British asylum laws shelter mouthpiece for Mugabe
Bamber and Jonathan Erasmus
sheltering a former supporter of an outlawed terrorist group who
also acts as
a propagandist for the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
Matsanga, a Ugandan businessman, acts as a public relations adviser
Mugabe. He also writes a weekly column for a Zimbabwean newspaper in
regularly denounces Britain
Mr Matsanga, 43, a former official of the
disgraced former Ugandan president
Milton Obote, has lived in Croydon,
Surrey, with his wife and four children
for nine years. He was granted
political asylum on the grounds that he would
be killed if he returned
Until recently he was the British spokesman for the Lord's
(LRA) in Uganda, a proscribed terrorist organisation which
soldiers and has been accused by Amnesty International of
Two months ago it was accused of killing
104 people and, last Wednesday, of
abducting 30 children from a school. In
January 1999, Kampala magistrates
issued a warrant for Mr Matsanga's arrest,
along with leaders of the LRA,
for three murders allegedly committed by the
terrorist organisation on
February 14, 1997, in the northern town of Gulu. It
Mr Matsanga has denied visiting Uganda
since 1990 and rejects the charges,
saying that they are politically
motivated. His solicitors say he is a
"peaceloving man" and that he only
became a spokesman for the LRA in March
It is understood that a
bank account held by Mr Matsanga was frozen by the
British Government in
London in 1999 because of his LRA activities.
Mr Matsanga, who claims to
have worked as a researcher for Robin Cook, then
the shadow foreign
secretary, before the 1997 election, writes a vitriolic
in the Daily Herald, a Zimbabwean newspaper. Among his
many rants are attacks
on Tony Blair and journalists who have written about
Mr Mugabe's despotic
He described an article in The Daily Telegraph about a possible
Zimbabwe as "nothing but a faked story by gay gangsters", adding
British "gays who hate President Mugabe" were sneaking into the
under the pretext of playing golf.
In another column, Mr
Matsanga wrote: "Let Tony Blair seek the help of
African medicine men to
cleanse this soul that is haunting the very centre
The revelation of Mr Matsanga's activities despite being
comes just two weeks after The Telegraph revealed that Wali
Khan Ahmadzai, a
fighter for the Taliban in Afghanistan against British
forces, was living in
London and had sought asylum.
On Friday, David
Blunkett, the Home Secretary, announced that 110,000 asylum
seekers came to
Britain in 2002, the highest number ever and up 20 per cent
Last week Mr Matsanga boasted about his Zimbabwean connections when
two undercover journalists from The Telegraph at a hotel in
He said: "I know all the government, all the ministers they turn
to me for
advice. Mugabe is always interested in what I have to
With Zimbabwean government cash, Mr Matsanga runs a company trading
Africa Strategy. Its aim is to try to win favourable publicity for
regime. Despite his attacks on Mr Blair, the businessman claims to have
a British passport and be a member of the Labour Party.
at the hotel in Croydon, Mr Matsanga tempered his criticism of
said: "Britain is my home. I have been here many years. I worked
Cook before the 1997 election and I am still in the Labour Party."
admitted to having been the "political secretary" of the LRA until
but claimed he had resigned.
A spokesman for the Home Office said that he
could not speak about this
particular case but added: "We are not in the
business of giving asylum to
those who pose a risk to others.
not prepared to offer sanctuary to people who abuse our
Mealie meal now a status
I HAVE spent the last 15 days without mealie meal. And I
do not think
my case is unique.
In these days I have spent
nearly $3 000 dollars on sadza substitutes
such as roasted maize, bread,
potatoes, lacto and mbambaira.
Carrying home a packet of mealie
meal is now a status symbol akin to
driving around town in the very latest
car model generally unavailable on
the local market.
We now live
on a day by day basis not knowing what we are going to
About three quarters of the people spend their
time hunting for mealie
meal and other basic commodities.
more desperate actually sleep in the queue even when they are told
will be no mealie meal on that day or the day after.
searching for mealie meal are invariably always exchanging tit
information and leads on where the scarce commodity is to be found.
accusations are made leading to outright violence.
name has now acquired a certain notoriety.
The cult of personality in Africa
IN the Western world, film stars and singers often
have large groups
of fans who go beyond respecting and liking them to
following their every move and defending all their behaviour,
We do not have that same sense of adulation
of even our most popular
entertainers, perhaps partly because they do not yet
have the opportunity to
earn the larger-than-life, other-worldly wealth and
lifestyles from their
craft that some of their Western counterparts do. But
we have other kinds of
personality cults, such as of religious leaders and
In Zimbabwe, and much of Africa, the president or
carefully develops a core group of official hero-worshippers.
This helps to
give him a remoteness and a mystique that suggests that he was
be in his position, and that to challenge him is to threaten the
well-being of the State. This process of official veneration quickly
momentum with the promulgation of special laws criminalising the most
words and actions by equating them with treason, and emphasising the
that the leader is super-human.
Adoring songs are written
about the leader, picture portraits of the
president are hung in the offices
of all those who seek special favours from
the establishment. Others join the
bandwagon so that they are not seen as
being of undecided loyalty to him, or
worse, sympathetic to the opposition-a
terrible sin in many of our
The media makes it a point to insert his picture even in
peripherally to do with him. The country's currency will often
have a bust
of the great leader on it, about the same time that it starts to
Many of the major roads are named after him, as
are buildings, schools
and many other institutions. Many of the most
prominent of those
institutions must get the personal blessings of the 'great
leader (he is
always "great," regardless of the actual evidence of the state
country he is presiding over.) He is invariably the "supreme"
the armed forces, chancellor of all public universities, and of
private ones that want to get anything done.
few years of coming into power he would have become a
"doctor" many times
over, because all the universities would have showered
him with honorary
degrees for his brilliance in ruling over his
deteriorating country. He is
the "patron" of many organisations seeking his
favour, many of whose
activities he is only remotely aware of, if at all.
His life story
is romanticised, making him out to have been a child
prodigy, and a person
whose destiny towards prominence was evident virtually
from birth. His birth
place becomes a virtual shrine, and it is a source of
great prestige to claim
that one's rural home is near that of the great
leader's. Being a member of
the same old boys' school organisation is worth
mentioning on one's CV, and
in some circumstances might make up for one's
professional or other
deficiencies, as the reflected glory could be
the country is fortunate enough to have the great leader favour
woman with his attention and choose to marry her during his time
the wedding becomes the social event of the century. Whether you
anybody or not rests on whether you get an invitation card, and
that card can
be flashed as evidence of how one has "arrived."
It is like a
certificate making official one's elite status in
society. Some people would
do almost anything to get it, so that they are
able to forever say, "I was
actually invited, I was there."
All this helps to build up the
presidential mystique I talked about
earlier. After some time, the repeated,
daily drumming in of the message
that he is almost super human gets home. The
people may become increasingly
disaffected as life gets harder, but he
appears invincible. Many who curse
him by night, grovel before him by
Any one who gets the silly notion of actually challenging
perfectly within constitutional bounds, is sure to be roughed up, spend
time in prison and dragged through an expensive, time consuming charade
trial for "treason."
It does not matter very much if the
trial deteriorates into farce,
because it is not mainly about justice, or
even legalities, but to reinforce
the unforgivable taboo of trying to unseat
the 'great man'.
There is no better opportunity than the
president's birthday to
flashily display one's loyalty to, undying love, and
obeisance of the great
man. Prominent members of the personality cult spend
large sums of money
falling over themselves extolling his countless virtues
advertisements. What for most people is a significant, but
milestone becomes almost a State occasion.
year, on the great man's birthday, whole sections of
newspapers, and hours of
TV and radio time are devoted to telling us of his
selfless history, his
heroic escapades on the road to the presidential
palace, his scholarly
Then there is his love for children;
selected quotations from his
hundreds of speeches, all of them historical
masterpieces, and his strong
condemnations of THE ENEMY that is always
lurking around the corner, always
trying to destroy what the great leader has
bravely achieved for his people.
All this increases in direct
proportion to the people's increasing
hunger, the economy's poorer
performance, and the greater repression of the
very people we are told the
great man loves so much and lives for. The
personality cult shows an
increasing, upside down kind of defiance of the
clear evidence of the hero
being a very ordinary mortal, unable to deal with
the issues that most occupy
them, even as they shout his praise ever louder.
The evidence of
nothing quite working as it should may be clear and
things will all fall into place "tomorrow," when
critics and doubters will be
shown the error of their ways in doubting the
great wisdom of the
When we venerate our presidents in these ways, it is not
see why we do not have the mechanisms in society to confront
on. Just like the pop or film star who gets jaded and
destroyed by too much
mindless adulation from adoring fans, we spoil our
leaders and societies by
divorcing them from a down-to-earth reality. They no
longer introspect, they
no longer believe they can be wrong nor can they
conceive of life outside
No forum exists to face them
regularly and tell them of our problems
and worries, and to vent our
frustrations at their incompetence. Under the
guise of selective cultural
clauses, and the cults of fear and personality,
this simply cannot be
One only has to look at the mess we have made of Africa over
50 years we have been hero worshipping our leaders, acting as if we
answerable to them, instead of them to us, to see the destructive effects
the cult of personality.
"Third Chimurenga" killers get 14-year jail
By Parker Graham
MASVINGO-Three Zanu PF militia
leaders who killed two Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) activists during
the bloody Bikita West by-election
in 2000 have learnt the hard way that
killing, even in the name of the so
called 'Third Chimurenga', does not
The trio: William Nhongo (36 ), Shadreck Musoro (31) and
Mayenga (29), who admitted killing the MDC activists because they
the impression that they were engaging in the 'Third
violent land grab exercise. They were each slapped with
a 14-year jail term
by High Court Judge Justice Moses Chinhengo in Masvingo
For the state, Dambudzo Malunga told the court that the
leaders of the Zanu PF youth and committed the offence after the
celebrations for retired army colonel Claudious Makova, who had just
Bikita West by-election following a violent campaign spearheaded by
war veterans' leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi.
leaders are said to have remained behind shortly after the
and ordered the ruling party youths to name known
supporters of the MDC in
At around 8.00pm, the youth leaders sent two groups of
search and collect Richard Maphosa and Richard
They found them at their homes and force-marched them to
Business Centre for interrogation.
The two were
heavily assaulted with thick sticks before being
frog-marched to Munyii
Business Centre, about seven kilometres away.
However, the battered
MDC activists failed to reach the intended
destination as they collapsed and
died along the way.
Imploring the court to show leniency, the trio
said they had killed
Chatunga and Maphosa in the genuine belief that they had
been doing the
right thing-waging the Third Chimurenga war on behalf of the
"When the land reform programme
started, everybody within the ruling
Zanu PF party thought that they were in
a war situation, that of the Third
Chimurenga," said lawyer, Junior Mpamhanga
of Chuma, Gurajena and Associates
who represented the trio.
added: "The accused have a poor level of education and genuinely
they were carrying out their duties as Zanu PF youth leaders. Your
... if you had interviewed them and listened to their whole story,
have felt for them."
She urged the court to view the militia
leaders as victims of
circumstances since they had been used and then dumped
by Zanu PF.
However, Justice Chinhengo, sitting with assessors
Andrew Scholtz and
Patson Muzvidziwa, insisted that the courts would never
tolerate the idea of
members of the society taking other people's lives and
getting away with it
"Courts should not be seen to condone
such unlawful activities or to
allow this kind of indoctrination to spread.
Your lawyer submitted that when
you committed the offence, you thought you
were engaged in the Third
Chimurenga, but that was unlawful ," said Justice
He added that it had been merely assumed that the
deceased were MDC
"It could not be established
whether the deceased were members of the
MDC...it was a mere suspicion. The
way things happened showed that the
accused did not tolerate the views of
others, something which is against the
"Freedom of expression, freedom of choice and public safety should
own's personal interest. The public should be protected from
Accused persons were the leaders of the ruling Zanu PF and were
lead by example, but in this case, they did not -as they
believed in the
wrong doctrines," said Justice Chinhengo.
The Judge, however,
suspended four years of each of their sentences on
condition that they did
not commit similar offences in the next five years.
Sunday Herald, UK
Crossroads of corruption
African state cleans up its act, another continues to betray its
finds Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, his government and ordin ary
launched one of the biggest house cleanings in post-colonial
Kenyans, fed up with their east African country being
branded as one of the
most corrupt nations on Earth, are fighting back
Ordinary people, reading the deter mination of Kibaki to
crack down on
crooked officials, are refusing to pay what were once routine
jobs and basic government services. Commuters have begun
much-feared police officers who for decades routinely demanded
'Corruption in Kenya was systemic, endemic ,'
said Mwalimu Mati, director of
the east African office of the anti-corruption
International. 'Petty corruption was the most insidious,
because it affected
the poor and women. The police routinely checked people
driving home and if
you didn't have your national identity card they would
say, 'Give us 100
shillings.' If you didn't have the money, they arrested
Nine out of 10 Kenyans surveyed by Transparency said their
police led to demands for bribes. 'But now police officers
who dare to utter
the traditional Swahili euphemism for bribery -- 'tuo kitu
kidogo ya chai'
or 'give a little something for tea' -- are being confronted
Kenyans shouting the newest catch-phrase: 'Rudisha kila kitu' or
everything back,'' added Mati.
While ordinary Kenyans are taking
on low-level officials, Kibaki is busy
cleaning out corrupt officials in top
Chief Justice Bernard Chunga, immediately attacked by Kibaki
allegations of venality under former President Daniel Arap Moi,
last week. He was replaced by Justice Evans Gacheru, the most senior
longest-serving Kenyan High Court and Court of Appeal judge. Chunga is
investigated in rel ation to the torture of dissidents opposed to the
Moi regime . Moi's Kenya National Union (Kanu) had ruled the country
nearly 40 years before Kibaki's National Rainbow Coalition won one of
two multi-party elections since independence from Britain.
last week also appointed a judicial commission to investigate the
most complex financial scandal in Kenya's history. The
commission, headed by
two judges, will re-examine the so-called Goldenberg
Affair, which came to
light in 1994, in which a Kenyan businessman and three
officials were accused of defrauding the government of
£160 million between
October 1992 and July 1993.
Governor Nahashon Nyagah of the Central Bank
of Kenya and commissioner
general John Munge of the Kenya Revenue Authority
were sacked last week,
accused of defrauding their organisations of more than
£150,000. The top
brass of both the Kenyan Army and Air Force have been
removed. Former Army
chief, General Lazarus Sumbeiywo has been replaced by
Mutinda Kianga. The new head of Kenya's national police
Edwin Nyaseda, has reorganised his traffic department in
an attempt to stamp
out the corruption left by his predecessor.
MPs have been given two weeks to surrender land illegally allocated to
by Moi. Meanwhile, the 28-storey state-owned Kenyatta
Conference Centre, appropriated by Moi as Kanu's headquarters,
reclaimed for the state . Announcing the changes, Kibaki said:
has undermined our economy, our politics and our national psyche.
undermined our most important institutions and tarnished our
political and economic crisis relentlessly deepens, Africa's
have steadily increased their support for Zimbabwe's corrupt
and much reviled
President Robert Mugabe.
The recent call by the presidents of Nigeria and
South Africa, Olusegun
Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki, for the lifting of
Zimbabwe's suspension from the
Commonwealth has outraged the country's
opposition Movement for Democratic
the MDC leader, on trial for his life on trumped-up
charges that he plotted
to assassinate Mugabe, has blasted African leaders
and the 116-member
Non-Aligned Movement (which represents developing
countries worldwide) for
comforting Mugabe while Zimbabweans suffer gross
human rights abuses,
lawlessness and muzzling of the press.
'Expressing solidarity with, and
active support for, a nakedly vile and
murderous dictatorship in Zimbabwe is
a betrayal of cherished human rights
values,' said Tsvangirai.
African heads of state and the Non-Aligned Movement are giving
Mugabe, they are totally betraying ordinary Zimbabweans who queue
sometimes days, for such basic commodities as mealie meal, bread,
Commenting on the Non-Aligned Movement's recent summit in
which called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe and
International Monetary Fund and World Bank for withdrawing
financial aid to
the country, Tsvangirai said: 'The resolution is based on a
distortion of the reality of the Zimbabwe crisis. The crisis is a
cruel and corrupt governance.
'Contrary to the public
positions of the Mugabe regime, our crisis has never
been about land. Mugabe
has used the land issue as an alibi to cover up
crimes against humanity and a
strategy to remain illegally in power.
'What is at issue are the violent
and unsustainable methods employed by
Mugabe which have reduced a once
vibrant and highly-productive agricultural
sector to a
Life is tough in the countryside. The United Nations says
that eight million
of Zimbabwe's 12 million people face starvation as a
result of Mugabe's
chaotic land policies. World Food Programme director James
Morris last week
said the humanitarian crisis caused by Mugabe was 'almost
comprehension'. 'It's a disaster,' he added.
In six meetings
with Mugabe in the last six months about the damage being
done to food
production by politics, crazy economics and corrupt
bureaucracy, Morris said
he had made no headway. Under Mugabe's land
'reforms', thousands of recently
productive farms are completely idle and
food output this year is expected to
be one-third of normal levels.
'Mugabe's scheme, featuring occupation by
government ministers and officials
of once prosperous farms, restrictions on
private sector food marketing, and
a state monopoly on food imports, are
turning a drought that might have been
managed into a humanitarian
nightmare,' said Morris. The fact that about
one-third of the adult
population has been infected by the HIV virus was
compounding the problem.
'Countless numbers of Zimbabwean children are now
heading households,' said
Life is not much easier in the towns and cities. Zimbabweans
each other 'happy queue year' as 2003 heralded ever-longer lines
basic necessities. Most Zimbabweans' days are spent finding food
Long queues stretch down roads for miles. The substantial numbers
Zimbabweans of Scottish origin have revived an old joke, asking why
country is called Disneyland and replying : 'Because it disnae have
it disnae have butter, it disnae have petrol, it disnae have salt and
disnae have an elected government.'
Pressure on the opposition MDC
-- which failed to win power in elections in
2000 and 2002, which non-African
observer missions said were blatantly
rigged -- has been unremitting. In the
past three years more than 100 party
supporters have been murdered by police
and government youth militias. MDC
MPs have been imprisoned and tortured,
forcing many of them into exile.
'African leaders have betrayed us,' said
the MDC's Job Sikhala, who has been
arrested 17 times in the past three
years. During his most recent arrest,
police applied electrodes to his tongue
and genitals for eight hours and
repeatedly urinated on him.
regime has lost control of its senses,' said 30-year-old Sikhala. 'It
not be recognised by anyone.'
Money lenders deny forex racket
LEADING institutions in the world of micro-finance, those
lenders who have mushroomed especially in Harare and Bulawayo as
workers resort to riskier ways of accessing money, are now
exploiting the closure of the bureaux de change, by covertly
foreign exchange, it was learnt this week.
hearing convened by the parliamentary committee on budget,
economic development in Harare, it was revealed that micro
institutions are now filling the gap left in the foreign exchange
trading in foreign currency in violation of their licences.
"Micro-finance institutions appear to now be at the centre of
currency deals and therefore going against their licences. A number
people have been telling us that instead of lending, they are using
offices for such dealings," said the committee's chairman David
Bureaux de change were closed down late last year,
accusations that they had been fuelling the activity on the black
Efforts to have them reinstated were recently repudiated by the
and this left thousands of people jobless.
ever since the closure of the bureaux in November, the flow
of hard currency
into the central bank has been reduced to a trickle.
currency inflows into the banking sector diminished from
US$10,3 million in
November last year, to US$600 000 in the week ending 19
February as the
country's hard cash position remains critical.
Nesbert Tinarwo, the
chairman of the Bureaux de Change Association of
Zimbabwe, said he had heard
that micro finance lending institutions were now
trading illegally in hard
"We have heard such allegations. It is quite possible
transactions would happen. We see even the business people doing
publicly ululated about our closure. But to stem this, the foreign
market has to be filled with licensed organisations like ourselves,"
However, Godfrey Chitambo, the executive director
of the Zimbabwe
Association of Micro-finance Institutions (ZAMFI), denied
that his members
were dealing in hard currency.
heard about that, either from our members or from outside
our members S It is
not enshrined in the Money Lenders Act S What we have
heard is that those
institutions outside those involving our members are
rates and holding property as security for loans,"
Chapfika's 12-member committee is compiling a
report on its findings
to be presented to parliament, after visiting
Bulawayo, Beitbridge, Mutare
and Victoria for hearings.
soon embark on a tour of big towns, particularly Victoria
Falls, where we
have heard that the Reserve Bank and Noczim are buying
foreign currency on
the black market," said one of the committee members who
Zim again shut off from US money
By our own
ZIMBABWE continues to pay dearly for its isolation from the
States. It has once again been sidelined in its bid to gain a share of
US$125 million loan meant to stimulate economic activity in
The US$125 million guaranty facility,
approved by the board of the
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
in January, will allow
Citibank-a leading lender in the region-to extend
loans to desperate
businesses throughout the impoverished
OPIC is an agency of the US government which was formed to
Washington's business investments overseas and to support
development in new markets as well as to persuade them to become
amenable to American foreign policy. Citibank will originate and
The initial focus will be on companies in
Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, Mali, Angola,
The latest rebuff shows
that Zimbabwe continues to be excluded from
the increasing US trade
arrangements with southern Africa.
Zimbabwe has been shut out of
the important African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA) which offers trade
preferences to sub-Saharan African
countries because the US government
insists the country must return to the
rule of law first and abandon its
populist but amateurish economic plans.
Peter Watson, OPIC's
president and chief executive officer, said the
facility, the most recent in
a flood of OPIC endeavours in sub-Saharan
Africa, shows "OPIC's ongoing
commitment towards encouraging US businesses
to invest in this large, dynamic
and emerging market".
Small-to-medium enterprises in the African
countries chosen, which are
usually shut off from accessing funds from local
will also benefit from the facility as a portion of
the fund has been
reserved for them.
Watson also said the fund
would help Citibank overcome the current
disparity between opportunities of
providing medium-to-long term loans to
local start-up companies in
sub-Saharan Africa and the lack of banking
capital in the
"Access to long term capital among entrepreneurs in
is at odds with the vitality and capability they possess.
between OPIC and Citibank will help close that gap," he
One Harare-based trade analyst said Zimbabwe's failure to
property rights and the country's high risk rating is limiting
in the 23-year old nation, vexed by a four-year economic
"We used to have arrangements with OPIC but we have now
lost our way.
We have been found wanting in relations with these kind of
They will recommend investors in their countries not to visit
to invest elsewhere. We have to earn those peoples' confidence
first," said the trade expert.
Poverty fuels dissatisfaction in Zimbabwe. Amid crumbling economy, rising anger
is directed toward the government
Press March 2, 2003 MABVUKU, Zimbabwe - It's the end of another long, hungry
day. Chipo Riusika woke before dawn for a job that no longer pays the bills, and
her four children - out of school for lack of money - stood in bread lines for
hours under a fiery sun. In Riusika's blue-collar neighborhood outside Harare,
supplies are so scarce and expensive that shoppers at the grocery buy cooking
oil in minibar bottles, rice by the handful and one egg at a time.
disintegrating economy has sent black market prices soaring. There are shortages
of everything from basic foods to cooking oil to detergent. Lines for gasoline
wrap in thick rows around city blocks and can last for days.
Riusika and the youngsters huddle in the darkness of their cramped cinder-block
house at the end of a barren yard. The electricity was turned off months ago,
when the economic crisis first came home for the Riusika family. In the
afternoon shade, conversations among the women are punctuated by bitter
complaints about President Robert Mugabe and his government. Anger simmers but
is kept in check by fear of roving gangs of youths organized by the government
to silence dissent violently. "I have such pain," says 38-year-old Riusika,
clutching her chest. "My heart feels the pain. Others are going to school, but
my children are not. I want them to make good livings, to be doctors, teachers."
Riusika says her salary as a security guard hasn't risen with inflation
- which the government pegs at 195 percent but most economists agree is closer
to 400 percent - and says she can no longer afford her children's school fees.
At the average black market rate, the real gauge of buying power, Riusika's
monthly pay is worth about $6.50, and a semester's tuition for her four children
runs about USD $6.
Zimbabwe's vast corn and wheat fields once fed the
region, and its plentiful tobacco crops brought in foreign capital. But
agriculture has crumbled in the wake of erratic rains and Mugabe's often violent
land reform program, and hunger threatens more than half the population of about
13 million. Thousands of white-owned commercial farms have been seized since
2000 for redistribution to landless blacks, ruling party officials and their
relatives. Fields lie fallow and support only subsistence crops.
when Riusika scrapes the money together for a complete meal, there is often
nothing available to buy. Sometimes she cannot get to work because the bus is
out of fuel. The family often gets by on one meal a day: a few vegetables and
rice. The children say they miss sadza, Zimbabwe's staple of cornmeal mush.
The price of a 22-pound bag of cornmeal is fixed at about 50 U.S. cents,
but it is usually available only on the black market at 10 times that amount.
The grocer is talkative but refuses to give his name, saying he is afraid of the
government's young enforcers. In an adjacent room his 1-year-old daughter is
crying. She has malaria, but he says he can't afford to send her to the
The anger toward Mugabe overcomes others' fear as the
afternoon wears on. "We are tired of the government; we are tired of him. They
are causing the food shortage, and we are starving," says Fungayi Katema, 39, a
bone-thin mother of three in a threadbare green dress. She rails against the
government's excuses. "You cannot blame the drought. It is because the
government chased away the commercial farmers and gave away the land to people
ill-equipped to farm."
Sitting next to her, a 5-year-old boy writes in
the dirt with a stick the letters MDC, which stands for Movement for Democratic
Change, the main opposition party, whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is on trial
on treason charges. While the flame from a kerosene-soaked rag softens the
darkness of her sparse home, Riusika speaks of the faith she still tries to put
in prayer and song. "I pray to God for a better life, for food, and for my
family," she says, then begins to sway and sing. "Every burden becomes a
blessing," she sings, her whispery, lilting voice trailing off. She shakes her
head in frustration. Copyright © 2003, The Baltimore Sun sunspot.net
March 02, 2003
Mugabe won poll with army of ghost voters
RW Johnson, Cape
ZIMBABWE¹S opposition has obtained evidence that President Robert
Mugabe won re-election in March last year with the help of as many as 1.8m
³ghost² voters who were added to the electoral roll.
the registrar-general and a Mugabe loyalist, has repeatedly refused requests by
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for a copy of the roll to be used in a
court action challenging the result < even though the roll is a public
document. Last week, however, it was revealed that the MDC had succeeded in
obtaining a copy.
Mugabe, 79, beat Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC candidate,
by 434,000 votes in a poll that provoked widespread accusations of vote-rigging.
Analysts say that even a pro-government judge would find it difficult to
reject the evidence of the electoral roll. A judgment in the MDC¹s favour would
mean that the election would have to be invalidated and a fresh one held.
Mugabe, whose international standing was boosted when President Jacques
Chirac invited him to a summit in France last month, would be barred from
John Robertson, a Zimbabwean economist who has analysed
the electoral figures, said they showed ³the illegality of the election is
proven beyond doubt².
³The discrepancies are so wide, the various forms
of cheating so obvious and the interference in the process so aggressive and
blatant, no country on earth should recognise Robert Mugabe as president of
Zimbabwe,² Robertson said.
In its court action the MDC alleges huge
state violence against opposition voters and candidates. It says it was not
allowed to campaign in much of Zimbabwe or to appear on state-owned media. Many
opposition voters were deliberately prevented from voting by a cut in the number
of urban polling stations and the unconstitutional disenfranchisement of some
white Zimbabweans, it is claimed.
The Mugabe government has, from the
outset, taken the gravest exception to the case and repeatedly insisted it will
not participate in talks on power-sharing with the MDC unless it is abandoned.
The last thing Mugabe < who is named as a respondent in the case and
would be expected to appear < wants is an open trial in which the full extent
of the vote-rigging and the violence that accompanied the poll would be
The MDC last week refused to drop the case ³until a timetable
and process for the restoration of legitimacy in Zimbabwe has been agreed on².
Mudede revealed in January last year that the electoral roll contained
5.2m names; the figure was later increased to 5.6m by additional illegal
registrations in Zanu-PF strongholds. Census data, however, shows that in August
2002 there were only 4.7m adults in Zimbabwe.
Moreover, a range of
surveys suggests that no more than a maximum of 80% of these have ever
registered to vote, bringing the possible electorate down to 3.8m. The roll
therefore appears to include at least 1.8m too many people; analysis of the
numbers in individual constituencies could reveal further anomalies.
Mudede had rejected calls to give civic groups a copy of the roll on
grounds of expense, and refused to hand it over even when they offered to pay.
The MDC has not disclosed how it obtained its copy.
A successful legal
challenge to Mugabe¹s victory would be a blow to Thabo Mbeki, the South African
president, and Olusegun Obasanjo, his Nigerian counterpart, who have put
pressure on the MDC to accept a junior role in a Zanu-PF government.
Mbeki made strenuous efforts to ensure that observers from both South
Africa and the Organisation of African Unity declared the poll free and
fair.Last month he used his presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement to steer its
115 members into giving Mugabe a unanimous vote of confidence and voting through
a motion that attempted to lay blame for the ³grave humanitarian situation in
Zimbabwe² on drought, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. www.timesonline.co.uk
Welcome to Immigration Central. Please join the queue: your number is 110,001...
Special report by Martin Bright: As asylum-seeker numbers reach record
levels, we join the throng at the centre that decides their fate Sunday March 2,
2003 The Observer
At dawn each day, they begin to gather at Lunar House
in Croydon, south London: refugees from war zones across the Middle East and
Africa, dissidents from China, economic migrants from eastern Europe, students
from the Commonwealth and a smattering of chancers and con artists who are none
of the above, trying their luck for a better life in Britain. In the half-light,
from as early as 5am, they begin to form endless queues at the foot of the
sheer, 20-storey Home Office monolith that processes every asylum and
immigration case in the country. This is 'immigration central' and the queues,
sometimes of a thousand people, are the shuffling human evidence of a political
nightmare the Government is straining to contain.
The latest Home Office
figures, released last week, reveal that a record 110,000 people sought asylum
last year. Many who arrived in 2002 came from the most benighted places on the
planet: 15,000 from Iraq, 7,000 each from Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Somalia,
4,000 from China. Officials know international treaties mean that people who
come from countries where there is such evident suffering should not be forced
to return. The Refugee Council, Amnesty International and the United Nations
insist the 'push' factors of civil war or repression outweigh 'pull' factors,
such as the lure of free benefits and healthcare. But the Government knows
increasing numbers are political dynamite, when the total of asylum-seekers
entering each year now outnumbers the Army.
Tony Blair has pledged to
halve the number of asylum-seekers entering each month to around 4,000 by
September. The closure of the Sangatte refugee centre in northern France in
November has already had an effect, with a fall in applications of nearly 2,000
between October and December last year.
Legislation has been introduced
to stem the pull factor still further. People entering through a 'third' safe
country in the European Union, through the United States or through Canada, will
now be told to return and apply for asylum there. Those who fail to apply for
asylum immediately at the port of entry are now automatically rejected and
receive no benefits. Tomorrow Home Secretary David Blunkett will return to court
in an attempt to overturn a decision by Mr Justice Collins that the Government
would be in breach of human rights legislation if it decided to make any newly
arrived asylum-seekers destitute.
An Afghan in his early twenties
waiting for a friend outside Lunar House last week wryly summed up the situation
for refugees: 'It's not that they give you nothing any more. Right away they
give you a rejection letter telling you to go home. But I understand why the
British Government has changed the rules.' The man, who did not wish to be
named, added: 'There are many people I know who have been here for years and
then they decide to claim asylum. That is not good.' His friend, a teenager from
Kandahar, knew he had little chance of passing a 'screening' interview. 'Now
there is peace in Afghanistan, they are saying it is OK to go back home. But it
is not safe in Kandahar.'
Under the new restrictions, the vast majority
who turn up at Lunar House will fail in their applications. Amanda Sebastyen, of
the Asylum Education and Legal Fund, said: 'Sometimes they can take days to find
Lunar House and then they have to prove they have just arrived. These new rules
will create the very nightmare they are seeking to avoid as people disappear
into the black economy or turn to crime.'
At lunchtime on Friday, Murray
Jackson, a 26-year-old Anglo-American, had been waiting for his Somali friend,
Ali, since 7.20am. 'He came yesterday too and was turned away when he got to the
front of the queue because they said they could take no more people. It is very
poor the way they treat people here.'
The Home Office has been obliged
to build a massive warehouse on the side of Lunar House to cope with the
hundreds who arrive each day on routine passport and visa business. As people
inch along in this human cattleshed, they sometimes have to wait five or six
hours just to get inside Lunar House. Hidden at the rear of the tower block are
the asylum-seekers, who get no shelter at all and where the wait is often longer
still. Immigration officials confirmed that the doors close at four in the
afternoon and that the last asylum-seeker is often not seen until nine. The
staff are sometimes asked to work on until midnight.
To add to the bleak
and threatening atmosphere, the perimeter is patrolled by shaven-headed
uniformed guards from the Immigration Service, whose job is to police the queues
and discourage the 'asylum agents' and the people-traffickers who prey on the
It is clear from the sea of humanity that descends on
Croydon each day that even 20 storeys of bureaucrats cannot cope with the
workload. And the queues outside are just the tail end of a snake of applicants
that winds up inside the building on to the second, third or fourth floors,
where people finally reach the appointment windows. Keith Best, chief executive
of the Immigration Advisory Service, said Lunar House was symptomatic of wider
problems within the immigration system. 'Someone needs to take responsibility
for this chaos, but no one is ever accountable,' he said.
'In some cases
letters are being sent to the wrong people saying they have to leave the country
within five days, but no one ever admits to the mistakes. People who buy washing
machines get more repect.'
The logjam in the Home Office's asylum
bureaucracy has a knock-on effect on everything else. Most of the people waiting
in the human cattleshed last week had the simplest of immigration requests. Most
were renewing visas; few should take more than a few minutes by the time they
got to the front of the queue. On Thursday afternoon, George, a 33-year-old
mechanic from Cyprus, had been waiting all day. By 3pm he was number 309 in the
queue and the last time he looked number 270 was being dealt with. He came to
Britain in December to join his wife of 12 years, but immigration officials
stamped his visa 'no working and no resource to public funds': he wants the work
restriction lifted. His cousin Anna, there to translate, said: 'What is he
supposed to do? How is he supposed to support his family?'
23-year-old Zimbabwean-South African, arrived at Lunar House at 9.30am on Friday
to renew a student visa, to be told she would have to queue until late in the
evening before she would be seen. 'I'm shocked by this,' she said, when she
joined the queue. 'Surely there has to be a better way of doing this.'
'John', a 38-year-old Indian doctor, had travelled to Croydon from
Leicester with his wife and eight-year-old daughter. After seven years studying
and working in the NHS, he had received a new work permit and was waiting to
have it attached to his passport and stamped. 'It's absolutely pathetic,' he
said. 'You get better treatment at a railway station.'
Radio's biggest turn-ons Sunday March 2, 2003 The Observer
listens to the radio - well, 91 per cent of the nation, according to the latest
figures. The joy of radio is its intimacy. What's more, it's trouble-free and
cheap - culture at the touch of a button. Some of the people interviewed in this
special celebration will be familiar. But even the most avid listener should
find something new to tune in to. If radio had been around in his lifetime, Dr
Johnson would have said that a man who is tired of listening is tired of life...
Gerry Jackson Founder, Radio Africa, broadcasting from London
suffering under the brutal rule of President Robert Mugabe, Radio Africa is the
only voice they hear that is critical of the regime. A former presenter on
Zimbabwean state radio, Gerry Jackson won a legal battle to set up an
independent broadcaster in the country, only to have it shut at gunpoint after
six days. 'I just realised that the only way to speak freely was to do it from
abroad,' she said. 'We started broadcasting in December 2001. There were
elections in March 2002, and we never thought Mugabe could fix that election,
but he did - and so instead of going home we are still here. We have a huge and
growing following. People gather round the radio and cheer when we come on.' The
future of the station depends on what happens in Zimbabwe: 'As soon as the
country is free I would love to relocate the station back to Zimbabwe. Things
will have to come to a head somehow. It can't go on like this.'
How a Rolls-Royce turned into a pumpkin 01/03/2003
The fate of his family's
classic cars told Jeremy Summerfield all he needed to know about Zimbabwe's
It's not easy trying to raise a civil rights movement in the
name of the classic car. When you come from a country where seven million people
are starving and visiting cricket players are forced to wrestle with their
consciences before a ball is even bowled, despairing over the fate of an old
Rolls-Royce is a bit, well, left field. But in a reversal of the magic that
caused Cinderella's pumpkin to turn into a horse and carriage, I knew it was all
over for Zimbabwe when, in effect, my parents' classic Rolls-Royce turned into a
A Roller has been as traditional in our family as the game of
cricket itself. My grandparents moved to South Africa after the war, taking with
them a glorious gold Silver Cloud; my parents ended up farther north, in
Zimbabwe, and my mother was presented with a Silver Spirit on her silver wedding
anniversary. I realise, of course, that this tale of woe is not going to elicit
sympathy from anyone: "Poor little rich boy''.
However, I am by no means
the Athina Roussel Onassis of Africa. Suffice it to say that I am currently
driving a silver Fiat Tipo with 100,000 miles on the clock.
Africa is a
weird place; it is a paradox and a continent of strange irony. So much has been
written and screened on "the white man in Africa", and although vestiges of this
time gone by remain here and there, the reality of today's white African is very
different. Romantic notions of farms at the foot of the Ngong Hills and necking
giraffes silhouetted by endless sunsets are all as far removed from reality for
us as they would be for your average Londoner. [The actress] Sarah Miles being
bored to death by "another ******* beautiful day" is not the norm, and yet the
symptom is still there. Plus ça change, as the saying goes.
were very fond of their Silver Sprint and while I'm sure they didn't mean to
single me out for unwelcome attention, being the only Jewish boy in a Jesuit
college and being dropped off every morning in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce
did little for my popularity and even less to erode the anti-Semitic stereotype.
The reality of the situation, which I recently came to realise, was that my
parents were never really that wealthy, and since the Zimbabwean dollar slipped
from 10 to 2,000 to the pound in the space of 10 years, they have become
positively impoverished. And here comes the paradox. Q: What's worse than owning
a Rolls-Royce? A: Owning two Rolls-Royces! Yes, sitting somewhere in Zimbabwe,
probably in some dodgy dealer's yard, with a price tag of several squillion Z$
on the windscreen are two classic Rollers, which both belong to Mum and Dad. The
problem is that not only can they no longer afford to maintain and run them but,
even if they could, there is no fuel in Zimbabwe with which to do so. In spite
of Robert Mugabe giving away half the once productive arable land in the country
to Col Quadaffi in return for a non-existent fuel deal, and the other half to
his mates in return for his all-too-evident power, the queues for petrol still
often extend for miles and days on end. At least part of his plan worked.
For the car enthusiast, however, there is a positive side. Even though
the politics stink, the economy is in meltdown and half the population is on the
brink of starvation, cars love it in Zimbabwe.
A combination of high
altitude and lack of sea air means there is no rust, and infrequent use slows
the ageing process. Despite a few black holes and a few worn-out (and
irreplaceable) spare parts on the inside, they remain on the outside (give or
take a few dents) as sound as the day they rolled off the production line - the
Joan Collins of cars.
Most of the valuable classics have already been
snapped up by wily diplomats and ex-pats, but there are still three very clean
Rollers up for grabs. Did I forget to mention that my sister had one as well?
It may well be that this type of conspicuous consumerism once
contributed to perpetuating the illusion of inequality and the colonialist
ideal, but the reality of the situation is that it is the political fat-cats in
Mugabe's pocket who are today swanning about in new Mercedes-Benz SLKs and BMW
X5s. Plus change, once again.
Even if I could ever afford one, I would
never own a Rolls-Royce. If I have to send home for one more set of owner's
manuals, workshop manuals, spare keys, oil filters, window winder motors, shock
absorbers, suspension units etc... And as for the claim that a Rolls-Royce never
breaks down, well, one of the more memorable occasions I can recall was when we
had to limp six miles into a remote South African town after the front diff, or
whatever it was, had gone. Needless to say, the startled residents (all 15 of
them), who confessed they had never seen a Rolls before, were treated to a
spectacle as the gleaming bronze Spirit lurched all the way into the only garage
for miles - in reverse.
So as the England cricket squad tries to make up
four penalty points for refusing to pick up a ball in Zimbabwe, my folks will
not be going to the ball either, because, quite frankly, a pumpkin is more
useful than a Rolls-Royce in Zimbabwe these days.
But should any of the
team want to pick up a Roller or two for about three quid, I guess I could tell
them where to look. © Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2003
Crackdown on £8.4m African sting
Scotland on Sunday, 2 March 2003
IT seems like one of the most ridiculous scams in the history of
enterprise, that's because it is.
But the phenomenon of the e-mail from
Africa promising untold riches in
return for your bank account details has
got the UK's elite crimefighters
The National Criminal
Intelligence Service (NCIS) has decided to wage war
on the artless fraudsters
behind the con because scores of people every
year are falling for it and the
total losses are running into millions of
Scotland on Sunday
can reveal that a man from Fife is one of the most
recent victims, losing
£7,000. It has emerged that another Briton travelled
to Africa to claim his
loot and ended up being beaten and tortured by his
Many people will already be familiar with the routine: an
e-mail or fax arrives from a west African country, typically
come from a government official or the family of a deposed
sender claims to have access to millions of pounds but can't
get it out of
the country. In return for providing details of your bank
account - so the
money can be smuggled out - you get to keep a few million.
NCIS has now revealed that 150 Britons were stung last year alone, to
tune of £8.4m, an average loss of £56,675.
But police chiefs fear
the amount reported to them is just a fraction of
the real losses sustained
by people tempted by "get rich quick" proposals,
and too embarrassed to admit
they had been conned.
"I think a lot of people have seen these stories
as a bit of a joke in the
past. They delete the e-mails they get and laugh
about the other people who
end up getting conned by them," a source within
"But it is a massive problem, one that is costing the country
pounds a year. We have been on to this for a while, but it is
fast, mainly through the internet. It looks like the police will
able to spend the time trying to break up these networks, rather than
monitoring what they're doing."
Officers based at a national
unit in London will take responsibility for
following the internet "paper
trail", tracking down the source of the most
widely circulated e-mails and
travelling to Africa to locate the people
"People will sit
in internet cafes in Lagos and places like that, sending
out thousands of
e-mails, most of which are deleted immediately," an NCIS
spokesman said. "But
they know that about 1% of people will respond, and
that is enough for them
Police will work closely with internet service providers to
is sending the bulk e-mails. They will also try to reel in the
offenders, replying to their messages using fake identification
maintaining contact throughout the bogus deal until they can arrange
final meeting, where the fraudsters can be arrested.
fee frauds are labelled "419" scams after the relevant article
of the penal
code in Nigeria, where most of the e-mails originate. NCIS
gallery of bogus proposals, ranging from dependants of dead
such as Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire and Laurent Kabila of the
Nigerian civil servants attempting to smuggle out millions
creamed off their
cancelled Miss World contest.
Scotland on Sunday answered a number of
e-mails, all littered with spelling
mistakes and demands for complete
confidentiality, and was immediately
asked to provide personal details
including fax and telephone numbers and
copies of the first four pages of "an
A man claiming to be Johnston Ndiovu, the son
of a murdered Zimbabwean
farmer, sent a telephone number in Holland, where he
said he was living as
an asylum seeker. He maintained that Dutch laws on
asylum prevented him
gaining access to the $12.5m he said his father had left
at a security
"What I really need you to do is to send me
your full name and details and
as soon as I have that we can change the
ownership of the consignment to
your name," said 'Ndiovu'. "We can do this
within seven days. All you have
to do is to make this confidential between
you and I."
'Ndiovu' became agitated when his proposed victim said he
wanted to seek
his wife's advice. "I just want you alone to know. You know
sometimes they don't keep things secret," he said.
following day, 'Ndiovu' sent an official-looking form authorising the
of ownership from his name.
Jim Smith, who is in charge of Fife Police's
efforts to stamp out the 419
scam, said the problem had mushroomed as more
people had begun using the
internet. "I am aware of one person who lost
£7,000. He simply had to
travel to the Post Office to be fleeced," he said.
"There certainly seems to be quite a jump in the number of e-mails
around. It's a very simple and very effective means of communication
think that is what attracts these criminals."
THE NET LOSERS
THE advance fee fraud has been a lucrative method of stealing money
gullible punters for more than 30 years, but the internet boom has made
much more effective.
Criminal gangs, mainly based in West Africa,
used to concentrate their
approaches on bulk mail-shots and fax deliveries,
and police reported that
more than 1.4 million such letters were withdrawn
from the postal system in
the three years up to 2001.
have provided the ideal opportunity to expand the business
around the world.
The National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), which
set up its own West
African crime unit to deal with the burgeoning amount
of criminal activity
targeted at Britain from the region, estimates that
millions of the
fraudulent e-mails - like those received by Scotland on
Sunday, right -
arrive every year from countries including Nigeria, Gabon,
South Africa and
An NCIS spokesman said: "There is an increasing trend for
fraud correspondence to be received via e-mail. This makes
difficult and leads to an increase in the number of people
The boom in internet fraud has also been
accompanied by a subtle change in
tactics. While criminals were once happy to
just steal cash, they are now
increasingly prepared to steal their identities
SA democracy needs DA - Leon
01/03/2003 12:03 - (SA)
Stellenbosch - Without the check of the Democratic Alliance South Africa was
a one-party state headed for self-destruction, Democratic Alliance leader Tony
Leon said on Saturday.
"Take away the DA and South Africa becomes Zimbabwe, a one-party state on the
way to self destruction," he said, speaking to the 600 delegates who attended
the DA's provincial congress in Stellenbosch.
A vote for the New National Party was a vote for the African National
Congress, he said.
If people stood up for the DA they stood up for South Africa, for a future
different to that seen in Zimbabwe.
He said the next year's general elections would come down to a contest
between the ANC and the DA.
The ANC would try to mobilise its rank and file but these people were
becoming sick and tired and many would cast their votes for the DA instead.
Leon said the DA envisioned a South Africa in which everyone had access to a
basic income grant and that people living with HIV/Aids could get life saving
medicines. The party also envisioned that children would be able to learn in
"A South Africa which remains true to its democratic principals in the wider
world. A country that does not hold hands with either (Zimbabwean President)
Robert Mugabe or (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein but which stands up for
freedom and democracy and justice," Leon said.
Later on Saturday afternoon a new provincial leader for the Western Cape will
The four candidates are Theuns Botha, acting leader since Gerald Morkel
resigned, Sydney Opperman, and former ANC mayor of George, Tony da Silva, and
Pauline Cupido, a member of the provincial legislature from Oostenburg. SAPA
Few Developing Countries Prepared for WTO Summit
March 3, 2003
to the web March 2, 2003
Developing countries, including Zimbabwe, are likely to be
short-changed at the forthcoming World Trade Organisation summit to be held in
Cancun, Mexico due to ill preparedness.
With only six months remaining before the fifth edition of
the WTO meeting, few countries are said to be prepared for the meeting while the
majority, including Zimbabwe are still finalising their positions.
At least three East African countries have already formed a
legislative body, the East Africa Legislative Assembly that will be responsible
for advocating their views at the Cancun meeting.
In Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Industry and International
Trade's director for external trade, Mrs Rudo Faranisi said that her ministry
was in the process of organising a series of workshops with all stakeholders to
come up with its position.
She said that Zimbabwe like any other developing country was
going to articulate a position that was in its best interest.
Mrs Faranisi said that the preparatory process towards the
Cancun meeting has been lacking transparency as many developed countries were
being excluded from council meeting even after specific requests had been
"This only serves to entrench the interest of developed
countries at the expense of the developing countries.
"This makes the road to Cancun very bumpy for developing
countries, particularly those in Africa," she said.
Mrs Faranisi said that the trump card for most of the
developing countries especially, those in the African region, was that they are
united in their goal to get the best possible agreement for their countries,
despite their differences.
"We may belong to different trade bodies but we all share a
common vision of getting the best international trade agreements that are
beneficial to our countries," she said.
The Cancun summit is a follow-up to the WTO's Doha summit of
2001 in Quatar where developing and developed countries failed to reach a
consensus due to the unwillingness of the United States, European Union and
Japan to negotiate in good faith with the developing countries.
The Cancun meeting offers developing countries an
opportunity to re-negotiate all aspects of the WTO agreements such as
agriculture and ser- vices.
Established in 1995 as a successor to the General Agreement
on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the WTO was mandated to reduce tariffs and other
barriers that inhibit fair trade.
WTO was also supposed to create a forum for multilateral
However, the WTO has increasingly come under severe
criticism for failing to create a forum for fair trade negotiations with most
developing countries being constantly on the receiving end of grossly unbalanced
trade agreements drafted by powerful industrialised countries.
RBZ Runs Out of Forex to Print Required Notes
March 3, 2003
to the web March 2, 2003
THE Reserve Bank of Zimba-bwe is facing a foreign currency
shortage that has seen it failing to print the required amount of notes.
This has resulted in a serious shortage of $500 bills,
resulting in people queuing in banks for hours, while others failed to make
A similar shortage of notes was experienced across the
country last year during the Christmas holidays when there was another surge in
RBZ is said to be issuing old $100 bills in a bid to ease
In the past, the central bank issued crispy newly minted
notes and even urged customers not to accept used notes from banks and building
Sources said the central bank was failing to print notes
because it could not get enough foreign currency to import a special paper used
in making bank notes.
Most banks, at the end of last week, were finding it hard to
supply clients with $500 notes and most of the customers had to make do with
Efforts to get an official comment from the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe proved fruitless.
However, a source within the central bank confirmed that
reports of a shortage of bank notes have reached the central bank but maintained
that RBZ was printing enough for ordinary transactions through its printing arm,
The Bankers Association of Zimbabwe confirmed that there was
a notes shortage and added that they had engaged the central bank so that they
could come up with a way to deal with the shortage of notes.
"As BAZ, we have advised the central bank that the current
note values cannot match the high inflationary rate.
"RBZ can do away with the smaller denominations because they
have ceased to serve any purpose at the moment.
"We probably need to introduce an additional value, in the
form of a $1 000 bill so that people would be able to move around or withdraw
huge amounts from the banks," BAZ said.
BAZ added that they have already written to the central bank
making their own submissions on the situation and are yet to get a response.
A survey by the Business Herald showed that most of the
banks were issuing $100 notes, which clients said were a burden to move around
It was also revealed that the banks were opting to use the
few $500 bills on the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
Most of the banks have programmed their ATMs to disburse
amounts which are only in multiples of $500.
Banks withdrawing cash from the central bank are reported to
be spending a substantial amount of time waiting to collect their money as it
takes more time to count $100 bills than $500 notes.
Players in the banking industry have attributed the current
notes shortage not only to the failure by the central bank to print enough notes
but also to the growing demand for large untraceable cash transactions and
suspected money laundering.
A payment in bank notes can be made untraceable and can be
used to avoid taxes or other fees.
Any money-laundering sche-me would, at some stage, almost
certainly have to involve conversion of the sum being laundered into bank
The central bank last year made it mandatory that those
intending to withdraw substantial funds in bank notes from their accounts should
make an application with their banks and have to wait for several days to have
their requests honoured.
Under this regulation, all transactions above $500 000 are
subject to review by the central bank.
Some people, instead of depositing cash into their bank
accounts, now opt to move around with huge amounts of money, arguing that they
would want to buy the basic commodities and fuel whenever they are lucky to bump
This has also fuelled the shortage of notes.