By Mark Turner at the United Nations
Published: May 3 2007 03:00 | Last updated: May 3 2007 03:00
Zimbabwe is poised to become chair of the United Nation's Commission on
Sustainable Development, while Belarus is set to win a seat on the UN Human
Rights Council, in two decisions likely to attract fresh -criticism of the
A UN diplomat yesterday said that Francis Nhema, Zimbabwe's environment
minister, looked almost certain to get the CSD position after being
nominated as Africa's candidate in April.
Zimbabwe government policies are seen as having triggered its most severe
economic crisis since independence, with annual inflation at 2,200 per cent.
Qatar holds the chair of the session due to end next week. By tradition the
position rotates regionally, with Africa next in line.
The Commission, created in 1993, is the UN's main forum for discussing the
relationship between development and the environment and is expected to
issue recommendations on climate change next week.
Meanwhile, a coalition of 40 human rights groups called on the UN to reject
Belarus's candidacy for the Human Rights Council, which last year replaced
the discredited Human Rights Commission but has itself faced mounting
"Belarus's record on human rights makes [it] a supremely unfit candidate for
the . . . council," said Human Rights Watch, a New York-based pressure
group, in a statement issued on behalf of three dozen rights groups. The
Belarusan government "severely restricts the activities of human rights
groups, and has systematically moved to close them and opposition parties.
Peaceful protesters are violently dispersed and arrested, and opposition
leaders are jailed," it said.
The Human Rights Council was conceived to refocus the UN's primary rights
body. But it has failed to conduct peer reviews on its members' human rights
records and in elections this month most candidates are running unopposed.
By Irwin Chifera and Carole Gombakomba
02 May 2007
Zimbabwean police have refused to authorize journalists in Harare to march
through the capital on Thursday in observation of World Press Freedom Day,
according to Zimbabwe Union of Journalists President Matthew Takaona.
The journalists union and the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of
Southern Africa condemned the police refusal to authorize the march to the
offices of the Media and Information Commission to present a petition for
increased press freedom.
He said the journalists intended to ask MIC Chairman Tafataona Mahoso to
improve the working environment for the news media, and to repeal
restrictive legislation - in particular the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, or AIPPA.
Correspondent Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from
In Washington, former Daily News editor Geoffrey Nyarota told a conference
on press freedom Tuesday that the suppression of the liberty of the press in
Zimbabwe is the worst it's been since the country gained independence from
colonial rule in 1980.
Nyarota told delegates that state harassment, arrest, torture and even
deadly force against journalists has been rising since a government
crackdown began in March.
Nyarota was at the helm of the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday when
the Media and Information Commission refused to license its journalists,
effectively shutting down the newspapers which were critical of the
The Washington conference was co-sponsored by the U.S. Broadcasting Board of
Governors and Freedom House, an independent non-governmental organization
that has supported the expansion of freedom in the world since 1941.
In its 2007 report on press freedom worldwide, Freedom House said four out
of five people worldwide live in countries where the press is not considered
to be free or is only partly free, and only 18 percent of the world's
population enjoy a free press.
North Korea received the institute's lowest ranking with a score of 97.
Zimbabwe was in the bottom 10 with a score of 89, the same as Belarus and
Nyarota, now a visiting professor of political studies at Bard College in
Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, told the Capitol Hill gathering that
independent media in Zimbabwe must be supported to sustain the democratic
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes said the
increased pressure on U.S. ambassadors and foreign service members in
countries where press freedom is restricted is a gauge of how governments
respond to media criticism.
May 03, 2007 Edition 1
How long can Robert Mugabe hang on to power? This is the question South
Africans and Africans should ask when considering what to do in terms of
If the answer is, say, less than two years, one would be tempted to say:
"Let's spend our resources on the rebuilding of Zimbabwe after Mugabe rather
than on manoeuvring him out of office." If the answer is two or more years,
it would be too early to start talking about rebuilding and we should
concentrate on getting him out.
An obvious short-term plan to get him to quit would be to assure him that he
would not be prosecuted for crimes and gross human rights violations during
his reign. This was apparently put to him by South African negotiators at
some point. Mugabe, it is understood, agreed to retire on condition of such
a guarantee, but pulled out at the last minute when he realised that former
Liberian leader Charles Taylor had also received such guarantees, but was
charged before the International Criminal Court soon afterwards.
It was morally correct to break the assurances given to Taylor. Politicians
like him should never be allowed to go unpunished. But it also means Mugabe
will insist on more iron-clad guarantees before he goes voluntarily.
Mugabe should also not be allowed to go unpunished. His old age cannot be an
excuse - he wasn't too old to order his goons to torture and kill people and
to destroy his country's economy.
Zimbabwe's civil society and faith communities should start preparations for
a truth and reconciliation commission to start as soon as Mugabe is out of
power. I cannot see a successful rebuilding and unification of that broken,
divided country without it. They need it as much as we needed it after
Such a commission should start with hearings on the reign of Ian Smith's
regime and the excesses of its war against the liberation movements. It
should then investigate the massacres of as many as 25000 civilians in the
province of Matabeleland between 1983 and 1984 by Mugabe's Fifth Brigade.
Mugabe and the officers involved should be forced to appear before the
The focus should then move to the period after 2000, when the people voted
against an extension of Mugabe's powers in a referendum. The vote triggered
the madness we have seen since: the indiscriminate eviction of white
commercial farmers; the muzzling of the media; the compromising of the
judicial system; the rigging of elections; the intimidation and
incarceration of the political opposition; and the kidnapping, torture and
killing of opponents by state hit squads.
But Mugabe and his top henchmen should ideally be charged before the
international court. It would be untenable to have an untouched Mugabe
living in his palatial mansion in Harare at a time of rebuilding and
reconciliation in Zimbabwe.
This is not only about punishing an evil and corrupt politician. It is about
how we as Africans see ourselves, it is about our morality, our devotion to
democracy and good governance, our reaction to authoritarianism.
We neighbours should not allow Zimbabwe to have another election before it
is clear that an election would be free of intimidation and fear, and fairly
and properly managed.
We, and Zimbabweans themselves, need to know what the will of the Zimbabwean
people really is.
But I have heard an unconfirmed rumour that could change matters. Some have
apparently raised the possibility that China be asked to offer Mugabe
sanctuary with the promise that he won't be extradited to the international
court. If China thinks that will advance its cause in Africa, it might just
shield him until he dies.
If that has to be the way out, let's all hope it happens very soon so the
rebuilding of our once proud neighbour can start in earnest.
|Johannesburg, South Africa|
|02 May 2007 11:59|
BY STELLA ALLBERRY
The continuous, unrelenting violence perpetrated by Zimbabweans against
Zimbabweans in these last weeks has shocked and horrified me.
To our beloved brothers and sisters whose desire is only to improve the
lives of all Zimbabweans - and who, as I write, are in pain, who suffer each
day as they relive the beatings and torture - I say to you, "Please know
that you have never deserved this. You should never have had to experience
this. Your desire for good, your desire to pray or even just your desire for
life, was your only crime.
"We, the MDC, condemn this with everything we are and everything we believe
in and we stand right beside you at this time."
We live under a paranoid, inhumane, insane regime that we did not choose.
Our whole nation and all our people are ill. The illness of the violent
people is a type of sociopathic behaviour, which has been taught and
ingrained in young people by evil men who have no fear of God. Is this the
worst illness of all?
Young men who beat the chosen leaders of the people - both men and women -
what were you thinking? You, who shot an innocent young man; you, who caused
the death of an innocent unborn child, what were you thinking? What harm
have these people ever done to you?
You are sick and need to be treated and you need to seek forgiveness from
Stop it now! Say to those wicked men giving you their orders from their
ivory towers, gliding around in their chauffer-driven, gleaming
Mercedes-Benzes with their stomachs overfull with the remaining fat of this
land . "No more, we will not do this anymore".
This regime has stolen our most basic rights - the right to affordable
The horrendous beatings MDC members suffered, and the fact that our people
are very often not allowed access to medical attention for much too long, is
one thing. The fact that they could not seek treatment under our public
health system is outrageous. But, in truth, they would have received
insufficient treatment there anyway.
We were promised "Free Health for All by the Year 2000". In reality, all we
have is "Abuse for All by the Year 2007"! What kind of government allows
people to die from dehydration in its hospitals? What kind of government
allows people to die from lack of treatment of the most basic of treatable
conditions? What kind of government allows its people to die of
hypertension, of diabetes, of diarrhoea? What kind of government allows
patients to lie in hospital for months with untreated and unreduced
fractures because their relatives cannot afford to buy the orthopaedic
appliances necessary for them to heal?
How many mothers have lost how many infants due to neglect, or to staff
shortages when the medical staff simply cannot afford to come to work? How
many Zimbabweans are building up resistances to ARV drugs and spreading that
resistance across our globe because our people are running away, or because
they cannot afford to collect ARVs or cannot afford to continue taking them?
Be warned, you who need to be warned. Much blood is on your hands. The blood
of those murdered and beaten, of countless Zimbabweans dying of hunger, of
unborn children whose lives are taken away before they begin, and of all
those who die from neglect, from poverty and desperation. We are keeping
Is this neglect and disregard of human life perhaps the worst illness of
All Zimbabweans have had the illness of fear and oppression but now the
noise made by the beating of our hearts and the grumbling of our hungry
stomachs is drowning out our fear and empowering us. The suffering of our
political and civic leaders, and the suffering of the innocent, is truly
enraging us. The more you try and hold us down the more we will fight to be
I will not make empty and foolish promises but I will say to all Zimbabweans
that our day is coming, the day when we will all have access to health and
be able to live a comfortable life. We will heal our own land and this
darkness will be but a fading memory as we enjoy our beloved home and we
start living in the Zimbabwe we now only dream of.
Stella Allberry is the MDC's (Arthur Mutumbara) Secretary for Health
'It is Zanu(PF)'s intention to completely destroy the MDC by June this year'
By John Makumbe
The designation of South Africa's Thabo Mbeki as mediator in the worsening
Zimbabwe crisis seems to be generating four possible scenarios that may
happen in the next 10 - 12 months.
Scenario One relates to a successful start to the dialogue, with both
Zanu(PF) and the MDC participating at first, then civil society being
included later in the process. An agreement to write a new democratic
constitution will be reached and this will result in a referendum being held
prior to the holding of the 2008 parliamentary and presidential elections.
Efforts will probably be made to make these elections free and fair to the
satisfaction of all parties concerned.
Scenario Two envisages most of the developments pertaining to Scenario One,
except that after some time of negotiating with the other parties, Zanu(PF)
will then throw a spanner into the whole process, thereby causing a deadlock
. Mugabe will quickly push the proposed Constitutional Amendment Number 18
through Parliament. The amendment will obviously pass easily given the fear
that Zanu(PF) MPs have of the dictator.
The MDC will immediately announce that it will boycott the 2008 elections
and Mbeki's negotiating team will be thrown into disarray. As has happened
in the past, Mugabe will go ahead with the elections and claim victory -
resulting in worse economic problems.
Under Scenario Three, the best possible development for this country, Mugabe
co-operates fully with Mbeki and his negotiating team. An agreement is
reached and Mugabe gracefully retires from office several months before the
holding of elections under a democratic constitution. A National
Transitional Authority (NTA) is set up to oversee the electoral process and
run national affairs in the interim.
This authority will comprise representatives of such critical sectors as
MDC, Zanu(PF), the churches, business, women's groups, students and
professional bodies. Once constituted, the National Transitional Authority
can elect two respected and acceptable individuals to be Acting President
and Acting Vice President. The NTA will proceed to devise various ways and
means of rehabilitating the national economy. The international community
will come to Zimbabwe's aid through bilateral and multi-lateral agreements.
Scenario Four is perhaps the most intriguing of these possible scenarios.
Desperate to retain power, Mugabe and his Zanu(PF) will cause a deadlock to
develop in the dialogue process. This will result in both the MDC and civil
society embarking on nationwide civil disobedience with the attendant police
brutality perpetrated by the despotic Mugabe regime.
Military elements within Zanu(PF) will then force Mugabe out of office by
force and create an interim leadership to oversee the running of elections
under the current demented constitution. The SADC will reject the newly
"elected" government which will essentially be a Zanu(PF) faction
masquerading as a democratic government. Zimbabwe's problems persist as the
international community shuns the sham regime.
A few footnotes may be necessary for readers to better appreciate these four
scenarios. First, it is Zanu(PF)'s intention to completely destroy the MDC
by June this year. In this, the draconian regime will fail, but the violence
and brutality will be ratcheted up to unprecedented levels in the history of
this country. Second, Mugabe is currently actively recruiting additional
Zanu(PF) militia in order to bring the number up to 15 000, while the police
force is being increased to more than 45 000.
Both of these forces will assist the notorious CIO to subdue the MDC and
civil society, including the churches, to ensure that Mugabe and Zanu(PF)
remain in power long after the 2008 elections. We need to pray that Scenario
Three be the one that is realised, even thought the chances of this are
A ruling Zanu (PF) legislator Enita Maziriri and former governor Josiah
Hungwe were injured at the weekend following violent clashes between rival
factions ahead of provincial elections in Masvingo.
Retired Major Alex Mudavanhu beat Paul Mangwana for the provincial
chairmanship by 468 votes to 348 in chaotic elections that mirrored the
vicious power struggle within the party over President Robert Mugabe's
"The elections were not free and fair," said a Zanu (PF) official loyal to
the Mangwana camp.
"Our supporters were not allowed to vote and everything was chaotic. We are
going to launch an official complaint with the party's national chairman,
John Nkomo, to demand a re-run," said the official.
However, Manyika said the elections were generally free and fair despite the
The new executive is said to be loyal to retired army general Solomon Mujuru
who heads a powerful faction embroiled in a mortal fight with a rival
faction headed by Rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mangwana, who was on a "home coming" mission from Mashonaland West province,
is said to be backing Mnangagwa.
The weekend polls were called as part of an ongoing restructuring exercise
within the party that began earlier this year. Trouble for Maziriri and
Hungwe is said to have started after party youths loyal to Mudavanhu blocked
a bus that was ferrying Mangwana's supporters from Chivi district to the
voting centre in Masvingo.
The supporters threatened to set the bus on fire if the driver insisted on
ferrying Mangwana's supporters to the voting centre. The disturbances soon
degenerated into violent clashes with party youths from the rival camps
throwing stones at each other resulting in scores of supporters from both
factions sustaining injuries.
HARARE - Workers at the embattled and insolvent Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers -
grabbed from entrepreneur Ibbo Mandaza by the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) - have sued the crumbling edifice, alleging it bilked
workers out of billions in wages over the past two months.
The class-action lawsuit also claim that board members, comprising mainly
intelligence operatives at the Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers and its
subsidiaries, Daily Mirror and The Sunday Mirror threatened those who
inquired about their outstanding salaries.
Since the temporary closure of the two newspaper titles in mid-March,
workers have not been paid and are now seeking relief through the courts.
The newspapers collapsed under a Z$100 billion debt after making successive
losses since its takeover by the CIO.
The workers committee spokesperson, Shamiso Sibotshiwe, said employees were
forced to take the insolvent company to court after it unlawfully failed to
pay workers two months in a row despite assurances at the time of the
temporary closure of the newspaper group that workers would continue to
receive their salaries.
Zimbabwe Mirror Newspaper Group CEO Tichaona Chifamba was not immediately
available for comment. But reports suggest the Central Bank was due to
inject fresh capital into the newspaper group to recapitalise it.
The paper is expected to complement the State-owned dailies Herald and
Chronicle in drumming up support for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF)
in the run-up to next year's general elections. - Staff reporter
HARARE - Ex-combatants and University of Zimbabwe (UZ) students have
separately urged President Robert Mugabe to pardon hundreds of MDC political
prisoners held in detention centres across Zimbabwe if their bail
application on allegations of plotting to unseat him through a military
insurrection fails in the Supreme Court.
The prisoners are being charged under a recently amended tough security law,
the Criminal Law and Codification Reform Act, for allegedly "causing
forcible resistance to the Government, Defence or any Law Enforcement
In separate correspondence to the President's Office, students and
ex-combatants of the 70s guerilla war, urged Mugabe to drop the charges
against the opposition officials saying it was inconsistent with universal
democratic principles to jail opponents and that the continued incarceration
flies in the face of the mediation opened up by SADC leaders in Dar
es-Salaam last month. Scores of the political prisoners are being charged
with throwing petrol
bombs into police stations, bombing trains, while others are being charged
for receiving military training from South Africa, an allegation that has
sparked a diplomatic tiff between Pretoria and Harare, culminating in the
visit to Zimbabwe two weeks ago by SA Intelligence boss Ronnie Kasrils.
Zimbabwe National Students Union president Promise Mkwananzi said Mugabe
should pardon the political prisoners because some of them had sustained
grave injuries while in police custody and needed urgent medical care.
Glenview MDC MP Paul Madzore is reportedly in a critical condition in remand
prison, together with other members of the secretariat such as Morgan
Tsvangirai's top aide Ian Makone and Information officer Luke Tamborinyoka.
They have been denied bail both in the Magistrate's Court and the High
Ex-combatants and the Post Independence Survivors Trust have raised the
stakes, saying if Mugabe could reconcile with former Rhodesian leader, Ian
Smith, who ordered the bombing of thousands of freedom fighters before
independence, why should he lock up MDC officials, a home-grown, black
domestic opposition which has allowed him to maintain the charade of
democracy in Zimbabwe. - Staff reporter
Since the beginning of the year there has been a rapid decline of the
Zimbabwe dollar on the parallel market vis-à-vis all major currencies. The
Zimdollar opened at Z$2500 to one American dollar in January this year but
plummeted to Z$25 000 by end of April 2007, a decrease of Z$22 500 or 900%
in less than four months.
At this rate the exchange rate is forecast at over Z$10million to the
greenback by the end of 2007, way beyond IMF forecasts of 4000% inflation
rate by year end.
The question to be answered is; is this frightening trend going to continue?
To answer this question we have to look at the factors that have been
driving our dollar into the wilderness, and whether such factors will still
be in play at year end, and thereafter.
The biggest driver of our battered currency has been supply-demand mismatch.
There has been a huge demand for foreign currency from all sectors of the
economy, including government and individuals. The Reserve Bank has not been
able to meet demand, hence the parallel market. Another culprit is
inflation. There is now a vicious cycle where exchange rate depreciation
fuels inflation and vice versa.
The supply of foreign currency is not expected to improve in the near
future. In fact it is expected to decline as more exporting companies either
reduce production or fold altogether. This is as a result of the official
exchange rate regime where the greenback has been fixed at Z$250 since 2006.
It is demand for foreign currency which is likely to have a major impact on
Demand for foreign currency comes from the productive sector, commerce,
individuals, and government.
Demand from the productive sector is likely to slow down as more companies
downsize or close due to poor demand for goods and services. Most companies
are dollarising the selling price of their goods and services, triggering
high and ever-increasing prices.
This, in an environment of poor wages and salaries, means no takers for such
goods and services. This trend has already started.
Notice how car sale garages are packed while more people now choose to walk
because they cannot afford the bus fares, fuel, or the motor vehicles
themselves. This eventually means less demand for foreign currency to import
motor vehicles and fuel. The same applies for things like household
electrical appliances. Also notice how supermarkets and other retail outlets
are packed with goods but with few takers because people can't afford them.
Demand for foreign currency by government is expected to remain more or less
the same as it is forced to import more food given the current drought, and
also other essentials such as electricity and water treatment chemicals. But
government itself is broke and will not be seen to be printing more money
all the time.
Therefore aggregate demand for foreign currency is expected to drop, acting
as a brake on exchange rate depreciation. The foreign exchange bubble itself
will not burst, but the rate of decline is likely to slow down or at best
stabilize. We hope this would be the beginning of better things to come. -
Lawrence Muusha can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
BY TREVOR GRUNDY
The Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, says he was badly misquoted
by reporters from The Herald (Harare) and The Chronicle (Bulawayo) when he
met the Governor of the Midlands, Cephas Msipa, in Gweru during a 15 - day
trip (10-25 April) diocesan link visit aimed at strengthening bonds with the
Diocese of Central Zimbabwe.
The bishop, accompanied by eight clergy and 12 laity from the Croydon
Episcopal Area of the Diocese of Southwark, arrived in Harare on Easter
Tuesday and returned home last week.
Everyone in the party was surprised to learn how misleading interviews can
become after being processed by state paid editors in Harare and Bulawayo
who rarely let the truth interfere with what they believe is a good story.
After an almost two hour long exchange between Bishop Nick and Governor
Msipa at his administrative offices at the governor's request on April 19,
The Herald carried a report (April 20) which raised the eyebrows of not only
the Church of England senior cleric and his companions but also Anglicans
monitoring the Zimbabwean situation in Britain.
"Media Lies about Zimbabwe - British Clergyman", was the paper's misleading
It told how Baines had allegedly criticised Britain's media for "peddling
lies" about the situation in Zimbabwe and how he allegedly told Msipa, the
76- year old former ZAPU nationalist turned ruling party loyalist, that
Tony Blair's government had no right to tell Zimbabweans how to run their
Baines was also quoted as telling a group of Zimbabweans - two were from
national newspapers and the reporters concerned did not identify themselves
to the bishop or his companions - that colonialism had gone forever and that
Britain had no right to tell Zimbabwe what to do.
In an interview with The Zimbabwean, the Bishop said he and his fellow
Christians had been well received by Msipa, his officials and ordinary
people but that at no point had he said that British Press lied about
"What I said was that they shouldn't complain about poor reporting of
Zimbabwean affairs if journalists were banned from the country and had to
rely on second-hand information. The media ban is more damaging to Zimbabwe
than getting 'mis-reported' and being able to challenge it. I asked them
what they had to fear or hide.
"Msipa was charming and polite and several times asked if everyone in our
group had been treated well. I replied that they had been treated well,
although two had been followed by an unmarked car and one family hosting a
member of my group received a knock on the door at 1.30 in the morning by
"Then a man who said he was journalist from The Herald told me he had
evidence that Church of England groups supported the MDC. Of course, I
denied the assertion and asked him why on earth anyone would wish to
re-colonise Zimbabwe. I said that sanctions had a threefold purpose - to
freeze the assets of some leaders, to initiate an arms ban and to implement
a travel ban," said the bishop, who also emphasised his belief that such
sanctions could not possibly harm ordinary people in Zimbabwe.
As country lurches towards 5,000% inflation, wide-spread hunger and social
unrest, even supporters wonder what would bring dictator to see reality
The façade of democracy has fallen away, exposing an angry and frightened
83-year-old dictator who would rather bring the temple down than yield power
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
HARARE - Far from the fortified walls of State House, far away from
President Robert Mugabe's favourite airport route, there is mounting and
simmering public anger against the veteran ruler's increasingly repressive
regime and the daily price hikes.
In the dusty streets of Mbare, Kuwadzana, Highfield, Glenview, Glen Norah,
Dangamvura, Mucheke, Makokoba, Mkoba, there has been rising misery and
palpable anger against the brutal actions of the Mugabe regime in the past
few weeks. The deepening economic crisis is also fuelling public fury.
Many are now convinced that the veteran ruler was gunning for an all-out
war, so as to escape culpability for his regime's brutal actions against the
people of Zimbabwe, from the Gukurahundi genocide of the '80s to the recent,
ruthless Operation Murambatsvina.
Political analysts said, bit by bit, the façade of democracy and moderation
that Mugabe has constructed in Zimbabwe for the past two-and-half decades
has fallen away, exposing an angry and frightened 83-year-old dictator, who
would rather bring the temple down around his ears than yield power
"As the violence against opposition parties and the pro-democracy civic
society, and the assaults on the media and the courts have grown, Zimbabwe's
reputation has been sinking as fast as its economy - and it's dragging a
whole region down with it," said political analyst Dr Lovemore Madhuku...
Zimbabwe, a country of 12,5 million people whose main source of income is
agriculture, really matters only to Zimbabweans.
Economists say South Africa, with four times as many people and enormous
symbolic importance as the only developed country on the African continent,
matters much more.
The two countries have little in common except a border but their fates are
linked, because the global markets are as ignorant as they are prone to
"Just as a debt crisis can stampede investors into a panic-stricken exodus
from markets, so a political crisis in Zimbabwe can lead them to treat the
whole of southern Africa as unstable," economist John Robertson said.
Since Mugabe unleashed the crisis in Zimbabwe some seven years ago, South
Africa's stock market has tumbled, its currency has halved in value, and
foreign investment has collapsed - even though it is a stable democracy with
completely orthodox economic policies.
Analysts say it is mostly Robert Mugabe's fault. Once revered as a
liberation hero, and respected as a man who had put his own Marxist and
authoritarian instincts aside for the good of his people, he has become a
ruthless despot hiding under a veil of Pan Africanism. However, there are
few takers for his rhetoric now.
Ghana President John Kufour said last month's events in Zimbabwe were
"embarrassing". So did the United Nations and the African Union.
A little over seven years ago, Zimbabwe was a model of development in
Africa: a relatively poor country where most people nevertheless had access
to education and basic health care, and some hope of a better future. Now
there is more than 2,200 percent inflation, no foreign exchange, and threats
of tighter international sanctions. There is general hopelessness among the
The IMF said this week inflation would close the year at 5,000 percent and
that the government was fuelling the fiscal deficit by printing money.
Three-quarters of Zimbabweans currently live in abject poverty, and a 40
percent fall in agricultural production this year, directly due to critical
shortages of inputs and political violence, means many face actual
How has this happened?
"There is genuine fear of losing power, from Mugabe and those benefiting
from the status quo," said Tawanda Mutasah, a political scientist and also
executive director of the Open Society Initiative Southern Africa. "This is
the reason why we have seen this orbit of grotesque violence."
Mutasah said Mugabe was realizing that his own power was in question, and he
had responded by launching a wave of government-sponsored political violence
that has devastated the country.
Another political analyst who declined to be named said the opposition could
still win elections in March next year if pressure from South Africa, the
European Union, the Commonwealth, the UN and the United States forced Mugabe
to accept international monitoring of the presidential election.
He said Zimbabweans were now better educated and more sophisticated than
their parents' generation and that "they will not buy Mugabe's explanation
that Zimbabweans should soldier on because he and his comrades lived on
water alone during the liberation struggle".
As an official inside the Central Intelligence Organisation said recently:
"It would seem the writing is now on the wall. There's a lot of document
shredding going on."
The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair held here last week was emblematic of
the economic problems the country is suffering from, coupled with its
increasing pariah status in the international community. Devoid of
exhibitors or buyers from Europe and America, who in the past used to form
the core of the event's activities and went a long way in promoting the
country's international trade, the fair was dominated by local small scale
Even South Africa, previously a major participant and the country's major
trade partner, snubbed the fair. President Robert Mugabe had to go it alone
after his colleagues in SADC such as President thabo Mbeki of South Africa
refused to come and officiate at the show.
Despite government propaganda describing the event as a "resounding
success", the 48th edition of the fair was a pale shadow of the standards
set in the past. Under the theme Zimbabwean brands, Regional Brands and
Global Brands, the ZITF this year had less than 700 domestic exhibitors
compared to the previous years when it used to record up to 800 and 90
foreign exhibitors. Only a few small businesses from the SADC region
maintained any foreign exhibitors' presence at the fair.
Although it was difficult to establish the number of local visitors to this
year's ZITF, a visit to the grounds last week revealed that less people
managed to attend due to the chronic economic problem causing reduced
incomes to the majority of Zimbabweans. - Itai Dzamara
HARARE - Confidential estimates from an NGO which monitors human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe reveal four political murders, six disappearances, 104
unlawful detentions, and 288 cases of torture since March.
Four opposition activists, including a journalist, have been killed since
"These figures are only part of the picture, the ones we can confirm with
certainty," said an official with the NGO - who cannot be named for security
reasons. "The state has very few inhibitions about using violence. We hear
lots of reports of people dying, but people are very unhelpful at giving us
those statistics. There have been many more deaths."
The report notes that torture has become widespread, committed by the
police, the self-styled war veterans or by militants of the ruling Zanu
(PF). Some opposition officials have been hounded out of their homes, which
have then been looted. Many have been forced to attend political rallies
where they were expected to identify MDC supporters among themselves. These
sympathisers were then beaten, or worse, as a warning to others.
The report says it is not just the poor who are vulnerable. Health workers
rendering medical care to victims of State terror have also been targeted by
the militia because of their presumed sympathy with the opposition. Even
election to Parliament provides little protection.
"Dozens of opposition MPs have been arrested or assaulted, had their homes
attacked or faced other intimidation," says the report. "Such abuse has been
made possible by the rapid transformation of police and judiciary from
largely autonomous bodies to tools of the ruling party. The police have been
purged of those suspected of disloyalty to the regime and are effectively
another Zanu (PF) militia. They offer little protection to Mr Mugabe's
War veterans have in many instances taken control of police stations, says
The force is being used to harass and detain opposition supporters, while
ruling party activists get away with intimidation, assault and even murder.
The actions of the army and the CIO, the Zimbabwean secret police, which is
solely accountable to Mugabe, are little different.
The report notes that people no longer look to the courts with any
"Many magistrates are sympathetic to Zanu (PF) or too intimidated to rule
against the government," says the report. "Judges who make an independent
stand have been forced to resign after threats to their lives and families.
And when a judge does resist the pressure and issues a court order against
the government, Zanu (PF) simply ignores it if it chooses."
While the government ignores the courts at will, it uses the law as another
weapon against its opponents. Scores of MDC officials face subversion
charges for warning Mugabe that if he tried to hang on by postponing
elections he might be removed by force. - Staff reporter
A top member of the Zimbabwean government's Central Intelligence Agency, who
identified himself as Mike, has fled the country to South Africa as hunger
extends even to Mugabe's once well-paid informants.
Mike, who claims to be part of the death squad which was tasked to clamp
down on the opposition on March 11, testified that he did not even earn
enough to feed a family of three, despite the dangers associated with his
"It is pathetic that we all live in suspicion that some people are being
paid good salaries to keep Mugabe in power as they crush all dissenting
voices. This is not true, I was paid Z$2 million which could not even take
me half of the month," said Mike.
Recent media reports have alleged that the national youth militia, top army
cadres and members of the central intelligence agents were being paid huge
salaries by the broke Zimbabwean government to safeguard Mugabe's job and
his lavish life at the state castle.
Mike works as a Lafarge mixer for a local building company.
"If I had known that I would be paid this much, I could have left the
country seven years ago. Every month I pocket R2000 which is equivalent to
Z$6 million, three times more than my previous salary," he said.
James Chatikobo (not his real name) previously employed in the army said
that even a security guard job in South Africa was better paid than some of
the middle ranks in the army. "I am getting R2,300 a month without
overtime. I'm sure if some of my bosses knew this they would also come to
South Africa," said Chatikobo. - Trust Matsilele
At least three Non Governmental Organisations with Western origins that have
been providing humanitarian aid in Zimbabwe are planning to relocate to
neighbouring coutries, following renewed tension with the Zanu (PF)
New regulations have been set requiring NGOs to sign agreements committing
themselves to being controlled by government and cleared by Interpol and the
local police before engaging in their activities. NGOs involved in the areas
of human rights, democracy and media advocacy are the major targets of the
"It is not proper to reveal a lot of details as of now but I can confirm
that at least three NGOs shall be relocating soon because of the rising
tension," said a diplomatic source. "This is not to mean they will stop
their work of assisting starving Zimbabweans."
Millions of Zimbabweans are in need of food aid following yet another failed
agricultural season due to the combination of poor rainfall patterns and the
entrenched effects of chaotic agrarian reforms by government.
Hundreds of thousands also still require humanitarian aid after failing to
recover from the effects of Operations Murambatsvina of 2005 that rendered
more than 700 000 people homeless. - Itai Dzamara
HARARE - After realising the illegality and adverse implications of banning
Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the Zimbabwe government has made a
dramatic climbdown, saving face by issuing a General Notice reminding
charities of the need to register under the Private Voluntary Organisations
Mugabe's new information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who has been dubbed
"motormouth", was forced to eat humble pie after threatening to shut down
NGOs, which he alleged were involved in efforts to topple President Robert
But with the nation steeped in poverty and relying mainly on NGO aid, the
permanent secretary in the ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare, gazetted a General Notice [99/2007] on April 27, which in essence
is a "Code of Procedures for the Registration and Operations of NGOs in
Zimbabwe" under the PVO Act.
The General Notice does not affect existing registrations or NGOs already in
operation. It only lays out the requirements for registration for new local
and international NGOs.
Legal experts said the General Notice was "just a reminder" that all NGOs
that fall under the provisions of the PVO Act have to both register and
operate under the Act. The notice also alerts NGOs to the supervisory
functions of the Registrar of PVOs.
The only change ushered in through the code is the requirement for new
foreign organizations setting up in Zimbabwe to sign a memorandum of
understanding with government departments and provide accounts of their
funding and a clearance letter from the International Police Organization.
New NGOs would also be required to provide details on their history and
The dramatic climbdown came as Central Bank governor Gideon Gono announced
in an emergency monetary policy statement last Friday that government used
scarce hard currency to buy 500,000 metric tons of staple food - mostly
maize - to avert starvation in coming months. - Staff reporter
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono has reportedly come under fire
from President Mugabe over his recent indirect devaluation of the Zimbabwe
dollar, government sources have indicated. Gono might be considering
quitting after what sources said was a tongue-lashing session by an
increasingly cornered Mugabe.
A minister involved in the Mugabe regime's economic policing said that Gono
last week tried to circumvent a strict order imposed by Mugabe last year not
to devalue the dollar by coming up with a fund through which he effectively
devalued the dollar from trading at Z$250 to the US dollar to Z$1500.
Gono announced the Drought Mitigation and Economic Stabilisation Fund as his
latest gimmick to lure local individuals and businesses into giving foreign
currency to the central bank during his interim monetary policy statement in
Bulawayo last week.
"Gono has been consulting his friends on such tricks of cheating Mugabe and
the nation and he seriously believed he would charm Mugabe and Zanu (PF)
with the drought and economic stabilization thing," said the minister, who
spoke on condition on anonymity. "However, he got it all wrong and Mugabe
summoned him to a meeting at which he reminded him about not devaluing the
dollar. It was a tense meeting also attended by other government officials
and Mugabe charged that this could be a plot of sabotage ahead of next
Gono is believed to be regretting his cracking of the whip on bank owners
and business leaders when he took over, forcing several of them to flee into
exile whilst scores others were arrested. He recently said he wanted those
in exile to be granted amnesty but in that way also attracting the suspicion
of Mugabe who is said to have recently said he knew about his officials
working with the opposition and Western countries to backbite him.
Another source close to Gono said the usually exuberant central bank chief
has been in low spirits since the bashing by Mugabe. "I know it is hard for
him to decide given what is at stake on his part as well as the other things
he has dipped his fingers in, but he has indicated he might quit," the
Repeated efforts to obtain comment from Gono were in vain.
He was at pains last week when presenting his statement to say that he was
not devaluing the dollar, while poking his finger into stubborn Mugabe's eye
by saying "three quarters of our problems are of our own making".
However, even the state-controlled media screamed headlines that Gono had
devalued the dollar. Mugabe has in the past clashed with former finance
ministers Simba Makoni and Nkosana Moyo over the issue of devaluation but
had seemed to have found a bidding loyalist in Gono - until last week. -
HARARE - Despite weekend statements by President Robert Mugabe that there
were burgeoning economic ties with Asian countries, Zimbabwean companies are
not looking for opportunities there, despite the much-touted "Look East"
policy by the government.
In a keynote address at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair last Friday,
Mugabe claimed that besides Zimbabwe's trading partners in the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and
Southern Africa (COMESA), Asian countries were becoming very important
partners in trade and investment issues because of his Look East policy.
But investigations by The Zimbabwean have revealed that not much has been
done by local companies to venture into Asian countries, viewed by central
government as alternative markets following strained relations between
Zimbabwe and the West.
Apart from forays into Dubai and Singapore by a couple of middle-scale
enterprises, most companies remained rooted in Africa.
The few companies that have set up shop outside the country have done so in
the region and not in Asian countries. These companies include ABC Holdings,
Century Holdings, Econet Wireless, First Banking Corporation, Innscor Africa
and TA Holdings.
Mugabe claimed: "Indeed Zimbabwe has been able to broaden her economic
horizon by embarking on various joint co-operation projects (with Asian
Investments experts said the deals Mugabe was lauding did not benefit
Zimbabweans but Asians who were pillaging the country's resources through
An executive director with a leading commercial bank said there were many
risks associated with investing in Asian countries, including barriers
associated with language and culture. - Staff reporter
BY STAFF REPORTER
A desperate Zimbabwe government is moving to outlaw the popular Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). The workers federation has threatened a
programme of mass action programme over the next few months to press for
better pay, in face of the world's highest inflation rate.
The police have announced that they are examining the texts of speeches made
by the ZCTU leadership during Workers' Day commemorations on Tuesday. The
speeches denounced the Zimbabwe government for the economic crisis now
threatening industry and commerce with collapse, and which has made tens of
thousands of workers jobless in the past few years.
The leading labour movement urged that people unite in opposing President
"We should be united. When we call for a stayaway, let's all stay away. When
we call for a protest, let's all protest," ZCTU secretary-general Wellington
Chibebe, told the cheering throng of 12,000 in a soccer stadium.
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo described the government as "the enemy,"
saying "the political leadership is to blame for the hardships of the
After the rally, Matombo told reporters that the unions would not announce
when their next labour action might come, after the stayaway in March -
which he described as a "resounding success" - elicited a panicky response
from officials, with helicopters hovering in the skies and unprecedented
security force deployment.
"Right now workers have failed to commemorate this day in Norton, Bindura
and Marondera due to political interference," Matombo said.
The ZCTU president said he did not believe the instruments government had
proposed to heal the economy, among them the Tripartite Negotiating Forum,
the Prices and Incomes Stabilisation Protocol and the Kadoma Declaration,
would be a success because the platforms have been reduced to "a
Across town, a rival group of trade unions backed by the ruling party held a
simultaneous rally that drew a few thousand people, many bussed in for the
Alfred Makwarimba, president of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions
(ZFTU), and his vice president Joseph Chinotimba warned workers against
striking, calling it "the last resort."
Meanwhile the Central Intelligence Organisation has set up an office at
Chester House, the ZCTU's head office in central Harare to snoop on labour
State Security minister Didymus Mutasa has already threatened to deal
ruthlessly with the ZCTU, which he accuses of working with the MDC. Official
sources said the government intended to crack down on the ZCTU and prop up
the rival ZFTU, which is aligned to the ruling Zanu (PF) party. - Staff
A correspondent for The Zimbabwean based in Harare suspects that he has been
the victim of an elaborate Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) dirty
trick in a bid to exonerate Mugabe from the blame for Gukurahundi massacres.
Two weeks ago The Zimbabwean published an interview with a person it
believed to be Conjwayo saying Super Zapu had also been responsible. Kevin
Woods, leader of the group imprisoned with Conjwayo, immediately refuted
This week lawyers for Conjwayo issued a statement that neither he nor his
family had spoken to the press since his release last year. (See P 2)
It is suspected that CIO officers used a hoax call through The Zimbabwean's
SMS feedback line, misrepresenting themselves as Conjwayo. The caller
claimed to be calling from Bulawayo and requested a face-to-face exclusive
interview in Bulawayo.
Our reporter was unable to travel at short notice and the interview was
conducted over the phone, with the caller claiming to be Conjwayo and
narrating intricate details about the Gukurahundi genocide, when 25,000
people were massacred, most of them by 5 Brigade.
The CIO has planted false information on newspapers as part of its dirty
tricks campaign in the past. This hoax would seem to fit with the overall
brief of the CIO to absolve Mugabe from his guilt in the genocide, for which
many critics have vowed he will one day stand trial. - Staff reporter
The Zimbabwe Liberators Platform, an organisation formed by former
liberation war fighters to advocate for peace, democracy and good
governance, has condemned the violence in Zimbabwe.
"We have noted with deep concern the alarming rise in state sponsored
violence since the beginning of the year. People have been shot dead without
cause. There have been abductions, arbitrary arrests and torture in police
custody, grievous assaults, intimidation and harassment of leaders of the
opposition and their general membership, labour and civil society activists
perpetrated by the police and state security agents.
"As true and genuine former freedom fighters, ZLP consistently espouses the
original value and ideals of the national liberation struggle which was
waged for freedom, democracy, social justice and respect for human dignity.
These noble ideals for which many sacrificed life, limb and depravation have
now fallen victim to the pursuit of power, narrow partisan interests greed
and an insatiable pursuit of personal wealth.
The 'financial measures' put into place by Reserve Bank Gideon Gono last
week are nothing but an unprecedented money printing exercise that will help
unofficial inflation surpass 20 000% by half year, says a leading analyst in
the financial market.
As a result of the measures, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is expected to
break all previous records.
Gono was adamant that "this is not a devaluation". It certainly isn't, says
the analyst, who dismissed the move as "a greedy money-making mechanism that
prejudices the whole country and the inflation outlook, so the privileged
(Zanu (PF)) few can continue to benefit from an official self-aggrandisement
He said Gono was being disingenuous in insisting that there was no
devaluation, because, if that were indeed the case, there should be no
The official government line continues to be that rising inflation is the
fault of "greedy profiteering business".
"It's not just that the value of the balance of export earnings being
acquitted at 32.5% has just risen by 5 900% (gold up 2 088%) ... and that
there is no way to pay for these US dollars bar printing the cash, it's that
someone is then allowed to come along and access these greenbacks at 0.75%
of their real value. And what happens next? - the multiplier effect is mind
boggling," said the analyst.
He dismissed Gono's statements as being "increasingly devoid of any real
economic policy" and "reading like a micro-management wish list, especially
when it comes to
He said the Reserve Bank chief's pontificating about rural incomes,
sanctions and school fees was nothing but a good political rallying cry -
and therefore a good distraction from the real issues. - Staff reporter
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's government has declared that Zimbabwe's
forcible acquisition of white-owned land will continue, with 220 more
commercial farmers served with eviction notices last week, raising fears
that the State aims to drive all whites off the land before a presidential
election due next March.
Farmers are aghast at the government's deliberate closure of more and more
white farms - on which the country's economy depends - and the
fast-advancing spectre of famine.
As campaigning began weekend in a by-election in the marginal rural
constituency of Zaka East, the plight of Ben Freethe, who farms in Norton,
40 kilometres from Harare, was not untypical.
Freethe fought for majority rule against Ian Smith, the former prime
minister. He became regional leader of the Commercial Farmers' Union after
independence and was warmly embraced by Mugabe as just the sort of
progressive-minded white the new government could work with.
None of this has exempted his farm, majoring in mango production, from
invasion by militants sent by Zanu (PF) spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira.
"They acted tough and told us the farm no longer belonged to us," Freethe
said. "They will have to come and shoot me."
The militants were unable to recruit followers from the surrounding black
communal farms, who see Freethe as their friend. He lends them his tractors,
helps with fertiliser and firewood and contributes to their children's
Freethe, like many other farmers, are hoping to get relief through the
Supreme Court, where he has challenged his farm's designation for
Minister of Special Affairs responsible for Land Resettlement Flora Bhuka
told the official press here a total of 226 white farmers have been served
with eviction notices, and they must be off their farms by September.
The statement by the minister was inconsistent with an announcement made
through an emergency monetary policy statement unveiled by Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, two months ahead of schedule, urging a halt
to the seizure of more farms.
Acknowledging the deepening food crisis in Zimbabwe, Gono introduced a new
foreign currency bond to raise money to tackle a serious drought threatening
the country. Money raised through the bond would go towards a drought
mitigation and economic stabilisation fund, which would finance food
imports, Gono said. - Staff reporter
HARARE - Labour minister Nicholas Goche has cut a proposed monthly minimum
wage for domestic workers from Z$80,000 to Z$32,000, drawing howls of
protests from an alliance representing domestic helpers, which is charging
that the minister was "mad" to reject a pay hike in such a hyperinflationary
The Zimbabwe Domestic and Allied Workers Union (ZDAWU), representing more
than 20,000 domestic helpers, said the minister's rebuff was official
encouragement of the exploitation of domestic workers.
Earlier last week, Goche shot down proposals approved by the Wages and
Salary Advisory Body, hiking monthly wages for maids from the current $2,500
to $80,000 with effect from this month.
Goche declined to gazette the new wage levels ostensibly because he wanted
the domestic workers salaries to be aligned to farm workers pay, currently
pegged at $32,000 each month.
The salary the minister is recommending for domestic workers can only
purchase a loaf of bread and 1 litre of milk, which cost $6,000 and $26,000
"We are all victims of the economic crisis," said ZDAWU general secretary
Hilarious Ruyi. "Why single the domestic worker for a wage cut? What can you
buy with that money?"
It is estimated that there are 220,000 domestic workers in Zimbabwe.
"That money is not enough to just board a bus to go for a Sunday off and go
back to work. Minister Goche is mad," said a maid working in Hatfield.
Goche's stinginess has become legendary amid reports he had an embarrassing
standoff recently with his workers at his grabbed farm, Ceres Farm in
Shamva, over appallingly low salaries. Goche has all along been paying his
farm workers a shocking $10,000 a month and only raised that wage to a
paltry $32,000 in March. - Staff reporter
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to address a rally in London
next week, a senior party official in the UK has announced.
Jaison Matewu, the MDC's organising secretary in the UK said Tsvangirai, who
is currently outside the country briefing party activists in the diaspora
about the current events back home, will address a star rally on May 12.
"I'm urging all our party activists in the UK to come and meet with the
President. This will be their opportunity to convey their concerns to him as
well as get a first-hand briefing of what is happening in Zimbabwe," Matewu
said. Already, the MDC executive committee in the UK has come up with a
document on how they want to see Zimbabweans in the diaspora taking part in
any future election in Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai has been barred by authorities in the country from addressing any
rallies, while Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) officials are free to have
rallies at anytime. These are some of the issues the MDC wants President
Thabo Mbeki to address in his future talks between Zanu (PF) and the MDC.
In Kariba, police last weekend banned an MDC rally in the resort town citing
security concerns around the country. The party had also planned to hold two
more rallies in Chinhoyi and Mola rural centre in Mashonaland West province.
The rallies were to be addressed by MDC secretary general Tendai Biti and
Kwekwe legislator Blessing Chebundo. - SW Radio Africa
Zimbabwean teachers are abandoning the chalkboard and the red pen to become
housemaids and waiters in South Africa.
A teacher with 10 - 12 years experience takes home a net salary of around
Z$500,000 - the equivalent of R120 (US$18).
"It is better to be employed as a housemaid here, and be paid between R800
and R1000 a month. My employer caters for all my food as we all eat from the
same pot; and I have free accommodation," said Rukudzo Sithole, now working
as a maid in Randburg.
She sends her total wage home where it translates to more than Z$3 500 000
at parallel market rates.
Another lady teacher working as a maid in Benoni said she was very
comfortable with the R800 she earned.
"I can actually send my kid to a boarding school. The rest that I get for
several months is used for savings, and I will not go back to Zimbabwe until
our economy is on its feet," said Portia Ngulube.
"It is pathetic that we have so many Zimbabweans who can no longer practise
in the professions they trained in. So many have actually become de-skilled
because they are employed as security guards and construction workers,"
said Steven Mbariro, who runs an outsourcing company in Johannesburg.-
Prices of basic commodities increased sharply in the past week, most of them
by more than 100%. Sources at the Central Statistical Office said
inflation, which was not announced for the past month, was expected to hit
the 4000% mark by end of this month.
The CSO gave spurious reasons for its failure to announce the latest rate of
inflation, said by sources to have reached 2500% up from about 1700% of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono last week came close to
admitting he has lost the war against inflation, his number one enemy since
he took over in 2003. He has spent the last years appearing clownish by
making unrealistic projections of reducing it, while it has continued to
Independent economist, John Robertson, said the inflation rate would
continue rising despite government's attempts at portraying sanity. "The
rate of inflation reflects the reality on the ground, not propaganda, and it
is going to continue rising because the economy is moving in the wrong
direction," he said.
Movement for Democratic Change economic advisor Eddie Cross also dismissed
Gono, whose monetary policy statement last week he generally branded a
Gono echoed the same sentiments as his master, President Mugabe, who is
showing clear signs of fatigue and feeling the effects of inflation. He
repeatedly says the nation's hopes now lie in the social contract, itself a
stillborn baby due to general antagonism among government, labour and
business. - Itai Dzamara
BY TRUST MATSILELE
THE recent move by South Africa's Department of Home Affairs, to open doors
to foreigners with specialist skills, might boost the influx of Zimbabweans
and other foreign nationals.
South Africa needs 35 000 skilled people, ranging from mathematics and
science teachers, civil engineers, bioengineers, auto engineers, and
The Minister of Home Affairs, Nosiwe Mapisa-Nqakula, acknowledged that need
during a recent newspaper interview.
Zimbabweans skilled in mechanical engineering, teaching and other jobs
scarce in their homeland, have over the past seven years left the country
due to economic woes, retrenchment and company closures, said economist and
Witwatersrand University lecturer, Simba Manyanya.
Home Affairs has relaxed the system, which previously did not allow
foreigners to look for jobs. The move coincides with a recent move by the
Department of Education to employ Zimbabwean teachers to help fill 12 000
teaching posts currently held by temporary teachers.
Human rights activists Joshua Mambo Rusere and Oliver Kubikwa condemned the
move as a plot to deskill Zimbabwe, especially when seen in the context of
President Thabo Mbeki's quiet diplomacy.
A number of analysts assert that Mbeki's quiet diplomacy is boosting the
South African economy, as more skilled professionals from Zimbabwe and other
African regions flock to South Africa, at the expense of their own
The move by the SA Department of Home Affairs comes a few weeks after
Foreign Affairs minister Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma castigated European
countries for stealing its skilled workforce by offering Africans lucrative
Members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police
(ZRP) hard hit by low wages are now helping Zimbabweans with safe passage
into South Africa.
Security forces personnel stationed at Beitbridge border post, ask for
bribes from desperate Zimbabweans fleeing political violence and economic
"Soldiers and the police in are among the lowest paid in Zimbabwe. As a way
to augment their pathetic salaries they now solicit for bribes from border
"No matter how hard we try and stamp out the practice, it is very difficult
because corruption has become a permanent feature of the Zimbabwean way of
life. I have to be very honest with you, I take a bribe every now and then
as long as I am certain that I will not be caught," said a senior inspector
based in Beitbridge.
He said collusion between the security forces and their middlemen was
attractive as it was a lot less risky than crossing the Limpopo River.
"People pay around R200 on the Zimbabwe side and an additional R100 or so to
the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) members when they get to the SA side,
" said the inspector.
"We now pay the guys from the ZRP and ZNA around R200. They always tell us
that if we get caught by the SA authorities, we must never mention their
names as that will be closing doors to our relatives and friends who may
need their assistance in future," said Alphonso Ngulube, now based in
This reporter phoned ZRP spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena for comment."I do not
speak to journalists from The Zimbabwean. They are a bunch of liars," he
said before switching off his phone. - Nowell Marufu
The Peoples' Policy Committee (PPC), a network of Zimbabweans based in the
UK, has submitted a comprehensive position paper to the President of South
Africa, Thabo Mbeki, in his capacity as mediator to the crisis in Zimbabwe.
This is a summary of the main points raised:
We begin with a tacit acceptance that Zimbabwe's crisis is an African
problem requiring an African solution. The time has come for new, concrete
proposals, promoted by African leaders and implemented by Zimbabweans from
all political and ideological hues, to restore hope to Zimbabwe.
On that note, PPC welcomes SADC's decision to appoint President Thabo Mbeki
as the mediator to the actors in the protracted social conflict in Zimbabwe.
It is hoped that his mediation shall tame the hydra of violence currently
sweeping across the country and also usher in a new democratic dispensation.
This position paper is premised on the assumption that His Excellency
President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is willing to consider submissions
from voices other than those stakeholders so far invited to attend the
consultative meetings in South Africa. Given the extraordinary and grave
conditions now obtaining in Zimbabwe and the significant population of
Zimbabwean exiles living here in the UK, it would be remiss of us not to
make appropriate representations to the SADC-initiated process.
The problem of Zimbabwe is so huge such that inter-party dialogue would be a
limited an approach to it. It is hereby proposed that if any negotiations
are to take place to end the hostilities and build durable peace and
democracy in Zimbabwe, then those negotiations including the pre-negotiation
agenda-setting phase should be all inclusive.
Mbeki should extend the consultative talks to include members of civil
society, the church, professional bodies and any other stakeholders who are
keen to make such positive interventions in Zimbabwe. The perception that
only the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions and the ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU PF) party legitimately represent the
aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe and should therefore be engaged on the
negotiations is incorrect.
3.Enabling Conditions for Negotiations
Formal talks should only take place after the government has repealed
repressive pieces of legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act
(POSA), Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) as well
as the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).
The government should drop charges and release a legion of activists who are
illegally being held in police cells on charges based on these
unconstitutional laws. Constitutional amendments that have been proposed by
the ruling party should give way to wholesale constitutional reform.
As a matter of urgency the state should renounce violence on its citizens,
stop abductions of activists and opposition members as well as refrain
police brutality against innocent citizens.
The EU should not lift the targeted travel restrictions on the ruling elite
and the arms embargo (erroneously referred to as sanctions) until the formal
negotiations are underway and the government has demonstrated fully its
commitment to allow a democratic transition process to take place in the
4.A New Democratic Constitution
Any diagnosis and prescription to the crisis which preclude the constitution
is flawed and therefore irrelevant. The Lancaster House constitution was not
cast in stone. Indeed it had been the expectation that in time, a new
home-grown supreme law of the land would be enacted by the people of
This is not the same thing as the piecemeal re-branding of the same document
undertaken by the incumbent government over the years to satisfy its narrow
partisan interests of keeping power at all costs. That there are serious
limitations and flaws in the current Lancaster House Constitution and that
these have given rise to issues of governance is widely accepted.
More compelling however is the fact that this constitution has resulted in a
highly centralised unitary system of government which we submit is
unsuitable for a future democratic Zimbabwe. That the incumbent government
has manipulated the constitution to entrench itself and the interests of its
constituents is accepted but this is only a symptom of a problem arising
from use of an inappropriate constitutional model coupled with individual
greed and propensity for excesses.
Inorder to avoid the recurrence of the current problems in the future PPC
strongly advocates for a people driven constitution which shall take into
account the histories, cultures, grievances and aspirations of all its
citizens. In our view, it is only through effective decentralization of
authority to autonomous regions/provinces in so doing creating
self-perpetuating institutions such as those that would emerge under our
recommended union constitutional blueprint, would human rights and equality
of all Zimbabweans be adequately protected and entrenched. Experience in new
democracies and old, demonstrates that if human rights are not adequately
protected initially, it will be difficult to do so later.
.We further recommend that the president's term of office be limited to a
maximum of two five year terms
.Ministers appointed under the new constitution should be subject to
confirmation by parliament both at central and provincial governments'
.The judiciary must be an independent branch of government and not be under
the Ministry of Justice. The judiciary should control its financial and
administrative affairs free from executive involvement, though necessarily
subject to parliament's ultimate control over the budget.
.The agreed constitution should be subjected to approval by the people
through a referendum supervised by SADC and the African Union and observed
by the international community.
.The agreed constitution should be subject to review by an expert commission
at ten year intervals.
.The new Constitution must provide representative, accountable and
multiparty government; respect for the rule of law; and the promotion of the
fundamental human rights of all Zimbabweans.
Next week, the PPC addresses the transitional processes, truth recovery and
Former president meets former spy
HARARE - Robert Mugabe was the only Frontline president to refuse the New
South Africa's inaugural president, Nelson Mandela, when he asked for the
release of all South African agents imprisoned in the region upon his
accession to the presidency in 1994.
Speaking exclusively to The Zimbabwean, Kevin Woods, leader of the three
spies pardoned last year after being jailed in Zimbabwe for more than 19
years for terrorist activities in support of the apartheid regime, said
Mandela told the presidents that "the war was over" and all political
prisoners should be freed.
"People were released in Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Angola. All the
Frontline States acceded to Mandela's call, except Mugabe. As a result,
my four co-accused remained in jail in Zimbabwe - the only agents of the old
SA detained anywhere outside SA. Two of my co-accused were eventually
released upon finishing their time in 2000," said Woods this week.
On his release, which he says was negotiated by "a very gracious man, Father
Fidelis Mukonori", he requested an audience with Mandela to thank him.
"To my utter glee this was granted and on 14 November last year I had 30
minutes with him, at his office in Joburg. He did not have any
complimentary things to say about Mugabe. Mandela told me he had served one
term only as an example to other leaders in Africa but people like Mugabe
just wanted to stay in power.
"It was a wonderful, humbling experience to meet and talk with Nelson
Mandela, especially as I was a former South African agent who had been
killing members of the ANC. He autographed a copy of his book that I had
taken along and inscribed the
following words; To Kevin, best wishes to a courageous person, Nelson
"The security around him was not intimidating at all. When I left the office
I waved to two security agents sitting on a couch and admonished them
jokingly that they didn't search me before I met him. They laughed and
replied: You don't look like a threat.
"What a difference to Mugabe, with his high razor wire topped walls and
soldiers with machine guns all over the place. Mugabe is his own prisoner,
in his own prison. I am free. I can take a walk at the beach, or wherever.
Will Mugabe ever be able to do that? Never! He will die in the prison he
has made, surrounded by guns and steel, and being able to trust no one,"
The former spy said he was aware of four separate occasions on which Mandela
spoke personally to Mugabe, seeking the men's release. He even has a letter
from Mandela's foreign minister, Alfred Nzo, informing him that Mandela had
requested freedom for him and his men from Mugabe. But Mugabe consistently
"I have since heard that this stubbornness and sulking about our release by
Mugabe, who lost his mantle as Africa's shining star to Mandela, was one of
the major reasons
for the bad relationship between the two presidents," added Woods. He said
Mugabe always became infuriated at what he called Mandela's "intervention in
Zimbabwe's internal affairs".
"Mugabe did not want to hear any talk about my legitimate South African
citizenship by descent, saying I was a Zimbabwean who committed crimes
in Zimbabwe and would be dealt with under Zimbabwe law. Yet, the day I was
released I was deported to South Africa because I am deemed a SA citizen by
the Zimbabwe Government. I am now a prohibited immigrant in Zimbabwe, even
though I was born in Bulawayo!" he added.
He also remarked on the interesting fact, overlooked by many, is that the
incumbent SA president, Thabo Mbeki, has never undertaken a state visit
Zimbabwe! - Staff reporter
UN's clear message to Mugabe
A GROUP of human rights activists including victims of the barbaric assaults
by Robert Mugabe's thugs, got a chance to address a press conference at the
United Nations last week. They also met with congressional leaders and other
humanitarian groups in the United States.
The activists, who included MDC deputy secretary for international relations
Grace Kwinjeh, made a strong case for international support for the
Admittedly, most of their accounts about their brutalisation by the Mugabe
regime were well known and well documented, having been widely publicized
by the mass media.
However, what made their case compelling was they had experienced first
hand these savage assaults. Some of them, like Kwinjeh, were victims of the
assaults and had all the scars to prove it.
The human rights activists brought another dimension to the struggle against
Mugabe. They showed by the scars they bore that they had tried to confront
the Mugabe regime, only to be met with the full, militarised police force.
At the risk of their own lives, the activists proved that not all
Zimbabweans were just sitting and bemoaning their predicament. Some were
actively engaged in street protests, prayer rallies and other forms of
expressing their grievances.
The international community takes the view that Zimbabweans must be actively
involved in their liberation and not wait for the outside world to come like
knights in shining armour to rescue them. But after hearing Kwinjeh's moving
testimony, there is now clearly a case for the international community to
Her testimony was a collective account of the brutalities inflicted on
Zimbabweans. Over 600 MDC supporters have been severely assaulted.
Mugabe's plans to eliminate the opposition before the next elections are
well known. It is reported that Mugabe has directed that MDC be neutralized
There are some obvious reasons for this. Mugabe is under some form pressure
from SADC to enter into negotiations with the MDC leading up to the
elections. Based on intelligence reports, Mugabe is aware that the most
effective opposition is the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai. This is
why he selected its leadership for intense brutalisation. Mugabe hopes he
will physically bludgeon the MDC into submission. That way, when talks begin
he (Mugabe) will bargain from a position of strength.
Unfortunately, there has not been a substantial mass protest by Zimbabweans
after the savage assault on their leaders. But a few Zimbabweans have
agitated enough to get the SADC and the international community to maintain
a strong spotlight on Zimbabwe.
More importantly, the European Union has taken the lead in strengthening its
targeted sanctions to include the perpetrators of atrocities against the MDC
leadership. The EU message is very clear: any officer or mercenary of the
Mugabe regime who engages in acts of aggression and torture against
Zimbabweans risks being included on the blacklist.
Some may laugh at the idea of an extended blacklist. But it is more than a
listing of people who are barred from entering any EU member countries. The
blacklist is also an indictment that can be used in future criminal trials.
The UN is already on record as having warned Mugabe that acts of torture
against innocent and unarmed civilians are grounds for a charge of crimes
The message to Mugabe's thugs, whether they are in the police, army, CIO,
the so-called people's militia, or hired mercenaries, is very clear. Their
actions are being documented and justice will catch up with them eventually.
May 03 2007 at 04:50AM
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's excuses must be ignored by
President Thabo Mbeki if he is to succeed in helping his neighbour out of
This was stated on Wednesday by Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon.
"If our president was to give substance to his role as honest broker
in Zimbabwe, he must give up straining to hear every excuse and
half-whispered justification that has continuously been offered by the
regime in power," Leon said at the opening of the summit of African liberal
parties' leaders in Johannesburg.
The object of mediation must be to bring about a completely new
constitutional dispensation, rather than merely a new set of elections under
Mugabe's patently rigged state apparatus, Leon said, blaming the Zimbabwean
leader for the country's economic decline.
Leon, who is the group's vice-president, said that if Mbeki failed to
ignore Mugabe's excuses, South Africa's attempts to intervene positively in
its neighbour's crisis would fail as surely as the government's policy of
so-called quiet diplomacy had lamentably failed up until now.
However, Mbeki's office called for patience.
"The president is mediating as per a SADC (Southern African
Development Community) mandate and will be reporting back in due course on
the developments made.
"Let's wait for that process to come to its fruition before all of us
clever people pass judgment," Presidency spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga
Leon also called for the continent's opposition leaders to unite in
their struggle for a strong opposition.
He said that even though democracy in Africa had flourished in recent
years, there was still a tough road ahead.
"We should be less concerned with the ideological differences between
opposition formations and far more concerned with promoting the concept of
opposition and its legitimacy, for the citizens of this continent deserve no
Despite 42 sub-Saharan countries introducing multiparty democracies
over the past 10 years and 51 parliamentary elections having been held
across the continent since 2000, meaningful opposition continued to be
viewed with distrust by ruling parties.
As a result, the international community and partnerships such as
Nepad (New Partnership for Africa's Development) and the African Union
needed to support these fledgling opposition parties and treat them like
critical pillars of democratic political life.
Leon, however, took a swipe at Nepad, noting with irony that its
founding documents did not provide for or made no reference to the role of
opposition parties - "or indeed for any political formations, except for
ruling parties or governments".
"It appears, therefore, that Nepad creates the apparatus of democracy
without providing for its animating spirit."
Meanwhile Sapa-dpa has reported that Human Rights Watch (HRW) on
Wednesday called on Mbeki to put human rights abuses at the centre of his
mediation efforts between Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.
"President Mbeki has a chance to push for an end to the massive human
rights violations that are fuelling Zimbabwe's crisis," said Georgette
Gagnon, deputy Africa director of HRW, adding that other Southern African
countries should also take a stronger stance on the issue.
Gagnon's comments accompanied a report released by HRW in Johannesburg
on the Zimbabwean government's ongoing crackdown on its political opponents
and on civil society groups.
The 39-page report, entitled "Bashing Dissent: Escalating Violence and
State Repression in Zimbabwe", chronicles the "arbitrary arrests, detentions
and brutal beatings by police and security forces" of dozens of activists
since a raid on a Harare prayer rally on March 11.
Two opposition members have been shot by police over the past seven
weeks, one fatally, and several others, including MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, have been badly beaten in police custody.
This article was originally published on page 8 of The Star on May 02,