Waiting, kumirira, ukumelela
6/27/02 9:04:31 AM (GMT +2)
AS it happened, many a
reader of this column commented to me last week
in anticipation of this
week's contribution. "What is next week's 'waiting'
topic all about?" asked a
colleague, hoping for a hint.
"What do you think it is all about?" I
asked, hoping for an idea for
this article - whereupon he reminded me of the
South African novel Waiting
for the Rain written during the apartheid era by
Sheila Gordon depicting
emotional scenes from that country's conflict and in
One lady told me of another novel,
Waiting for Godot, a classic tragic
comedy by Samuel Beckett which her niece
had read in her high school
literature class and which she (the lady) was
circulating to friends at her
Unlike Waiting for the
Rain, the latter novel (Waiting for Godot) is
about waiting in anticipation
for a messiah who never comes or is delayed
indefinitely like the "second
coming" of the biblical Jesus Christ.
"We are 'waiting'," remarked
a bank teller who recognised me on
Tuesday at the foreign exchange counter.
But she wouldn't be drawn into
speculating on this week's "waiting" theme;
neither did she cite a novel.
Bankers are not novelists, I thought
(By the way, I had gone to my bank following a rumour
currency accounts were going to be frozen. I had to check on the
my deposit which I made some 14 years ago. I didn't want to "wait"
foreign currency assets at the bank were frozen. And, please,
get excited - it's only US$250 chete).
We are a
nation in "waiting"; aren't we? We are waiting for foreign
currency; are we
not? We are waiting for maize meal to come; are we not? We
are waiting for
sugar, for cooking oil, for petrol, for this and that; are
There are so many things we are waiting for, so many that it
more manageable to count things we are not waiting for. We are even
for salt, aren't we? Ordinary salt, mufunge! (Just
But more fundamentally, is it not an open secret that
waiting for change in the way Zimbabwe is governed? Alas, the
region and the
international community are also waiting, waiting to see
Robert Mugabe will defy his own people, the region, the
community itself and succeed - are they not?
President Mugabe is also waiting, waiting to see whether the
community, the region, and the people of Zimbabwe have the
will and resolve
to resist his rule - is he not?
The Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) too is waiting, waiting for a
propitious moment to call a mass action
for the removal of the ZANU PF
regime from power at minimum risk - is it
So, we are all waiting. But for how long can this waiting game
To what extent are the parties to this waiting game prepared to "wait"
other out? What are the risks involved?
Mugabe has told
Zimbabweans and the world that he is not prepared to
relinquish power (stolen
or not) any time soon, or for at least six more
long years. The message he
wants to communicate is that we might as well get
used to the idea (that he
intends ruling for at least the next six years!).
Mugabe is fully
aware that the MDC is planning mass action (violent or
not) to remove him
from power much earlier than six years. So he is making
impossible by maximising the risks involved in such mass action.
seems to be falling into the strategy by being overcautious.
Mugabe is "waiting" for the international community to get tired
and the MDC
to get used to the "theft".
The question is: will the international
community in the end get
tired? Will the MDC get used to the
For its part, the international community is not exactly
troops anywhere near Zimbabwe's borders. (Although the government
think the British are doing so clandestinely!). But from what one
diplomatic circles in Harare and from international intelligence
it would be naïve to think that the position on Zimbabwe will
So, in waiting, we might as well prepare
for a protracted struggle we
might win without the support of the former
Soviet Union, Eastern Europe,
and the People's Republic of China. This is not
an impossible task, but its
success is highly unlikely, to say the
Politics is about taking risks. The MDC seems to be shifting
"Foko theory" of revolution and social change which is based on
spontaneity. Some see the present hardships fast moving to such
mass action. So why risk arrest, imprisonment and even death by
what is coming anyway?
But such a spontaneous
situation has a logic of its own; it creates
its own leadership. This is a
risk the MDC must consciously take.
Overcaution often leads to paralysis of
action - an outcome that might be
intended by your adversary.
For the region and the international community, the advice is: "A
time saves nine".
Firm action now avoids chaos and panicky action
later. To the extent
the latter is very possible, given the stubborn nature
of the problem, the
United Nations peacekeeping force in the Congo must not
be sent home
prematurely. They might be needed further south in the region,
even on a
Everyone is WAITING for
President Mugabe to leave office. Ndizvo
zvakamirirwa nomunhu wese. Yiko
okumelelwe nguzulu wonke. I suspect many in
ZANU PF too are waiting. Please,
Your Excellency, do Africa a favour.
Professor Masipula Sithole is
a lecturer of political science at the
University of Zimbabwe and director of
the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion
Africa's only hope
6/27/02 9:06:37 AM (GMT
DISCORDANT voices from the Zimbabwe government have greeted
arrival of NEPAD, Africa's new economic rescue plan, exposing the
rift on how to chart the country's future among moderates and
Ordinarily the ongoing debate
on whether Zimbabwe should sign up to
NEPAD would have been a healthy sign of
democracy had it not been for the
fact that the hardliners, now in the
ascendancy, see the end of their
political careers if the plan is
Unfortunately for the hawks, who have carved out careers
bad-mouthing anything backed by the West, there is really no choice
embracing NEPAD in the brave new Africa which enlightened African
are mapping out for the continent.
NEPAD, the New
Partnership for Africa's Development, rightly makes
good political and
economic governance the centrepiece of any meaningful
because, without the observance of the rule of law and
human rights, no
development can take place.
The authors of NEPAD are none other
than a new breed of democratic and
elected leaders of Africa who want to
break away once and for all from the
continent's endemic circle of abject
poverty, civil strife and oppression
caused by Africa's
It is the boldest economic development initiative yet
to be unveiled
It is not seeking handouts from the
West but to have a true and
workable partnership which opens up the West's
vast trade markets to Africa,
increases inflows of foreign direct investment
to the continent, tackles
Africa's crushing debt burden and increases
development aid in order to
create a more peaceful and stable
By placing human rights and democracy high on the agenda of
the African leaders are acknowledging that fundamental freedoms and
of Africans are no different from those of other people in the
This is the way things should have been all along. Only
dictators bent on trampling on their people would opt out of a plan
this one, but thankfully NEPAD has won resounding support from virtually
African leaders who want to pull the continent out of its
self-inflicted economic misery and ruin.
As things stand
now, Zimbabwe would not at any rate qualify to join
NEPAD because of the
government's bloated human rights record and suspension
of the rule of
There would not even be a need to send the proposed peer
to check on Harare's flagrant violations of the plan's
Because the government cannot afford to
be left out of NEPAD unless it
wants to commit political and economic
suicide, it has to start putting its
governance in order now or face
embarrassing censure and possible expulsion
from the plan by
Judging by the steely resolve of African leaders to make
shown at a recent summit in Durban, no amount of vilifying the
Zimbabwe under the guise that it is an imperialist plot will ever
the rest of Africa from marching ahead.
Nations such as
Zimbabwe and Libya, the latter would also not qualify
because its ruler is an
unelected military strongman who shot his way to
power, should realise that
their options are increasingly diminishing as the
rest of Africa races
towards a better economic and political dispensation
which addresses the true
wishes of the continent's peoples.
As South Africa's Trade and
Industry Minister Alec Erwin bluntly told
Zimbabwe's government last week:
it's time you come to your senses or face
chaos as the country
He pointedly added: "We have pointed out to the
and to business leaders time and again: 'You are making
and the cost of your errors is going to be extreme'.
He could not have said it better. We have nothing to add.
Officials defy Chidyausiku
From Njabulo Ncube
6/27/02 9:03:18 AM (GMT +2)
Officials of Khami Maximum Prison here have defied a ruling
by Chief Justice
Godfrey Chidyausiku to immediately release from custody two
to the murder of Bulawayo war veterans' leader Cain Nkala
and ruling ZANU PF
supporter Limukani Luphahla, it was established
Information obtained by this newspaper shows that Justice
sitting in the Supreme Court last Friday, ordered the release of
Mpofu and Khethani Sibanda after he threw out an urgent appeal by
Attorney-General (AG) against the granting of bail to the two
The AG's office had sought to overturn a Bulawayo High Court
issued by Justice George Chiweshe on May 29 this year granting the
The appeal was made on the grounds that the
trial judge had allegedly
failed to give "due weight and consideration to the
state's fears that the
respondents may abscond if granted bail".
After dismissing the AG's appeal, citing the AG's failure to comply
provisions of Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act
9:07) as read with Section 44 (5) of the High Court, Justice
immediately issued the warrants of liberation in favour of Mpofu
The Financial Gazette has seen Justice Chidyausiku's
judgment, as well
as the two warrants freeing the two men, both activists of
Movement for Democratic Change.
They have been in
custody for the past six months.
Lawyers representing Mpofu and
Sibanda said yesterday the two men were
still locked away at Khami Maximum
Prison despite Justice Chidyausiku's
They said the
prison officials had also defied two other High Court
orders issued by Judge
Chiweshe ordering the release of the two.
The lawyers said several
attempts to have the MDC followers freed had
been met with resistance, with
the officer-in-charge of Khami Prison, one
Inspector Nyamukonda, refusing to
"It's clearly a defiance of the Chief Justice," said
Mathonsi, a lawyer with Webb, Low and Barrow, representing the two
"Since last Friday, we have been going to Khami
Prison to try to get
the boys out as per court ruling but officials at Khami
Prison have flatly
refused to abide by Chidyausiku's command.
"We are now working on an urgent court application to have the boys
to court tomorrow (Thursday) or Friday so that the prison
why they don't want to release them."
Mathonsi said this was not
the first time that prisons authorities at
Khami had refused to comply with
On May 29 this year, he said, Bulawayo High Court
granted bail to the two men but their release was stalled by
the AG's office
which said it wanted to appeal.
"But they (the
AG's office) failed to appeal, forcing us to urgently
appeal to the High
Court here to enforce Chiweshe's earlier judgment
granting the two suspects
bail. Now Chidyausiku has thrown out the AG's
appeal and further commanded
that the boys be released immediately but the
Khami authorities are
"We tried today to have them released but we met the same
No one is willing to release them. We are now seeking another High
order to have them brought to court immediately. The prison authorities
to explain their defiance in court."
When this newspaper
called Khami Prison yesterday, Inspector
Nyamukonda was said to away on
Mathonsi said: "We are getting no joy from the
prison authorities. We
don't know what they are afraid of."
Mpofu and Sibanda face two counts of murder. The state alleges that
the company of other co-accused persons, kidnapped Luphahla on
last year at Lupane Business Centre and murdered him.
alleges that the two men kidnapped and murdered Nkala on
November 5 2001 just
outside Bulawayo. Both deny the charge and all their
co-accused have been
Africans at G8 summit seek buy-in for
6/27/02 9:14:01 AM (GMT +2)
- African leaders want full backing for their ambitious
recovery plan when
they sit at the top table today with the Group of Eight
Led by South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, a core group of
presidents hope to
cap months of lobbying and sales pitches around the world
with the G8's
At the G8 summit in western
Canada, Mbeki and his peers from Nigeria,
Senegal and Algeria will argue that
most African countries are ready to
start a process of profound
But in return for dramatic improvement in political and
governance in Africa, rich nations must commit to boost investment,
relief and aid and to lift trade restrictions.
issue is the much abused word 'partnership'," Africa analyst
"Is it possible to treat each other with respect while taking
other's objections seriously - better trade access for Africa;
African governance for the West?" Herbert, of the South African
International Affairs, said.
"Both sides are
sceptical: the West doesn't always honour its promises
of help and Africa
just seems to sign documents without implementation," he
Today's Africa session at the resort of Kananaskis will be the first
that the G8 - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia
United States - have received such a large group of African leaders
The widening chasm between Africa and the rest of
the world in terms
of poverty, health standards and economic growth, has
inside and outside the continent.
shows that in 2001 Africa accounted for less than four
percent of global
Gross Domestic Product, although economists say that the
actual ratio may be
closer to five percent because of thriving informal
"One whole continent has not benefited from the advantages of
It was a reproach to the progress taking place everywhere
else in the world,"
Lucie Edwards, Canada's high commissioner (ambassador)
in South Africa, said.
Then up came NEPAD, the clumsy acronym for the New
Africa's Development which Mbeki and allies say is the only
A major challenge for Mbeki, NEPAD and the body's small
secretariat in Midrand, South Africa, is to prove that the
ready for real business and not more aid.
simply sit there trying to look pretty and not do anything
ourselves we shall
remain beggars. And no one respects beggars," Professor
Shadrack Gutto of
Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand told
foreign diplomats last
The Africans at the G8 will try
to put flesh on their plan to improve
governance through a "peer review
mechanism", a work in progress that would
see African governments commit to
raise their game and be measured by
scoring high marks would benefit from foreign aid but also
as global capital markets gradually adopt the performance
"The way that the reward process will operate..
should be an incentive
to those countries that don't initially sign up for
peer review. It will be
a clean bill of lading on the governance side,"
Mohamed Ibn Chambas,
executive secretary of the Economic Community of West
(ECOWAS), told Reuters.
G8 leaders are liable to
brandish Zimbabwe as an example of how Africa
has failed to avert a self-made
crisis caused by land seizures, flawed
elections and failed economic
The African guests will reply that failures in Zimbabwe
are precisely why NEPAD is needed. As part of the new order,
Mbeki and his
allies aim to bury the 40-year-old Organisation of African
Unity in Durban
next month and give birth to its more modern successor, the
WANTED: BANKABLE PROJECTS
Prime Ministers Tony Blair of Britain and Jean Chretien of Canada have
the partnership's biggest supporters to date. A gesture of G8
the recovery plan is inevitable.
"It's our expectation that they
will collectively throw their weight
behind the NEPAD initiative," Chambas
said by telephone from ECOWAS
headquarters in Nigeria.
challenge for our side is to put forward clear projects that are
will support recovery," the Ghanaian said, pushing the virtues
of two West
African projects for a gas pipeline and to network national
Farmers in dilemma as game nears end
6/27/02 9:12:20 AM (GMT +2)
SELOUS - It is just before midday when
we trudge along a dusty road
leading to Sandriver Farm, home to David Fowler
who has exactly 43 days from
today to leave the property he has called his
own for most of his life.
Fowler, his brothers and sisters have
survived on the proceeds from
the 1 160-hectare farm, 90 kms southwest of
Harare, since 1974.
He inherited the property from his parents four
years ago but his
future and that of 70-plus families who work the farm is
now uncertain as a
deadline imposed by the government for white farmers to
vacate acquired land
A cloud of uncertainty hung
over the Selous farming district at the
weekend when a Financial Gazette news
crew toured the area.
A sombre mood gripped the neighbour-hood,
usually a hive of activity
at this time of the year when farmers tend their
tobacco seedlings and grade
last year's golden leaf.
Selous is a
key tobacco growing area.
As the Financial Gazette team arrives at
the Sandriver farmhouse, our
host is impatiently pacing up and down outside
"Did you meet anyone at the gate?" he asks with a voice
of a man who
has seen enough terror.
Fowler then says that the
interview can no longer go ahead because war
veterans and officials from the
local district administrator's office warned
him the previous night that they
knew the Financial Gazette would be
visiting his farm.
with him and, after 15 or so minutes, he reluctantly agrees
Fowler, like nearly 3 000 other white commercial
farmers, has been
affected by the government's amended Land Acquisition Act
which gives him
only 45 days to wind up his farming operations and another 45
days to leave
While the leadership of the Commercial
Farmers' Union this week tried
to show bravado by saying farmers would defy
the law, it was not the same
with Fowler here.
"I am abiding by
the law," Fowler says in a dejected tone. "I have to
stop or be arrested and
the last thing I want to do is to end up in jail.
"I will only
start working again when I get a directive (from
Fowler says he has written to Agriculture and
Lands Minister Joseph
Made to be allowed to finish grading his tobacco crop
but there has been no
The district administrator had
told him to stop farming by Tuesday
Made this week
told state television that the government would deploy
its officers on all
farms issued with eviction notices to make sure that the
farmers observed the
Fowler's property is a single-owned farm, spanning 1160
grows about 130 000 kilogrammes of tobacco a year, 30 ha of
maize and 10 ha
Fowler, who also rears horses, says
he is in the process of
de-stocking his large cattle herd and now remains
with 300 cattle.
He says it takes him 110 days to grade his tobacco
crop and has only
done 45 days of grading. Although he has sold some tobacco,
crop is worth more than US$400 000 ($22 million) at current
But even then, Fowler still has to worry about his huge
which has kept him going all along.
"Tell me what
I can do. I still have 65 days left of grading and my
bank phoned me last
week inquiring whether I will be able to continue
For a while, he gazes into the distant and empty sky and,
summoning courage, he says it is the workers and his young wife and
children he is mostly worried about.
There are 70 workers on
the farm, each family having an average of six
420 or so people resident here have nowhere to go. They say
they have not
known any other life other than farming.
"We all don't know what to
do because we have been told that when your
boss goes, you also go," says
Peter Matiringa, a veteran of 27 years on the
(March presidential) elections came, we voted for the ruling
ZANU PF but now
they are chasing us away. Is that fair?
"Now we are being told that
if you want land, you have to talk to the
war veterans but you have to give
Matiringa says only five out of the 70 workers
have been promised land
on the farm by the veterans.
commercial farming sector is estimated to employ 300 000 workers,
whom could be out of employment this week and have not benefited
government's controversial agrarian reforms.
This week all workers
at Sandriver were sadly sent on early leave
because they will not be able to
work following the expiry of the first
45-day period on Tuesday.
Fowler says he will not be able to pay his workers their
packages until the government pays compensation for his farm,
The government is still to evaluate his
Miriam Chandisaita, a mother of six and a worker on the farm,
shattered and almost at a loss for words.
She does not know
what the future holds for her and her family. "I don
't know what to do," she
mutters with a resigned shrug.
"It is a problem that is so close to
our hearts and we are not sure
where we will go. We don't have anywhere to
The farm workers described the close relationship they had
their employer, saying all of them had become one large
"We have been living here like one big family with the
any problems," Matiringa noted. "He has been helping us with
whether it is money or anything. It will be sad if we have to go
Fowler said he had not contemplated leaving
Zimbabwe to farm in
neighbouring nations such as Mozambique, where some
Zimbabwean white farmers
But he denied the
government's claim that commercial farmers had had
it too good for too long,
ignoring the plight of their black workers.
The government also
accuses the farmers of seeking to derail its land
reforms by backing the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
"If we have had it cushy
for too long, then we would be having foreign
currency accounts and we would
not worry about anything," Fowler said.
"But we are Zimbabweans
with Zimbabwean passports and where else in
the world do you go and
"We agree that there is need for land redistribution, but
government should also let us get on with farming - this is what we
best - to produce food and exportable commodities and earn foreign
that we need for our country."
Fowler's dream has all
And for most farmers such as him and workers like
countrywide, it will be game up shortly when, come August 10,
they will have
to part with the only life they have ever known.
Iron fist will fail, analysts warn
Mutsakani News Editor
6/27/02 9:11:40 AM (GMT +2)
NERVOUS Zimbabwe government has put its opponents under siege in
analysts this week said was a futile effort to thwart swelling public
and agitation over the administra-tion's failure to end a worsening
and food crisis.
They said the government was panicking at the
prospects of mass
protests threatened by the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
"The strategy is to thoroughly terrorise
the population into
submission as a way of neutralising the impending MDC-led
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political analyst Masipula Sithole
The MDC has threatened to call mass
protests soon to force President
Robert Mugabe, who it accuses of stealing a
presidential election earlier
this year, to re-stage the ballot.
In a show of force unprecedented since Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF
wrested power from British colonialists 22 years ago, armed police
the past few weeks swooped on the opposition, arresting nearly 100
The law enforcement agency has also broken up social
university student meetings, arguing that they could be used
support for the proposed strike.
The government has
also intensified a crackdown on the country's
independent media by arresting
and sending several journalists to the courts
for alleged contravention of
sections of a tough media law passed earlier
said by publicly wielding the iron fist, the government was
sending a clear
message to ordinary Zimbabweans on the cost of joining any
UZ Institute of Development Studies associate professor
Raftopoulos said the government's high-handed approach was an admission
did not have any solution to the deepening political, economic and
Nearly half of Zimbabwe's 12 million people face
starvation because of
poor rains last season but largely because ZANU PF
agricultural production when they seized land from
International isolation of
Zimbabwe's government, which intensified
following Mugabe's controversial
election victory in March, has only helped
quicken the meltdown of a
crumbling economy already sapped by lack of
foreign aid, hard cash, runaway
inflation and unemployment and mass poverty.
"They (the government) have no solution to the
crises facing the nation and
they see suppression of all voices of dissent
as a way of consolidating their
hold on power. What we are seeing are the
typical signs of
The police force, accused by many Zimbabweans of
weeks ago shot and killed Harare taxi driver Lloyd Midzi at
a road block
because he did not stop when ordered to.
spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena later regretted the killing but said
blocks had been put up in most of Harare to counter the MDC's
A week later armed police forcibly broke up an
in central Harare, which was being held to commemorate
the Day of the
The police said they feared the
gathering posed a threat to public
Several MDC activists,
including some of the party's legislators and
journalists covering the
meeting, were severely assaulted by police.
But even more revealing
of how insecure the embattled government has
become was the police's reaction
to UZ students innocently celebrating
Senegal's extra-time victory against
Sweden at the ongoing World Cup soccer
in Japan and South Korea.
In no time, armed riot police had descended on the college's campus
where the celebrations were taking place, mistakenly thinking that
students were protesting against the government.
The police also
dispersed a meeting of UZ students seeking to elect a
A few days later, police in Harare's Mabvuku township
broke up a crowd
watching social soccer because they suspected it was an MDC
mobilise for mass action.
"Every little thing is a
cause for strong reaction from the
authorities. It just shows how insecure
the government feels," Raftopoulos
said the government's use of strong-arm tactics amid
worsening social and
economic hardships among citizens would not silence
"It can only achieve the opposite," he noted.
have seen this in other countries where governments have attempted
discontent by using force against the people," Sithole said.
the long run, these governments have failed and there is no valid
believe the government of Zimbabwe will succeed where others
MDC plots parly boycott
By Sydney Masamvu
6/27/02 9:02:30 AM (GMT +2)
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) meets in Harare
decide whether to stay in or out of Parliament as the party
gears up for its
nationwide mass action to force a re-run of the disputed
Insiders said yesterday there was a strong feeling within the
boycott the legislative assembly, with many of the party's
arguing that Parliament had become a virtual rubber stamp for
Robert Mugabe's controversial policies.
They said the
MDC felt that Parliament had become an instrument of
repression by allegedly
approving what the party regards as oppressive
legislation and that the MDC
should therefore resolve Zimbabwe's economic
and political crisis outside the
The MDC's shadow foreign minister and legislator for Harare
Tendai Biti, shares these sentiments.
"It is a waste of
time to sit in a Parliament that is solely going to
rubber-stamp ZANU PF
madness and misgovernance," he told the Financial
said his views were shared by most MDC colleagues in the House and
"Our continuous sitting there will make us an accomplice to the
misgovernance and the bad laws which are being passed by the House,
by and large beome irrelevant."
He said the governing ZANU PF and
Mugabe were taking advantage of the
MDC's attendance in Parliament to give an
impression of normalcy in a
country also weighed down by unprecedented food
and foreign currency
shortages caused by misrule.
Morgan Tsvangirai will address tomorrow's meeting of the
parliamentary caucus consisting of its 55 elected MPs, where a
be taken on their role in Parliament.
The MDC's legislators may
also be asked to consult their
constituencies on whether they should boycott
Parliament. Some members of
the party's national executive are understood to
be backing the proposed
Other measures to be considered
at the meeting include a proposal for
the MDC to attend Parliament once a
week for ceremonial purposes only.
Also being debated tomorrow will
be a proposal which seeks to bar all
elected MDC officials from official and
state functions hosted by Mugabe
except for what the party regards as
Tsvangirai yesterday refused to discuss the
latest stage of
preparations of the MDC's threatened mass action but said it
would be staged
He said he was aware that Zimbabweans were
restless over delays to mount the strike, seen shutting
The insiders said the MDC, which
disputes Mugabe re-election in March
and is challenging it in court, will
boycott the official opening of the new
session of Parliament scheduled for
The ruling ZANU PF, using its simple majority in the
House, has in the
past year fast-tracked and passed the tough Public Order
and Security Act
and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
meant to stifle
political activism and freedom of expression.
Several amendments have also been made to various laws aimed at giving
ruling party what the MDC sees as an undue political advantage
opposition attempts to debate grounds upon which Mugabe could be
have been thwarted.
Dollar slides to brink of free fall
Worldcom scandal: Currencies: Latest Wall
Street disaster sends investors
all over the world running for cover
Philip Thornton, Economics Correspondent
27 June 2002
Article: This is not a crisis, but the cleansing of a loathsome
The US dollar yesterday moved to the brink of free fall
scenario for the world economy after reverberations from the
scandal triggered panic among investors.
The currency came
within a whisker of parity with the euro and crashed
psychological barriers against the yen and the pound as
investors rushed to
dump dollar assets.
"This is threatening to become a disorderly market,"
David Bloom, global
economist at HSBC, said. "There's no better way to show a
loss of confidence
in a country than through its
Speculation mounted that the Federal Reserve would lead the
world in a fresh
round of interest rates cuts amid fears of a deflationary
slump, although it
kept rates on hold last night.
The dollar tumbled
as much as 1.5 per cent to 99.42 cents to the euro, its
weakest level since
February 2000, from 97.22 late Tuesday. It fell below
120 yen for the first
time despite three interventions by the Bank of Japan
overnight to support
the US currency. The misery was compounded by confusion
over the US's dollar
policy and a roller-coaster day on Wall Street.
The Dow gyrated between a
200 point fall and 34 point gain before ending
down 6.7 at 9,120.1, while the
Nasdaq recovered from 2 per cent fall to end
up 5.3 points at 1429.3, still
within a whisker of a five-year closing low.
In Europe the FTSE 100 fell 100
points to 4,531, above an earlier nine-month
low of 4,442.
President, George Bush, appeared to imply the administration had
its strong dollar policy. The White House later was forced to
had been no policy change after Mr Bush said the currency would
"seek its own
level based on market forces".
The WorldCom scandal, coming hard on the
heels of the Enron collapse and
crises at Tyco and Adelphia, is the latest
piece of news to undermine the
Sharp falls on Wall Street and
fears about the solidity of the US economy
have slowly undermined the dollar
over the past few weeks. A dollar collapse
is seen as one of the greatest
threats to the nascent global economic
Mark Cliffe, a global
economist at ING Financial Markets, said: "If the
dollar's decline turns
explosive, this could compound the problems of the US
asset markets as
currency losses raise fears of a massive capital flight out
Americans have collectively acted as the consumer of last resort
financial crises of 1997, 1998, 1999 and even during the latest
sucking in imports from the rest of the world. More importantly,
were happy to pour money into US markets to cash in on booming
Now, however, outsiders may be deterred from
pumping any more money into the
US, for fear the cash will simply be
squandered. "We thought it was a
bubble, but perhaps the whole thing was
overstated," Mr Bloom said. "The
dollar bull market was just plain
A dollar crisis would be a major headache for the Fed in its
juggle tumbling markets with signs of a strong economic rebound.
serious speculation ahead of last night's monetary policy decision
Fed would cut rates despite figures showing new home sales soared to
record and factory orders increased in May.
Gold rose as much as
$6.33, or 2 per cent, to $325.75 an ounce in London.
The metal has risen 16
per cent so far this year, its best first-half
WorldCom woes push euro nearer to parity
Published: June 26 2002 8:08 | Last Updated: June 26 2002
The dollar's rollercoaster ride continued on Wednesday as it
28-month lows against the euro only to recover by more than a cent
investors took profits.
Wall Street remained the key, and the
dollar fell sharply overnight after US
telecoms group WorldCom said late on
Tuesday it had fired its chief
financial officer over a suspected $3.8bn
"Enron, WorldCom - these accounting concerns are doing massive
damage to foreigners considering holding US assets," said Lara
vice-president of foreign exchange research at Brown Brothers Harriman
The news helped push the euro to $0.9944 yesterday from
$0.9787 at the close
of Wall Street trading the day before. But the single
currency eased after a
sharply lower open for US equities failed to take it
to parity with the
dollar and it stood at $0.987 by midsession in New
The Federal Reserve's decision to leave interest rates on hold
immediate stir. The key Fed funds rate remained at 1.75 per
cent, a 40-year
The decision was largely priced into the market
and even the accompanying
statement received less attention than usual in the
wake of WorldCom's
The Bank of Japan intervened again on
Wednesday - the sixth such move in
five weeks. According to analysts'
estimates, the bank has bought an
estimated $31bn for yen over the period,
yet seen the yen strengthen more
than 4 per cent to an eight-month high at
Y118.94 despite its actions.
But analysts do not necessarily regard the
Bank's lack of success in
weakening the yen as failure.
"What the BoJ
has succeeded in doing is creating a slightly more orderly
David Bloom, currencies strategist at HSBC. "They know they
can't fight the
world on their own, but I'd hate to think of where the rate
would be without
that $31bn." While Japan's hefty reserves can withstand the
date, there is a danger the BoJ's moves could become
"If the BoJ keeps coming in, there's a danger people see the
make free money by selling dollars to the BoJ then buying them
back as the
rate falls further," he said.
Comments by George W Bush,
US president, overnight were also an important
factor behind the dollar's
President Bush told reporters in Canada "the dollar will seek its
based upon market forces". He said that the currency's level
ultimately depend upon "whether or not our country can rein in
recover, can revitalise our manufacturing base".
news supported a growing belief that the US administration welcomed
weaker dollar and was quietly trying to bury the oft-repeated strong
"The president's comments gave a green light to dollar
bears," said Neil
Mackinnon, chief economist at the currency debt management
confirmed suspicions that the dollar is not a priority for
The problem with the president's comments is
that they come as the dollar's
slide gathers pace and a "green light" to sell
could help spark a rash of
further selling which could spiral out of
From its January 31 high against the euro at $0.8582 to
high, the dollar's slide has appeared relatively gradual
- equivalent to
0.09 of a US cent per day. But in the last 10 days, that pace
has picked up
and the dollar has fallen about half a cent a day.
other problem is the market's attitude to the Bush administration.
market doesn't believe a government is concerned with, or would
handle, a growing currency crisis, then selling could easily gather
"This administration hasn't been very credible in the market's eyes
- it has
put forth policies like steel import tariffs which the market
said Ms Rhame at Brown Brothers Harriman. "There isn't a whole
lot of trust
between this administration and the markets."
If the pace
of the dollar's slide picks up, what trust exists could be
tested in the days
From ZWNEWS, 27
Tutu calls for fresh
Desmond Tutu has called for fresh elections in Zimbabwe. In a
foreword to a new report by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition on the current
turmoil in Zimbabwe, the Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, and veteran
South African anti-apartheid campaigner, made a frank and unequivocal appeal to
the international community, and Zimbabwe’s neighbours, to press for fresh
presidential elections. "It is now clear that the resolution to the Zimbabwe
crisis can only be found in recapturing the legitimacy of government and
returning the country to a fair and just rule of law," the Archbishop said.
"Sadly, evidence shows that the presidential elections in March were not fair
and thus the current government cannot regain this legitimacy. A new vote, with
guarantees of fairness and free expression, will undoubtedly be necessary."
Tutu’s sentiments were echoed by Pius Ncube, Catholic
Archbishop of Bulawayo. "Over the last two years I have seen a steady
deterioration of respect for human dignity and rights in Zimbabwe. In the past
two months, I have known of a number of persons who have died of hunger right
here in my city," Ncube said, recommending the report. "We have seen police and
militia threaten, intimidate, and sometimes attack unarmed civilian protesters.
We have spoken out, only to be threatened and attacked ourselves. Writing a report such as this one, by the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition, carries great risks. I pray that readers of this report
will do their utmost to assist in stopping the unnecessary suffering that has
been brought on this fine land. May God move you to act quickly and decisively,"
said Ncube. "The hard facts on the ground in Zimbabwe, so well compiled in this
report, suggest an alarming array of policies and practices that may be leading
the country to a catastrophic future," said Tutu.
FROM ZWNEWS: If you
would like a copy of the Crisis in Zimbabwe report, please let us know. It will
be sent as a Word attachment to an email message - total size 1
From ZWNEWS, 27
Torture now of epidemic
The use of torture by the government in
Zimbabwe has now assumed epidemic proportions, according to Zimbabwean human
rights activists. The evidence, from epidemiological studies, show a systematic
use of torture for political purposes, which goes well beyond mere physical
assaults generated by heated political sentiments. Speaking yesterday at a
London meeting hosted by the Law Society of England and Wales, an array of
speakers presented the evidence to back up their claim. The event, held to
commemorate the UN International Day for the Victims of Torture, focused
specifically on Zimbabwean victims of torture. In a
moving testimony, amid the grand tranquillity of the Law Society’s gilt, marble
and wood-panelled reading room, Tapson Muzuwa spelled out his personal
experience of the systematic persecution of the government’s political
opponents. Muzuwa, an activist for the National Constitutional Assembly and
subsequently for the MDC, described in graphic detail the harassment, threats
and torture which finally lead him to be granted political asylum in the UK. His
account was put in a broader context by Tony Reeler, who set out the evidence
from studies by the Amani Trust – of which he is Clinical Director.
Contradicting frequent government claims
that violence is a feature of Zimbabwean politics resulting from heated
party-political passions, Reeler said that the evidence showed that the physical
assaults, beatings and killings were orchestrated and systematic. Physical
injuries were often of the same type wherever they occurred, with beatings on
the soles of the feet and buttocks, and perforated eardrums indicating a policy
disseminated through the Zanu PF network of "war veterans", militia, police,
army and CIO. Reeler, who this week received the prestigious Eclipse Award from
the US-based Centre for Victims of Torture, also warned that the decrease in
political violence perpetrated by the government and its supporters in recent
weeks has begun to be reversed. Albert Muzarurwa of the Legal Resources
Foundation, described in detail the raft of repressive laws designed to stifle
dissent in Zimbabwe. Lucy Winskell, chair of the Law
Society’s International Human Rights Committee, spoke in support of the recently
arrested members of the Law Society of Zimbabwe. Michael Ellman, board member of
the Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l'Homme, and Steven
Powles, ICC section head of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales,
also set out the possibilities for international legal redress for victims of
From Business Day (SA), 27
Mugabe 'conceals bad human rights
Harare - As the African Human Rights
Commission continue its probe into rights abuses in Zimbabwe, President Robert
Mugabe is reportedly trying to whitewash his appalling human rights record.
State media reports say Mugabe told the investigating team in a closed meeting
on Tuesday that his government brought respect for people's rights in Zimbabwe
and had become the "custodian" of those rights. "We are the custodians of these
rights we brought at a cost," Mugabe reportedly said. Despite overwhelming
evidence of gross human rights violations by government spanning more than 20
years including accusations of genocide against Ndebele minorities during the
1980s Mugabe has continued to insist he was the guardian of Zimbabweans' rights.
The investigating team raised concern to authorities over violence associated
with land seizures, vicious attacks against judges and lawyers, lawlessness,
electoral fraud, harassment of journalists, and repression.
However, Mugabe is said to have tried to
air-brush these issues by dwelling on colonial iniquities and the liberation
struggle, land expropriations, and other excuses to divert attention from his
regime's abuses. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), however,
told the commission that Mugabe's government has violated human rights on a
massive scale. MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube told the team that his
party's members have been victims of systematic repression in the form of
killings, torture, rape, kidnappings, disappearances, and intimidation.
Meanwhile, Britain has donated an additional £22m to the hunger-stricken
Zimbabwe for humanitarian aid through the World Food Programme. The British high
commission in Harare said the money was part of a £45m aid package for Southern
Africa to avert the widespread and deteriorating
|Zimbabwe's whites branded racists and
Zimbabwe's white farmers have been branded racists and fascists by a
He has urged tough action against those who are defying an order to stop
working their fields.
The leaders of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party said many white
farmers are ignoring the government mandate, which took effect earlier this
"We dismiss the claim that the government is destroying the backbone of the
country's agriculture based economy by resettling landless people," said
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made.
But despite promises to redistribute the confiscated land to landless blacks,
many of the farms have been given to loyal MPs and confidantes of Mr Mugabe and
ruling party leaders.
Mr Made accused white farmers of trying to take over the country, saying they
were taking "a racist and fascist approach of wanting to continue white
dominance in this country.".
He added "The confrontational approach is another conspiracy to wipe out the
indigenous people of this country as whites tried in India, Australia and New
In a statement the ruling party said:"The government should take swift action
against any farmer who breaks the law."
But most farmers stopped working months ago, paralysed by the threat of the
government's "fast track" programme to seize white-owned farms and redistribute
them to landless blacks, and intimidated by armed ruling party militants
occupying their land.
The land seizures come amid a potentially devastating food crisis in
Zimbabwe. Government officials said the crisis had nothing to do with the land
seizures, which have decimated the nation's commercial farming industry.
Story filed: 13:21 Thursday 27th June 2002
Zimbabwe minister says white farmers are 'unrepentant racists'
The Zimbabwe Government has slammed white farmers who defied orders to cease
operations by midnight on Monday saying they were "unrepentant racists and
fascists" bent on attracting attention at the ongoing G8 summit in Canada, the
state-run Herald newspaper reported.
"The Commercial Farmers
Union (CFU) action is a racist and fascist approach of wanting to continue white
dominance in this country," Lands Minister Joseph Made said in an interview in
"They are playing to the gallery while we are trying to
create a harmonious community of farmers," he said.
The CFU says many of
the 2,900 white farmers, who were supposed to have stopped farming on Monday
under a new land law which came into effect on May 10, defied the
President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union
Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party said in a statement published on Thursday in
The Herald that the farmers' defiance of Government orders to stop
farming, to pave the way for resettlement of blacks on their land, was
British-sponsored propaganda, aimed at bringing Zimbabwe to the fore at the G8
summit in Canada where the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is
to be debated.
"The CFU and its British sponsors should not believe
their own propaganda that they can defy the Government," a ZANU-PF spokesperson
It also warned that CFU could face a ban if it continues with the
"If the CFU... continues to threaten lawlessness, that will
make it necessary for the ruling party to use its parliamentary caucus to
deregister the CFU," the ZANU-PF said.
But Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said that contrary
to reports many farmers had complied with the order.
Mr Moyo says a few,
who had problems, had resorted to legal action also saying "we do not believe
that going to court is defiance".
At least two farmers have launched
legal challenges to seek more time to allow them to wind up operations at their
Farmers face up to two years' imprisonment or a $20,000 Zimbabwe
($US364) fine for contravening the law.
White farms have been the scene
of politically charged unrest since February 2000, when pro-government militants
forcibly invaded the land.
Since then, 12 farmers have died while tens
of thousands of their workers have lost their jobs, been displaced and attacked
by the militants.
ZESA Owes Emerging Black Businessmen $800
June 27, 2002
to the web June 27, 2002
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) owes
emerging black business people about $800 million for equipment supplied to it
for its ambitious rural electrification programme.
The business people told the Financial Gazette this week
that ZESA had paid them consistently for the first three months of this year but
the payments had suddenly stopped after the March presidential election.
ZESA spokesman Daniel Maviva could neither deny nor confirm
the magnitude of ZESA's debt, but acknowledged the power utility owed money to
"We also wish to confirm that there are some outstanding
amounts at the end of the month which are in the process of being paid off in
line with contractual agreements with suppliers," Maviva said in a written
response to questions from this newspaper.
The rural electrification programme was commissioned in all
of Zimbabwe's 10 provinces just as the campaign for the disputed March
presidential poll heated up. It was widely seen as a vote-buying tactic by the
ZESA, with a huge short-term debt of $5 billion and a
long-term debt of $17.6 billion, is headed by President Robert Mugabe's
brother-in-law Sydney Gata.
The business people, noting that they had supplied most of
the equipment for the electrification scheme after mobilising scarce foreign
currency from the expensive parallel market, said they faced financial ruin if
ZESA did not pay up soon.
Several other business people who supplied campaign
literature and materials to the ruling ZANU PF party in the elections have also
complained of not being paid for their goods and services.
Restore Real Interest Rates, Adjust Exchange Rate, IMF
June 27, 2002
to the web June 27, 2002
Joseph Ngwawi, Business News Editor
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has told the
Zimbabwean government to restore real interest rates and immediately adjust the
exchange rate to a realistic level that would ensure the country's external
competitiveness and reduce the speculation associated with the current foreign
According to a report released by the IMF last week, the
Bretton Woods institution noted that the loose monetary policy pursued by the
Zimbabwean authorities since January last year has aggravated economic
imbalances, fuelled inflation and increased the vulnerability of the banking
The multilateral financial institution, which earlier this
month suspended technical assistance to Harare, urged the government to take
immediate corrective measures to mop up excess liquidity in the money market,
allow interest rates to become positive in real terms and dismantle the
subsidised credit facilities for farmers and emergent businesses introduced in
the past two years.
Finance Minister Simba Makoni has deliberately kept the
money market awash with funds as part of a plan to depress interest rates and
reduce the cost of borrowing on the government's domestic debt, presently
estimated at about $300 billion.
"Directors also stressed the need to ensure the health of
the banking system by dealing promptly with non-viable institutions and to fully
enforce prudential regulations and capital adequacy requirements," the report
The Fund expressed concern at the overvaluation of the
Zimbabwe dollar, which has seriously affected the country's international
competitiveness, fuelled the shortage of hard cash in the economy and hampered
efforts to build the level of usable foreign reserves, presently estimated at
three days of imports.
Analysts say the local dollar is overvalued by more than 200
percent against the currencies of Zimbabwe's major trading partners.
The local unit has been pegged at 55 against the
trade-weighted US greenback since October 2000 despite calls by industry and
economists to devalue the currency and boost the competitiveness of exports.
The shortage of hard cash has also been responsible for the
large accumulation of external payment arrears and the widening spread between
the official and the parallel market exchange rates.
Zimbabwe owes more than US$1 billion in arrears to major
donors and multilateral financial institutions.
The IMF said an adjustment in the official exchange rate to
a more realistic level, supported by tight monetary and fiscal policies, was
urgently required to restore external viability and reduce the rent seeking
associated with foreign exchange rationing.
Speculators have thrived on the back of the shortage of hard
cash on the official market by quoting sharply depreciated rates on foreign
Dealers on the parallel market are currently levying 700
Zimbabwe dollars against one US dollar.
The report noted that while the required adjustment would be
achieved by a substantial upfront devaluation, followed by a return to the
previous crawling peg arrangement, the Fund considered that a unified, floating
exchange rate should be the ultimate objective for the Zimbabwean
Zimbabwe white judge to retire after clash with gvt
HARARE, June 27 — One of Zimbabwe's two remaining white judges will take early retirement next month, the sixth judge to leave the bench since President Robert Mugabe clashed with some judges over judicial independence 15 months ago.
Zimbabwe's government-controlled Herald newspaper reported on Thursday that Justice Fergus Blackie would retire in mid-July at 65 after being a High Court Judge for 24 years, and was not taking up the option to continue in service until he reaches 70.
Blackie was not available for comment.
His retirement was announced just days after the government had denounced him for issuing a controversial warrant of arrest against Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa over his failure to appear in court to answer contempt of court charges for criticising one of the judge's ruling.
Chinamasa was travelling abroad when the case came up, and the government said the court had not even informed his lawyers.
Five other judges have left the bench -- some voluntarily and others in anger -- since Mugabe forced the country's top judge Anthony Gubbay to quit last year after the Supreme Court's continued rulings against his drive to seize white-owned farms for black resettlement.
Mugabe denies charges that he is packing the courts with his supporters, saying some of the judges were bent only on serving the interests of Zimbabwe's minority white community.
The judges, including Gubbay, denied any racism in their approach.
ZIMBABWE: MDC between a rock and a hard place
JOHANNESBURG, 27 June
(IRIN) - A move by Zimbabwe's frustrated Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to
boycott parliament could spell disaster for the opposition party, analysts
warned on Thursday.
They said parliament was the last remaining platform
for the MDC to safely challenge the government.
The Financial Gazette on
Thursday quoted MDC's shadow foreign minister for Harare North, Tendai Biti, as
saying it was futile for the MDC to continue in parliament if it was "solely
going to rubber stamp ZANU-PF madness and misgovernance".
Biti added that
his views were shared by most MDC colleagues. However, the party's legal affairs
secretary, David Coltart, told IRIN: "Although I do respect Mr Biti, his
comments were definitely made in his personal capacity. Certainly, whether we
should remain as part of the legislative assembly or not is up for discussion.
"It is not official MDC policy to resign from the assembly. It must be
noted though that there is a growing sense of frustration within the party with
the deteriorating state of affairs."
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is
expected on Friday to address a meeting of the party's parliamentary caucus
consisting of its 55 elected MPs, where a decision will be taken on their role
ZANU-PF chairman John Nkomo told IRIN: "If they choose to
leave, it reflects the height of childishness and immaturity as a political
party. Most democratic states around the world have minority parties who object
to the ruling party's decisions. This is democracy. However, Zimbabwe will go on
with or without them."
Chairman of Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights,
Tawanda Hondora said: "It would be politically naive should they decide to
boycott, in fact it will give ZANU-PF the right to govern with impunity. At
least by maintaining a presence in the assembly they are in a position to raise
objections to government policy which otherwise would pass through
Hondora added: "The assembly at least gives the MDC the
chance to counter the government's attempt to paint the entire organisation as a
bunch of terrorists. By giving up their place in the parliament, they are also
relinquishing the small amount of protection they enjoy as part of the
government. Should they go ahead, there are no assurances that they will get
their message across without government harassment."
Since the March
presidential elections, the MDC have been stymied by several amendments to
various laws that have stifled political activism and freedom of expression. The
MDC sees the tough new laws as leaving them hard pressed to come up with
alternative strategies in response.
"The MDC finds itself thrashing
around trying to find some way to strike back at the government but is fully
aware of its own political impotence," senior researcher at the Institute for
Security Studies, Richard Cornwell, told IRIN.
President Robert Mugabe
comfortably won the March election, but many poll observers said the process was
flawed. The MDC is challenging the result in the courts, and has steered away
from calling supporters onto the streets in protest.
The option of mass
action, once considered a viable political tactic to confront the government,
has become increasingly unpopular among pundits. They say that it is unlikely to
succeed given the overwhelming sense of insecurity in the country.
away campaign attempted by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions shortly after
the March election was a flop.
Hondora noted: "Any kind of mass action
now will only serve into the hands of the government who will use it as an
opportunity to crush the opposition completely. It is unwise and
Coltart said that the MDC has had to reconsider mass action
in light of state-sanctioned political violence.
"Mass action is
certainly still an option, but from what we have experienced we cannot afford to
endanger the lives of our supporters. This is a government that must not be
underestimated and if they have to, they will go beyond the law to crush
opposition," he added.
The solution to the MDC's dilemma, some analysts
suggest, could come from an unlikely source.
Observers say that the
country's dwindling food supply could provide the impetus for people to take to
the streets in protest in urban areas, where the MDC has the bulk of its
support. A regional food assessment puts almost half of Zimbabwe's population at
risk of having no food mainly because of a drought and the country's land reform
Brian Kagoro, co-ordinator of Crisis in Zimbabwe, an umbrella
organisation of about 250 NGOs and church groups told IRIN: "In the populist
sense it is nice to give land to the landless, but realistically they will have
no resources, no agricultural input and no technical input. The nation will wake
up with insufficient wheat and grain and the people will revolt."
current reality for the MDC is that parliament, dominated by the ruling party,
provides the only platform for them to voice concern over the current political
ZIMBABWE: Interview with US ambassador Joseph Sullivan
HARARE, 27 June
(IRIN) - The Zimbabwe government recently refused to accept a donation of
genetically modified (GM) grain from the United States, despite half of its
population being threatened with starvation. Harare cited long standing safety
and health concerns over GM food as being behind its decision.
to Joseph Sullivan, the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, on the row over the banned
10,000 mt grain consignment, and the wider concerns surrounding Zimbabwe's food
QUESTION: The Zimbabwean government has refused genetically
modified grain from your country, did this come as a shock to
ANSWER: We Americans eat genetically modified corn with no problems.
We see no reason why it should present a problem to any other country. So for us
to be able to be as helpful as we wish to be, it would be important for the
government of Zimbabwe to waive this restriction and to allow us to supply the
food that we do have available.
Q: So you have not been able at all to
give Zimbabwe GM grain?
A: Yes. We have provided maize meal which has
been permitted to be imported, but whole corn has not been allowed, and this is
a constraint upon our ability to help. We have probably the greatest supply of
maize or corn in the world, but we are not able to provide what we have
available to the people of Zimbabwe under current rules. So we hope those rules
can be changed, waived, so that we can help.
Q: Other countries in the
Southern Africa region are also facing food shortages, are you also giving them
genetically modified food?
A: Yes. Other countries in the Southern
African region notably Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi have all waived any
restrictions they had on the importation of genetically modified grain and so
have been able to benefit.
Q: Is Zimbabwe's fall out with the
international community a factor in affecting what levels of assistance donors
will be giving?
A: We do want to help Zimbabwe and I know other donors
want to help the people of Zimbabwe but there are things, certainly, that the
government of Zimbabwe can do to make it easier to provide more food for its
Q: What are these things?
A: The monopoly on
distribution of food and the importation of food by the Grain Marketing Board
inhibits the ability of the private sector to play a role in importing food.
Similarly, unrealistic exchange rates in which the official exchange rate is
less than 10 percent of the parallel exchange rate makes the entire process of
importing food products on a private basis very, very difficult.
no question that the food supply situation is not going to improve. The harvest
has just come in a month ago, it's been progressively depleted and may just last
for three months. We can see the people of Zimbabwe suffering and likely to
suffer more, and we would like to help them. The government, though, does have a
role to play, but certain policies have contributed substantially to the
shortage of food. So it's important that they change their policies that are
contributing to these problems.
Q: What role is the US government playing
to alleviate Zimbabwe's food shortage?
A: We are a contributor to the
World Food Programme, and WFP in turn uses NGOs to distribute the food around
the country. We have been the single largest contributor to WFP providing maize
meal. We are also about to start bi-lateral food distrubution directly through
the [NGO] World Vision.
Q: How critical is the need for food aid in
A: It's very serious at the moment. I do not see at the moment
the sorts of critical indicators of severe malnutrition that I used to see when
I served as ambassador to Angola. But given the fact that the harvest has just
come in and it is expected to last only several months, all expectations are
that the crisis will grow dramatically and within three months or so there might
be as many as six million people facing severe food shortages.
Q: If the
food security situation does not improve in the next few weeks what do you think
A: Well there is no question that the food security
situation is not going to improve. The harvest has just come in a month ago and
has been progressively depleted. It's probably only going to last for three
months and then the country becomes totally dependent on imported maize in
particular. So the situation is going to get worse. The international community
is certainly increasing its assistance, but the needs are going to be
Q: Are donors holding back to punish Zimbabwe for its political
A: We try to seperate [the issues] and help the people of
Zimbabwe. We see the people of Zimbabwe suffering and likely to suffer more and
so we want to help them. The government, though, does have its role to play and
certainly its policies have contributed substantially to the shortage of food.
So it's important that they change their policies that are contributing to the
shortage of food and we will do our part as well.
breadbasket to basket case
Jun 27th 2002 | HARARE
Faced with famine, Robert
Mugabe orders farmers to stop growing food
From The Economist print
JUNE in Zimbabwe is
midwinter, but because of the country's subtropical climate, its commercial
farmers can grow food all year round. Right now, they should be tending the
winter wheat, which is usually ready for harvest in September or October, and
preparing their fields for warm-weather crops, such as maize, the national
staple. But President Robert Mugabe has commanded them to park their tractors
and stop farming. With half the people in Zimbabwe on the brink of starvation,
this is, even by Mr Mugabe's standards, an exceptionally bad idea.
From June 25th, some
2,900 white farmers, whose farms have been earmarked to be seized and given to
blacks, were legally obliged to cease work. Those who continue to plough, weed
and scatter seeds face jail terms of up to two years. Generously, the government
said it would allow them to continue living in their homes for another 45 days,
but then they must leave. In theory, they are permitted to take their portable
possessions away with them, but in practice, police and ruling-party militiamen
at roadblocks often prevent them from escaping with anything too valuable. Mr
Mugabe's cronies, relatives and assorted mobsters covet their pick-up trucks and
In all, 95% of
commercial farmland has been slated for “redistribution”. Some 60% of commercial
farmers must halt work immediately. Another 35% have only received preliminary
notices of confiscation, and so may carry on farming for a while longer. The
remaining handful have so far escaped, either through the incompetence of their
persecutors or because they have friends in government.
By the government's own estimates, nearly 7m of the country's 13m
people will be without adequate food in a few months
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is
facing its worst food shortage in 60 years, caused by drought and several years
of violent harassment of the nation's most productive farmers. By the
government's own estimates, nearly 7m of the country's 13m people will be
without adequate food in a few months. The World Food Programme (WFP) which, with other donors, is already feeding 600,000
Zimbabweans, says that the food shortage is “virtually universal throughout the
country” and predicts that, without a huge increase in imports or food aid,
“severe malnutrition and death caused by hunger will occur in the coming
White commercial farmers
normally produce a third of Zimbabwe's cereals but, if evicted, may find it a
bit difficult to continue feeding the nation. Many vow to carry on farming
regardless. “How can the government tell me not to tend my wheat crop when so
many people are going hungry?” said one, who preferred not to be named for fear
of retribution. “As long as I'm on this farm I am going to feed my pigs and till
my fields.” Two farmers went further, filing a lawsuit to have the evictions
ruled unconstitutional. But others are winding up their operations and thinking
of moving to Zambia, Mozambique, New Zealand or just about anywhere else that
will have them. Black farmworkers and their dependants—2m people in all—face
Mr Mugabe says that his
“fast-track land reform” will redistribute wealth from rich whites to poor
blacks, from whose families the land was stolen in colonial times. At a recent
conference in Rome, he called the programme “a firm launching pad for our fight
against poverty and food insecurity”. But since the land is usually handed out
to ruling-party loyalists, rather than skilled farmers, the result so far has
been the opposite. Cereal production in Zimbabwe has fallen by 67% since
1999-2000, according to the WFP, and looks set to tumble
Mr Mugabe does not seem
to care. After stealing a presidential election in March, his chief concern has
been to punish those who dared to support his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. He
suspects white farmers of having bankrolled Mr Tsvangirai's campaign, and is
determined to ensure that they cannot do so again. He has also targeted critical
journalists, ten of whom, including this correspondent, are facing criminal
charges for articles they have written. Two prominent lawyers were briefly
detained this month and charged with plotting to overthrow the government. As
evidence, the police produced a semi-literate letter that the erudite accused
allegedly wrote to British diplomats. The British high commissioner (ambassador)
to Harare, Brian Donnelly, is accused of “masterminding” a plot to topple Mr
Mugabe and is under 24-hour surveillance.
Mr Tsvangirai himself
faces treason charges, which could carry the death penalty. And starving
peasants who are suspected of having voted for him are denied food aid in areas
where the ruling party controls its distribution.
Zimbabwe warns white landowners
Ruling Party urges 'swift
action' against farmers defying law
Zimbabwe, June 27 - Zimbabwe's ruling party urged tough action
farmers who defy orders to stop working their fields, and
that the land seizures have exacerbated the country's
hunger crisis, state
media reported Thursday.
AT A MEETING Wednesday, the leaders of
President Robert Mugabe's
ruling party said many white farmers were ignoring
the order, which took
effect earlier this week.
should take swift action against any farmer who
breaks the law," the party
politburo said in a statement, according to the
state-run Herald newspaper
But most farmers stopped working months ago, intimidated by
militants occupying their land and paralyzed by the threat of the
's "fast track" program to seize white-owned farms and
redistribute them to
The land seizures have
decimated the nation's commercial farming
industry and come amid a
potentially devastating food crisis in Zimbabwe.
The agriculture minister was
quoted in the Herald as saying the crisis had
nothing to do with the land
"We dismiss the claim that the government is destroying the
of the country's agriculture-based economy by resettling landless
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made told The Herald.
World Food Program estimates that nearly half of the 12.5 million
were at risk of starvation in the coming year. A team led by the
Oshima, the U.N. undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs
emergency relief, arrived Wednesday on an assessment tour.
despite promises to redistribute the confiscated land to
have-nots, many of
the farms have been given to confidantes of Mugabe and
The party leaders also accused white farmers of trying to
the country, saying they were taking "a racist and fascist approach
wanting to continue white dominance in this country," Made said.
Less than 1 percent of Zimbabwe's population is white - mostly
descendants of British and South African settlers. Zimbabwe won
from Britain in 1980 and Mugabe's critics have accused him of
trying to stir
up racial tensions in an effort to deflect attention from the
The 2,900 farmers ordered to stop
working their farms face an Aug. 8
deadline to evacuate their
With hundreds of other farms already seized, about 95 percent
nation's 4,000 white farmers will be out of business if the government
is enforced, farmer representatives have said.
MEDIA MONITORING PROJECT ZIMBABWE
Weekly Media Update No. 21 of 2002
17th - June 23rd 2002
Media coverage of the controversy
surrounding government's attempt
to evict the White Cliff Farm settlers
exposed government's failure to
invest its land reform programme with any
coherent policy - and
highlighted the confusion and indecisiveness within
as viewers of ZTV's Newshour programme on Tuesday night
would have heard for themselves.
Ironically though, some of this
confusion seemed to rub off onto some
sections of the media, which only
provided basic information about the
conflict, overlooking the need for a
clear and coherent investigation into
As a result, media
consumers remained no wiser, for example, about the
law under which the "war
veterans" had settled at least 10 000 people at
White Cliff Farm (now
Tongogara Park), the legal status of the farm, or
whether the Rural Land
Occupiers (Protection from Eviction) Act also
shielded squatters from
eviction, especially because they had settled
there for residential purposes
and not to farm.
Only The Sunday Mirror (23/6), fulfilling its role of
providing more in-
depth coverage of the week's news, gave its readers some
the background of the farm's ownership.
The eviction of
commercial farmers was also in the news during the week
as the legal
deadline (June 24th) to stop farming for some approached.
While the private
Press, particularly The Zimbabwe Independent (21/6),
focused on the
practical effects of this Land Act amendment, the state
confined itself to reporting official statements saying there
would be no
reprieve for the farmers.
The extraordinary irony that government was
preventing farmers from
growing food when Zimbabwe was suffering the effects
of a famine was
ignored by the government controlled media in favour of
evicted farmers as dishonest.
In other news, the ongoing
police repression of opposition MDC activity
under the Public Order and
Security Act continues to highlight the
polarity of the media with the
privately owned Press viewing the law and
the repression as a paranoid,
unconstitutional government clampdown
on Zimbabweans' democratic rights to
their freedom of expression,
assembly and association.
controlled media continued to reflect the official line,
indeed, justifying the upsurge in violent police activity
opponents in the context that government was
protecting the public from a
planned "violent" MDC uprising against a
of the violent arrests of MDC supporters outside the party's
starkly illustrated this extreme between the private Press
government controlled media.
While The Herald (17/6) remained silent on the
violent nature of the
police assault on the gathering, it made
unsubstantiated claims that the
MDC supporters were arrested after they
"went on the rampage in
Harare city center stealing from passers-by and
disrupting traffic". To
reinforce this allegation, the paper quoted Chief
Supt. Dorothy Kupara,
the story's only source, justifying the police action
because "we suspect
that the MDC was preparing for a mass action. We also
there is a hidden agenda behind the meeting which we had
ZTV's follow-up report of the incident (17/06, 8pm) reflected
journalistic abuse when newsreader Obriel Mpofu stated: "Police say
intelligence suggesting that the MDC and its supporters were planning
violent campaign was vindicated yesterday when the MDC decided
to defy a
police ban to hold a public gathering in the Harare
spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was quoted in the same
report as having said the
MDC and other organizations have been
planning "a violent ouster of the
But neither he nor ZTV provided any evidence to support this
In contrast, The Daily News (17/6) accessed comment from more than
three sources, took stock of the injuries inflicted by the police and
provided some background to the clash, as well as reporting a similar
police crackdown in Bulawayo on the same day where about 2000 MDC
supporters had also gathered to commemorate Soweto Day.
The Herald's enigmatic story, 'State Never Advocated Illegal
Resettlement, Says Chombo' (17/6) reminded readers of government's
intention to evict squatters from White Cliff Farm and was followed by
an equally uninformative ZTV announcement confirming this in its
The next day The Herald reported that a showdown was looming
between government and the "illegal settlers" and this too, was
dutifully followed up by ZBC (all stations 18/6, 8pm) quoting settlers (as
did The Herald) saying they would resist eviction.
ZTV's bulletin also
quoted other settlers occupying farms in
Mashonaland Central and outside
Bulawayo vowing not to move.
In the same bulletin, Agriculture Minister
Joseph Made, Home Affairs
Minister John Nkomo, and Local Government Minister
were all quoted as saying the evictions were necessary for
land reform programme and that those affected would be relocated
Their statements unintentionally suggested that the
reforms had been
plagued by disorder until now. And this impression was
the end of the same news bulletin (18/6) when newscaster
suddenly announced that "we are receiving news of a late item"
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was on the phone to the
Mpofu appeared to have no idea what the minister wanted to say, but
unscheduled "appearance" demonstrated the special access Moyo
at the national public broadcaster.
While Minister Chombo had been quoted in
the bulletin (and The
Herald) as saying ".the law enforcement agencies will
appropriate action" against those who remained at White Cliff, Moyo
announced that the government and the settlers had agreed to meet the
following day to find ".an amicable solution without any
It was not clear why Chombo or the other two Cabinet
apparently unaware of this sudden change in government's
the next morning's Herald (19/6) provided no explanation
reporting Moyo's statement and Chombo's comments too.
and Radio Zimbabwe also reported Moyo's announcement that
After the meeting between government and the settlers, ZBC (ZTV,
19/06, 8pm and radio stations, 20/06, 6am and The Herald 20/6) quoted
Chombo announcing the government's policy U-turn stating that it had
postponed the evictions and formed a committee to investigate the
circumstances surrounding the allocation of stands at the farm, the
status of the property, and whether it had been acquired for resettlement,
a particularly bizarre admission of ignorance that was not
Chombo's announcement contrasted sharply with his earlier
(ZTV, 18/06, 8pm) in which he said: "Their stay is causing a health
hazard to the residents of Harare. More so it is an illegal settlement, it
is unplanned and it has not been authorized."
The Herald (18/6) again led
its electronic stable-mate with this story,
recording Chombo's comments and
those of his permanent secretary
saying only government and the city of
Harare were authorized to
allocate residential stands. The settlement was
unplanned and should be disbanded, they
Once again, these comments contrasted starkly with the comments
Chombo made two days later when announcing the suspension of the
evictions, and especially with the comments of Joseph Made who
as "sadists" all those who viewed the eviction of settlers from
farms as retrogressive (The Herald 21/6). The paper
quoted him as saying the
"sadists, through their false trumpets were
bellowing wrong signals to the
people about the evictions."
Nevertheless, such was the unquestioning
attitude of the paper that it
failed to analyze such government policy
Neither did The Daily News (19/6), which appeared content
to record the
war veterans attacking Chombo rather than questioning their
role in the
White Cliff Farm debacle.
As a result, the paper failed to
follow up revelations by the war veterans
that Chombo was going "against
what was agreed between us and
President Mugabe, who allowed the landless
peasants to occupy the
The next day (20/6) The Daily News caught
up with the story on how the
war veterans had forced the minister to reverse
his directive, an article
also carried by The Herald that day.
News story however, also noted government's selective
application of the
Public Order and Security Act, which, in this case, it
did not use against
the demonstrating White Cliff settlers, but which it
against the MDC and others it perceives as opponents.
sharply with The Herald story, which sought to sanitize
temporary capitulation to the war veterans' demands.
However, glaring in both
papers' coverage was their failure to question
the lack of policy in
government's "orderly" land reform programme.
The Daily News (21/6) atoned
for its earlier lapse in concentration by
questioning the unbridled power of
war veterans in its editorial War Vets,
ZANU PF's Frankenstein
The paper noted that the "set-to between government and the
war veterans over White Cliff settlement" was inevitable and a
to Mugabe for "ceding so much of his constitutional authority" to
"invisible government" full of "foul-mouthed and violent individuals"
whose "only claim to legitimacy could be that they can use violence to
achieve their selfish means".
As if to vindicate The Daily News comment,
The Standard (23/6) ran a
story in which it reported the war veterans at
White Cliff as declaring the
settlement a "no-go area" for "intruders". A
militia force, said the paper,
was created to enforce this.
It quoted war
vets secretary for security Mike Moyo telling hundreds of
settlers that the
reason for the militia's formation was to fight the police
and those who
wanted to destroy their homes. ". Anyone who resides
here and does not
participate in this war will be chased away because
he is as good as the
people we are fighting."
Besides its coverage of White Cliff Farm, the
privately owned media also
reported on various other conflicts threatening
For example, The Zimbabwe
Independent reported that at least 2 500
commercial farmers were likely to
become redundant when government's
45-day deadline ordering them to stop
Banket commercial farmer Duke de Cudroy aptly captured the
of the order: "Farmers are not sure about what to do next. If
continue farming they risk being arrested and if they stop what will
happen to their crops?"
The Financial Gazette's 'Land reform to displace
two million', also
reported on the likely effects of the farm seizures on
farm workers and
their families, basing its story on a survey conducted by
Community Development Trust (ZCDT).
A related story by The
Standard also recorded the General Agriculture
and Plantation Workers Union
of Zimbabwe (Gapwuz) as saying most of
the farm workers already displaced
were "wallowing in poverty".
The government-controlled Press ignored these
preferring instead to carry public relations stories on the
land reform or spin yarns about "greedy farmers" doling out
bribes in a
bid to prolong their stay at designated farms.
Herald (20/6), for example, carried an editorialized story
unsubstantiated claims of bribery by commercial farmers to
failure by some beneficiaries of land reform to take up their
In the same vein The Herald (21/6) also subjectively implied that
who had been served with Section 8 orders had designed fake forms
"not gazetted by government but crafted by the Commercial Farmers'
Union" in an effort to persuade government to allow them to stay on
their farms and continue growing crops.
"The form has raised eyebrows
among officials in the Attorney-
General's office as to its legal status," an
unnamed Lands and
Agricultural official is quoted as saying by the
However, this allegation conflicts with a Zimbabwe Independent story
which some commercial farmers confirmed receiving vague government
letters granting them relief from the Section 8 orders.
The paper quoted
one such recipient of the letter saying: "You can read
it 101 ways. I don't
really know what it means but I can only say that it
is proof that I have
applied to the (Agriculture) Ministry for
permission to continue
ZBC (ZTV, 3FM, 21/06, 8pm and Radio Zimbabwe 22/06, 6am)
to pick up stories from The Herald over government's refusal to
farmers' eviction orders. In the ZTV bulletin retired brigadier Felix
Muchemwa was quoted demanding tough action against commercial
"We should not give these people even two days notice, three
That's irrelevant. Once we have made up our minds we
study a particular
farm.and we just move in with our security forces,
take the land and
finish." the former Health Minister said.
ZTV did at least ask what the
implications such a move might have on
the rule of law. But Muchemwa said:
"What is the law? We want our
land full stop. The law is irrelevant in this
ZTV allowed this incitement and disregard for the law to go
unchallenged. His comments were rebroadcast on ZBC radio stations the
next morning (22/06, 6am). Radio Zimbabwe even went on to carry
Muchemwa's comments in its 8pm bulletin, nearly 24 hours after they
There was also confusion over who exactly had to stop farming by June
24th. SW Radio Africa (18/06) quoted a CFU official saying that according
to the law, anyone who has been served with a Section 8 order should
stop farming by June 24th.
But ZTV quoted Made (21/6, 8pm) saying that
the 45-day deadline was
calculated from the day the farmer received the
eviction order and that
commercial farmers received their orders on
Both radio stations failed to seek definitive independent
The MEDIA UPDATE is produced
and circulated by the Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue,
Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org