By Peta Thornycroft
28 May 2007
Zimbabwe police have started to recruit new policemen, nearly doubling the
size of the force ahead of general and parliamentary elections early next
year. Peta Thornycroft reports for VOA that President Robert Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU-PF party are continuing the heaviest ever crackdown on the main
opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change.
Senior assistant commissioner Faustino Mazango is quoted in the state
controlled Herald newspaper Monday saying that the Zimbabwe Republic Police
has begun a recruitment drive to increase the size of the force to at least
Mazango said the recruitment was necessary as Zimbabwe would be holding
simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections next March.
On Saturday, police raided the headquarters of the Movement for Democratic
Change in central Harare and arrested about 200 party youth and provincial
leaders. Since then all but about 40 have been released. This was the second
raid on the party's offices in a month.
Police say the arrests are in connection with 12 small petrol bomb attacks
mostly around Harare in March, which Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC,
said were the work of state security agents.
The MDC has regularly seen its legislators and party leaders arrested and
assaulted while in detention since it was formed in late 1999, particularly
The latest attacks which began in March, are the toughest ever, Chamisa
said. Many party officials are in constant hiding while some have fled to
Veteran political commentator Brian Raftopoulos says violence has long been
used by Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party. He said Mugabe wanted to
destroy the opposition MDC party.
He said the ongoing violence against the MDC was what he described as a
"slap in the face," for South African President Thabo Mbeki. Mr. Mbeki has
been asked by regional leaders in the Southern African Development
Community, or SADC, to mediate dialogue between ZANU-PF and the MDC.
Mr. Mbeki's officials have already held preliminary talks with Mr. Mugabe
and the MDC.
Senior ZANU-PF official Didymus Mutasa, who is also security minister, said
ZANU-PF was not particularly interested in the mediation initiative.
He was quoted in a South African-based Internet publication, Zimbabwe
Online, saying ZANU-PF was not "desperate to talk" to the MDC. He said
ZANU-PF was only "accommodating" the initiative because the party was being
"courteous" to SADC, which he said had shown strong support for ZANU-PF.
May 28 2007 at 07:47PM
Harare - Police in Zimbabwe have released all opposition activists who
were arrested in a raid on their party headquarters over the weekend, a
party spokesperson said Monday.
"The remaining 41 of the 200 youth members arrested at the weekend
have been released without charge after spending two nights in custody,"
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson Nelson Chamisa told AFP.
"Police were sending our lawyers from one point to the other while
they released the youth in batches.
"It's just harassment ... a systematic onslaught on all structures of
our party. The Zanu-PF regime is behaving as if the MDC is an illegal
terrorist organisation," he added in reference to the ruling party.
Rifle-wielding police barged into a meeting at the MDC headquarters in
central Harare and picked up at least 200 youth on Saturday, two days after
Zimbabwean police extended a ban on political rallies and processions in
parts of the capital.
The bulk of them were released on Sunday.
Lawyer Alec Muchadehama, who was waiting for his clients at the
magistrate's court, said the police refused to give reasons for their
An MDC lawmaker and 31 other activists are in prison on remand after
being arrested in March during a police crackdown on the opposition and
charged with terrorism, banditry and sabotage.
They were accused of undergoing training in neighbouring South Africa
on how to make and use firebombs.
The MDC, which launched a campaign to pressure the government of
veteran President Robert Mugabe to release its members, dismissed the
charges as "mere fabrication".
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and dozens of activists were detained by
members of Mugabe's security forces and assaulted in March after they defied
the ban on rallies and tried to hold an anti-government prayer rally. -
THE Zimbabwe Republic Police has not returned three laptops, two
desktop computers, two digital cameras as well as more than 50 passports
confiscated from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), amidst reports
senior officers looted the items.
Police raided the MDC main faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai at its
headquarters, Harvest House in Harare's city centre last month and took
away all computers in addition to arresting administration staff.
However, CAJ News has established that senior officers have failed to
return part of the equipment, despite a High Court order granting the
opposition an interdict against the minister of Home Affairs and
police against the confiscation and keeping of the items.
Documents in possession of CAJ News show that Chris Mhike of
Artherstone and Cook legal practitioners recently wrote to the police
reporting the failure by an Assistant Commissioner to return the equipment
'We refer to the case between MDC vs Minister of Home Affairs, case no
HC1596/07 wherein we appeared in the High Court on 4th of April 2007
and secured an order for the return of property that had been taken away
from the MDC by the ZRP at Harvest House,' he stated.
'We have made several attempts to get back the property but failed to
get cooperation from Assistant Commissioner Mabunda and Harare Central.'
Mabunda was the leader of the gang of police details that swooped on
the MDC and took responsibility for all the confiscated equipment. Efforts
obtain comment from him were in vain.
But an administrator at MDC headquarters said: 'Police have been
telling us that they never saw the items that have not been returned and
there say the laptops as well as digital cameras were looted by Mabund and
other senior officers.
Police spokesman, Oliver Mandipaka said 'Mabunda is the one responsible
for that matter, I can't comment'. MDC officials said about 50 passports
belonging to party members that needed to obtain visas were taken away
by police with reports that they were forwarded to the Registrar General's
office for cancellation.
Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede confessed ignorance of the matter when
contacted for comment.
Some of the MDC officials who were arrested on the day of raid, are
languishing at remand prison and have been denied bail on several
These include former news editor of the banned Daily News, Luke
Tamborinyoka, now heading the party's information department.
The raid was stage-managed by the beleaguered Mugabe regime for it to
claim the opposition was planning acts of terrorism.
The MDC reports that more than 600 of its members have either been
arrested, tortured, abducted or killed over the past two months as political
tension rocked the country due to unstoppable economic decline yet with
vowing to stay put in office- CAJ News
28 May 2007, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Zimbabwe police have released 84 opposition activists without charge
but some were beaten, the opposition says.
Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa said some
activists had gone to hospital to determine the extent of their injuries.
A police spokesman had said Saturday's arrests were in connection with
recent bombings around the capital, Harare.
The MDC denies any links to the blasts and condemned the arrests. Some
200 members were originally detained.
The police released 115 of them on Sunday and later freed the others.
Mr Chamisa said the police did not have a search warrant when they
raided the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) headquarters in central
He told the BBC that the meeting was held in party offices to discuss
civil issues and insisted the MDC was doing nothing illegal.
The arrests came a day after police extended a ban on political
In March, scores of MDC activists, including party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, were severely assaulted in police custody, sparking
The Zimbabwe government accused the MDC of being behind the bombing of
several police stations.
Following Saturday's arrests, police spokesman Supt Andrew Phiri told
the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper:
"Some suspects arrested in connection with recent petrol bombs have
given us leads we are following up."
Mr Chamisa said those detained had been taken to the Law and Order
division of the Central Police Headquarters.
South Africa is currently trying to negotiate a political solution to
Zimbabwe's escalating crisis.
The BBC's Peter Greste in South Africa says diplomats say Zimbabwe is
in danger of breaking into open conflict.
Mr Chamisa said the police raid showed the government's disdain for
the diplomatic efforts.
By Lance Guma
28 May 2007
The Chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) Dr Lovemore
Madhuku and his assistant Earnest Mudzengi were arrested in Chitungwiza on
Monday. According to a statement from the NCA the two spent a total 4 hours
in police custody. They spent two hours at Makoni police station before
being hauled into a police truck and taken to Harare Central police station.
They were not charged but questioned about an NCA meeting scheduled for the
The statement said the two officials met an Assistant Commissioner for
Operations who told Madhuku and Mudzengi that they were becoming a thorn in
the flesh of the police. This apparently was in reference to the fact that
the NCA was defying the police ban on political rallies and demonstrations.
They were threatened with harsh treatment if they persisted in defying the
The NCA says it views this as yet another incident of intimidation on its
leaders by the police. 'There have been many such incidents in the past and
the NCA will not succumb to such baseless threats. The people of Zimbabwe
will continue fighting for a democratic constitution that will set them free
from the current political, social problems that are emanating from bad
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tichaona Sibanda
28 May 2007
A former senior police officer in Zimbabwe on Monday claimed the massive
build up of arms and manpower by the regime is aimed at crushing the
opposition from within the country.
Isaac Dziya, a former assistant commissioner with the Zimbabwe Republic
Police, told Newsreel a recruitment drive by the police to beef up its force
ahead of next year's presidential and parliamentary polls was unwarranted.
In the last two years government has been steadily beefing up its security
services with the acquisition of new military hardware and observers have
been questioning the motives behind such moves for a country that is not at
'We have the Airforce buying fighter jets from China, the army stocking up
arms and the police buying water cannons from Israel and yet the country is
not at war with anyone. This massive build up is meant to deal with the
opposition,' Dziya said.
The state controlled Herald reported on Monday that the police force was
looking at recruiting 20 000 more officers before next year's elections.
Dziya added that the timing of the recruitment drive would only increase
tension in a restive country where inflation is reigning supreme.
'They should be cutting down on military spending and cutting down the size
of the security forces to come up with a manageable professional army. This
will help using that extra money to feed the people who are currently
starving and to develop the country,' said Dziya.
Dziya also presented a report on the role of the armed forces in a new
Zimbabwe during a strategic MDC workshop in Birmingham on Saturday. He told
participants if the military, police and intelligence officers cannot pay
allegiance to the state instead of a political party, they should all
'In a new political dispensation, if armed forced commanders say they cannot
salute a new Head of State because of their own beliefs, then the easy way
out for them is to resign. The normal practice for any military set up is to
support the state and not a political party,' Dziya said.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
ABC radio report on family of ZPF in Australia, alleged militia
Zimbabwe Information Centre Inc
Sunday, May 27, 2007,
Children of the Mugabe regime studying here
Today's ABC Radio National Background Briefing reveals that the Howard
government's 'smart sanctions' against the Mugabe regime have been pretty
relaxed for years, allowing adult children of core members of the regime to
live and study here.
But even more startling, the program exposed the presence of Mr Reason
Wafawarova at Macquarie University in Sydney. Mr Wafawarova was a key
official in the Ministry of Youth in Zimbabwe responsible for the training
youth militias to torture in camps around the country. The youth militias
known in Zimbabwe as 'green bombers' have been exposed and widely condemned
by Amnesty International and the BBC Panorama program as responsible for
widespread human rights abuses including rape, torture and murder of members
of the opposition.
The 'green bombers' were mobilised to replace the rapidly diminishing 'war
veterans' whom Mugabe used in the violent farm invasions from 2000-2002, and
in the massive repression around the June 2000 parliamentary elections.
South African media reports suggest that the 'green bombers' are integrated
into death squads run by Mugabe's Central Intelligence Organisation.
"We call on the Howard government to investigate Mr Wafawarova for crimes
against humanity committed in Zimbabwe and to arrest him if there is
sufficient grounds," said Peter Murphy, Secretary of the Zimbabwe
Information Centre in Sydney.
On March 17, the Zimbabwe Information Centre released the names of nine
children of ZANU-PF leaders listed by the Reserve Bank of Australia for
1. Sylvester Chihuri, son of Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, at
the University of Queensland in Brisbane
2. Tendai Nguni, son of Sylvester Nguni, Deputy Minister for
3. Kudzai Muchena, son of Olivia Muchena, Minister for Science &
4. Thelma Chombo, daughter of Minister for Local Government, Ignatius
5. Taona Karimanzira, son of Harare Provincial Governor David
Karimanzira, is in Brisbane
6. Emmerson Mnangagwa, son of Emerson Mnangagwa, Minister for Rural
7. Pride Gono, Praise Gono, Passion Gono (children of Reserve Bank
Governor Gideon Gono). Pride and Praise, twin sisters, are at Latrobe
University in Melbourne. Passion is a son of Gideon Gono, and is said to be
working in Sydney.
The AUSTRAC agency would have records of any payment over A$10,000 made on
behalf of these individuals.
The ZIC called on the Howard government to take action under the smart
sanctions to remove these individuals, and any more like them, from
28 May 2007 17:25:20 GMT
HARARE, 28 May 2007 (IRIN) - Besides having to contend with leaking water
pipes and frequent power outages, Zimbabwe's urban residents, still have to
grease the palms of officials to ensure they can get access to even these
"As residents, we are faced with the twin evil of a continuously
deteriorating service delivery system and corrupt officials, some of them in
decision-making positions, who take advantage of the sorry state of affairs
to fleece us when we ask for the situation to be rectified," Edmore Mbirimi,
a resident of Chitungwiza, a satellite town 35km from the capital, Harare,
Three weeks ago, the sewage pipe at his house burst, an increasingly common
problem in urban areas throughout the country, and he telephoned the works
department that promised to come "soon".
After a 24 hour-wait, he decided to call again and was grumpily told that
the sewage department was overwhelmed and he had to wait his turn.
When sewage started to seep into the house, he was assured that the problem
would be rectified the same day but, again, no one turned up.
"It was on the sixth visit that a young employee accosted me on my way out
and bluntly told me that nothing would be fixed unless I 'dropped a
feather', suggesting that I had to pay the plumbers for them to repair the
burst pipe", Mbirimi added.
The public works officials have now stalled work at his home, after he
attempted to report the corruption to higher authorities, who also failed to
It is now commonplace for urban centre residents to experience weeks-long
water cuts, frequent power outages, uncollected refuse and live with a
broken down sewage system. Municipalities, power and water utilities often
cite the lack of foreign currency to import parts needed to make necessary
repairs on infrastructure, buy new vehicles for refuse collection, or to buy
electricity from neighbouring countries.
Last week, the Chitungwiza municipality indicated in a report that it had
suspended garbage collection because its trucks had broken down, and it
lacked the capacity to repair them, adding that the situation had been
worsened by the rampant theft of spare parts.
Mbirimi's neighbour, Josphat Matema, is a pragmatist. He has made friends
with the official plumbers by paying them and buys them an occasional beer
when they come around to do a job.
"I don't even have to visit them. They have pledged to check on my house
every fortnight because I am now their friend. Faced with such a crisis, I
don't have a choice but to pay, otherwise I would forever be moaning",
Matema told IRIN.
Matema, a mechanic, is one of several thousand residents who have to pay
kickbacks to authorities to access water, electricity and a functioning
The need to pay kickbacks is despite the fact that municipalities and
utilities such as the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), which
recently hiked tariffs by 350 per cent, are charging exorbitant rates that
most ratepayers cannot afford.
Annual inflation currently stands at more than 3,700 percent and
unemployment is estimated to be around 80 percent, those with jobs struggle
to raise money for transport to go to work and have a decent meal because of
poor salaries. Many pensioners receive monthly payouts which can only buy a
bar of soap.
Harare resident, Margaret Muhoni, 66, a widow, has to live without water and
electricity for a year.
Before being cutoff, Muhoni had paid about US$0.10 (at the parallel market
exchange rate, where US$1 buys Zim$50,000) a month for services until her
bill suddenly shot up to US$60. She was told that her bill was incorrect,
but to her surprise, authorities insisted that she pay the amount while they
corrected the anomalies.
"I shed tears when one of them who seemed to know me suggested that since I
have a daughter living abroad, I should pay him in foreign currency to have
my bills normalised but the truth is I could not pay for what I think were
deliberate errors meant to force me to give them something," said Muhoni.
She accused the authorities of taking advantage of her old age. Muhoni has
let out some rooms in her property, but the rental is nominal because of the
absence of running water and power. She has to buy firewood for cooking and
heating, while she and her tenants fetch water from a nearby church.
IRIN was unable to get comment from the municipality, power or water
authorities, but an official in the Chitungwiza works' department said it
took two to tango.
"The issue of corruption is real, especially in these times of suffering
where employees are poorly paid and are extremely demoralised because they
mostly have to work without protective clothing, but residents are also to
blame as they encourage unscrupulous practices," the official told IRIN.
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), a ratepayers' watchdog,
blamed the corruption and shoddy service delivery on the absence of an
"This (corruption) is an issue of serious concern to us but it does not come
as a surprise because there is no legitimate authority to monitor and
instill discipline in employees who feel free to do whatever they please
knowing that they will not be called to account for their unscrupulous
actions," said Precious Shumba, CHRA spokesman.
Since Elias Mudzuri, elected as mayor on the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) ticket in 2002 was fired by the government for
alleged incompetence three years ago, the Harare municipality is being run
by a controversial commission. Most of the municipalities in the urban
centres are run by MDC-dominated councils, who complain that they are being
frustrated by the ZANU-PF government.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
May 28, 2007
After taking over and destroying agriculture through the chaotic land reform
programme, Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF are now eyeing private industry.
Economists are deeply concerned because they say the move means the end of
private business in Zimbabwe. It has been reported that Mugabe's Cabinet has
approved proposed legislation that would force all foreign-owned companies
to give 51% of their shares to black Zimbabweans. Once a final draft of this
'empowerment' Bill is completed, the ruling party can easily pass it through
Parliament due to its majority membership.
One report said government would target so-called "imperialist companies"
which Mugabe accused of pursuing regime-change. Economist John Robertson
said the government is always blaming others for its failed policy choices
and believes the companies would be used as gifts to loyal supporters and
members of government in order to retain power. He also said even more
businesses would move or shut down.
Robertson expressed concern that companies taken over by government would
become less efficient, more corrupt and with decreased production levels.
Asked why the cabinet would approve such a proposal, he explained that
although cabinet members know the move would destroy business in the
country, they believe they would be the initial beneficiaries because they
would be appointed directors or board members. The top economist added that
cabinet members are instructed to vote for government's wishes and debating
in parliament is simply a formality to pretend there is democracy in
Believed to be on the hit list are companies such as Rio Tinto and Anglo
American, which are listed on the London stock exchange, plus banks such as
Standard Chartered and Barclays. Robertson explained that companies that
have retained 100% foreign ownership would also be very vulnerable. He
believes they would be forced to list their shares on the Zimbabwe Exchange
so government could buy the shares that way. Barclays is already listed in
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Peter Clottey
28 May 2007
In Zimbabwe, factions of the main opposition party the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) have begun talks to join forces against President
Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party for the upcoming presidential
elections. The MDC recently split into two - the Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara factions. Sources say the groups have agreed to endorse
Morgan Tsvangirai as a sole opposition candidate to challenge incumbent
President Robert Mugabe at the presidential polls. Nelson Chamisa, the
spokesman for Tsvangirai's faction, confirmed the on-going talks. From the
capital, Harare, Chamisa told VOA that both factions have agreed that the
party would be stronger in unity than apart.
"I can't really say we are at this stage or that stage, but what I can
confirm is that the party realizes the importance of a synergy of efforts.
They realize the need for making sure that at least there is a unity of
purpose, and unity of action in terms of making sure that we liberate our
country from the jaws of this tyranny. And that entails making sure that
forces face the same direction, and that is what we are currently trying to
evolve," Chamisa said.
He said once the party has been reunited, it would be ready to win power
from incumbent President Robert Mugabe.
"I'm glad to say that it is at an advanced stage in terms of making sure
that when the elections come, provided it is free and fair elections, we
would be able to then participate, and win from the ZANU-PF party as we have
always done," he pointed out.
Chamisa reiterated the need for unity in the opposition MDC.
"You know that there is always strength in unity. In fact we want to make
sure that every vote counts and to make sure that every vote counts, we
obviously need to make sure that we mobilize our people, we mobilize the
leadership, we mobilize all democratic forces in the country and come
together to save our country," he said.
He said the MDC aims at marshalling forces to defeat incumbent President
Zimbabwe is burning under Mugabe's dictatorship, and what we need to do is
to make sure that we bring in a fresh dispensation of democracy, a fresh
dispensation of freedom, justice and prosperity and that is only possible
when we have achieved a free and fair elections, in the legitimate electoral
process, which the elections is supposed to have the confidence and
endorsement of all Zimbabweans," he noted.
Chamisa said MDC partisans understand the circumstances surrounding the
temporary split in its ranks.
"The people have never been confused about the direction of their party. The
grassroots are not all affected by what happened at the top level, which is
a bit artificial and also a boardroom outcome. But certainly in terms of the
discourse in the debate within the party, the distracters are also being
consulted to hear what their views are in terms of the need for the unity of
purpose," he said.
Chamisa said the unity talks are at an advanced stage.
"We are glad to say that there is no resistance to the need for people to at
least have the unity of purpose, but of course the modalities is what is to
be discussed and what is expected," he noted.
He said the MDC would only participate in a free and fair election.
"We have already put forward our precondition, what we agreed to be the
minimum condition for free and fair elections. In fact, we have put forward
what we believe to be the alternative to the mediator from SADC (Southern
African Development Community) President Mbeki.to have a free and fail
election. We need an indigenous constitution, which is people driven, which
is democratic, and we also need to make sure that there is a reversal of all
the legislative nightmares," he said.
28/05/2007 08:27 - (SA)
Harare, Zimbabwe - Momentum is building to start South African-brokered
talks to resolve Zimbabwe's deepening crisis, opposition officials have
But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has again refused demands
that before talks proceed, it recognise President Robert Mugabe as the
nation's legitimately elected leader. That condition stalled two previous
The opposition alleges it has been robbed at parliamentary and presidential
by violent intimidation of voters and ballot rigging. The opposition also
has demanded the repeal of sweeping media and security laws, electoral
reforms and an end to state-orchestrated political violence.
Both main opposition parties were now considering setting aside their
demands in a bid to get to the negotiating table, where the demands could
likely be tackled later, said opposition officials.
"There must be an environment where there are no conditions and no issue is
taboo in negotiations," said one official who asked not to be identified.
South Africa has insisted none of any likely participants in talks,
including representatives of civic groups, air their negotiating positions
through the media and has enforced a news blackout, saying the new
initiative will not be conducted through the media.
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, appointed in March by the Southern
African Development Community to mediate on Zimbabwe, was given until the
end of June to return with concrete proposals on narrowing the wide
differences between President Robert Mugabe's ruling party and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Full support for Mugabe
"The pressure is on. The situation here is impacting on the whole region and
President Mbeki has a deadline to meet," said the official.
Mugabe's fellow African leaders have heard repeated calls to do more to
press Mugabe to embark on reforms. But at the summit at which Mbeki - who
has longed advocated quiet diplomacy over confrontation with Mugabe - was
appointed to mediate, the Southern African Development Community voiced full
support for Mugabe.
At another regional summit in Kenya on Wednesday, Mugabe had harsh words for
his opposition and his critics in the West, and was applauded by fellow
Earlier this month, Mbeki sent a delegation headed by Sydney Mufamadi, a
Cabinet minister, to Harare for talks with Mugabe.
Mufamadi did not meet with opposition leaders in Harare, but several top
aides of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of one opposition faction, and rival
faction leader Arthur Mutambara have shuttled to and from South Africa in
Mutambara, his secretary general Welshman Ncube and Ncube's opposite number
in the Tsvangirai group, Tendai Biti, have met with South African officials
in South Africa.
In line with the South African news blackout, none has confirmed reports of
a meeting in South Africa with Mugabe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa,
the ruling party's chief negotiator in previous failed inter-party talks,
when he was en route to the just-ended gathering of the continentwide
African Union in the west African nation of Ghana.
Opposition officials dismissed as "rubbish" media reports that secret talks
were already on track.
'Something has to be done...'
But "something has to be done to find a way forward and it has to be done
urgently" said one official.
There were suggestions for at least initial talks in June for Mbeki to
deliver to regional leaders, he said.
No comment was immediately available from Chinamasa or the ruling party.
Ronnie Mamoepa, South African Foreign Affairs spokesperson, would not
confirm any details of the mediation process.
"There will be to-ing and fro-ing between Pretoria and Harare. Mediation is
a process not an event. We are not going to comment except to say that
mediations remain on course," he said.
Zimbabwe's economic meltdown worsened this month as inflation spiralled out
of control to a record 3 714%, the highest in the world. Consumer prices
doubled in April, according to the official Central Statistical Office,
putting many basic goods out of the reach of ordinary Zimbabweans.
In formal businesses, unemployment has soared to more than 80%. Scores of
businesses have closed down and most main factories operate at around or
less than 30% of their capacity.
Power and water outages occur daily and shortages of food, hard currency,
gasoline, medicines and other essential goods are acute.
Health and social services have crumbled in a nation with one of the world's
highest rates of HIV/Aids infection. An estimated 3 000 people die each week
from Aids-related illnesses.
Mugabe blames the crisis on successive years of drought and Western economic
sanctions, but critics say corruption, mismanagement and the often-violent
seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms since 2000 disrupted
the agriculture-based economy in the former regional breadbasket.
25 May 2007
A promise is a promise. This is what Africa activists like rock star
Bono have been reminding the G8 ahead of its summit in the Baltic resort of
Heiligendamm, Germany, on June 6-8. In Gleneagles two years ago the G8
countries promised to double aid to Africa to US$50bn/year; they are far
The trouble is, the G8 is a voluntary club whose admirable goals are
not binding on individual members. Some are more sceptical than others: a
Russian spokesman said recently Moscow went along with the aid promise only
as a sop to Britain in the wake of the July 7 terrorist bombings in London.
Only Britain and Japan are on track to meet the aid goal, according to
Bono's Data group. It says total aid to Africa since 2004 has grown by
$2,3bn, or less than half the promised $5,4bn (not counting debt forgiveness
and health aid).
No doubt the G8 should honour its pledges, but so should its African
partners. This was the bargain struck in the G8 Africa Plan of Action at
Kananaskis, Canada, in 2002. At Gleneagles, African leaders solemnly
embraced a "new vision" for the continent and their "leading role in
addressing its challenges".
But simply handing over money to leaders who are not accountable
defeats the purpose. Aid will help only in an environment of good governance
and respect for democracy. There are still too many examples to the
contrary. African leaders do nothing about misrule in Zimbabwe and Sudan,
for example. Nigeria, a signatory to the Africa Plan of Action, simply
flouted it. SA, another signatory, wants to censor the peer review report on
its performance which is an integral part of the New Partnership for
In any event, China has just pledged a $20bn Africa aid package, which
at a stroke overtakes any G8 donor's more conditional promises. Ultimately,
Africa's fate is in its own hands.
28th May 2007
Another farm invasion by Government officials.
On the 5th April Mr. Shumba the Chiredzi District Administrator visited farm
3 owned by a white Farmer and said that he was claiming a portion of the
cane farm that had been left to the white owner in 2002.
Again on the 22nd May Superintendent Simon Mbedzi of the Masvingo police
arrived at the farm, claiming that he together with District Administrator
Shumba of Chiredzi had an offer letter signed by Minister Mutasa for a
portion of his cane farm, being the piece left to the farmer in 2002, he was
accompanied by Guruvette a lands officer who has claimed several farms and
houses for himself also. The police Superintendent stated that he had come
to discus as when he would start operating on the farm and that as soon as
the farmer had finished cutting the existing cane he would take over and
that the farmer should co-exist. The farmer explained that he was protected
by the BIPPA agreement between Zimbabwe and Mauritius and a High Court Order
against anybody claiming the farm. To which he replied that "WE BEND THE LAW
ACCORDING TO CIRCUMSTANCES", this from a high ranking police officer in
Zimbabwe. Mbedzi then went on to say that he would be taking one of the two
houses on the property.
District Administrator Shumba was also been involved in the forced invasion
of Mapanza Investments cane farm in 2002, this large once productive farm is
now nearly derelict producing very little cane.
[Comment By Eddie Cross] It continues to astonish me that this sort of
vandalism by the State and it officers continues despite the evidence of its
destructive impact. We used to produce at least 600 000 tonnes of cane sugar
a year - half was consumed locally and half exported. Now we can barely
supply the local market and are constantly short of sugar. We used to be the
third largest producer and exporter of flue cured tobacco in the world - now
we are a regional minnow.
Not satisfied with this, the State now announces that it is going to take 51
per cent of all major mines, industrial firms and key tourist enterprises.
The pretext is BEE but in fact it will be used as just another means of
looting the last available real assets in the country. The impact of these
threats has already had far reaching impact in the mining sector. If it is
implemented the impact across the economy will be to further reduce output
and export activity, increase capital flight and reduced employment.
28th May 2007 11:25 GMT
By Ntando Ncube
JOHANNESBURG - Lillian Sibanda, 31, is a widow of vision, courage and
conviction. In 2005 her house was demolished during the government-sponsored
controversial and chaotic Operation Murambatsvina.
Her 13-year old daughter, Tariro was left homeless and things were looking
ever so gloomy she did not know what to do. Sensing no way out of her misery
and poverty, in 2006 she decided to take the bull by the horns and carve out
a new future for herself and Tariro.
Armed with a passport without a visa, a Hotel and Catering certificate, and
an idea and a passion in her to make things better for her child, she set
out to achieve the impossible.
She left Tariro and crossed Limpopo River down to South Africa.
Jozi "the city of all that glitters is not gold" is a city full of
opportunities, affliction suffering and agony. Getting there is often a big
Her final destination at Park Station is a hot spot with marauding police
officers, thieves and robbers strong enough to confront even the bravest of
foreigners. The wafting noise of "Jozi" to Sibanda was not welcoming -
rather it reflects the city's hurried pace of life. Johannesburg was
frightening for her and many other women in her boots.
As the social and economic situation in Zimbabwe continues to dwindle, the
women of the country have started leaving their homes and children and go
off to work domestic jobs in the big cities of South Africa, in the kitchens
and homes of more wealthy and even poor South Africans. This meant being
away from their homes and families for months on end.
"Now I have more than seven months here. As a mother my heart aches, at
times I shed tears. Not being able to watch my child growing or prepare a
child as mothers do is a burden that weighs heavily on me and still does,"
Sibanda said at her work place, Mugg and Bean restaurant at Eastgate
Shopping Centre here in South Africa.
She was uncertain; "Ndonokuonayi later.Mugandidzingise basa Murungu wacho
anonetsa", she said, meaning "I will see you later. I may get fired if my
boss sees me talking to you."
All the waiters and cashiers at the restaurant are Zimbabweans poorly paid
with a monthly salary of less than R1 200 with some taking less than less
than R700 home at the end of the month.
Workers are being ill-treated and fired from work without pay every month
and no-one cares because they are illegal immigrants.
Sibanda decided, given all the oppression of Zimbabweans in the hotel and
catering industry here to form a union for Zimbabweans in the industry in
"Being a waiter or domestic servant with all its abuse and poor salaries is
no longer acceptable," Sibanda said later.
For announcing her intention of forming Zimbabwe Hotel and Catering Workers
Union (ZHCWU), workmates and friends thought she had been in the sun too
long and was over ambitious. But she was serious.
Undaunted by their lack of faith and criticism, Sibanda has gone on to
launch ZHCWU. The organisation was officially launched in Johannesburg with
more than seventy members officially registered.
On Workers' Day, the union presented a petition to COSATU appealing to the
labour body to address the plight of foreigners, especially Zimbabweans
employed in the catering industry.
This came shortly after COSATU Secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi attacked
industry tycoons for abusing foreigners, especially Zimbabweans and taking
the country as a supply of cheap labour. He attacked South Africans for
abusing Zimbabweans on the job market.
Vavi was addressing more than 1000 South Africans and Zimbabweans who
demonstrated at the Zimbabwe consulate in solidarity with the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU). He described his fellow countrymen and women
as "a disgrace to the pride of the country".
Said Sibanda: "We are providing the most important everyday labour to this
country but no one is concerned with us.in return we are paid money which is
tantamount to humiliation, abused and fired because we are foreigners."
"We have formed this union to open negotiations with existing labour unions
to investigate and address evils that are unfolding to Zimbabweans who
constitute about 85% of workers in this industry."
And what plans are for the future?
The union will join other unions in protesting and demanding the rights of
workers in South Africa.
"As a union we are going to work together with other unions to denounce the
abuse of workers. We will stop at nothing in demonstrating against the
slavery of Zimbabweans in this industry, we demand Zimbabweans in this
industry to be regarded as people with rights and responsibilities," said
Hanging on the wall of her room in Bramfontein are two very especial
mementos, a trading license to open restaurants and food cafés in
Doornfontein, Maraisburg and Florida.
"This union is not only there to fight for the rights of Zimbabweans, but to
create sustainable business opportunities for them in the industry. Our
biggest challenge as a union was pave way for the women of Zimbabwe to get
involved. Now we have secured a license to open restaurants and food cafés
in Doornfontein, Maraisburg and Florida. From here I believe our story
should be one of success after success, from humble beginnings and poorly
paid waiters to owners of legally registered restaurants," she said.
ZHCWU is an inspiration to many Zimbabwean women and as a consequence of its
existence other business opportunities for Zimbabweans in South Africa are
beginning to emerge. This is Lillian Sibanda's vision.
Independent Catholic News
HARARE - 28 May 2007 - 200 words
A meeting in the midland town of Kwe Kwe, called by the Christian Alliance,
a coalition of churches working for political change in Zimbabwe, was
violently broken up last week. Organisers were planning to set up a women's
group. War veterans, armed with axes and sticks, stormed the Catholic Church
Parish in Redcliff and ordered the meeting to stop. They also threatened to
kidnap Father Mapfumo, who presides over the Catholic Church in Redcliff.
Useni Sibanda, a spokesman for the Alliance said: "War veterans disrupted
the launch and threatened local pastors with death if they allowed the
launch to proceed. We cancelled the event because they were threatening to
beat up women who would attend the launch. They also threatened Father
Mapfumo and said he should not dare allow the launch to take place in his
church," Sibanda said.
May 28, 2007
The decision to reappoint Peter Chingoka as interim chairman of Zimbabwe
Cricket after the board was suspended in January 2006 was forced upon the
Sports & Recreation Commission, according to SRC chairman Gibson
There was widespread surprise when Chingoka was chosen to head an interim
committee following the government's intervention to end weeks of challenges
to the ZC leadership. Stakeholders had sought to oust Chingoka, and Ozias
Bvute, the managing director, after making allegations of serious
maladministration as well as financial impropriety.
But Mashingaidze told reporters in Kwekwe that Chingoka's reappointment had
been "dictated to the commission" That was a clear indication that the
government had forced the SRC to pick him. "There were politics in play," he
Mashingaidze went on to say that he hoped that the country's legal system
would convict "those alleged to have misappropriated cricket funds," again a
very thinly-veiled reference to the existing leadership.
After his reappointment, Chingoka ordered a forensic audit of the accounts
but that report has never seen the light of day.
Mashingaidze also was outspoken over the government's interference in the
SRC's duties as the supreme sports body in the country. He added that the
commission is "better placed to appoint" officials when the need arose.
From The Sunday Independent (SA), 27 May
Dictatorial rulers who cling to power in the face of diminishing support
usually do so out of greed or fear or a combination of both. President
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe epitomises the point. At the age of 83, Mugabe is
seeking to prolong his tenure as president until he is 90 by contesting next
year's scheduled presidential election under rules designed to guarantee
that he will emerge triumphant. While Mugabe, a devotee of yoga, is in many
ways an austere and abstemious man, he is not above commandeering the
state-owned airlines for his personal comfort or indulging the extravagant
tastes and shopping addictions of his young wife, Grace Marufu. As important
as his desire to keep his wife in the comfort to which she has become
accustomed is his fear of retribution for his role in the bloody crushing of
political resistance to his rule in Matabeleland in the early to mid-1980s.
Undertaken by the notorious North Korean-trained 5th Brigade (which was
personally responsible to Mugabe), the campaign is known as gukurahundi, a
Shona expression that means "the first rain that washes away the chaff of
the last harvest before the advent of spring rains proper". The
re-publication by Jacana of the original report by the Catholic Commission
for Justice and Peace (CCJP) on the 5th Brigade's reign of terror in
Matabeleland serves as a timely and authoritative reminder of the events for
which Mugabe has yet to be held to account. In his foreword to the new
edition - which is entitled Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe - Archbishop Pius Ncube,
of the Catholic church, states emphatically that 20 000 unarmed civilians
were killed by the 5th Brigade during its four-year campaign in
The objective of the 5th Brigade was "to crush the people of Matabeleland"
and, thereby, force them to submit to Mugabe's Zanu PF and relinquish their
loyalty to Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (Zapu). The CCJP
calculations are more conservative than Ncube's approximation. Given the
meticulous manner in which its researchers documented the human rights
abuses that occurred, that is unsurprising. The CCJP puts the number of
named victims who were killed at 1 437 and the number of named missing
people at 354. Since, by its own admission, it managed to conduct
comprehensive research in one district only, Tsholosho, the actual number of
dead and missing is almost certain to have been far greater than the
relatively low figures quoted above. Moreover, these figures do not include
the full range of human-rights abuses. When the complete spectrum of
atrocities and abuses is taken into account, the total cost in terms of
human lives and suffering as measured by the CCJP is far higher: 7 246, to
be precise. Seen in that context, Archbishop Ncube's estimate may not be
that far off the mark.
In her introduction to the new edition, human rights activist and biographer
of African National Congress leaders, Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Sheila
Sisulu recounts how she was horrified by the detailed account in the CCJP
report of the "mass shooting of 62 young men and women" on the banks of
Cwele River in Matabeleland. She contrasts the silence that greeted the 1983
massacre in Matabeleland with the shock and dismay throughout the world
occasioned by the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa in March 1960. As the
CCJP report recognises, the 5th Brigade's rampaging incursions into
Matabeleland should be seen in historical context. Relevant components of
the context include the brutalising liberation war against white rule, the
clashes between the rival armies of Zanu and Zapu in the bush as well as
within the ranks of the post-liberation national army, and the desertion
from the national army of pro-Zapu combatants, some of whom degenerated into
One more factor needs to be added to the already complex amalgam: the
destructive role of the former South African government in forming a
destabilising surrogate force known as "Super-Zapu" - for whose
destabilising actions Zapu was often unfairly blamed. In the end, however,
Mugabe cannot avoid responsibility for the decision to launch war on
civilians in Matabeleland instead of seeking a political solution and
deploying a counter-dissident strategy that targeted the responsible
culprits and, where possible, brought them to trial. The online
encyclopaedia Wikipedia quotes Mugabe as saying in April 1983: "We eradicate
them. We don't differentiate when we fight because we can't tell who is a
dissident and who is not." While it is true that an Accord of Unity was
signed between Mugabe and Nkomo in December 1987, it is important to note
that the basis for the agreement was the incorporation of Zapu into Zanu PF
and the end of Zapu as a viable separate party. It exemplifies Mugabe's
notion of democracy.
The significance of gukurahundi stretches beyond the 1980s into Zimbabwe
today, as it formed the model for Mugabe's later campaign of violence and
chicanery against the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) when it
threatened to unseat him by winning majority support at the polls. One line
of continuity between then and now is the indemnity from prosecution enjoyed
by the army and the police. The culture of impunity that pertained during
gukurahundi still prevails in Zimbabwe today. Another continuity is the
intense and nearly ubiquitous distrust and fear of Mugabe in the Ndebele
community. It is, furthermore, not a coincidence that Matabeleland is a
stronghold of the MDC, from which it may be concluded that the majority of
Ndebele subscribe to the maxim: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Yet
another continuity is Mugabe's Operation Murambatsvina, as the destruction
in 2005 of the homes of Zimbabwean citizens deemed to have opposed him
politically was code-named. As the perspicacious Sisulu notes, compelling
similarities extend across a chronological chasm of more than 20 years to
link gukurahundi and murambatsvina. "Once again, people are defined in terms
that justify their removal - just as the Ndebele were the chaff to be washed
away by the first rains, so the poverty-stricken urban masses are described
by police chief Augustine Chihuri as a "crawling mass of maggots bent on
destroying the economy".
An armed Zambian poacher has been arrested in Zimbabwe's Hwange National
Park after a shootout with game rangers while his four accomplices fled the
scene last Thursday, The Sunday Mail reported.
Zimbabwe police assistant inspector Philip Mpofu confirmed the arrest of the
poacher, but would not be drawn into revealing his nationality, saying doing
so could jeopardize relations between the two countries, the newspaper said.
"I can confirm that someone was arrested at Sinamatela Park and is assisting
the police with investigations leading to the arrest of his accomplices. The
culprit had no particulars on him, but he claimed to be a Zambian, but at
the present moment we cannot comment anything about his nationality until
the investigations are complete," said Mpofu.
However, police sources told the Sunday News that the arrested suspect,
Morris Kakwezi (24), is a Zambian national residing at Samuholo village, in
Zambia's North West province.
Kakwezi is said to have crossed the Zambezi River using a canoe and gained
entry into Zimbabwe through the Katombora area, an illegal entry point.
Kakwezi was with four other poachers who entered Sinamatela and began
Their illegal hunting spree came to a halt when they were confronted by game
rangers, leading to a fierce shootout.
The Zambian's case will be presided over on Monday at the Hwange
magistrates' court and he was remanded in custody to appear in court to
answer charges of entry by evasion, attempted murder, unlawful possession of
a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition and illegal hunting of
The Zambians killed a zebra and a tortoise. An AK rifle, serial number KN
8181, was recovered including a total of 44 bullets. No one was injured
during the exchange of fire.
CHURCHES in Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo dubbed Churches
in Zimbabwe (CIB) coalition on Saturday defied a police order and held
Operation Murambatsvina commemorations in the city despite threats
against holding the event.
Police had declared the event barred under the notorious Public Order
and Security Act (POSA) despite the fact that it was a church gathering.
Under POSA, Zimbabweans are supposed to seek police clearance before
holding meetings or demonstrations. But churches are exempted from seeking
clearance for their gatherings and sermons.
Said Pastor Raymond Motsi, a spokesperson for the CIB that organized
the event: "This is a church gathering that needs no authorization and that
is why we did not heed the police ban."
However, victims of the operation, in their testimonies, said they
still had no accommodation as they did not benefit from the re-construction
exercise, Operation Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai.
They claimed they 'are now worse off due to the grinding economic
crises.' Estimates by the United Nations say over 700 000 Zimbabweans were
affected by the operation.
Police under the clean up Operation weere demolishing thousands of
dwellings and makeshift stalls of small traders saying they were
President Robert Mugabe defended the Operation saying it was necessary
because the cities were overrun with dirt and criminals and had become
'havens of illicit and criminal practices.which could not be allowed to
go on.'- CAJ News.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
28 May, 2007
Zimbabweans are living without power or running water most of the time these
days. That means the luxury of hot baths and night time television viewing
is a thing of the past. And without affordable fuel, many people are walking
to work or cycling. The policies of the Mugabe regime are pulling the
country back in time to the dark ages, literally. And now the answer to fuel
shortages is ox drawn carts!
South Africa's Business Day newspaper reported that Zimbabwe's government
has embarked on a project to resuscitate agriculture. The plan involves the
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono setting up technical colleges to produce
ox-drawn carts and ploughs to help communal farmers produce food. Gono is
quoted saying the project was part of government's mechanisation programme.
Government says at least half a million ox-drawn carts would be produced at
institutions set up in 62 districts around the country. Gono said this would
also create jobs for youths as well as boost agriculture.
Political commentator Dr John Makumbe dismissed this plan as another
stop-gap measure taken by a desperate regime. He said Gono forgot that when
they took the commercial farms, they ate all the meat at a braai and there
are no cattle to pull the carts. Eventually he said government will force
the farmer and his family to pull the ploughs. The political science
professor also explained that government announces all these pointless
projects in order to appear as though they are doing something and forging
ahead. He added: "They want to seem as though they are running government,
when this government is not running well at all."
Once the breadbasket of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe has been reduced to buying
maize from countries that used to import ours, including Malawi. Some white
commercial farmers who were evicted illegally from their properties in
Zimbabwe resettled in neighbouring countries and have helped to boost
agricultural production there. While back in Zimbabwe, ox-drawn carts are
the best the government has come up with as a solution.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
28th May 2007 10:44 GMT
By Patrick Chikwende
EVERYONE in my class was brimming with happiness at the success of enrolling
on a journalism course that initially had hundreds of applicants enlisted
The competition was tough and after learning a lot about the prominence
given to the journalism school throughout the southern African region and
the role it played in churning out some of the best journalists now working
in newsrooms from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Britain, France, America
and many other countries, we were, understandably, some of the happiest
people on earth at the time. We were expecting great things during our
But that happiness quickly faded away as we embarked on the course with
school fees skyrocketing, lecturers deserting us for greener pastures and
better teaching environments that did not censor them from talking about the
current political malaise affecting our country.
Things got worse as we completed our course, most of us never imagined how
miserable life would be after graduating, two years after enrolling to do
the journalism course at the Harare Polytechnic.
Our dreams when we started on the course were to work for local newspapers
like the Herald, Standard, Independent, Sunday Mail, Financial Gazette and
even international media houses CNN, BBC, AFP and Reuters. They sky was the
limit, we told ourselves and the local media houses we would use as stepping
stones to greater heights.
Enrolling for this well-respected journalism course in the Division of Mass
Communication at Harare Polytechnic was one of the best things to ever
happen in my life.
At last I would be able to train and become a professional journalist, the
love of my life ever since I was in junior school.
In our orientation we were told of the good, bad and ugly side of the trade.
Apart from our course curriculum it was also mandatory to do an extra
subject known as National Strategic Studies.
This extra subject was meant to teach us about our country's history so that
we could be patriotic cadres and be able to defend our country when the need
Our biggest challenge though was accessing the Vocational Training Loans
(VTL) which had to come directly from the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ),
a bank in which the Zimbabwe government has a lot of vested interests.
The bank turned down most of the students' applications, which meant that
parents had to bankroll our tuition and boarding fees.
With the country's inflation rising so sharply, in February 2006 fees rose
astronomically by over 500% and most students dropped out of school while
some of us who opted to hang on had to go for several weeks without eating
in the canteen and attending lectures.
When we managed to raise the required fees we had to be content with
inadequate learning facilities, two meals of a poor diet a day. The sanitary
facilities were deteriorating and toilets that broke down were never
repaired because there was no money.
Sensing the growing tension among disgruntled students, college officials
banned student activism and introduced a number of restrictive rules.
Students could no longer elect their representatives, but instead the
administration would choose these on their behalf.
Failure to adhere to the new rules led to instant expulsion.
Like any other department at the institution, my division was rocked by the
mass exodus of experienced lecturers, notably the Head of Department, then
Reward Mushayabasa and later head of the print section Kudakwashe Gonese.
They are both believed to be in the United Kingdom now.
My final year witnessed another four staffers who left for greener pastures
and the same was being experienced in other departments. The department to
date is still understaffed and the journalists being churned onto the market
are half-baked and without the necessary schooling they should be getting
all things being equal.
Our lecturers found it very difficult to give true examples of the political
and economic decay taking place in our country because almost half the class
were students coming from the Border Gezi Training Camps and obviously
affiliated to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). During lessons
they feverishly took notes when examples were given of the government rot,
the sleaze, corruption, the clamping down on opposition and pro-democracy
activists. Obviously the notes were meant for their handlers and lecturers
failed to thrive under such conditions and it meant we, the students, were
the end losers, especially now when the Zimbabwe government is paying more
attention to journalism schools than ever as it continues to blame
independent and foreign reporting for some of its woes.
We lost hard and I still feel it even after completing my course.
Attachment places were difficult to come by, although I was lucky to get a
placement at The Herald. My other colleagues had to spent more than half of
the time of our attachment period at home as they failed to get places.
Others opted to join Public Relations companies where they could never
experience the heat of the newsroom. All this because the media industry in
Zimbabwe has been shrinking ever since Jonathan Moyo introduced the
draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) that
has seen the closure of newspapers such as the popular Daily News, The
Tribune and others.
Though it was traditional in our department to produce a laboratory
newspaper The Sharpener, we learnt that the college administration had
blocked the publishing of the paper. This was regardless of the fact that
very good material had been put together for the college newspaper - it was
good training so both students and lecturers were unhappy with the ban.
According to the college principal Steven Raza, we had written stories that
were not palatable to the state and the college, so we had to rewrite the
publication and report positively about the state of affairs at the college
and in the country. In essence, we were being asked to lie.
Apparently we had written the good, bad and ugly side of students as well as
lecturers' concerns and issues that were of paramount importance to the
readers and to our principal this was like crossing the rubicon.
Despite the support of our lecturers the college administration won the day
and The Sharpener never saw the light of the day. We were gutted.
Similar attempts by the broadcast lecturers and students to establish a
college radio broadcasting station were denied by the Broadcasting Authority
of Zimbabwe (BAZ) because of the political climate in the country.
The Higher Examination Council (HEXCO) bungled several times when we were
sitting for our final examinations. Papers were mixed up, there were delays
in the writing of some exams and on more than two occasions we had to sit
for our papers in the evening up to 9 pm.
Though I passed my diploma the hope of finding a job in Zimbabwe continues
to fade away day by day, especially with the half-baked education that I got
during the two years I read for my diploma.
It has since dawned on me that it would be difficult to find work and will
soon be forced to go outside the country in search of employment. Many of us
are having to survive through buying and selling, a trade that almost every
Zimbabwean is getting into to survive.
It is pathetic and I feel sorry not only for myself but also for my
colleagues and others going through the course at the moment. How can
students from such a prestigious journalism school that was renowned in the
region be struggling the way we are? It beggars belief.
And worse when a person like Tafataona Mahoso, who used to head the
institution, is now a government lapdog, going out of his way through the
Media and Information Commission (MIC) to close newspapers down and in the
process throwing his former students onto the streets to beg. As a result
not many students now want to enroll into journalism courses, with all the
tough and oppressive media laws still in place.
Journalism is slowly becoming a preserve for the few. Some in the newsrooms
are also leaving in search for greener pastures, away from the prying eyes
of Big Brother. Many in profession claim they are followed from place to
place while others think their phones are tapped.
For me and many others, the possibility of swapping my pen for other
professions is now a reality on my doorstep. It seems I cannot keep on
postponing it while waiting for a magic wand to do the tricks for me. Cry my
Patrick Chikwande is a pseudonym of Zimbabwean journalist.
For me this country exercises its magic each year in April/May. The rains
are over but we still have green grass in many areas, there is water in the
rivers and streams and crops are drying off in preparation for harvest. At
the same time temperatures are dropping fast and the days are shorter,
nights crisp and clear with brilliant star-lit skies that stretch forever.
Humidity is near zero.
It is also the time when our aloes work their magic - suddenly blooming
where life seems only hard and unrelenting. There is just something about
the pale yellows, pinks and reds that typify the winter flowers of our
aloes. Perhaps it's the backdrop of gray granite and bright yellow grass;
perhaps it's the little sunbirds in their bright colors. Perhaps it is all
of these things taken together, for me, it is what I call May magic.
With the air still clean and reasonably free of the smoke and dust that
comes later, the light at this time of the year also often casts a spell
over the veld. The vast stretches that spread out in front of us at an
escarpment, the evening glow that seems to illuminate all life with special
significance. That time in the evening when the sun retreats and the moon
rises, when the Hueglins Robin sings from his hiding place and then the
quiet cry of the Nightjars takes his place.
Just the other evening I sat on the stoep and listened to the evening sing.
A thin sliver of a new moon rose with the evening star cupped in its curves,
so bright that it positively twinkled at me. This is better than a Disney
fantasy I thought and it is all ours for free!
Somehow there is also magic in the Lowveld. Although I have spent much of my
life on the Highveld, it is the Lowveld that has always symbolized the real
Africa. Here the environment is colder, hotter and more arid. Here the trees
must fight for life and bear the scars of that struggle. Here the colors
somehow seem so much more vivid; by contrast the winter Europe is a pale
shade of gray and its summer green. Here the variety of life is vast and
bewildering - a thousand species of birds, animal life from the smallest
shrew to the great gray ghosts of the Elephant. Everything in abundance from
insects to snakes and reptiles. Life is never taken for granted; everything
knows life is a precious gift to be enjoyed everyday.
Ever since I was a small boy growing up on a Matabeleland Ranch, I have
expected winter to arrive on or about the 15th of May. This year was no
exception. An artic front came across the Cape, spread upwards and inwards
and if we had any moisture in the atmosphere, brought snow and ice. In the
Lowveld, with zero humidity, it simply froze our birdbaths and garden pipes
and killed our frost sensitive plants. I saw a small garden font still
frozen solid at three in the afternoon on a brilliant clear blue-sky day.
This sudden arrival of winter, in a country where people do not heat their
homes and do not have access to warm clothing, brings with it, its own
threats and dangers. In Johannesburg 54 people died of exposure on the first
In Zimbabwe where the majority of the people displaced by Murambatsvina are
still homeless and destitute, no one knows what our death toll was - no one
is counting. In South Africa where 3,5 million Zimbabweans have fled, the
majority as illegal migrants without rights, many must have died in their
makeshift shacks and hovels in the over crowded slums outside all major
Cities. No one is counting. Many will simply be buried where they died, not
enough money to get them home, nowhere to bury them decently.
So for some, May is magic, for many others it's the start of another long
cold winter. This time a winter with 10 000 per cent inflation, no work, no
means of heating or cooking at home and many hungry nights. The minimum wage
for a farm worker is Z$38 000, that is two loaves of bread or 4 kilograms of
maize meal. A bottle of cooking oil is now Z$50 000, meat is Z$60 000 a kilo
for low grade cuts. Under these circumstances many simply give up working -
why waste the energy, rather turn to crime or begging or simply pack a few
things in a bag and hitch a lift to the SA or Botswana border. Walk 50 or 60
kilometers inland and then head for the nearest slum to find someone who
will take you in and show you the ropes.
I do not know how much more of this we can take. Those who are brokering our
future must work with haste; life is at stake on a huge scale. It astonishes
me how those who have created these disastrous conditions in our land but
who themselves are protected by the very policies that give them lives of
luxury and pleasure at our expense, show no sign of their culpability or
shame. They drive their fast cars and flaunt their wealth while the evidence
of their failure is all around them. It makes no impact and they actually
think this can go on forever!
Well I have news for them, seasons change and every season has its own life.
Regional leaders in the SADC have decided that the crisis in Zimbabwe simply
cannot be allowed to drift on indefinitely, South Africa wants, needs,
closure. The spectre of the World Cup to be staged in May/June 2010 provides
one pressure point, the flood of refugees from Zimbabwe, another. Against
this backdrop, the men and women who are brokering a deal are now aware of
When negotiations finally get underway soon, they will be against the
backdrop of a clear definition of just what the international community will
accept as an outcome, they have their own rules as expressed in the SADC
democratic protocols as the minima that must be satisfied. All that remains
is the translation of these background conditions to the talks into the
Zimbabwe situation and a form of language that Mr. Mugabe will understand.
Then hopefully we can get down to a meaningful election campaign and vote as
a people based on our basic citizenship and decide who is going to lead us
out of this smelly Zanu PF quagmire. All we then ask is that the rest of you
respect our wishes and help us get back on our feet - from then on we will
look after ourselves. When that happens we can give you an open invitation
to come and enjoy the magic of our country and its people.
Bulawayo, 27th May 2007
The Nation (Nairobi)
27 May 2007
Posted to the web 28 May 2007
"South Africa tells Africa to go to hell" was the Page One pointer of a
leading Cape Town newspaper two weeks ago to a story inside about the
response of President Thabo Mbeki's government to a report on that country
by a panel of experts under the Africa Peer Review Mechanism.
The mechanism forces governments to examine their own conduct and attempts
to hold them to account by subjecting them to the judgement of their peers.
Usually, a panel of respected academic and other leaders evaluates a
country, interacts with government, business and civil society and compiles
a report, including recommendations.
The whole thing depends on the willingness of governments to accept
criticism and make an effort to correct what the panel judges to have gone
wrong. Often the impressions of the panel are not in perfect match with
those of the government in question.
The panel that reviewed Kenya was chaired by former South African First Lady
Graca Machel and was notably critical of our management of the fight against
South Africa was reviewed by a panel led by Nigerian economics professor
Adebayo Adedeji, a well known man in Africa. The report on South Africa must
have elicited some curiosity on the continent because of Mr Mbeki's
leadership of processes to improve democracy and restore Africa's reputation
as a continent with possibilities, rather than a basket case of poverty,
flies and strife.
The panel's report, while praising South Africa for some things, was
critical of the nation's handling of crime and Aids, among others.
To the surprise of many, the South African government has, in effect,
rejected the report: It does not accept 153 of the 154 recommendations.
In doing this, the government of Mr Mbeki has set an appalling example. It
refuses to submit to a process it recommends for the continent.
True, it may well be that the panel presented a perspective which was
totally at variance with South African reality, in the way South Africans
perceived it. True, the report may have been too quick to judge or was
probably not perfectly fair. The point is, this is one case that Mr Mbeki
needed to lead by example. And he hasn't.
Mr Mbeki is not alone in that. As we report elsewhere in this paper,
Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo has also been at the lead of preaching
democracy and accountability to Africa. But it would seem that he held
himself exempt from the restrictions imposed by these desirable concepts: He
attempted unsuccessfully to gerrymander the constitution to win himself a
longer stay in power and he has almost certainly rigged an election.
Democracy is best served when leaders, especially those who recommend it to
others, suffer its consequences. By failing the test of example, Mr Mbeki
and Mr Obasanjo have hurt their own cause and that of African emancipation.