Govt admits farm irregularities
09/03/2003 17:45 -
Harare - The Zimbabwean government has admitted irregularities
country's controversial land reform programme, in which white-owned
seized and given to black farmers, a press report said on
But Land Reform Minister Flora Buka played down recent media
high-level cronyism in an interview with the state-run Daily
"It has to be appreciated that the land reform programme was a
exercise carried out in a short space of time and inevitably there
irregularities," Buka told the paper.
She did not elaborate
on what the irregularities were.
Most of the country's previously
white-owned commercial farm land has been
seized by the government for
redistribution to new black farmers.
Buddies got prime land
audit of the programme, launched in 2000 ahead of general elections,
released soon with details including the number of farms allocated
names of beneficiaries, Buka said.
Media reports have said senior
officials in President Robert Mugabe's
government and party were unfairly
allocated prime farms under the scheme
that was intended to economically
empower the black majority.
The fast-track land reform programme has been
shot down by the opposition
here and most Western nations as nothing more
than a populist gimmick by the
But it has received
support from other African nations in the region, who
say it is a way of
addressing colonial-era imbalances in land ownership.
The United Nations
food agency has said Mugabe's land redistribution
programme, which has left
thousands of normally productive farms lying idle,
is largely responsible for
the humanitarian crisis in the southern African
eight million people - more than half the population - are
threatened by food
shortages in Zimbabwe.
This year's harvest is expected to be even lower
than in 2002 - just 40%
percent of normal.
Youth militia flee to SA
09/03/2003 17:44 -
Johannesburg - Hundreds of Zimbabwe's notorious youth militia,
"Green Bombers," are fleeing to South Africa because they are
tired of being
beaten and starved by their handlers, a news report said
"The stories of the youths interviewed ... provide chilling
details of the
Green Bombers and their training methods," said the
It interviewed at least 14
members who had fled the militia, who are trained
by President Robert
Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF.
The "Green Bombers" are seen in Zimbabwe as
having taken over where war
veterans left off in terms of intimidating the
electorate, especially ahead
of the 2002 presidential
Special training camps
Those interviewed alleged
they were trained to kill in special camps, where
they underwent rigorous
physical fitness programmes and were often made stay
up late into the night
singing party slogans.
One 22-year-old said he became fed up singing
party songs all night and had
gone home to sleep. As punishment he was
stripped and beaten while being
sprayed with water.
Another said he
was forced to burn the homes of opposition Movement for
(MDC) supporters and beat its members.
The Green Bombers are trained in
camps officially called National Youth
Training Centres in four of the
country's eight provinces.
The government says it has so far seen more
than 8 000 youths graduate from
the camps, with 5 000 of them being
"absorbed" into career training or
that the programme is to instil "patriotism" and provide
Mar. 9, 2003. 01:00 AM
running on empty
Mugabe keeping terror campaign in high gear Endless
line-ups legacy of
last year's rigged election
SPECIAL TO THE STAR
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe- "The president
is lying," Jacob Undenge says
angrily. "Look around you and you will see that
Mugabe is not telling the
"Everything is falling apart,"
the 34-year-old unemployed hotel clerk
adds with a wide, sweeping gesture at
the kilometres-long vista of vehicles
lined up for gasoline near Bulawayo,
Zimbabwe's second-largest city.
Undenge, who asked that his real
name be withheld for fear of
reprisals, joined the line at 3 o'clock the
previous afternoon to refuel his
battered but beloved 1974
Now, next day, the hundred vehicles behind him and the
many with only fumes left in their tanks, await the weekly,
biweekly, arrival of tanker trucks that dole out gasoline in
As the line begins to glacially move again,
most throw their ancient
cars into neutral, get out and push to conserve
every drop of increasingly
They do this for hours
in the merciless heat. Justice is rough and
swift when a queue-jumper tries
to edge into the line. The offending vehicle
is quickly surrounded by a mob,
picked up and moved to the middle of the
road - a warning to the
The fuel shortage and consequent paralysis of the
sector is only the most visible indicator of the steady
that grows deeper as President Robert Mugabe's death grip on
grows ever tighter.
It was one year ago this week
that Mugabe won yet another term in a
rigged election condemned in Canada and
throughout the West.
Today, Mugabe's main rival in that election,
Morgan Tsvangirai of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is on trial
for his life, fighting
treason charges in a Harare courtroom.
Tuesday, the U.S. State Department condemned Zimbabwe for using
and violence in a "sustained campaign" to suppress opposition
State Department official Richard Boucher said more than
participants in various political events have been arrested since Feb.
while pursuing basic rights such as attending rallies and engaging in
In addition, Boucher said, 23 clergymen were
detained while protesting
"The government of
Zimbabwe has done nothing to address fundamental
concerns about human rights,
rule of law and basic respect for democratic
values," Boucher added. "Indeed,
conditions in these areas continue to
hungry," says a 47-year-old mother with a baby strapped to her
back as she
waits in yet another endless line-up, hoping there will still be
a loaf of
bread at the end. "There is no bread, no milk, no mealie
"Things are not good," she adds, shuffling
forward lest she lose her
spot in line and a chance at a meal.
The lives of average Zimbabweans have become a series of
line-ups for food, fuel and other basic
The lucky ones, those with wads of increasingly
dollars, turn to the burgeoning black market, where
basic commodities can be
purchased at mark-ups as high as 1,000 per
Despite tonnes of international food aid donated by Western
an estimated 6.7 million of Zimbabwe's 13 million people risk
Opposition politicians say that's because much of the
food aid is
being distributed only to Mugabe's ZANU-PF supporters and many of
marketeers operate in collusion with the police or senior ZANU-PF
hoarding goods purchased at official prices and selling them for
"Initially, they would ask for cards and people
got clever and started
to buy ZANU-PF cards," says Abednico Bhebhe, an MDC
member of parliament.
"After seeing that, they were very quick to
modify the system ... and
fish out all those they know to be opposition
But even as the country suffers critical shortages -
not to mention
massive unemployment, an alarming HIV/AIDS crisis and violent
repression - Mugabe denies that any of this is
Indeed, Mugabe is attempting to project to the
a state of normalcy even as he uses ever-more violent
means to silence
political opponents, human-rights activists and average
Zimbabweans who dare
`We've recorded 590,000 cases of serious human- rights
violations ... from
arson to assault'
Brian Kagoro, Crisis in Zimbabwe
In major cities such as Bulawayo and Harare, police use truncheons
routinely break up rowdy and impatient bread and fuel queues.
Most journalists, with the exception of foreign correspondents and
for the handful of remaining independent newspapers, are compliant
"We carry stories that say maize is in abundance, but
hungry," says a reporter for a state-controlled
"We keep carrying stories that fuel is on the way, but it
here. But if I don't write it that way, chances are I'll get that
phone call from the professor (Prof. Jonathan Moyo, the minister
information and publicity) and he asks" `Why did you write
"And then you're told that, if you want to keep your job,
you need to
know which side your bread is buttered on."
journalists are also subject to Mugabe's pressure.
"Each day when I
go out, I don't know what I'll be facing, what kind
of harassment, threat of
violence or threat of arrest," says Andrew Meldrum,
correspondent for the
British newspaper the Guardian, who was one of 16
journalists charged last
year under the state's new draconian media-control
that is what all journalists in Zimbabwe face. But I and many
want to give into being afraid. It's simply an attempt to cow
us into a state
of fearfulness so we stop doing our jobs."
Harrowing tales of
arbitrary arrest and torture of opposition
politicians and human-rights
activists are also increasingly common.
"I was captured by soldiers
based in my Nkayi constituency," says
Bhebhe, who has been arrested four
times and tortured twice, most recently
heavy shooting and we were all assaulted. I was with 37
members of my
provincial party and we were all thoroughly beaten by
"We were then taken to the police station and we
thought that was the
end of the beating, but when we got there, we found
ZANU-PF supporters and
we were further assaulted as the police
"I was axed on the head then locked up for two days with
no water or
Also in January, MDC legislator Job Sikhala
and human-rights lawyer
Gabriel Shumba were arrested in a police raid on
Sikhala's residence. They
say they were held for two days and tortured with
electrodes placed on their
tongues, feet and genitals.
recorded 590,000 cases of serious human-rights violations ...
from arson to
assault," says Brian Kagoro, co-ordinator of the Crisis in
Coalition, which includes more than 350 human-rights groups.
seen rapes and over 180 people have died in incidents of
We've seen a very ugly turn in our politics that is
inconsistent with the
democratization of the rest of the southern Africa
Kagoro says the terror campaign is being organized by Mugabe's ZANU-PF
perpetrated by police, soldiers and two ZANU-PF militias - the War
ostensibly representing soldiers who fought for liberation in the
the National Service Youth, often referred to as the Green
Bombers because of
their members' army fatigues.
Despite claims by the government that
many youth militia units and
training camps have been dismantled, Green
Bombers can still be seen roaming
the streets of Harare and Bulawayo,
terrorizing opponents of the regime,
both real and perceived.
The escalating violence began in February, 2000, when Mugabe used
militias to confiscate white-owned commercial farms, after a
referendum rejected proposed constitutional reforms that would have
president additional powers.
The farm confiscations - aimed at
giving land to the landless - have
led to the near total destruction of the
country's agricultural sector and
failed to win Mugabe the support he thought
his "land reforms" would bring.
A key reason is that many of the best farms
went to senior members of his
parties sought to point out the ruse and win greater
Mugabe escalated the terror campaign against them and
stole the 2000
parliamentary election as well as the March, 2002,
Now, there are growing fears that, as the regime
terror campaign, the opposition could retaliate and ignite
Says Kagoro of the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition: "One does foresee
that the sort of pressure that people are living
under, and the sort of
deprivation they are suffering, is just not
sustainable. Either people will
continue to die in silence or, one of these
fine days ... people may take
the law into their own
Wilson Lee is a Canadian journalist based in South Africa.
FILES FROM AP, REUTERS
Mail an Guardian
'Diplomacy is the way to handle Harare'
09 March 2003 09:02
South Africa has consistently
opposed the imposition of sanctions against
the government of Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe and on Saturday
repeated its call for diplomacy to
solve the crisis affecting its northern
Zimbabwe has been in
the grip of a serious economic and political crisis for
the past three years,
marked by a drop in living conditions, the threat of
famine and the
repression of government opponents.
Reacting to the move by US President
George Bush to freeze assets belonging
to Mugabe and 76 of his goverment
officials, foreign affairs representative
Ronnie Mamoepa said: "South Africa
has never believed in sanctions against
"We have put great
emphasis on the need for the international community to
assist the people of
Zimbabwe," he told AFP.
He said South Africa believed the different
parties within Zimbabwe needed
to be reconciled, "therefore setting the basis
for economic reconstruction".
"Mugabe's policies constitute an unusual
and extraordinary threat to the
foreign policy of the United States and I
hereby declare a national
emergency to deal with that threat," Bush said in
the March 6 order freezing
Actions by the Zimbabwean
government were also "contributing to the
deliberate breakdown in the rule of
law in Zimbabwe, to politically
motivated violence and intimidation in that
country and to political and
economic instability in the southern African
region", Bush charged.
South Africa has repeatedly stated that diplomacy
is the only way to deal
with Harare, which has become a pariah state in the
South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma said earlier this week
the government would not condemn
Zimbabwe. "You will never hear that. It is
not going to happen as long as
this government is in power," she said.
"The problem with you, is that
you are waiting for one
word --condemnation -- of Zimbabwe," she told a media
briefing on Monday.
South Africa's handling of the political and social
instability in Zimbabwe
came under the spotlight again last month when it
emerged that South Africa
and Nigeria were campaigning for
12-month suspension from the Commonwealth to be lifted. -
Sunday Times (SA)
Zimbabwe not yet out of the
Commonwealth review opposed by Mbeki and Obasanjo may go
A review of Zimbabwe's
suspension from the Commonwealth may still take place
next week despite
President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian President Olusegun
opposition to further talks on the matter.
This comes in the wake of US
President George W Bush's imposition of
economic sanctions on President
Robert Mugabe and 76 other officials on
Friday, accusing them of undermining
democracy and using violence to stifle
Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon is to submit a report
to the leaders of South Africa, Nigeria and Australia ahead of
anniversary of Zimbabwe's year-long suspension from the 54-nation
The report, which will assess Zimbabwe's adherence to
and the political situation in the country, will help
the leaders decide
whether further action is required.
Obasanjo told Australian Prime Minister John Howard, the chairman
Commonwealth troika on Zimbabwe, that they did not want another
discuss the issue, but they may be forced to hold talks on the
assess McKinnon's report.
Their opposition to a meeting is in spite
of a written commitment signed by
Mbeki, Obasanjo and Howard in March last
year that they would revisit the
issue in 12 months.
been left with egg on his face after announcing last month that
Zimbabwe's repressive laws, such as those against the media and
parties, are soon to be repealed. This has not yet happened.
serving of eviction orders on a number of South African farmers in
has also strained relations between the two countries, as Pretoria
given an assurance by Harare that this would not happen.
told Howard in a letter last month that the "time is now auspicious
the sanctions on Zimbabwe". "This will represent an appropriate
for the final resolution of the crisis ," Obasanjo said.
He said he
and Mbeki shared the view that "another meeting of the
Commonwealth troika on
Zimbabwe at this time might not serve any useful
and Obasanjo's decision has angered Howard, who has been pushing
Zimbabwe's full suspension.
Howard said it was a "breach of
spirit" to allow Zimbabwe back into the
While Howard cannot
legally challenge Obasanjo and Mbeki, the two leaders
will be taken to task
at the December meeting in Nigeria for reneging on
Mbeki has claimed that the troika's mandate has been
exhausted as it was
based solely on the Commonwealth election observer team's
report on the
But the statement released
by the heads of government in Australia last year
said that the meeting
mandated the three leaders "to determine appropriate
Commonwealth action on
Zimbabwe", "taking into account" the observer group's
the troika's first meeting in London, Obasanjo and Mbeki signed a
that the committee had decided to suspend Zimbabwe for a year.
issue will be revisited in 12 months' time, having regard to progress
Zimbabwe based on the Commonwealth Harare principles and reports from
The statement says further
that the troika will meet "at the request of the
When the troika met in Abuja, Nigeria, in
September, a statement released
then noted that the leaders were at odds over
further action on Zimbabwe.
"One member, Australia, supported the
full suspension of Zimbabwe with
immediate effect, whilst the other members
wish to see how Zimbabwe responds
to the Marlborough House Statement over the
next six months . . . at which
point stronger measures might need to be
S.Africa opposes sanctions against
Xinhuanet 2003-03-09 04:33:27
JOHANNESBURG, March 8 (Xinhuanet)
-- South Africa opposes the
imposition of sanctions against the Zimbabwean
government headed by
President Robert Mugabe, Foreign Ministry spokesman said
Ronnie Mamoepa also repeated its call for diplomacy
to solve the
crisis affecting Zimbabwe.
He made the statement
in a response to the sanction by US President
George W. Bush to freeze assets
belonging to Mugabe and 76 of his government
"South Africa has never believed in sanctions against
have put great emphasis on the need for the international
assist the people of Zimbabwe," he added.
South Africa believed the different parties within Zimbabwe
needed to be
reconciled, "therefore setting the basis
South Africa has repeatedly
stated that diplomacy is the only way to
deal with Harare, which has become a
pariah state in the international
Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said earlier
this week that the
government would not seek regime changein the neighboring
country or condemn
Bacher defends Zimbabwe
BBC Sport in Port Elizabeth
Ali Bacher was again forced to defend the International
Cricket Council's decision to stage World Cup matches in Zimbabwe after 40
cricket fans in Bulawayo were arrested and a cricket official was allegedly
beaten by police.
Bacher: Again under fire for decision to
stage games in Zimbabwe
The mother of one 16-year-old boy, who was arrested
and beaten, said police only released her son when they realised he was in a
critical condition and needed hospital attention.
Police detained the fans during the match against
Holland under Zimbabwe's stringent security laws, saying they were wearing
provocative clothing and political insignia.
Tim Cherry, a Bulawayo lawyer, said he would be
lodging an official complaint.
He added that 23 of the group were held in a single
cell, unable to sit or lie down, and were denied food or water until it was
brought to them by friends.
Most embarrassing to Bacher, however, was the arrest
of Paul Dietrechsen, the vice-president of Queen's Sports Club in Bulawayo, for
attempting to intervene when police were allegedly hitting another member of the
Monty Jenkinson had "verbally abused" a cricket fan
for entering the members' enclosure of the ground.
I saw him grab a rubber baton from one of the uniformed officers and
start assaulting him
A cricket fan voices concern over police
The fan returned after the match with five policemen
who arrested Jenkinson.
Another member, George Parkin, said Jenkinson was
punched in the mouth by the senior policeman.
Dietrechsen arrived wearing an official ICC badge and
demanded to know what was going on.
"A plainclothes officer then arrived," Parkin said.
"I saw him grab a rubber baton from one of the uniformed officers and start
Parkin added that all three men were then pushed to
the ground and assaulted by the police who screamed racial insults at them.
Asked to comment, Bacher, the World Cup executive
director, said he had made inquiries and established that Dietrechsen is "not an
ICC official and is not associated with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union".
He added that the World Cup organising committee's
policy is that "offensive or vulgar or political banners are prevented from
being taken into the grounds, whether at the Wanderers or Bulawayo".
He was "not certain" whether the protesters had been
inside or outside the ground.
The arrests are believed to bring to about 100 the
number of people detained in Zimbabwe in connection with protests staged around
the World Cup.
Tribute to the
Today is the International Day of Women, a day for women to come
solidarity and in some countries to celebrate. It is also a day
should allow us to be women and join us in celebrating women's
Instead what we saw in Bulawayo today was shameful. Husbands and
abandoned their respect for their mothers and sisters and assaulted
with police batons. One woman, Agnes Mloyi was hit with a fist to the
by a man young enough to be her son. It was a very raining day in
with Japhet (cyclone) causing intermittent rain and high winds, but
braved the damp to deliver their message of peace.
I am a
founding member of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, (WOZA). WOZA chose to
observer role in the event organised by Peace Pathfinders today and
attended to observe and assist where necessary.
These are my
observations. I arrived at the City Hall Car Park at
and found that a substantial crowd of about 300 had
already gathered. Some
women had babies strapped to their backs and
toddlers accompanied some. They
proceeded to sing religious songs and one
song in particular was sung in
iSindebele. The words... "We are fighting
Satan not fighting Peace". There
was also a banner upon which was written,
The ladies rotated the car park singing. Soon a Police vehicle
after a few minutes left again. Another returned after 11 am and
Some officers got out and went to engage the group leadership in
Meanwhile the group gathered around and was addressed by
their leaders on
the lack of food and the resultant hunger, women's needs for
requisites and the need for Peace. Shortly after the leadership were
away. Ms Gertrude Mtombeni, an MDC official, Ms Thokozani Khupe, MP
Makokoba, Mrs Zodwa Sibanda, wife of the MDC Vice President, Mrs
Chitsa, Mrs Phiri, Mrs Khumalo, wife of MP for Pelandaba and Mrs
After some to and froing between the crowd
and the Police vehicle, an
officer opened the back of the vehicle and
indicated to the seven ladies to
The main body of the
procession began to move waving white strips of cloth
for peace and red
against violence. That compelling picture will stay in my
mind for years to
come. They went towards the only exit to the car park. As
they got there,
there was a police vehicle blocking their exit and officers
seemed to refuse
to let them leave. It was at this time that the vehicle
with the leaders
chose to drive towards the exit now blocked by the 500
It was 11:54 and the most incredible 25 minutes unfolded before
The women seeing their exit blocked turned to face the oncoming
containing their leaders. They dropped to their knees and prayed out
The women in the back of the vehicle kept motioning for them to sit
I stood close by with two journalists observing proceedings and
our notepads from the driving rain. When the driver of the vehicle
another attempt to drive through the crowd I feared for the lives of
brave women. We were relieved when the driver reversed away,
realizing that he would be perpetrating murder if he
After a few minutes, I saw Riot Police walk into the crowd
assaulting those in their way. This was done not as crowd
management, but as
a violent attack on defenseless women. As the exit
cleared, the other
vehicle roared through with the prisoners to Bulawayo
Station, less than a block away. The Riot police attacked
women with their
batons at full swing. I saw six brutally assaulted.
moved further away so as to observe both the car park and the fleeing
I then saw one women, later identified as Agnes Mloyi carefully
handbag which was at the feet of some plain clothes and
uniformed officers in
the car park. They seemed to invite her to come
forward for it. I was to hear
from her later that she was hit on the face. I
saw them take her to the
I began to walk towards the Police Station, my attention
now focused on
finding those injured and sending them for medical treatment.
I saw two
women being taken back to the truck, one was Mary Ndlovu, a
married to a Zimbabwean Liberation War Hero (buried at Heroes
another a Dutch national, Mrs. Ineke te Velde who had not been
during the event.
I came across one woman who was having
difficulty breathing and asked a
friend to take her for attention. I
accompanied her to my friend's car,
which was parked opposite the Police
station. I then saw Abednico Bhebhe
(M.P. for Nkayi) with a policeman and he
was escorted into the charge
office. He had not been amongst the gathering.
There were large groups of
women outside the Police Station singing in
solidarity with those arrested.
This is the second time women have braved
arrest and gathered en mass
outside the Police Station. Many were saying they
too wanted to be arrested
with their Sisters.
I remained close to the
charge office wanting to establish how many women
had been arrested to alert
the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. As I
stood, a Police Truck drove past
and stopped at the traffic lights holding
up traffic to off load the second
lot arrested. I counted four and indicated
with 4 fingers to one of the
ladies in the vehicle to confirm. My cellphone
rang just then and I was
confirming to a friend the number arrested when a
person, possible a plain
clothes policeman grabbed me in an unnecessarily
violent manner and pushed me
toward the disembarking group. He handed me
over to a uniformed officer who
asked me to follow the other ladies. I was
able to tell my friend I was now
arrested myself before I was told to switch
off my phone.
As we were
led into the charge office, I saw riot police began to violently
newly gathered crowd. There were also many by-standers
observing. We were
taken into the charge office and then into the
investigations room where we
were united with the first lot bringing our
number to 15.
Two rude and
disrespectful male officers took our names and threatened
also insisted one knowing the religion of each one of us.
One of the officers
was allegedly the one who had assaulted Mloyi and so he
came in for much
taunting. We were relieved when two female uniformed
officers came and
attended to our toilet needs and whispered encouragement
to us to continue to
fight for them. At around 2:30 pm, a female Inspector
Gumbo from Law and
Order came and told us that we were to be released and
that we would be
summoned from our homes as needed. She was polite and
we left the Police Station, crowds of women rushed forward to greed
leaders and for moments we though there would be another round of
Riot Police quickly deployed and a few more women were assaulted,
escaping through the flower sellers market.
This was my
second arrest, the last being when I and 47 women, with 7
arrested in Harare after our Valentines Day procession. Two
arrests within a
month of each other, both whilst being part of non-violent
designed to lobby for love and peace in Zimbabwe!
I pay tribute to the
Peace Pathfinders for their courage and commitment to
SOKWANELE meaning ENOUGH IS ENOUGH meaning ZVAKWANA and finally
Contact Jenni Williams on Mobile (+263) 91 300456 or
11213 885 Or on email
or Fax (+2639) 63978
or (+2634) 703829
Office email firstname.lastname@example.org
A member of the
International Association of Business Communicators. Visit
the IABC website
Readers rescue Zimbabwe's starving steeds
Their wounds are healing and their ribs
no longer stick through the skin. So
far 59 animals have benefited from the
Zimbabwe Horse Rescue Fund, launched
in response to harrowing images of the
cruelty inflicted on farm animals
after President Robert Mugabe ordered white
farmers to leave their land.
It was The Telegraph which, last October,
revealed the plight of the
abandoned horses of Zimbabwe, left behind to
starve or be butchered when
their owners were driven off their
The fund's founder, Kirsten Harris, a Scottish wildlife
artist, was then
just beginning to co-ordinate the efforts of a chain of
Europe and Africa determined to save the
Now, thanks to the generosity of readers, who have donated
£20,000 of the
£23,000 fund, 40 horses have been rescued and nursed back to
Of these, 33 are now flourishing with new owners in South Africa,
through the National Horse Trust of South Africa. Karzan, a mare,
won a rosette in a dressage competition with her seven-year-old
The remaining seven were so underweight and traumatised by their
they are still being cared for by their rescuers.
further 19 horses are waiting in holding camps in Zimbabwe for medical
and permits, before making the journey by lorry to the Wet Nose
Centre in Pretoria. A vet travels with each convoy. The cost
including licences, feed, vets' bills and rehoming, is £500.
intensifies in Zimbabwe, Ms Harris and Tracy Forte, the president
Nose, who has organised the rescue convoys, are anxious to bring out
"These may not be the last, as we still get calls
every day from farmers
desperate for someone to care for their horses after
they are thrown off
their land," said Ms Forte.
Ms Harris, who
launched the fund from her cottage in Lanarkshire after
talking to friends in
Zimbabwe, said that she had been "bowled over" by the
generosity of readers
of The Telegraph. One donor sent a £2,000 cheque,
while a nine-year-old girl
raised £16 from her pocket money.
"It has been amazing how everybody has
done their bit to make this happen,"
said Ms Harris.
Donations can be
sent to the Zimbabwe Horse Rescue Fund, c/o 20 South St
Edinburgh EH2 2AZ.
The Zim Std
Fired Zimsec workers tell all
By Chengetai Zvauya
and a manager at the embattled Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec),
forged the 'O' level results of wives who had failed, investigations by The
Standard have revealed.
The directors and the manager (names supplied to
The Standard) refused to comment.
According to the two former Zimsec
employees found guilty of forging results two weeks ago, resulting in them being
fined and dismissed by Zimsec, there is rampant corruption at the examinations
The two-Jeffres Chawaguta (33), former chief computer operator and
Beven Kuimba (33), a computer technician, told The Standard that they had indeed
forged the results of seven people who had neither registered nor sat for
They said these type of practices were rampant at Zimsec and
even involved directors of the examinations body.
Said Chawaguta: "When the
results are loaded into the system before grading, it is very easy for one to
tamper with the system without possible detection.
"The two of us, alone,
cannot be the only ones blamed because we were working as a team with the
directors, senior manager and clerks who were also involved in the scam. I know
the people who were involved and I can prove it. The entire directorate should
go because they knew what was happening but pretended as if nothing untoward was
Chawaguta, who had access to the super-user programme which
allowed him unimpeded entry to any programme at Zimsec-making it easy for him to
forge results-gave The Standard the names of the directors and senior manager
who had forged results for wives, relatives and friends.
"This racket has
been going on for a long time. I easily recall the case of a senior security
officer (name supplied) whose results were altered after he saw that he had
failed Shona, before the results had been graded. This was done after one of the
directors (name supplied) sanctioned the move.
"Director (name supplied) and
manager (name supplied) also forged the 'O' level results of their wives who had
failed their examinations. They did this because they all had access to the
system. I also have the names of several senior officers who used junior clerks
to alter the marks of their friends and relatives, before they were graded,'' he
The former Zimsec employee said the results profile system used at
Zimsec had only one password used by over 100 people.
"Anyone of the 100
workers can easily abuse the system. It is easy for anyone to enter the mark
system, to modify or delete the results because the programme has a common
password. For people to change the results of their friends and relatives has
been a very common occurrence.''
His partner in crime, Kuimba shared his
"The Zimsec profile system is like an open cheque. We cannot
take the blame alone. How do you explain a situation where over 100 people use
one profile to enter the system. It is just unfortunate that only the two of us
were made the sacrificial lambs."
Asked if this was not a case of sour
grapes both men said theirs was not a case of sour grapes against Zimsec but
that they wanted the organisation to undergo a thorough cleansing exercise in
order to enable the examinations system to regain its credibility and Zimsec to
become a watertight and efficient organisation.
The Standard contacted some
of the Zimsec directors such as Victor Kadenge (Information), Jayman Tabete
(human resources) and Freeman Kondo (chief security manager) to put to them the
allegations made by Kuimba and Chawaguta, but they all refused to discuss the
Said Kadenge: ''My goodness, why are you being unfair to me. What
wrong have I committed? I do not know about those allegations. My wife is a
simple ordinary woman and she has nothing to do with Zimsec. She supplemented
her O levels. Do you want me to be fired?"
Kondo was even more hostile: "I
won't talk to you about anything, speak to the director."
Tabete chose to
switch off his phone after saying: "I don't speak to the press, leave me alone."
Efforts to obtain comment from Zimsec director Esau Nhandara, were fruitless
as his phone was constantly engaged.
The Standard understands that on
Wednesday, Zimsec board chairman Professor Phineas Makhurane, held a meeting
with the examination body's directors who blamed the scandal on the two
convicted former employees.
However, the directors' bid to obtain new luxury
cars, a bid earlier approved by the board, was turned down at the Wednesday
The Zim Std
By our own Staff
BULAWAYO-Armed riot police
wielding baton sticks yesterday violently broke up a peaceful demonstration by
city women to commemorate the International Womens' Day and arrested 15 women
who included three national executive members of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
The group of about 500 women, who were carrying
placards denouncing abuse of human rights in the country and the suffering women
are subjected to as a result of the food shortages, were sent scurrying in all
directions when the riot police pounced on them.
The demonstration which
took place at the main car park of the City Hall turned nasty when police tried
to whisky away eight of its organisers.
The women defied the pounding rain
and blocked the path of the police vehicle carrying the organisers of the
demonstration leading to riot police being called in.
Women, some of them
carrying babies, were kicked and beaten with baton sticks while a group of about
five policemen took turns to beat an elderly woman as she lay on the ground
pleading for mercy.
The three MDC national executive members who were
arrested are Thokozani Khuphe (MP for Makokoba), Gertrude Mthombeni and Zodwa
Sibanda, the wife of the MDC deputy president Gibson Sibanda.
the spokesperson for Woman of Zimbabwe Arise was arrested by police who
questioned her for allegedly using her mobile phone near the demonstrators.
Meanwhile, the director of the UNFPA Thoraya Obaid said woman across the
world continued to face difficulties.
"I challenge all nations to join hands
in the global effort to improve women's health. Universal access to reproductive
health services by year 2015 remains an affordable, cost effective and
achievable international development goal," she said.
Conmen swindle Chidarikire of $10m
By our own
CHINHOYI-Zvimba businessman, Phillip Chidarikire, was swindled of
over $10 million by United Kingdom based criminals working in cahoots with a
local man, in a tricky fraud case now being investigated by the British and
Mashonaland West police spokesman, Inspector Collin
Matore, confirmed to The Standard that Chidarikire had reported the matter and
they had launched investigations.
Information made available to this paper
indicates that Chidarikire, who is elder brother to former Chinhoyi Executive
mayor, Faber Chidarikire, was approached by a man who used to work at Zvimba
post office who told him that he had a friend in Britain who wanted to buy a
house in Harare.
The conman told Chidarikire that he would benefit immensely
if the much-needed foreign currency was deposited into the account of his
UK-based daughter since the exchange rate they would use was very low. What
Chidarikire was only required to do was to supply him with Zimbabwe dollars so
that he could buy the house on behalf of his friends.
The businessman, this
paper gathered, agreed in principle to assist and the conman notified his
British-based friends who in turn contacted Chidarikire's daughter about the
A couple of days later, the UK based criminals indicated to
Chidarikire's daughter their intention to deposit 16 000 pounds into her UK
They asked her to inform her father about the transaction
once the money had reflected on her account, so that he could give their
Zimbabwean friend $20,8 million required for the house.
The criminals later
informed Chidarikire's daughter that they had encountered some problems and had
only managed to deposit 8 000 pounds, and asked her to inform her father to give
their friend $10,4 million.
Chidarikire's daughter checked in her account
and indeed the 8 000 pounds was reflected.
As per agreement, she informed
her father who subsequently gave their Zimbabwean friend $10,4 million, and he
signed a memorandum of understanding confirming that he had received the funds.
The Chidarikire family only realised that they had been conned when their
daughter attempted to withdraw the 8 000 pounds while in the UK. She was briefly
detained by UK police who told her that the 8 000 pounds was deposited using two
different cheques, one of which had been stolen. The owner of the cheque had
made a stop-payment.
Police later released her after hearing her side of the
story and have since launched investigations into the matter.
traced the ID numbers of the Zimbabwean conman that were on the memorandum of
understanding signed by the two parties, we realised that they belonged to a
person who died a long time ago," said Inspector Matore.
not be reached for comment.
US freezes Mugabe and cronies' assets
By our own Staff
United States of America government on Friday froze the individual assets of
President Robert Mugabe and 76 other top Zanu PF and government figures.
An executive order issued by US president, George W Bush, to the
Congress of the United States, accused the Zanu PF regime of undermining
democracy and contributing to the "deliberate breakdown of the rule of law".
Bush's message read in part: "I have exercised my statutory authority to
declare a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary
threat to the foreign policy interests of the United States posed by the actions
and policies of certain individuals who have formulated, implemented or
supported policies that have undermined Zimbabwe's democratic institutions.
"Over the past two years, the government of Zimbabwe has systematically
undermined that nation's democratic institutions, employing violence,
intimidation and repressive means including legislation to stifle opposition to
Among the 77 listed figures are cabinet ministers, Emmerson
Mnangagwa who is the Speaker of Parliament and the then head of the Central
Intelligence Organisation, Elisha Muzonzini.
Among other restrictions, the
order blocks all interests of the 77 to their properties in the United States
and prohibits US citizens from doing business with them.
"Mugabe and his associates" of devastating the nation's agricultural economy
through the government's chaotic land reforms and triggering a potentially
catastrophic food crisis. He also held Mugabe responsible for throwing the
entire southern Africa into an economic and political quandary.
"Subsequent to the (badly flawed March 2002) election, the Mugabe government
intensified its repression of opposition political parties and those voices in
the civil society and the independent press calling on the government to respect
the nation's democratic values and the basic human rights of its citizens."
Mugabe and his cronies are currently under similar targeted sanctions from
the European Union and the British government.
Friday's freeze on their
properties comes after Switzerland took the first such action against the
increasingly isolated Zanu PF regime.
Theft-riddled GMB audits maize
By Loughty Dube
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has launched a nationwide audit of its depots to
ascertain how much maize grain has been stolen from its depot by its own
employees working in cahoots with some politicians, The Standard has
The nationwide audit exercise comes amidst revelations of
thefts and the arrest of some Masvingo and Bulawayo GMB workers who were
involved in clandestine dealings in GMB maize.
The audit exercise began in
Bulawayo last week and is expected to spread to other parts of the country in
the coming weeks.
GMB's acting executive officer, Samuel Muvuti, could not
be reached for a comment on the matter but an official who preferred not to be
named confirmed the exercise.
"The audit exercise has started in Bulawayo
and the audit manager is currently reconciling the amount of grain the depot has
received since last year. He will compare that with the outgoing grain recorded
and from there the exercise will move on to other depots,"said the official.
The GMB official said Bulawayo is the starting point of the audit exercise
by virtue of it being one of the two entry points for maize imported into the
country. Mutare is the other entry point.
Last week alone, seven GMB workers
who include loaders and drivers were arrested for stealing seven tonnes of
maize, while deputy minister, Shuvai Mahofa's son was arrested for dealing in
maize with GMB officials.
Sources at the Bulawayo GMB told The Standard that
the audit exercise is likely to expose serious discrepancies in the distribution
of maize since politicians in the city are directly involved in the distribution
In January this year, the Bulawayo depot was a hive of activity
when war veterans and Zanu PF supporters staged a demonstration against certain
politicians they accused of being involved in the clandestine distribution of
Zanu PF Bulawayo chairman, Jabulani Sibanda, is accusing some
politicians in the city of hoarding maize meal and of working in cahoots with
GMB officials in the selling of maize on the black market.
Zimpapers' hacks flee Zanu PF propaganda
By our own
TIRED of the harsh economic situation and of having to dish out
PF propaganda on a daily basis, a number of Zimbabwe Newspapers
have left the company for the United Kingdom, the latest being
editor, Cephas Chitsaka.
Chitsaka, who was the second in
command at The Herald, behind Pikirayi
Deketeke, e-mailed his resignation
from London last Monday, joining the long
list of Zimpapers reporters, among
them, Charles Mtetwa, Elton Dzikiti,
Edgar Moyo, Archibold Musonza and Nomsa
Nkala who have left the organisation
in the past few months.
disgusted with having to swallow what is being forced down their
junior minister, Jonathan Moyo, are also understood to have
of intention to leave Zimpapers. Others are contemplating
"Yes, Chitsaka has left, and many others are
leaving. They are fed up with
being told what to write by the Department of
Information and Publicity
rather than write what they see for themselves,"
said one reporter with The
The situation has become so hard for
reporters that Moyo is understood to be
writing propaganda stories himself
but under the cover of the reporters'
names. Examples which have been cited
have been question and answer stories
which feature Moyo as the respondent
and which bear the by-line of a
reporter. The reporters fear being fired if
they question this.
In fact, Moyo has become so powerful that it is believed
that no story goes
into The Herald without him seeing it first.
departure of Chitsaka comes hard on the heels of that of Joseph Simoko,
appeared in the infamous Chave Chimurenga adverts but who left for the
search of greener pastures.
These are, however, just a few of the many people
who have left for the
United Kingdom, to escape being used as vehicles for
churning out Zanu PF
propaganda on radio, television and in state
War vet in court for killing a donkey
By our own
GWERU-JOSEPH Chishona, 51, a notorious war veteran in Mkoba suburb
who faced numerous allegations of torture from members of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) stemming from his activities during the
2002 plebiscite, last week found himself in hot soup after killing a
The war veteran leader, whose alleged acts of torture during the
March 2002 presidential campaign were ignored by the partisan Zimbabwe Republic
Police, was not so lucky this time around for when he fatally attacked a donkey,
the very same police soon hauled him into the dock-to face charges of malicious
injury to property!
Appearing for the state, Barbara Mashawiro told the
court that on 5 November last year, at about 10 pm, Chishona could not contain
his volatile anger against a donkey which had pounced on vegetables in his
Mashawiro said the war veteran, who chased the donkey from his
garden, drove it into his yard's perimeter fence where the animal valued at $9
000 got its hoof caught in the wire-mesh.
Chishona then mercilessly beat up
the trapped animal, using sticks and a sjambok, the state said. The animal
remained there until the next day when it was released by its owner, Samuel
Baleni. The animal subsequently died of its injuries.
Chishona's plea to be
remanded outside custody on free bail was thrown out by the magistrate who
insisted that he had to pay $1 000 bail.
Fellow war veterans who had come to
witness the trial had to run around to raise the $1 000 to save Chishona from
being remanded in custody until 18 March when the trial is set to resume.
Chinos promises 'heaven on earth'
By Itai Dzamara
himself as saviour of the people of the Highfield constituency, former Harare
municipality security guard, Joseph Chinotimba, is leaving no stone unturned in
his bid to obtain a ticket to the august house.
Chinotimba, who squares up
with Pearson Tachiveyi Mungofa of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) on March 29 and 30 for the vacant Highfield seat could be wishing for the
shortage of basic commodities in the country to continue.
bearded war veteran appears to have nothing to offer the constituency except
supplies of basic commodities and empty promises.
At the countless
meetings he has been holding around the suburb, with the express permission of
the police, it has emerged that Chinotimba is riding on the crisis created by
the government of his mentor, President Robert Mugabe and wants to be seen as
the saviour of the people of Highfield.
As people fail to obtain such
commodities as sugar, bread and mealie meal, Chinotimba is creating the
impression that he is the only one who can source these scarce supplies. And the
sources of Chinotimba's supplies have remained mysterious.
also trying to capitalise on the nagging transport crisis by going about the
suburb claiming that he is the one responsible for bringing Zupco buses to
At a recent rally in the constituency, Chinotimba said: "I
went to Chitungwiza and people there asked me to bring them buses and food. I
told them that I am not Job Sikhala or Tafadzwa Musekiwa, that I'm the MP for
Highfield and will continue giving food and transport to my constituency."
The self-proclaimed commander of the farm invasions has also been
promising jobs to hordes of unemployed youths in Highfield. He has recruited a
few youths for training at his security company, and others for tout duty at the
Zupco bus terminus.
However, Chinotimba's efforts appear to be falling
far short of convincing the constituency that he is genuinely concerned about
His supplies of basic commodities are being distributed to select
Zanu PF supporters.
Betty Mutisi, 45, a resident of Highfield, scoffed
at Chinotimba's efforts.
"It is all noise about nothing. Only a few Zanu
PF supporters are getting the basic commodities, the supply of which is very
erratic. It is all a waste of time on the part of Chinotimba," said Mutisi.
Youths in the historic suburb, home to most of Zimbabwe's early
nationalists, claim that they are being forced to attend Chinotimba's meetings
"We are being dragged to these meetings where Zanu PF
people try to force us into praising Chinotimba's efforts and preaching a
similar message to the residents of Highfield," said one youth who refused to be
identified for fear of victimisation.
"We are deeply concerned at the
unemployment in our constituency. However, I am here to tell you that this will
be a thing of the past because everyone here will get employment," promised
Chinotimba at a rally held at Old Highfield last month.
Chinotimba took his campaign to the classrooms where he portrayed himself as the
saviour of the schools despite his own illiteracy.
A meeting at Mhizha
Primary School, purportedly called by education minister Aenaes Chigwedere and
public service minister July Moyo, turned out to be yet another platform for
Chinotimba to promise teachers "heaven on earth."
Said Chinotimba to the
teachers: "It is shameful that the majority of you teachers are lodgers who
teach the children of landlords. Imagine a Grade One pupil telling a teacher
that he is a lodger. In light of that, I have secured residential stands for you
at Ushewokunze farm."
Added Chinotimba: "I will also bring ministers
Chigwedere and Moyo to listen to your grievances and welfare concerns, which I
am sure they will address."
Teachers in Highfield generally snubbed
Chinotimba's rally, which was largely attended by elderly female teachers who
numbered about 100.
"I have better things to do than to dignify the
nonsense of the Chinotimbas and Chigwederes of this world," said a teacher at
Highfield High School who didn't attend the rally.
British Foreign Office official doubtful of Mugabe's sincerity
VISITING head of the British Foreign Affairs' Zimbabwe Section,
Tony Brennan, has questioned the sincerity of President Robert Mugabe's pledge
to charter a new conciliatory stance with the British government, after the
Zimbabwean government refused to meet him this week.
Brennan said he was
irked at the decision of the Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs ministry to turn down
his request for a bilateral meeting, barely a week after Mugabe returned from a
two-week visit to France and the Far East after which he pledged to mend
relations between Harare and London with the help of French President, Jacques
"The Zimbabwean government did not give any reasons for their
refusal to meet me, and it is really sad that...despite our continued assurance
that we would very much like to work with Zimbabwe," Brennan said.
British government has shown its earnest efforts by providing $4,7 billion (£51
million) towards the Zimbabwean humanitarian crisis in the past 18 months alone.
What is saddening is that all this money could have been used for more
developmental purposes and we would prefer to have done so with a more
Stan Mudenge, the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
could not be reached for comment.
Brennan lamented the breakdown of the rule
of law in Zimbabwe and the gross human rights abuses in the country.
said: "The targeted sanctions slapped on Zimbabwe by the British government are
not necessarily for regime change as Mugabe would like to argue, but are meant
to effect change in Zimbabwe's conduct.
"The entire international community
agrees that Zimbabwe has so much potential and Britain in particular is pained
to see Zimbabwe stoop so low at the behest of political leadership bent on
retaining power at all costs. The sanctions therefore, are a symbolic and
important stance aimed at showing the entire world's disapproval of the regime's
Brennan served as a teacher at Neshuro Secondary School under the
British Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) education programme in Masvingo
province's rural Mwenezi district in the 1990s before going to work for the
British government in the Czech Republic.
He was then engaged to head the
British Foreign Affairs ministry's Zimbabwe Section owing to his experience in
"I am very much attached to this country and it remains dear to
me. Despite the crisis bedevilling Zimbabwe, I was glad to see some significant
social and infrastructural improvements in Mwenezi," Brennan said.
he donated some stationery and sporting equipment during his visit to Neshuro
Secondary School on Friday.
ZRP now a 'terrorist organisation'
By our own
NORMAN Mbewe reluctantly leads his wife, Gertrude, into Mufakose
police station to see their son, Fungai, 24, who has been in police custody for
over a week. After a protracted battle with officers in the charge office, they
are finally allowed to go see Fungai in an overcrowded holding cell. They find
Fungai writhing in agony and unable to speak.
In their bid to force
Fungai into admitting a politically motivated crime, officers at Mufakose police
station have severely beaten him under the feet and on the genitals.
a member of the opposition MDC, says the police accuse him of having been
involved in the destruction of the ruling Zanu PF party's offices in Mufakose.
But he says this is just a smokescreen because the police have been after
him because of his active campaigning for the MDC.
Fungai's ordeal is just
one of the countless cases of the police brutality which transpires every day at
police stations throughout the country.
Instead of police stations being
places where the public seeks security and safety, police stations in Zimbabwe
have been turned into hostile and dangerous places for members of the public.
While professional ethics that govern police operations in many countries
call on police officers to be impartial, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has
obstinately refused to uphold such standards of professionalism and instead
allows itself to be used by the ruling Zanu PF party to ruthlessly uphold two of
the country's most obnoxious pieces of legislation: the Public Order and
Security Act (Posa) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Arbitrary detention has become common and those arrested, including
even sitting judges such as the recent case of Justice Benjamin Paradza, are
denied access to lawyers and sometimes detained for more than 48 hours, the
maximum period a person can be held in custody before appearing in court.
The ZRP has also become an intrinsic organ of the repressive machinery that
is helping the government and Zanu PF to pummel people into submission as part
of the party's plans to have President Robert Mugabe hang onto power at all
The torturing of suspects in police detention has at times forced
detainees to admit to crimes they never committed, which are then used as
instruments to shut them up, especially in the case of political and civic
activists critical of the establishment.
In its execution of duty, the ZRP
has exposed its weaknesses by treating individuals, opposition political parties
and private media organisations in a blatantly hostile manner.
arrests of journalists for "writing and publishing falsehoods" have been
directed at those from the privately owned media, although there is clear
evidence of the deliberate publishing of falsehoods by the state owned media.
The same can be said of most of the arrests made by the ZRP under Posa which
have been against the opposition MDC.
MDC MP for St Marys, Job Sikhala and
four others, including human rights lawyer, Gabriel Shumba, were in January
arrested for allegedly torching a Zupco bus, but the charge was later changed to
a breach of Section 5 of of the notorious Posa.
They were tortured while in
police custody with the evidence being provided in court. A probe into the issue
was supposed to have been ordered by the state, but it has since emerged that
the probe was never seriously carried out and has already been swept under the
carpet by the ZRP.
"When I got there, they started beating me under the
feet. At one time I passed out and when I regained consciousness one officer
urinated on me and I also urinated. Then I was ordered to roll on the urine
until it dried up," narrated Sikhala in court.
Munyaradzi Bidi, the director
of Zimrights, said the ZRP has aligned itself with the ruling party thereby
compromising its impartiality.
"It is a police force that has been
politicised and has aligned itself with the ruling party. Posa and Aippa have
given the police extra teeth to abuse human rights. We have been receiving
appalling reports about the use of excessive force, torture and the beating up
of people by the police," said Bidi.
Douglas Mwonzora, the spokesman of the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) lambasted the ZRP.
"The ZRP has
breached every human rights provision in the constitution. A number of people
have been held without access to their lawyers."
Matthew Chiutsi of
Highfield described the ZRP as a terrorist organisation.
"It is a shame that
the ZRP claims to be a credible police force. If you look at the repugnant
manner in which it is being used by Mugabe and his murderous party, on the
political or even social scene, you will find it to be nothing but a terrorist
organisation. Otherwise, how do you describe a group of armed people who are
sent to beat up and harass people in a bread or mealie meal queue simply in
order to hoodwink visitors to the Cricket World Cup into believing that all is
Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, whilst admitting the ZRP's
shortcomings in upholding human rights, denied the allegations of partisanship
and political favouritism.
"We certainly subscribe to the upholding of human
rights and we are striving to reach a standard level. There is no police force
in the world which can claim to have reached a stage where they fully uphold
Added Bvudzijena: "The criticism of our application of Posa
and Aippa is misplaced. We apply the laws of the country as they are. I would
challenge anyone to prove that we have been selective in our operations."
Economic rot drags on unabated
By Kumbirai Mafunda
find themselves enmeshed in their worst ever economic and political crisis, a
year after the controversial re-election of President Robert Mugabe who promised
to mend the tattered economy, but has failed dismally and has only managed to
drag the economy into further turmoil.
In separate interviews, analysts
said the government is showing conspicuous signs of confusion and despondency as
it tries to adopt one plan after the other without any tangible results, the
latest being a bizarre suggestion for a return to socialism.
The past 12
months have seen the entrenchment of the suffering of Zimbabweans and the
continued dislocation of economic fundamentals, with no solution in sight.
Major economic fundamentals which the governing Zanu PF party promised to
tackle once elected into office have worsened, with inflation surging to 208,1%
early this year.
In March last year, inflation stood at 113% and analysts
project that it will hit 213% by the end of this month.
Annual growth in
money supply, which stood at 57% at the beginning of last year, rose to 148,9%
by last November and is projected to end the year at a historic high of around
170%, further putting pressure on the runaway inflation.
of all foreign exchange transactions has resulted in dwindling amounts of hard
currency trickling back into the official system, thereby further paralysing the
operations of companies battling to weather the storms.
In his inauguration
speech after his controversial re-election, Mugabe said: "the current severe
foreign currency crunch requires that we immediately provide further stimulus to
national export performance including that of the general agricultural and
horticultural sectors; promote benefaction for high value exports, encourage
both local and direct investment in the country and market our country more
professionally, innovatively, and effectively to boost tourism."
in office for a year now, has been overwhelmed by the economic crisis that has
almost reached melting point.
Although he recently unveiled the so-called
National Economic Revival Programme (NERP), the latest in a number of failed
initiatives, many experts say Mugabe's new plan is doomed because it does not
have the backing of the West where the money comes from.
So as Zimbabwe
titters on the brink of collapse under Mugabe's stewardship, the economic
decline has accelerated, dramatised by an asset price bubble in real estate, in
the equities market and in the goods market. Hunger and starvation have become
the order of the day and the whole country is crippled by a transport crisis.
Even the very latest move to designate some service stations for the
exclusive use by buses and omnibuses in a bid to ease the transport problems is
bound to fail. It just goes to show the extent of desperation on the part of the
In less than a year, government has discarded its 10-point
economic plan promulgated soon after the presidential elections in favour of the
"That 10-point plan was almost dead on arrival. It was never
referred to. It simply disappeared without trace. If you even ask someone in
government to find a copy of that plan, he will not get it," says John
Robertson, an independent consultant economist.
As the government tries
desperately to rein in inflation, it has toyed with all sorts of ideas including
the introduction of the old-fashioned price controls.
"There are controlled
goods on the list and not in the shops," Robertson observed, adding: "So what is
the good of having price controls and price freezes?"
Tapiwa Mashakada, the
opposition MDC's shadow minister of Finance says: "The economic decline since
the 2002 presidential elections has been phenomenal. The economy has declined
progressively primarily because market confidence tumbled in the wake of the
realisation that the elections didn't represent the will of the people."
Mashakada says the post-election period has seen an increase in asset
stripping particularly in the bakery, oil and mining industries.
been a deliberate encouragement of black consortiums with strong links to Zanu
PF to take over the commanding heights of the economy. All this suggests that
Zanu PF has failed in both economic and political governance," he added.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) is currently studying the performance
of the manufacturing sector in 2002, where more than 500 companies are reported
to have shut down.
"The situation continues to be difficult. Things have not
been easy for companies over the year. Foreign currency shortages, high wage
demands, high inflation and a whole host of problems applied in 2002," said
Bernard Mufute, CZI's economic research and policy manager.
manufacturers have resorted to renaming products and introducing different
packages to dodge the price controls on their products.
Bakeries now make
small funny looking half-loaves and buns which have escaped the price freeze,
while other companies such as detergents manufacturers have reduced the size of
some of the most popular soaps.
"It is a survival strategy by companies. If
the right prices are charged the market will have products back at their right
size," says Mufute.
Former Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president
and industrialist, Danny Meyer, says the government is unwilling to arrest the
economic rot which is now entering its sixth year.