By Njabulo Ncube Bureau Chief 5/3/02
2:28:58 AM (GMT +2)
BULAWAYO — Hundreds of war veterans in Matabeleland
South have seized dozens of government farms parcelled out to leading black
Zimbabweans three years ago under a scheme to create black commercial
farmers, one of the farmers said yesterday.
Jonathan Maphe-nduka, a
former journalist at the state-run Chronicle newspaper and one of the farmers
in an area known as Marula Block, accused provincial governor Stephen Nkomo
and unnamed government officials of being behind the invasions.
invasions started mid-last month and have spread in the past week to most of
the block’s 44 large ranches, including the one being leased by
the government to Supreme Court judge Justice Misheck Cheda, Maphenduka
He claimed that Nkomo and the officials wanted to take the farms
Nkomo was not available for comment. His office in Gwanda
said he was out of the town and unreachable by phone.
"My farm, which
is part of Marula Block, has been invaded. The war veterans on the farm claim
they were told to do so by the governor," said Maphenduka, a former assistant
editor at the Chronicle, who is also the spokesman for the Marula Block
"They have moved their cattle into the farm and told my workers
not touch them because they are acting on the instructions of the governor,"
he said. "Most of the other farms have been invaded as well."
ranches, which include seven where there are irrigated crops, were leased to
leading Zimbabweans by the government for 99 years starting in 1999 as part
of the state’s accelerated land reforms aimed at
The 44 were specifically aimed at kick-starting
commercial farming by previously disadvantaged groups.
invasions are the first on government-owned farms on such a large scale after
ruling ZANU PF supporters swooped on largely white-owned farms in the name of
land hunger two years ago, forcing the government to launch its fast-track
The reforms, under which the government has targeted to
seize 90 percent of farms owned by whites, plus a withering drought have been
blamed for causing severe food shortages now experienced in Zimbabwe, where
nearly three million people — or a quarter of the population — need imported
The Commercial Farmers’ Union this week said 250 of its members
had been expelled from the farms by the war veterans since Zimbabwe’s
presidential election in March.
Maphenduka, who retired from the
Chronicle nearly four years ago and is now a full-time cattle rancher leasing
Talawunda Ranching, a property measuring 2 600 hectares, said it was
disheartening to see the war veterans seizing the property meant to open up
commercial farming to blacks.
He said of Nkomo: "My lawyers wrote to him
on the 17th of April 2002 as the governor to remove the invaders on the farm
which I lease from the government. I acquired the property on merit and in a
transparent manner. I was a caretaker of the farm for a period of five years
before getting a 99-year lease on the property."
lawyers representing the black commercial farmers were on the verge of filing
applications to the High Court to have the invaders removed from the unlisted
He claimed the governor and other public figures had made
public their interest on some farms in the Marula Block largely because of
the area’s superb grazing.
"The Marula Commercial Farming Scheme might
collapse if nothing is done to remove the invaders," Maphenduka
"The invaders are disrupting operations on the properties. They
have brought their cattle on a section of my farm and onto others as well.
They are also busy building dagga-and-pole huts."
News Release (On behalf of the Commercial Farmers’ Union)
and fifty commercial farmers have been evicted off their farms since the
presidential elections on the 9 – 10 March 2002. The evictions are ongoing
country wide with Mashonaland East the worst hit, with 90 evictions
Commercial Farmers Union President, Colin Cloete said the Union
noted with alarm that the evictions were continuing unabated and that law
enforcement agencies have not managed to contain the situation.
current spate of evictions of farmers from their homesteads and farms, by war
veterans and settlers, many leaving with little more that the clothes they
are wearing, is clearly unlawful and is destabilising the entire industry.
According to the recently amended Land Acquisition Act, landowners can only
be evicted from their homes after Government, as the acquiring authority, has
obtained an eviction order from a competent court directing the landowner’s
eviction. No such order has been sought or issued by any court to date. Again
I appeal to the authorities to put a stop to this for it cannot be in the
Nations interest to destroy a major aspect of the productive sector when food
is already scarce and the prospects of widespread and devastating famine now
loom ever closer, “ said Cloete.
Coupled with the illegal evictions, is
the wholesale seizing of farm equipment. On this Cloete said, “The Land
Acquisition Act is quite clear on what may and may not be removed from farms
following the serving of acquisition orders. The movable assets remain the
property of the current landowner and not the acquiring authority. Farmers
have had their trucks with equipment seized at Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
roadblocks and these actions are clearly unlawful.”
the statement by acting chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War
Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Cde Patrick Nyaruwata, who called on
commercial farmers to ignore the Andrew Ndlovu led initiative to evict
This interview was published in the Herald on Friday
26 April 2002. The article quoted Nyaruwata as saying… "We do not want
anarchy to prevail in this country. The actions of Cde Ndlovu are meant to
disturb farming activities on farms, which have not been designated by the
Government. He should desist from embarking on a haphazard way of
Cde Andrew Ndlovu, ZNLWVA Secretary for Projects,
visited many farms countrywide. In some instances, local war veterans evicted
farmers using a letter penned by Ndlovu to intimidate farmers and issue them
with an eviction ultimatum. The wording of the letter alleges that
commercial farmers supported the alleged plot by the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) to assassinate President Mugabe and calls for sanctions
Cde Nyaruwata is also reported to have said, “The
issue of redistribution of land lies with a relevant government ministries
such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement. War
veterans had no role to play now that the Government was redistributing land
to the majority of Zimbabweans. Cde Nyaruwata said war veterans would also
wait to be allocated land by the government just like everyone
Cloete commented, “I wish to state in the strongest terms possible
that the Commercial Farmers Union does not and will not support sanctions
against our country. Sanctions only lead to further misery and ordinary
Zimbabweans are already suffering under the harsh economic climate while
scarcity of basic foodstuffs is now becoming a reality and hunger is adding
further hardship. As farmers we are committed to doing our best to feed the
Nation and, as I stated last week, time is running out for the winter season
and prospects for a reasonable wheat crop fade with each passing day.
Farmers, who have been served with a compulsory notice of
acquisition (Section 8 order) can no longer, by law, plant a crop on their
properties. Many others who may not have received Section 8 orders have been
shut down by war veterans and farm invaders and are physically unable to
continue their operations.
The Union has as at 9th April 2002, 3101
paid up members. Membership across the regions is as follows Manicaland –
316; Matabeleland – 354; Midlands – 200; Mash West (North) – 665; Mash East –
623; Mash Central – 517; Masvingo – 207 and Mash West (South) has
Mashonaland East is the worst hit with 142 farmers evicted since
February 2000, 90 of these are since the election period. 222 farms have been
looted. 35 percent of the mainly tobacco farms are shut down.
Eviction tally in other areas is: Matabeleland 8, Manicaland 6, Mashonaland
Central 31, Midlands 1, Masvingo 5, Mashonaland West North 37, with none
reported in Mashonaland West South.
Cloete welcomed overtures on the part
of the presidency to resolve differences and ignite a unity of purpose, he
said, “As Zimbabwean farmers we welcome His Excellency, President Robert
Mugabe’s statement, in his address to the Nation on Independence Day and in
particular his call for unity of purpose in working together to bring
Zimbabwe out of her present crisis. The need to put our differences aside and
pull together in Zimbabwe has never been more paramount and, as said so many
times before, farmers stand ready to play their part. “
State of disaster is called in Zimbabwe as food shortages threaten thousands - 14 days to go
14 days to go - Farmers for Food !
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on
Tuesday declared a "state of disaster" as worsening food shortages threatened
starvation in many parts of the country.
"As a result of the prevalent
drought, a state of disaster exists in all communal lands, resettlement and
urban areas in Zimbabwe," Mr Mugabe said.
On Sunday, I interviewed
villages in Nyamandlovu who had been arrested for stealing sweet potatoes
from Umguzaan Farm, their motive HUNGER. See picture.......
As I read
this news a statement issued by Colin Cloete on 17 April came to mind
.... Here once again are the salient points.....
"The winter wheat
growing season is almost upon us now and farmers have been anxiously awaiting
policy and guidance from Government as to what is required from the
large-scale irrigation sector. Traditionally this sector grows 95 per cent of
the wheat crop and last season, grew 330 000 tonnes. Farmers remain willing
and able to plant cereals for the coming season. For optimum yields and
harvest conditions, this requires planting to be completed by 15th
There is wide agreement in that a wheat crop is required and that it
can be grown much cheaper than importing the product. It is also more
efficient to use local resources of land, capital and labour than to import
food requiring scarce foreign currency. Furthermore, large-scale farmers have
the capacity, technical ability and the resources to grow the
To import wheat, as well as the 1,5 million tonnes of maize
required, is wasteful and unnecessary. It is also impractical in view of the
serious constraints already placed on the infrastructure by the massive maize
import programme. The current wheat stocks will be depleted by July and
imports are already required prior to the harvest in October/November before
the local crop is harvested. If a full crop is not grown the wheat import
programme required is 2003 is likely to exceed 500 000
However, there are major constraints facing farmers and these
have to be addressed if a sizeable crop is to be established this
The Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Dr
Joseph Made released a press statement on Friday, 12th April. In the
statement, he regrettably does not address issues vital for production thus
comprising food security.
In conclusion, if no encouragement is to be
given by Government in alleviating the constraints imposed of mass Section 8
orders, production of a wheat crop this winter is unlikely to be more than 20
000 hectares of the 60 000 hectares traditionally planted by the large scale
sector. Massive food shortages will be therefore be inevitable.
part of the Nation our farmers remain committed to this country and its food
requirements and ask nothing more than to continue to play their
very important and meaning full role of ensuring food security.
appeal to the relevant authorities to clamp down on opportunistic criminal
elements and local warlords that only serve to impede much needed production
of food crops and hinder the land reform programme through antagonism and
confrontation. Ends 17th April 2002 C. B. Cloete, President
is the first of May, we have 14 days left in which to prepare to plant wheat.
We await response from the Minister and other powers that be.....
The Guardian's correspondent in Zimbabwe, Andrew
Meldrum, was arrested at his home in Harare yesterday for writing a story
which allegedly breached the government's punitive media laws. He has been
charged with publishing false information and is being held at the capital's
central police station. Mr Meldrum, 50, a US citizen who has worked in the
country since 1980, was detained for his account of a supporter of Zimbabwe's
opposition party who had, reportedly, been beheaded in front of her children
by followers of President Robert Mugabe.
Two journalists from the
independent Daily News, Lloyd Mudiwa and Collin Chiwanza, were detained on
Tuesday for publishing the same story and were subsequently charged with
publishing a falsehood. They are still being held by the police; if
convicted, they could face up to two years in jail.
Since being suspended
from the Commonwealth this year Mr Mugabe's regime has launched a string of
prosecutions against journalists. Meldrum has repeatedly been criticised for
his coverage of Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis. Last December Mr
Mugabe described him and five other reporters as "terrorists".
before the presidential election in March, virtually all foreign reporters
were banned under the government's new Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act. That month the Daily Telegraph's correspondent, Peta
Thornycroft, was detained for five days; she is awaiting trial for allegedly
"practising illegally as a journalist and inciting public violence". Last
month the editor of the Daily News, Geoff Nyarota, was charged.
story that led to Meldrum's arrest was published last week. It
reported claims in the Daily News that Brandina Tadyanemhandu, 53, a mother
of eight, had been decapitated by supporters of the ruling party near Karoi,
120 miles north-west of Harare. The Times and the Independent carried the
The account was partially based on the husband's report of
the incident. Doubts have since been raised about his credibility. The
opposition Movement for Democratic Change said it might have been tricked
into paying him compensation to cover burial expenses. Other government
critics say the story might have been concocted to embarrass the press. The
MDC and the Daily News are investigating.
Meldrum's wife, Dolores
Cortes Meldrum, was allowed to see him yesterday. "He was in very good
spirits," she said. "His lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, was allowed to take in the
food I had bought. I had to speak to him through bars in the
"The police came to our front gate in their Land Rover at 7am in
the morning. I don't think he was surprised. Among journalists here,
everyone wonders who will be next."
Meldrum was being held in the same
cell as the two Daily News journalists. Despite the fact that yesterday was a
public holiday, a high court judge insisted on hearing the case. No police or
prosecutors attended the first hearing; a second was scheduled for later in
The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, said: "Andrew
Meldrum is a highly experienced and well-established journalist who has made
his home in Zimbabwe for the last 22 years and knows and loves the country.
We believe that he has been arrested under Section 80 1b, the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which could mean he faces up to
two years in prison.
"It is outrageous that he should be the subject
of criminal charges for doing the job of a reporter and we call on the
Zimbabwean government to release him immediately and to drop charges against
him and his colleagues on the Daily News."
THE government is seizing back 76
percent of farms it previously removed from the list of properties it is
acquiring under its controversial fast-track land reform programme because of
pressure from powerful ruling ZANU PF stalwarts and government officials, it
was learnt this week.
Farming sources told the Financial Gazette that
some ruling party and government officials as well as influential war
veterans had pressured junior officials at the Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement Ministry to re-list several de-listed farms because they wanted
them to be allocated to themselves.
"We have many cases in which
politicians and government officials have forced ministry officials to
re-list some farms just because they want that farm," said a source, who
spoke on condition that he was not named.
Agriculture Minister Joseph
Made refused to take questions from this newspaper on the matter, saying: "I
am not taking questions on that. I have nothing to clarify."
figures released by the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) this week showed that
Made’s ministry had between March 1 and April 17 2002 re-listed for
acquisition 342 farms (770 484 hectares) out of 449 properties (854
505 hectares) that it had previously removed from the list of targeted
There were however no figures of total farms the government has
de-listed or re-listed since 2000 when it began grabbing land from white
The CFU would not be drawn to comment on reports that farms had
been returned to the acquisition list because some politicians were eyeing
them for their own use.
Several senior government officials have in
the past few months grabbed some of the best farms in Zimbabwe together with
farming equipment in some cases, arguing that they have the right to do so
under the government’s land reforms, which are aimed at giving land to blacks
in the country.
The officials include Vice- President Simon Muzenda, who
reportedly led a group that two weeks ago allegedly ordered a white farmer
near Muzenda’s Gutu rural home to vacate his property and to leave all his
irrigation equipment. The equipment would allegedly be used by Muzenda for
the winter crop he wanted to plant on the farm.
According a Reuters
report last week, which Muzenda has not challenged, the vice-president
offered to pay for the equipment.
War veterans’ leader Andrew Ndlovu has
also given ultimatums to several white farmers around the country to vacate
their properties regardless of whether or not they are listed for
The government, which had initially promised it would not
take land from farmers with only one property, has on several occasions
threatened to expropriate all white-owned farmland.
It has so far
listed for acquisition about 6 000 farms, representing about 90 percent of
all land owned by the country’s white farmers.
THE government has failed to take up more than 700 farms it has
been voluntarily offered by white farmers because it does not have the money
to pay for the properties, the white-dominated Commercial Farmers’ Union
(CFU) said yesterday.
Jerry Grant, the CFU’s deputy director for
commodities, said the government had failed to respond to the farmers’ offer
because it had no money.
"There are more than 700 properties still on
offer to the government which they (the government) can’t pay for because
they don’t have money," he told the Financial Gazette.
"There has been
no single response to the offers. They don’t have the capability to pay. How
can they pay for more than five thousand farms?"
grappling with Zimbabwe’s worst economic crisis blamed on the state’s high
spending, has so far seized more than 5 000 commercial farms which it has
earmarked for the resettlement of blacks.
Grant said more than 1 500
farmers had been taken to the Administrative Court by the government to have
them evicted from their farms but so far the government had not managed to
legally acquire a single farm.
According to Grant, some farmers with more
than one farm had offered some of their farms to the government to avoid the
long process of going to the courts.
Joseph Made, the Minister of
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, is on record as saying the courts were
taking too long to deal with the farmers’ cases. He was not available for
The government needs about US$3 billion for its
accelerated land reforms, which includes money to purchase farms and inputs,
which were launched two years ago.
Grant said in some cases where the
government took farmers to the courts, it was being advised by judges in
preliminary hearings to accept some of the offers made by the farmers but it
Farmers who receive Section 7 Orders of the Land
Acquisition Act are supposed to appear in the Administrative Court to lodge
objections to the government’s compulsory acquisition, citing reasons for the
objections before they appear again for the full hearing.
"Some of the
judges are saying to the government: ‘why can’t you accept the proposals from
farmers?’ but they seem not to want to take up the proposals," Grant
Meanwhile CFU president Colin Cloete yesterday said 250 farmers had
now been chased off their land after the March presidential election in a
spate of violence led by ruling ZANU PF supporters. Farm machinery and
implements had also been seized.
"The current spate of evictions of
farmers from their homesteads and farms by war veterans and settlers, with
many farmers leaving with little more that the clothes they are wearing, is
clearly unlawful and is destabilising the entire industry," he
"The Land Acquisition Act is quite clear on what may and may not be
removed from farms following the serving of acquisition orders. The movable
assets remain the property of the current land owner and not the
NAIROBI — Africa’s "Big Men" are using new media laws
to introduce a subtler form of censorship than the brutal tactics often
favoured in the past.
As World Press Freedom Day dawns today,
image-conscious presidents are sponsoring bills that watchdogs say aim to add
a veneer of legality to their efforts to muzzle critics.
the heavy-handed ways they used in the past, dictators are using the laws of
the country," said Yves Sorokobi, Africa Programme Coordinator with the New
York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
"They have a lot to
hide, they have skeletons in the closet, but they can’t get away with
Many African governments have come under increasing pressure in
the past decade from donors to stop using beatings and bullets to
silence journalists, rights groups say.
Instead, editors say countries
as diverse as Zimbabwe, Kenya, Gambia and Swaziland have passed or are
planning laws to restrict press freedoms.
There are some bright spots.
The CPJ says life has recently become a little less miserable for journalists
in Ethiopia and the vast Democratic Republic of the Congo, although they
remain among Africa’s worst abusers of press freedom.
But overall, the
Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) says 2001 was the
worst year for African journalists since the early 1990s, with 180 reporters
arrested compared to 150 in 2000. Most spent less than 48 hours in
Tamrat Zuma, a reporter with Ethiopia’s now defunct Atkurot
newspaper, spoke for many when he described his 10-month prison stay for
reporting complaints at a state-run leather factory.
"More than three
people died next to me because of a lack of treatment. If a sick prisoner
bangs on the door to seek help, the police beat him up," he told Reuters
Television. "Freedom is not something cheap."
The laws range from
measures to introduce state-run media councils to oversee the press to
outright bans on criticism.
Watchdogs say one of the most glaring
deteriorations in press freedom is in Zimbabwe, where the government passed a
tough new media law ahead of March elections that forced journalists to seek
licences from a state-appointed commission.
On Wednesday, police
arrested a journalist working for a British newspaper and charged him over a
story alleging that a woman had been beheaded by supporters of President
"It is not work for the weak-kneed or faint-hearted,
bearing in mind that one of the fringe benefits is a free weekend at Harare
Central Police stations once in a while," Zimbabwe’s Standard newspaper said
in an editorial on Sunday.
Perhaps the most dramatic crackdown has
come in the Red Sea state of Eritrea, where President Isayas Afewerki belongs
to the old school of dealing with criticism. He simply closed all the
independent media in September and arrested staff, quashing calls for
democratic reforms despite howls from donors.
But outside pressure can
work. In Swaziland, a tiny country between South Africa and Mozambique, King
Mswati III issued a decree forbidding criticism of the royal family, the CPJ
says. He was forced to retreat under threat of Western sanctions.
wily rulers may find money a more subtle censor.
In Kenya, CPJ says the
government has proposed raising the bond that publishers must pay to insure
against libel suits to one million shillings (US$12 770) from 10 000
The government says it is targeting a "gutter press" that
reveals sordid sex stories about famous Kenyans, but editors sense moves to
intimidate them ahead of elections this year.
"They still want to
clamp down on the press, but the international community looks unfavourably
on what they are doing," said Mugo Theuri, managing editor of The People
daily who was jailed for sedition in the late 1980s.
Namibia and Botswana withdrew state-funded adverts from newspapers regarded
as too critical, RSF says.
While life has been tough for journalists
across much of Africa in the past year, there are glimmers of
Hopes are growing that a peace deal to end 27 years of civil war
in Angola may lead to more press freedom.
South African President
Thabo Mbeki has tried to improve his relations with the country’s vocal media
— but moves to establish a presidential press corps caused controversy when
security officials asked reporters about their sex lives.
Democratic Republic of the Congo, the former Zaire, editors say President
Joseph Kabila has opened up the media to some extent since he took over in
January last year.
"In newspapers we can write whatever we want — with a
sense of responsibility," said Modeste Mutinga, the editor of Le Potentiel,
an independent daily in the capital Kinshasa.
RSF says the government
arrested 27 journalists in Congo last year, the highest number of any African
country. As in much of the continent, Congolese readers must study their
"Self-censorship works here and people have learned to
read and write between the lines," Mutinga said. — Reuter
ROME — A food crisis looms over Zimbabwe, threatening
more than one million people with hunger, the United Nations’ food body said
"The situation is precarious in Zimbabwe and continues to
deteriorate," said Judith Lewis, the head of southern and east African
operations for the World Food Programme (WFP).
This week President
Robert Mugabe declared a state of disaster over the food shortages, blaming a
severe drought for the emergency.
"Half a million people are at immediate
risk but that number could triple in the next 60 days," Lewis said, speaking
by telephone from Nairobi, adding: "In a few weeks we are going to have a
Lewis said the lean season had come early and some 80
000 tonnes of food aid were needed to avert the immediate crisis.
said the Rome-based WFP estimated that Zimbabwe’s net maize deficit will be
1.4 million tonnes in the 2000-2003 period, while the surplus for the entire
southern Africa region would be 30 000 tonnes.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva
warned yesterday of a looming food crisis in southern Africa because of
Lewis agreed that bad weather had played a part in the
crisis, but said other factors, such as the Harare government’s seizure of
white-owned farms, had exacerbated the situation.
"The drought has had
a significant impact, but also the disruption caused by the seizure of
commercial farms, the economic downturn and a lack of hard currency," she
The global response to earlier aid appeals has been slow due to
Zimbabwe’s international isolation over its human rights record and Mugabe’s
disputed victory in March presidential elections, Lewis added.
week Zimbabwe’s state media reported the country had imported 28 000 tonnes
of yellow maize, a grain used for both human and animal consumption, as part
of the state Grain Marketing Board’s programme to import 200 000 tonnes to
cover the food deficit.
Maize rationing has been instituted in communal
areas, with some households being limited to sharing a monthly 50 kg bag of
maize meal — enough to feed a family of five for one month, according to the
LEADERS of Zimbabwe’s private
sector are due to meet President Robert Mugabe in two weeks’ time during
which they will tell him to devalue the local dollar by more than 60 percent
as part of measures to improve export performance and get the tottering
economy back on track, it was established this week.
said an immediate adjustment of the value of the Zimbabwe dollar from the
present 55 against one American greenback to about 140 is one of the key
proposals which the business leaders will recommed to Mugabe.
has been scheduled for the next two weeks, although no specific date has been
set, industrialists said.
The Zimbabwe dollar has been pegged at 55
against the United States dollar since October 2000 when Finance Minister
Simba Makoni last devalued the currency.
Mugabe has however rejected
previous pleas from the private sector and economists to allow the Zimbabwe
dollar to slide due to fears that the move would trigger higher
Zimbabwe’s annualised inflation was at a high of 113.3 percent
in March, the latest available figures.
A slide in the value of the
dollar would trigger increases in the prices of energy, power and most basic
commodities at a time Zimbabwe desperately needs imported food aid to stave
off hunger caused by drought and disturbances on commercial farms.
top business executive said this week: "There is a strong belief in
the business community that allowing the Zimbabwe dollar to slide to about
140 against the US unit, together with implementation of a host of
other stabilisation measures, could enhance the performance of the export
sector and go some way in solving the country’s foreign currency
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries has already proposed
the reintroduction of a dual exchange rate system under which there would
be separate rates for official transactions and commercial
Zimbabwe last operated a two-tier exchange rate regime in
1994 when the government unified the two rates at the height of the
country’s Western-backed economic reforms.
Analysts however say
devaluing the local dollar to 140 is not enough to plug leakages of foreign
currency from the official system but needs to be complemented by other
measures to boost confidence.
"The exchange rate actually needs to be 200
against the US dollar at present if we are to keep up with the rate of
inflation," consultant economist John Robertson said.
expected to announce a new economic recovery plan for Zimbabwe in the coming
month and the local private sector, led by the business leaders’ forum, has
arranged a meeting with Mugabe at which they intend to table various
proposals on ways of reviving the economy.
COMMUTER transport problems in Harare could worsen after reports
yesterday suggested that the Asian community, key players in the capital
city’s commuter business, is moving its businesses to neighbouring
Sources in the industry this week said the Asians, some of
whom operate fleets of more than 200 minibuses, were feeling increasingly
insecure amid threats from the government and rogue elements of war veterans
and were therefore moving their businesses to Zimbabwe’s neigh-bours, mainly
"Some of them have already started doing so quietly and
many more might start doing so soon especially if the government insists that
they should charge fares they feel are not viable," one of the operators said
Several commuter transport operators withdrew their buses from
Harare’s roads this week in protest against the government’s directive
declaring illegal a 30 percent fare hike the operators introduced on
The operators cited rising spare parts costs and those of labour
as the reason for the fare increase.
Local Government Minister
Ignatius Chombo, whose ministry controls urban commuter transport operations,
has accused the operators of profiteering and threatened to fine and
de-register those defying his directive.
In a move analysts described as
populist, the government last October imposed blanket price controls on most
consumer products and services, triggering crippling shortages.
year it also introduced uneconomic "Freedom Trains" in Harare and Bulawayo to
ferry workers to work ahead of a crucial presidential
election controversially won by President Robert Mugabe.
transport operators are increasingly feeling that their businesses are no
longer safe here, especially because the war veterans are regularly
intervening in their labour disputes," another operator said.
moving to other markets where they can do business freely compared to the
In the part few months, commuters in Harare have had
to queue for long hours due to increasing shortage of mini-buses in the
Since last year, the veterans have been dragging the Asian
transport operators before kangaroo labour courts to try to resolve
industrial problems between them and their workers.
Two weeks ago war
veterans’ leader Andrew Ndlovu threatened the Asian community with tough
action after he accused it of underpaying workers, charging exorbitant
rentals and owning what he said was too much land.
evening—the third day in a row — most of mini-buses belonging to the Asian
community had not resumed operations in Harare.
Coffin Manufacturers Doing Brisk Business The Daily News (Harare)
2, 2002 Posted to the web May 2, 2002
Foster Dongozi, Features
DEATH has proved to be increasingly ironic in the harsh
economic climate Zimbabwe and most of its population are enmeshed
At a time when almost all sectors of the Zimbabwean economy are
recording a decline in business, coffin-makers and undertakers appear to be
in a league of their own. Most of the entrepreneurs are smiling all the way
to the bank.
Zimbabwe's economic woes became more pronounced in 2000 when
investors lost confidence in the country as an investment destination due to
State and Zanu PF-sanctioned lawlessness.
Even tourism, one of the
country's major foreign earners, was killed off, as Zimbabwe joined the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Afghanistan, Liberia and Israel on the
list of unstable countries.
With HIV/Aids wreaking havoc on the
Zimbabwean population, a corresponding collapse in the health delivery
system, an upsurge in the number of deaths due to election violence, and
imminent starvation, the country offers ideal conditions for businesses
dealing in death to record phenomenal profits and growth.
scourge has provided coffin-makers with the largest catchment area for
business, as about 3 000 people are reported to be dying every week as a
result of the pandemic.
An estimated two million Zimbabweans in a
population of about 12 million are believed to be HIV positive. Medical
experts estimate that one in every four people in the 15 to 49 age group are
believed to be HIV positive.
Thus, Zimbabwe has the dubious distinction
of being among the countries with the highest rates of HIV infection in the
Even more frightening for Zimbabwe, are revelations that the HIV
related illnesses and deaths being experienced are only 10 percent of how
the scourge will affect the population in a few years after those who are
HIV positive develop full-blown Aids.
The devastation is expected to
spin out of control, especially given reports that militant Zanu PF youths
were keeping girls as sex slaves at their bases around the country during the
run-up to the 9-11 March presidential election, while in Bulawayo male and
female members of the militia are living together.
A number of women
are reported to have fallen pregnant, after being repeatedly ravished by
In the past, when the death rate was very low, few
people bothered to know where coffins were manufactured, as death was
But, as coffin manufacturers try to keep up with the
soaring death rate, they have abandoned the practice of making them in
Coffin manufacturers have become daring and brazen by defying
what, until a few years ago, was regarded as taboo.
Coffins are now
being made in the open around the country.
The manufacturers have
increased in number as the trade has become increasingly lucrative.
stone's throw away from Harare Central Hospital in the Southerton area, is a
company supplying uncut timber and other timber products.
hospital, for all bereaved families to see, is an imposing billboard with the
word "coffins" written prominently on it.
Before the farm invasions,
according to branch manager, Ron Strang, they received a lot of orders from
commercial farmers who ordered timber boxes for packing
"Since the invasions, orders from commercial farmers dropped
drastically and we had to urgently diversify our activities."
therefore not surprising that they went into coffin-making. "Over the past
few years, there has been debate about whether the company should manufacture
coffins but as you know, no one likes making coffins."
He said although
they had recently set up shop in Southerton, business was already picking
Strang dismissed suggestions that they were located near the hospital
for the strategic purpose of getting as many clients as possible.
is purely coincidental that we are located near the hospital. These
are rented premises."
Strang said their coffins are manufactured in
Mount Hampden, just outside Harare before being sold at their Southerton
Not to be outdone, is another outlet which sells coffins outside
the central hospital.
In his haste to cash in on the high death rate,
the proprietor must have forgotten to find a name for his
A sign which reads "Coffins For Sale" suffices.
coffin retail shop, teeming with bereaved bargain-hunters, procures
its products from carpenters in Harare's high-density suburbs.
area is Matapi in Mbare.
John Nyamudzanga started his carpentry business
by manufacturing kitchen units and coffee tables in 1991.
rising death rate, we realised that more and more people needed coffins to
bury their loved ones and we diversified into coffin manufacturing in
Nyamudzanga said the realisation came after many of his friends
and relatives died.
He is now a regular supplier of coffins to some
funeral parlours, while a large number of his customers buy directly from
Nyamudzanga who employs two people, confirmed that business was
good. "I cannot complain," he said smugly.
He is one of many
enterprising locals who are realising considerable profit through
"With the prices of commodities going beyond the
reach of many people, bereaved families now opt to buy our relatively cheap
coffins which cost as little as $3 500," he said.
undertakers are cashing in on the high death rate. Some of their employees
have even acquired expensive vehicles as a result of their improved
THE parallel market for foreign
currency and other products is expected to flourish in the coming weeks as
speculators feed on deteriorating shortages caused by the absence of a
credible economic recovery plan for Zimbabwe, analysts said this
The analysts said rates on the parallel foreign exchange market,
which has deprived the official inter-bank system of millions of hard cash in
the past three years, could go down markedly in the coming weeks unless
the government announces a credible economic recovery programme and
introduces measures to boost inflows of foreign currency.
not had a credible economic recovery programme since 1999 when the government
fell out with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over governance
Finance Minister Simba Makoni is still to present the revised
Zimbabwe Millennium Economic Recovery Programme (MERP), almost a month after
asking for input from business leaders and other stakeholders.
the gap between the official exchange rate and what is offered on the
parallel market widening by June as long as there is uncertainty about the
devaluation of the local unit," a currency dealer at a Harare commercial bank
told the Financial Gazette.
The exchange rate for the trade-weighted US
greenback has declined from about 320 Zimbabwe dollars at the end of March to
between 340 and 345 local units at present.
The analysts warned that
the US dollar exchange rate could drop to between 380 and 400 by July if
Makoni does not come up with tangible measures to plug leakages of hard cash
from the economy.
Increased import demand in the next few weeks is
expected to exert pressure on the exchange rate and push the value of the
dollar further down.
Conflicting signals about the devaluation of the
dollar have emerged from the government, with one group saying the value of
the local unit will not be adjusted while another group wants a depreciation
of the currency.
Makoni has openly said he does not support the present
exchange rate policy, arguing in several fora that Zimbabwe needs a credible
and sustainable exchange rate system.
"The uncertainty is made worse
by the fact that Makoni himself has never denied all the reports about the
devaluation of the dollar and the people who have been making most of the
noise have nothing to do with economic ministries," the dealer
Consultant economist John Robertson said the inertia on approving
key economic matters would benefit speculators for both currency and
other products in short supply such as the staple maize meal.
will perpetuate the parallel market for all products and there will
be extraordinary profit for those people who happen to be in the right place
at the right time," he said.
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
(ZSE) is expected to temporarily recover in the coming few weeks on the back
of corporate activity, forthcoming company results and news of mergers and
Volume and value traded on the ZSE jumped 50 and 100
percent last week on news of the possible merger between NMBZ Holdings and
Merchant Bank of Central Africa and the acquisition by the Zimbabwe
Reinsurance Company of UKI Securities.
Several listed companies are
also expected to release financial results for the period to December 31
Regional conglomerate Trans Zambezi Industries is also expected to
issue a dividend in specie to shareholders wishing to invest in its
subsidiary Art Corporation.
"This will obviously boost activity in Art
and the overall stock market," said Simiso Nzima, an analyst with Sagit
Excess liquidity this week continued to drive the money
market, although dealers were predicting the market could slide into
shortages by next week due to the absence of significant treasury bill (TB)
maturities in May.
"It looks like the market could tighten by Friday
since there are no TB maturities for most of next month," one dealer
Short-term rates have been stagnant at around 30 percent, although
there have been wild swings in the call rate, which has fluctuated between 10
and 35 percent.
ZIMBABWE is one of four top
developing economies — and the only one in Africa — expected to contract this
year, according to a report by the United Nations Conference for Trade and
In its Trade and Development Report 2002 just
released, UNCTAD says Zimbabwe ’s economy is forecast to decline by five
percent this year, marginally better than Argentina whose economy is expected
to shrink by 8.4 percent.
Other economies expected to contract in 2002
out of a sample of 48 developing countries surveyed by UNCTAD are Uruguay and
The UNCTAD report noted that the slowdown in the United States
economy after last year’s terrorist attacks had affected the growth
performance of many developing countries through a sharp reduction in their
The average gross domestic product (GDP) growth in
developing countries, excluding China, fell from about five percent in 2000
to slightly above one percent last year, largely due to a sharp deceleration
in the economies of most Latin American and Asian nations.
performance in Africa remained unchanged in 2001, but was again insufficient
to achieve per capita income growth for the region as a whole," UNCTAD
But a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released two
weeks ago notes that GDP growth for most of Africa this year will slow down
to around 3.4 percent compared to 3.7 percent last year.
forecast for Zimbabwe’s growth, which is based on projections by the
London-based Economist Intelligent Unit, is slightly lower than the Zimbabwe
government’s own estimate of minus 5.3 percent of GDP growth
Independent analysts see Zimbabwe’s economy contracting by
about 10 percent this year versus a decline of more than seven percent last
GDP is the sum of goods and services produced by a country over a
specified period of time, usually a year.
Analysts this week said
Zimbabwe’s economy this year would dip far worse than last year because of a
deepening political and economic crisis, dramatised by acute shortages of
foreign currency and basic commodities as well as unresolved governance
"The fact that the countries mentioned in the report are not
expected to do well this year is an indication that there is something wrong
about the economic policies pursued by these countries," economist Witness
Zimbabwe has been without a credible economic recovery
plan for the past three years when the IMF pulled the plug on the country in
protest against the government’s management of the economy.
strained ties between the IMF and Zimbabwe have cost Harare billions
of dollars in economic aid, worsening the country’s balance-of-payments
Like Zimbabwe, Argentina has faced an economic crisis since last
year, blamed on poor policies.
Before the current crisis, the Latin
American country had maintained a fixed exchange rate regime since 1991,
which meant that its peso currency became overvalued against the currencies
of its major trading partners.
Argentina also has run a huge budget
deficit over the years, leading to the present crisis.
budget deficit is forecast to grow from 12 percent of GDP in 2001 to at least
14.9 percent this year.
By Joseph Ngwawi
Business News Editor 5/3/02 2:38:57 AM (GMT +2)
IMAGINE your bank
statement being transmitted spontaneously via electronic mail to millions of
individuals and companies across the world because a virus has attacked the
bank’s computer system.
Chris Wilson — this is not his real name — says
he once received e-mail messages containing information on financial
statements of customers of a local commercial bank.
The above example
is just the tip of the iceberg on how susceptible the computer system could
be to hackers and how incidents such as these aid the new global fad of cyber
Computer experts say at least one computer network in Zimbabwe is
attacked by hackers every 30 minutes and that the local private sector is
sitting on a time bomb amid fears cyber security is not accorded the top
priority that it deserves.
Although actual figures on the financial
losses incurred by local firms and organisations due to cyber crime are not
documented, Zimbabwe has not been spared some of the dangers of the new
In the United States, the financial losses due to cyber
crime are estimated at more than US$450 million a year.
computer experts, the Internet connection is the most frequent point of
attack. The laxity of information security policies in the country just makes
Computer experts say almost all computer systems in the
country have been violated in one way or another in the past year, resulting
in billions of dollars worth of financial losses.
In just two of these
cases, separate Harare-based companies lost millions of dollars due to the
sophisticated manipulation of the accounting systems by their workers who
colluded with some outsiders.
Other losses have occurred through theft of
proprietary information, which is later used by a company’s
But David Behr, head of one of the country’s leading
Internet service providers, Zimbabwe Online, says no cases of industrial
espionage have been recorded yet in Zimbabwe, adding that the main culprits
are usually the so-called "script kiddies" who spend most of their time
surfing at Internet cafes.
"The main culprits are not the government
or the corporates but these are usually fairly young people, probably male
with a lot of time on their hands," Behr said.
The script kiddies are
usually able to break into an organisation’s personal files and use or alter
Harare-based computer expert John Sheppard said the
situation was compounded by the absence of sound information security systems
at most Zimbabwean firms, which increased the chances of them falling prey to
He noted that the bulk of Zimbabwe’s computer networks
were not properly protected against viruses, one of the means by which
hackers and other people could sabotage an organisation’s database.
said it was possible for sensitive information to be transmitted to
other people whenever a company’s or bank’s computer system is attacked by
"Many outbreaks such as the outbreak of a variant of the Klez
virus that hit the country recently are totally controllable by a combination
of virus education, intelligent virus and general security protection and by
ensuring that programmes such as Outlook Express and Internet are patched and
updated to current patch levels," Sheppard said.
The Klez virus hit
Zimbabwe’s Internet industry two weeks ago, completely shutting out more than
75 percent of the country’s companies and individuals from the rest of the
The virus affected access to the Internet by most companies and
deleted their files or documents, sending a warning signal that Zimbabwe, as
part of the global information village, must get its act together or suffer
major losses soon.
THE government is preparing to
outlaw the militant Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in the wake of
its threat to stage a long-running general strike, official sources said
They spoke as police said they were studying the legality of
speeches made on Workers’ Day on Wednesday by the leadership of the ZCTU,
which denounced the government for Zimbabwe’s economic crisis which threatens
industry and commerce with collapse and has made tens of thousands of workers
jobless in the past few years.
The sources said the government was
likely to de-register the ZCTU if it goes ahead with the strike, ordered by
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo during a speech at a Workers’ Day rally in
Matombo urged workers to prepare for the strike which he said was
aimed at forcing the government to improve their lot. Job stayaways, he
noted, had become ineffective.
He said workers should work in
solidarity with civic organisations if the planned strike, whose timing and
format he did not announce, was to succeed.
He announced that the ZCTU
would shortly start addressing rallies to communicate its strategies to
members, vowing: "It is time to take the bull by the horns."
said the ZCTU would not be deterred by the tough Public Order and Security
Act (POSA), which the union wants scrapped and says it infringes on workers’
rights to assemble and strike.
Police have used POSA in the past two
months to ban protests by the opposition MDC and civic-led
Wellington Chibhebhe, the ZCTU’s secretary-general, said
it was folly for the labour movement not to be involved in politics because,
he said, Zimbabwe’s economic and social problems faced by workers were
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the law enforcement
agency had the obligation to study the speeches to check whether they did not
contravene any law.
"Some of the leaders of these unions have been
making inflammatory statements with increasing regularity. If they dare the
law, we will arrest them," he said.
Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo
has already threatened to deal ruthlessly with the ZCTU, which he accuses of
working with the MDC. The MDC has rejected President Robert Mugabe’s
re-election in March, branding it fraudulent.
Official sources said
the government intended to crack down on the ZCTU and prop up the rival
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, which is aligned to the ruling ZANU
They noted that government investigations were already underway to
check on the funding of the ZCTU, a ploy used in the past to harass the
Labour officials noted that several unions allied to the ZCTU are
already being forced by ZANU PF to break away to join the federation and to
stop paying subscriptions as one way to undermine the activities of the
main labour group.
THE MDC has dismissed articles carried
in two government-owned dailies, The Herald and The Chronicle, alleging that
the party was mobilising its supporters to take up arms to overthrow the
The MDC said the stories should be dismissed “with the
contempt they deserve as they grossly misrepresented the actual
The first story appeared in The Chronicle of 29 April, and was
carried in The Herald of 30 April.
“It incorrectly quotes two MDC
officials as having encouraged party cadres to take up arms and violently
seize power from the current government,” said a statement from the
Lucia Matibenga, the MDC’s national women’s assembly chairperson,
and Nelson Chamisa, the national youth chairman, are alleged to have told a
rally in Mkoba Stadium last weekend that the government should be
“The MDC would like to put it on record that at no time
during the rally did any MDC official instigate members of the party to take
up arms to fight the government.
“The MDC is perturbed by the
continued misrepresentation of facts by the state media, as The Chronicle
carried a story last week saying the party was planning to march to State
House and bomb several buildings in Harare and Bulawayo.”
information department said the party was tired of the negative reports and
would ensure the editors of the respective papers would account for their
waywardness in court.
Commuter bus operators withdraw services in
5/2/02 2:56:21 PM (GMT +2)
HUNDREDS of commuters in Harare endured long hours queueing for
transport yesterday after some commuter bus operators withdrew their services
in protest against a police operation to force them to revert to the
government stipulated fares.
Commuter bus operators in Harare and
Chitungwiza increased fares arbitrarily by up to 30 percent with effect from
Monday this week.
They condemned as “unreasonable” a directive by
Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing on Tuesday that the operators immediately revert to the old rates or
risk losing their licences.
They have threatened to continue the
“The government must address the real issues before
deploying the police to deal with those who were charging passengers the new
fares,” said Musa Mukura, an operator who plies the City-Chikurubi
“We cannot sustain our businesses if we continue charging the old
fares. The cost of spares, oil and maintenance is always rising. If the
situation continues, we will park our buses until the government reverses its
“The government has approved prices increases for basic
commodities. Why can ’t they extend this to bus fares?”
mounted roadblocks on major routes and issued tickets to operators who defied
the government directive. Offenders were ordered to pay a $500 admission
of guilt fine. An angry Rangarirai Pasipanodya, who operates on the same
route, said: “The minister’s directive is unreasonable. Perhaps
we can forgive him because he does not own a bus and does not know how
expensive it is to operate one.”
He said the cost of spares and
maintenance had risen significantly in recent months.
Wilson Tembo of
Hatcliffe said he had waited for more than three hours at the Rezende Street
terminus for transport to return home. “The people have accepted the new
fares,” Tembo said. “The police must leave the bus operators alone because
this is inconveniencing us.”
INVESTIGATIONS by The
Daily News yesterday revealed that Ben Tumbare-Mutasa, the MP for Seke, was
conned by Enos Tadyanemhandu, the man who gave the paper a story claiming
that his wife, Brandina, was beheaded by suspected Zanu PF youths twelve days
It also emerged that Tadyanemhandu has been using at least three
different names in what is now suspected to be a well-organised con
When Tadyanemhandu conned Tumbare-Mutasa, a member of the
opposition MDC on 17 March, he used the name George
Tadyanemhandu’s misleading story has led to the arrest of two
Daily News reporters, Collin Chiwanza and Lloyd Mudiwa, who have been
detained at Harare Central Police Station since Tuesday. Andrew Meldrum, a
foreign correspondent, was arrested yesterday.
yesterday said he recognised that Tadyanemhandu was the man who conned him
when his picture appeared on the front page of The Daily News on Saturday and
He said on 16 March Tadyanemhandu came to his house in
Chitungwiza aboard the MP’s truck, which was delivering bread to Zhakata
shopping centre in Dema.
He claimed that his wife and children had
been captured by 500 Zanu PF supporters who were operating a torture base at
“He also claimed that he was assaulted by the Zanu PF youths
before they slashed six of his cattle using axes. He said this was done
because one of his daughters was found in possession of the MDC’s red card
symbol,” Tumbare-Mutasa said.
The MP said he entertained Tadyanemhandu
because he had told him that he was related to one Mazhindu, the late MDC
chairman for Seke, a claim that was later proved false.
said because it was late in the day, he allowed Tadyanemhandu to put up at
“On 17 March, the man knocked on my bedroom door early in the
morning and said he wanted $20 000 to move his family to Chitomborwizi, buy
clothes and food because all his property had been burnt by the Zanu PF
youths,” he said.
He said that Tadyanemhandu claimed that he would pay
back the money by auctioning the six cattle and selling the other remaining
six to the MP, after his family had left the area because they were in
“I was saddened by his story and I told him that we should first
report the matter at Dema Police Station so that the police could arrest the
“ But Tadyanemhandu said he first wanted to check whether his
family was well at the Zhakata base,” he said.
The MP said while at
Chikwanha shopping centre in Chitungwiza, he gave $5 000 to Tadyanemhandu but
he later demanded $4 000 back and left him $1 000 to buy food for his family.
The MP was planning to inform journalists of the events in the
Tumbare-Mutasa said he then followed Tadyanemhandu to Zhakata
shopping centre and decided to report the matter at Dema Police Station.
The officer-in-charge, identified as Matsikasimbe, directed a policeman
called Nyamusa to accompany the MP to Mazhindu’s place.
“When we got
there, Mazhindu could not be located. There were no Zanu PF youths at Zhakata
and people there did not know about that man. What he told me could not be
verified. We went back and told Matsikasimbe what had happened.
conned by that man and I feel sorry for the arrested journalists because they
were genuinely misled. I am going to report this case again so that he can be
arrested for conning me,” Tumbare-Mutasa said.
Police in Dema yesterday
confirmed that they remembered Matsikidze assigning Nyamusa to accompany the
MP to Tadyanemhandu’s non-existent home.
Matsikidze, who is understood to
have been recently promoted and transferred to Police General Headquarters,
could not be reached for comment. His cellphone was not
While the government and the State-run media are busy
misleading the public that The Daily News deliberately published the story
given by Tadyanemhanda, it has been established that the man has so far been
using three different names Enos Tadyanemhandu, George Mazhindu and George
Nyadzayo, which the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday night said
was his real name.
The use of these three names, particularly in dubious
circumstances, could indicate that the man is a conman who deliberately gave
the paper a false story to justify the money he was given by the MDC as
funeral expenses for the burial of his allegedly dead wife.
POOR turnout at just about
every venue marked Workers' Day celebrations throughout the country
yesterday. In particular, workers shunned events organised by the
government-sponsored Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), which tried
to hijack the occasion traditionally under the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
At Sakubva Stadium in Mutare, Oppah
Muchinguri, the Manicaland provincial governor, failed to attend the ZFTU's
Lawrence Mudehwe, the Executive Mayor of Mutare, did not turn up
either. Both Mudehwe and Muchinguri had been invited to the
ZFTU-organised activities for the day.
Rahab Mayeresera, the deputy
mayor, was booed when he tried to address the gathering of about 800 people.
He was told to go and repair the potholed roads in the city
Charles Samuriwo, the regional president of the Youth Economic
Empowerment Group, was given a similar reception as he stood to address the
workers. Esau Mupfumi, the regional president of the Affirmative Action
Group, who was billed to speak, opted out following the hostile response to
the previous ones.
The ZCTU had a relatively high turnout of about 1
500 people at the Queens Hall in Mutare. The ZCTU's provincial vice-chairman
urged the workers to remain united. In Gweru at Mkoba Stadium, about 600
people attended the ZCTU celebration. Members of the ZFTU who had tried to
barge into the stadium failed.
At Rufaro Stadium in Harare, there was
initially a poor turnout at the ZFTU celebrations until about
More people started arriving at the stadium about two hours before
the soccer match between Dynamos and the national team, scheduled for
Singer Simon Chimbetu featured on the bill. Tambaoga, whose real
name is Last Chiangwa, the singer of the song Agirimendi, which insults Tony
Blair, the British prime minister, was continuously booed.
about 20 000 turned out at Gwanzura Stadium in the capital's Highfield
high-density suburb, where the ZCTU president, Lovemore Matombo, called on
the workers to brace for a general strike to improve the living conditions of
Matombo said the workers should work in solidarity with
other civic organisations for the planned general strike, whose dates and
format he did not announce.
"We have now decided to deal with the
beast and take the bull by its horns," Matombo said, to enthusiastic
"We have abandoned the method of stayaways because they do not
work. We want all the workers and civic organisations such as the National
Constitutional Assembly, the students' movement and others to come together
in this general strike. Once we make an announcement, we want everyone to
co-operate," Matombo said.
The controversial Highfield MP, Munyaradzi
Gwisai, also attended the celebrations where he said he agreed with the ZCTU
that it was now time for mass action against the government.
Madhuku, the NCA chairman, Tinashe Chimedza, the secretary-general of the
Zimbabwe National Students' Union and Raymond Majongwe, the secretary-general
of the Progressive Teachers' Union, said it was now time for tough action
against the government.
In Masvingo, both the ZCTU's and the ZFTU's
events flopped. The ZCTU held its activities at Mucheke Stadium while the
ZFTU event was staged at Masvingo Showground.
Only a few organisers,
mostly war veterans, turned up at the ZFTU event. A ZFTU spokesman blamed
poor publicity and the long distance from the residential areas to the
showground for the poor attendance.
In Mucheke Stadium less than 100
people turned up for the ZCTU's event. A worker, Daniel Gora, said: "These
unions have been politicised and that is why workers did not turn up in large
In Bulawayo the ZFTU hired several Zupco buses to ferry about 1
000 people who were enticed with free beer to attend the event at Stanley
Square in Makokoba.
The ZCTU's event at White City Stadium attracted
about 3 000 workers. Lucia Matibenga, the ZCTU's first vice-president, said
the organisation was apolitical.
Joseph Chinotimba, the ZFTU
vice-president, threatened to deal with "hot-headed" employers in Bulawayo,
whom he accused of exploiting the workers.
The crowd which attended
the Zanu PF-sponsored ZFTU's event comprised mainly ruling party youths and
elderly people. Chinotimba said: "We are aware that some employers did not
pay workers full wages after they forced them to participate in a useless
stayaway. We have come here for that issue. We want to know the companies
that did that and we will make them pay you double your
Chinotimba said: "We are also calling for the increase of the
minimum wage to $30 000 a month."
HARARE, May 2
— Three journalists detained under Zimbabwe's tough new media laws were
temporarily released on Thursday pending their court bid to have charges of
publishing false information thrown out. Andrew Meldrum, an American
correspondent for Britain's Guardian newspaper, and local reporters Lloyd
Mudiwa and Collin Chiwanza were arrested this week over a story alleging that
a woman had been beheaded by President Robert Mugabe's supporters.
''We were all together. We were very lucky that way,'' Meldrum told reporters
outside the court after they were released from police custody. The
three men are the latest journalists to be charged under the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act signed into law after Mugabe's
controversial re-election in March. Meldrum and the two reporters from
the independent Daily News, which first carried the beheading story on April
23, face fines of up to Z$100,000 ($1,818) or up to two years in jail if
found guilty of publishing ''falsehoods.'' ''There is no reasonable
suspicion that any offence has been committed,'' Meldrum's lawyer Beatrice
Mtetwa told the court, adding the state was applying the media law
selectively. ''We will submit before you that this legislation...is
indeed being abused by targeting journalists who are from the independent
media,'' Mtetwa said.
E-MAIL EVIDENCE Mtetwa questioned how
the state obtained a printout of an e-mail, presented as evidence in court,
which carried a story on the alleged murder and was sent by Meldrum to the
Guardian. ''What you have is an illegally accessed internet
communication. How does private correspondence end up in the hands of the
state legally?'' she said. State prosecutor Thabani Mpofu said
Mtetwa had no proof the document was acquired illegally, but he did not say
how it came into the state's possession. Magistrates' Court Judge
Lillian Kudya said she would rule on Friday on Mtetwa's request to drop the
charges against Meldrum. A lawyer for the two Daily News reporters said he
would seek a similar court ruling on Friday. All three newsmen were
released without bail on Thursday pending Kudya's ruling on both cases the
next day. Mpofu said on Thursday the government had sufficient grounds
to suspect Meldrum had committed a crime. ''The issue is he is
accused of the publishing of a falsehood. It is not being suggested that the
accused person falsified any information. The issue is the story that he
wrote is false and that is now an offence,'' Mpofu said. The
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said last week Brandina
Tadyanemhandu was killed at her home in Magunje in front of her
two daughters, citing the woman's husband. The MDC blamed supporters of
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF. Several international newspapers carried
the story. But on Saturday the Daily News said it had doubts about the
alleged murder after failing to locate a grave. Mugabe's government
has been accused of cracking down on journalists since the March election,
which was rejected by the MDC and some Western nations as
fraudulent. Peta Thornycroft, correspondent of Britain's Daily
Telegraph, was detained for several days in March after police accused her of
publishing false information. Daily News editor Geoff Nyarota was
charged on April 15 with publishing false information in a story alleging
Mugabe fraudulently won last month's poll. That same week, Zimbabwe
Independent editor Iden Wetherell was charged over a story alleging Mugabe's
wife had been drawn into a labour dispute involving a white-owned