The South African Communist Party,
alliance partner of the ruling African National Congress, has condemned
Zimbabwe's "low-intensity democracy".
After its central committee meeting
last weekend, the SACP stopped just short of naming the ruling Zanu-PF
regime. It "condemned authoritarianism, torture of political opponents of the
regime and gross violations of human rights in
Spokesperson Mazibuko Jara also announced that the party
would send its own "fact-finding" mission to Zimbabwe in the next three
This is the party's strongest statement yet on the situation in
South Africa's northern neighbour and the only strongly worded condemnation
of the Zimbabwean regime to emerge from the alliance.
There has been
concern within the SACP that not enough is being done to resolve the
Zimbabwean crisis. The party now says it will seek engagement with the
Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in a
"complementary and not parallel process" with those of the South
African government and the ANC.
The non-governmental Zimbabwe Research
Initiative reported this week that inflation in Zimbabwe was expected to
exceed 500% this year. Inflation in South Africa stands at about 11%. The
organisation also reported that the Zimbabwean crisis had cost South Africa's
"real economy" more than R9-billion last year.
Jara said the SACP
would try to establish links with individual socialists within Zanu-PF and
the MDC as well as with other socialist organisations in Zimbabwe.
wish to ensure that an independent socialist perspective emerges in Zimbabwe
and the Southern African region," Jara said.
The party also expressed
"solidarity with the workers and the poor", who, it said, "were the worst
affected by the current crisis".
"The SACP stands firmly for the
promotion of an environment in which free political activity can take place
without fear of intimidation," Jara said.
The SACP already has ties with
other socialist political organisations, such as Frelimo in Mozambique and
the Communist Party of Lesotho.
Last month the Congress of South African
Trade Unions (Cosatu) condemned the arrests of Zimbabwean trade unionists for
protesting against the 200% hike in fuel prices announced by the
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is expected to launch an
indefinite mass stayaway next week to demand a reduction in fuel
Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said the labour federation
would "support our fellow trade unionists in their struggle for basic human
rights and against poverty in Zimbabwe".
Zimbabwe military warns opposition not to
protest May 30, 2003, 05:30
military has warned it will deal forcefully with any violence linked to next
week's planned protest marches against President Robert Mugabe. Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
has called for a week of peaceful protests beginning on June
He has asked Zimbabweans to come out "in their millions"
to demand that Mugabe step down. "Stand up and be counted. Demonstrate
your anger," he said in a statement. "Be peaceful. Be disciplined. Be
vigilant. Be courageous."
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces
(ZDF), incorporating the army, airforce and police, issued a warning to
potential protesters, telling the official Herald newspaper that prior
demonstrations had "turned violent with both innocent lives of citizens and
property being deliberately destroyed."
"In the light of
this, the ZDF will not be an idle observer, instead it will bring to bear its
full force upon those perpetrators of uncalled for violence," the paper
quoted a ZDF statement as saying.
A copy of the statement was
not available to Reuters. The statement from the ZDF, which traditionally
supports Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and took a strong stance against the
opposition ahead of the country's 2002 elections, marked the military's first
direct warning ahead of next week's protests.
warnings delivered ahead of previous demonstrations have usually been issued
by the police.
Tsvangirai urged protesters to exercise
maximum restraint, saying Mugabe's supporters "are actively planning to start
Tough new security legislation which Mugabe signed
into law last year outlaws public gatherings without police clearance, and on
Wednesday the MDC said riot police arrested three women among a crowd holding
prayers in Harare ahead of the planned opposition
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence
from Britain in 1980, hinted last week for the second time in two months that
he may be ready to hand over to a successor amid a deepening political and
economic crisis many blame him for. However, he vowed the MDC, which he calls
a puppet of the West, would only rule "over our dead
The MDC and labour unions each called strikes
earlier this year, which were among the biggest protests against Mugabe
controversial re-election in March 2002 polls that both the opposition and
several Western countries said were rigged. - Reuters
Zimbabwe out of money, new violence feared May
By Basildon Peta
Harare: Zimbabwean army
units have begun deploying across the country, with the military warning it
will use its "full force" to quell any violence during next week's street
protests against President Robert Mugabe.
Tensions have been stoked
by the opposition stepping up its drive to remove Mugabe from power and by a
severe shortage of cash that has seen banks scrabbling to find local currency
and thousands of people queueing, many of them hours before opening time,
Some banks have limited withdrawals to Z$10 000
(US$12.50) and have resorted to buying currency from supermarkets and
businesses, some of which have been charging them a fee of 5%.
The governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Leonard Tsumba, said yesterday
the country was printing money "at full capacity" in an attempt to ease the
shortage and was to inject Z$24 billion (US$29 million) into the economy by
the middle of next month.
"What we're trying to do is guard against
unnecessary panic," Tsumba said.
It was not explained how the
bank, which had contributed to the shortage as it lacked the foreign currency
to import paper, had acquired the materials it needed.
Meanwhile, soldiers in barracks around Harare began moving weapons
and deploying in other cities and towns. The deployments would
continue throughout the weekend, government officials told the Independent
Earlier, a middle-ranking army officer, who
declined to be named, told the Independent Foreign Service that Mugabe had
ordered the military to arm war veterans and youth brigades to help crush the
opposition challenge to his authority.
This claim has not been
confirmed, although the leader of the National Liberation War Veterans'
Association, Patrick Nyaruwata, said his militias would resist what the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was calling its "final push
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, has called on
Zimbabweans to come out in their millions in street protests from June 2 to
try to drive Mugabe from power. But he has urged protesters to exercise
maximum restraint as Mugabe's supporters are "actively planning to start
"Be peaceful. Be disciplined. Be vigilant. Be
courageous," Tsvangirai said in a statement.
Defence Forces, incorporating the army and air force, said previous
demonstrations had "turned violent with innocent lives of citizens and
property being deliberately destroyed".
"In the light of this, the
ZDF will not be an idle observer. It will bring to bear its full force upon
those perpetrators of uncalled-for violence."
The ZDF statement
was the military's first direct warning about protests. Before, such warnings
have been issued by the police.
The police have said they will
crack down on illegal demonstrations. Under the stringent security laws,
permission must be sought from the police for political
On Wednesday, riot police arrested three women in a
crowd who were holding a prayer meeting in a mall here. Prayer
meetings have been held since Tuesday in response to Tsvangirai's appeal to
protesters to pray every day in preparation for next week's
Police claim these meetings are politically motivated and
illegal. They dispersed another here yesterday and arrested a woman prayer
leader, who sang hymns in defiance.
distributed before the prayer meetings said Mugabe's repressive government
had "lost all love and fear of God". They likened Zimbabweans living in
misery to the biblical Israelites in Egypt who sought spiritual inner
strength to confront forces of evil.
Meanwhile, Tsumba pleaded with
people to bank their cash and use cheques and credit cards. Many people have
been hoarding cash amid fears that they will not be able to access
Tsumba warned that the shortage of banknotes was likely to
persist because of soaring inflation - which is running at 269% and
The shortage has been crippling business operations and a
black market has arisen.
Mugabe deserves all the press criticism
May 30, 2003
Not surprisingly, Zimbabwe Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo has lived up to his tainted reputation by requesting that
President Thabo Mbeki should stop the South Africa media for its "relentless
demonisation" of Robert Mugabe and of the Zimbabwean people.
This plea re-emphasises the utter hopelessness which now exists in that
For besides the undeniable fact that the Zanu-PF faction
has, under the auspices of Mugabe, brought a once thriving and beautiful
country to its knees, nothing should be manipulated to allay what has
occurred in Zimbabwe.
This request reflects the skulduggery with
which the leading party is attempting to salvage its tenure in
It would be yet another travesty if Mbeki (or his foreign
minister) were to respond favourably to Moyo's request.
less, even more of a let-down were he to in any way admonish the South
African media for its more than justifiable criticism of Mugabe and his
policies. He deserves nothing less.
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has summoned all officers on leave to return
to their bases by 4pm today as the government prepares to face down week-long
mass protests called by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
Senior police officials yesterday said they had been
put on high alert ahead of the protests, dubbed the "final push" by the MDC
as it seeks to pressure President Robert Mugabe to resign over charges of
economic and political mismanagement.
The officials, who spoke
on condition of anonymity, however said they had been ordered to use "minimal
force" against the demonstrators to avoid international condemnation of the
government's handling of the protests.
A senior policemen in
Mashonaland West told The Daily News: "Everyone has been ordered to be at
their respective police stations by 4pm tomorrow and everyone should be in
riot gear. All strategic places will be heavily guarded. We won't use force
Griffiths Mpofu, the Deputy Police Commissioner who was
said to be in charge of the security plan, yesterday would not discuss the
police's strategy for the mass action.
"No comment," he said.
"These are security plans you are asking me about. In fact, you know there is
a commissioner of police, phone him." Police Commissioner Augustine
Chihuri was said to be out of the office yesterday.
officials said they had been ordered not to shoot and to use minimum force
while the army, also placed on high alert, would not play an immediate role
in dealing with the planned protests.
The sources said all
strategic national areas such as government offices and fuel stations
catering for State security vehicles would be heavily guarded because of
fears that opposition party activists could tamper with them to immobilise
the police force.
The police sources told The Daily News that
provincial Joint Operations Command (JOC) heads were given strict orders to
ensure that the protests did not turn violent.
violence during the demonstrations would be used by the MDC and foreign
countries to justify international intervention.
The JOC comprises
senior officers from the police, the army and the spy Central Intelligence
Organisation. It co-ordinates security strategies, especially when the
security of the country is under threat.
Police officers said a
radio message dispatched to all stations on Wednesday night indicated that
unknown quantities of dynamite had been stolen from Renco Mine in
The sources said the ZRP feared these could be used as
explosives against strategic national points.
While the police
officers were ordered to use minimum force, they would be armed in case the
situation got out of hand, the sources said.
Army officials said
although they would be on standby, the army would not take an immediate
active part in security measures, but would intervene if the protests
"The provincial JOCs have been told that we should
make no show of force because the MDC wants to use the OSharpeville massacres
trick' to get international sympathy and possibly foreign intervention," a
senior police officer in Harare said.
Apartheid-era police in
South Africa killed 69 people and injured many others when they opened fire
on unarmed demonstrators in the township of Sharpeville in 1960.
The United States' State Department on Wednesday warned the
Zimbabwean government against using strong-arm tactics against the
demonstrators, although it did not say how Washington would react if security
forces resorted to violence to crush the protests.
In the past
week, the government, the army and veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s war of
independence have warned in dire terms that they will take action should the
protests turn violent.
Police officials said yesterday they had
been told to set up roadblocks to control the movement of people into the
centres of cities and towns throughout the country.
orders not to indiscriminately fire teargas but to mount roadblocks where
intensive searches, including body searches, would take place.
"We have information that they (MDC) would want to use the
slightest opportunity to cause chaos, get people injured and killed in the
melee and blame the State for it. The objective is to attract foreign
interest in the whole matter," one official said. However, MDC
secretary-general Welshman Ncube said: "The police are supposed to be a
professional and apolitical body, but here we have a situation where the
police are speaking ZANU PF language.
"What the police should be
saying is that they respect the right of the MDC to hold a peaceful
demonstration and we will be there to ensure that they exercise that right
without being molested. On our part, we will do everything to ensure that the
demonstration is peaceful."
The opposition party says it is
planning peaceful demonstrations to press Mugabe to step down before the
expiry of his term in 2008.
The demonstrations could include
marches to Mugabe's State House residence and his Munhumutapa offices, both
in the capital Harare.
THE Harare City
Council yesterday said water shortages being experienced in some parts of
Chitungwiza were because of mechanical problems that were being experienced
at its Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Works.
In a statement to the
Press, the city's acting director of works, Vumisani Sithole, said Morton
Jaffray had experienced problems two weeks ago which resulted in reduced
pumping to the main Warren water controls and the city's other main
reservoirs at Letombo and Alex Park.
Sithole said: "In order to
build up enough storage at these reservoirs, demand management measures were
decided to be implemented. Among these measures was throttling of valves in
lines feeding major consumers, including Chitungwiza."
Chitungwiza's suburbs of Zengeza 3, 4 and 5 and Seke units A, B, C, D, F, O
and G were the most affected.
Paddington Garwe yesterday upheld a ministerial certificate issued by State
Security Minister Nicholas Goche barring defence lawyers in the treason trial
of three top opposition leaders from questioning Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) chief Happyton Bonyongwe on transactions between the CIO
and a company headed by Ari Ben-Menashe, principal State witness in the
Garwe, however, said that the defence could cross-examine
Bonyongwe on any other matters outside the parameters of the minister's
The judge ruled that the information requested by
defence lawyers "related to State security issues" and that there was no need
for the court to "go behind" Goche's certificate to determine the validity of
the minister 's claim of privilege.
He said even in cases where
accused persons were facing serious charges, "the courts have to remain alive
to the fact that there are matters that no government would like to reveal in
an open court. The clandestine activities of security organisations of
various countries are not matters for public disclosure in an open
South African advocate George Bizos, leading a team of
lawyers defending opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, his secretary-general Welshman Ncube and MDC legislator
Renson Gasela who are facing charges of plotting to kill President Robert
Mugabe had demanded that the court disregard Goche's certificate. The three
deny the charges.
The certificate bars Bonyongwe from producing,
as demanded by Bizos and his team, invoices and receipts relating to the
payment by the Zimbabwean government of US$30 000 (Z$24,7 million) for the
production of a video-tape allegedly showing three MDC leaders plotting
Bonyongwe had told the court he could not produce
the documents requested by the defence since they had been destroyed because
according to the CIO's internal regulations, such documents had to be
destroyed three months after they are received.
Asked by defence
lawyers to produce a copy of the regulations that provided for the
destruction of the documents and the identities of the people who authorised
their destruction, Bonyongwe said disclosing the information would prejudice
Goche intervened by invoking the Criminal Procedure
and Evidence Act and issuing the certificate to prevent the defence from
cross-examining Bonyongwe on what he said was "information relating to the
covert account of the Department of State Security which is classified OTop
Goche said: "The disclosure being sought has the potential
of grievously undermining and compromising the very existence of the
(State Security) Department. The requested disclosure would, even if done
in camera, seriously prejudice the State's national security
Bizos protested at the issuing of the ministerial
certificate, accusing Goche of abusing the court process.
said the minister's action impinged on the accused persons' right to a fair
trial as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
In a related
case, Garwe threw out an application by the defence to grant a new order to
compel Ben-Menashe to disclose the whereabouts of US$97 000 paid by the MDC
to his company.
The MDC paid the money before the government hired
Ben-Menashe in January 2002, ostensibly to spruce up its battered image
THE government's stoic silence and
apparent inaction over the acute shortage of bank notes ravaging the country
is the clearest sign yet that it has become a hapless bystander as Zimbabwe
hurtles towards total collapse, analysts said this week.
failure by the government to print its own Zimbabwe dollar currency
underscored its growing impotence in the face of a cocktail of crises choking
the country, according to the analysts.
Zimbabwe, grappling with
its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980, is already
experiencing severe shortages of foreign currency, food, fuel, electricity
and essential drugs.
"It (cash shortage) is a manifestation of an
increasingly dysfunctional state. It shows that the government's power to
influence and control events has been seriously eroded," said University of
Zimbabwe (UZ) political analyst Eldred Masunungure.
central bank Press conference yesterday afternoon, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) governor Leonard Tsumba and Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa had
remained mum in the past few weeks.
Even as financial experts
warned that the cash crunch could cause chaos in the financial sector and
even lead to its collapse in the long-term.
insiders say the RBZ cannot print enough bank notes because it has no hard
cash to pay foreign suppliers for the special ink and paper needed to print
However, early this month, Reserve Bank officials blamed the
note shortage on members of the public and illegal foreign currency
dealers hoarding bank notes.
An illegal black market for the
local currency was already beginning to emerge this week, with banks,
building societies and individuals paying commission to anyone who could
supply them with large quantities of the dollar.
currency, like nearly every other basic commodity in the country, is now
almost exclusively available from the parallel market.
who heads the UZ's political and adminsitrative studies department, said by
confining itself to a mere spectator's role as the cash crisis unfolded, the
government was inadvertently entrenching an atmosphere of a power vacuum in
the country, just as opposition forces were mobilising for mass
demonstrations next week to topple the administration.
leader Morgan Tsvangirai has set the first week of June for mass
demonstrations to force President Robert Mugabe to step down.
Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe of ruining the economy and scaring away foreign
aid, which is desperately needed to revive Zimbabwe's economy.
Mugabe denies ruining the economy and blames the fast-deteriorating crisis on
sabotage by Western governments opposed to his land
Masunungure said: "The erosion of the State's
capacity to control the situation has been happening over time, but it was
hidden. This shortage of the Zimbabwe dollar makes it visible to the common
Harare-based economic analyst John Robertson, however, said
the government was a victim of its past policies.
besides watching from the sidelines, there was little the Harare authorities
could do to end the cash crunch or reverse the wider economic
Robertson said the note shortage was the result of
ballooning inflation, which rose to 269,2 percent in the year to April, from
228 percent in March. Zimbabwe has one of the highest inflation
rates in the 12-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC). The
country's main trading partners in SADC enjoy single-digit
Economists blame the government's unbridled appetite for
expenditure for the country's high budget deficit, the single largest factor
fuelling inflation. They said the foreign currency needed to pay for
imports of special ink and paper necessary to print money was in short supply
partly because the government had, through its land reforms, destroyed the
mainstay agriculture sector.
Agriculture, the backbone of
Zimbabwe's economy, earned hard cash through exports of crops such as
tobacco, whose output has dropped because of drought and the instability
caused by the land reform programme.
Mugabe seized productive farms
from white farmers and parcelled out the land to black villagers and aspiring
black commercial farmers.
Most of the resettled farmers, however,
do not have the skills training or farm inputs they need to maintain
Food shortages in the country are largely blamed on the
disruptions caused in the previously white-dominated, large-scale
commercial agricultural sector.
International trading and
development partners had cut off credit lines to Zimbabwe in protest over the
government's controversial land policies and other governance issues,
He added: "In short, largely because of its past
actions, the government has now become a spectator in the whole game. These
are the consequences of wrong economic policies."
National Chamber of Commerce chief economist James Jowa said the cash
shortage was only a symptom of the underlying and wider economic crisis
gripping the country.
The analysts said the government did not have
much room to manoeuvre, besides addressing the concerns of the international
community over the country's land reforms, human rights and democracy and
Jowa said: "Expanding the RBZ's capacity to
print more money will only help fuel the problems of inflation the country is
already struggling with."
government of Zimbabwe should take all necessary steps to ensure the
independence of the judiciary and to repeal legislation that
violates provisions of the African Charter, according to the African
non-governmental organisations (NGO) Human Rights Forum.
forum, which met in Niger two weeks ago, said the government should ensure
the protection of lawyers, public prosecutors, magistrates
and judges. Several lawyers have been harassed, assaulted or
arrested while pursuing their duties. Magistrates around the country have
also been attacked, allegedly because of their rulings. Analysts say
this compromises the independence and effectiveness of the
"As African human rights organisations, we are worried
that there have been credible reports of attacks on the judiciary and the due
process of the law, including assaults, intimidation, harassment, obstruction
and torture of lawyers, public prosecutors, magistrates and judges," the
African NGO Forum said.
It also urged the Zimbabwean government
to repeal legislation that interfered with fundamental freedoms, especially
the controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
AIPPA, signed into law by President Robert Mugabe soon
after his re-election last March, has been slammed for restricting freedom of
the Press and for being used to target media organisations that are
independent from the government.
Several journalists have been
detained by the police and hauled before the courts for violating provisions
of the Act.
"The government of Zimbabwe should give full effect to
the right and responsibility of individuals, groups, organs of society to
promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental
freedoms," the human rights organisations said in its
"The government has to take all necessary measures to
ensure the protection of human rights defenders. It has to take immediate
steps to repeal the legislation which violates the provisions
the African Charter, like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act and the Labour Relations Act, to bring them in conformity with the
provisions of the African Charter."
The forum also resolved to urge
the African Commission on Human and People's Rights to publicise the results
of its fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe last May.
human rights commission visited Zimbabwe and held discussions with local
stakeholders, including the government and human rights organisations, but
has not made its findings public.
Commenting on the forum's
resolutions, Arnold Tsunga, the executive director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights, said it was significant that Zimbabwe and Cote D'Ivoire
were the only countries in Africa on which the forum made specific country
He said the organisation normally made generalised
"Once you have this kind of specific resolution, it
shows our situation has reached a stage where it's causing continental
concern," he said.
"The important thing about this resolution is
that contrary to the general belief that judgment about the human rights
situation has been at the instigation of foreign countries, this is an
African initiative which is not influenced from outside Africa," Tsunga
added. Delegates at the Niger meeting also expressed concern over
continued political violence and intimidation and the increased use of
militias in civil and political matters.
The Zimbabwe Human
Rights Forum submitted a detailed report on the human rights situation in the
country, indicating that 57 people were killed in politically motivated
violence between January and September 2002.
The report said 38 of
those killed were opposition Movement for Democratic Change supporters and
eight were ruling ZANU PF activists.
Two of the deceased were war
veterans and the remaining 10 belonged to no known group.
Independent surveys of political violence in Zimbabwe have shown that most
victims of the violence are members or suspected supporters of the
main opposition party.
The surveys have found that most of the
perpetrators of the violence are ruling party activists.
security agents have also been implicated in violence, but they have denied
THE National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) this week said
it will decampaign proposed dialogue between the ruling ZANU PF and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) unless negotiations between
the country 's two main political parties included plans to review the
The NCA is a coalition of
non-governmental organisations, labour and civic rights groups, churches and
opposition political parties, including the MDC.
2000 the NCA successfully mobilised Zimbabweans to reject in a national
referendum the government's proposed new constitution which would have
entrenched President Robert Mugabe's powers. The government's defeat in the
referendum was its first in any national vote.
Douglas Mwonzora said in statement to the Press earlier this week: "The NCA
wishes to advise that it has resolved that it will not recognise the proposed
talks between Zanu PF and the MDC if they do not emphasise the need for
Mwonzora said the national task force of
the civic alliance had met in Harare last week and resolved to urge ZANU PF
and the MDC to include constitutional reforms in the proposed talks or face
an NCA-marshalled public campaign against the dialogue.
According to the NCA the crisis in Zimbabwe was a result of a
flawed constitution which gives Mugabe sweeping powers without stipulating
his accountability. MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, called the
NCA's statement threatening to decampaign the proposed talks premature but
the opposition politician said his party agreed with the civic alliance that
Zimbabwe's crisis was rooted in the country's flawed
Ncube said Mugabe alleged that Mugabe had subverted
the controversy-ridden presidential ballot last year using powers vested in
him under the Constitution. The MDC agreed with the NCA on the need for a
new and democratic constitution, Ncube said.
and ZANU PF's legal affairs secretary Patrick Chinamasa could not be reached
for comment on the matter.
The government has in the past however
said that constitutional reform was not a priority.
said the NCA wanted to prevent Zimbabwe's next President from wielding
extensive powers as Mugabe wielded under the current Constitution.
He said: "If, however, Zanu PF and the MDC proceed with their talks and
ignore the Constitution, the NCA will vigorously campaign against the talks
and advise the people of Zimbabwe that they have been sold out."
Continental power houses South Africa and Nigeria have been piling pressure
on ZANU PF and the MDC to negotiate to break a political impasse arising from
Mugabe's disputed re-election last year.
AIR Zimbabwe is battling to recover US$630 000 (about
Z$520 million on the official market) it paid to France's Air Littoral
Industrie under an aborted deal for the national airliner to lease two planes
from the French company, officials in the State-owned firm said
The money, which is the equivalent of Z$1 575 million on
the parallel market, was paid by Air Zimbabwe to cover deposit and commitment
fees. Under the ill-fated deal, the Zimbabwean airliner had to pay the fees
before taking delivery of the aircraft.
Air Zimbabwe sources
said the State-owned airline's managing director, Rambai Chingwena, had in
the last two months written several letters to Air Littoral demanding
reimbursement of the money.
But they said the French aircraft
supplier had so far not responded to Chingwena's pleas.
letter Chingwena wrote to Air Littoral's head of fleet management, Lionel
Sineux, was two weeks ago. Sineux, who has ignored Chingwena's other letters,
has still not responded to the letter, the sources said.
Chingwena could not be reached for comment on the matter. His office this
week said he was out of the country.
The airline's chief internal
auditor, Mordecai Magaisa, who is acting managing director in Chingwena's
absence, refused to answer questions on Air Zimbabwe's as yet unsuccessful
efforts to recoup money paid to Air Littoral.
spokesman David Mwenga confirmed the airline had written to the French firm,
but said he did not know whether the company had responded or
Mwenga said earlier this week: "I don't have that information
because l have not been following it up. We wrote them (Air Littoral) some
letters, but l don't know what then happened. I have to get details
from the finance people."
He could not be reached yesterday to
establish what progress the airline's finance department had made in
recovering the money.
The deal, under which Air Zimbabwe was to
lease two passenger planes from the French company, was scuttled by the
government because it would have drained millions of hard cash in lease-hire
fees from the struggling parastatal.
Under the stalled deal, Air
Zimbabwe was to pay Air Littoral US$147 000 for each of the planes, every
month for the next three years.
Air Zimbabwe had gone ahead and
signed a contract with the French supplier, against advice by the government
not to enter into the deal.
Air Botswana, which has dealt with Air
Littoral before, also advised the airline against the deal.
According to correspondence between Air Zimbabwe and Air Littoral,
the Zimbabwean company paid US$357 881,09, which was part of a total US$450
000 security deposit that was to be paid before the planes were
A US$170 000 commitment fee was also paid upfront and an
additional US$102 086 was paid to Air Littoral, although it could not be
established what this was for.
Air Zimbabwe told the government
it would recover the money after the deal had been cancelled.
IN the editorial published in The Daily News
yesterday headlined Moyo' s lone and doomed mission, we inadvertently quoted
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo as telling his South African counterpart
Essop Pahad: "These media guys in South Africa should know that there is
nothing special about them and they should show respect to our leader
(President Robert Mugabe)."
Moyo's lawyers, Muzangaza Mandaza and
Tomana, have now brought to our attention that these comments were never made
by Moyo in his letter to Pahad, which we have now seen.
this opportunity to apologise to Moyo for inadvertently attributing this
statement, made by a reader of a weekly newspaper, to the minister
SEVERAL low and high-density suburbs in Harare have gone without electricity
for the past two days because of the continuing strike by Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) workers, an official with the power
utility said yesterday.
The workers, who have been on strike since
last week, are demanding a minimum monthly wage of $125 000 and the immediate
dismissal of ZESA chairman Sydney Gata. The Labour Court has declared the
industrial action illegal and instructed the workers to report for
Stephen Pieron, the ZESA Harare area manager, yesterday said
several Harare suburbs had no electricity due to the shortage of
"We don't have the people to do the job," he said.
"Senior engineers are clearing all the high-voltage faults. The rest are
going unattended because we have no people at the moment. The fault section
has to repair faults, but we don't have an adequate labour force. We received
over 450 cases of faults of which only 250 have been attended
Pieron said there were repeated power interruptions between
Saturday and Monday and some areas still had no electricity.
Among the suburbs affected are Vainona, Borrowdale, Pomona, Arcadia and
Elizabeth Rubenstein of Arcadia said almost half of
the suburb was in darkness for the past four days because of power
"All the food that we had stocked in our refrigerators has
We have resorted to using firewood for cooking and this
has caused us untold suffering."
Rubenstein said the area had
become dangerous for pedestrians and motorists because of poor lighting at
Mark Georgies, a resident in Vainona, said the suburb had
had no electricity between about 10pm on Tuesday and yesterday.
Georgies said ZESA management and the striking workers should engage in
serious dialogue in order to arrive at a quick resolution of the employees'
"The crisis at ZESA is something that requires
immediate government intervention. The management should swallow its pride
and understand their workers' plight."
Some high-density suburbs
have experienced power interruptions lasting between three and five
Salary negotiations between ZESA workers' representatives
and management opened in Harare yesterday, a day after riot police stormed
into the power utility's Workington Power Station offices and assaulted
workers who were holding a meeting.
Shepherd Mandizvidza, the
ZESA spokesman, said the negotiations were continuing in good faith and a
positive outcome was expected by the end of the two-week deadline set by the
Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) this week joined a gathering crusade against
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s "final
push", ratcheting up pressure on Zimbabweans to ignore calls to participate
in next week's anti-government protests.
In response to the
MDC's pleas for Zimbabwe's uniformed forces not to use strong-arm tactics
against demonstrators, the ZDF on Wednesday vowed it would "not be an idle
It warned it would "bring to bear its full force upon
those perpetrators of uncalled-for violence".
have been issued by the government and veterans of Zimbabwe's war of
The war veterans last week threatened to use "military
force" against the protesters, who they claimed would be armed.
On Tuesday, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi warned that the government
"was ready to crush any demonstration which will lead to to the destruction
of property or the threat to national security".
Yet the MDC has
been at pains to assure the nation that it is planning peaceful protests to
press the government to resolve the economic and political crises that have
caused suffering to the majority of the people of this country.
It is difficult not to conclude that the government is running scared and is
trying to intimidate people who might have been planning to participate in
the demonstrations aimed at pressurising President Robert Mugabe to step
How else can Zimbabweans interpret these almost desperate
attempts to instill fear?
It is also deeply worrying that the
government seems to be setting the stage before the mass action even begins,
to give the impression that Zimbabweans will be under siege from opposition
It can only be doing this to justify a
heavy-handed response to attempts by Zimbabweans to exercise rights they are
guaranteed in no uncertain terms by this country's Constitution.
No one disputes the fact that the armed forces have a duty to step in and
protect the citizens of this country if they are under threat.
Put differently, the first and foremost duty of the security forces is to
the citizens of Zimbabwe.
Clearly if next week's street protests
are hijacked by elements whose sole aim is to cause mayhem, destruction of
property or even injury and loss of life, the police and the army must deal
with such elements swiftly and decisively.
But this should not
give them a licence to violently fall upon peaceful demonstrators in an
attempt to crush the anti-government protests.
In the past,
peaceful demonstrations and public gatherings have turned violent mostly
because of the intervention of State security agents.
chaos resulting from the riot police's brutal reaction to a peaceful pre-mass
action prayer meeting on Wednesday and the police's inexplicably violent
response to a workers' meeting at the premises of the Zimbabwe Electricity
It is more than likely that reactionary elements
will try to take advantage of the proposed mass action. Those organising or
planning to participate in these demonstrations should be aware of that and
take the necessary precautions.
That alone means that there is a
very real risk of violence breaking out that will not be driven by the
Zimbabweans those participating in the
protests and even by-standers do not need the added burden of worrying about
violence from those very people who are supposed to be protecting them from
reactionary elements who want to uphold the status quo at whatever cost to
As we have said before, the first duty of members of
the army and the police, whatever their orders, is to the people of Zimbabwe,
regardless of their political affiliations. They cannot and must not side
History will not look kindly on those State security
agents who lose sight of this fact.
Foreigners should not be allowed to
decide our future
5/30/2003 7:52:44 AM (GMT +2)
I HAPPEN to share accommodation with a Zimbabwean
who feels that Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
are the sole answer to Zimbabwe's problems. He feels that any new party
formed is doomed to fail.
What if Tsvangirai is dumped as leader
of the opposition MDC as suggested in some media? What if he is found guilty
of treason? What if a new, more vibrant party is formed?
the scenarios are possible. Tsvangirai and the MDC will prevail. When the
God-chosen time comes, the MDC will topple President Robert Mugabe and rule,
so contends my friend.
True, Tsvangirai has been the hope for the
ultimate dislodgement of the Mugabe regime. However, there have been
questions about him measuring up to the task. Apparently, while he has
successfully mobilised for a vibrant opposition, some of his critics think
that he has failed to garner force for the ultimate push.
image as a leader compromised? Previously, he has made several gaffes, which
unfortunately the media has not adequately questioned.
My point is
that while Tsvangirai has been brave enough to stand up to Mugabe, he has
been found wanting in the thick of things. When it matters most, his
political manoeuvres have been ambiguous.
If we let Tsvangirai
continue making such gaffes and flip-flops, then we are doing ourselves a
We have to hold him to scrutiny. Doing otherwise would
be a fatal mistake, the kind that brought us the current Robert
He has to demonstrate that he is consistent in his policy,
has excellent vision and sober judgment, has the ability to run a
sound government and conduct strategic relations both internally and
For instance, I did not understand how Tsvangirai could
welcome and commit himself to the intervention of the three presidents,
Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Bakili Muluzi
of Malawi, and then within that period call for mass action for a final push
to oust Mugabe.
Yes, we desperately need the final push, but
what are our means to the final push? Mass action.
So does it
mean that he intends to continue dialoguing with the three presidents, who
are obviously averse to the kind of final push (mass action) that Tsvangirai
is calling for? Is the push meant to be a political tactic to back up the
talks? If it is, then where will it leave the MDC's relations with these
presidents since, as I have said before, they do not favour
So, basically what is the reason for Tsvangirai to
engage these presidents when he knows that they are averse to mass action?
Recently, Tsvangirai`s visit to Malawi was cancelled. What can we infer from
In February, writing to Australian Prime Minister John
Howard, Tsvangirai branded Mbeki and Obasanjo as accomplices in
Mugabe's perpetration of human rights abuses.
How do Tsvangirai
and MDC think they will promote good relations with these and other African
leaders, which are so glaringly missing in their political equation? Without
any doubt, African relations are strategically important. How does the MDC,
for instance, choose to foster closer relations with countries overseas at
the expense of regional countries?
There have been several media
reports that the Americans and the British are involved in political
manoeuvres to form another party or replace Tsvangirai. The British and the
Americans are accomplished schemers. They always want to see through their
plans at any cost. Obviously, Tsvangirai knows it too. If there is substance
in the talk, how has it affected the MDC's political strategy? Are there any
alarm bells for the MDC leader or the party hierarchy? If there are, is the
party up to the task to deal with the impending developments
Tsvangirai and MDC would need all political slickness
and political points scoring to outmanoeuvre the British and American
intentions. In other words, they will be hard-pressed to deliver tangible
political gains to remain on the political radar screen.
that reason, the MDC could have seen it strategically important to engage in
these demonstrations so that they could be seen to be doing something on the
ground and that Tsvangirai as a leader still has the needed impetus to drive
On the other hand, the idea of the Americans and
British forming a new party or replacing Tsvangirai could be retrogressive.
It would reverse the political impetus that had already been
Still a new political party or leader under the
current British-American initiative would obviously work to ZANU PF's
advantage. It might throw off-track the opposition and buy ZANU PF more time
in office and a chance to reorganise.
If the British and
Americans are really assisting in conceiving another political party or
replacing Tsvangirai, then it's clear that Zimbabweans should resist such
moves. We cannot have foreigners constantly drawing up political strategies
and solutions for our country. Just like the three African presidents who
would not resolutely resolve our problems because of their disconnection from
the daily lives of Zimbabweans and, to some great extent, their pursuit of
their own self-interests, leaving our destiny in the hands of foreigners
would be detrimental to our progress to peace.
So for Tsvangirai
and other political players and the people of Zimbabwe, we have a lot of work
to do to extricate ourselves from this mess. A made-in-Zimbabwe solution is
THE supply of several basic commodities improved in the
past week but prices more than doubled in most cases, which analysts
yesterday attributed to the government's decontrolling of some goods when it
made changes to its price control policy early this month.
snap survey by The Business Daily showed that major shops in and around
Harare had increased stocks of cooking oil, margarine, milk and salt, which
had become scarce after the government introduced price controls in October
2001, in an attempt to curb inflation.
Most manufacturers had cut
back on output of those basic commodities whose prices were gazetted by the
government, arguing that since the cost of raw materials and production was
still rising despite price controls, they were producing commodities at a
The resulting shortages have led to a thriving black market
in basic commodities, where prices are sometimes 10 times more than those set
by the government.
In the past week, a 500g tablet of Geisha
soap, which had been replaced by a 125g piece of soap of the same brand,
re-emerged on shop shelves. It was selling at between $900 and $950, while a
750ml bottle of cooking oil was retailing for more than $1 700.
Analysts said some products could be reappearing on shop shelves because the
decontrolling of goods had made it economically viable for manufacturers to
increase their output.
Lovemore Kadenge, president of the Zimbabwe
Economics Society, said if properly managed, the government's new price
monitoring regime would be more effective than price controls.
He said: "Price controls have never worked anywhere and Zimbabwe cannot be an
The media in
Zimbabwe are currently awash with news that some ZANU PF leaders are
allegedly campaigning for the presidency of that organisation, a position
presently held by Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
Two personalities, Dr
Simba Makoni and Emmerson Mnangagwa, feature prominently in both speculative
as well as what appear to be fairly well researched articles in some
Both men are staunch ZANU PF stalwarts, Mnangagwa
having gone through the grill and mill of the armed liberation struggle and
the Rhodesian regime 's penal institutions, including the Khami Maximum
Security Prison outside Bulawayo.
He became the country's
security minister, a post he held during the 5 Brigade period when thousands
of people in Matabeleland, the Midlands and some parts of Mashonaland were
terrorised, violently intimidated, raped or butchered by the red-bereted
North Korean-trained 5 Brigade, also known as Gukurahundi, a Shona word which
means "scrapper of the chaff".
It is a matter of personal opinion
whether or not that name was given in reference to the brigade's inhuman
atrocities in areas perceived to be strongholds of Dr Joshua Nkomo's
Patriotic Front-Zimbabwe African People's Union (PF ZAPU).
is, however, a fair conclusion that all those who created 5
Brigade (Gukurahundi) must have regarded its targets as chaff, hence the
name. Mnangagwa is one of those people.
In the 2000
parliamentary election, Mnangagwa lost his seat in Kwekwe to an opposition
Movement for Democratic Change party candidate. He was, however, later
appointed Speaker of the House of Parliament by Mugabe.
lost in a contest for the ZANU PF chairmanship to John Nkomo in that
organisation's last national congress in Harare in 2001.
known for having been Zimbabwe's youngest Cabinet minister immediately after
the country's attainment of independence on 18 April 1980.
headed the Southern African Development Community (SADC), originally called
the Southern African Development Co-ordinating Conference (SADCC), as its
secretary-general. After that, he was appointed the chief executive officer
of Zimbabwe Newspapers, whose financial performance he certainly improved
within a year before some senior ZANU PF personnel plotted his replacement.
Mugabe appointed him Zimbabwe's minister of finance in 2000 following public
demand, especially from the middle-aged and the 18-30 age
His stint as the country's finance minister was marred by
ZANU PF's violent and chaotic land seizure and occupations, which
precipitated a massive socio-economic decline from the brunt of which
Zimbabwe is groaning today.
He called for the devaluation of the
Zimbabwean dollar, a suggestion strongly and angrily denounced by Mugabe who
on one occasion described it as coming from what he termed "enemies of the
A look at Zimbabwe's galloping inflation, currently at an
incredible 269+ percent, clearly shows the wisdom of Makoni's suggestion to
devalue the national currency, a development that is continuously occurring
That apart, the crux of the matter is that
should ZANU PF wish to replace Mugabe, the process should be free and fair so
that the best candidate carries the day. It is a historical fact that the
liberation struggle was all about justice, liberty and equality. Lives and
property were lost and/or sacrificed for those ideals.
are some of the most important activities in the lives of nations. They are
important to the voters as well as to the candidates. Each voter would like
his or her candidate to win, and each candidate would like to
If the process is neither free nor fair, elections
generate frustration which may lead to tragedies such as civil wars. Many
rebellions and splits in political organisations are products of frustration
caused by unfair and unfree elections or by lack of liberty or equity in
the distribution and utilisation of national resources.
vital for those involved in such activities to take full cognisance of this
fact so that elections can generate enthusiasm and interest rather than
apathy, alarm, fear and suspicion among voters.
If ZANU PF is to
elect Mugabe's successor, it is important for the organisation's leadership
to emphasise that its members should be free to vote for whomever they
believe will efficiently head their party.
That individual should
have at least shown leadership qualities in the past. It is also important to
choose a person without a pronounced tribalistic or racialistic bias or
Zimbabwe is a young nation in the making. It is, therefore,
important that its leaders should be people whose perception of a nation is
free of traces of revenge or suspicion. They should not fear their
It is not enough, let alone desirable, that one should
have participated in the liberation struggle for one to lead a
political organisation whose major aim is to improve the people's living
A good example is Zimbabwe's western neighbour,
Botswana. Its national leader, Festus Mogae, did not feature prominently in
that country's agitation for independence, but he has nurtured its economy so
efficiently that Zimbabweans today flock to that land for economic
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe, led by Mugabe, a man who spent years
in the armed liberation struggle, is virtually socio-economically
What is urgently needed is a new brand of leadership with a
vision to start afresh, and not devalue the Zimbabwean dollar, but introduce
a completely new currency with a new value to usher in a new
Can ZANU PF do that, let alone the likes of
Is ZANU PF able to reverse the economic decline it has
caused during the 23 years it has been in power?
If so, why has
it not done so up now when the country is grinding to a tragic halt because
of lack of fuels?
Will ZANU PF led by either Mnangagwa or Makoni
administer this country much more efficiently than when it was under
My humble submission is that that organisation, as a social
product, has entered an irreversible stage of decline, and that no amount of
patching up can save it from its own internal human weaknesses and
However, for its own domestic and
international operations, Makoni seems to be a better evil than Mnangagwa
whose role in the unforgettable Gukurahundi atrocities is a historical
The ZANU PF members who support him are giving him a stamp
of respectability and approval for those atrocities.