ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer
May 17, 2007 11:28 AM
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate surged to an
unprecedented 3,714 percent at the end of April, the official state
newspaper reported Thursday, as the government set up a commission to try to
bring prices down to single digit levels.
Prices more than doubled last month as shown by a 100.7 percent increase -
the highest on record - in the consumer price index calculated by the state
Central Statistical Office, the Herald newspaper said. In the past year they
The Herald said that President Robert Mugabe on Monday signed into law
regulations to enforce wage and price controls through ''comprehensive price
surveys and inspections,'' with a penalty of up to five years in jail for
violators. The ultimate aim would be to bring inflation into single digits.
In recent years, the government has tried to freeze prices for corn meal,
bread, cooking oil, meat, school fees and transport costs with little
success. Socialist-style controls have driven a thriving black market in
Sugar, unavailable in regular stores for weeks, fetches at least 10 times
the government's designated price at a dirty market in Harare's impoverished
western township of Mbare.
Minibus drivers, the country's main commuter transport, routinely ignore
government directives on fares, citing soaring black market prices for
gasoline. Commuters questioned at police roadblocks often lie about the fare
they paid or risk being thrown off the bus and left stranded.
The independent Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries estimates most
factories across the country are running at around 30 percent capacity or
less, and countless businesses have shut down, fueling record unemployment
of about 80 percent.
Many consumer items have disappeared altogether, forcing supermarkets to
fill out their shelves with empty packaging behind the few goods on display.
The worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 is blamed on
corruption, mismanagement and the often-violent seizures of thousands of
white-owned commercial farms since 2000 that disrupted the agriculture-based
Increases in the price of fuel, transportation, vegetables and meat
contributed to April's surge in the consumer price index, which was double
the increase in March of 50.3 percent, the Central Statistical Office said,
according to The Herald.
The international benchmark for hyperinflation is a 50 percent monthly
The government warned Wednesday that the price of bread is likely to rise
because only a fraction of the normal wheat crop has been planted.
In Zimbabwe's bizarre economic meltdown, a regular can of locally made baked
beans in a supermarket now costs three times the price of the equivalent in
Europe, compared at the official exchange rate of 15,000 Zimbabwean dollars
to the U.S. dollar.
The Reserve Bank last year introduced sweeping currency reforms knocking off
the final three digits - thus 250,000 Zimbabwean dollars became 250
Zimbabwean dollars - in a vain attempt to tame inflation.
Even so, consumers are still forced to carry around huge bricks of notes to
pay for scarce supplies and basic services.
For example, a pest control service on Wednesday charged 1 million
Zimbabwean dollars to a homeowner whose house was plagued by rats that are
thriving as the country's sanitation and garbage collection collapses.
May 17th 2007 | HARARE AND
From The Economist print edition
IT IS hard to imagine that things could get any worse in Zimbabwe. But, sure enough, day by day, they do. Since the opposition, NGOs and church groups organised a protest rally that was brutally crushed in March, the police and militias have been intimidating, arresting and beating up political opponents, journalists, lawyers and ordinary people alike. The government has even warned the Catholic bishops, once considered inviolate, to shut up or suffer the same fate. Meanwhile the inflation rate has passed 2,200%; last week the national power company announced that it would ration electricity in cities, possibly to a meagre four hours a day, just as the southern hemisphere's winter is starting to bite.
Power cuts are already frequent, but the latest blackouts mark a new low. Residents of Harare, the capital, have been rushing to get firewood and paraffin, though a domestic worker's monthly wage can buy only five litres (1.3 American gallons) of paraffin or two litres of cooking oil. Many companies, already operating at about 40% of capacity, say the cuts will force them to reduce their working hours even more. “The whole thing is a nightmare,” says Lovemore Mandebvu, who runs a small furniture-making factory in Harare. “We don't know when we will have power and when it goes. This is affecting our output. Then at home water runs out when you are bathing, and the electricity goes while you are cooking.” Hospitals must use gas stoves, coal-fired boilers, fuel generators, solar power and candles.
Basic staples like maize are becoming harder to buy. The official rate for the Zimbabwe dollar is 250 to the American one, but the street value is now closer to 32,000. Many Zimbabweans survive only thanks to the 3m or so friends and relatives who have emigrated. Every day desperate Zimbabweans cross the Limpopo river, braving crocodiles and occasionally drowning, to try their luck in neighbouring South Africa. Trapped into illegality there, many are exploited and abused.
Those who stay face the increasingly arbitrary power of the police and militias. Since the crackdown in March, there have been raids on Harare districts such as Highfield and Glenview, known opposition strongholds, where random beatings and arrests have become common. President Robert Mugabe's government claims that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is responsible for the violence and is behind a wave of bombings. The MDC says the bombs are planted by the police to justify repression. Last week lawyers protested against the arrest of two colleagues and the routine defiance of court orders by the police. A march was dispersed and several lawyers assaulted.
The latest efforts of Zimbabwe's neighbours to improve things are still going nowhere. After the violence in March, the Southern African Development Community, a regional club of 14 countries, mandated South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, to encourage negotiations between Mr Mugabe and his opponents. But the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think-tank, says that Zimbabwe's ruler has shown no willingness to co-operate with the regional initiative to prepare the ground for presidential and parliamentary elections due next year, when Mr Mugabe looks likely to run again. At present, there is little chance the elections will be fair.
But some of Zimbabwe's neighbours are sounding exasperated. Last week the Pan-African Parliament, a talking-shop with a secretariat in South Africa, said it would send a mission to investigate human-rights abuses. Mozambique's energy company, a big supplier of Zimbabwe's electricity, may switch off power unless it gets paid. And South Africa's government, long in denial about the crisis on its doorstep, has just granted political asylum to Roy Bennett, the MDC treasurer who fled Zimbabwe to avoid another arrest. It turned down his application last year.
Still, this rare build-up of pressure was released last week when, to the dismay of the United States, the European Union and many others, Zimbabwe's minister of environment and tourism, Francis Nhema, was elected to chair the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, where he will preside over discussions on land and rural development. Astonishingly, the UN's African members, whose turn it was to hold the rotating post, could think of no better candidate than one from a country whose agriculture has been largely destroyed by its government's catastrophic policies. Like many other Zimbabwean bigwigs, Mr Nhema himself pocketed a farm that was confiscated a few years ago—and has already let it lapse into ruin.
Lawrence Ndlovu - 5/19/2007
Zimbabwe's annual inflation continued breaking new ground rising to 3,713.9
percent in April signaling that the country's economic woes are far from
over. Figures released by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) Thursday
showed that surged a record 1 513.7 percentage points from 2 200.2 percent
in March to 3 713.9 percent, the highest in the world, in a country where
the majority lives below $1 a day.
On a month on month basis CSO said that prices had prices had risen by 100.7
percent last month after a 50.5 percent rise in March. It attributed the
rise to an increase in prices of domestic power, food, fuel and commuter
transport fares. The rise in prices would be a further blow to Zimbabweans
where four out of five people are out of work.
Analysts predict that inflation would continue in its upward trend in the
coming months. Analysts say Zimbabwe still has to import grain after a
successive pathetic agricultural season since the takeover of land from
commercial farmers began in 2000.
Zimbabwe has only managed to produce 500 000 tonnes of maize against a
requirement of 2.4 million tones, a sign that the central bank will import
In his monetary policy review presentation in January, central bank Governor
Gideon Gono said that inflation would continue rising, but taper off to
between 300-400 percent by the end of the year.
In its World Economic Outlook for April 2007, the International Monetary
Fund said annual inflation was set to end the year at 2,879.5 percent,
before hitting 6,470.8 percent in 2008.
The World Bank described Zimbabwe's woes as unprecedented to a country that
is not at war.
Zimbabwe, whose economy contracted 4.4% last year, is its seventh year of
recession blamed on mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe's government.
The veteran leader denies the charge instead blaming the recession of
successive droughts and "illegal" sanction.
by Fanuel Jongwe Thu May 17, 11:26 AM ET
HARARE (AFP) - A new pricing law approved by Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe as inflation exceeded 3,700 percent could worsen rather than relieve
widespread shortages and price rises, analysts warned Thursday.
The National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act was signed into law on
Monday as part of a clutch of measures aimed to rein back galloping price
rises which reached a new high of 3,714 percent in April.
It provides for the appointment of a commission "to monitor price trends of
goods and services, producing price monitoring reports and initiating
corrective measures in cases of unscrupulous businesses affecting Zimbabwe's
But analysts were doubtful that the law would rein in the inflation spiral,
warning instead the new controls could worsen shortages of basic goods and
spawn a burgeoning black market.
"What we have noticed in the past is that if controls are imposed, goods
disappear from the formal market only to reappear on the black market at
more than double the official price," Best Doroh, a financial analyst with
leading finance group ZB Financial Holdings, told AFP.
"The law is not addressing the issues. We need to make sure industry is able
to produce and bring the economy back on track."
University of Zimbabwe economics professor Tony Hawkins said the measure may
only bring short-term relief to Zimbabweans sinking deeper into poverty as
inflation spiral shows no sign of relenting.
"The incomes and pricing act will only have a short-term effect and I don't
think it's very different from all previous measures such as the price
controls which have failed," Hawkins said.
"Inflation may slow down for a few months but it will bounce back. The new
law is more (about) threats than anything else."
Harare-based independent economist Thomas Mutswiti said Zimbabweans should
"brace ourselves for the worst."
The annual inflation rate has been on a roller-coaster ride since December
2004 when it shot up to 622.8 percent. In March this year it breached the
2,000 percent mark to reach 2,200 percent.
Zimbabwe's Central Statistics Office attributed the latest jump, reported
Thursday, to the soaring cost of domestic power, meat, vegetables, gas and
other fuels, as well as passenger transport.
The inflation rate translated into a 36-fold price increase in the year
since April 2006.
The state-run Herald newspaper hailed the commission to be appointed by
Mugabe under the new law as "an essential part of the process to slow down
inflation and eventually bring it down to single digits while at the same
time minimising its damage on the pocket of the ordinary person by dealing
with incomes as well as prices".
The government in April last year unveiled an economic blueprint to try and
revive the country's moribund economy within nine months by, among others,
generating foreign currency, attracting more foreign tourism and improving
The initiative has yielded little so far.
In July last year, the central bank slashed three zeros from the country's
currency in another bid to curb inflation.
The southern African country is in the seventh year of economic recession
characterised by high inflation, massive unemployment and chronic shortages
of foreign currency and basic goods like fuel and the staple cornmeal.
Central bank chief Gideon Gono has described inflation, often referred to as
"our number one enemy" in official speeches, as "the economic HIV."
Thu 17 May 2007, 13:45 GMT
By Nelson Banya
HARARE, May 17 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's inflation, which reached a new record
high in April, has been stoked by chronic food shortages caused by the
country's controversial land reforms, the head of the central bank said on
Official figures released on Thursday showed prices in the southern African
country jumped annually to a record 3,700 percent in a stark sign of the
economic turmoil blamed on government policies.
The cost of living doubled in April -- touching a record 100.7 percent
month-on-month from 50.5 percent in March -- while the annualised figure
climbed from 2,200 percent previously.
The Central Statistical Office said prices of food -- which makes up a third
of the consumer basket used to calculate inflation -- domestic power, fuel
and public transport fares had contributed to the significant rise in price
levels in April.
The inflation spiral is the clearest sign of a deep economic crisis, blamed
on President Robert Mugabe's policies such as the seizure of white-owned
farms to resettle landless blacks.
Addressing parliamentarians in Harare on Thursday, central bank Governor
Gideon Gono said disruptions of commercial farming, shortages of key inputs
and poor planning meant Zimbabwe -- formerly a regional bread basket --
would continue to struggle to feed itself.
Mugabe's government, which blames declining agricultural productivity on
poor rains, has declared 2007 a drought year.
"When the governor urges a stop to the disruption of farming activity, he is
told to stop delving into areas that do not concern him, but I do not need
to lose sleep thinking about sourcing foreign currency to import food," Gono
"I hardly have a good night's sleep, yet we've got the land."
Zimbabwe's government has lined up more staple grain imports following
another poor farming season, and Gono said the food deficits would continue
to stoke inflation.
Apart from maize, Zimbabwe faces a huge wheat deficit amid revelations this
week by the agriculture ministry that only a tenth of the targeted 76,000
hectares of land had been put under the winter wheat crop.
"Inflationary pressures emanating from the food sub-category reflect food
insufficiency and related supply bottle-necks," said Gono.
The U.N World Food Programme had earlier stated that at least 1.4 million
Zimbabweans would require food aid until this month, but agencies expect the
number to grow after a failed summer crop in the 2006/7 season.
Mugabe denies his land reforms have created an unprecedented economic crisis
and instead blames Western sanctions.
"Even with the drought, why should we be importing food today when we've got
the land and have put in place drought mitigation measures?", asked Gono.
By Violet Gonda
17 May 2007
At a summit in Ghana on Thursday the Minister of Justice Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs Patrick Chinamasa, launched a blistering attack on
radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe and called on the African
Commission to help close them down. Speaking during a session on the status
of human rights in Africa, the government minister went on a propaganda
campaign claiming media groups and non-governmental organisations have a
western agenda that is pushing for regime change.
Chinamasa said there is a massive misinformation drive by SW Radio Africa,
Voice of America's Studio 7 and Voice of the People (VOP). He then asked the
Commission to put pressure on the countries hosting these radio stations to
shut them down.
Arnold Tsunga the Deputy Chairman of VOP, said it was clear that the regime
was trying to play psychological games to try and win the sympathy of
Africans but delegates were not fooled but actually shocked. He said: "It is
not surprising that a minister from Zimbabwe can come before the African
Commission and stupefy and make a complete mess of himself in terms of
attacking the rights to freedom of expression in Zimbabwe which is enshrined
in the African Charter of Human and People's Rights."
Responding to this latest attack on the media our station manager Gerry
Jackson said: "Chinamasa has conveniently left out the fact that radio
stations are forced to broadcast from outside, because independent radio is
not allowed in Zimbabwe."
Armed para military forcibly shut down Zimbabwe's first independent radio
station Capital Radio, started by Jackson in 2000. All the equipment was
seized after just 6 days of tests broadcasts. Despite broadcasting
regulations brought in at the time, that government claimed would allow for
licences for private broadcasters, there are still no independent stations
Abel Chikomo from the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) said it
was really worrying to see the Minister showing these strong views during
the plenary session.
In a wide ranging speech to the Africa Commission, Chinamasa also admitted
to the plenary that the police did use violence against opposition officials
on March 11 and added that the authorities will continue to use 'appropriate
force' to crush acts of "terrorism." He claimed between 2000 and 2005 more
than 650 NGOs were created with a regime change agenda, and the government
will make every effort to fight the siege it is under.
Sources in Ghana said the minister's statements were so threatening that the
mood among Zimbabwean delegates from civic society changed during the
meeting. It was feared that some of the civic groups were going to withdraw
their names from the list of speakers as a result of the threats. But Jacob
Mafume the Chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said the NGO
community and members of the civic society were going to submit their
presentation, which will show the true extent of repression in Zimbabwe. The
groups are also receiving a lot of support from other human rights bodies in
Zimbabwe has seen an escalation of violence against perceived opponents of
the government in recent weeks. Scores of opposition, civic activists,
church leaders, journalists, student and lawyers have been beaten and
arrested. The orgy of violence has resulted in 4 people killed since March,
while 32 MDC members have been in custody for almost two months.
Mafume said that the government has shown no repentance and continues to
brutalise innocent people.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
17 May, 2007
Instead of redeveloping agriculture and assisting the remaining white
commercial farmers producing food for the nation, the government has
continued with its policy of violent evictions known as jambanjas. While
food shortages intensify and experts say the situation will worsen, a
campaign of illegal and violent removal of white farmers continues. The
evictions, originally carried out by resettled farmers and war veterans, are
now under the control of the military. This new strategy completely bypasses
the rule of law. And former farm workers now unemployed have become
outcasts, working for bread and a cup of tea.
John Worsley Worswick from Justice for Agriculture told us about 400 white
farmers who remain in Zimbabwe. Of that number only about 250 are still
productive. Worswick explained that government enacted Amendment #17 to make
sure evicted farmers could not legally challenge their removal. But the
farmers found a loophole which allowed them to get their day in court. So
the government resorted back to its original violent jambanja tactics.
Worswick said there is a farmer under siege in Chisipite just outside
Harare. And 2 farmers, 1 from Karoi and the other from Vic Falls, were
evicted last week.
Army officials and soldiers who are part of Operation Maguta, the military
management of farm activities, are now being used to take over farms
illegally. Worswick said the open display of arms is a common feature.
Farmers under siege become too scared to resist. The whites are also seen as
a threat by government because they witness what is happening in the rural
areas, and the many deaths from malnutrition.
An outcast society of unemployed farm workers has developed from the
evictions. According to Worswick, they are rewarded for any work they get
from the new black owners with some bread and a cup of tea. No money changes
hands at the end of the month. The lucky ones might receive a 10kg bag of
maize as a month's wages.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Lance Guma
17 May 2007
Mugabe's security forces maintained a crackdown against student activism in
the country by abducting two more student leaders at the Bindura University
of Science Education (BUSE). Student Representative Council president
Tinashe Madamombe and Secretary General Moreblessing Mabhunu were abducted
by suspected state agents at the old site campus in the morning. A statement
from the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) said the abductors used a
vehicle whose registration details they could not verify. Coincidentally the
two leaders were the subject of a ZINASU alert barely a day ago, describing
how they were being threatened with death for attending a ZINASU general
council meeting over the weekend.
Details of the abduction remained sketchy late Thursday. The Vice President
of the SRC Chiedza Gadzirayi and other concerned students confronted
university security staff for an explanation on the abductions. The Chief
Security Officer there, identified as Muchena, suggested to the students
that the two had been taken to Bindura Central Police Station for
questioning. University authorities are said to be accusing the students of
conniving with a visiting student delegation from South Africa to organise a
demonstration on campus. Two other student leaders from the university of
Zimbabwe, Prosper Munatsi and Munyaradzi Chikorohondo were arrested last
week Thursday following clashes with riot police. One other student was
expelled while 8 others suspended. All are candidates in ongoing student
Meanwhile two leaders from the Zimbabwe Youth Movement, Collen Chibango and
Wellington Mahohoma, were released from custody Thursday following their
arrest on Tuesday. The two were arrested for allegedly inciting 60-80
vendors to resist arrest after police tried to pick them up for 'illegal'
vending. The youths questioned the decision in light of the harsh economic
environment in the country and were arrested. They say they were assaulted
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
May 17, 2007 09:33 AM
But a divided movement in which freedom fighters fight amongst
themselves cannot win over any substantial section of the population. Only a
united movement can successfully undertake the task of uniting the country,
this is an extract from the former South African president Nelson Mandela's
Reflections in Prison page 15.
When I read
this I said for sure this is the kind of struggle which Zimbabweans
should engage in, a struggle were all progressive forces set aside their
selfish agenda and put a cause for a liberated Zimbabwe ahead as a way of
ensuring that the present repressive and illegitimate government leave
office as of yesterday. This is a principle the Nelson Mandela's generation
incorporated and eventually made the apartheid regime history by fighting
arms akimbo with the association of Indian Communities.
In September 2005, a squabble within the vibrant opposition MDC left a
loophole and a huge opportunity for ruling ZANU PF to maximise its rigging
and divide and rule tactics. Tensions became rampant within opposition
supporters as they were left in a dilemma of choosing which faction to stand
with and in the process the ZANU PF has managed to rig the senates elections
and all by-elections held under such suspicions.
A lot of stories have been circulated to the cause of the split though
not the focus in this presentation. The MDC Mutambara's Mkwananzi in less
than a month addressing Zimbabweans in South Africa said MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai asked the MDC leadership to go for an in-house elections to
determine whether to go for senates elections or not and the vote would
decide the course of action. When Tsvangirai who was vying for a protest of
the elections lost, took his jacket and left the Harvest House (MDC offices
On the other side the Secretary General of the MDC Mutambara Welshman
Ncube is alleged to have been the man fighting against going for elections
and on the last minute Ncube said the party would go for elections, then
divisions emerged with others saying Ncube was bribed by the ZANU PF to go
for elections whilst some saying Tsvangirai's dictatorship had caused
Now Zimbabweans are faced with another election in less than 11
months. ZANU PF has already chose its candidate or imposed a candidate upon
in the name of Robert Mugabe now (83) who has ruled and ruined the country
in the past 27 years with many even wishing that things would have been
better if Ian Douglas Smith had continued as president as problems persist.
Reports of rigging are reported to have already started, Zimonline published
an article saying teachers were sent forms to fill their political
affiliation and to me it is a way of preparing for another massive rig were
all teachers who will fill ZANU PF as their party which highly likely to
happen as teachers in the past been attacked by National Youth Militia and
ZANU PF for allegedly supporting MDC
As I write this article the government has withheld releasing of
inflation figures, pegged at 2200% by April 2007.Unemployment is above 80%
and if one loses the job chances of getting another job in Zimbabwe are
zero. This has made the public even more dependent on its repressive
government which made the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union planned strike a
The MDC as agreed in the Save Zimbabwe campaign banner are to chose a
candidate in less than few months to fight it with Mugabe. The veteran
leader defeated Tsvangirai in the 2002's most disputed elections, though the
candidate has not been named it is alleged the MDC Tsvangirai has already
cleared the air by saying Morgan will be the candidate. The MDC Mutambara
wants conditions set which a candidate who will only meet conditions fill
This is an election were the two MDC factions should unite. By the end
of this week I will be receiving feedback from the MDC Mutambara's faction
from its South African branch as to who they propose should be the
candidate. Nqabitho Dube the information officer has confirmed this
Tribalism is one of those key issues which is rocking the MDC
supporters since the split some have been made to hate Morgan more than the
way they hate Mugabe. The same applies to Ncube. The most surprising thing
is that Welshman Ncube's name has been spoken of a lot more than the way
Tsvangirai's name has been spoken about. This is one of the challenges
facing such a candidate in waiting to unite the party and defeat Mugabe next
year who has been
defeated before but won through his arch rigging expert Tobaiwa
Mudede, the Registrar General.
The two MDC factions have agreed that they will not go for elections
next year until a new democratic constitution is in place to ensure a level
ground. Two days ago one of the online news organisation quoted Emmerson
Mnangagwa as saying the MDC had been given three conditions to adhere to as
preconditions for talks by the South African president Thabo Mbeki who is
mediating the talks under SADC's commands during his temporary chairmanship
of the house of Assembly. The conditions are:
1) MDC should acknowledge that Mugabe is the legitimate president of
2) MDC should acknowledge that Mugabe won the 2002 elections
3) MDC should denounce violence
And Mugabe's condition is to bring sanity back in Zimbabwe in both
economy and politics. Efforts to get confirmation from Mbeki's office were
If the conditions are to be taken as serious, not as a mere ZANU PF
propaganda message of pre-empting dialogue impending, Mbeki's efforts are
almost futile as the MDC can never deceive its constituency which elected it
in power by saying Mugabe won the 2002 elections were hundreds were abducted
and some killed. Some of the cases are still pending to date in the High
Court hence accepting those conditions will mean the appeals will be
withdrawn and sanctions given to Mugabe for cheating in elections will be
null hence declaring Mugabe persona no grata.
This is another litmus test for the MDC strength and survival in
Zimbabwean politics; challenges are in choosing one candidate, uniting the
votes, protesting elections if a new constitution is not in place and last
resisting Mugabe's bribery tactics-meaning eliminating all opportunists who
would want to sacrifice the cause of the struggle for their individual
Above all Mandela's message remains that a divided movement in which
freedom fighters fight amongst themselves cannot win over any substantial
section of the population. Only a united movement can successfully undertake
the task of uniting the country.
May 17, 2007, 17:00
President Thabo Mbeki says meetings between him and Zimbabwe's government
and opposition parties are progressing well. Mbeki has been mandated by the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) to facilitate talks between
Zanu(PF) and the opposition Movement of Democratic Change (MDC).
Mbeki says it is critical for the Zimbabwean government and opposition
parties to resolve problems. Speaking in the National Assembly, he added
that he could not give further details before reporting back to the SADC.
Mbeki says South Africa will have to live with influx of Zimbabweans into
the country. He says the country is committed to helping the rest of Africa
resolve its problems. Mbeki says the resolution of problems in Sudan's
Darfur region will play a significant role in the direction that the whole
continent will take. He says many conflict areas are looking to South Africa
to help them.
Ending human rights violations
Mbeki has dismissed suggestions that the government is spending money in
conflict areas instead of at home. Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently called
on Mbeki to put human rights abuses at the centre of his mediation efforts
between Zimbabwe's Zanu(PF) and the MDC.
Georgette Gagnon, the HRW spokesperson, says Mbeki has a chance to push for
an end to massive human rights violations that are fuelling Zimbabwe's
crisis. Gagnon's comments accompanied a report released by the HRW in
Johannesburg on the Zimbabwean government's ongoing crackdown on its
John Kufuor, the African Union chairperson and Ghanaian president, also said
the African leaders were concerned about the political situation in
Zimbabwe. Speaking before his meeting with Mbeki at the Union Buildings
recently, Kufuor said Zimbabwe was embarrassing the continent. He said the
beating of opposition members in Zimbabwe was worrying factor.
May 17, 2007, 20:15
President Thabo Mbeki says South Africans will have to learn to live with
the influx of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe. Responding to questions in
the National Assembly today, he said it was not possible to separate the two
countries by a big wall.
Political analysts believe some three million Zimbabweans may be in South
Africa illegally after fleeing an economic meltdown in that country.
Referring to talks between the Zimbabwe government and opposition parties,
Mbeki said talks were progressing well. He added that it would be improper
to divulge details of the engagement before speaking to Southern African
Development Community countries. The region mandated him in March to act as
facilitator in talks between Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change.
Mbeki says South Africa is committed to helping the rest of Africa resolve
its problems. Mbeki says the resolution of problems in Sudan's Darfur region
will play a significant role in the direction the whole continent will take.
He says many conflict areas are looking to South Africa to help them. Mbeki
has dismissed suggestions that the government is spending money in conflict
areas instead of at home.
May 17, 2007 11:18 AM
SOUTH Africa on Wednesday evening deported 1 800 illegal Zimbabweans
by a train, a senior official at Lindela repatriation centre in Krugersdorp
confirmed yesterday referring questions to department of Home Affairs Acting
Head of Communication, Jacky Mashapu.
The group was deported for allegedly breaching immigration
law by entering South Africa without visas and some did not have
"Chief what are you saying about Zimbabweans. Yes we deported them
yesterday evening because our mandate is to deport all the illegal
immigrants that come here. We don't deport Zimbabweans only but all the
nationalities who are here illegally", Mashapu said.
International Organisation for Migration (IOM) recently reported that
more than 100 000 Zimbabweans were deported from South Africa last year and
the rate of deportation is rising sharply. More than 50 000 Zimbabweans were
deported between January and March this year alone, most between the ages of
18 and 24 years.
Nearly 800 children, aged between 11 and 17, were returned to Zimbabwe
in the same period. But the numbers deported are just a fraction of the
total number of Zimbabweans coming to South Africa.
South Africa deports between 600 and 6 000 Zimbabweans every week from
the Lindela repatriation centre, with the country being the destination of
choice for illegal Zimbabwean who number over three million, according to
An immigration official at the repatriation centre said a group of
1800 illegal Zimbabweans was deported for allegedly breaching immigration
law by entering South Africa without visas and some did not have passports.
"Yesterday evening we deported 1800 Zimbabweans by train and we still
having more 3000 Zimbabweans here (at Lindela) who are still here awaiting
deportation. These are people who have breached immigration laws by entering
South Africa without visas and some did not have passports", an official
President Thabo Mbeki's government has admitted that it was fighting a
losing battle against the influx of Zimbabweans fleeing poverty and
repression in their homeland, with many deportees returning within weeks.
By Carole Gombakomba
17 May 2007
Despite various reports that Zimbabwe's junior and senior residents at state
hospitals around the country have gone on strike, demanding more pay and
better working conditions, Amon Siveregi, a junior resident at Parirenyatwa
Hospital, said residents are still reporting to work.
Siveregi, also a member of the Hospital Doctor's Association, insisted that
residents plan to stick to their plan to only go on strike at the end of the
month, if the government does not address their grievances. But, the
president of the Hospital Doctors Association, Kudakwashe Nyamutukwa, told
Studio 7 that some residents had already stopped going to work.
Siveregi, however, said the ongoing strike by nurses and a few doctors, has
led to the deterioration of conditions and services at state hospitals in
Harare and Bulawayo.
Siveregi told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio Seven for Zimbabwe,
that resident sometimes don't show up for work, not because they are
striking, but because they cannot afford the high transport costs.
Reporter Carole Gombakomba also spoke with labor expert Mike Sambo, who said
although the junior and senior residents deny being on strike, the situation
in some hospitals indicates some form of job action by the healthcare staff.
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Tactical failings of Zimbabwean opposition have played into the hands of the
By Norman Chitapi in Harare (AR No. 112, 17-May-07)
While Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party is making it as hard as possible for
the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, to campaign, let
alone win, the synchronised presidential and parliamentary elections
scheduled for next year, the MDC is just as complicit in its own downfall,
political analysts say.
Draconian laws, such as the Public Order and Security Act, render it almost
impossible for the MDC to address its supporters; intelligence service-run
electoral institutions, like the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, tilt the
ballot in favour of the ruling party; while the government's monopoly over
the four radio stations and the sole TV channel ensure opposition voices are
Since the beginning of the year, the government has moved up a gear. It has
become blatant in its attacks on pro-democracy movements, which it accuses
of fostering what it calls "a regime change agenda" and stirring up civil
unrest in the country. Since the arrest and brutal attack on opposition
leaders and their supporters for trying to attend a banned rally on March
11, government pressure on the opposition has intensified.
Up to 600 MDC and civil society activists have been detained, assaulted and
tortured since the abortive rally, dubbed "Black Sunday". They include
ordinary people, journalists attempting to cover opposition activities and
lawyers trying to secure their release. Police have routinely ignored court
orders to allow those beaten access either to their lawyers or medical
"It is a state gone berserk. It is the ultimate break down of law and
order," lamented a political analyst in Harare.
This followed the arrest and beating up of four senior Harare lawyers on May
9 for demonstrating against the detention by police of two of their
colleagues who were seeking bail for detained opposition activists.
Southern African Development Community Lawyers' Association president
Sternford Moyo, a veteran lawyer in Harare, said they would challenge the
deliberate subversion of the law by the state. He deplored the attack on
lawyers going about their duty to ensure every Zimbabwean had access to
Analysts, however, said these attacks could not go on forever, noting that
violence of this kind had a limited impact. The analysts said there was
enough resentment in the country against the ruling party over the
collapsing economy, which the opposition could easily tap into if it was
organised and able to change its strategies.
"Therein lies the biggest problem for the MDC," said another analyst in
Harare. "Instead of organising its local structures, even without holding
rallies (they are banned), the MDC is more visible when complaining against
police brutality or in its messages delivered to foreign audiences."
The analyst said the MDC leadership put too much faith in the influence of
the international community instead of local voters. "We all know [President
Robert] Mugabe doesn't care what the West says. After all, he believes they
want him out of power. But more than that, the MDC is addressing the wrong
audience. Who reads the Washington Post or the South African Sunday Times?"
he asked, referring to foreign newspapers that carried recent speeches by
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
He said the MDC was failing to set up strong structures in rural areas to
challenge ZANU-PF. Referring to the MDC 's performance in its first
parliamentary election in July 2000, the analyst said the party had won
several seats in rural areas despite the worst electoral violence ever
witnessed in the country.
He also said the MDC apparently didn't have a coherent programme for rural
areas. He said this made it hard for it to penetrate countryside
communities, which have received land free from the ruling party. He said
the MDC was also failing to counter claims by new ZANU-PF landlords that it
planned to return land to white commercial farmers.
"While ZANU-PF is able to talk about the land," said the analyst, "the best
the MDC can talk about are human rights and democracy. While all this is
valid, it is a hard sell to ordinary people. They want seed, fertiliser,
draught power and transport."
Another analyst said the MDC was also losing support in urban communities
because of its "negativity". He said the party was focused on negative
factors without offering a better vision and purpose to restore people's
"It is well to expose ZANU-PF's incompetence and corruption," he said. "But
surely they must show us the way forward. There is too much negativity in
"When they tell their supporters that elections under the current
constitution produce 'predetermined outcomes', this breeds apathy among
voters. Why should people vote when you already know the result? It becomes
very difficult to gauge their level of support and how far the outcome is a
result of rigging."
Along with inducing voter apathy, the analyst said the MDC wasted too much
time deciding whether to participate in elections, "This shows bad
leadership. Indecision is a definite no-no in leadership. People don't owe
any politician a living and want to vote and get on with their lives."
But when leaders threaten to boycott elections one day and the following day
turn around to say to people "go and vote for us", they are not doing their
party any good service. This has worked badly for the MDC in the past and
ZANU-PF has probably won by default.
People are looking for new and positive strategies to beat ZANU-PF and those
can only come from leaders - leadership cannot be subcontracted to the moral
influence of foreign governments, he said.
Norman Chitapi is the pseudonym of an IWPR reporter in Zimbabwe
COMBINED HARARE RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION (CHRA)
P.O Box HR 7870
145Robert Mugabe, Third Floor,
Tel/Fax: +263 4 705114
Cell: 011 862 012, 011 443 578
0912 249 430, 0912 924 151
15 May 2007
THE City of Harare and the controversy-ridden Zimbabwe National Water
Authority (ZINWA) have both come up with controversial systems of looting
resources from the already burdened residents in the low-density suburbs by
making them pay for services they do not use.
Residents of Newlands have been furious for the past fortnight with the City
of Harare after it asked them to pay for sewerage connections yet the
majority of them have not connected to the main sewer system. They still use
their septic tanks which are emptied once they fill up.
Their main concern is that they are being asked to fund a non-existent
service, which they are not receiving. ZINWA has notified them that they
will be billed for sewerage charges in spite of their septic tanks.
At the same time more residents are seriously worried that the City of
Harare is going to bill them $400 000 each for new lidded bins. This
information is contained in notices on April rates bills send out to
residents in the low density suburbs. It indicates that residents will be
billed the full cost of the new lidded plastic bins. It is suspected that
the deal is benefiting someone in the City administration since the matter
was never put to public tender, as far as residents are concerned.
Thereafter the bins will be ready for collection from district offices.
CHRA is worried and is investigating how this came into being and who
authorized this mandatory way of ripping ratepayers' money. The public has
never been consulted on this and the Associated urges the City of Harare to
make public its position regarding this clear attempt to rob the public of
their hard-earned cash. Those mostly concerned are the pensioners who have
no source of money to pay for additional charges.
"CHRA for Enhanced Civic Participation in Local Governance"
For further details please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org, and on mobile 0912
924 151, 011 862 012, 011 443 578 and 011 612 860 or visit us at Exploration
House, Third Floor, Corner Robert Mugabe Way and Fifth Street.
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 05/18/2007 03:47:32
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) chief Gideon Gono said Thursday he was under
pressure to quit, and conceded that the printing of trillions of dollars has
not helped to turn around the economy.
Gono, talking to MPs, also hit out at his critics in parliament and the
ruling Zanu PF party who opposed his economic revival strategy, saying they
He singled out those who were calling for the establishment of a foreign
currency allocation committee for most criticism.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance headed by Guruve
North MP David Butau (Zanu PF) opposed the managing of forex by one man and
said Gono must also account for the RBZ's quasi- fiscal activities in a
report presented to parliament this week.
The Zanu PF economic committee tabled similar recommendations at the party's
conference in December last year.
Gono appeared before the Budget and Finance Committee on Thursday to face
"They say the governor is big-headed, he has got ambition. Some hide behind
the camouflage of the legislature and bring out their spears so that the
governor can be moved. Not before my term is finished!" Gono thundered.
"We offer no apologies for interfering in all spheres of the economy. We
offer no apology for doing the unorthodox. Those who wrote economic
textbooks never experienced Zimbabwe's land reform."
The governor said for as long as parastatals, local authorities and other
government departments went to the RBZ to beg for money, he would have an
interest on how the money is spent.
"I hardly have a good sleep at night. I sleep facing the stars.why should we
be importing food when the RBZ has printed trillions and trillions? We are
being told that we cannot produce because we are susceptible to drought,"
Gono also rejected the formation of foreign exchange allocation committees
to manage the scarce foreign currency in the country, calling such a
He said: "It is therefore, illogical and misguided for some sections of
society to recommend to government the formation of foreign exchange
allocation committees thinking that this would in itself solve the
prevailing foreign currency shortages."
Zimbabwe is going through its worst economic recession in history, with
record inflation of 3714 percent and massive unemployment.
President Robert Mugabe and the Reserve Bank blame the decline on sanctions
imposed by Western countries, but his critics point to the botched land
reform exercise which saw bands of Mugabe's loyalists march on commercial
farmland, driving out white farmers and disrupting agriculture.
HARARE, May 17 (IPS) - ''In terms of the number of women in government, yes,
we are making progress. But if you dig deep about why these women were
appointed you will find that they are only important when it is voting
time,'' says Zhean Gwaze, a gender activist and journalist.
She contends that women in government are simply there to serve the
interests of male politicians. Human rights activist Alice Chibwe agrees:
''We have a female vice-president but what matters is the job that she is
doing. She is not doing any qualitative work to further the interests of
''This is one of the reasons why the realization of gender equality by 2015
becomes a big joke," says Chibwe, who works for the Southern African Human
Rights Trust (SAHRIT), a non-governmental organization with a special
interest in human rights work. The United Nations' Millennium Development
Goals set 2015 as the target year for the advancement of gender equality.
In Zimbabwe, gender disparities characterize all aspects of development. The
country is ranked 109th in the global gender-related development index. This
reflects the generally low status of women with respect to access, control
and ownership of economic resources and positions in decision-making
Gwaze says Zimbabwe has ''a long way to go before achieving gender equality.
In terms of politics, we have not even reached the 30 percent quota system
in parliament. The proposed 50-50 percent parliamentary representation by
2008 is unattainable''. In the 150-member parliament only 23
parliamentarians are female.
According to Chibwe, the country ''has made some strides in adopting
policies and a legal framework that promotes gender equality but the
socio-economic situation in the country impedes progress''.
In 2004, the government adopted the National Gender Policy (NGP). The policy
seeks to promote the integration of gender perspectives into the design,
implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes. The
policy was developed with the assistance of the United Nations Development
As part of the NGP, President Robert Mugabe this year promulgated the
Domestic Violence Law. It was drafted by the government, NGOs, the UNDP,
female politicians and women's organizations. The law seeks to provide
protection and relief to victims of domestic violence.
Levels of domestic violence in Zimbabwe are alarmingly high. Police records
of 2006 show that one in every four women suffers abuse during her lifetime.
Almost 60 percent of murder cases going through the High Court are related
to domestic violence.
The UNDP is this year supporting the development of the Zimbabwe National
Human Development Report. The report will be focusing on gender and
development to give a precise account of those aspects which stifle the full
participation of women in decision-making.
The UNDP is also actively assisting with women's participation in national
budgetary processes in Zimbabwe. It wants to link governance and poverty
reduction to the participation of women in decision-making processes. As a
result of this move, the government in April this year launched the Gender,
Budgeting and Women's Empowerment Programme.
Gwaze feels strongly that the adoption of the latest gender programme is a
way for the government to buy time in the current political crisis gripping
The enactment of these policies aimed at eradicating discrimination against
women is yet to be seen in practical terms. ''I feel men still have more
advantages than women,'' states Clotilda Chidawanyika, the founder and
managing director of Transafrik, a Zimbabwean money transfer company.
''Yes, the government is doing something but it can do better. For a woman
to be successful, she has to put in twice the effort and go an extra mile in
order to be recognized. There are more chances in life for men than there
are for women. I think 2015 is too early for Zimbabwe, unless there is a
radical change in policies and politics.''
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) still has a male face. Investing and
dealing in stocks has largely remained a male domain and only a small number
of women deal on the ZSE. Of the 35 stockbrokers involved in the day-to-day
trading on the local bourse, only four are women and three of these are not
yet registered brokers.
But while many people in Zimbabwe complain about society's token approach to
gender equality, Chipo Mtasa, the managing director of a leading Zimbabwean
leisure company, begs to differ. ''It was initially not easy for me to be so
visible, but I made a strong effort to establish good contacts from the very
''I never found it a challenge being a woman in business and I never felt
marginalized. For me, the playing field has been even,'' says Mtasa.
Women are not alone in the fight for gender equality. Padare/Enkundleni
Men's Forum is a male anti-sexist organization dedicated to fighting gender
''We are working to develop a men-based social movement that contributes to
the elimination of discrimination against women. We will do this through the
promotion and facilitation of ideas and actions that enable the
participation of men in the struggle for a gender-just society,'' says the
organization's advocacy officer, Eddington Mhonda.
The law enables Zimbabwe to fulfil its international obligations as required
by the various international human rights instruments, including the UN's
Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women
Zimbabwe is also a signatory to the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) Declaration on Gender and Development of 1997. Under the declaration
countries committed themselves to the achievement of a target of at least 30
percent women in political and decision-making structures by 2005 and the
promotion of women's access to resources.
By Blessing Zulu
16 May 2007
Non-governmental organizations from African countries resolved to place
Zimbabwe's alleged human rights violations high on the agenda of an African
Commission on Human and People's Rights session that opened Wednesday in
Their resolution called on Harare to stop "harassing, intimidating,
assaulting, arresting and detaining human rights defenders, including
members of the legal profession."
The NGOs urged Harare to repeal repressive laws such as the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, also known as AIPPA, the Public
Order and Security Act, or POSA,, and the Broadcasting Services Act, among
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, representing Zimbabwe, was expected to
present shortly a report defending the government. Sources said the report
denies allegations of human rights abuses, and blames the country's economic
crisis on Western sanctions.
"The undeclared and declared sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, investor flight,
shortage of basic commodities, a range of externally generated inflationary
pressures and sustained diplomatic isolation orchestrated by Britain and its
allies against Zimbabwe are negatively impacting on Zimbabwe's security,
political and economic well being, hence the quality of life and the
fundamental rights of its people," the Zimbabwe government report said.
Harare also accuses Britain of funding the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change in hopes it will reverse the land reform program if it
Britain has refuted this charge, as well as Harare's contention that
sanctions are the cause of Zimbabwe's economic woes. Western sanctions
against targeted specific government and party officials, including
President Robert Mugabe.
The legal advisor for the Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute of
Southern Africa, Wilbert Mandinde, representing NGO's at the summit told
reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that human rights
abuses in Harare are escalating and the Commission must intervene.
But Zimbabwe's Ambassador to the United Nations Boniface Chidyausiku, told
reporter Zulu that NGO's are misrepresenting facts on the situation in
Secretary General Tendai Biti of the Movement for Democratic Change faction
led by founding President Morgan Tsvangirai, refutes Harare's claims that it
is a creation of the West.
Mail and Guardian
17 May 2007 09:15
Zimbabwe's cost of living doubled in a single month in April as
annual inflation surged to 3 713,9%, a further sign of economic turmoil in a
country where four in five people are jobless.
The Central Statistical Office (CSO) said on Thursday prices
jumped by 100,7% last month after a 50,5% rise in March, when annual
inflation had been 2 200,2%.
Raging inflation is the most visible sign of a deep economic
crisis which critics say has been worsened by President Robert Mugabe's
policies, such as his seizure of white-owned farms to redistribute to black
An economic recession has seen unemployment soar to around 80%
and sparked shortages of foreign exchange, food and fuel, leaving many
Zimbabwean families unable to feed themselves.
The CSO said prices of domestic power, food, fuel and commuter
transport fares had contributed to last month's increase.
The central bank early this year projected the inflation rate
would come down to between 300% to 400% but analysts said those projections
would not be achieved. The International Monetary Fund had seen inflation
accelerating to 3 000% by the end of the year.
Economic analysts see more price pressures from the imports of
the staple maize to plug a huge deficit this year. They say the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe could be forced to scrounge for foreign currency on the black
market, further weakening the country's already battered currency and
pushing up food prices.
Zimbabwe's foreign currency crunch worsened after donors and
investors shunned Mugabe's government over its policies, such as the land
On Saturday, the European Union and the United States -- which
have imposed travel and financial sanctions on Mugabe's government -- were
critical of Zimbabwe's election to chair the United Nations Commission on
A US official said Harare was unsuitable to head the agency
because its agriculture, which used to be the breadbasket of the Southern
African region, was now on its knees.
Mugabe has defended the land reforms as necessary to redress
colonial land imbalances that left 70% of the most fertile land in the hands
of 4 500 white farmers, and accuses Western powers of sabotaging the
Lack of farming inputs
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe farmers have only planted 10% of the
targeted winter wheat crop hectarage just two weeks before the recommended
planting deadline lapses, official media reported, stoking fears of bread
The black farmers have complained of lack of farming inputs such
as fertilisers, chemicals, seed and fuel, and some lack commercial farming
A parliamentary portfolio committee on agriculture was told that
the target of 76 000 hectares -- which would have produced 400 000 tonnes of
wheat -- would not be achieved due to shortages of fuel and fertiliser.
Wheat is the country's second staple grain, after maize. -
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
17 May 2007
Posted to the web 17 May 2007
YET again, there has been inadequate planning and preparation for the winter
wheat crop, a development that could translate into a huge deficit for the
grain next year.
It is apparent that we have learnt little from the experiences over the past
six years, where the country has been found wanting when it comes to
planning and preparation for winter wheat production.
This week, some of the key people in wheat production portrayed a gloomy
assessment of the winter wheat prospects for this year.
Secretary for Agriculture Dr Shadreck Mlambo and the District Development
Fund director-general, Mr James Jonga, told the Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee on Lands and Agriculture that the targeted winter wheat hectarage
will not be achieved.
Out of the projected 76 000 hectares, only 8 000 hectares have so far been
put under wheat.
The deadline for planting wheat is May 31. We are racing against time.
This is a bleak outlook, which will necessitate an expensive grain
importation programme at a time when the country is grappling with a
shortage of foreign currency.
There is a litany of problems, which include shortages of key inputs such as
fertilizers, tillage and irrigation facilities, all stemming from dismal
planning and preparations.
We believe the DDF director-general is being forthright by clearly stating
that we must not fool ourselves and give a sunny projection of the winter
wheat prospects when in actual fact there are no tractors to till the
Another problem is that while the Government has over the past years
provided farmers with heavily subsidised inputs such as diesel and
fertilizers to stimulate production, these have sadly been the subject of
abuse by some farmers.
These unscrupulous farmers have diverted the diesel and fertilizers meant
for winter wheat to the parallel market for selfish gains.
There should be a mechanism in place to plug all loopholes and make sure
that all the inputs are put to productive use.
Zesa Holdings had played its part and guaranteed wheat farmers 20 hours a
day of uninterrupted power supply.
Electricity load-shedding has had a negative impact on wheat production in
the past years but with the dismal preparations, the efforts of the power
utility could be in vain.
We take this opportunity to advise the authorities concerned not to rush and
talk about the hectarage to be cropped under wheat without getting a clear
picture of the available resources.
This has been the case with winter wheat over the years.
New Zealand Herald
5:00AM Friday May 18, 2007
If the Australian Government really cared about the people of Zimbabwe it
would desist from futile grandstanding in the form of preventing its
cricketers touring there. Instead the Government would take decisive action
by removing the murderous Robert Mugabe regime from power.
History shows sporting boycotts only do two things: punish sports fans and
deny competitors the opportunity to display their skill.
Prime Minister Howard has labelled Mugabe a "grubby dictator" and accused
him of using "Gestapo" tactics". Howard has correctly noted that Mugabe has
presided over the "systematic and brutal oppression of civil society and
The Mugabe regime has summarily killed and beaten untold people and Zimbabwe
now has the lowest life expectancy rates in the world. On average women die
at the age of 34 years - remarkably, this is down from 62 in 1980.
The futility of Australia's opposition to Mugabe underlines much of what is
wrong with international affairs. In the end, talk of no tolerance towards
despots is just that.
The typical response to dictators who go about summarily monstering their
own people is feigned concern following an isolated news report. Then the
world gets busy doing nothing about it, apart from the occasional sports
Perhaps this is a bit too harsh. Mass murders of civilians by their
governments normally rate a mention at the United Nations and it will often
denounce such actions, sometimes even in very serious tones, but in the end
it will almost always "do" nothing.
It's a hard job saving thousands of innocent people from cruel deaths. It
would require setting foot beyond six-star accommodation with top notch
debating facilities. Downright miserable that would be.
Thus, the innocent folk who are born in countries ruled by tyrants keep
"copping it on the chin".
The number of people killed in internal conflict and through wanton acts of
dictatorial violence since World War II (170,000 million) exceeds the total
number of people killed during both major wars.
There are appalling examples of governments massacring their own people. In
1994 the genocide in Rwanda resulted in 800,000 people being murdered in 100
days; Pol Pot killed two million; and in the 1970s 300,000 people were
murdered in Uganda while 1.5 million were killed in Ethiopia. It is easy to
multiply such examples.
In all cases, the rest of the world knowingly stood idly by - although some
of these events sparked "furious" debates at the UN.
Time for a perspective check. The devastation occurring in Zimbabwe should
be used to put in place a clear framework regarding the obligation of the
international community to prevent the killing and starvation of citizens by
their own governments.
As international law stands, the main obstacle to getting rid of tyrants who
kill thousands of their own citizens is state sovereignty. However, this
concept is overrated. Invisible lines on the earth's surface have no moral
standing and can't trump moral standards which are of universal application.
In reality, the main disinclination to stop preventable mass killings of
strangers in other parts of the world is that they are strangers and are in
other parts of our world. It is true that the world (or parts of it) has, on
rare occasions, stepped up and drawn a line in the sand and said no to
despots, stopping them from more mass killings.
Successful interventions include Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia in 1979;
Tanzania's intervention to remove Idi Amin from Uganda in the same year and
Nato's invasion of Yugoslavia in 1999. The success of these interventions
and the absence of criticism of such action demonstrate that state
sovereignty is no barrier to humanitarian interventions. In fact it shows
respect for state sovereignty is an excuse, rather than a reason for the
inaction of the world.
At present, humanitarian intervention is opportunistic and expedient in
It is time for a fundamental global re-think to this approach. Humanitarian
intervention should be transformed into a duty upon the world's nations.
Human life, especially when there are thousands at stake, is too important
to leave to chance. If this problem is not expressly addressed now, legal
and social commentators are likely to be addressing the same issue into the
We should not wait until then. It is only reasonable to believe that waiting
will result in future generations seeking solutions while lamenting the
killing of another 170 million or more people by their own governments.
Surely, one century with 170 million preventable deaths is sufficient reason
to seriously consider fundamental reform of the global approach to
government-sponsored killings of their own people.
So when is humanitarian intervention appropriate?
This is not difficult. Humanitarian intervention should be mandatory in
cases of large-scale government-sanctioned killings. The Security Council
should be given the authority and responsibility to muster Coalitions of the
Willing, perhaps selected by ballot, to supply the necessary resources.
If it fails in its role, citizens from countries ruled by despots should be
conferred automatic citizenship rights to Security Council member nations -
nothing like self interest to stimulate action.
There's a job already waiting for the Security Council in Zimbabwe. Rather
than wasting time on futile cricket bans, Australia needs to act on its
supposed newfound concern for the people of Zimbabwe and petition the
Security Council to authorise an international force to remove Mugabe.
This is something that would uplift cricket and non-cricket fans alike.
* Dr Mirko Bagaric is a lawyer and author of Critical Perspectives of
International Law and Human Rights (to be published by University Press of
America in late 2007).
The Age, Australia
May 17, 2007 - 6:49PM
Zimbabwean accusations that Australia is funding terrorism and Prime
Minister John Howard is a war criminal are nonsense that no one believes,
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says.
Zimbabwe's Information and Publicity Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told ABC
Radio that Mr Howard had Gestapo-like tendencies and was "the international
The outburst comes after Mr Howard banned Australia's one-day cricket team
from touring to the southern African nation in September because of the
despotic regime of President Robert Mugabe.
"Everybody knows those kinds of statements are not to be taken seriously. It
is so obviously not true," Mr Downer told reporters in Adelaide.
"I think making those kinds of statements, coming from the mouth of a
minister of a government, tells you a great deal about what sort of
government we are dealing with here.
"This is a dictatorial regime, which has plunged its country into almost
total poverty and has abused severely the human rights of anybody who dares
oppose or criticise the government.
"I think it is a tragedy what has happened in Zimbabwe and I think the
sooner that the regime of President Mugabe comes to an end the better."
By Jonga Kandemiiri
17 May 2007
Five members of Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly, are still under
in police custody, following their arrest Wednesday in Harare, while
peacefully demonstrating against the proposed 18th amendment to the
constitution and demanding a new constitution.
Police had reportedly arrested 10 people at the protest, that attracted
around 100-people around African Union Square in Harare, NCA officials said.
In March, NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku fractured his arm, when, together
with top civic and opposition officials, including founding Movement for
Democratic Change president Morgan Tsvangirai, he was badly beaten by police
while attending a prayer meeting called by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.
National director Ernest Mudzengi of the NCA, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri
of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the five being held at Harare Central
Police Station, had not been charged, but had been badly beaten.
Mudzengi said one of the members who sustained serious injury from the
beatings, was admitted to a hospital, but under police custody.
Channel 4, UK
Friday 18 May 2007
Reporter Evan Williams and Director Siobhan Sinnerton reveal startling
claims that the Mugabe Government is using the supply of AIDS drugs and food
aid to gerrymander upcoming elections.
As Zimbabwe spirals ever deeper into repression and starvation, an
Unreported World team just back from three weeks travelling undercover
through the country reveals startling claims that the Mugabe Government is
using the supply of AIDS drugs and food aid to gerrymander upcoming
Reporter Evan Williams and Director Siobhan Sinnerton travel as tourists to
avoid the scrutiny of Mugabe's pervasive intelligence service. They meet
members of the political opposition, women who have been imprisoned and
tortured, families desperate for food and struggling with 2000 percent
inflation, and the tragic households headed by children orphaned by the AIDS
Williams and Sinnerton arrive just as the government intelligence service
launches a new campaign of repression, abducting and beating scores of
opposition members across the country.
Arriving at the country's second largest city, Bulawayo, the team talk to
church leaders and members of a new underground movement. The picture they
are given is bleak: on top of the repression, a lack of food, jobs and
medical services is causing massive hardship. Williams and Sinnerton
interview women activists who say they were jailed for days with their
babies and subjected to humiliating abuse.
One opposition MDC Party MP claims that you're more likely to get access to
government food and AIDS drugs if you are a supporter, or member of, the
ruling Zanu-PF Party. She says if you are not a Zanu-PF supporter you will
have more trouble obtaining these life-saving services. She claims this also
includes the delivery of food from international aid organisations.
Avoiding detection by Mugabe's ubiquitous secret police and intelligence
services, the team are taken into rural villages rarely seen by the outside
world. They find that severe shortages of food and medicine is particularly
hitting the orphans left behind by the ravages of AIDS. One priest tells
Williams that there are tens of thousands of orphans in the countryside
struggling to survive. He's trying to set up an orphanage for some of them
but can't afford food or clothes.
Their team's final leg is a tense journey through the capital Harare. Here,
a human rights lawyer tells Unreported World that the police are now
systematically torturing suspected opposition members and preventing legal
representation for those taken in.
It's not just suspected opposition activists who are being targeted. One
journalist describes suffering four days of brutal torture at the hands of
senior police officers. His 'crime' was trying to report for an opposition
newspaper and he was warned he would be killed if he continued working. He
was arrested at the same time as a TV journalist who was abducted and killed
for allegedly sending TV pictures of the police beating of opposition
leaders out to foreign broadcasters.
In Harare's sprawling townships Williams and Sinnerton find plenty of brave
but tragic child-headed house-holds struggling just to find food every day,
following the death of both parents from AIDS.
As the team leaves the country, it's clear that in what was once one of
Africa's wealthiest, best educated countries entire generations are being
"dumped to die" by a callous, corrupt government.
May 17, 2007 09:10
AMWritten by Gavin Chait
In 1492 Rodrigo Borgia, a Spanish cardinal, is said to have bribed all his
rivals the equivalent of millions of dollars in order to become Alexander
VI, the 215th Catholic Pope. In comparison to Nigerian elections, he got in
Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua is rumoured to have spent more than US$ 100 million
securing his election as president. Most Nigerians had an inkling he would
win as he never bothered campaigning.
"His victory was like Maradona's Hand of God goal that allowed Argentina to
win their 1986 quarter-final World Cup match against England. When Yar'Adua
won he said, 'Don't blame me for winning, I didn't declare myself
president.' Maradona cheated, but the referee was the one who allowed it."
Father Matthew Kukah is an engaging speaker. He has been a member of
Nigeria's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was part of the commission
that investigated their electoral system, and is the vicar-general of the
Catholic Diocese of Nigeria. And he is in Cape Town to give his impressions
of the recent election.
"It has massively expanded the vocabulary of Nigerians," he laughs.
"Everyone is learning new words: the election was a 'charade', it was
'fraudulent'. Everyone has bought into the belief that these were the worst
elections in Nigerian history. Which is why it is interesting that (South
African) President Thabo Mbeki was the first to declare the elections free
and fair and to congratulate Yar'Adua on his success. I don't know what he
sees that we don't. Comparisons with Zimbabwe will not be mentioned," he
Kukah was alluding to Zimbabwe's dictator, Robert Mugabe, who, after
stealing the last pretence at elections in his country in 2003, received
South African observers and ministers who also declared him freely elected.
South Africa has abandoned any interest in promoting democracy in Africa
over creating the delusion of African unity.
And everyone wants to know, "What does this mean?"
At the end of 1998, for reasons it will take too long to explain, I was
walking through the muddy, slushy and muggy central part of Mozambique
attempting to get back to South Africa. I had fallen in with a group of
Nigerians travelling without passports and also making the long trip south.
Sunny, one of the chaps, was about seven foot tall and had a voice that made
James Earl Jones sound like a whiny school-girl.
General Sani Abacha had recently died of what was being called a heart
attack. The Nigerians laughed cheerfully at this. "No," said Sunny, "he had
made the other generals angry, so they put poison in his Burantashi (a
native Hausa-Fulani virility drug) when he was with some prostitutes." Then
they continued in even more surprising fashion. "It's like Saro-wiwa, he
also upset the wrong people."
Ken Saro-wiwa was a famous Nigerian novelist from the Rivers Province in
Southern Nigeria. The province houses the Niger Delta and is the site of
Nigeria's oil wealth. They are one of the largest producers in the world yet
more than half of Nigerians live in absolute poverty, below the UN's measure
of US$1 per day. Saro-wiwa created the Movement for the Survival of the
Ogoni People (MOSOP) in support of the Ogoni's demand for Shell, which has
the concession for oil extraction in the delta, to distribute the wealth
more fairly and to clean up their astonishingly messy operations there.
He, along with 12 others, was arrested and executed. Most, including myself,
had always believed he had been killed because of his confrontation with
The Nigerians considered this naïve. Hadn't Saro-wiwa been a mainstay of the
institution until then, hadn't he been a popular television producer and
local star? No, he would never have achieved such success without the
support of the right people. He was stealing from them. They punished him.
I repeat this not to promote different versions of history but to indicate
that, whatever else I may have learned about Nigerians, the most important
is their love of drama, intrigue and conspiracy. Nigeria's version of
Hollywood, Nollywood, is the third largest producer of films in the world.
Most of them are predictable stories along the theme of conspiracy, murder,
drama, intrigue, happy ending.
So Father Kukah's presentation is like a Nollywood movie.
My notes are a mess, but I've extracted what I can.
Nigeria is comprised of 36 states, 764 local councils, over 400 ethnic
groups and is largely divided between Muslim north, and Catholic south. 140
million people live in this chaotic nation. And they have exactly one
important industry. Oil.
It is owned by the government. Whoever owns the government owns the oil. And
pockets all the money. Spending a few hundred million to secure that largess
"And you don't start campaigning right away. Whoever wins an election will
get to serve both terms allowed under the constitution. No-one loses a
second-term election," says Kukah. "This allows candidates to spend a long
When Abacha went the "right" people decided to bring Olusegun Obasanjo out
of retirement to be president. Obasanjo had previously been a military
dictator of Nigeria but handed over to the civilian government kicked out by
Sani Abacha. The "right" people felt that Obasanjo would be easily pliable
and easy to push out at the end of one term.
Obasanjo had different ideas. He filled the cabinet and all the provinces
with supporters and went on to hold the country for a second term.
Approaching the end of that term he called on Kukah to be secretary of a
commission to investigate the Nigerian electoral code. Hundreds of lawyers
spent months creating a massive document to ease fraud at the ballot and
"But this was all a ruse," says Kukah. "He wasn't interested in reforming
the election process. Abacha wanted to stand for a third term and change the
constitution." But here everything fell apart. Nigeria's parliament rejected
that proposal and, for good measure, all the hard negotiated plans for
"The election was not stolen on election day," says Kukah. "Box stuffing,
intimidation, violence, voter roll fraud, killings ... these are all
symptoms. The election was stolen right from the beginning."
Obasanjo started looking for a way to maintain power while not in
government. His party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP), called for
applications. It cost US$ 35 000 merely to be considered to receive an
application form to request permission to apply to become a candidate for
the PDP. To win the right to contest the elections cost a fortune. It became
a bit like venture capital. Shadowy figures would put up the money on
condition that certain things be agreed in advance.
At the same time Obasanjo began the second phase of his machinations. The
government appointed Financial and Economic Crimes Commission declared that
they would publish a list of public figures guilty of corruption. Many of
the most attractive candidates found themselves listed. This went to court.
"Court after court declared that the commission did not have the right to
simply publish names. Investigations must be conducted by the courts, not
appointed commissions. But it was done. The burden of proof was not
necessary and many candidates were simply excluded."
Then the last phase. "Poll after poll, organised by the PDP, declared that
General Mohammadu Buhari and Umari Yar'Adua were neck and neck. By April 14
Nigerians were already traumatised and confused," says Kukah.
Yet one of the most popular candidates, Vice-president Atiku Abubakar, was
entirely neglected. Now he and Buhari are seeking to contest the election
through the various electoral tribunals.
"How can you contest in the tribunals if the tribunals all belong to the
government?" asks Kukah. "The tribunals tell us that Yar'Adua is good, but
in what way? I've travelled in the state where he is senator, and it is no
different than anywhere else in Nigeria."
So, now what? Can anything beneficial come out of this election?
"Notice that the three candidates were all Muslims. I think that it is very
encouraging that so many Catholics were prepared to help Muslims steal the
presidency. It indicates that we are crossing our cultural divides," says
Kukah, possibly seriously.
"The legitimacy of the elections won't come from the ballot; it will come
from the actions. In one state the people went to the courts to have a
senator who they accused of stealing an election removed. After three years
the courts agreed, but then the people didn't want him to go, because he'd
done a good job. The real test will be whether there is electricity for more
than four hours a day, whether there is sanitation, or running water. If
Yar'Adua delivers this, then he will be a good president."
Professor Laurence Schlemmer, a South African analyst of African politics,
once said, "Africans are very sceptical of politics and politicians. They
know that all politicians lie. So they are pragmatic and vote for the ones
who tell the best lies. It is only in more developed countries that you
react in shock when politicians sometimes don't do exactly what they
Nigeria is a populous nation filled with creative and ambitious people. The
only reason it remains poor is because of corrupt and venal politicians.
With that much money up for grabs it is no wonder that fraud abounds.
Whoever won the elections would have bribed their way into that position.
At which point, during question time, the agitated young man sitting to my
left leapt to his feet and ranted on, "MOSOP and Shell in Ogoni Land ... you
are helping Shell ... Ogoni people power ... something in 1965 ... again in
79 ..." oh, hell, I give up.
I turned around. Suddenly the whole room was waving placards. Kukah looked
worried. Perhaps the man has spent too long wondering in the corridors of
power and some of the mud has splattered. Perhaps. But Nigeria is a chaotic
soap-opera and everyone is related in some way to each other. The invective
being shouted back and forth showed the incredible interconnectedness of the
Until one person's success does not entirely infuriate another, leading to
violence and repression, Africa will not stabilise and grow.