|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
In Harare, queues snaked in and out of banks as thousands tried to withdraw
their cash to buy and hoard basic commodities in anticipation of the
possible indefinite stayaway hinted at by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU), the country's largest labour movement.
Last week's ZCTU-organised three-day stayaway, to protest against fuel price
hikes of more than 300% a week before, paralysed the nation.
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo said the union would organise indefinite
mass action unless the government reversed the new prices.
Last weekend Amos Midzi, Zimbabwe's Minister of Energy, insisted his
government would not revise the increases, saying "the ZCTU can keep on
Meanwhile, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has also officially
responded to a conditional call from Mugabe for dialogue by telling the
Zanu-PF leader to denounce violence first.
"As a demonstration of its sincerity, the Mugabe regime must immediately put
a stop to all forms of state-sponsored violence, uphold the rule of law and
respect human rights," MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Wednesday.
Mugabe recently said he was prepared to talk to Tsvangirai to solve the
country's economic and political crisis.
"All Zanu-PF militias must be disbanded ... and the war veterans must be
disarmed," Tsvangirai told senior party officials in Harare.
Additional reporting by The Guardian
May 16, 2003
Zimbabwe sees return of hunter gatherer
by Jan Raath
No transport, no fuel, no power, just sackfuls of banknotes - a
report from a collapsing nation
MY MAID, Nyarai, failed to turn up for work yesterday. There was
no public transport and private minibuses have doubled their charges since a
283 per cent increase in petrol prices a month ago. She was unable to call
because the telephone boxes no longer work.
Nyarai would have come if she could. Her boyfriend is on forced
leave because the textile factory where he works as a machinist can work
only half time because of power cuts.
Zimbabwe is a country rich in resources and with great
potential. It used to have a well-oiled infrastructure that even South
Africa, with its far bigger economy, envied. It was robust enough to
withstand the first two decades of President Mugabe's rule but it has now
reached the point of collapse. An advanced society is returning to the
Turn-of-the-switch technology for heating, cooking and water is
being replaced by fuel gathering, wood fires and water collection on foot.
The bizarre and dysfunctional is the norm and very little surprises people.
The expression "the wheels have come off" is on everyone's lips.
In Colquhoun Avenue, an upmarket area of embassies and apartment
blocks, a young man uses a long metal rod to break twigs from trees for
On Samora Machel Avenue, hundreds of battered white Japanese
minibuses - the core of Harare's commuter fleet - form a mile-long queue for
petrol. Roads into the city from townships on the outskirts are thronged
with people who have to walk to work.
The country's sole sugar refinery closed this week. There is
ample, locally grown, raw sugar but no coal for the refining process. Wankie
Colliery, the state-owned company that sits on one of the world's biggest
coalfields, has suspended production. The massive dragline that scoops
opencast coal was halted when it ran out of spares. There is no foreign
currency to import new ones.
Harare Hospital, which serves the capital's townships, is on the
verge of closing. Unable to purchase coal, the hospital has its boilers out
of action and cannot sterilise instruments, launder bedding or cook food.
Air Zimbabwe, the state-owned airline, could soon be grounded. It confirmed
this week that it had only "two or three days" of fuel. That is more than
most motorists have. A two or three-day wait in a fuel queue no longer
ensures a full tank.
Most queues outside service stations are referred to as "hope
queues", where people leave their cars for a week at a time. When a petrol
tanker arrives, bedlam erupts. Opportunists cut in front of those who have
waited. Fights break out and sometimes shots are fired. Riot police arrive
late, blaming the fuel shortage.
In the past month, the South African and Mozambican utility
companies that supply Zimbabwe with power have declared the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority, the state company run by Mr Mugabe's
brother-in-law, as an "interruptible customer" because of its failure to
service its £22 million debt. This means that the company gets only ten
minutes' notice of power cuts.
Factory machinery jerks to a halt. Companies moulding tyres or
plastics are left with hard, useless lumps oozing from moulds. The Zimbabwe
National Chamber of Commerce estimates that fuel and electricity crises have
cut industrial output to 35 per cent of normal.
Officially inflation is running at 228 per cent. In reality it
is out of control. The official exchange rate is 824 Zimbabwe dollars to one
US dollar but on the black market it is 2,200. A white loaf cost five
Zimbabwe dollars in 1998; it now costs 350. A businessman carjacked in the
affluent suburb of Borrowdale last month offered 10 million dollars as
reward for his year-old Mercedes SUV. That was the sum listed in the
national budget ten years ago for procuring vehicles for the entire police
force. The central bank still refuses to print denominations bigger than 500
dollars. At banks, depositors line up with sacks of money. At the withdrawal
counter, tellers and customers can barely see each other over the wall of
The 500 dollar note is nicknamed the Ferrari because it is red
and goes fast. It is disappearing from the streets as people hoard it. The
central bank is not printing more because it has no foreign currency to
import the high-quality watermarked paper and silver strips. Commercial bank
officials say that it costs 700 Zimbabwe dollars to print a single 500 note.
This week a bank told a businessman who buys large quantities of
cotton in peasant areas that it could offer him only 50 dollar notes. "He
laughed," the bank manager said. "He says he needs one billion dollars a
week. In fifties, that's 40 cubic metres of banknotes."
This week it cost me 2,750 dollars to airmail a letter to
Britain containing three A4 sheets of paper. I covered the back and front of
the envelope with 100 dollar stamps - the highest denomination - except for
a small patch where I wrote the address. Interestingly, the stamp features a
pretty sketch of the Tokwe Mukorsi dam, which has not been built because
Cabinet ministers have been fighting over bribes for the lucrative tender
for the past 15 years.
The cheapest telephone call is now 24 dollars, but the largest
coin is 5 dollars. The coin boxes in busy public telephones would fill much
faster than the post office could collect the coins, so they have been
removed. They would be replaced by computer chip card phones "depending on
the availability of foreign currency", a spokesman said.
Signs of poverty
Life expectancy at birth: 42.9 years, down from 56.0 years in
1975 Proportion of children dying before they are five: 11.7 per cent
Proportion of adult population with HIV/Aids in 2001: 33.7 per cent
Harare in shock 300% rates hike
WATER charges, rates and services are set to triple in the next two months
as Harare City Council seeks an over-$60 billion supplementary budget to
prevent imminent collapse of the capital's infrastructure, the Zimbabwe
Independent heard this week.
If approved, the supplementary budget would be $20 billion more than the
council's 2003 annual budget presented in October 2002.
The supplementary budget would effectively
mean that there would be a
swingeing increase of between 200% and 300% for all services provided by the
city council. The move is likely to be resisted by already overburdened
Highly placed sources at Town
House said the need for a supplementary budget
is inevitable as the economic situation continues to deteriorate.
"Our budget of $40 billion has
been completely eroded," a councillor who
sits on the finance committee said this week. "The biggest portion of our
$40 billion budget presented last year has been swallowed by water
chemicals. Continued weakening of the dollar and the recent fuel increases
made the supplementary budget inevitable."
Current revenues from rates and services have been
earmarked for capital
expenditure and maintenance of roads, hospitals, and other infrastructure.
Government no longer provides annual
subventions to council and has refused
to grant borrowing powers.
Acting Harare mayor, Councillor Christopher Mushonga,
confirmed that a
provisional supplementary budget had already been drawn up. Mushonga is
standing in for suspended executive mayor Elias Mudzuri.
The supplementary budget is likely to provide ammunition to
minister Ignatius Chombo in his bid to remove Mudzuri.
"We have already prepared a tentative provisional
supplementary budget for
stakeholders' consideration in the consultative meetings that will begin
this weekend," Mushonga said.
supplementary budget figures could be subject to changes as
"We would like to have the
supplementary budget implemented when we effect
our second-year increases in July," he said.
Mushonga said the earlier the budget is implemented
the quicker the council
would improve its services to ratepayers. He said council was not expecting
resistance from ratepayers as they would be consulted before finalisation of
the working figures.
Harare Residents Association (Chra) chairman Mike Davis said
council should consider alternatives to raising the money other than passing
on the burden to the already choked ratepayer.
"There is no way council can triple
rates," Davis said. "We would urge
council to consider other ways such as borrowing from the money market."
This comes as the battle to control
Town House intensified in the High Court
this week with Mudzuri filing opposing papers to thwart Chombo's bid to bar
him from carrying out council duties.
In his opposing papers Mudzuri denied that his suspension was
in line with
"I deny that the applicant (Chombo) has
lawfully suspended me," Mudzuri
said. "The applicant can only suspend me upon a proved and objective
suspicion on reasonable grounds that I am guilty of conduct that renders me
unsuitable as mayor," he said.
also filed papers opposing Chombo's suspension of the mayor. Davis
said his organisation has filed legal papers in case Mudzuri's challenge
does not bring the desired results.
THE government fuelled the plunge of the Zimbabwe dollar to an all-time low
of $2 700 to US$1 on Wednesday after it authorised dealers to buy foreign
currency at "any rate" to help Noczim raise hard currency to pay fuel
The dollar traded at $2 700 to the greenback at the close of business on
Wednesday and $2 100 yesterday as it eased back on news that Noczim had
secured another lifeline facility elsewhere.
is also speculation that Zesa began buying the South African rand at
$250: R1. Analysts said Zesa had descended on the border town of Beitbridge
to capture limited inflows from South Africa.
Meanwhile, a reliable
source at the Reserve Bank told the Zimbabwe
Independent Zimbabwe had one day's supply of foreign currency in its
been caused by the statement by Noczim and this has put
pressure on the local dollar as forex dealers sought to capitalise on the
weak Zimdollar," said the source.
The government had prioritised Noczim as Zesa has reportedly
won a reprieve
from the South Africans in a deal said to have been clinched on the
sidelines of the talks between President Mugabe and South African President
Thabo Mbeki when the latter visited Zimbabwe last Monday.
"Fuel suppliers have been demanding cash upfront, and as the
delegation which accompanied Mbeki made an undertaking not to switch Zesa
off, priority has been given to fuel procurement," said the source.
Mandaza in donor funds row
PUBLISHER and political scientist Ibbo Mandaza allegedly diverted funds from
the Southern African Political Economy Series (Sapes) Trust to his
publishing house, rendering the organisation insolvent, it has been claimed.
Court documents obtained by the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday said Mandaza
diverted funds and assets from Sapes to his publishing company, Southern
Africa Printing and Publishing House (Sappho) which publishes the Daily
Mirror and Sunday Mirror.
The allegations surfaced in an
urgent High Court application this week in
which Sapes executive director Mafa Sejanamane is suing Mandaza for
unlawfully sending him on forced leave and barring him from executing his
duties. In his affidavit, Sejanamane said Mandaza, who chairs the Sapes
board of trustees, wanted him out of the trust because he had resisted
attempts by the chairman to illegally transfer assets to Sappho. The court
papers said Mandaza diverted at least $28 million from Sapes to Sappho.
"His organisation, Southern Africa Printing and
Publishing House, owes Sapes
Trust $28 million which is a small portion of money from the Ford Foundation
grants and there are funds paid by Ford Foundation which are simply
unaccounted for," said Sejanamane.
total grant from the Ford Foundation could not be established in the
Sejanamane said in his affidavit Sapes was now technically
"Sapes Trust has become insolvent to the extent that it is not only unable
to pay its trade creditors but it has not been able to pay salaries of its
foreign recruited staff for the past three months," said Sejanamane.
"(It) will not be able to make payments for the month of
May 2003 and has
not been able to pay its locally recruited staff for at least one month and
will not be able to pay salaries for May 2003."
He added: "The donor community from which Sapes Trust derives
support has become completely disenchanted and disillusioned and some donors
have simply withdrawn their support and others are insisting on a proper
audit of funds that they injected into the organisation."
Sejanamane said two donors, Ford Foundation and
African Capacity Building
Foundation (ACBF), were keen to know how Sapes used funds donated.
The ACBF has already instituted a probe in which it
concluded that the
biggest threat to the existence of Sapes was the "excessive
protectiveness and desire to dominate and control its activities" by founder
The Ford Foundation was this month
expected to commission an audit into the
use of funds donated to Sapes.
Sejanamane said Mandaza had no authority to relieve him of his
only the board could take that decision. He said in the event of his being
fired the Ford special audit might be prevented from taking place. He said
Mandaza could also interfere with Sapes records which deal with the missing
funds. He said Mandaza would also harass and intimidate staff at Sapes.
Sejanamane said on May 7 Mandaza forced staff to sign a
to exonerate him (Mandaza) from the illegal transfer to himself of donor
funds, in particular Ford Foundation grants.
Sappho experienced major financial problems between 1999 and
2001 and Sapes
funds were used to fund some of its operations that culminated in a total
expenditure of $35,9 million. Of this amount, $8,9 was officially designated
as investment in Sappho whilst $27 million was designated as a cash loan.
SA researcher urges all-inclusive approach to Zim talks
A SOUTH African analyst says President Thabo Mbeki's government and those of
his Nigerian and Malawian counterparts trying to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis
must adopt an all-inclusive approach to the issue.
In an article in Business Day comparing Zimbabwe and South Africa before
1994, Steven Friedman, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Policy
Studies, said an all-encompassing approach was the most effective.
"The governments (of South Africa, Nigeria and Malawi)
need to understand
there can be no settlement without the opposition; moves to secure a
transfer from (President Robert) Mugabe to another Zanu PF leader without
Movement for Democratic (MDC) consent will commit the same error as the
apartheid government's bid to bypass the African National Congress (ANC), to
talk with 'moderates'," he said.
"Nor can there be a settlement
if the power holder places humiliating
preconditions on talking. Just as negotiation here was impossible as long as
the apartheid government refused to talk until the ANC renounced violence,
so Mugabe's insistence that the MDC leader (Morgan Tsvangirai) recognise him
as the elected president is an insistence that the other side capitulate."
Friedman said dialogue
would break most of the current barriers to talks.
"Once talking begins, the MDC might make concessions such as dropping its
legal challenge to the election if it does not have to endorse the result,"
we may know Zimbabwe's government wants to talk only when preconditions
to talking are lifted or drastically softened. Until then, the most that may
be possible is a pretence to negotiate in the hope of winning the moral high
ground, as seen in stages of our talks."
He said confidence-building measures before the talks were necessary.
as our negotiations had to be preceded by freeing of political
prisoners and the unbanning of organisations, so in Zimbabwe an opposition
which has suffered a sustained assault will need concrete steps towards free
political activity before it can trust the government enough to compromise
The regional governments trying to broker a settlement should,
he said, show
they were serious about demanding that the Zimbabwe government shift its
"Just as Western governments who were seen to
condone apartheid had to show
they could secure concessions from the government," he said, "so will our
government and its partners need to do that in Zimbabwe."
Friedman said for progress to occur, there was
need for "significant
concessions by Zimbabwe's government which will send a clear signal that the
MDC is an indispensable part of the process".
"If ours and the other governments cannot do this, the
said to have brought us this far will not achieve a free, stable Zimbabwe,"
"The stalemate also poses
challenges for Zimbabwe's opposition: Zanu PF and
key elements of the establishment - the military and public service - will
have to be part of a new order just as, here, the ANC's 'sunset clauses'
ensured that elements of the old order played a role in the new."
He said urgent action was
needed because Zimbabwe's economic crisis might be
severe and the costs of the crackdown grow.
"All this means that only a settlement in which
Zanu PF, presumably led by
its reformists, and much of the current hierarchy will continue to play a
significant role, is possible," he said. "Even that will call for opposition
strategy which bolsters ruling party moderates at the expense of
MDC to consult members on dialogue
THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it will hold a
national conference to decide on the talks with Zanu PF which are currently
being mediated by three African leaders.
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai told over 20 000 supporters who thronged
White City stadium in Bulawayo last Sunday that his party would not betray
the will of the people in the talks with Zanu PF.
will hold a national conference for the people to endorse whatever
is agreed in the talks with Zanu PF, if they take place, and it would be up
to the people to decide," Tsvangirai said to applause from the crowd.
Tsvangirai said whatever the outcome of the talks,
would have to be held again in the country.
"Elections have to be held again whatever the outcome of the
talks and our
structures and our grassroots have been asked to be ready for a re-run of
presidential elections," he said.
Tsvangirai said the
MDC would not withdraw the court challenge against the
legitimacy of Mugabe's victory as a pre-condition for talks with Zanu PF.
"Mugabe says we
should recognise him as president and withdraw the petition
before he talks to us. We shall not do that because the talks should be
unconditional and that was communicated to the three presidents," Tsvangirai
"It won't help for Morgan Tsvangirai to recognise
Mugabe as the legitimate
president of the country without the people of Zim-babwe recognising him.
"We cannot allow Mugabe to dictate any conditions for talks, if there are
going to be any talks at all. The Lancaster House talks would not have
succeeded if Ian Smith was allowed to set conditions. The talks were held
while war continued," said Tsvangirai.
The opposition leader said it was time for people to come
out onto the
streets and push Mugabe and Zanu PF out of power and create a democracy in
"I urge you to come out in numbers,
including the suffering Zanu PF
supporters, on the streets when the call for mass action comes. Everyone
except the sick and elderly should come out on the streets for the final
push," Tsvangirai said to cheers from the crowd.
"Never should we allow a government to break bones, rape, and
murder - that
should never happen again in this country."
Kansteiner warns Zim crisis could worsen
UNITED States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Walter
Kansteiner, says the Zimbabwe crisis is now a major cause for concern to his
country and needs to be tackled as a matter of urgency.
Speaking to South Africa's Cape Talk radio from Botswana, where he was
opening a trade information centre last week, Kansteiner said the US was
worried about events in Zimbabwe.
"We are quite concerned
about Zimbabwe. You know there is a humanitarian
crisis brewing there, there is certainly an economic crisis that is
cascading further downward and ultimately it is going to come to a political
crisis," he said.
Kansteiner said the intervention by South African President
Thabo Mbeki, and
his counterparts Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi,
"There has to be some kind of
transitional dialogue that takes place that
eventually leads to the voice of the people of Zimbabwe being heard."
Told that President Robert
Mugabe was refusing to relinquish power to
facilitate the restoration of democratic legitimacy, Kansteiner said he was
beginning to detect some flexibility on Mugabe's part.
"My guess is that there is more
flexibility there than we realise but part
of the reason I am here is to listen and learn and see what is happening."
Kansteiner, who has been
sharply critical of Mugabe over the past two years,
said Washington was not interested in "regime change" in Zimbabwe but
Asked if the US was not aggravating the Zimbabwean
crisis by tangential
involvement, Kansteiner said the risk was necessary.
"I think that is a risk," he said. "But you know the
people of Zimbabwe, I
believe, would like us to run that risk.with both the humanitarian and the
civil liberties crisis that is unfolding there, I think demands us to speak
On the New Partnership for
Africa's Development, Kansteiner said good
governance should continue to guide the African recovery programme.
He admitted that if the
Zimbabwe crisis persisted, it could eventually leave
Nepad dead in the water.
"Good governance is very much part of the Nepad philosophy,"
he said. "And
Zimbabwe is lacking good governance so it is a problem and I think that the
regional leaders are starting to really engage it."
Farmers in new court challenge
COMMERCIAL farmers who lost their land under the fast-track resettlement
programme have regrouped to launch what could be the biggest constitutional
challenge yet to Zimbabwe's tainted agrarian reform.
The farmers, under the banner of Justice for Agriculture (Jag), have hired
top South African advocate Win Trengove SC to represent one of them, George
Quinnell, in a test case challenging the constitutionality of eviction
notices served on commercial farmers and the execution of the process by the
The Supreme Court should hear the case
during this term and the suit is
likely to open old wounds of the battle between farmers and government. The
court challenge comes as government has already expropriated 98% of former
white commercial land and has declared that the resettlement process has
Trengove is a
well-respected lawyer who has represented prominent people in
South Africa including former President Nelson Mandela.
Jag vice president John
Worsley-Worswick this week confirmed that the senior
counsel would argue the constitutionality of the case together with a team
of local lawyers.
Trengove becomes the third South African lawyer to argue a
of late after the MDC secured the services of Advocates George Bizos and
Jeremy Gauntlet to represent the party in the treason trial and election
In 1998 Trengove represented
Mandela in an application by the South African
Rugby Union which had petitioned the court to set aside the appointment of a
judicial commission into the sport's affairs.
He also featured prominently as counsel to
the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission and in 2001 represented the United Cricket Board of South Africa
in an appeal by the late former cricket star, Hansie Cronje, to have his
life ban revoked.
The biggest bone of
contention in the suit is amendment number 6 to the Land
Acquisition Act which in May last year gave the government powers to evict a
farmer within 90 days after the service of a Section 8 notice. The 90-day
period is considered grossly inadequate for a farmer to wind up operations,
as cropping seasons are much longer than that.
Trengove will argue that the amendment
contravenes property rights enshrined
in the constitution as no compensation has been offered to evicted farmers.
Also under challenge is the fact
that government was using a Section 8
notice as an eviction notice before cases had been confirmed by the
will also argue that the government has failed to execute the
resettlement exercise according to the law, as the process has been fraught
with flaws, especially in the service of Section 5 and 8 notices.
Meldrum meets Immigration boss
THE dispute involving Guardian correspondent Andrew Meldrum and the
Immigration department is due to resume today when he meets chief
Immigration officer Elasto Mugwadi.
The department claims that in his letter of support for Meldrum's residence
permit application, then Information minister Chen Chimutengwende indicated
Meldrum would be covering economic and tourism issues. The department wanted
to know why he is now writing political reports.
Meldrum has replied in a letter approved
by his lawyers that he has been
writing economics-related stories. He pointed to his work for The Economist
and the Economist Intelligence Unit. That did not preclude him, he argued,
from writing other stories including political stories.
In any case, he pointed out, his residence permit imposes no
to what he may write and simply states that he is expected to work as a
"I am confident that I have broken no law,"
Meldrum told the Zimbabwe
"There are no
restrictions on my residence permit whatsoever. A journalist
covers all news, be it political, economic or social - anything deemed
Meldrum on Tuesday met a Senior Immigration
Officer, Mr Siziba, who greeted
him with: "Meldrum, you are continuing to write bad stories about Zimbabwe."
Siziba led the group of
immigration officers and what are suspected to be
CIO officers that parked outside Meldrum's Highlands home last Wednesday
evening claiming they wanted to interview him. They refused to provide their
IDs to either Meldrum's wife or his lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa.
In discussions between Mugwadi and
Mtetwa this week it transpired that the
Immigration department had been led to believe Meldrum's High Court order
last year upholding his right of abode in Zimbabwe had expired and that
since he had not appealed to the Supreme Court for further relief, it was no
out that the onus was on the department to appeal to the
Supreme Court if it was unhappy with the High Court order that was still
Meldrum remains confident that the Immigration
department doesn't have a
"These are not the actions of a
government that is confident of its
legitimacy," Meldrum said.
"These are the actions of a government that is afraid of
freedom of the
press, and of independent and critical journalism. If this action against me
is intended to intimidate other Zimbabwean journalists it will surely fail."
Yesterday, media freedom organisation Credo said the Zimbabwe authorities
cannot exercise sovereignty outside the boundaries of international law.
"The new accusation that conditions of Meldrum's
permit only allow him to
report on economics and tourism is false," Credo's coordinator Rotimi
"Even if that were true, no
competent journalist can report on the
Zimbabwean economy and tourism industry without reflecting the political
climate that has led to their collapse." - Staff Writer.
MDC squabbles over Johannesburg post
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Johannesburg branch has been rocked
by squabbles which threaten to split the party's leadership following the
suspension of its representative, Austin Moyo, on allegations of corruption.
Moyo's deputy, Gerry Mashava,
confirmed in an interview on Wednesday that he
was already the acting representative after Moyo's suspension by MDC
secretary-general Welshman Ncube.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is reportedly in favour of Moyo
personally seconded to the job, something which has raised tension within
the national executive.
National organising secretary Esaph
Mdlongwa has been sent to South Africa
to resolve the issue which is threatening to plunge the party into crisis at
a critical time in domestic politics.
Mdlongwa, who is the MDC MP for Pumula-Luveve, said he
would leave for
Johannesburg "soon" but would not disclose the exact nature of the problems
the party was facing. He said he would brief the national executive upon his
"I will certainly go there soon to
resolve that problem. I am not confident
to tell you anything more than that because I don't want to be proved a liar
later on," he said.
secretary for foreign affairs Moses Mzila Ndlovu is said to favour
Mashava when he is not himself eyeing the post.
Media landscape still a minefield for journalists
THE media in Zimbabwe at last had something to celebrate last week after the
Supreme Court ruled that part of Section 80 of the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) was unconstitutional.
The ruling, generally considered the first major step in unbundling the
draconian piece of legislation, is of immense significance but the political
coast is not yet clear. There is still a myriad of provisions in Aippa and
its ugly sibling, the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), which continue
to create barriers to media freedom.
Posa has remained a minefield for the media industry as journalists have
been charged with publishing information which is deemed to be prejudicial
to the state.
The Supreme Court bench ruled last Wednesday in the constitutional challenge
to Aippa by Lloyd Mudiwa and Geofrey Nyarota, formerly of the Daily News,
that Section 80 (1) (b) as read with section 80 (2) contravened Section 20
(1) of the constitution of Zimbabwe. The contentious provision made it an
offence for journalists to "abuse journalistic privilege" by writing
"falsehoods". At least 25 journalists have been arrested and charged under
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in a statement last week
applauded the court ruling but warned that the battle was still far from
"We note that this ruling only declares unconstitutional the offence under
Section 80 of publishing falsehoods," the ZLHR said.
"The court has not ruled on the constitutionality of other offences
contained in Section 80 such as the offence of falsifying or fabricating
information," the lawyers said.
The government last year gazetted amendments to Aippa to address
shortcomings which offer some relief to journalists but lawyers have pointed
out that the amending Bill might not pass the test of constitutionality.
Under Section 80 of Aippa a journalist deemed to have committed an offence
is presumed guilty before the offence can be proven, which contravenes
section 18(3)(a) of the constitution and its presumption of innocence. This
places the onus of proof on the accused and not on the state which is
clearly untenable in criminal law.
The proposed amendments to Aippa remedy this to some extent by the insertion
of new words to make it an offence to "intentionally or recklessly" falsify
information, or to "maliciously or fraudulently" fabricate information.
The onus would now rest on the state to prove there was reckless and
deliberate intention to publish falsehoods.
In a submission to the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and
Communication in December Misa Zimbabwe said the proposed amendment still
falls far short of expectations in respect of freedom of expression.
"The section as it stands - in particular subsections (a) to (c) in the
Bill," said Misa, "still imposes criminal liability even where the
reputations, rights and freedoms of other persons have not been threatened
or contravened, and it imposes liability irrespective of the impact of the
false or fabricated information on the reputations, rights and freedoms of
"In other words, even where the false news does not harm any person and
therefore there is no complainant, the journalist is still open to stiff
criminal penalties. We ask how will this be enforceable and who is the
The Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (Ijaz) last year
challenged the constitutionality of the same section together with other
provisions of Aippa dealing with registration, the authority of the Media
and Information Commission and powers of the Minister of Information.
Judgement in the case is still pending in the Supreme Court.
In the Ijaz case, Information and Publicity minister Jonathan Moyo did not
concede that Section 80 was unconstitutional but elected to defend the
notion that the provision was meant to protect the "socio-economic fabric of
"Section 80 of the Act is the best and most effective way of re-injecting
professionalism in the practice of journalism," said Moyo in his opposing
affidavit in the Ijaz case.
The ZLHR said this was an attempt by the government to justify the arrest of
journalists using an unconstitutional law.
"We are deeply concerned, however, at the action taken by respondents (the
government) in other constitutional challenges, in which they have chosen to
defend the constitutionality of the same provisions.
"This depicts a level of bad faith in attempting to legitimise action taken
under this section whilst knowing fully well of the unconstitutional
irregularity of such criminal sanctions," the lawyers said.
The ZLHR has called on the Attorney-General's office to withdraw cases of
journalists who have been arrested under Section 80 of Aippa.
While the state generally has failed to prosecute and secure convictions on
cases arising from Section 80 of Aippa, it can effectively employ Posa to
"This seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to the realisation that prosecutions
were failing to obtain convictions under Section 80 of Aippa," the ZLHR
Section 26 of Posa, which prohibits public gatherings, has also been used to
harass, arrest and detain journalists covering demonstrations and rallies.
There has not been a real constitutional challenge to Posa, which
effectively constrains the operations of NGOs, opposition parties and civic
The Aippa amendment Bill also denies the media profession the basic right to
choose representatives to sit on the commission that will regulate media
affairs. The government wants to remove three media representatives provided
for under the current Act. The profession will become the only professional
body in Zimbabwe to be governed by a completely non-representative board at
the discretion of an all-powerful minister.
"There is an attempt here not only to ignore these concerns but also to
instead blatantly try and legislate an assurance that there will be no need
for any participation whatsoever by representatives of the profession," said
Misa in its submission to the parliamentary committee.
"This leads to non-transparency and non-accountability by this commission
and must be opposed."
The amendments also give the commission discretion to adjudicate upon all
questions of fact and law thereby usurping the functions of a court of law.
"How can a commission, which has adjudicated upon and turned down an
application for registration impartially and effectively review its own
decision?" asked Misa.
"How can the commission, which has decided to suspend a registration
licence, tell itself it was wrong or right to do so? The problems are
apparent, and it defies logic that this is not patently clear to the
drafters of the Bill.
"Such a provision would make the commission both a regulator and a policing
body which is also clearly in contravention of Section 18(1) and (2) of the
Constitution, as an individual or a body is denied the protection of the law
in having the matter heard and adjudicated upon within a reasonable time by
an independent and impartial court of law," said Misa.
The amendments also seek to reduce the time period for which a foreign
journalist can be accredited to a mere 30 days which seriously impedes those
who are stationed in Zimbabwe to cover long-term developments.
"It could be argued that for this reason, and the fact that the journalist
would have to leave the country and then apply again for accreditation and
await the approval of the commission before re-entering Zimbabwe to continue
such coverage, constitutes an impediment on the free flow of information,"
"We also remind Honourable Members that the Sadc Protocol on Information,
Sport and Culture calls on countries to draw up measures that allow the free
movement of journalists in Sadc. We believe that this section will not
promote that spirit."
There's only one way out for Zanu PF
ZIMBABWEANS can be forgiven for any confusion they may feel following last
week's talks between the three visiting African presidents - Thabo Mbeki,
Olusegun Obasanjo and Bakili Muluzi - and President Mugabe and MDC leader
Was there any progress? If so, it appears glacial.
In fact the talks at State House (with Mugabe) and the Sheraton (with
Tsvangirai) did see some movement. Firstly, the pretence that the visit of
the three leaders was about improving relations between Harare and London
was dropped. Nobody is buying that anymore, least of all the three
presidents. And Mugabe's demands for MDC recognition of his legitimacy will
be subsumed in forthcoming negotiations between the two parties.
Those negotiations will be aimed at establishing a climate conducive to
political peace, constitutional reform, a transitional government, and, once
parliament has given its approval, fresh elections.
But there are enormous obstacles along that path. First, the MDC will be
sending a delegation to Malawi to exchange views on the way forward. They
will emphasise the need to demobilise militias, repeal repressive laws, and
create independent institutions to run and monitor elections.
These, the MDC will argue, are standard democratic norms without which there
can be no political peace or economic recovery. The first roadblock will be
the South African view that any talks should be aimed initially at economic
recovery. They want to see a blueprint for national revival supported by
both parties. Pretoria stands ready with a package of measures that are
aimed at restoring economic normality north of the border. This includes
opening doors abroad.
But the plan is flawed. There can be no normality so long as President
Mugabe remains in a position to sabotage the economy. So economic remedies
are contingent on regime reform.
Then there is the composition of the Zanu PF negotiating team. As presently
constituted it comprises, apart from Emmerson Mnangagwa, lightweights who
have a vested interest in clinging to Mugabe's coat-tails. They are the
beneficiaries of his patronage, repeat his mantras, and support his
repression. They cannot be expected to assist in finding a way forward. By
fielding such a team Zanu PF is indicating a lack of seriousness. Jonathan
Moyo, for instance, has said his party will not contemplate internationally
The ruling party's insistence on adoption of its favourite shibboleths
provides another obstacle. The party wants the MDC to accede to its sterile
notions of sovereignty, heritage and the suchlike. No democrat in a plural
society could agree to these positions which arguably invite a different
definition from every adult Zimbabwean. Zanu PF's attempt to coerce the MDC
into rallying around these subjective and self-serving slogans is a recipe
for failure and demonstrate a lack of political maturity.
But at least the visit of the three African leaders has seen the abandonment
of their efforts to get the MDC to agree to the dropping of its court
petition. After an initial attempt by Obasanjo to portray the party as
spoilers over this issue, there is now, after some debate among the three
leaders themselves, a consensus that any such legal challenge is a
legitimate move that should not block progress.
Meanwhile, if Zanu PF is to abandon its repressive legislation and
depoliticise its law enforcement agencies once serious negotiations get
underway, the MDC will be expected to abandon plans for mass action.
That the ruling party is ill-prepared for the path opened up by the visit of
the three leaders was shown by the state media's coverage of the visit.
There is a denial that regime change is contemplated. This is reminiscent of
the Muzorewa government's position at Lancaster House in 1979 and the South
African National Party's stance at Codesa in the early 1990s. Incumbent
regimes need to communicate to their followers a sense of permanence and
even obduracy. But things do change and what we have now is a process that
will be difficult to derail.
As Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis deepens, and the expectations of
the international community grow, so the pressure will mount on Harare from
its friends to reform. There will be no economic recovery until a national
political consensus has been established. Nerp is an illusion with no
prospects whatsoever, as Herbert Murerwa has discovered in Washington.
While neighbouring leaders may feel compelled to deny it, they will
nevertheless ratchet up their "assistance" as our crisis impacts on them.
The only path open for Zanu PF is that charted last week.
The prospect of talks with "the enemy" may not be as dire as its leaders
think. The ANC felt the same way about the Nats ahead of Codesa. There were
45 years of distrust there, not four. Yet firm friendships emerged among
negotiators across the political divide. Once some confidence is established
in the process we will hear less about the MDC being a British-sponsored
party and other official falsehoods. After all, if the electorate doesn't
buy that, why should anybody else?
Now, as never before, is the time for the more thoughtful ruling-party
stalwarts to find a way out of the morass Mugabe has dug for them. That
means talking to the other side - the sooner the better.
Making profits is not criminal
PRIOR to the introduction of price controls a little over six months ago,
and again upon their implementation, most of commerce and industry made
strong representations to government that price controls would be
counter-productive and economically destructive. Their representations were
reinforced by the majority of Zimbabwe's economists, the only exceptions
being those continuing in their prolonged endeavours to ingratiate
themselves with government.
The substance of the representations was that price controls would be
ineffective in containing inflation, unless all production and operational
costs were controlled. A social contract in terms of which prices, wages,
salaries, charges for government services and taxes would be frozen would
have the prospect of success provided that there would be no imported
inflation. For there to be no imported inflation, not only would prices have
to remain stable in the countries of supply of Zimbabwe's needs, but there
would also have to be exchange rate stability, which would only be so if
Zimbabwe had a sufficiency of foreign exchange. In the absence of all these
economic elements, price controls could not conceivably operate effectively
and bring Zimbabwe's runaway inflation under control.
Private sector representations also contended that in a regime of price
controls in general, and of unrealistic, politically driven price controls
in particular, the inevitable consequences would be massive shortages of
many products, for much of industry would be unable to maintain viability if
prices were rigid whilst operating costs rose. This would apply similarly to
distributors of goods, be they wholesalers or retailers. And the
representations also contained warnings that if price controls were
promulgated in Zimbabwe, and scarcities of product became the resultant
norm, a thriving black market would be brought into being. With demand
vastly exceeding supply, black market prices would rise unchecked. The
result of all these circumstances would be that far from bringing inflation
under control, it would soar.
Government obdurately disregarded all these representations, dismissing them
as being the deliberate endeavours to deceive government, and thereby
dissuade it from its intended actions, and believing that the
representations were driven only by the perceived private sector vested
interests. No matter how soundly based and substantive the representations,
they went unheeded by government. And whilst government gained some very
temporary approval of consumers, labour movements and the like, that
approval was soon dissipated as inflation continued its upward surge. Its
dogmatic rejection of well-intentioned and concerned advice resulted in "the
chickens coming home to roost".
Thus last week government succumbed to the realities of the ineffectiveness
of price controls and after six very troubled and catastrophic months,
revoked them, with the exception of a very few basic commodities, including
bread, maize-meal and flour. However, in respect of many products the
lifting of the controls were qualified, for government requires that the
profit margin on such products not exceed 20%. Whilst such a margin may be
more than adequate for some enterprises, it can be grossly inadequate for
In instances where volumes of sales may be restricted by operational
resources, levels of market demand and other factors, and yet the enterprise
has an unavoidably high cost of marketing, administration and finance, the
permitted margin may well not suffice to cover those costs, forcing the
enterprise into closure or into concentration wholly upon export markets
where possible, with resultant continuing shortages in the Zimbabwean
market, and resultant continued trade in the black market. The extent that
such black market activity functions is evidenced by the extent that, during
the period of price controls, the only cement available in Zimbabwe was that
imported from neighbouring territories, but which had been produced in
Zimbabwe and exported to those territories, for to have sold the cement in
Zimbabwe would have resulted in gross losses for the producers.
Imposing a constraint upon profit margins is as foolhardy as were the price
controls of the last six months. It will be almost impossible to monitor
until long after sales have occurred, and will only motivate commerce and
industry, in the interests of survival, to resort to ingenious, innovative
and creative operating structures and accounting so as to circumvent the
regulations. Government continues to impose upon many the unenviable choices
of economic demise or recourse to circumvention of law in order to survive.
Instead, government should recognise - even if very considerably belatedly -
that to bring down inflation it must curb its spending and implement
stringent fiscal disciplines, it must effectively restore export performance
and it must facilitate greater productivity and efficiency. It must also
recognise that the most effective containment of prices is maximised by
competition, for competition induces productivity and price reductions.
Notwithstanding the total failure of the price controls enforced since last
November, exacerbating inflation instead of bringing it down, the removal of
the controls immediately provoked howls of anguish from consumers'
representative bodies, and castigation of the private sector by the
state-controlled media. Both accused private enterprise of "scurrilous
profiteering". The attack upon Zimbabwean businesses in the lead story of
ZTV last Friday was a vicious, vitriolic outpouring, alleging that the
business sector is bent upon making profits, it alleging that to do so is so
scurrilous as to verge upon the criminal.
How far detached from the fundamental facts of economic life can anyone be?
How can any possibly contemplate investing their capital, energy and other
resources in a commercial enterprise if not motivated by the prospects of
profits? Surely investment is entitled to a yield? And the extent of that
yield should be commensurate with that attainable, without effort, within
the money and securities markets, enhanced in recognition of greater risk
associated with the investment, and by equitable reward upon other resources
applied. But the media, undoubtedly driven to it by the Minister of Fiction,
Fable and Myth, contends that making profits out of the consumer is, at the
very least, morally abhorrent.
Do they really wish businesses to close down due to inadequacy of profits,
and do they really wish for those closures to result in yet further
devastating and debilitating unemployment? And do they really wish the state
's already bankrupt exchequer to become even more impoverished due to a
lessening flow of taxes on profits, as profits fall and then businesses
fail, no longer yielding anything to the fiscus?
"Profiteering" is defined in the Concise Oxford Dictionary as being "to make
excessive profits out of others' needs, especially in times of scarcity",
and it defines "excessive" as "exceeding of the proper amount or degree",
but in the context of realising profits, what levels can be regarded as
being excessive in an economic environment wherein real inflation exceeds
260%? Surely not a margin of 20% on sales, reduced by overhead,
administration and finance costs? (At time of writing, the interest rate on
Bankers' Acceptances approximates 90% pa!)
Many have long cried out in near fury at the profits which have been
realised by most banks and other financial institutions, and by many
industries. However, if those profits would be discounted for the impact of
inflation (as demonstrated in inflation-adjusted financial statements
prepared in accord with International Accounting Standard 29 on accounting
in hyperinflationary conditions), and they would then be related to the
extent of capital employed, and regard had to the magnitude of risk
undertaken, there would be few, if any, instances where profiteering could
justifiably be contended.
Inflation will eventually come down, but only when government is prepared to
take a quantum leap in formulating and implementing economic policy,
including the creation of a conducive environment, which requires
restoration of law and order, democracy, political stability, genuine
collaboration with the private sector, and harmonious relationships with the
international community. It will not come down by price controls, even if
now muted to regulated profit margins. It will not come down by allegations
Times when man must hug a hyena
THE talks in Harare last week between three visiting heads of state - Thabo
Mbeki, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Bakili Muluzi - and President Mugabe appear to
have been given a negative reception in the South African media. That's
perhaps because the much-touted exit plan didn't come up. But what did
transpire, and has not been fully reported, was the short shrift they gave
to Mugabe's posturing.
The three heads of state told him straight out, we gather, that they had not
come to mediate between Harare and London, as his publicists claimed. They
had come to address the situation in Zimbabwe. And after their talks with
Morgan Tsvangirai, as reported in this paper, they went back to Mugabe to
tell him the MDC's court challenge could no longer be regarded as an
obstacle to talks. It was the party's democratic and legal right to
challenge the election outcome in the courts, they agreed, a point the
Herald significantly conceded last week.
As for Mugabe's legitimacy, that was a detail that would become part of the
negotiating process and, like the court challenge, should not hold up the
negotiating process, they said.
So Mugabe's claims about the presidents mediating in the dispute with
Britain and his demand to be recognised as the legitimate head of state have
now fallen away because the three visitors declined to indulge him. That is
a huge step forward.
We have also detected a change in the tenor of remarks by South African
officials. Foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, normally quick to come
to Mugabe's defence, last week made these rather unflattering comments: "If
we were ready to go into dialogue with the apartheid regime, I am sure they
will find ways of getting a dialogue to save their own country."
One of her officials added this point: "If we as the ANC could negotiate
with an illegitimate government, so can they."
The official quoted an interesting saying of which Chris Hani had been fond:
"For the sake of peace you sometimes have to hug a hyena."
And then we had Bakili Muluzi's gem: "I told Mugabe that bad economies were
This is all rather different to the spin the Sunday Mail tried to place on
things last weekend.
Jonathan Moyo is obviously unaware that President Mugabe has agreed there
should be no preconditions to inter-party talks. He was telling his embedded
correspondent Munyaradzi Huni on Sunday that Zanu PF was prepared to
dialogue with the MDC "as long as we do not negotiate things that are
And what might these be? Such things as "helping our country to defend its
"Similarly," Moyo said "nobody should expect Zanu PF to dialogue about
so-called internationally supervised elections". Nor would the succession
issue be allowed to come up, he added.
But most significantly, he appeared blissfully ignorant that there is now a
regional consensus that the MDC court petition will go ahead and Zanu PF
will not be allowed to use it to stall the talks.
Somebody should tell Moyo. We understand he has to hang tough for the
benefit of young reporters like Huni, but should he be permitted to set up
roadblocks that his leader has already been obliged to clear?
If Mugabe cannot resist the tide of change, why does Moyo think he can?
Poor old Tafataona Mahoso is always the last to know. All last week the
Herald claimed US Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner would meet
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in Botswana. Their meeting was linked
to the existence of an American airbase in that country and clearly designed
to mislead Zimbabweans into thinking the British and Americans were plotting
regime change in Harare.
But on Friday the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that no such meeting was
projected. Straw would not be visiting Botswana ahead of his visit to South
Africa this week. And we quoted the Botswana High Commissioner to Zimbabwe
as saying the base was not American. In fact it was built by French and
South African companies, she said. It belongs to Botswana.
We also quoted an MDC spokesman as saying the report that the MDC would send
a delegation to meet Kansteiner and Straw in Botswana was a "Herald lie".
On Sunday Mahoso wrote: "Only last week, when three African presidents
visited President Mugabe in Zimbabwe, two white narcissists from the UK and
US came to Botswana to meet their key African stooges from the entire
southern African region in a bid to reverse the African emancipation
So here we have the chairman of the state's media commission repeating a
falsehood that he had evidently picked up from the government press. What
steps did he take to verify this false report before he published it? And
who misled the Herald in the first place?
Mahoso went on to speculate about the strategy of "the two white men".
Note how racism and falsehoods are regular bedfellows in the state's
conspiracy theories. It would be nice to dismiss this episode as
inconsequential babbling by a sclerotic Zanu PF apologist. But this was the
man appointed to preside over the press with a claim to be safeguarding
accuracy. That is before the whole rotten structure of Moyo's media edifice
came tumbling down with the first judicial knock on its door.
Mahoso's inventions aside, there was a meeting in Botswana last week
involving British and American officials. But it was not "highly secretive"
as the Sunday Mirror claimed. It was hosted by the South African Institute
for International Affairs headed by Greg Mills and Moeletsi Mbeki who
regularly convene meetings of this sort. Lynda Chalker attended, we are
told, along with an American official and South Africa's Aziz Pahad.
The Sunday Mirror story was clearly designed to advance the claim of
Anglo-American plotting against Zimbabwe. But Aziz Pahad is a notable
defender of the Mugabe regime and would have been unlikely to have
contributed to a regime-change conspiracy while Chalker was often shown on
television hugging Mugabe every time he visited her in London.
It has been entertaining to see how the official press has played up the
resignation of Clare Short from Tony Blair's government. By far the best
account came from Lovemore Mataire whose imagination knew no bounds.
The resignation of Robin Cook and two junior ministers before the Iraq war
had left the prime minister "a virtual loner" we were told. What happened to
the rest of the cabinet was not clear!
Short's resignation was indicative of the "apparent decadence and profuse
despondency" now embedded in the Labour government, Mataire suggested
without having interviewed a single Brit.
And what decadence was this? Sounds as if he had a scoop. But don't expect
too much in the way of saucy details.
The appointment of Baroness Amos to replace Short was just a "dump" squib,
Short, he relates, once indulged in "a drunken outburst" after consuming two
gin-and-tonics at a British High Commission reception in Harare. And what
was the nature of this "drunken outburst"?
She loudly remarked that "Mugabe should be overthrown".
Of course anybody suggesting such a shocking thing must be drunk! All sounds
a bit like a damp squid to us.
Under which rock has the Sunday Mail's "Under the Surface" columnist been
hiding? He returned to the paper after a long - and well-deserved -
hibernation two weeks ago. This week he took pompous glee in the fact Morgan
Tsvangirai was not allowed to walk on the red carpet laid out at the
Sheraton for the three visiting African leaders. It is a useful insight into
this regime's predicament that all it can boast of is pettiness of this
Next he had a go at Andy Meldrum, asking why he was in hiding. "What was he
running away from?" the creepy-crawly columnist wanted to know. He compared
Meldrum's situation to that of Learnmore Jongwe who handed himself in
Meldrum's wife as far as we can see is alive and well. As to why he took
temporary refuge when immigration officers - or men purporting to be
immigration officers who refused to identify themselves - called at his home
in the night, the answer is obvious. When men claiming to be immigration
officers called at BBC correspondent Joe Winter's home in 2001 they broke
in, ransacked the place and terrorised his wife and baby daughter.
But what was instructive about this episode was the way the Immigration
department acted on flawed instructions. They had been told - probably by
the usual suspects in the president's office - that the High Court order
preventing Meldrum's deportation last year had now expired. He had failed to
appeal to the Supreme Court within the stipulated period, they claimed.
His lawyers had to point out to them that there was no stipulated period.
And the onus was on the state to appeal to the Supreme Court if it was
unhappy with the High Court ruling which said that as a permanent resident
Meldrum had a right of abode.
Let's recall that the Herald made a number of false claims about the outcome
of Meldrum's trial, one as recently as a few weeks ago. And then we had
George Charamba making daft accusations in the Sunday Mail that Meldrum had
been "coordinating opposition events".
This was followed by the arrival at Meldrum's home of a van with blacked out
windows and registration plates the Immigration department denies knowledge
What needs to be exposed in all this is the government's attempt to resort
to false accusations and illegal means to deal with inconvenient journalists
when its botched court cases leave it high and dry.
Under our "sign of the times" heading, we note with interest that the
inhabitants of a lagoon-side shanty town in the Ivory Coast have named their
settlement "Zimbabwe". Perhaps we should send the president on a state
I WAS interested to read President Thabo Mbeki's remarks about Zimbabwe in
his regular contribution to the ANC's online magazine, ANC Today.
He commented on his visit to Harare last week and traced the roots of the
current crisis. The first thing I noticed was his discomfort with tendencies
that are very much the norm in a democratic society.
He complained of people "who insisted on imposing their own agendas on us".
"They pretended to know everything about what we would say to
leadership of Zimbabwe, raising unjustified expectations that reflected
their wishes," Mbeki complained.
These detractors, he
suggested, were firm in the belief that South Africa
had the right to issue instructions to others.
Leaving aside the obvious point that in a
plural society you have a number
of forces at work pressing their agendas on government, Mbeki shouldn't be
unduly worried about the Zimbabwean public's expectations of him!
What worries us is the absence of a clear principled lead from South Africa.
What happened to the ethical guidelines on foreign policy set out in the
mid-1990s but now apparently forgotten? These include respect for human
rights and democratic governance.
Perhaps because of his own sensitivity about the fate of
elites, Mbeki seems to have difficulty admitting that Zimbabwe's leadership
has betrayed its people. Instead he suggests it spent too much money
addressing colonial anomalies and got itself into trouble that way. It was
good intentions that sealed Zanu PF's fate, not corruption or tyranny, he
Mbeki claims that the Zimbabwe government
sought to advance the
"socio-economic interests of the liberated majority". To meet this
challenge, he said, the government ploughed resources into education and
healthcare. With this expansion of services, the civil service wage bill
This led the government into difficulties, he
said. By the end of the first
decade of Independence it was clear that the growth path chosen by the
government was unsustainable. Total public sector debt stood at 90% of GDP.
"Contrary to what some in our country now
claim, the economic crisis
currently affecting Zimbabwe did not originate from the desperate actions of
a reckless political leadership or from corruption," Mbeki declared. "It
arose from a genuine concern to meet the needs of the black poor."
Mbeki used this point to send a message to
his critics in South Africa
"where some who call themselves the unique representatives of the poor have
been seeking to oblige us to follow the same policies that led to the
economic crisis in Zimbabwe. We have refused to do this."
"In the end we must pay for what we consume," Mbeki
admonished. And he
warned that the longer Zimbabwe's problems remain unresolved, the more
entrenched poverty will become, and with it, social instability.
This is all fair enough as far as it goes. The Mugabe
government did seek to
redress historical anomalies by expanding education and healthcare in the
1980s. It did get itself into difficulties by failing to match income and
expenditure. But Mbeki has studiously ignored the cost of corruption and
mismanagement that stemmed directly from an absence of political
accountability. That includes a parasitic public sector and military that
provided little more than sheltered employment to the government's
A post-liberation aristocracy fed like
locusts on the land and made it clear
it was their right to do so.
"The country owes us," Mugabe said when justifying the Political
That was the entrenched mentality that
spawned intolerance of dissenting
views and led to the pillaging of the War Victims Compensation Fund, the
pay-for-your-house scheme, and the DDF borehole project.
Nobody was prosecuted. Indeed, they held on to
their ill-gotten gains. So
much for the government's "genuine concern to meet the needs of the black
Nobody wants the South African
government to "dictate" to Zimbabwe. But we
do expect it to spell out those principles by which it is guided. How does
it respond to political murder, police torture, electoral manipulation and
the subversion of the rule of law? Why is it so quiet on these issues or in
the case of electoral fraud, almost complicit?
"We remain convinced that the people of Zimbabwe must
decide their future,"
Mbeki says in his ANC Today contribution.
Yes indeed, we would like the chance to do so. Please
tell Mugabe's militia
gangs, the CIO, police and Tobaiwa Mudede. We would love to have an
Independent Electoral Commission like South Africa's.
In fairness, Mbeki played an important role last Monday in
Mugabe's claims to legitimacy and his demand that the MDC drop its court
petition. Those will all now be matters for future negotiation, the three
visiting presidents decided. In the meantime Mugabe is recognised as de
facto head of state. That is the formula that will enable the talks to go
The South African and Nigerians governments will have
an important role in
mediating those talks that will ultimately lead to constitutional changes
and fresh elections after parliamentary approval. Zanu PF may be in denial
about this outcome. But it is now the goal towards which all parties are
Mbeki's contribution towards that goal
has been significant and he deserves
some recognition among the brickbats. All he needs to do now is stop
apologising to his party for putting the squeeze on Mugabe. If he favours
good governance, human rights and the rule of law he shouldn't be too shy to
That means abandoning
ANC mantras about how we got into this mess. Believe
me, it wasn't good intentions that got us here.
Perhaps the best thing to do would be to
ask Zimbabweans what they think and
invite them to put their answers on the ANC Today website. Or might that
prove ideologically inconvenient?
Reveal Mugabe's past
SEVERAL well-known public figures in Zimbabwe have each lodged with foreign
lawyers documents and depositions about Robert Mugabe and especially about
his past which, if made public, could and would result in him having to
These public figures are said to include among others Eddison Zvobgo, Edgar
Tekere and Margaret Dongo.
people not to reveal the contents of their documents and
depositions is to actively support the continuation of the rule of a cruel
and economically disastrous dictator.
The creation and continuation of poverty and
manipulation of food resources
is a weapon of mass destruction. It is time for anyone and everyone with any
power to dislodge this cruel and unusual dictator to use that power for the
benefit of the people regardless of any personal danger. The people will
Companies scale down operations as ... Severe coal crisis takes centre stage
THE coal shortage is fast taking centre stage in industry and is the latest
crisis bedeviling Zimbabwe.
It has joined other shortages such as those of foreign currency, electricity
and fuel, as industrialists struggle to achieve optimum production levels to
satisfy increasing product demand.
requiring coal are now forced to reduce production and, in some
cases, shut down operations completely.
Wankie Colliery Company Ltd (Wankie),
Zimbabwe's leading coal producer, says
demand for coal and coke has remained firm in both the domestic and export
Wankie said it has,
however, failed to meet demand because of "major
challenges" being faced.
Company chairman Ngoni Kudenga said these major challenges
currency shortages and the consequent shortages of spares, unprecedented
high inflation, price controls, an erratic supply of empty wagons by the
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), and loss of "critical skills".
Wankie's managing director is Kudzaishe
For the period ending December 31 2002 Wankie made an operating loss
amounting to $7,9 billion, which was marginally higher when compared to $7,8
billion recorded in the previous year.
said coke sales for the year at 3 448 600 tonnes, were 302 818
tonnes or 8% lower than the 3 751 418 tonnes achieved in the previous year.
is operating at less than 50% capacity.
Companies that have had to alter their production levels because of the
erratic coal situation include the Zimbabwe Sugar Refineries Ltd (ZSR),
Circle Cement Ltd (Circem), Portland Pretoria Cement Holdings Ltd (PPC),
Delta Corporation Ltd (Delta) and the entire tobacco industry.
The ZSR requires at least 100 tonnes of coal
daily and an additional 100
tonnes to start up after shut down. The sugar plant also requires four days
cover of up to 100 tonnes of coal.
In an interview ZSR managing director Pattison Sithole said the
closed last week for some days because of the coal shortage but had now
Sithole said: "We had closed but we
are now operating as best as we can. We
are supplying customers all quantities produced under the circumstances."
He could not, however,
reveal the exact amount of sugar being produced per
that his company was mooting retrenching workers or shortening
their hours as a result of the erratic coal supply.
The ZSR gets its sugar cane from
Hippo Valley Estates Ltd (Hippo).
For the year ended December 31 2002 a total of 284 100 tonnes of sugar was
produced by at a cane to sugar ratio of 8,17:1, which compared with 248 600
tonnes produced in 2001 at a ratio of 8,19:1.
Hippo chairman Len Bruce said sugar production in 2003 was
likely to be some
30 000 to 40 000 tonnes lower than the 284 100 tonnes produced in 2002.
This should worsen sugar stocks on the market
further fuelling the
commodity's parallel market price.
manufacturer Circem last week said it had one month of coal supply
left in its reserves. The company threatened that it could shut down
anytime - only a month after having reopened - because of the coal shortage.
also said the controlled price of $511 was far below the cost of
production by at least 40%.
This has resulted in major projects either being
shelved or delayed almost
doubling their final cost.
project is the Joina Development Centre in Harare's central
business district. The centre, slated to be the most prestigious in
Zimbabwe, has remained stagnant for more than four years now because of
cement and foreign currency shortages.
The project is the brainchild of prominent
business tycoon and TA Holdings
Ltd chairman Shingai Mutasa.
NRZ is supplying Wankie with only 66 wagons instead of the promised 150
per day, further crippling operations at the financially troubled mining
The NRZ says it cannot cope because it has a
shortage of wagons, some of
which are worn out. The railways are facing serious spare parts shortages
and are basically operating under severe strain.
Last year the NRZ was asked to transport maize supplies
neighbouring South Africa to try and solve Zimbabwe's food crisis.
Maize transportation was immediately declared a "top
priority" by the
cash-strapped NRZ, taking its cue from government.
Kudenga said: "Inadequate supply of empty wagons by the
National Railways of
Zimbabwe adversely affected the supply of WCC coal to the market. Under
normal circumstances NRZ should supply 150 railway wagons per day.
"However a daily average of 66 wagons was supplied, which is
only 44% of
normal requirements. Consequently, customers continued to use road transport
resulting in 45% of WCC coal being moved by this mode of transport."
Another affected company, Delta said its soft-drinks
sector was in desperate
need of sugar for production to satisfy increasing demand.
The company says it has had to go for months without its
sugar consignment from ZSR.
ZSR, like the other
companies, also blamed the coal shortage for its failure
to supply the market with adequate sugar.
ZSR's Sithole said they were trying "and supplying sugar to all companies
including Delta when production was not disrupted".
Wankie, meanwhile, says its efforts to solve the
situation were affected by
the existence of a vibrant parallel market resulting in a huge escalation in
costs of commodities and services.
The mining company says this instability on the foreign
exchange market was
threatening the survival of most businesses, which rely on imported inputs
but do not earn significant amounts in foreign currency.
Wankie's serious cashflow problems have resulted inthe firm
failing to pay a
divided to shareholders for the past two years. The company's share price
has, however, remained firm at $18 for the past month. Analysts said this
was due to a US$5,3 million investment promised by the Afreximbank.
Chakaipa's successor must be man of his time
By Paul Taylor
RESPECT for the dead is ingrained in our culture: "afa anaka", says the
Shona proverb: "(Say only) good of the dead." But sometimes we owe the dead
and the living the truth.
thoughts crossed my mind following the death of Archbishop Patrick
Chakaipa of Harare. He believed in Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
I believe we have a special duty to him, to his church and to our country,
to tell the truth about his life's work.
And the truth is that much of
the criticism that was directed at the late
archbishop - and I speak as a critic - was misconceived and misdirected.
A lot of humbug was written, for example, about Chakaipa's decision to allow
Robert Mugabe's marriage to Grace. It was a decision Chakaipa reached with
great reluctance and not a little annoyance. But the marriage regularised a
continuing relationship and legitimated the adulterine children of that
relationship. Chakaipa did the right, charitable and loving thing. Yes, he
saved embarrassment to Mugabe, but more importantly, he gave certain
innocent children the status of legitimates under the law of the church.
One suspects that many of
those who disapproved of Chakaipa's action were
not motivated by Christian principle but out of hatred of Mugabe. If every
philanderer in Zimbabwe were to be judged strictly in accordance with the
Gospels our churches would have fewer congregants. And probably very many
fewer ministers too.
archbishop was a kind man. The late Father David Gibbs, one of his
clergy, spoke of his courtesy and thoughtfulness to the religious of his
see. He did all he could to ensure that the right person found himself in
the right place. In Gibbs's case, this meant a posting to Seke where he was
a single white Zimbabwean in a place where most Zimbabweans are black.
Archbishop Chakaipa saw beyond melanin. Gibbs found acceptance, love and
great happiness among his flock.
Chakaipa was a man of peace. He was once referred to
allusively by one of
those crusty people who often write letters to newspapers as "patron of the
violence" of hondo yeminda. Nothing could be further from the truth.
He agonised over Mugabe's jambanja, as Archbishop Pius Ncube was quick to
point out after his funeral. He decried violence of any form, of any nature:
he spoke at a Harare Church rally against racist violence in particular. As
Bishop Muchabaiwa said at the funeral, Chakaipa was a man who advocated the
paths of peace and believed deeply in reconciliation between all the peoples
It is not
necessary to repeat every good thing that flowed from Archbishop
Chakaipa's life of service to his country and church. He was a man of
spiritual depths and diverse intellectual attainments. Professor George
Kahari has written a whole scholarly volume about the archbishop's moral
philosophy. Others have written of his seminal contribution to Zimbabwean
literature. With his personal gifts and virtues he blessed the country and
his church in many ways.
The criticisms of the archbishop that matter significantly in
my view are
all connected to the quasi-political role which his office required him to
perform. It was perhaps his God-given destiny that his life - and ultimately
his death - mirrored the tumultuous national life of Zimbabwe.
Without any doubt, the moment of great triumph in the life
Chakaipa came at Independence in 1980 when he stood higher than hope on a
podium with Robert Mugabe, the elected leader of Zimbabwe, as our country at
last reached its appointment with destiny. Kind history will best remember
Chakaipa on that day.
Sadly, history will also record the
second defining moment when Chakaipa,
together with other members of the hierarchy of the Zimbabwean Catholic
Church, decided not to endorse the publication of Breaking the Silence,
Building True Peace, the report jointly prepared by the Catholic Commission
for Justice and Peace and the Legal Resources Foundation on the Gukurahundi
atrocities in Matabeleland and the Midlands. The decision was a disgraceful
It created a
perception in the minds of many people that some of our bishops
were the commissars of Zanu PF at prayer who wished only to protect and
promote the image of Mugabe, their fellow Catholic, and his heir and
Gukurahundi co-conspirator, Emmerson Mnangagwa. It created a perception that
some Zimbabweans, who had suffered so mightily and cruelly at the hands of
Mugabe and Mnangagwa, were to be seen as God's step-children, people whose
welfare the church did not really care to protect or promote.
was not taken, I hasten to add, by Chakaipa alone but he and a
number of other bishops ensured that the church effectively disowned their
Deeply regrettable things were said in private at
the time. One senior
bishop commented that the Gukurahundi atrocities were to be understood as
the revenge of one ethnic group for atrocities committed a hundred years
previously by the ancestors of another ethnic group. The words were uttered
in confidence. They grew wings, as words of such a nature inevitably do. I
make no apology for repeating them here. They have been corroborated by
different sources. And Chakaipa was not the senior bishop who uttered those
At Easter the Catholic Bishops Conference
issued an eloquent statement
calling for Metanoia, or conversion, of the human heart. Now is the time to
ask Bishop Muchabaiwa, president of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops
Conference, whether he will promise that the bishops will at last undergo
their own Metanoia and acknowledge their own lack of charity and their
failures before the victims of Gukurahundi, before the people of Zimbabwe
and before God, by finally re-publishing Breaking the Silence and commending
it to the attention of the local and international community. If the ZCBC
president cannot do that, we can be sure that God will judge.
A third defining moment in the life of Archbishop Chakaipa
came on St
Patrick's Day last year, when in the presence of Bishop Muchabaiwa and
Bishop Patrick Mutume, Robert Mugabe inaugurated himself as president once
more. The wheel had turned full circle since 1980: the liberator and
champion of the people's sovereignty had become the oppressor and thief of
sovereignty. It was the tragedy of the Catholic leadership that in attending
the farcical event they placed their personal relationship with Mugabe over
their duty to Zimbabwe that day. In a sense the behaviour of the Catholic
bishops was worse than that of Norbert "barking dogs" Kunonga.
At the archbishop's funeral, Mugabe seized on the
opportunity to portray
himself as the faithful friend and soul mate of the dead clergyman.
Chakaipa was not enough of a "hero" to lie at Heroes Acre - that would have
been a fate worse than death - but the truth is that Mugabe was his friend
over the years and he was Mugabe's.
In his speech
at the graveside Mugabe acknowledged the role Patrick Chakaipa
had played over the years. He asked: "Sekuru zvamaenda mazano atanga
tichipiwa topihwa nani? Tichatarisira kuti chechi ichatipa munhu watichange
tichishanda naye sezvataiita nemi. (Uncle now that you are gone who is going
to counsel us? We hope the church will give us a person we can work with in
the same way we did with you)."
We Catholics must pray that the church does no such
thing. Robert Mugabe is
an old man. He and Mnangagwa and their friends in the church are yesterday's
men. Whoever replaces Patrick Chakaipa must be a man for tomorrow.
l Paul Taylor writes on civic
Medieval monarchy vs democratic elections
By Michael Hartnack
WHEN the US State Department's Walter Kansteiner visits the region this week
he needs to press President Thabo Mbeki on what the South African leader
means by democracy. Does it mean a representative government accountable to
Or is having
millions of enrolled voters put crosses on ballot papers just
the modern equivalent of a medieval coronation?
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, of
course, is firmly in the medieval coronation
camp. He began justifying plans for a one-party state right after winning
power in 1980. "We can say 'let's have multi-party' and people will resort
to their ethnic groups for support ... opposition parties resort to illegal
or subversive activities," he told a business gathering at Lake Geneva,
Switzerland. ". We are thinking that our family must be one." That was just
But what about
Mbeki, who has expended so much of his country's money and
his own political credibility on keeping Mugabe, or at least Zanu PF, in
power? Mbeki said last week that Zimbabwe's problems "did not originate from
the desperate actions of a reckless political leadership or corruption".
Where was Mbeki in 1997 when the Zimbabwe dollar began its nosedive toward
the present crisis when the country has run out of bank notes, and also of
money to print more?
Where was Mbeki when Mugabe defied public opinion to send
troops to the
Congo, or to make vast payouts for bogus "war disabilities"? Can Mbeki
honestly not know how the productive sector has been systematically
destroyed by Mugabe in an attempt to cow civil society?
There were confident predictions before Mbeki, Nigeria's
Obasanjo and Malawi's Bakili Muluzi came to Harare last week that the trio
would pressure Mugabe into agreeing an exit plan. This would be followed by
the appointment of an interim government, and free and fair elections, in
contrast to the rigged parliamentary and presidential polls of 2000 and
2002. Instead, the presidents applied pressure on Morgan Tsvangirai's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change to recognise the rigged polls as
an irreversible process which had somehow given Mugabe legitimacy, however
many ballot boxes were stuffed or election agents murdered.
Obasanjo, in flowing robes and fresh from his own
victory, took a line straight from Shakespeare's Richard II: "Not all the
water in the rough rude sea can wash the balm from an anointed king."
Once a ruler had gone through the process of an election, and been sworn in,
there should be no further challenge to his authority, he said.
MDC sources say Obasanjo, Muluzi and Mbeki tried to manoeuvre Tsvangirai
into conceding that the officials who conducted the 2002 bogus poll in
Zimbabwe were appointed constitutionally, acted in terms of the
constitution, and Mugabe was then sworn in constitutionally. The MDC would
have none of it.
Mugabe, looking exceptionally grumpy, said
afterwards: "Does the MDC now
recognise me? That's the issue." Mugabe realises that the MDC's refusal to
be converted to the African leaders' coronation theology strikes at the root
of his rights of patronage, his power to delegate to subordinates the task
of unleashing, with impunity, state-sponsored violence. The one concession
the MDC did offer - and it was a massive one considering the strength of
feeling among its supporters - is that Mugabe might be granted amnesty from
criminal prosecution (but not civil law suits) if he agreed to go
Tsvangirai said the MDC
was "ready to consider an amnesty" in the context of
a package deal if it was "the price of Mugabe going". Since the departure of
the visitors, the Supreme Court has, amid great fanfare, ruled
unconstitutional a clause of the odious Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act that made it an offence punishable by up to two years'
imprisonment (and a ban from practice as a journalist) to publish any kind
of incorrect statement.
reality, the court could make no other ruling as state lawyers had
conceded the clause was unconstitutional and announced a substitute clause
was being framed. There are scant grounds for thinking the ruling indicates
a relaxation of Mugabe's assault on the press and on civil society. The Act
remains with its provisions for "licensing" journalists, subjecting them to
a government-appointed commission, and applying a government-drafted code of
Tsvangirai, meanwhile, warns of the urgency in
breaking the political
deadlock which lies behind the economic crisis, the threat of famine and,
worse, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus which, if it hits
Zimbabwe's malnourished and HIV-infected population, could claim literally
millions of lives. Zimbabwe's bungling and inadequate mechanisms of
government, failed despite months of advance warnings in 2001 to secure
adequate supplies of maize meal and wheat. In defiance of public opinion,
these mechanisms have been perverted to profit a self-seeking elite rather
than meet the needs of a desperate nation.
Mbeki must not
wait for another year of famine or the advent of the Sars
virus before facing the fact that Zimbabwe does not need an anointed monarch
in the form of Mugabe or anyone else. It needs a government capable of
proving to the people that it can govern. For this, transparency and
accountability are essential, and that means parliaments and elections -
real ones. - ZWNews.
May 16, 2003
'There are a lot of days when there is no food, no money'
By Jan Raath
PLAXEDES JOHN opens the fridge in her tiny house in Mufakose
township to reveal a large white cake with pale green lettering that says
"Happy Birthday Daddy".
It is not for her three children to eat, however. It is an order
she must deliver the next day. Otherwise the fridge contains just one tin
bowl of "porridge" so thin that the maize meal scarcely discolours the
Plaxedes's husband is away looking for work in South Africa but
has had no success in two years. Her cakes - and the buns that she sells on
the streets - are her sole source of income and her last cake order was two
weeks ago. She is subsidised by her 70-year-old father, who lets two rooms
in the house he rents from the Harare city council.
"There are a lot of days when there is no food, no money in the
house," she says. "My father gives food to the children and he goes hungry.
Sometimes they cry and they go to sleep crying. You get angry. You think 'I
told them there is no food' and they just go on crying."
The kitchen is swept clean but with no money to buy poison
Plaxedes cannot get rid of cockroaches. Half a dozen of the insects have
their heads buried in a lump of cooked maizemeal on the stove. Outside is a
hard-tramped garden with a few rape plants and in the street, litter, dust
and a constant flow of noisy people.
She pays Zim $2,000 for her eldest son, Tendai, 9, to attend the
nearby government primary school. The uniform cost her $17,000. The average
daily wage for a menial worker in Zimbabwe is about $1,500, or 65p. Tendai
leaves for school on a thin porridge breakfast but has no midday meal.
"Times I cannot feed him. The children are used to it. If you look at them,
you can see they are not having a good life.
They are not healthy."
Plaxedes, 28, is tall and thin and grooms herself carefully. Her
black skirt is spotless. The creases in her white blouse are perfectly
ironed. Both items are give-aways from her church. "We look after our
things," she says.
In March she was queuing for sugar at a nearby supermarket. Riot
police beat the waiting women with long rubber truncheons for "making noise"
. When they had been driven away the police bought all the sugar. "They sell
it on the black market. The price controllers (from the Ministry of Trade
and Commerce) who take the food from people selling on the street, they also
sell it on the black market. They and the police and the traders, they are
all friends, they are all dealers."
On the street yesterday she paid $100 for a tiny plastic sachet
of sugar - enough for two cups of tea. "Tomorrow it can be $300. Everything
is black market."
She cannot remember the last time there was meat in the house.
Usually the main meal is maizemeal porridge.
"It doesn't taste of anything. It is a matter of filling your
stomach so you are able to sleep," she says.
ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome
John Paul II's Address to New Ambassador of Zimbabwe
VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address John Paul II
delivered on Thursday to Kelebert Nkomani, the new ambassador of Zimbabwe to
the Vatican, during the ceremony of the presentation of his Letters of
I offer you a warm welcome to the Vatican as I accept the Letters by which
you are accredited Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the
Republic of Zimbabwe to the Holy See. I am pleased to receive the greetings
and good wishes which you bring from the President, Government and people of
your nation, and I ask you kindly to convey to them my own prayerful good
wishes. Although many years have passed since my visit to your country, I
still have fond memories of the days I happily spent among your fellow
Zimbabweans, experiencing their warmth and hospitality, sharing their joys
and aspirations. On the occasion of that visit I spoke of Africa as a
"continent of hope and promise for the future of mankind" (Speech at Arrival
Ceremony in Harare, 10 September 1988, 1): it is my fervent desire that, in
this new millennium, that hope and promise will become a reality for the
people of Zimbabwe and for all the peoples of Africa.
Your kind tribute to Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa, who passed away only last
month, are very much appreciated, and I am grateful also for your
recognition of the significant contribution made by the institutions of the
Catholic Church to Zimbabwean society at large, particularly in the fields
of education, health care and social services. Indeed, the Church sees her
apostolate in these areas as an essential element of her religious mission,
and she is ever eager to carry out this work in harmony with others who are
active in the same fields. Cooperation between Church and State is of great
importance in advancing the intellectual and moral training of citizens, who
will then be better equipped to build a truly just and stable society. This
is part of the contribution that the Church seeks to make to the human
development of individuals and peoples, especially those who are most in
It is this same commitment that motivates the Holy See in its diplomatic
activity. In working with other members of the international community, the
Holy See strives to foster peace and harmony among peoples, looking always
to the common good and the integral development of individuals and nations.
The task of diplomacy nowadays is increasingly determined by the challenges
of globalization and the new threats to world peace which this entails. The
key questions no longer concern territorial sovereignty - borders and
jurisdiction over certain land areas - even if in some parts of the world
this remains a problem. By and large, the threats to stability and peace in
the world today are extreme poverty, social inequalities, political
corruption and abuse of authority, ethnic tensions, the absence of
democracy, the failure to respect human rights. These are some of the
situations which diplomacy is called to address.
There is no country in the world which does not face one or more of these
problems. For this reason, the values of democracy, good government, human
rights, dialogue and peace must be close to the heart of leaders and
peoples. The more these values form a fundamental part of a nation's ethos,
the greater will be that nation's capacity to build a future worthy of the
human dignity of its citizens. Moreover, the globalization of these values
represents the globalization of solidarity, which aims to ensure that
economic and social benefits are enjoyed by all on a planetary scale. This
is a sure way of working for peace in today's world. Conversely, when these
values are neglected or, worse, actively violated, no program of economic or
social reform will enjoy long-term success. Instead, social and political
violence will eventually increase, the gap between rich and poor will grow
ever wider, and government leadership itself will be unable to create an
environment that fosters truth, justice, love and freedom.
Utmost vigilance is therefore called for in safeguarding the rights and
protecting the welfare of all citizens. Public authorities must refrain from
exercising partiality, preferential treatment or selective justice in favor
of certain individuals or groups; this ultimately undermines the credibility
of those charged with governing. In his famous Encyclical Letter Pacem in
Terris, my predecessor Blessed Pope John XXIII, quoting Pope Leo XIII,
summed up the situation thus: "The civil power must not serve the advantage
of any one individual or of some few persons, inasmuch as it was established
for the common good of all" (par. 56). In fact, when everyone is treated on
an equal basis - a sine qua non for a society firmly based on the rule of
law - the value, gifts and talents of each member are more easily recognized
and can be more effectively tapped for building up the community. As
traditional wisdom handed down in an African proverb has put it: Gunwe rimwe
haritswanyi inda (many hands make lighter work).
Making reference to your Government's land reform program, Your Excellency
has remarked that this is a vehicle for improving the people's standard of
living, achieving equity and establishing social justice. In many countries,
such agrarian reform is necessary, as noted in the document "Towards a
Better Distribution of Land" published in 1997 by the Pontifical Council for
Justice and Peace, but it is also a complex and delicate process. In fact,
as this same document points out, it is an error to think that any real
benefit or success will come simply by expropriating large landholdings,
dividing them into smaller production units and distributing them to others
(cf. No. 45). There are first of all matters of justice to be considered,
with due weight being given to the various claims of land ownership, the
right to land use and the common good. Moreover, if land redistribution is
to offer a practical and sustainable response to serious economic and social
problems in a given country, the process must continue to develop over time
and must ensure that the necessary infrastructures are in place. Finally,
and no less important, "indispensable for the success of an agrarian reform
is that it should be in full accord with national policies and those of
international bodies" (ibid.).
Feelings of disenfranchisement or of being unjustly treated only serve to
foment tension and discord. Justice must be made available to all if the
injuries of the past are to be left behind and a brighter future built.
Insofar as the authentic common good prevails, the fundamental causes of
civil strife will disappear. The Catholic Church pledges her full support
for all efforts to construct a culture of dialogue rather than
confrontation, of reconciliation rather than conflict. This in fact is an
integral part of her mission to advance the authentic good of all peoples
and of the whole person.
Mr Ambassador, as you enter the family of diplomats accredited to the Holy
See, I assure you of the ready assistance of the various offices and
agencies of the Roman Curia. I am confident that your mission will
strengthen the bonds of understanding and friendship between us. Upon
yourself and the beloved people of Zimbabwe I cordially invoke the abundant
blessings of Almighty God.
Harare seeks deal to swop tobacco for Gaddafi's oil
May 16, 2003
By Basildon Peta
In a last-ditch effort to ease a crippling petrol shortage, Harare has
entered into a US$100-million (R760-million) deal with Libya to exchange
fuel for agricultural products.
Zimbabwe has virtually run out of fuel, with motorists complaining
that they can no longer find it even on the black market at exorbitant
Air Zimbabwe has resorted to refuelling its planes in neighbouring
Zambia to keep flying.
Libya cut supplies to Zimbabwe last year because of non-payment. Since
then, Zimbabwe has relied on a trickle of imports from private fuel
But even that trickle has stopped because Harare has run out of
foreign currency. The Financial Gazette said yesterday Zimbabwe had cobbled
together a last-resort plan to export agricultural goods to Libya in
exchange for fuel.
The newspaper said Zimbabwe had proposed to barter 25-million
kilograms of tobacco worth $60-million for fuel. Most of it would go
directly to the Libyan Tobacco Company. It said the deal had been ratified
by the Reserve Bank. The tobacco-selling season has just started in
Zimbabwe had also undertaken to export sugar, tea and coffee to Libya.
It is not clear if Zimbabwe's collapsing farming sector can grow the crop
Zimbabwe had become heavily reliant on Libya for more than a year
before Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi turned off the fuel supply taps. The
Libyans had rescheduled repayments on several occasions, but to no avail.
They then discontinued supplies permanently. Mugabe, who used to visit Libya
almost every other month, has not been to Tripoli this year.
All other suppliers have long discontinued supplies to Zimbabwe
because of non-payment.
Brian Latham reports from Harare that the Zimbabwe dollar suffered a
crushing blow yesterday when the black markets crashed. After sitting at
about Z$1 500 to the US dollar for five months, the currency plummeted to
Z$2 500 in a day.
The currency's plunge has been blamed on the state-owned National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim), which is sourcing foreign currency on the
"parallel market", the officially accepted term for secretive deals done
behind closed doors.
The Zimbabwean government has also reportedly approached the Airports
Company of South Africa for emergency jet fuel for its national airline.
Meanwhile, South Africa has resumed electricity supplies to the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), after cutting them recently,
also due to non-payment.
Zesa head Sydney Gata told the Daily News that supplies from Eskom
resumed on Monday after Zimbabwe's power utility began paying arrears.
Gata said Zesa had begun settling part of the US$55-million it owed to
Eskom, and electricity supplies were expected to stabilise soon.
Gata said full supplies from Eskom started on Monday, and Mozambique
would resume its full supplies at the end of the month. Talks were
continuing to discuss the progress of supplies and contingency plans. -
Independent Foreign Service