, blaming state agents, says at least 60 of its supporters
have been killed in the past two months.
The latest setback for Tsvangirai came as U.N. aid agencies said they were
deeply concerned that Zimbabwe has ordered aid groups to halt operations.
Millions of Zimbabweans depend on international groups for food, medicine
and other aid as the economy crumbles. Without the private agencies,
impoverished Zimbabweans will be dependent on the government and Mugabe's
party, both of which distribute food and other aid.
U.S. Ambassador James McGee said Zimbabwean authorities were now supplying
food mostly to Mugabe supporters. In a videoconference to reporters in
Washington from Harare, McGee said the U.S. Embassy has evidence that the
government is offering food to opposition members only if they turn in
identification that would allow them to vote.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack referred to the tactics that McGee
described as "a vicious attempt to use food as a political weapon."
At the United Nations, Zimbabwe Ambassador Boniface Chidyauskiku denied
"There is no use of food as a political weapon. It is the other way around.
It is the relief agencies, followed by the U.S. government, that have been
using food as a political weapon," Chidyauskiku told the AP.
"They have gone out into the countryside and they have been telling
Zimbabweans that if you don't vote for the opposition, if you don't change
your vote, there's no food for you," he said. "So it is the United States
using food as a political weapon to effect a regime change in Zimbabwe. This
is why we have suspended the activity."
On Thursday, aid groups in Zimbabwe were sent a memorandum from social
welfare minister Nicholas Goche ordering an indefinite suspension of field
Aid deliveries to more than 4 million people in the country will be severely
hampered by the decision, said Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the U.N.
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. More than half of
Zimbabwe's population lives on less than $1 a day and life expectancy is
only 35 years, according to the U.N.
U.N. agencies generally carry out their operations in the country with the
help of other aid groups, Byrs said.
"These restrictions are also coming at a time when food security in Zimbabwe
is deteriorating, leaving an increasing number of people vulnerable," she
Poor rain recently has increased the risk of drought, and farmers lack
seeds, Byrs said.
Goche's memorandum to the United Nations and other aid groups did not
mention government claims that aid was distributed to favored recipients or
opposition supporters, or that civic and human rights groups registered as
voluntary organizations were campaigning against Mugabe.
Earlier this week, the aid organization CARE International said it had been
ordered to halt operations pending an investigation of allegations it was
campaigning for the opposition. CARE denies the allegation.
Byrs said the suspension of CARE's activities alone would immediately affect
half a million Zimbabweans.
On Thursday, a group of often violent Mugabe loyalists waylaid a convoy of
U.S. and British diplomats investigating political violence, beating a local
staffer, slashing tires and threatening to burn the envoys, the U.S. Embassy
Mugabe frequently accuses Britain and the United States of plotting to
topple him and return Zimbabwe to colonial rule.
Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 and was once
hailed as a liberator who promoted racial reconciliation and economic
But he has been accused of clinging to power through election fraud and
intimidation, and of destroying his country's economy through the seizure of
Carolyn Norris, an Africa specialist at Human Rights Watch, called the move
against aid groups part of an "extreme campaign of violence and torture" for
people who voted for Tsvangirai's party.
"We don't know if this will convince people to vote" for Mugabe, Norris
said, adding Zimbabwe's population "seems determined to vote how it wants
Tsvangirai also said he expected Mugabe's crackdown to backfire, saying
Thursday: "If Mugabe did not hear the voice in March, he's going to hear a
much louder voice that people no longer enjoy their confidence in this
Associated Press writers John Heilprin at the United Nations and Eliane
Engeler in Geneva contributed to this report.
by Cuthbert Nzou Saturday 07 June 2008
HARARE - Zimbabwe faces an acute shortage of bread in the coming weeks amid
revelations the country had virtually used up its entire available wheat
Zimbabwe - whose government this week banned relief agencies from
distributing food aid despite a long running food shortages - consumes 7 500
tonnes of wheat per week.
The government on Thursday banned non-governmental organisations from
distribution food aid to hungry Zimbabweans accusing the NGOs of using aid
to mobilize support for the opposition - a charge the groups deny.
Industry sources said the government's Grain Marketing Board (GMB) did not
have any wheat at all at its silos while another 20 000 tonnes of wheat
harvested this seasons where stuck on farms as producers refuse to deliver
the staple grains because of low prices.
The GMB is paying ZW$42 million dollars for every tonne of wheat delivered
while farmers are demanding over 150 billion dollars a tonne. International
wheat prices are around US$650 a tonne which would be Z$650 billion a tonne
at the official exchange rate.
The sources said the country was only expecting 1 000 tonnes of wheat, which
are in transit from Mozambique and expected this coming week.
Another 3 500 tonnes of wheat have been paid for in South Africa as well as
an additional 1 500 tonnes of wheat purchased from Mozambique according to
David Govere, chief executive of Harambe Holdings - a key player in the
bakery industry - said even if additional wheat were to be paid for this
week, it would take "a minimum of three to four weeks before this could be
delivered as ready for baking flour to bakeries."
Govere said government needed to secure enough foreign currency to secure
the wheat and move it speedily but said this would be a very tall order,
given foreign currency shortages gripping Zimbabwe since 1999.
The baker urged the government to move away from distributing cheap inputs
as incentives and instead focus more on providing output incentives such as
good producer prices to drive production.
The government is currently providing cheap fertilizer, cheap diesel,
subsidized seed, free tractors and equipment, free land and free
agricultural advisory extension services.
Critics blame Zimbabwe's food crisis directly on President Robert Mugabe's
haphazard fast-track land reform exercise that displaced established white
commercial farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately
funded black farmers.
Food production plunged by about 60 percent as a result while chaos in
agriculture because of the often violent farm seizures also hit hard
Zimbabwe's once impressive manufacturing sector that had depended on a
robust farming sector for orders and inputs.
Most of Zimbabwe's companies have since the beginning of farm seizures in
2000 either closed completely or scaled down operations to below 30 percent
of capacity, in a country where unemployment is more than 80 percent.
Efforts to get a comment from Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo yesterday
were fruitless with his office saying he was out of the country on
business. - ZimOnline
By Tendai Nyoni
Saturday, 7 June 2008
In rural areas torn by political violence the people have never seen
anything like this. The levels of brutality are shocking.
A 76-year-old woman told me just a few days ago that her son had been beaten
to death on suspicion of being a supporter of the opposition Movement for
She lived in Chiweshe, central Mashonaland, a former stronghold of Zanu-PF
where the "war vets" have been active because of opposition gains.
I saw one woman whose hands and buttocks were raw. I saw a man with severe
injuries on his hand and leg. The people are warned not to seek medical help
on pain of death. That means that the hospitals are receiving people with
week-old wounds, their flesh rotting.
Travelling around Mashonaland I am struck by the number of military vehicles
intimidating people. You see soldiers everywhere.
The army's tactics are quite clear: they call in the village headmen with a
list of voters to make them personally responsible for the votes of their
people. One way or another, they must deliver the vote for Mugabe. Some
headmen have already been beaten or even killed.
I went to one meeting run by army officers in a church mission where
people's ID cards were taken and the details noted. The 400 people who
showed up were told that when they vote on 27 June, they should say they are
illiterate and need help with the ballot.
The soldiers had their guns and ammunition on display so that everyone is
stricken by fear. Many people have left their homes because of the violence,
or threat of violence. They are so scared they sleep in the hills.
Some I spoke to were resolute they would return to vote. But others would
not. The old lady said to me: "What's the point, when they are bent on war?"
The writer is a Zimbabwean lawyer whose name has been changed to protect his
The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the US Government
04 June 2008
Campaigning has begun for the hotly contested presidential runoff election
in Zimbabwe. After finishing second in the March 29 voting, President Robert
Mugabe is carrying out a crackdown against his political opponents and their
supporters heading toward the runoff balloting on June 27. International
pressure must be brought to bear to ensure a free, fair and peaceful
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was declared the winner in the voting
March 29, but not by enough to avoid a runoff. Following the election and
announcement of the runoff, opposition leaders, activists, polling officials
and journalists have been arrested, foreign diplomats harassed, homes
burned, hundreds of people beaten and tortured, and more than 50 killed.
Mr. Tsvangirai has appealed to other African leaders to send more election
monitors to observe and monitor voting later this month. The need for this
was quickly evident, as police officials and the military moved to obstruct
his campaign rallies, blocking streets leading to the rally sites and
harassing his supporters. International aid groups were accused of political
meddling and ordered to suspend their work in the country, and two more
opposition leaders were arrested.
The United States is also appealing for close monitoring of the runoff. In a
written statement, President George Bush deplored the Zimbabwean government's
tactics and called for the international community to be allowed to blanket
the country with election monitors to ensure that the vote can proceed
without fear of intimidation or reprisal.
In the current environment of violence and intimidation, a fair election
cannot be assured without foreign oversight. Indeed, to do any less would
diminish the sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price for exercising
their democratic rights in March.
· Tsvangirai public meetings
· Aid agencies barred from country
The police told Tsvangirai of the ban, ostensibly over concerns for his safety, when he was arrested for a second time this week while trying to campaign. But the move appears to reflect a growing concern in Mugabe's camp that its strategy of violence, intimidation and nationalist appeals will not be sufficient to ensure victory in the June 27 vote after Tsvangirai won the first round in March but fell just short of an outright majority.
The Foreign Office condemned the ban on campaigning: "Nothing we've seen since the first round suggests that Mugabe has changed. He's trying to steal the election now exactly as he did in the first round."
The ban on opposition rallies came a day after the government barred international aid agencies, including the United Nations, from working in Zimbabwe for the duration of the election campaign.
The US described the restrictions as further evidence that Mugabe wants to control food distribution to use it as a political weapon to blackmail Zimbabweans into voting for him.
But aid workers said they believed it is also an attempt to prevent them from witnessing the escalating state-sponsored attacks on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and its supporters in rural areas. The MDC says more than 60 of its activists and supporters have been murdered by pro-Mugabe militias or security forces and thousands more have been severely beaten.
The UN described the new restrictions as "scandalous" and warned that children will be particularly vulnerable to the cutback in food deliveries to about
4 million people - one-third of the population - who rely on aid to survive. Unicef, the UN's children's agency, said that about 180,000 will be seriously at risk from curbs to nutrition and healthcare.
Britain described the restrictions on aid agencies as a reflection of Mugabe's "callous contempt for human life".
Tsvangirai was attempting to campaign in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, when he was detained and taken to a police station about 30 miles from the city. He was released after about two hours but with a warning that he was not permitted to campaign any more, according to his spokesman, George Sibotshiwe.
"We are dismayed that our president has not been allowed to access the Zimbabwean people at a crucial stage in this campaign," he said.
The security forces had already blocked Tsvangirai from holding rallies by sending soldiers to occupy stadiums booked by the MDC and to intimidate ordinary people into staying away. But the MDC leader had continued to hold small, sometimes impromptu, meetings.
Sibotshiwe said the claim by police that the formal ban was solely intended to protect Tsvangirai and other MDC leaders was "nonsense" and "a clear indication that the regime will do everything necessary to remain in power". Zanu-PF was clearly shocked after the first round of elections at the inroads Tsvangirai made into the ruling party's former strongholds, particularly in Mashonaland. The MDC leader had campaigned heavily in rural areas for the first time because of the relative lack of violence compared to other recent elections.
Mugabe has evidently fallen back on violence once again but in banning foreign aid agencies, and detaining British and American diplomats on Thursday, the authorities evidently do not want outside witnesses. On Thursday, foreign aid organisations were ordered to suspend field work indefinitely. Mugabe this week accused NGOs of acting as a front for western support for the MDC.
The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the ban would severely hamper assistance to millions of people. "These restrictions are also coming at a time when food security in Zimbabwe is deteriorating, leaving an increasing number of people vulnerable," Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for OCHA, told the Associated Press.
Two British aid agencies affected by the ban, Save the Children and Christian Aid, condemned it. Christian Aid described the restrictions as certain to have an "extremely detrimental effect" and "frightening".
In London, the international development secretary, Douglas Alexander, told Channel 4 News that Mugabe's use of "the threat of hunger as a political weapon in his re-election strategy shows a callous contempt for human life".
Published: June 6, 2008 at 5:58 PM
HARARE, Zimbabwe, June 6 (UPI) -- Leaders of Zimbabwe's political opposition
said they do not believe the June 27 presidential runoff election will solve
the nation's political turmoil.
The leaders, speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa, offered
suggestions for how to resolve the country's crisis, including postponement
of elections and creating a national unity government, AllAfrica.com
The runoff is designed to chose a winner in the race between President
Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic
Simba Makoni, who was eliminated from the presidential race after the first
round of voting March 29, advocated delaying the elections until officials
could ensure the polling is conducted fairly.
"Conditions have been created in the country as a whole, but particularly in
the rural areas, where there is no prospect of any semblance of a free and
fair election," Makoni said.
"Even if by the remotest of chances we could have an election whose results
would resemble the will of the people, it would still not resolve the
crisis. Neither of the two leaders ... would be able to form an effective
government if they won the runoff."
In the meantime, Makoni called for a government of national unity "that
involves all key players so that we can take the country forward and redeem
people from the hell on earth that they are in at the moment."
Saturday, 7 June 2008
Every time one imagines that Zimbabwe has hit rock bottom, Robert Mugabe's
cruel regime manages to push the country into even greater misery. The past
week has witnessed the unleashing of a campaign of violent intimidation
against the political opposition. Thugs working for the ruling regime have
forced thousands to flee their homes and left scores dead, including the
prominent activist Tonderai Ndira.
Nor is it just the poor who are the targets. The opposition presidential
candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been detained by the Zimbabwean police
twice this week. American and British diplomats investigating reports of
repression have been harassed by the security services too. And yesterday's
ban on several planned opposition rallies is the most transparent attempt
yet to disrupt the run-off presidential elections scheduled for later this
month. Given the ruling party's monopoly on the media, such meetings are the
only way for the opposition to communicate with many of its supporters.
As well as robbing the Zimbabwean people of their political rights, Mr
Mugabe seems intent on making them starve too. His performance at the United
Nations Food and Agriculture conference in Rome this week where he blamed
Western sanctions for the huger of his people was obscene. The most
significant reason why Zimbabweans are hungry is Mr Mugabe's agricultural
mismanagement of a nation that was once known as Africa's "bread basket".
Mr Mugabe unleashed a fresh hell in this area this week: a ban on the
distribution of food and water by international aid agencies. One-third of
Zimbabwe's population relies on such aid and about 5 per cent are suffering
from severe malnutrition. The UN says this ruling will severely restrict its
work. But in Zimbabwe food and politics are inextricably linked. The
authorities want to control the distribution of food aid so they can
withhold it from opposition strongholds. It is also a way to ensure that
international aid workers will not witness the violence being used to
intimidate voters in rural areas.
Yet there is an unusual recklessness about all this, even by Zimbabwean
standards. Mr Mugabe does not mind the condemnation of the West, of course.
Indeed, it would not be surprising if one of the reasons he travelled to
Rome was to provoke it. But his allies in Africa are finding his behaviour
increasingly difficult to excuse. We should remember that it was South
African mediation in the March elections that made it more difficult for the
Mugabe regime to rig the results than in previous contests. And the ANC
president, Jacob Zuma, has taken a much more critical line towards Mr Mugabe
than the South African President, Thabo Mbeki.
So what now? The Zimbabwean leader's personal defeat in the first round of
the election has dimmed his aura of invincibility. No amount of beatings and
killings can restore it. As the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee,
argues, "We are dealing with a desperate regime here that will do anything
to stay in power."
Yet, sadly, that does not mean the end is in sight. As we have seen in
Burma, desperate regimes can be formidable at clinging to power. And there
are reports that the leaders of the Zimbabwean military would not
countenance regime change, even if Mr Mugabe would. There is talk of a
"junta" now being in control. Mr Mugabe lost his democratic legitimacy as a
political leader long ago. But, in another tragic twist for Zimbabwe, it
seems his rule as a military-backed "strongman" may have begun.
ZINASU MEDIA ALERT
6 June 2008
Student Leaders Arrested Again in Bulawayo
Bulawayo Police yesterday rearrested three student leaders from Bulawayo
polytechnic after the students defied the police call to end the
demonstration which started on Tuesday 3 June.The Students Representative
council President Simba Kuzipa who on Tuesday was briefly detained at
Bulawayo Central police station and forced by the police to call off the
protests on campus. The students are demanding better living conditions on
campus as the institution has gone for two weeks without water, an end to
political violence, the immediate resignation of Robert Mugabe as he has
turned this nation into a vampire and mafia state. Yesterday the state
security agents took the student leaders accusing them of being used by the
Movement for Democratic Change. Other students arrested include the
secretary general Desire Siyanata and Malvin Mano.On Tuesday riot police had
to throw teargas canisters and use rubber bullets to disperse the students
and it resulted in several students being injured because of the violent
response by the police on the peaceful protest. The students vowed to
continue boycotting classes until their demands are met.
Information and Publicity Secretary
Zimbabwe National Students Union
00263 23 234 650
ESSENTIAL READING FOR ALL FARMERS AND SUBSCRIBERS TO OUR NETWORK, Dated 6
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org : email@example.com
JAG Hotlines: +263 (011) 610 073, +263 (04) 799 410. If you are in trouble
or need advice, please don't hesitate to contact us - we're here to help!
Over the last year JAG has been conducting in-depth research on the
experiences of farmers and farm workers in the wake of Zimbabwe's chaotic
'land reform' programme. This research is ongoing but recently two reports
were released into the public domain. Links to these reports and a brief
description of each is provided below.
We thank all participants for their contributions and urge all farmers and
farm workers who have not yet completed a damages questionnaire or had
interviews to contact the JAG office. The broader our coverage and the
bigger our sample the better the final quality of our research will be.
Land, Retribution and Elections (490 Kb)
This report chronicles recent disturbances on the farms after the March 2008
election. It collates information from several sources including: JAG, the
CFU, GAPWUZ and SACFA. It contains a range of materials all corroborating a
vast upsurge in political violence on the farms after ZANU PF's electoral
Destruction of Zimbabwe's Backbone Industry in Pursuit of Political Power
This report is a direct product of JAG's research over the last year and
contains detailed first hand accounts of gross human rights violations on
Zimbabwe's farms. An initial survey sample of 71 farmers was interviewed and
their narratives provide compelling evidence of the truth behind the
political rhetoric. This is the preliminary report on the ongoing research.
This research complements the earlier report released: Adding insult to
injury. A Preliminary Report on Human Rights Violations on Commercial Farms.
This report was released in mid 2007 and presents the preliminary findings
of a quantitative survey filled in by farmers detailing the losses they
experienced as well as the human rights violations suffered by themselves
and their workers.
In addition for those on Facebook JAG has started a group:
Please join the group and post your views on the reports.
With best wishes,
The JAG Team
June 7, 2008
Jan Raath in Harare and Catherine Philp, Diplomatic Correspondent
Accused of genocide, callous contempt for life and deliberately causing
starvation, the Zimbabwean Government faced an outpouring of international
anger yesterday after its decision to halt all aid operations in the country
in the run-up to the deciding presidential vote.
Foreign agencies and governments raised fears of dire consequences for the
already fragile humanitarian situation if the ban was not lifted.
The United Nations said that the decision spelt disaster for four million
Zimbabweans dependent on food aid after the collapse of the agricultural
sector. Douglas Alexander, the British Secretary of State for International
Development, accused President Mugabe of "callous contempt" for the poorest
and most vulnerable Zimbabweans.
"To use the threat of hunger as a political weapon shows a callous contempt
for human life," he said. "This indefensible decision, which seems to be
part of strategy ahead of the presidential run-off, demonstrated to the
world the lengths to which Mugabe will go to cling to power."
a.. Zimbabwe police rearrest opposition leader
a.. Fury as diplomats attacked by Zimbabwe police
a.. Robert Mugabe - Africa's pariah
The latest outrage came at the end of a week of deepening crisis in
Zimbabwe. The election campaign of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was
effectively stopped in its tracks yesterday after police banned him from
holding further rallies on the ground that they could not ensure his safety.
Mr Tsvangirai was arrested for the second time this week after being blocked
from reaching a campaign rally on orders that "came straight from the top",
according to Nelson Chamisa, the spokesman for his Movement for Democratic
The opposition leader beat Mr Mugabe in the March 29 presidential poll but
long-delayed and much discredited official results awarded him fewer votes
than required to avoid the run-off. Since then the Mugabe regime has
launched an unrelenting campaign of violence against opposition members and
supporters in which more than 2,500 have been wounded. The death toll from
the violence rose to 68 yesterday with the discovery of the body of a
headmaster abducted from his school three days earlier.
James McGee, the US Ambassador whose diplomats were caught up in a violent
confrontation with police and ruling party youth militia on Thursday,
described the takeover of food aid distribution as the latest tactic in the
campaign of intimidation.
In a video conference with journalists in Washington, Mr McGee explained
that if potential voters wanted food aid they had to show their voting
cards, which indicated whether they belonged to the ruling Zanu (PF) party
or the MDC. "If you have an MDC card, you can receive food but first you
have to give the national identity card to the government officials, which
means they will hold on to it until after the election," Mr McGee said.
"Again, you will not be able to vote."
Supporters of the ruling party could keep their identity cards and so were
free to vote. "The only way you can access food is to give up your right to
vote," Mr McGee said.
Well said, Mr De Villiers. If only there were Israelis at risk in Zimbabwe!
John Troughear, Oxford,
where is Mr Bush when we most need him?
jayil, london, uk
The Israelis managed a successful raid on Entebbe. They took action and
solved a problem against an ugly dictator. The West is the real laughing
stock for constantly resorting to words against a regime that doesn't care
about those words. Does the West know its own impotence against a miserable
R L M de Villiers, Campbell, CA, USA
by Own Correspondent Saturday 07 June 2008
JOHANNESBURG - The European Union on Friday demanded that Zimbabwe
immediately lifts a ban on food relief operations by non-governmental
organisations, saying hundreds of thousands of people in the country's rural
areas depended on such aid for survival.
The Zimbabwe government on Thursday suspended all work by aid agencies in
the country, accusing them of using aid distribution to campaign for the
opposition ahead of a second round run-off election later this month between
President Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
"This ban must be lifted right away," EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said
in a statement.
"I am deeply distressed to think that hundreds of thousands of people who
depend on aid from the European Commission and others for their very
survival now face an even more uncertain future."
Mugabe, who lost both presidential and parliamentary elections to Tsvangirai
and his party on March 29 but survived to fight another day because the
opposition leader just fell short of the required margin to take over the
presidency, has in recent weeks stepped up pressure against NGOs accusing
them of using food aid distribution as a pretext to campaign for Tsvangirai.
"It is essential that relief workers be given unrestricted and secure access
so they can provide assistance to the most vulnerable."
Michel stressed that all humanitarian relief efforts were based on the
principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality.
"Further clarification from the Zimbabwean authorities is needed on the
claims of inappropriate actions by certain relief organisations so that
humanitarian operations can be restored in full without further delay," he
Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, has grappled with severe food
shortages since 2000 when Mugabe launched his haphazard fast-track land
reform exercise that displaced established white commercial farmers and
replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded black farmers.
A shortage of seed and fertilizer hampered planting while erratic rains for
most of the 2007/2008 farming season have meant yields will be much lower
again this year and international relief agencies will have to step in with
An economic recession marked by the world's highest inflation rate of more
than 165 000 percent has exacerbated the food crisis, with the government
out of cash to import food, while many families that would normally be able
to buy their own food supplies are unable to do so because of an
increasingly worthless currency.
Most households - especially the poor in rural areas - now depend on
handouts from foreign governments and relief agencies to feed to survive.
Michel said the ban would have serious consequences and meant NGOs and other
international relief agencies, many of which operate with European
Commission funding, were no longer allowed to provide basic humanitarian
care to many of the poorest people.
The European Commission is the most important aid donor to Zimbabwe and last
year provided 91 million euros in humanitarian aid and other assistance. -
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Date: 06 Jun 2008
Statement on Zimbabwe by John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
(New York: 6 June 2008): In response to a directive from The Minister of
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare of Zimbabwe instructing all
private voluntary organizations and non-governmental organizations to
suspend all field operations until further notice, John Holmes, United
Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency
Relief Coordinator, commented as follows:
'This is a deplorable decision that comes at a critical humanitarian
juncture for the people of Zimbabwe. Much of the UN's own humanitarian aid
in Zimbabwe, as elsewhere, is programmed through non-governmental
organizations. If voluntary organizations and NGOs are not able to work,
humanitarian aid for at least two million of the most poor and vulnerable of
Zimbabwe's people, particularly children, will be severely restricted,
although we will do our best to make up for this. I therefore strongly urge
the Government to reconsider and rescind this decision as soon as possible.
The organizations concerned are engaged in vital humanitarian work fully
respecting the principles of impartiality and neutrality, which are
fundamental to all they and we do. They need unrestricted access, and
guarantees for their safety and security. That is what we will continue to
seek in our contacts with the Government of Zimbabwe'.
For further information, please call: Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1
917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; John Nyaga, OCHA-NY, + 1 917 367 9262;
Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570. OCHA
press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
On the very day Robert Mugabe jetted into Rome to attend a UN conference on
the world food crisis, I received an email telling me that a good friend of
mine in Murehwa was in trouble. 'He's in hiding' read the message, 'and he
needs your help now.' While Robert Mugabe and the Amazing Grace stayed in
their £420 a night luxury hotel in Rome, I was scrabbling around trying to
get a measly little sum to help my friend, A.K. I'll call him. By Monday
morning when the conference opened in Rome and Mugabe was posturing in front
of the world's cameras, I managed to talk to A.K. and it was true he was in
hiding, on the run from Mugabe's thugs. What I heard in A.K.'s voice was not
fear for himself. He had told me so many times that he would never chant
Zanu PF slogans, that he would never make the hateful Zanu PF salute, the
clenched fist that accompanies every word of Mugabe 's lying rhetoric. 'I
have told my wife,' A.K. had said, 'I would rather die.' So it was not fear
that I heard as he told me how he was moving around from place to place like
a hunted animal. What I heard was desperate anxiety for his wife and
children; they had all fled from Murehwa and now they were separated. Wife
and children in one place and A.K. in another, each sick with worry that the
police or the CIO would get to them. It was the wife they got to first;
forcing her to reveal A.K.'s number 'or we will take you and the kids' they
threatened. Then they phoned A.K. and told him that he must report to Harare
Central first thing Monday morning. Failure to do so would mean they would
pick up his wife and kids. ' But I'm not going to do that,' he told me. That
was why he needed money, to get his family out, they at least would be safe.
So, while Mugabe and his wife enjoyed the fine food and spring sunshine in
Rome knowing that their children were safe and well-fed at home in Zimbabwe,
A.K. and thousands like him are in fear for their lives from the onslaught
of violence that Mugabe's assorted thugs have unleashed on the whole
country. They're not hiding because they have committed any crime but
because they dared to support the opposition. In A.K.'s case he and other
activists had witnessed the abduction of Shepherd Jani, the MDC's senatorial
candidate for Murehwa North. Earlier, they had seen the local MP threaten
the people at gunpoint at a Zanu PF rally.Vote for Mugabe next time they
were told.or else. A.K. and other activists had seen the brutal attack on
Jani and tried desperately to stop it but Shepherd was pushed into a vehicle
and driven away, his battered body found later, another victim of the
insanity that is sweeping the country leaving the population beaten and
traumatised, their homes destroyed, their children without education and, in
many cases without food. Four million people in Zimbabwe are in need of food
aid and, rather like the Burmese generals in that other dictatorship, the
Zimbabwean government halts the work of the aid agencies with the excuse
that they are working for the ' British backed' opposition to bring about
It goes without saying that Mugabe's utterly predictable address at the
World Food Summit was the usual attack on the west. All Zimbabwe's problems
he claimed, are the result of illegal sanctions imposed by the west and the
machinations of opposition parties which are a creation of the west. 'The UK
and her allies' claimed Mugabe, 'have cut off all development assistance,
disabled lines of credit.all this has been done to cripple Zimbabwe's
economy and thereby effect illegal regime change in our country.' This from
the man who has just lost the elections and is in the middle of a campaign
for the runoff on June 27th! Back home it was the Bright One who offered
this explanation for how Mugabe could find the time to go to Rome in the
middle of his election campaign. 'We are very confident that he is going to
win. That's why he could afford to go to Rome to represent Zimbabwe in this
crucial meeting.' And with sickening hypocrisy Bright Matonga added, ' This
is about more than politics: it's about people's stomachs.' This in the same
week that inflation rose to 2 million % and it was calculated that a family
of six needed 350 billion Zim dollars a month to survive. Yes, Mugabe could
'afford' to go to Rome while his people at home face starvation and
joblessness. Like thousands of others, my friend A.K. hasn't had work since
the economy collapsed with the takeover of the commercial farms.
' Zimbabwe's land reforms are an example to all' crowed Mugabe in Rome while
all hell breaks loose in Zimbabwe. Like some all-powerful Mafia boss, he is
never there when the worst affronts to international standards of decency
are breached. Mugabe leaves the dirty work to his underlings, he always has.
No blood on his hands! The entire MDC leadership is held for 10 hours at a
remote police station. but it's nothing to do with the boss; American and
British diplomats are threatened, detained and abused by a bunch of thugs
calling themselves policemen and war veterans but Mugabe is not there,
nothing to do with him. He was away in Rome at the time on crucial matters
of state and he has the pictures to prove it. Perhaps someone should warn
all his willing henchmen, from the Generals and Commissioners at the top
right down to the unemployed youngsters brutalising fellow Zimbabweans, that
when Truth and Justice prevail in Zimbabwe - and they surely will - Mugabe
will abandon them to their fate. Loyalty is not a concept Mugabe
Yours in the (continuing) struggle. PH.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
5 June 2008
Posted to the web 6 June 2008
Our readers have been pressing for another write up on the way out in
Zimbabwe. Sister Alice G of Harare says: "Thanks for the articles that speak
Our reading in the Diaspora is that there is no way out which includes
Mukuru. Whether he wins the run off or not, his presence will make
Zimbabwe's problems intractable.
Commander Zenzo Magama, a decorated veteran, says that he is prepared to
return to the bush to defend the revolution. He says that "kedu Buhera"
(Tsvangirai) is in collusion with the white man in a plot to recolonise
Zimbabwe. The MDC's strategy is to invite the Germans to supervise the
Reserve Bank, the British will take over the military and CIO and the
police. This will of course undo the Africanisation that has taken place in
There are different plans for Zimbabwe's economic rehabilitation. My regret
about these plans, one by the British Commonwealth Office, another by the US
State Department, and yet another by a University in Massachusetts at
Boston, is that the Zimbabwe parliament has not been consulted.
I am unable to comfort Comamander Zenzo. While Zimbabweans have a role to
play in a new settlement, that settlement must be approved by the US and
Britain, whether you like it or not. The reason is that any economic
recovery will need the support of these two countries in order to get
approval by the World Bank.
Under any new government these organisations are a prime target for renewal
(in the case of the CIO, abolition) because they have served no other
purpose but to perpetuate the rule of one man. In a modern state, the police
and army must be neutral in politics.
At the time of writing, the Zimbabwe government was getting further away
from historical reality. The new historical paradigm is that the meltdown of
economies in African countries like Zambia and Tanzania can no longer be
blamed on imperialism. Sheer ignorance of modern economics and cronyism is
to blame. That is historical paradigm number one.
The SADC secret protocol of 2002 was based on a second historical anomaly
that "kedu Buhera" was a Trojan horse sent by the imperialists to undermine
genuine black empowerment.
The historical reality is that what the revolutionary elite, led by South
African President Thabo Mbeki and Zimbabwe's very own Mukuru, referred to as
black empowerment was in fact crony empowerment, which left millions of
blacks without jobs and "more worse treated" by their brother bosses than by
Unless Commander Zenzo appreciates this total condemnation by our own
people, we will be wandering in the dark. Sister Alice emailed me: "They
gather so much wealth for themselves at the expense of the guy who works for
them. The benefits they have are obscene; holiday allowances, school fees,
golf club subscriptions, salaries for their gardeners and domestic workers.
They choose the most expensive schools for their children because the
company pays. They actually run down the company, they don't care. Murungu
ainge ari nani! They (whites) were not as extravagant as the brothers. Fine,
they were racist, but not oppressive against their own kind."
This is the best expression of total condemnation and rejection of the black
empowerment paradigm. Under these circumstances, if you asked whether the
populace would want a German banker or our own kind, they will unanimously
vote for a German. The German may appreciate the value of money. The same
applies to the police. The paradigm we are dealing with is that you brothers
are condemned by your own people as totally corrupt.
The SADC protocol also assumed that a third paradigm with regard to Zimbabwe
would be in place, the support of the populace for the Third Chimurenga.
This paradigm has turned out to be a chimera. Once Mukuru lost an election
as well as the House of Assembly to the MDC, that paradigm no longer
existed. US Assistant Secretary of State said, and please note, that no
government of national unity can be formed without Tsvangirai as leader of
it. "If you lose an election, you leave power," she said. What part of that
sentence is difficult to understand?
"Kedu Buhera" has captured a moment in history brilliantly. He wrote to
Mbeki, who despises him and adores Mukuru: "As a leader, whilst you may not
have respect for me as person, I can only ask you to respect the position
and responsibility, which I hold, which has been endorsed by the majority of
Zimbabweans who voted for me."
It really does not matter whether one thinks of "kedu Buhera" as sell out,
or a tea boy, or a dog. The consensus of opinion in the wider world is that
he has been elected twice as the leader of Zimbabwe, and by some strange
quack of history, has been prevented form taking office. This necessitates
international community enforcing the rules.
General Sir Rupert Smith, who commanded British troops in Iraq, has just
written a book denigrating the perceived "utility of force." Battlegrounds
constitute conflicts and confrontations. Force is always used to achieve a
political end. The utility of force, as in the case of Zimbabwe, which is
attributed to government, is aimed at achieving a political end, an
electoral victory. The problem is not entirely between the two forces in
confrontation, "kedu Buhera" and Mukuru. Smith says the war must be won in
the minds of the onlookers. These onlookers must believe that they will be
more prosperous, and gain some sense of security for their children. These
onlookers like Sister Alice, as well as Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe
(EFZ), have pulled out the rug of moral superiority from under the ruling
The EFZ says: "Organised violence perpetrated against individuals, families,
and communities who are accused of voting for the wrong party on March 29
has been unleashed throughout the country. People are being abducted,
tortured, humiliated by being asked to repeat slogans of the political party
they are alleged not to support."
If the political elite has lost the moral ground, very little is left. They
have lost the economic argument of black empowerment. They have lost the
argument of recolonisation. They are, as rulers and as racial elite,
condemned by their own people as "totally corrupt." They have lost the
argument in favor of the "utility of force." Force can only succeed if it is
seen to be applied "legitimately" and whether the onlookers view the
possible outcome as some kind of rule of law and a prosperous future for
Without these preconditions the violence in any form is counter productive.
At the stage where we are, the longer the ruling party holds out, the more
violent will be the overthrow. The imperialists will not let the matter
rest, and they will say that they are enforcing the expressed wish of the
The only way is OUT!
Financial Gazette (Harare)
5 June 2008
Posted to the web 6 June 2008
THE protagonists in the country's political crisis have taken the first step
that could lead to a government of national unity (GNU) with a meeting
between President Robert Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, likely before the end of next week.
Last Friday, representatives of the two feuding parties met secretly in
South Africa to work out the modalities for the first ever meeting between
the former trade unionist and President Mugabe, as part of the talks being
brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) point-man on
the Zimbabwe crisis, President Thabo Mbeki.
Sources privy to the talks, which are being kept a closely guarded secret
told The Financial Gazette that a breakthrough in the delicate discussions
could result in the June 27 run-off being scrapped in favour of a power
The key question likely to threaten the talks is who should lead the GNU,
President Mugabe or the MDC leader.
Grace Mugabe, wife of the veteran Zimbabwean leader, last week said her
husband would not be removed from office by anyone outside ZANU-PF.
President Mugabe, who has ruled the country for 28 years, has also
repeatedly said that Tsvangirai will never rule Zimbabwe, which is in the
throes of a biting nine-year-long recession.
Diplomatic sources said ZANU-PF, which lost its parliamentary majority for
the fist time since independence in 1980 and the MDC might eventually settle
for a transitional authority as they seek to end a full blown economic
crisis that has condemned 80 percent of the country's population into abject
poverty while causing a third of its citizens to seek greener pastures
Inflation for the month of April hit 1,7 million percent with the Zimbabwe
dollar nearing an exchange rate of $1 billion against the United States
"It is clear to both ZANU-PF and the MDC that proceeding with the election
is more of a zero sum game. Both parties are aware that the solution to the
crisis lies in a GNU and so why should we waste resources with this costly
charade," said a ZANU-PF insider.
At last Friday's meeting Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Public
service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche represented
ZANU-PF with Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma the secretary-general and deputy
secretary general of the MDC standing in for the opposition.
South Africa's Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi chaired last week's
proceedings and another meeting on the same issue is on the cards.
"The talks were essentially in preparation for a meeting between President
Mugabe and Tsvangirai," a source said.
The meeting was held on the same day that Tsvangirai addressed opposition
Parliamentarians and hinted that his party was willing to work with the
ruling party to end the country's political and economic crisis.
"Instead of focusing on what divides us, we must now try to heal our nation.
This means that we can even talk about restoring ZANU-PF," Tsvangirai said.
"In the spirit of moving the country forward, let us seek out those peaceful
members of ZANU-PF whose eyes are open to the disastrous state of our
nation. Let us listen to their views. Let us invite them where we have
policy agreements," added the MDC leader.
Tsvangirai however, said those who had championed the status quo must
"change their ways and join our ranks" and warned that "violent hawks" in
ZANU-PF would not find a place in a new settlement.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa yesterday said he was not aware of last
Friday's meeting but added that his party was committed to what he termed
"constructive engagement" with the ruling party.
"We have always said we are open to constructive engagement with a view to
finding a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis. We are not opposed to working
with any man of good standing. The MDC fishing rod is going to be thrown
into all rivers including the ZANU-PF rivers," Chamisa said.
"We are not going to tell you that we are going to talk to so and so. You
cannot get that from us, but our government will reflect our mosaic
character as a people and as a nation."
On Tuesday ZANU-PF spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa said he was not aware of
the initiative, insisting that the ruling party was opposed to a GNU.
"You know our position on the issue. Your paper even went on to rubbish that
position. Tingadarowo here? (Can we operate like that)?" Chinamasa said.
The idea of a GNU has gathered currency in the past few weeks from within
and outside the main protagonists after the March 29 elections failed to
produce a clear winner.
Election officials said Tsvangirai polled 47,9 percent of the vote against
President Mugabe's 43,2 percent but neither candidate passed the 50 percent
threshold for an outright win.
Last week losing presidential candidate and former ZANU-PF politburo member
Simba Makoni said a presidential run-off should be shelved, as it would not
resolve the country's problems.
Makoni said: "We need to establish an authority that will take care of
business up until we are able to run an election. That authority should be
allowed to run for five years before the elections are held. We believe that
by then, things will be in their rightful order."
Last week former United Nations secretary General Koffi Annan said even if
polls were held there would be need for dialogue.
Meanwhile, a group of war veterans yesterday launched what they called
"Mwana Wevhu -- The Revolutionary Council," advocating the shelving of the
At a press conference, the group's chairman, Chris Pasipamire said: " We
call for the immediate lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe and on any
individuals as this is clearly in flagrant violation of basic human rights
and international law. This point is non-negotiable and no run-off will be
held until the sanctions are lifted in total, unconditionally."
Pasipamire who said his group was a non-governmental organisation with the
First Lady as its patron, called for the dissolution of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission and the reconstitution of the old parliament in which
ZANU-PF had a two-thirds majority.
"After all, you will agree with us that US$60 million required for the
run-off is not there and even if it is there, it is better to use it to
boost economic recovery programmes," Pasipamire added.
He said war veterans must be accorded 20 seats at local and national levels
as well as resources ranging from farms to mines, adding, "Only then can we
talk about any elections."
A militia would be formed to defend ZANU-PF members who are allegedly being
attacked by the MDC, Pasipamire added.
who ever needs the zanupf , they have shot themselves in the feet, abused
their own voters and threw away the countries breadbasket to incompetatent
farmers and mugabe stallwarts. mdc doesnt need zanupf they are history, a
further five years in power will just put more nails in their coffin so they
will never rise again. so win or loose the presidency the zanupf are
finished in zimbabwe. better they pack their bags and flee to malaysia.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
5 June 2008
Posted to the web 6 June 2008
THE government is keeping the United Nations at bay by sitting on the world
body's request, made last month, to assess political violence gripping the
country in the run up to the presidential run-off poll scheduled for June
A meeting with President Robert Mugabe over this issue, among others, is
In response to questions from The Financial Gazette, the UN Country Team
said: "Our request for cooperation to facilitate carrying out an assessment
mission remains outstanding.
The United Nations through the UN Country Team, continues to engage the
Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as is the
practice everywhere in the world. A meeting with the President is
Asked whether the UN would send election monitors or observers following a
request by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
who will be fighting it out with President Mugabe, the world body said: "The
UN Secretary General has indicated that the United Nations stands prepared
to assist should the Government of Zimbabwe request for assistance. The
Secretary General indicated his willingness to support initiatives by SADC
and the AU."
Without the government's approval for it to undertake an assessment of the
violence engulfing Zimbabwe, the UN can only do so following a resolution of
the Security Council, but chances of such a step are remote because of South
African President Thabo Mbeki's opposition to internationalising the crisis.
Last month, Tsvangirai wrote to Mbeki urging him to recuse himself from
mediating between ZANU-PF and the MDC on grounds of his alleged bias.
Pretoria this week said the letter was never sent to Mbeki, dismissing the
reports as part of a disinformation campaign waged by sinister forces.
The escalating violence is most pronounced in the rural areas where children
are failing to attend school because teachers are fleeing the turmoil.
Last week, The Financial Gazette witnessed an incident during which alleged
ZANU-PF youths collected food and $30 million per household in Maridale
Norton, which they said would be used at a "party base" to be set up in the
Last Thursday, people who identified themselves as ZANU-PF members, rounded
up villagers in Murehwa for a meeting, MDC supporters were assaulted.
One person died at the centre while a second victim passed away afterwards
at his home, relatives who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of
reprisals said. They identified the deceased by name.
The group is said to have called another meeting in Dzivaresekwa, where
further assaults were perpetrated.
ZANU-PF and the army have repeatedly denied involvement in the violence,
although last month the UN Country Team implicated both the MDC and the
ruling party in the terror campaign.
In a report entitled "Beaten, wounded, bleeding and even losing life for
exercising my right to vote", the Zimbabwe Peace Project said violence in
the post-March 29 election period was escalating.
"In most of the reported cases of violence and human rights abuses
throughout the country, the perpetrators are alleged to be ZANU-PF members,
youths, some uniformed forces and government officials.
"There are some cases in Harare where MDC members have been involved in
perpetrating violence" the report said.
"There are also numerous cases where women and children are being taken as
ransom and forcibly detained at bases until their fathers or husbands who
fled violence return to their villages. Women are also being assaulted,
tortured and sexually harassed."
In most cases the police are not playing their role of enforcing the law as
they bow to political pressures or become perpetrators themselves.
In an interview, police national spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the law
enforcement agents were performing their duties above board.
"That is a wrong supposition by that NGO," Bvudzijena said, adding that
delays in the finalisation of cases was not due to external pressures but to
the time needed to gather evidence for prosecutions during investigations.
This week the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) called upon the
various state agencies to respect the fundamental rights of the individual
to free expression, association and assembly.
"These rights are categorically enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe as
well as under numerous international and regional instruments, which
Zimbabwe has voluntarily acceded to and ratified," ZLHR said in a statement.
United States President George W. Bush this week said the continued use of
government-sponsored violence, including unwarranted arrests and
intimidation of opposition figures, to prevent the MDC from campaigning
freely ahead of the June 27 presidential run-off election, was deplorable.
"We call on the regime to immediately halt all attacks and to permit freedom
of assembly, freedom of speech, and access to the media. We urge the
Southern African Development Community, the African Union, the United
Nations, and other international organisations to blanket the country with
election and human rights monitors immediately.
"We also are concerned by reports that misguided government policies are
projected to result in one of the worst crop harvests in Zimbabwean history.
"While (President) Robert Mugabe makes political statements in Rome, his
people continue to face empty markets at home. The United States currently
feeds more than 1 million Zimbabweans and spent more than US$170 million on
food assistance in Zimbabwe last year.
"We will continue these efforts to prevent government-induced starvation in
Zimbabwe," Bush said.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
5 June 2008
Posted to the web 6 June 2008
During the opening of the 2008 judicial year, Judge President Rita Makarau
urged all political players who were going to contest the March 29
harmonized election to respect the will of the electorate through accepting
the election's outcome. In particular, she implored losers to accept defeat
as it is obvious that just like a sporting contest, an election has winners
In making this statement, the Honourable judge was simply or in other words
encouraging all political players and in the present circumstances ZANU-PF
and MDC to demonstrate political maturity and tolerance before, during and
after the election.
As it turns out, these two main political players have either failed or
refused to take the judge's advice. The election battle that was fought at
the polling stations has now spilled into the courts where it is being
fought with more energy and intensity, in the process further entrenching
the high levels of political intolerance and immaturity that has become part
and parcel of our national politics. It is now public knowledge that 105
electoral petitions were filed by both the MDC and ZANU-PF, with these
parties sharing almost in equal number this large volume of court actions.
While going to court to challenge unfair electoral outcomes is a
constitutional right that each and every offended political player is
guaranteed by our Supreme Law, and thus can exercise, the sheer volume of
the present electoral petitions is both alarming and worrying. Never in the
history of Zimbabwe's elections has the nation witnessed such a mammoth
tussle for political power being fought out in the courts. There is,
however, a general belief by some observers and commentators that the two
bickering parties are in a way attempting to "get elected by the courts",
having failed to get political power through the electorate. Yet, and apart
from a few justifiable cases, it is never the duty of the courts to assist
losing candidates to smuggle themselves into political office, as such a
task, and in terms of sound electoral practices should be left in the hands
of the electorate.
I have decried the large number of these election petitions that the High
Court, sitting as an Electoral Court is presently faced with. Legal
Practitioners and other justice seeking individuals, whose issues are
determined in the normal course of the High Court's business are not
impressed with the status quo. As a matter of fact, this sudden influx of
court work has, not only worsened the court's usual case backlog, but has
unnecessarily further burdened judges, and other court staff with more
duries. Outstanding normal civil and criminal matters have been major
victims, as it is now obvious that during this judicial year, they shall not
be dealt with as speedily as would have been possible had politicians not
abused the court with their numerous controversial petitions. The worse
thing about these petitions is that they are priority matters that in terms
of law must be finalised within six months from the date of the election. It
is therefore imperative, that by September 2008, the court should have
finalised all the 105 petitions; otherwise the consequences might be
This fact alone calls for the temporary suspension of normal court
litigation in preference of the political cases, a situation that has caused
the administration of justice to choke with court business. Already, the
High Court has been malfunctioning because of the nation's economic
challenges, and to impose on it the extra huge burden of election petitions
is to unnecessarily further cripple its functions. Judges are few in number
and, few as they already are, they are overburdened with court work, and
other administrative duties.
Therefore, to add the load of political court matters, that are in
themselves complex and time consuming is to overstretch their human
capacities. I say election petitions are complex for one main reason, which
is that of the volume of witnesses who are likely to testify. Invariably, in
such cases, witnesses come in numbers and they are, in terms of procedure
called upon to give oral evidence, at times through interpreters, a process
which at the end of the day may result in judges having to sit in court for
weeks, if not months.
But one may have to ask the 64-million-dollar question, which is whether
these election petitions are necessary at all given the nation's overriding
need for political healing, and economic recovery? I believe, just like many
out there that this messy political battle is undesirable and
counterproductive not just to our quest for political peace, but also to the
normal functioning of our administration of justice system. Its roots are
easily traceable to the attempt by both political parties to win control of
parliament where the MDC presently enjoys a narrow majority. The strategy,
that is believed to bear possible fruit is to lump up as many challenges for
house of assembly seats as possible, and hope that out of the close to 50
petitions, a good number will successfully be reversed, and have candidates
declared winners, or have re-runs ordered, in the faith that ultimately, one
of the parties will win and consolidate its control of parliament. The
nation is not going to gain anything from this nasty political game, and it
is high time that political wisdom prevailed and both parties agreed to halt
their endless squabbles and accept the need to co operate in the spirit of
nation building. As it stands, huge financial costs are being incurred by
both parties, money going into the pockets of lawyers who have been doing
brisk business since these disputes erupted. I call upon both ZANU-PF and
MDC to withdraw their petitions, to commence a national conference of
engagement to debate and draw up a charter to be the basis of our country's
future political and legal order. If this idea is acceptable, then it would
be prudent to call off the election run-off penciled for the June 27, 2008,
to allow for a negotiated settlement to end our political troubles.
Vote Muza is partner at Muza & Nyapadi
Financial Gazette (Harare)
5 June 2008
Posted to the web 6 June 2008
THE power import deal struck between ZESA Holdings and the mining industry
has run into trouble, with one signatory to the deal saying it has been hit
by the escalating foreign currency shortages.
ZESA last year signed a deal, which was approved by the central bank, with
major mining firms under which the mining companies were to pay for
electricity supplies in foreign currency.
ZESA was in turn expected to supply uninterrupted electricity to mining
houses from its imports from Mozambique.
About 17 mines signed the deal with ZESA, guaranteeing non-stop electricity
RioZim chairman, Eric Kahari, told shareholders at an annual general meeting
last week the company had slid back into uncertainty as the power deal was
under threat due to non-payment of foreign currency due to ZESA for the
RioZim owns 22 percent of Murowa Diamonds and 50 percent of Sengwa Coal
Mine, placing it among major consumers of power in Zimbabwe. It also runs
gold mining operations across the country.
The power deal resulted in RioZim's operations at Renco Mine and Empress
Nickel Refinery securing the direct imports from Mozambique, saving the
firms from incessant load shedding that had triggered a reduction in output.
"We retained good and positive relations with ZESA and in the third quarter
(of last year) were able to enter into agreements whereby power from
Mozambique was supplied to all our operations in return for payments in
foreign currency," Kahari said in a statement to shareholders.
"This stabilised matters for a time but early in 2008 it became apparent
that our approved invoices submitted to the Reserve Bank were not resulting
in payment to ZESA. The future of this arrangement is therefore in doubt,
leaving us again vulnerable to ZESA and, indeed, the region's power supply
problems," said the RioZim chairman.
Due to the scarcity of foreign currency, the central bank has had to battle
with an intricate foreign currency allocation system that has inevitably
punished industrial operations, which have been forced to scrounge for the
money on the parallel market.
Foreign currency inflows into the official market were expected to improve
following the introduction of a "willing seller willing buyer" policy
introduced by the RBZ in April.
But the inter bank market is still to curb the dominating parallel trading.
RioZim said despite the threats to operations posed by the shortages of
power and oxygen, it would press ahead with expansion plans such at the
exploration works already underway at its One Step claims near Kadoma.
Kahari said this could be concluded this year, and said there was growing
international interest over the company's proposed Gokwe North power
"The regional and national power situation had excited a great deal of
interest in prospects for a power station at Gokwe North. We have signed a
Memorandum of Understanding with one consortium of investors to allow them
to investigate the power station project and there is significant interest
from other players," he said.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
5 June 2008
Posted to the web 6 June 2008
THE country could continue with massive imports of wheat last week indicated
that winter wheat production had again turned into another monumental
According to statistics from the Agricultural Ministry, the country has
failed to plant the 70 000 hectares government had earmarked for the winter
wheat crop this season, managing only 8 963 hectares by May 23.
This figure represents only 13 percent of the proposed hectarage, meaning
seven days before the May 31 planting deadline, farmers were 87 percent down
on the original plan.
Statistics shown by the Ministry also indicated that on a comparative basis,
the 8 963 hectares were 10 000 hectares less that the 18 989 hectares wheat
farmers planted during the same period last year.
The wheat-planting season started last month and the harvest only comes in
Zimbabwe's farmers are facing a plethora of problems ranging from the
shortage of inputs, fuel, and power.
The latest development, which confirms fears raised by this paper about two
months ahead of the winter planting season, indicates that despite various
government interventions to help farmers, problems of depleted output could
haunt the nation for sometime.
A deficit in wheat production would mean that the central bank would be
forced to allocate scarce foreign currency resources towards the importation
of wheat from neighbouring states.
Industry players estimate that the government has already pumped in close to
US$120 million to get the country to the next harvest following another
deficit last season.
"Winter wheat statistics have unnerved officials," a source in the Ministry
of Agriculture said. "They (government officials) are worried of the
implications of another year of wheat imports but the farmers are just not
coping with the effects of the economic crisis," the source said.
Due to the problems bedevilling the farming industry, many farmers had not
finished planting their wheat this week.
The baking industry requires 450 000 metric tonnes of wheat per year to
supply adequate bread to the market, according the National Bakers
In 2007, the industry said wheat supplies recorded a deficit of 300 000
metric tonnes, triggering a drop in capacity utilisation in the baking
industry from about 40 percent to 10 percent.
"Unless and until local farmers improve wheat production, the future of the
baking industry in Zimbabwe remains bleak," former NBA chairman Vincent
Mangoma said at the association's annual general meeting last month.
With global warming and climate change resulting in food shortages across
the world, countries producing surplus wheat, maize and other crops could
stop exporting to restock for future consumption, leaving importing
countries like Zimbabwe much more vulnerable than before.
As a result of the harsh climatic conditions, six warmest years in Zimbabwe
have been recorded since 1987, increasing temperatures by between 0,5 and 2
Degrees Celsius and reducing crop yields by 25 percent.
This year alone, these extreme weather conditions destroyed crops after the
2007/2008 seasons were ravaged by low rainfall at the beginning, and high
precipitation at the end.
Already food shortages have been reported across the world and there were
fears that these could escalate Zimbabwe's domestic crisis.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
5 June 2008
Posted to the web 6 June 2008
FARMING sector planners have, once again, been caught napping. And this
time, the consequences of their blunders - worse than those of a schoolboy -
are too ghastly to contemplate.
The country, whose economy has lapsed into a coma of sorts after being
subjected to heavy and rapid dosages of politics, administered without due
regard to the state of the economy, had hoped that policy makers and
administrators had learnt from past mistakes.
Sadly, they have not.
Elsewhere in this issue, we report that farmers have all but failed to plant
the 70,000 hectares of winter wheat that had been planned for this season.
As of May 23, only 8,963 hectares had been put under wheat, according to
statistics captured by the Ministry of Agriculture.
This embarrassing figure represents only 13 percent of the planned
hectarage, meaning the farmers, who increased in number following the
chaotic land reforms, were 87 percent off-target. As they say, too many
cooks spoil the broth.
Barring any miracles, which rarely happen in agriculture where failing to
plan is planning to fail, the possibility that farmers might have covered
the remaining 61,037 hectares by May 31, the winter wheat planting deadline,
is very remote.
If past experience is anything to go by, the country, which lost its
breadbasket status after the emotive land reforms decimated the mainstay of
the economy, would be lucky to produce an average yield from the 9,000
hectares put under winter wheat.
For instance, the farmers who are still learning the ropes after being
thrown into the deep end without the requisite resources would have to
grapple with the intermittent power cuts that are getting more intense and
the disruptions on the farms, which are yet to stop.
The farmers must also summon all their creativity to get round the crippling
shortages of inputs that are taking the glamour out of agriculture, which to
all intents and purposes, is the biggest source of inflation. And then there
are other exogenous factors such as the threat of quelea birds that have
reduced yields in past seasons.
It is now a foregone conclusion that another disastrous winter wheat season
is upon us. A dent in output around the next harvest in November, while
vindicating the concerns raised by this paper time without number, is not
good for the country, which requires 400,000 tonnes of wheat yearly.
The long and short of it is that the market will continue to experience
flour and bread shortages of unimaginable proportions. The milling and
baking industries, which are already in the red, might be forced to close
shop or truncate operations to the barest minimum production levels as the
country continues to count the cost of poor planning.
The country has suffered chronic foreign currency shortages due to the
massive drop in exports and the dearth in foreign aid, triggered by the
International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s withdrawal of balance of payments
support in the late 1990s.
This means that Zimbabwe has no financial wherewithal to bankroll wheat
IMF's exit over the form, style and content of the country's austerity
economic reforms spawned the current economic crisis, which took a turn for
the worst when the government started expropriating land from the minority
whites for allocation to inexperienced and poorly funded black farmers.
Ever since that time, the country, whose economy is powered by the
agricultural sector, is yet to get its act together.
Statistics also indicate that on a comparative basis, the 8 963 hectares put
under winter wheat as of May 23 are 10 000 hectares less that the 18 989
hectares farmers had planted during the same period last year.
The figures reflect badly on the Ministries of Agriculture and Policy
Implementation. No amount of excuses can lessen the culpability on the part
of Ministers Rugare Gumbo and Charles Ndlovu, who have clearly let the
Or could it be that Gumbo is reading notes from former agriculture minister
Joseph Made, whose blundering and weird crop forecasting methods are a
matter of public record.
It is however, not too difficult to figure out the reasons for the costly
ineptitude, which in other countries could have claimed the scalps of
superintendents in the two ministries.
With the country still to untangle the March 29 presidential election
stalemate between President Robert Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, focus has shifted from bread and butter issues as
the government deploys all the resources it can muster towards securing a
ZANU-PF victory on June 27.
Not even the opposition has bothered to raise the red flag.
But because government has been muddled in politics, the whole civil service
has gone into a trance in defending ZANU-PF's political turf.
Sadly, nobody seems to care. President Mugabe has never fired any of his
officials on the basis of poor performance hence his subordinates now
believe that only loyalty can guarantee their jobs, which explains why his
lieutenants fall over each other to please him.
While the central bank has made available tractors, ploughs and an
assortment of other farming equipment to step up agricultural production,
there is very little activity on the farms to justify the investment.
Or could it be that the beneficiaries of the agriculture mechanisation
programme are not putting the equipment to good use.
We strongly urge the government to undertake a thorough audit of all the
farm equipment provided by the Reserve Bank as well as an audit of the
quadrillions of dollars disbursed through the Agricultural Sector
Productivity Enhancement Fund.
We fear that scarce resources might have been diverted to take advantage of
arbitrage opportunities at a huge cost to the economy.
The audit, whose findings must not gather dust in bottom drawers, should
avoid taking the form of a spider web that only catches small insects and
lets the big ones through. It should target the big fish first before
A strong message needs to be sent across the farming community by punishing
those who abuse projects or programmes funded through the taxpayer's money.
Correctly pricing inputs, loans and farming equipment would also deter
farmers from straying from their core business. Instead of overburdening the
taxpayer, government should seriously consider removing subsidies, which are
creating arbitrage opportunities for unscrupulous farmers.
Whoever emerges winner of the runoff should also ensure that those who sleep
behind the wheel do the honourable thing by resigning.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
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1. Craig Dunlop
Dear Lord Tebitt
Having read your comments on the current state of the UN and more
specifically the current illegal president of Zimbabwe, I can only commend
your opinions and hope that the view taken by yourself is the view we as
Zimbabweans expect our fellow nations to adopt.
It is, as you correctly point out, a pathetic situation when an organisation
which was formed for the very reason citizens in Zimbabwe are experiencing
(megalomania) cannot address the issues that have for the last 10 years
haunted this country .
Not only is it pathetic, but the UN is proving to uphold and support illegal
governments as each day passes, the UN in its entirety is now " the clown at
the circus " and being a citizen of Zimbabwe, thanks to this dreadful
organisation, is a crime in the eyes of our current illegal government as
were being a German Jew a crime in the eyes of Hitler!
I have no doubt that in the peak planning negotiations the Americans and
their allies were attempting post 9/11, the utter disappointment that
endured as the UN danced with the foe at the expense of many innocent
victims, and as you have correctly pointed out again ,it is beyond time now
for the West to boycott this organisation called the United Nations and
freeze any further financial support , until a strong and balanced presence
of "blue helmets " are on the ground in Zimbabwe and other countries
suffering the same dilemma , to give the battered citizens of these
countries a small ray of hope towards normality .
Many citizens of Zimbabwe do not want to be associated with the disgusting
politics that have now earned an illegal president celebrity status with the
UN , many citizens have endured this 'Disney land economics ' for over 10
years, and many citizens do not want to even vote , all they want is the
right to live peacefully in their country of birth and not be judged by
anyone , be it political parties , generals ,policemen, activists , media
and all the other ingredients that make this 'merry go round ' a recipe for
In assessing your comments Lord Tebbit, I believe you have understood our
situation perfectly, and maybe one day the civilised world will be brought
to bear the consequences on which the very organisation 'UN' was founded.
Zimbabwean Citizen (Craig Dunlop)
2. Bruce Low
Re: ad for stolen tractor.
IT'S BEEN FOUND!!!!!!!! Yesterday evening a man phoned to say he had seen
one fitting the description and told us where he had seen it. We went there
and, Lo and Behold, it was ours. Not one thing missing from it. It had run
out of diesel and been abandoned. Therefore please stop the ad.
Thanks for running the ad so promptly.
Good things still happen in Zim.
Very best regards,
3. Douglas Haye
In an attempt to contact Tom English, last known to live in Harare, it has
been suggested by a well-wisher that I try these three email addresses as
"Most of the country and pretty much most Zimbabweans around the world read
Should anyone reading this message happen to know of Tom's whereabouts and,
particularly his email and/or postal address, I would be glad to have them.
I can be reached on email@example.com.
4. Ken Worsley
Please could you send out this query?
Looking for Pieter Henderson, last known in or near Chegutu. Please contact
Francois Martens. firstname.lastname@example.org . Phones +258 251 62135 or +27 83
289 9114 and +258 8270 90026.
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of
the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for