White farmers in Zimbabwe have
dismissed as "madness" and "completely divorced from reality" an invitation
by the governor of the country's central bank to go back to their land. The
offer, made by Gideon Gono in a televised speech on Friday night, was widely
seen as a government acknowledgement that its land reform policy had failed.
Last week President Robert Mugabe finally admitted the country needs food
after months of refusing supplies, though he blamed drought for shortages
that have left half the population hungry. "In order to ensure maximum
productivity levels, there is great scope in the country for promoting and
supporting joint ventures between the new farmers with progressive-minded
former operators," said Gono in the three-hour broadcast, during which he
announced a 31% devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar. He added that skilled
whites and other new investors would be given guarantees of uninterrupted
tenure of five to 10 years, backed by government force to prevent any
disruption on the farms. Only about 300 of 4,500 white farmers remain on
their farms after a five-year campaign to take their land that has seen 15
farmers killed and thousands of farm workers beaten and evicted. Far from
being distributed among landless peasants, many of the farms have ended up
in the hands of Mugabe's relatives and cronies.
that the evicted farmers could return as managers in partnership with the
new occupiers was ridiculed by those white farmers still in Zimbabwe. "It
would be madness to go back while there's no law and order," said Ian Kay,
who was badly beaten when his tobacco farm in Marondera was invaded. "Even
if they were serious, it's not as if people can just take up where they left
off. The farms have been looted, vandalised, and the equipment sold off."
Food production has plummeted since the white farmers' expulsion as farms
have deteriorated into wasteland.More than 5m people are on the verge of
starvation, according to the World Food Programme. Many of those evicted
have set up in neighbouring countries. "The government seems to think they
can beat us, kill us, trash our houses, attack our women, then expect us to
waltz back in to help them out when they make a hash of things," said
another white farmer. "Gono is living in a dream if he thinks farmers are
going to go back without security of tenure," said David Coltart, legal
affairs spokesman for the opposition. Even Mugabe, who boasted last year of
a "bumper harvest" and said the country would "choke" on international food
aid, has admitted his government would accept food from the United Nations
if it came without conditions.
From The Star (SA), 20 May
spy waiting to testify in Zim
The South African spy held in Zimbabwe
is physically healthy and it is hoped he will be released when he has
finished testifying in court against the last of the Zimbabwean officials he
allegedly recruited. It is understood that the spy's two adult sons recently
visited him in prison in Harare and reported that he was being properly
cared for. He is a member of the SA Secret Services and was arrested at
Victoria Falls in December after a Zimbabwean official lured him across the
border with Zambia. The Zimbabwean government has not charged the man.
Zimbabwe's national director of public prosecutions, Joseph Musakwa, was
recently quoted in the Zimbabwean media as saying he was only being held as
a witness against the officials he allegedly recruited to provide
information. Three of them, including the previous consul-general in
Johannesburg Godfrey Dzvairo, have already been convicted and sentenced to
prison. But the case against John Karidza, the head of security of Zanu PF,
is dragging on because of complications.
From The Mail & Guardian
(SA), 22 May
Former Zim minister 'did not smuggle money
A second prosecution witness on Saturday denied that Zimbabwe's
former finance minister Chris Kuruneri smuggled out funds to buy a mansion
in South Africa and flouted the country's tough foreign-exchange laws.
Christopher Hayman of Cape Town, South Africa, told the High Court in Harare
that Kuruneri invested in various properties in South Africa with proceeds
from consultancy work he did outside Zimbabwe before he was appointed
Cabinet minister. Hayman, a property developer, said he helped Kuruneri to
open a bank account in South Africa and invest in various properties through
Choice Decisions, a company of which Kuruneri was director. "Dr Kuruneri
said these were free funds earned even before he came to Zimbabwe," Hayman
said under cross-examination by defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange. "I was led
to believe the funds came from a source outside Zimbabwe and until it is
proved otherwise I will continue to work on that presumption." He said he
met Kuruneri in April 2002 and that the former minister appointed him to
manage his investments in South Africa.
Kuruneri faces seven
counts of breaching Zimbabwe's exchange-control laws by allegedly
transferring $500 000, £37 000, ?30 000 and R1,2-million to buy and renovate
an eight-bedroom mansion. The former minister has denied the charge, saying
the house was bought and rebuilt by a South African investment company of
which he was director. He said he bought shares in Choice Decisions 113 and
invested in the other properties with proceeds from consultancy work he did
outside Zimbabwe. A South African lawyer, Lorenzo Aldo Dominico Bruttamesso,
testifying in the high-profile trial on Friday, said Kuruneri moved money
legally from his account in Harare to buy shares in a property in Cape Town.
Bruttamesso represented Dunmow Limited, a South African company that sold
shares for a house in Cape Town three years ago to Choice Decisions 113.
Samkange said Kuruneri had life savings in Spain, which he moved to South
Africa after he was included on the list of Zimbabwean politicians placed
under targeted sanctions by the European Union and the United States. "It is
these funds that the accused invested in South Africa," the lawyer
Judge Susan Mavangira on Thursday convicted Kuruneri of
breaching the country's citizenship laws after he confessed to holding a
Canadian passport in addition to a Zimbabwean diplomatic passport.
Zimbabwean law does not allow dual citizenship. The judge is due to sentence
Kuruneri for flouting citizenship laws at the end of his trial. Kuruneri was
arrested in April last year at the height of the Zimbabwean government's
anti-graft crusade, becoming the senior-most official to face charges of
corruption. He has been in remand prison since. The trial is to continue on
Monday with further testimony from prosecution witnesses.
Mugabe to appoint nephew as top cop Mon 23 May 2005
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is set to appoint his nephew as the police
commissioner in a re-organisation of the top brass in the security forces
before he retires, ZimOnline has learnt.
Well-placed sources said
Mugabe will appoint his nephew, Innocent Matibiri, Zimbabwe's top cop when
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri leaves the police force at the expiry
of his term in September this year.
The appointment of Matibiri,
who is the son of Mugabe's late cousin, Gabriel Matibiri, is part of wider
changes planned by Mugabe in the police, army and spy Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) to place the key security organs in the hands of
"absolute loyalists" before he steps down in 2008, the sources
"The President will reshuffle key personnel in the police,
army and CIO before he retires," said one source, who insisted on not being
named for fear of victimisation.
He added: "The
first move will be the replacement of Chihuri by Innocent Matibiri as the
Police Commissioner. Being a close relative, Matibiri is of unquestionable
The source could not say whether the change would see new
army and air force commanders being appointed but said it was most likely
CIO director general, Happyton Bonyongwe, might be replaced in the
Chihuri was being targeted to go first after he
allegedly involved himself in the bitter struggle over who will succeed
Mugabe when he steps down, the source said.
George Charamba could not be reached for comment on the matter yesterday
while Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, under whose portfolio the police
force falls, said he was not qualified to speak about the matter because the
appointment of police commissioners was Mugabe's prerogative.
"That is the discretion of the President and I do not tell him who to
appoint as commissioner of police," said Mohadi.
also comes from Mugabe's rural Zvimba home area, was last November
catapulted to the rank of deputy police commissioner ahead of more seasoned
officers, in a move that raised eyebrows.
Before his promotion,
Matibiri was an assistant commissioner attached to the police protection
unit that provides guard services to senior government
According to police sources, it was Matibiri who
assaulted British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell in Brussels in 2001.
Tatchell had attempted to effect a citizen's arrest on Mugabe saying he
wanted the Zimbabwean leader charged for violating human
Normally, assistant commissioners must serve as senior
assistant commissioners before they can expect appointment as one of the
three deputy commissioners. But this is more a matter of practice than a set
down rule of the law enforcement agency.
According to the
sources, the longest serving of the three deputies, Godwin Matanga, was
ruled out of succeeding Chihuri because of his "sometimes" principled and
An officer, who worked with Matibiri at the
police protection unit, described him as an "overzealous defender of Mugabe
and the system." - ZimOnline
Campaign against vendors spark riot in opposition
stronghold Mon 23 May 2005 CHTUNGWIZA - A police officer was seriously
injured in riots which broke out in the opposition stronghold of St Mary's
suburb in Chitungwiza town, 30 km south of the capital at the weekend after
residents protested against the ongoing campaign against informal
Another eleven police officers were also hurt in the
skirmishes as the police fired teargas canisters to disperse angry mobs
protesting against the raids which began last week in what the police said
was a clean-up exercise against criminals.
A bus belonging to
state-owned transport company Zimbabwe United Passenger Company had all its
windows smashed before it was overturned by the angry mob angered by the
government crackdown against the informal traders.
eyewitnesses, violence erupted when police officers stormed Chigovanyika
Shopping Centre in the suburb and started demolishing stalls. The police
also confiscated vegetables and second-hand clothing from the
"They were taking our goods and we had to beat them up,"
said Thomas Nyakudya, one of the vendors at Chigowanyika.
were using stones and anything we had because this is our only source of
living they have destroyed. Do they want us to be thieves?" he
The protests in the suburb were only put down after the
police called for reinforcements from the anti-riot squad.
police say the raids are meant to flash out criminals who are promoting the
illegal foreign currency market blamed for sabotaging the country's economic
recovery efforts. - ZimOnline
FEATURE: Chinese inflict huge blow on struggling Zimbabwean
industries Mon 23 May 2005 HARARE - Fifty-four year old Alois Kashiri,
from the poor suburb of Kuwadzana in Harare, has worked in the shoe
manufacturing industry for the past two decades.
employer has had to cut down on the number of working hours he and his
colleagues have to put in because demand for the locally-produced shoes has
suffered a battering partly due to lower disposable incomes among consumers
and also to a very large extend because of the invasion by Chinese retailers
who sell cheaper shoes and other commodities.
"Some of my workmates
were lucky. They are now in Malawi where my former employer established
another business. I have known no other trade since 1982 and I certainly do
not have any alternative way of earning a living," he said, anxiety written
all over his face.
"I used to repair shoes during weekends to
supplement my income but just the soles to stick on an old pair now costs
more than a complete pair of shoes from the Chinese shops. So even if I
stock the replacement soles, very few people will come to have their shoes
"People now prefer to buy the "Zhing Zhong" shoes that
last until the next month-end then they buy another cheap pair. The Chinese
have ruined us," said Kashiri.
In central Harare, forty-five
year widow Marah Mugombi, sells shoes and clothes at a flea market along
Union Avenue in the city.
"I am increasingly finding it difficult
to clear my stocks. Sometimes the pairs of shoes will stay for months.
Before, my wares hardly lasted two weeks. It's all because of the Chinese,"
But in the past week, Mugombi's greatest worry has not
been slow-moving stock but a vicious on-going crackdown by the police
against flea market traders with several market stalls destroyed and goods
worth millions of dollars seized by the police.
The police say
they are on a "clean-up" exercise to rid the capital city of criminals and
illegal traders selling stolen goods and also running the illegal but
thriving foreign currency black market.
Observers say the
"clean-up" exercise is nothing but a shameless attempt by the government to
protect Chinese traders who complained to President Robert Mugabe that the
flea markets were taking away a huge chunk of their business.
With the West having slammed the doors on Mugabe three years ago for failing
to uphold democracy, the rule of law and human rights, the Zimbabwean leader
has responded by looking East to "bust sanctions" by the United States,
European Union, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Responding
to vigorous courting by Mugabe himself to invest in Zimbabwe, Chinese
businessmen in the last three years descended on Harare and the country's
other major cities, setting up shop literally at every street corner to sell
cheap but substandard clothing and electronic goods now cynically nick-named
"Zhing Zhongs" in local parlance.
Chinese investment in the retail
industry has however not helped lift Zimbabwe out of the economic crisis.
Inflation stands at 129.1 percent, the highest such rate in the world. Basic
commodities like maize-meal, sugar and flour remain in critical short supply
while 70 percent of the country's labour is out of employment after five
years of severe economic recession.
But if the truth be told, the
Chinese are not the only ones to have failed crisis-sapped
Initially, Mugabe courted the Malaysians. But the
long-suffering Zimbabweans say they saw little in terms of benefits from the
marriage with the Malaysians.
And then after the 2002
presidential polls when Zimbabwe experienced a serious fuel crisis due to
the dearth of foreign currency, it was Muamar Gadaffi's well-oiled Libya
that the authorities touted as the deux ex machina for the troubled southern
The Arab African nation saved the day but only
temporarily. The romance ended after Zimbabwe failed to meet it obligations
because of a crunching lack of forex.
Then in 2004 it was Iran,
dubbed part of the "Axis of Evil" by United States President George W Bush
which was touted as the saviour. Again the results of the much-talked about
union are yet to manifest themselves.
But with the closure of flea
markets to protect Chinese shops, most ordinary Zimbabweans say it is the
traders from the emerging Asian economic giant who have caused the greatest
And it is not only the odd flea market trader complaining.
Large textile and shoe manufacturing firms also say they may soon be thrown
out of business because of the "Chinese" invasion. - ZimOnline
FEATURE: Mugabe resuscitates "colonial evils" Mon 23 May
2005 HARARE - Fifty-year old Taruvinga Chitakunye of Chivi, a poverty
stricken district in rural south-eastern Zimbabwe, gazes into the empty
space in the distant horizon.
Chitakunye appears lost in deep
thought as his mind races to a bygone era when, as a young man, he could see
his parents harvest enough from the fields to feed the family and afford to
have excess food for sale to the local Grain Marketing Board.
But now the eight-hectare field, exhausted after years of constant use, is
failing to cope with the demands of producing enough for the family, let
alone for sale to the Grain Marketing Board.
Soon, Chitakunye must
also deal with a greater challenge - paying land tax to the local rural
authority for that unproductive patch of land.
Last December, rural
district councils with the full blessings of the government, announced that
they were re-introducing land tax for rural households.
tax, similar to the much-hated colonial "hut taxes" which formed part of the
national grievances that sparked the first uprising against the white
settlers in 1897, are pegged at Z$70 000 per household, which impoverished
villagers here say is way above their reach.
Mugabe's ZANU PF government, triumphant after a seven-year bush war,
abolished the taxes immediately after assuming the reins of power in 1980,
arguing the taxes were a remnant of the colonial machinery designed to
oppress the black majority.
During the 1970s war of independence,
liberation fighters used the land taxes as a rallying point in denouncing
the illegal white settler regime of Ian Smith. Now, twenty-five years down
the line, the villagers say they feel betrayed at the government's
re-introduction of the same land taxes.
"We don't know how they
expect us to pay the taxes when we are struggling to feed ourselves," said
Zimbabweans have virtually survived on food handouts
from the international community in the last five years after Mugabe
disrupted the key agriculture sector after seizing large farms from the
small white community for redistribution to landless blacks in what the
Zimbabwean leader said was a correction of a historical
The 81-year old Mugabe, once revered as a luminary on
the African continent, stands accused of wreaking what was once one of
Africa's most vibrant economies.
But despite the shrill voices
of protest from the peasants, the government is determined to go ahead with
the taxation plans.
"Councils will make their own decisions to levy
taxes with approval from the government. The tax levels are the
responsibility of individual councils," says Fred Ndlovu, a policy, and
finance adviser for the Association of Rural District Councils which
represents 58 rural administrative councils scattered throughout the
The cash-strapped Zimbabwe government, battling a severe
five-year old financial crisis, is finding it difficult to support rural
district councils, the engines of growth in rural areas.
Observers say, in order for the councils to function properly, government
has allowed them to reintroduce the land taxes to support infrastructural
development in rural areas and pay traditional leaders.
heads who were taking home $40 000 a month prior to the disputed election in
March, now earn $400 000 per month after the government awarded them hefty
increases in a bid to buy their support. Chiefs now earn about $1.5
But for Chitakunye and many other villagers here, the move
to reintroduce the land taxes is one more slap in the face by a government
they say has long lost its marbles. - ZimOnline
POLICE recently arrested more
than 100 women, including an 80-year-old grandmother, in Silalatshani,
Insiza constituency - a drought-prone area in Matabeleland South - for
demonstrating outside Chief Sibasa's homestead after accusing the
traditional leader of politicising food aid.
The government has empowered
chiefs in rural areas to lead in the identification and distribution of food
assistance to families in need and the MDC has cried "foul", claiming that
the chiefs were using powers bestowed on them to deny their party supporters
aid. The allegations have since dismissed by the government as false. In
Filabusi, the MDC is claiming that the arrested women are its members who
had gone to the chief's homestead to inquire on the uneven distribution of
food aid in light of the acute shortages of basic food stuffs, including
grain, cooking oil and beans - which are currently being handed out by the
State. A policewoman at Filabusi Police Station, who refused to be
identified, said the women had been charged under the Public Order and
Security Act (Posa). "They were arrested on Friday under Posa and released
the same day after paying $25 000 admission of guilt fines," the officer
said. In Harare, Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka yesterday corroborated
his colleague's statement, saying the women had engaged in an illegal
demonstration outside the chief's house. "We arrested a number of women
for engaging in an illegal demonstration although the facts of the matter
are still sketchy at the moment," Mandipaka said.
MDC losing candidate for Insiza in the March 31 elections, Siyabonga
Malandu, said the women were arrested after they went to seek an explanation
on the "biased manner" in which the chief was distributing food aid in the
area. Malandu lost the Insiza seat to Zanu PF's Andrew Langa in the recent
parliamentary polls. "Initially four people were arrested on Thursday
when they went to the chief's home and the rest were told not to bother the
chief, but to approach the MDC through their candidate for the March
elections, if they needed any food assistance," Malandu said. He said the
unequal distribution of food aid by the chief was testimony of the much
talked about, in MDC circles, retribution exercise by the ruling party. The
country experienced a poor rainy season this year and will have to import
over 2 million tonnes of maize after recent estimates indicated that
Zimbabwe will have a harvest of around 500 000 tonnes of grain - far short
from the annual requirements of 2,8 million tonnes. The president of the
Chiefs, Council, Fortune Charumbira and the Minister of Local Government,
Public Works and Urban Development Ignatius Chombo, under whose portfolio
traditional chiefs fall, could not be reached for comment last
night. Their mobile phones went unanswered. Meanwhile, the World Food
Programme (WFP) director, Tim Morris, is expected in the country this week
to assess Zimbabwe's food requirements in light of the drought during his
tour of Southern African nations.
POLICE have to date recovered over
$2,2 billion in foreign and local currency and arrested more than 9 000
people in Harare as they intensify operation Murambatsvina to rid the
capital of suspected criminals. The clean up exercise, which has been
received with mixed feelings, started last Wednesday. Police spokesperson
Oliver Mandipaka said they had recovered foreign currency worth $1,4 billion
and Z$850 million when they swooped on illegal immigrants, business people
and shops in the Central Business District. "We found, during the operation,
huge amounts of local currency. We recovered foreign currency to the tune of
$1,4 billion. The local currency recovered amounts to $850 131 310. Most of
the notes recovered, were new and there is an indication of hoarding,"
Mandipaka said. Apart from the money, he said police had also recovered 36
tonnes of sugar and five tonnes of rice from homes in Mbare and Hatfield.
Mandipaka said the police raided six filling stations and confiscated 7 780
litres of diesel and 13 545 litres of hoarded petrol. At least 10 people
were arrested."We have arrested 10 people so far working in cahoots with
some service stations in Harare to hoard fuel and the errant service
stations in question have also been fined for hoarding," he said. Police
destroyed 34 flea markets recently and 30 illegal structures in high-density
areas as efforts to clean up Harare and restore the status of the capital
intensify. Mandipaka said seven illegal immigrants were arrested in the
Avenues area and the department of immigration was working on deporting
them."We rounded up 44 immigrants in the Avenues area, 34 of whom have so
far been cleared because they have legal documents. Three were refugees from
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) whose papers are in order. The
immigration department is working out modalities for the repatriation of the
other seven immigrants," he said.More than 30 people were arrested for
overcharging basic on commodities, three for illegal possession of firearms
and ammunition, 1 332 for illegal vending, 40 for loitering for purposes of
prostitution, 204 for public drinking and four for operating
shebeens. Police also netted 7 930 people for violating traffic regulations.
On traffic offences, about 867 were arrested for overcharging commuters, 370
for driving without licences, 253 proceeding against a red robot and a total
of 409 vehicles were impounded. The impounded vehicles comprise commuter
omnibuses without legal documents for them to operate and unroadworthy
cars."Our position is very clear. The operation will continue. We appreciate
that during the operation the affected people will cry foul, but we
encourage that business should be conducted orderly and legally," said
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
governor Gideon Gono last week went on the offensive, describing the tourism
industry as graft infested and being at the helm of promoting black market
foreign currency transactions that threaten to shred the economy. Gono
declared he would take decisive steps to cleanse the sector of bad
practices, arguing that the first quarter statistics released by the
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) did not tally with foreign currency inflows
from that sector. About US$5 million was received in the first quarter of
this year despite a 30 percent increase in tourist arrivals. However, ZTA
chairman Emmanuel Fundira dismissed the statement in an exclusive interview
with The Business Mirror on Friday pointing out that Gono had not been
adequately appraised about the goings on in the sector. Stressing that graft
cannot be ruled out in that industry, Fundira said the ZTA had given an
accurate tabulation of 452 328 tourists that visited Zimbabwe in the first
quarter, but a significant number of the tourists did not stay in hotels,
hence the wide discrepancies. "He (Gono) has good intentions, but missed
interpretations. We will engage him as an industry to educate each other
because various variables come into play on arriving at the
figures. "There is high cross border trading at entry points like Nyamapanda
and Chirundu. These people choose to stay with friends, but they come in as
tourists. We also have cases where tourists settle bills with an agency.
The figures will not reflect on the hotel's books," Fundira said He added
that arrivals should be looked at in relation with bed occupancies. He said
he supported the central bank's intentions to carry out extensive audits to
unearth possible graft, but emphasised the need to engage accountants with
the requisite knowledge of the industry. ZTA statistics indicate that
Zimbabwe's hotels have a combined capacity of 12 053 beds. Throughout the
period under review, total occupancy remained at 29 percent, reflecting that
61 percent of these were not utilised. The latest impasse regarding the local
tourism sector reflects the shortcomings of the definition given to a
tourist by the ZTA whose debate dominated last year but has since whittled
into oblivion. The ZTA defines a tourist as a visitor who stays at least one
night in collective or private accommodation in a country visited.
DESPITE the ongoing shortages of most
basic commodities in most of Harare's main retail shops, some products
started reappearing unnoticed on the shelves of some shops selling at
reduced government directed prices.
The government swooped down on more
than 28 supermarkets and retailers last week, punishing them with hefty
fines for alleged unauthorised and unjustified price hikes. On Thursday
cooking oil reappeared on the shelves of a Food Chain Group (FCG)
supermarket along Nelson Mandela in the morning after more than a month out
of supply and selling at a reduced price of $16 000 from $22 000 for one 750
ml bottle. "We are now selling cooking oil at a lower price as directed by
government after the supermarket was fined for increasing the price of the
product without notice," a source at the company said. For the greater
part of last week the OK supermarket along Nelson Mandela remained under
siege by consumers that queued to buy sugar at the supermarket. On
Thursday, the First Street Mall entrance of the supermarket was impassable,
blocked by hundreds of consumers that were buying 2kg packets of
sugar. The sugar was being rationed at five packets per person. At one
time there were about 10 uniformed soldiers and a handful of policemen, one
of them yielding baton stick, crowding at the front of the queue as they
contained the queue and alternately bought their sugar in turns. Sugar,
together with other commodities such as maize meal and bread have been
scarce for the past six weeks. Last week queues, that were a nightmarish
feature of the 2003 economic crunch, resurfaced again in the country as the
biting shortages of most basic commodities stretched into their second full
Fuel exporting by profiteers
speeds Zimbabwe's economic meltdown
Bulawayo - Zimbabwe is exporting fuel to Botswana and South
Africa, which is helping to further cripple its badly battered economy. Fuel
exports are part of a plethora of survival strategies and illegal deals that
comprise the burgeoning parallel market in Bulawayo. They rely on government
bungling and the inept management of the economy. A few individuals have
become exceedingly wealthy in the process. It is now widely accepted around
the world that Zimbabwe, once hailed as the bread basket of Africa, has
become a basket case. This was illustrated this week in a pie shop in Robert
Mugabe Way where a meat pie sells for Z$15 000. "That's what I paid for my
house and it wasn't so long ago," said a customer who was buying a pie for
lunch. Z$15 000 would indeed have bought a modest house less than a decade
ago. However, at the present rate of inflation, a pie will probably cost
more than Z$20 000 by the end of this year. The latest data from the
government's central statistics office showed that a Zimbabwean family of
two parents and three children needed Z$2,3 million for basic food and
non-food items. Basic food items cost Z$816 200 several months ago.
Inflation is now at 127 percent. With the minimum wage still at Z$800 000 a
month, even those with jobs now rank with the poor. Only 30 percent of the
available workforce is officially employed.
Luxon Zembe, the
president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, said most of the
country was in survival mode. This has led many Zimbabweans to develop
survival strategies that were often detrimental to the economy and would
make any turn-around programme even more difficult. "We have developed a new
breed of speculators ready to pounce whenever the government bungles," Zembe
said. The government certainly has bungled on the fuel front, pegging prices
at the pump at between Z$3 450 and Z$3 950 a litre. This in a country where
the thriving parallel market exchange rate is now up to Z$3 200 to the South
African rand and where a Botswana pula fetches up to Z$4 300. So, fuel
bought at roughly R1 a litre in Zimbabwe can readily sell in South Africa
for R4 or more. The rand or pula for which the re-exported fuel is sold
comes back into Zimbabwe to be exchanged on the parallel market. One result
has been a recurring shortage of fuel. This is also experienced in maize
meal, sugar and cooking oil, on which price controls have also been applied.
"They simply don't work," Zembe said. Economist and business consultant Eric
Bloch agrees with Zembe. Bloch pointed out that petrol and diesel now had to
be sold at less than their landed prices. "To make any money at all, local
suppliers will have to sell fuel at no less than Z$7 500 a litre," he said.
On Thursday, Gideon Gono, the governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank, again
promised to tackle these problems. He announced the widely expected
devaluation of the local currency by 31 percent, still a far cry from the
parallel-market rate. "Gono certainly seems to be trying to keep the ship
afloat. The trouble is that the government is continuing to drill holes in
the hull," Bloch said.
Harare police target foreigners in crackdown May 22 2005
Harare - Zimbabwean police have arrested 20 foreigners
in Harare in a crackdown on illegal immigrants and criminals, a newspaper
said on Sunday.
"Police in Harare have arrested 20 foreigners from
eight countries for staying in the country illegally under a clean-up
operation aimed at ridding the city of criminal elements," the state-owned
Sunday Mail newspaper said.
Police spokesperson Superintendent
Oliver Mandipaka said the 20 arrested "failed to give satisfactory
explanations on how they entered the country".
illegal immigrants being held at Harare's main police station include
Zambians, Burundians, Congolese, Mozambicans, Angolans, a Malawian, a
Nigerian and a Liberian.
"The operation was launched to arrest and
prosecute foreigners without required documents," Mandipaka told the
newspaper, adding that "there were a lot of illegal immmigrants in the
country and that the blitz would continue.
Foreign nationals in
Zimbabwe have been implicated in various crimes including human trafficking
and trading in foreign currency on the black market.
Pakistani arrested early May is facing charges of conniving with Zimbabwean
immigration officials to run a human trafficking syndicate by producing
UN envoy in southern Africa tour By Nick
Miles BBC News, Johannesburg
A top UN envoy has
started a tour of southern Africa to look at the threat of food shortages
and the impact of HIV across the region. James Morris, the UN secretary
general's special envoy to southern Africa, will visit four countries,
Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Another aspect of Mr Morris'
week-long tour will be to look at the effect of weak government in the
He was appointed UN envoy in July 2002 and is on his fifth
trip to the region.
Mr Morris will
meet government officials and aid agencies in Zambia and Botswana, where HIV
infection rates are among the highest in the world.
Then in Malawi
he will witness the impact of the recent drought that has forced the
government to import hundreds of tonnes of staple foods from neighbouring
But Zimbabwe, which has also been hit hard by drought,
is the country Mr Morris will want to focus on most.
rising unemployment and failed crops mean large numbers of people are
without reliable food supplies.
President Robert Mugabe has blamed
the shortages on what he calls economic sabotage by Western
The opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change,
says it is the president himself who has caused a catastrophe.
Zim aid food 'contaminated' 22/05/2005 21:22 -
Harare - The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) last year
distributed contaminated food to needy Zimbabweans after the food was given
a health clearance permit by the government, a state-controlled newspaper
said on Sunday.
The Sunday Mail said 4 000 tons of corn and soya were
imported from a manufacturer in the United States by the UN agency to feed
people in the southern African country, including children, but was later
found to possess dangerously high levels of lead, zinc and
The paper said the food had been given a Health Clearance Permit
by the government, resulting in its distribution to several urban and rural
"We have had incidences where people complained that some of our
corn soya blend was turning colour after cooking," a WFP spokesperson,
Makena Walker, told the paper.
"The blending was not being done
properly. That factory (that produced the food) has since been closed and we
have isolated all food from the manufacturer. As I speak, probably 800 tons
are waiting for disposal," she added.
The paper reported that after
the food was found to be unsuitable, the UN agency withdrew it and
distributed fresh supplies.
It was not clear how much of the contaminated
food had been eaten. The paper said the effects include "reduced
intelligence, impaired memory, weakness and the paralysis of the wrists and
It said the issue was likely to make the government "suspicious"
about receiving further handouts from the UN agency.
the head of the UN body, is due in Zimbabwe early next month for talks with
President Robert Mugabe over the country's requirements for outside food
Zimbabwe has been in the grip of recurrent food shortages
since 2002, when the WFP first started distributing food aid to millions of
The government says it requires 1.2 million tons of food
this year to make up for shortfalls in the staple maize. It estimates just
1.5 million Zimbabweans are in need of urgent food assistance, but aid
agencies say at least five million of the country's 11.6 million people are
in need of help.
security forces yesterday detained a freelance journalist filming police as
they cleared Harare's central business district of street vendors, according
to a lawyer for the press freedom group MISA-Zimbabwe. The journalist, Frank
Chikowore, was being held without charge, according to a statement by the
Committee to Protect Journalists.
"It's outrageous that Zimbabwean
authorities would lock up someone who was simply filming the activities of
police in a public place," said Ann Cooper, executive director of the
Committee to Protect Journalists. "We demand the immediate and unconditional
release of Frank Chikowore and an end to this kind of abuse."
MISA-Zimbabwe legal officer Wilbert Mandinde, who is seeking Chikowore's
release, said police gave no explanation for the arrest. He told CPJ that
Chikowore had a government license to practice journalism, as required by
Zimbabwe's Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), and
that he had been detained because he was filming police "harassing innocent
Chikowore had just finished another assignment when he
came upon the police sweep and began filming, MISA-Zimbabwe spokesman Nyasha
Mandinde, who met with Chikowore, said the journalist
has a swollen left foot after being manhandled by police. MISA-Zimbabwe
reported that police confiscated Chikowore's video camera and two
A crackdown on the independent press in Zimbabwe that
started in 2002 has included the detainment, harassment, and forced exiled
of dozens of journalists, as well as the closure of four