Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Friday that his party is
considering amending the country's Constitution to make it easier for the
government to take over land owned by the country's former white
††††††††††† He told a meeting of his ruling Zanu-PF that the
government's controversial five-year-old land reform lacks finality. Under
the land reform, thousands of white-owned farms were seized for
redistribution to new black farmers.
††††††††††† "There are a few
other areas of our Constitution which we need to consider for amendment,"
Mugabe told senior party officials in comments broadcast on state television
news. "These include that area that relates to land acquisition and land
††††††††††† He added: "That process [of acquiring land and
handing it over to new black farmers] should have
††††††††††† It was not immediately clear what amendments the
veteran leader had in mind, but in an apparent reference to the numerous
court objections lodged by the former white landowners to the "compulsory
acquisition" of their farms, Mugabe accused them of employing "delaying
††††††††††† Earlier this year, state media reported that the
courts have to clear more than 5 000 challenges to the government's land
††††††††††† Despite the court objections, only a few hundred
or so white commercial farmers are still on their farms. Since 2000,
Mugabe's government has taken over 5 890 farms measuring 7,8-million
hectares for redistribution to black farmers.
††††††††††† Mugabe also
expressed regret on Friday at some of the damage caused by a police
operation to stamp out illegal activities in the country's towns and
††††††††††† In Harare, the operation, dubbed Restore Order, has
mainly been aimed at street vendors and flea-market operators whom the
government accuses of lowering the image of the capital as well as dealing
on the black market.
††††††††††† Market stalls in Harare have been
torched by the police and ramshackle settlements on the outskirts of the
city have been flattened.
††††††††††† "Whilst we regret any damage that
was done to places that did not need to be damaged, we are full of praise
for the action the police have taken," Mugabe said. -- Sapa-DPA
'Dramatic' price increases in Zim 28/05/2005 18:32† -
Harare - Zimbabwe imposed dramatic price
increases for certain staple food products on Saturday, but the capital is
reportedly quiet after a weeklong blitz.
The blitz on street traders
and shack dwellers saw tens of thousands arrested or left homeless in the
State radio announced that the price of maize meal would
increase, effective immediately, to Zim$19 000 a 10kg bag, while a standard
loaf of bread would increase 29% to Zim$4 500.
Similar price rises in
1998 triggered riots in which at least seven people died after President
Robert Mugabe deployed troops backed by tanks and helicopters to
Saturday's price hikes were accepted with apparent resignation
in Harare, where residents had fought running battles with police last week
as paramilitary squads torched and bulldozed roadside kiosks, known as
tuckshops, and hundreds of homes.
"Things are really calm now," said
Lovemore Machingedzi, an official of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change in the capital's southern suburbs, which bore the brunt of the unrest
of the past few days.
'An explosive mood
however, of an explosive mood among former guerrillas, powerful supporters
of Mugabe's government over the past five years who face the demolition of
settlements they established after seizing white-owned farms with official
"My understanding is that the situation where they are is
very, very tense because they thought they could do what they want," he
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of launching what was
described as a nationwide "clean-up campaign" to punish the urban poor for
voting against his ruling Zanu-PF in March 31 parliamentary elections, and
to deter protests as economic catastrophe looms.
At a meeting of his
ruling party central committee on Friday, Mugabe publicly backed the
crackdown on street traders and shack dwellers, officially code named
"Operation Murambatsvina", or "Operation Drive Out Trash".
and cities, including the capital, had become havens for illicit and
criminal practices which just could not be allowed to go on," he
His government has blamed speculators, black market dealers and
alleged Western economic sanctions for the current crisis. He promised
compensation for those who had "wrongly suffered damage".
arrested traders had vending licences while those left homeless had official
lease agreements for sites developed with World Bank and US aid.
project was in Harare's northern Hatcliffe area, where opposition legislator
Trudi Stevenson said on Saturday that 500 evicted families had been left
shivering in winter frosts.
James Morris, head of the World Food
Programme and personal emissary of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, is due
here on June 1 for talks on the humanitarian crisis with Mugabe.
Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2005 6:34 PM Subject: Out of sight is not out of
Dear Family and Friends,
This week I find myself as a
stranger in my home town. Familiar faces have gone, familiar stopping places
have been demolished. Men and women who would nod, wave and smile as I
passed, have disappeared and I feel an overwhelming sadness at what has
happened to them and to their struggle to make a decent living in these most
desperate of times.
Around the corner from my home a woman used to sit on
a concrete block with her vegetables laid out for sale on a piece of
cardboard in front of her: butternuts, tomatoes and onions. She has gone,
chased away by Police. At the end of the road a young woman, sometimes with
her little boy in his bright red jersey, sat on the ground under a tree with
a few things to sell to passers by. She had pushed four sticks into the
ground and fashioned a little table to hold her products: popcorn, matches
and vegetables. Often her little boy would smile and wave when I passed
by, but they have gone, chased away by the Police.
Outside the junior
school four women waited every day to sell their wares to parents and
children when the last bell of the day rang. They sold frozen drinks,
toffees, peppermints and bubble gum balls. They have gone, chased away by
Police. Opposite the hospital eight or ten women, many with children at their
feet or babies on their backs, stood selling fruits and vegetables to nursing
staff, patients and visitors. Their stalls were substantial and made of
treated gum poles with thick plastic sheeting overhead to protect them and
their produce from the weather. Here you could buy bananas and apples,
avocado pears, cucumbers, cabbages, tomatoes and almost any fruit or
vegetable in season. They have gone, chased away by Police.
main road through Marondera town there were at least a dozen places where
young men stood with pockets of oranges, potatoes and butternuts for sale and
on upturned crates they had jars of golden nectar which they were adamant was
honey but we all knew was syrup. They too have gone, chased away by Police.†
Near the main petrol station a group of men used to weave baskets, stools and
wicker chairs which they sold on the roadside along with hand woven rugs and
mats. For years those men have been there, their fingers twisting and pulling
the canes into intricate designs with such skill that it was a delight to
watch them work and an insult to bargain with them over their prices when you
knew how much work had gone into the finished product. These men too have
gone, chased away by Police. Outside the main Post Office the woman with her
battered enamel basin crowded with bananas and twisted cones of newspaper
filled with ground nuts or nyimo beans has gone, chased away by the Police.
In this case out of sight to the authorities is not out of mind to us, the
What I am describing is the tip of the iceberg. In towns
and cities across the country the Police are embarking on what they call a
clean up campaign. It is not only street vendors who are having their
stalls demolished and goods confiscated but also people who the police say
have built illegal houses in illegal areas. On Thursday night I watched
in shock as the main TV news carried film footage of a crowd of riot
police standing watching a bulldozer demolishing "illegal houses" . The
camera focused on three young children, one with a school satchel on her
back, watching the brick house being torn down; the walls were plastered
and painted blue and I cried inside knowing exactly how it felt to have
the place you call home stolen from you.
It is winter here in
Zimbabwe. Last night the temperature in Marondera dropped to just seven
degrees Centigrade. In Harare last night over 500 families spent their second
night out in the open as their homes had been demolished by Police. I have
seen such cruelty and such a lack of compassion and humanity this week that I
cannot imagine which way now for Zimbabwe. No one can understand what this is
about or why it is happening now.
There are already so few voices
speaking out for the desperate ordinary people in Zimbabwe that it is with
overwhelming sadness that we heard this week that Short Wave Radio Africa is
about to stop broadcasting as they have run out of money. Through SW Radio
Africa ordinary people could tell of their own struggle to survive and for
those of us who have listened faithfully every night, I do not know how, now,
we will find the courage to go on without our voice of hope. We feel more
alone now than ever before. Until next week, with love,
Crisis In Zimbabwe
Coalition (CZC), a non-governmental organisation fighting for human rights
and good governance, has urged the government to stop immediately the war
against informal traders and urgently compensate victims of "Operation
Murambatsvina." In a statement yesterday, CZC spokesperson Elizabeth Marunda
said it was ironic that the government was spending millions destroying
market and industrial stalls while senior ruling party and government
officials continued sending their children for education abroad paying in
foreign currency. She said: "The Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition strongly condemns
this uncivilised behaviour and urges the government to halt its illegal
attacks against the unemployed, women and children." Marunda scoffed at
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius
Chombo's remarks on national TV that the clampdown was aimed at improving
the image of Zimbabwean towns. "Why now, two months after the parliamentary
elections? Why now, when we are faced with the 2008 Presidential elections?
The reason should be simple, the movement of rural folk from towns back to
the rural areas will increase the electorate for those elections," Marunda
charged. She added: "In an economy where the informal sector employs 80
percent of the labour force, torching peoples' markets and arresting street
kids will not help the economy, let alone bring fuel, foreign currency, or
fill the granaries of Zimbabwe." CZC said the government must use taxes
to secure fuel and food, rather than torment citizens by importing
teargas. "Arrests, torture and property vandalism in the name of "cleaning
the city" does not bring foreign currency, food or fuel. The government must
urgently compensate at the full market value properties of informal traders.
It must withdraw its regiment of violence from residential areas. The
current onslaught against Zimbabweans will not solve the twin crises of
legitimacy and governance. It shall and never will through violence,"
Correspondent in Bulawayo issue date :2005-May-28
THE Bulawayo City
Council has drawn a 15-year strategic development plan which seeks to
transform the informal sector, urban agriculture and energy, and also hunt
for alternative bulk water sources. According to the council's latest
minutes, the new master plan's - now open for public viewing - main goals
are to ensure provision of adequate and appropriate housing and social
facilities. And to meet the set goals, the local authority said it would
mobilise land and other resources to provide decent dwellings. Over 200
000 housing units are expected to be constructed with emphasis be on
provision of low cost housing.† Houses with structural defects would be
demolished, while communal toilets would be replaced with internal
ones. The master plan also makes provision for additional schools.† Apart
from providing more facilities, the council envisages to set aside 7 300
hectares of land for industrial, commercial and other economic
ZIMBABWE'S prisons are full to the hatches with petty
criminals and remand prisoners owing to a tardy judiciary system that is
failing to cope with prosecutions.
An exodus by magistrates from the
Justice department over low remuneration and poor working conditions has
worsened the situation.
Yet Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono yesterday
asked government to construct more jails to accommodate an expected influx
of inmates convicted of economic crimes as a way of "breaking the spirit of
greed and the demon of indiscipline" in the economy.
that the additional jails be established in outlaying rural areas so the
prisoners can play a supportive role in tilling the land.
In his monetary
policy review, Gono railed at all sectors of the economy for corrupt
tendencies which he said had retarded efficiency across the productive
sector and threaten efforts to put the economy back on the rails.
aware of the iniquitous parallel market rates for foreign currency and goods
in short supply currently prevailing in this market and find it ludicrous
that Zimbabweans are forced by circumstances to trade their toil, sweat and
blood at these ridiculous levels," Gono said.
He said those behind
ridiculous exchange rates should not expect the RBZ to legalise such trading
"or worse still agree to index the Zimbabwe currency and economic activities
on the back of some shadowy figures which are being set and determined in
some dark alley or street corners of our cities".
Gono proposed stringent
legislative measure to curb corruption in both the private and public
sectors, citing rampant corruption in parastatals such as Zimra, the Tender
Board, National Parks and Wildlife Authority, NRZ, Immigration, Zimbabwe
Republic Police and government ministries.
Gono fingered the police for
abetting corruption by interfering with evidence and connivance with
suspects, lack of dedication to enforce prosecution and deliberate
misrepresentation of the law.
He blamed Zimra officials for accepting
bribes from individuals and corporate bodies to underpay taxes and import
duties and under-invoice export shipments.
He also attacked black
"It is folly for us to hide behind black economic
empowerment while we engage in self-destructive tendencies," Gono said.
Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono yesterday proposed a chain of
desperate measures while lashing out at alleged saboteurs of his recovery
programme to save the economy from a further slide.
monetary policy review, Gono agonised over macro-economic fundamentals -
exchange, inflation and interest rates - only to emerge with piecemeal
measures that do not address the structural distortions in the
Gono admitted his claims of an economic recovery were
"ill-founded", saying we were still "in the woods". He blamed drought and
indiscipline in the economy for the failure of his recovery agenda but put
on a brave face using military terms and threats to declare "no surrender"
on his mission.
Verbose as usual, Gono blamed everyone - including
himself when he admitted he was perhaps "naive" in some of his policies -
for fuelling the "iniquitous parallel market" which spawned "ridiculous
He attacked politicians, police, parastatal bosses,
tender board officials, National Parks authorities, hotels, lodges and their
booking agencies, retailers, estate agents, financial sector executives,
empowerment groups, city councils, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officials,
cross-border traders, safari operators, and foreigners for his failure to
meet policy targets.
In a desperate proposition, Gono said government
should "build more jails" and "economic crimes courts" to contain black
However Gono, who now looms large in economic affairs,
did not come up with credible solutions on shortages of foreign currency
fuel, power, food, water and basic commodities which came flooding back
after the March 31 general election. He was also silent on how government
would fund maize imports required to avert starvation.
increasingly political monetary policy framework appeared to be premised on
a business-like turnaround strategy and not a realistic econometrics
While in denial, Gono devalued the Zimbabwe dollar by
adjusting the diaspora exchange rate at the foreign currency auction system
from US$1: $6 200 to $9 000, a massive 45%.
Gono's action was
targeted at containing the rampant parallel market, and giving exporters
incentives to stimulate foreign exchange generation.
But the measure will
not help much to narrow the yawning gap between the official and parallel
market rates. The Zimbabwe dollar crashed yesterday to new lows of US$1: $25
000 on the black market in anticipation of a devaluation. The South African
rand stood at R1: $3 800 compared to the official rate of R1: $1
This makes the local currency about the weakest in the region,
almost at par with Mozambique's meticas, when it was the strongest at
Independence in 1980. The Zambian kwacha, a laughing stock until recently,
is now stronger than the Zimbabwe dollar.
In a desperation search for
foreign currency, police were this week unleashed in Harare to spearhead a
crackdown on black market traders.
Gono has been under intense pressure
largely from exporters to review the fixed exchange rate. Despite a clear
fundamental disequilibrium - a serious deficit in the balance-of-payments
position which justifies a devaluation - Gono has been blocked by government
from adjusting the exchange rate.
He has been using a pegged exchange
rate to fight inflation, but that has had disastrous consequences on the
While inflation managed to fall from a record 622,8% in January
last year to 123,7% in March this year, it surged to 129,1% last month. As a
result Gono revised his year-end forecast from between 20% and 35% to
between 50% and 80%. He warned inflation could surge to 200%.
changed his overly optimistic economic growth figures from a maximum of 5%
GDP growth to 2,5%.
Gono issued a blueprint titled "Inflation Drivers in
Zimbabwe" which lists food, rents and rates, education and energy as the
main factors fuelling inflation. But he did not address his loose money
supply system that has been causing exchange rate instability and inflation.
Money supply grew 222,6% last year and is still growing. Gono increased
secured lending interest rates to 160%, from 95% per annum. He also
increased unsecured lending rates to 170%, from 105%. Concessionary lending
was cut from 50% to 5%.
In a move that could put him on collision
course with President Robert Mugabe, Gono launched a thinly-veiled attacked
on the "Look East" policy and substandard clothing imports flooding the
market from West Africa and East Asia.
Gono emphasised the need to
work with key Western institutions like the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank. To his credit, he attacked politicians who misled the nation
on food stocks and suggested a need to reverse the damage caused by the land
He also slammed corrupt and incompetent officials, as
well as foreign currency externalisation and money-laundering.
revive agricultural and other productive sectors, he maintained cheap
lending facilities, although he admitted abuse in the past, and also invited
"specialist" evicted farmers to come back. He offered incentives to gold,
cotton and tobacco producers.
Exporters who repatriate earnings
within a month will get 25% of the proceeds in hard currency. A public
housing fund was also set up.
Big hikes in food prices in
Zimbabwe but capital calm after week of protests
††††† HARARE, Zimbabwe
(AP) - Major increases in the price of staple foods went into effect
Saturday as President Robert Mugabe, who recently refused assistance
claiming the country had a bumper harvest, acknowledged that Zimbabwe needs
food aid to avert famine. ††††† The price hikes - 51 per cent for maize meal
and 29 per cent for bread - came days ahead of a meeting with James Morris,
World Food Program chief, to discuss Zimbabwe's massive food aid
requirements despite its longstanding claims it was
††††† Zimbabwe's economy has slowly collapsed since
Mugabe introduced his land reform program and confiscated white-owned farms,
beginning five years ago. Zimbabwe's once thriving agricultural sector,
which made it the regional bread basket, is destroyed.
Saturday's price hikes, announced on state radio, were taken with apparent
resignation in Harare, where residents had fought running battles with
police last week as paramilitary squads torched and bulldozed roadside shops
and hundreds of homes.
††††††††††† Find it on our Search: †††††††††††
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Tens of thousands of people were arrested or left homeless in the midwinter
††††† Opposition politicians said the blitz by authorities was
intended to subdue the population and so forestall riots which followed
price rises in 1998, when at least seven people died after Mugabe deployed
troops backed by tanks into the townships.
††††† "Things are really
calm now," said Lovemore Machingedzi, an official of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change in the capital's southern suburbs, which bore the
brunt of the unrest of the past few days.
selection of antiques on eBay.ca
††††† Machingedzi warned, however,
of an explosive mood with the once-landless blacks who were powerful
supporters of Mugabe's government now facing the demolition of settlements
they established after seizing the white-owned farms.
understanding is that the situation where they are is very, very tense
because they thought they could do what they want," he said.
leader Morgan Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of launching the attacks to punish
the urban poor for voting against his ruling Zanu-PF, which won the disputed
March 31 parliamentary elections. The clampdown on street traders last week,
opposition politicians said, was to intimidate people ahead of the food
price hikes and to deter protests as economic catastrophe
††††† At a meeting of his ruling party central committee
Friday, Mugabe publicly backed the crackdown on street traders and shack
dwellers, officially code named Operation Murambatsvina, or Operation Drive
††††† According to the opposition, Mugabe wants the urban
poor, who lived in the small shacks and ran the roadside shops, to return to
rural areas where he can control them.
††††† "Our towns and cities,
including the capital, had become havens for illicit and criminal practices
which just could not be allowed to go on," he said.
government has blamed speculators, black market dealers and alleged Western
economic sanctions for the current economic crisis.
predicting a "bumper" 2.5 million tonne maize harvest and scorning aid
offers, Mugabe now admits the country urgently needs more than 1.2 million
tonnes to save four million Zimbabweans from famine.
††††† His fiercest
critic, Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, has accused Mugabe
of using access to food to intimidate rural voters, while the MDC alleges a
plan to drive the urban poor back to the countryside "where they can be more
JUST over 20 years ago, American Express had an idea that
changed the world. Every time someone used its credit card, it donated one
cent to charity, thus linking its product to a good cause. The result was an
explosion of profit.
Its link with the Statue of Liberty restoration
appeal sent its credit card usage soaring by 28%, ensuring AmEx recouped far
more than it gave away. This act of commercial genius was given a name:
Give a little to charity, get a lot of kudos -
it's a seductive win-win equation which has been adopted world over. And we
can see this theory at work today when politicians, needing a reputation
lift, head so quickly to Africa.
The secret of cause-related
marketing is proportion. The act of fundraising creates a profile far
greater than the good actually being done; but the target audience is often
more interested in the idea of helping a good cause than doing any
Tesco, for example, is now in the 14th year of its
computers-for-schools scheme, where shoppers are issued one voucher for
every £10 spent. This is given to children, who give it to teachers, whose
schools redeem the vouchers for computer equipment.
What they don't
tell you at the checkout is that each voucher is worth just under 3p and
that it would take the average shopper 93 years of loyalty to Tesco (that
is, £210,000 of spending) to collect enough tokens for just one school
Parents implored to join the scheme would benefit the
school more by posting a fiver to the headmaster, and shopping where they
like. But instead, vouchers are collected with hardly any idea of their real
worth: the attraction lies in the spirit of giving.
The genius of the
Tesco scheme is the feelgood factor. When asked "are you collecting
vouchers" by the cashier, shoppers can feel civic pride by saying that they
are. Aunties put them aside for their nieces, who have fun collecting them.
Every little helps.
This brings us to Africa, where the echoes of
cause-related marketing can be heard while Gordon Brown noisily rattles the
African charity box around the world. Subliminally, we may associate him
with good causes just as we do the lottery.
This is not to say that
the Chancellor lacks a genuine desire to help Africa. Like the Tesco
vouchers, it is a scheme which - to achieve the maximum effect - must be
carried out in ignorance of the true economics at play.
This is the
aid versus trade debate. Trading with Africa has no role for politicians -
other than for them to get out of the way. It is the most effective way to
help, and has allowed India and China to make more progress on poverty than
at any time in history.
Aid, by contrast, gives politicians a starring
role. It can lend a moral dimension to governments, which is often sorely
lacking (especially after an illegal war). And if it is done with enough
pizzazz, it can divert attention away from their own failings at
Jack McConnell, for example, has come back from Malawi - where he
found the money he is entrusted with can go far further. Back home, his
record spending has meant record homelessness - and soaring hospital waiting
The First Minister was out of the country when it emerged that the
average hospital wait in Scotland is now a record 15 weeks - up a staggering
11 days this year so far. No matter how much money he's given, he just can't
seem to crack it.
Little wonder he's calling for Scotland to "raise
our heads" to Africa - so the nation's attention comes off his dismal
failure to look after the most vulnerable in his own country. Here stands a
man in sore need of a public relations boost.
Unlike McConnell, Tony
Blair and Brown are both paid to look after Africa - though both clever
enough to realise that their agenda has more than a touch of the Tesco about
First, the Chancellor is promising to give 0.7% of the national
wealth in donations. This was a pledge which the Heath government committed
Britain to in 1970 - and Brown says he won't even hit this generation-old
target until 2013.
A maximum of noise is being made with the minimum
amount of cost: cause-related marketing at its best. Next, we can ask how
much money will go to Africa. The Chancellor wants a scheme to give more aid
now, and less later - raising £30bn.
However, Africa's main problem
is not poverty, but dictators - whose grip is often strengthened by debt
cancellation or large cash donations. The real problem is that countries
cannot generate wealth for themselves, and this will not be solved by
handouts from the West.
The economic vandalism of Robert Mugabe in
Zimbabwe has already destroyed more wealth in five years than Britain had
given to the whole of Africa since 1945. Against such odds, it is far from
clear what a new era of handouts can achieve.
There is a positive
story in Africa - but, tragically for cause-related marketing, it's one that
involves no politicians or charities. Earlier this month, the Africa
Economic Outlook projected economic growth of 5% - twice the speed of
Foreign investment, which now dwarfs aid in developing
countries, is paying off. Trade is entrenching stability and wealth -
without any help from politicians. It is a formula which, with a little
help, could allow Africa to find the answer itself.
that if Africa could increase its share of world trade by 1%, it would be
worth £45bn a year - more than Brown hopes to raise by his convoluted
International Finance Facility scheme. So this is the real prize.
achieve it requires tearing up the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a
scandalous European Union scheme which keeps Africa on its knees by denying
it free access to Western markets while protecting Western
The Institute for International Economics estimates 200 million
people can be lifted out of poverty in developing countries if only
politicians allowed the West to trade freely - and buy from African farmers
the kind of produce they are ready and able to sell cheaply.
United Nations estimates that the abolition of tariffs would increase trade
by £400m a year - that is, 14 times today's aid. But it means upsetting the
carefully balanced protectionist system. For Europe's politicians, this is
beyond the pale.
So at the G8 summit, the message to Africa will be
"sorry, we're not going to trade freely with you, it would upset the
political authorities in Brussels too much. But here's a cheque to buy a
water well, and a few nutrition biscuits".
Not that we will hear this
message at Gleneagles. It will be drowned out by a jamboree of pop stars and
protesters wearing special wristbands. In this way, the Africa agenda is a
great example of cause-related marketing for the UK government.
all this is a woeful substitute for what Africa truly requires. Africa is
growing, and desperate to trade fairly with us. To abolish the CAP would be
a true step towards making poverty history. Anything else will be little
more than conscience money.