Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace will splash out close to R3-million on a
10th wedding anniversary party at their rural home in Kutama, about 60km
west of Harare.
Several Southern African regional leaders are
expected to attend, including best man at the wedding, former Mozambican
president Joachim Chissano. Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, his
Tanzanian counterpart Benjamin Mkapa and former South African president
Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel have also cracked invites. "It's
not expected that President Thabo Mbeki will come, but an ANC delegation
will," a government source told the Mail & Guardian.
"A lot of money will be needed for the flights, hotel accommodation, food
and hosting the event at Kutama. But the costs could be cut down by many
companies donating in cash and kind, with farmers supplying beef and
vegetables as usual and national breweries providing beer.
"It will be classy, royal-like," the source said, "Mugabe will be driven
from a church service in an open Rolls Royce with horses in front. That's
how they want it."
The party will be preceded by a family
trip to the Middle East.
Grace is 40 years younger than her
81-year-old husband, with whom she has three children.
Plans for the lavish celebration in August were revealed to the M&G this
week as evidence emerged that Zimbabwe was sliding further into an economic
recession. Emotions are running high in Harare, with commuters having to
trudge 10km to and from work in chilly conditions as a fuel crisis grips the
In a move seen as provocative, riot police this week
demolished business kiosks and market-place stalls of informal traders in
Harare and surrounding townships. By June 20, the police said, "all
unauthorised buildings and market places would have been
Residents watched in anguish as police swooped on
and arrested more than 9 500 people as part of Operation Murambatsvina,
which began last week. The police said the vendors were operating at
undesignated points, violating the city's by-laws.
Glen Norah township, police on Wednesday razed tuck-shops to the ground and
burned carpenters' stalls alongside roads leading into the opposition
Glen Norah residents, who have declared the
constituency a no-go area for the police, reacted by barricading roads
leading into the township.
"This is shocking, it has never
happened before. The government is trying to get an excuse for declaring a
state of emergency because they realise the economy is receding into a
disaster," said Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, the Movement for
Democratic Change MP for the area.
"They want people to riot,
and they will get that. The whole thing is political. Mugabe is simply
saying you voted for the opposition and this is what you'll
Constitutional reform pressure group chairperson Dr
Lovemore Madhuku slammed the crackdown as "a recipe for an uprising" but
felt that "Zimbabweans in general have no disposition towards a spontaneous
revolt". He cautioned however that: "These are purely bread and butter
issues and you have the police demolishing tuck shops and market stalls,
it's being insensitive."
Many companies have shut down
because of the economic slump and unemployment levels have risen to about
A fuel crisis that has caused the public transportation
system to grind to a halt means people are starting work four hours late and
getting home at about midnight.
The urban folk are
becoming increasingly restless. "We are having a situation in which
residents are now attacking the police," said Misihairambwi-Mushonga. "The
situation is degenerating into total chaos and people are
But the blissfully happy Mugabe couple is going ahead
with the party plans. Mugabe, though not showing any signs of frailty and
fatigue, has, on the advice of his doctors, in the past three weeks, been
cutting down on public engagements.
A family relative,
speaking on condition of anonymity, told the M&G that: "Gushungo's
[Mugabe clan name] bones are like teak. They have a reputation for living
long. His [Mugabe] mother Bona lived until she was 100 years
Policy bungles lead to famine
new study points to critical policy errors as the main reasons for food and
nutrition insecurity in Zimbabwe, in particular the government's fast-track
land redistribution programme.
A countrywide survey of
communities indicated that 82% of districts reported widespread crop failure
after poor rains in the 2004/05 growing season.
study, funded by the United Kingdom's Department for International
Development, acknowledged the adverse impact of poor weather on the
Since commercial farms were taken over, the area
planted fell -- at one point to less than half the area previously tilled -
as did the use of hybrid seed and fertiliser. State control of maize
marketing through the Grain Marketing Board worsened the
To illustrate the extent to which policy failures
affected production, the study used three Southern African countries with
similar weather patterns and compared actual harvest figures for Zambia and
South Africa between 2000 and 2004.
performed as modelled, the regional harvest deficit in 2002 would have been
fully one-third less.
But land expert Professor Sam Moyo said
it was disingenuous to compare agricultural production among the three
countries without considering the particular challenges facing Zimbabwe's
"Yes, food production has been disrupted, [but it
is] mainly because of the lack of access to inputs and the slow response to
supporting newly resettled farmers." - Irin News Service
destruction wrought on the poorest section of urban Zimbabwe this week by
paramilitary forces of the government indicates that it is payback
It is payback for the fact that the ruling Zanu (PF) lost
almost all urban areas to the opposition MDC (Movement for Democratic
Change) in the recent elections; it may be payback to the Chinese, who have
stood by the Zimbabwe government when all other avenues of funding have
dried up; and it is payback for the fact that the government has been forced
to acknowledge publicly the precarious economic situation it is in and needs
someone to blame.
In a five-day blitz on street vendors, informal
traders and other businesses in Harare, nearly 10000 people were arrested,
their goods confiscated or destroyed, dwellings and stalls torn down, and
those who tried to resist were assaulted.
There were similar
crackdowns in Bulawayo and Gweru, both opposition
One theory for the move is that Chinese traders in
Harare, whose supermarkets full of cheap goods operate close to many of the
informal traders, complained to the government that their investments were
being undermined by vendors competing in the same market.
government cannot afford to compromise its relationship with China, which it
has assiduously courted, to the extent of spending millions of dollars of
scarce foreign exchange on Chinese fighter jets.
However, a more
likely theory is that it is a backlash against urban citizens, most of whom
voted against Zanu (PF). It has long irked the ruling party that it does not
control the cities and it has tried to undermine their running by, among
other measures, frustrating funding for public works and other projects and
introducing city governors over the heads of MDC
Operation Restore Order is the latest assault on the
people most affected by the economic crisis precipitated by the government's
increasingly erratic, centralist and protectionist economic policies in
place since 2000.
Large-scale retrenchments in the productive sectors
of the economy have pushed thousands of formal sector employees into the
informal market. They have been joined by academics, teachers and other
professionals unable to find work or who have been pushed out of the system
for falling foul of Zanu (PF).
While many such people have left
to find jobs in SA and other parts of the world, others have turned to the
informal markets to make a living. They have now been made scapegoats of the
economic crisis, and labelled "economic saboteurs" to justify the harsh
action against them.
While some might be criminals, as alleged by the
government, there seems to have been little distinction made between illegal
operators and informal traders.
Some of the items sold in the
markets are staples no longer available in stores. The fact that items such
as sugar and fuel are easier to find on the black market is symptomatic of
the distortions in the economy that have become a feature of life in
If the government had paid attention to long-term economic
solutions, there might be more sympathy for its cause.
draining the country of valuable foreign currency should not be fostered or
even tolerated, but when the government squanders it on jet fighters,
foreign trips and other nonessentials for a country in crisis, to ask its
citizens to be more responsible is hypocritical.
It is almost
impossible for ordinary citizens to get foreign exchange through the
official weekly foreign currency auctions where more bids are refused than
accepted, which is why many revert to the more reliable - and lucrative -
The fact that even those with jobs are unable to get to
work because of the critical fuel shortage has underlined the crisis the
government is in. Measures for economic turnaround recently introduced by
the reserve bank governor are at best long-term, at worst
The backlash from the arrests and destruction of property
this past week has unleashed running battles in some Harare suburbs. This
raises the suspicion that the authorities may have deliberately provoked
such a reaction to allow it to play another hand in its arsenal against the
people - the introduction of a state of emergency. This would give it
unlimited powers of detention and seizure and allow further curbing of
freedoms. It would also give it the power to run the cities that it so
Such a measure would suit the government's "winner
takes all" approach to everything. Ironically, such extreme measures are
probably unnecessary in a country whose population has seen it all before
and has yet to stand up in numbers against its government's
Games is director of Africa@Work, a publishing, research and events
AFTER a dramatic twist earlier in the day, Zimbabwe's
supreme court reserved judgment yesterday on jailed former opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP Roy Bennett's challenge against his
The highest court of appeal's bench, comprising
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, justices Wilson Sandura, Misheck Cheda,
Luke Malaba and Elizabeth Gwaunza, said a ruling would be delivered "in due
Earlier in the day attorney-general Sobusa Gula-Ndebele -
government's chief legal adviser - made an about-face before the court,
withdrawing a concession submitted hours before that the one-year jail
sentence passed on Bennett for shoving the justice minister was
Bennett's legal team - consisting of South African attorney
Jeremy Gauntlett and prominent Zimbabwean lawyers Adrian de Bourbon and
human rights lawyer Beatrice Mthethwa - argued that parliament had exceeded
its powers in jailing the former MP.
"The court reserved
judgment after the case was argued," Mthethwa said. "This was after the
attorney general had conceded the issue was not well handled by
"However, in the afternoon we were later informed that the
case would go for a hearing."
Government sources said
Gula-Ndebele had wanted Bennett, incarcerated in appalling conditions at the
notorious Chikurubi maximum security prison, to be released immediately, but
"politicians interfered with the case".
Bennett's lawyers said
parliament's privileges and powers had been "exercised in conflict with the
fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the
The attorneys said the "court can and must interfere
where parliament has improperly exercised that (parliamentary) privilege and
has acted mala fide or capriciously and in defiance of the constitutionally
inherent rights of an MP".
Bennett was jailed for an effective
one year with hard labour for shoving to the floor Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa during a heated parliamentary debate in which the minister accused
Bennett's family of being thieves.
A committee dominated by President
Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) MPs recommended a 15-month detention, but
three months were later suspended.
Bennett was barred by the
electoral court from contesting the disputed March 31 general election
controversially won by Zanu (PF). His wife Heather stood and lost, although
she is challenging the result, citing vote rigging.
The court initially
ordered that Bennett be released to contest the election, but reversed its
decision after Mugabe described its decision as an "act of
The MDC criticised Bennett's detention, saying it was
influenced by blatant political bias.
Meanwhile, the British
parliament said it was "gravely concerned by the appalling conditions under
which Mr Bennett, until recently an MP, is being held".
James Morris, the UN envoy for humanitarian needs, says the
Zimbabwean government supports the work of the UN's food agency and is
working hard to make food available to its people.
Malawi, as part of a five-nation tour of southern Africa, Morris said he
will go to Zimbabwe to find out what the needs are, what plans they have of
their own and what they want the UN to do. Reports from Harare say President
Robert Mugabe is ready to meet Kofi Annan's special representative to
discuss the food situation in his drought-stricken nation.
government blames drought for the country's food shortages but critics blame
his policies including the controversial seizures of white-owned farms which
they say have hit output.
Progress made on Beit
Bridge bottlenecks May 27, 2005
Johannesburg - The Beit Bridge task team was making progress in
reducing the time that trucks took to cross the border between South Africa
and Zimbabwe, Barney Curtis, the chairman of the team, said
The Beit Bridge border is the main gateway to transport goods
between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The border has been troubled by
delays and trucking companies have had to wait for many days before they can
An average of 600 trucks pass through the border every day and
transport minister Jeff Radebe has said the cost of border delays to
southern Africa was estimated at R307 million a year.
was upbeat about the progress to speed the passage of trucks through the
"The team's recommendations to the clearance procedures and
customs have made a difference in reducing time trucks take to cross the
border," Curtis said.
Mike Scott, the chairman of the Road Freight
Association, which represents trucking companies such as Imperial Holdings,
Super Group and Unitrans, confirmed that the task team's recommendations had
definitely improved the flow of traffic at the Beit Bridge border
Ian Cooper, an agent at the border post, said the delays at the
post were caused by the shortage of staff and the lack of a work ethic in
the customs divisions on both the South African and Zimbabwe sides, which
caused customs officials to take longer than they should to process
Agents need documents such as customs value, truck numbers and
goods for trucking companies before the customs official can let them
Cooper said the team had recommended that documents be processed
on the South African side of the border in co-operation with the customs
officials of Zimbabwe and when trucks get to the Zimbabwe side, they only
stay for 30 minutes and go.
This had vastly improved the flow of
traffic, he said.
The availability of parking space, which was
recommended by the task team, on both sides of the border also contributed
to the improvement, but problems went beyond that, Cooper said.
parking area was provided by interested private companies.
hiccups in Zimbabwe's financial system delayed cash payments to agents,
which they needed to pay customs to clear the trucks in time.
only pass through after agents have paid customs officials on behalf of the
The cross-border task team was established in
February 2003 by concerned business people after the Beit Bridge border post
almost came to a standstill because of the construction of a parking area
for trucks on the Zimbabwe side of the border, Curtis said.
met three times and came up with recommendations that improved the traffic
flow but after the situation was better, the team stopped meeting.
Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations
(Fesarta) realised that the problems at the border needed ongoing
intervention and asked for funding from the World Bank's sub-Saharan African
transport policy programme.
The bank provided the funds and Fesarta
contracted the Cross Border Road Transport Association for a year to handle
the administration, Curtis said. He would not reveal how much the
association was paid.
The task team had since met three times and
produced a document called the Action Plan Matrix to improve efficiencies at
the border post, he said.
The team included all the stakeholders from
both sides of the border post, including customs and immigration officials,
the police, traffic officials, clearing agents and truckers.
Plan Matrix identified the most important matters to be attended to at the
border and under whose responsibility they would fall, Curtis said.
notable difficulty with the process was to ensure that each stakeholder was
not only represented at meetings of the task team, but was represented by a
person with sufficient standing to make decisions, Curtis said.
task team meeting is scheduled for August.
The Shell Game Comes to Zimbabwe
Mugabe shuffles around farms to curry favor with the Chinese. by Roger
Bate 05/27/2005 12:00:00 AM
Harare THE ZIMBABWE GOVERNMENT is offering formerly white-owned
farms for free to Chinese state-owned firms in a desperate bid to revive the
key agricultural sector, say well-placed sources in Zimbabwe. Details of the
planned land-for-investment scheme are still uncertain, but with President
Robert Mugabe vigorously pursuing a "Look-East" policy after falling out
with the West (because of his government's poor human rights record), the
president was looking for new deals to capture foreign currency.
Unfortunately it appears that Western firms, including a Virginian tobacco
company, are being drawn into schemes with the Chinese government, which has
been supplying arms to Zimbabwe.
Reports had been
multiplying recently that Mugabe was inviting former white landowners back
to farm in Zimbabwe, but this appears to be a fiction to cover up for his
plan to bring Chinese farmers in to grow tobacco and other
Mugabe has appointed Didymus Mutasa, the head of the
country's secret police, the Central Intelligence Organization, to oversee
the latest version of Zimbabwe's land redistribution program. The government
is now targeting unproductive land previously owned by white farmers, now
occupied by blacks--apparently because there is no longer enough land in
white hands, after close to 90 percent of the former white commercial
farmers were stripped of land under the government's chaotic and often
violent land reforms
According to Wilf Mbanga of the
Zimbabwean newspaper, the new farmers could soon find themselves at the
center of international legal disputes as lawyers for the original
landowners seek compensation. Like many commercial farmers
were displaced while their tobacco crops were still in
the field, Joe Whaley had his farm taken over by one of Mugabe's relatives,
Chester Mhende. "Mhende walked on to Whaley's farm two years ago, as the
tobacco crop was about to be reaped. With the help of the Zanu PF heavies
and the police, he prevented Whaley from taking anything off the farm. The
tobacco crop was reaped and sold," said a report in the Zimbabwean. In
addition to having reaped the crop, Mhende has been using the equipment on
the farm and has never paid a cent to Whaley--who has now secured a high
court injunction confirming that he is the rightful owner of the farm and
that Mhende has to leave. The police, however, have refused to act. The
police may also have inside knowledge about Mugabe's push to nationalize all
land (giving much to Chinese farmers), which will nullify all land claims
Whaley alleged that the crop was bought by
Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco. When asked to comment on this allegation, ZLT
Director, Gary Wallace told the Zimbabwean, "ZLT might have bought Mhende's
crop through the auction floors--we don't know."
the wholly owned subsidiary of Universal (Zimbabwe) Leaf Tobacco, a U.S.
subsidiary of Universal Corporation, a $3 billion a year, 30,000 employee
corporation, based in Richmond, Virginia. Universal Leaf Tobacco's senior
vice president, James H. Starkey, III said, "All kinds of deals going on
down there to pay bills. . . . finding a working mechanism is not easy. . .
. I don't like the situation but we have a factory in Harare to run and our
work force has gone from 6,000 to only 1,500 in the past few
Some of the "deals" that have to be entertained
are extremely convoluted and easy to misinterpret. For example, the new
tobacco farmers, located mainly in the central Mashonaland provinces, signed
contracts with the Zimbabwean Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), which
pays them for their crops in local currency. ZLT then pays ZESA's account
with the China Aerospace Times Electronics Corporation (CATEC), a Chinese
state-owned engineering firm, in U.S. dollars, and ZLT--the company owned by
Universal--receives the tobacco and exports it. Starkey confirmed this
arrangement to me saying that CATEC was supplying electrical generating
CATEC is mainly engaged in the research,
development, production, and sales of the technologies and products in the
fields of aerospace electronics, with at least 6,400 highly trained
technicians. It could be providing other technological advice with military
applications to Mugabe's government.
Given that stolen
farms are at stake, money is fungible, and one Chinese state firm can be
linked with any other state-owned firm, some, including the Zimbabwean, have
been alleging that the funds provided by ZLT to CATEC might have been used
to purchase arms, notably the Chinese K8 jets the Mugabe regime recently
acquired. There is no evidence for this (and CATEC is not the producer of
the K8), but the convoluted payment methods made necessary by the Mugabe
regime drag U.S. firms, trying to salvage their Zimbabwean assets ($53
million worth in Universal's case) into a bad spot. "We have to bring U.S.
dollars into the country [to pay for tobacco], so we have to work
the Reserve Bank and do as the government requires,"
Like so many businesses operating in
inhospitable locations, Universal takes a significant risk to its capital
and revenue stream. Universal is backing Zimbabwean white farmers with $30
million in loans to establish themselves in Northern Zambia, and the company
plans to offer $12 million to black Zambian farmers wanting to join the
Meanwhile Chinese state firms have no compunctions
about property-rights abuses or dealing with despotic regimes such as
Mugabe's. Indeed Chinese investment is increasing in Zimbabwe. Officials of
state-owned agro-firm, China State Farms Agribusiness Corporation are
expected in Harare to conclude a farm deal shortly. As one source said to
me, "China is now easily the largest investor in Zimbabwe, the geo-political
context of southern Africa is changing."
is a Resident Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.
Lords reject expat pensions plea By Becky
Barrow (Filed: 27/05/2005)
Around 550,000 British pensioners will
continue to receive "frozen pensions" after the House of Lords rejected an
Their decision brings to an end a seven-year
legal battle fought by pensioners who live abroad who argue that it is
unfair that the state pension is raised each year if you live in certain
countries, but not others.
The battle, which started in 1998, was
described yesterday as "heartbreaking" for tens of thousands of pensioners
who struggle to survive on a state pension which, in some cases, is "frozen"
at just £6.75 a week.
Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, who acknowledged that
the case has generated "a good deal of passion", said: "In my opinion, the
sense of grievance may be understandable but it is not justified. There is
nothing unfair or irrational about according different treatment to people
who live abroad.
"The primary function of social security benefits,
including state retirement pensions, is to provide a basic standard of
living for the inhabitants of the UK."
Campaigners point to the
"randomness" of the law which means that you would, for example, get the
annual increase if you lived in Barbados, but not the Bahamas. In November
2000, Jeff Rooker, then pensions minister, admitted in the Commons: "I have
already said I am not prepared to defend the logic of the present situation.
It is illogical."
But campaigners said yesterday that they were pleased
that one of the five law lords had agreed with them.
said that he would have upheld the appeal because, among other reasons, "it
has the appearance rather of the selection of a convenient target for saving
It has been estimated that it would cost up to £400 million each
year to give the annual increase to all British pensioners who decide to
live abroad, a figure dwarfed by the total cost of state pensions of
£40 billion. About 400,000 get the "uprate", but about 550,000 do
not because they live in countries such as Australia, South Africa, Canada
and New Zealand. The annual increase is not paid to pensioners in all
foreign countries because "reciprocal treaty arrangements" were agreed with
some countries but not others.
Lord Carswell went on to say: "Once it
is accepted that pensions should be paid to contributing pensioners resident
abroad, then no justification remains for paying some less than others and
less than UK residents."
Annette Carson, 64, a writer who moved to South
Africa in 1990 and who was selected by campaigners to be the test case,
said: "From my point of view it is heartbreaking news for all the very
elderly pensioners who are in countries like South Africa and especially
Zimbabwe who can't make ends meet.
"They have difficulty feeding
themselves. They have been hoping that their position might be alleviated by
the House of Lords and they have been let down."
Despite making full
national insurance contributions, Mrs Carson's pension will never rise above
£103.62 because she lives in South Africa. If she returned to Britain, it
would go up.
Campaigners have six months to choose whether to pursue
their case by taking it to the European Court of Human Rights in
Reporter Last updated: 05/27/2005 10:06:38 ZIMBABWE'S security services on
Thursday began the demolition of houses and shacks on the outskirts of the
capital Harare as a campaign against "illegal activities"
Police arrested another 7 650 people as part of a
countrywide campaign code named 'Murambatsvina' or 'Restore Order', state
On Thursday night, thousands of squatters were forced out
of their homes in Hatcliffe. According to some affected families, police
said they would be resettled on farms. No further details were
Many were resigned to sleeping in the open, while others waited on
a court challenge that was expected to be filed on Friday
"The Harare City Council says it has nothing to do with these
evictions," a Hatcliffe resident who identified himself as Chatora told Afro
Sounds' Zimbabwe Today programme Thursday night. "They are evicting
everyone, even Zanu PF activists are caught up and they are also
Most families who settled in Hatcliffe were moved from Churu
farm in 1993, at the instigation of Nyasha Chikwinya to gain political
capital. Chikwinya is a former Zanu PF MP.
"Chikwinya and Chombo
(Ignatious, Housing Minister) told us we could stay, and we were made to pay
$100 000 for the stands. We all received lease agreements and we assumed we
were here legally," another resident Jeremiah Nyirenda said by telephone
The MDC MP for the area Trudy Stevenson last night sent an
SOS message and was expected to engage lawyers to challenge the evictions.
Some residents blamed her for inactivity.
Zimbabwe's state radio
report said 7 650 people were arrested in the central city of Gweru, 270km
south of the capital Harare, for offences including "gold panning, hoarding
and overcharging of basic commodities as well as illegal foreign currency
The arrests bring to more than 17 000 the total number of
people arrested in the country in just over a week since the launch of a
police crackdown dubbed "Operation Restore Order".
Some of those
arrested in Gweru paid fines, while others had been taken to court, the
Earlier on Thursday police warned Harare residents not to
fight back against the ongoing campaign, a day after the stiffest resistance
yet to the operation.
On Wednesday angry residents and traders in the
poor district of Glen View went on the rampage, stoning riot police who had
torched a popular marketplace.
A supermarket and several shops were
looted, while a council building and a state-run bus were damaged in the
fray, the State-controlled Herald newspaper reported on
Zimbabwe has been in the grip of chronic shortages of basic
commodities like sugar, fuel and the staple mealie meal since parliamentary
elections on March 31 won by President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF
The government accuses Zimbabwe's massive informal sector, which
has burgeoned in recent years due to spiralling unemployment, of fuelling
the black market in scarce goods.
Critics of the clean-up campaign
have accused the police force of trampling on the rights of citizens, many
of whom are said to be licensed traders trying to make an honest
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims the
police action is aimed at punishing its urban supporters. - Sapa-dpa
Makwanya Last updated: 05/27/2005 07:30:37 WHEN your house is on fire, it
is not the best time be quarrelling, shouting obscenities or worse still,
fight each other. As Zimbabweans, we need to pull ourselves together and put
out the fire before we perish. We are very fragile as a nation today and I
wish to make a case for dialogue.
My only qualification to make this
appeal is that I am Zimbabwean.
I ask Zanu PF and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) to move to the political centre ground and meet up
with churches, traditional leaders, workers, vendors and other interest
groups. Let us pick ourselves up, lick our wounds and pull ourselves
together so that the rest of the world can find it easy to assist our
In these difficult times, Zimbabweans should admit that there
should be space for anyone who wants to help in nation building. The history
of Zimbabwe especially from the year 1890 to 2005 is full of hard lessons
about race relations, social inequality, social justice, revenge and
President Robert Mugabe who is the current chief executive of
the country has important decisions to make about where we go as a country,
and some of these decisions require a lot of courage. Dr Gideon Gono, a very
senior government adviser has suggested that, "in order to ensure maximum
productivity levels, there is great scope in the country promoting and
supporting joint ventures between the new farmers with progressive-minded
former operators ... as well as other new investors so as to hasten the
skills transfer cycle." This is a practical idea which should be viewed
positively and processed.
The targeted sanctions that have been
imposed on Zanu PF should be reviewed through broad based negotiations. Tony
Blair and George Bush should be prepared to engage Mugabe just as they are
engaged Colonel Muammar Gadhaffi, the Libyan leader. "Dubbed the "godfather
of terrorism" by the US, he (Gadhaffi) is now being hailed by the European
powers as the new elder statesman of Africa. The suspension of sanctions has
opened a flood of political and business leaders into Libya. In early July
13 British Labour MPs were set to go to the Libyan capital, Tripoli,
alongside a delegation of businessmen," writes John Farmer
The issue of the just ended parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe
is well known and documented. The elections were endorsed by SADC and
disputed by the MDC and Western governments. This is why it is necessary for
the West and Mugabe to talk. It is however, important to encourage whoever
can take the initiative to arrange talks, it should not be a matter for
political parties only. In fact political parties tend to think about power
politics. At times political parties do not represent many people as they
claim so negotiations should be broad based. This includes those of us in
the Diaspora because we also contributing in our own way and remain
Zimbabweans at heart.
We can look east, west or wherever but the
answer should start among Zimbabweans because whatever help we receive
should take our efforts into account. In the difficult times in Zimbabwe
people are resorting to a dog eat dog situation, where scarce commodities
are being sold at exorbitant prices. They call it forces supply and demand
in Economics and even these forces can be manipulated. I resist the
temptation to theorise while people are suffering on the ground and all I
can do is to appeal for intellectual coherence in the way as Zimbabweans
have to deal with our crisis.
For dialogue to take place, we need to
listen to each other and understand that we will not agree on everything. We
might not even agree on the causes of our crisis depending on where you
are coming from. We might also not agree on the solutions with some saying
the IMF, others saying the constitution, and others saying change of the
regime. However we could all be right and it might well be that, what we
need is a process to agree on our solutions. Dialogue is the practical
starting point. It must also be admitted that front line politicians do not
have all the answers and cannot always be trusted or trust
each other. Makwanya is a social commentator based in London
CAPE TOWN - UK demand for overseas doctors and nurses
is affecting sub-Saharan Africa severely, and is akin to theft, says today's
edition of UK-based medical journal, the Lancet.
SA is one of the
African countries hardest hit by the lure of better pay and working
conditions in Britain's health service. In 2003, the UK issued work permits
to 5890 South African health and medical personnel, 2835 to Zimbabweans, and
1510 to Nigerian, says the medical journal.
The shortage of doctors
and nurses in SA is one of the biggest problems facing overloaded local
hospitals and clinics. In 2003, 52597, or 31%, of SA's 169121 public
health-care posts were vacant, according to the Health Systems Trust. Only
Western Cape and Limpopo had less than 20% of their posts vacant, and Free
State had 41% of its posts unfilled.
Each migrating African
professional represents a loss of $184000 to the continent, yet Africa
spends $4bn a year on the salaries of foreign experts, according to research
by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development cited in the
The Lancet describes a global "medical carousel" in which
health-care professionals usually migrate to countries with more doctors.
"The medical carousel unfortunately does not turn full circle . so the
poorest nations experience all drain but no gain."
urged the UK to take the lead in devising strategies to deal with the brain
Saying that many British health-care professionals were
disillusioned, retiring early or seeking alternative employment, the Lancet
called on the UK to train more of its own health-care workers and make the
profession more attractive to locals.
"Every rich country can and
should aim to train as many health-care workers as it needs. To poach and
rely on highly skilled foreign workers from poor countries in the public
sector is akin to the crime of theft."
The Lancet said voluntary
codes of practice, such as the British health department's code for
recruiting health-care professionals, were not enough. The code says the
UK's national health service will not recruit staff from developing
countries, nor take staff from agencies that do so.
It was revised in
December to include temporary jobs and the private sector.
health-care workers said they had sought jobs outside the countries in which
they were trained because they wanted postgraduate training and career
development, the Lancet reported. This made it important for UK hospitals to
link up with African institutions to offer temporary work exchanges,
teaching and research projects, it said.
week, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said she had approached the
International Organisation for Migration to help bring nurses back to SA.
She is currently attending the International Council of Nurses conference in
HARARE - A Zimbabwean state lawyer made an
about-turn before the Supreme Court, withdrawing an earlier concession that
a one-year jail sentence passed on an opposition white lawmaker for shoving
the justice minister was excessive.
"I have been instructed to
withdraw my earlier concession," said Rumbidzai Gatsi representing the
office of the attorney-general in the case in which former Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) lawmaker Roy Bennett is challenging his continued
"I would like to submit that the sentence that was passed
was appropriate. The assault was on a government minister who was also the
head of his party in parliament," Gatsi said.
Bennett then one of
three white Zimbabweans who held seats in the last parliament, is serving a
12-months prison term, handed down by parliament, in October last for
shoving to the ground Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa during a heated
debate which touched on the emotive land issue.
Gatsi had earlier said
the sentence passed was "grossly disproportionate" and that parliament voted
on a political basis when they decided on the punishment to pass on
Bennett's lawyer Jeremy Gauntlett protested saying "the
concession was made by a trained mind who is the legal officer of the state"
and should be upheld.
In papers submitted to the court, the attorney
general accused the speaker of parliament of failing to inform the
parliament that in handling the case, it had to consider Bennett's rights as
provided for in the constitution.
"It is submitted the speaker of
parliament should have made it clear to parliament in general that they were
supposed to decide the matter taking into consideration the applicant's
rights and that they should put politics aside and objectively look into the
matter," said the attorney general's office in its argument.
was not done and clearly parliament voted along party lines," it
Bennett is seeking an order declaring the proceedings of the
parliamentary committee that convicted him invalid and declaring a section
of the parliamentary privileges and immunities law that was invoked to
charge him, unconstitutional.
The Zimbabwean government has deployed 3 000
paramilitary police as it begins an operation to demolish illegal
settlements around Harare, state television reported on
The television news showed a parade of hundreds of
officers in full riot gear preparing to be deployed to demolish 25 illegal
settlements in and around the capital.
Footage showed a
bulldozer demolishing a house in one illegal housing settlement -- Nyadzonia
Housing Co-operative -- whose owner "chose to ignore the warnings", the
A police officer urged people living in
illegal settlements to pack up and leave before police demolition squads
"We would encourage everybody to pack their own
property, their clothing, their furniture before the police arrive," he
It is the latest in a campaign dubbed Operation Restore
Order, which was launched last week to crackdown on illegal activities in
the southern African country. So far, 17 000 people have been arrested
Those arrested have been fined or taken to
court for offences that include illegally dealing in foreign currency,
hoarding of basic commodities and selling scarce goods on the black
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
lawmaker Trudy Stevenson said three truckloads of riot police had arrived in
part of her constituency in Harare North on Thursday evening and started to
demolish houses in the informal settlement of Hatcliffe
"They [the police] are just razing everything,"
"They're telling people to move
She said there were 10 000 to 12 000 people living in
the informal settlement.
"That's a lot of people without
shelter," she said.
It was not immediately clear how many
people risked being made homeless by the imminent destruction of illegal
Official statistics put Harare's population at
1,8-million, but the Combined Harare Residents Association said the figure
is much higher.
Those residents who lose houses and have
nowhere to go will be taken to a holding farm outside Harare, the television
said. - Sapa-DPA