FEARS of a
total collapse in Zimbabwe's multi-billion dollar hospitality sector mounted
last week following a countrywide blitz on hoteliers unleashed by the
dreaded surveillance and investigation arm of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) in a desperate bid to scrounge around for foreign currency.
Zimbabwe's five-year old foreign currency problem worsens the central bank
moved on hoteliers carrying out vigorous inspections and spot checks on
hotel books to confirm that hotels forwarded their foreign currency earnings
to the RBZ as required by law. The crackdown, sources indicated, was
precipitated by the drying up of the central bank's foreign currency
The central bank, which has mounted similar clampdowns on
financial institutions, accuses hoteliers of sitting on massive amounts of
foreign currency allegedly earned during the March parliamentary
The central bank fears hoteliers could have off-loaded the
badly needed hard currency onto the parallel market for higher returns. The
Zimbabwe dollar has dramatically crashed from Z$12 000: US$1 to Z$28 000:
US$1 in the period after the elections. But on the less attractively managed
foreign currency auction US$1 officially trades at Z$6 200.
central bank says despite an influx of regional and international observers
that toured the country to observe Harare's sixth parliamentary election, no
sizeable improvement had been recorded in foreign currency
Zimbabwe's March elections, which were controversially won
by the ruling Zanu PF party attracted 7 000 international observers and
hordes of journalists.
It is this statistic that has incensed the
central bank, which is saddled with a ballooning import bill ranging from
grain, electricity, fuel and medical drugs.
Officers from the central
bank's Financial Sector Inspectorate which falls under the Exchange Control
Division and backed by officers from the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression
of Money Laundering Unit began descending on hotels and lodges a fortnight
ago carrying out spot checks.
"They want to find out whether all
observers paid in foreign currency or not," said one hotelier.
late Friday, the probe unit was at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.
have just had a visit about 30 minutes ago. They are tracing foreign guests
and how they paid," said an official at the hotel who requested not to be
"Every month they do it but this time they are looking at
observers," the hoteliers said. They are checking the folio at the country's
airports and then follow up where the observers were staying. But this is a
low season in tourism and earnings will only rise in
Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) President and leading
hospitality and leisure group Zimsun's chief executive, Shingi Munyeza,
confirmed the central bank's raids at member's properties but downplayed
them as normal visits.
Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) chief executive
Chipo Mtasa also confirmed the inspections.
"They went to individual
properties directly on routine inspection," Mtasa said.
and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema confirmed the checks.
"It is a
committee or team that has been going around," Nhema said.
desperation. They are so eager to lay their hands on foreign currency. The
bill for food imports is pressing them to look for money," said John
Robertson economic consultant at John Robertson Economic Information
Central bank sources disclosed last week that foreign currency
reserves had reached precarious levels as illustrated by the failure to fix
the five-year-old fuel crisis.
"Foreign currency is drying up at
every angle. There is a squeeze," the sources said.
Zimbabwe is in
the throes of a biting foreign currency crisis, which has seen it
accumulating large debts to international moneylenders. The country
currently owes the International Monetary Fund (IMF) US$306 million and is
also indebted to institutions such as the World Bank, the African
Development Bank among other creditors.
MDC ready for talks with Zanu PF By Savious
BULAWAYO - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it is
prepared to resume stalled talks with the ruling Zanu PF in order to rescue
the country from the current crisis.
Speaking at a public meeting in
Bulawayo, Paul Themba- Nyathi, the MDC spokesperson, said the multi-faceted
crisis currently bedeviling Zimbabwe required a concerted effort by both the
MDC and the ruling Zanu PF to bring back sanity. Themba-Nyathi said: "As
MDC, we remain devoted and determined to engage in dialogue with anyone who
approaches us for engagement. That has always been our position and it shall
remain the same as we strive for the redress of the problems in the
He said the MDC was ready to meet Zanu PF or any other
political party for dialogue aimed at solving the economic and political
crisis the country is going through.
Late last year, President Robert
Mugabe shut all doors on talks with the MDC, saying that the ruling party
was no longer prepared to enter into dialogue with the opposition party,
which he accused of championing a foreign agenda.
Zimbabwean leader also accused MDC of being a British-sponsored political
party, an allegation the opposition vehemently denied.
meeting the MDC spokesperson accused Zanu PF of being belligerent and
insensitive accusing the ruling party of being the architect of the
suffering being experienced by Zimbabweans.
Presently, Zimbabwe is
experiencing a severe shortage of basic commodities such as maize-meal,
sugar, soft drinks and fuel, while electricity supplies to domestic and
industrial users is regularly disrupted.
MDC cries foul over Masvingo election By Godfrey
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused the ruling
Zanu PF party in Masvingo of busing villagers from rural areas and
registering them as voters ahead of the city's mayoral election. The date
for the election has not yet been announced.
Shacky Matake, the MDC
provincial chairman, said the opposition party had established that some
non-residents of the city were being ferried from other constituencies to
register on the voters' roll as the ruling party sets up, what he said were
efforts to "rig" the elections. "We have established that the ruling party is
ferrying people from the rural areas so that they win the election, and as
far as we are concerned that is rigging because those people are not
supposed to vote in this election because they do not reside in the city,"
He said the MDC had discovered several names of the people
who were ferried from the rural areas and will use that as evidence if they
decide to dispute the poll results.
Matake said Zanu PF's rigging
came to light after an MDC supporter, who had gone to inspect the voters'
roll met people from his rural areas registering as voters in Masvingo
central. The people do not stay in the city.
Zanu PF Masvingo District
Co-coordinating Committee chairperson, Clemence Makwarimba, professed
ignorance over the issue.
"I have no knowledge of that. The allegations
are not true and I don't know where they are coming from," Makwarimba
The provincial registrar who only identified herself as Chitsa also
denied the allegations.
"I am not aware of such a thing happening
during the registration period. Phone our Harare office if you want more
information,'' she said.
Engineer Alois Chaimiti, the current executive
mayor, whose term of office expires at the end of this month is the MDC
candidate. The ruling Zanu PF party is putting up Partson Muzvidziwa,
himself a former mayor of the city.
Chaimiti won the mayoral post in May
2001 replacing Francis Aphiri of Zanu PF, who had died.
The Zanu PF
Masvingo provincial elections directorate last week accepted the papers of
three candidates namely Muzvidziwa, the city's Agricultural Show president;
retired soldier Taguma Mazarire; and Victoria High School headmaster, Jacob
Floods fear as dam wall reveals cracks By Godfrey
MASVINGO - Lake Mutirikwi's dam wall faces collapse after
developing huge cracks that pose danger to people living near the lake, The
Already, all heavy trucks have been prohibited
from using the route for fear the dam wall might collapse. Reports of the
imminent collapse of the dam wall have fuelled fears among villagers who
live near the lake.
A Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) official,
who spoke on condition on anonymity, confirmed that disaster was looming if
the cracks are not attended to in time.
"There is a possibility of a
disaster if the wall is not repaired in time because the cracks that have
developed are so huge that certain tonnages are no longer allowed to pass
through the bridge. The continued pressure from the water is also widening
the cracks such that any day the wall can collapse," said the
He added that ZINWA recently opened floodgates when the water
level was only 80 percent full in order to relieve pressure on the
The floodgates are only opened when the dam is full and "this
usually happens when there is plenty of rainfall", he said.
under the current season, Masvingo province received low rainfall.
ZINWA catchment area manager, Albert Mare, said the problem would soon be
"It is not as major as it is being made out. That rumour has
been spreading because we have stopped big trucks from crossing over the
bridge because there is a crack on the expansion cab.
however tasked the Ministry of Transport to attend to the problem and right
now they are on the ground trying to repair and people should not fear for
their lives. The crack is not that bad. We will to fix the problem soon,"
Residents in areas such as Murinye near the lake, who spoke to
The Standard, said they feared for their lives, property and
"We are living in fear. Some of us have even called for the
government to resettle us somewhere before the impending danger. We are told
that the wall will be repaired yet nothing is being done," said villager
Another villager urged government to act
"It will be disastrous if they fail to address the problem now
because we will be affected," he said.
The lake, built in 1961, three
years, after Kariba dam, covers about 90 square kilometers in Masvingo
province and is the country's largest inland water body.
than three weeks after the announcement of the new "development Cabinet",
the government looks clueless about where it will get funding for the new
ministries created by President Robert Mugabe.
The President created new
four full ministries and one ministry of State in the middle of the current
financial year and no money had been budgeted for these new
ministries. The new ministries - together with the old ones - will need
trillions in the form of new cars, offices, furniture, support staff and
other ministerial benefits.
The new ministries are Public and
Interactive Affairs, Information and Publicity, Women Affairs, Gender and
Community Development, Rural Housing and Social Amenities, and Economic
Analysts have questioned the rationale of appointing 31
ministers and 12 deputy ministers and the creation of a ministry such as the
Public and Interactive Affairs when the country's Budget was
The government needs over $5 trillion to import food and
it is paying billions of dollars in subsidies for locally produced maize
after it announced it was going to buy maize at over $2 million a tonne but
selling it at $600 000 a tonne to millers.
Chen Chimutengwende the
new Minister for Public and Interactive Affairs said t his ministry was
getting its money from the president's Office.
"We are under the
President's Office and that is were we are getting our funding from but for
further details contact the Ministry of Finance," said
David Chapfika, deputy Minister of Finance reasoned
that the government should be given time before one starts asking the source
of the funds.
"I think you should give it more time and see where the
money is going to come from and then start asking," Chapfika said.
also added that one should also look at the objectives for the creation of
the new ministries, whether it was beneficial or detrimental to the
John Robertson, an independent economic consultant, said the
government was going to be forced to print moremoney.
"They are going
to be forced to print money because of the costs of importing food and they
are also deeply in overdraft," Robertson said.
But Finance Minister
Herbert Murerwa told Standard Business that some money would be found from
the Budget without elaborating.
"The funds will be found, we will
rationalise the Budget," Murerwa said.
When challenged further by
Standard Business, Murerwa asked this reporter to call him later. When this
paper tried to contact him again he was unreachable.
out the possibility of government borrowing because it has wiped out savings
over the past four years due to the negative interests
Moreover, the government's coffers with the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe are reportedly dry. Its domestic debt has also shot up to $8
trillion as of last month and it looks to balloon further.
government in the 2005 National Budget had said expenditures would total
$27,5 trillion against revenues of $23 trillion. The budget deficit was
anticipated to be 5% of the Gross Domestic Product but analysts said this
actually worsen to 15% of the GDP.
PALTRY 4,3 million kgs of tobacco has been sold at the country's three
auction floors so far this year as growers hold on to their crop in
anticipation of a review in prices.
This year's crop is 11% down from
the crop that had passed through the auction floors at the same time last
year. Subsequently the crop, formerly Zimbabwe's prime export crop, has only
raked in a paltry US$4,9 million, a 47% decline from US$9,4 million earned
in the same period in 2004. The rate of wastage was 3% higher this year and
the amount of rejected bales was also higher either as a result of the bales
being oversize, overweight, underweight, too wet or too dry among other
The sharp decline in the sales can be attributed to the
unwillingness by growers to release their golden leaf anticipating a rise in
the prices which they are saying is "peanuts" as compared to the cost they
incur to produce the crop.
Growers say it cost them over ZW$20 000 to
produce a kilogramme of tobacco but the US dollar prices at $6,200 would
give them returns of about $11 000 only.
As had been the norm at the
beginning of the season, farmers would reject prices and withhold their crop
in the first few days and then out of desperation give in to the given
price, but this is different now as farmers are refusing to be taken for
granted. Sales statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board
(TIMB) showed that tobacco deliveries were still unstable as late as
Wednesday last week.
Kumbirai Mufanebadza, the marketing manager of TIMB,
said sales had been increasing over the past two weeks but they had again
slowed down after the Worker's Day holiday.
"Over the past two weeks
volumes have been increasing but now they are slightly low, maybe it's the
holiday [workers day] and we hope the situation will improve.," said
Most farmers still expressed optimism as they hope that
things will be resolved in the ongoing discussions between the farmers and
the government over the price issue.
The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmer's
Union (ZCFU) President Davison Mugabe a tobacco farmer in Banket said he was
holding on to his crop as he was awaiting the outcome of the ongoing
He also said viability of farmers was a worrying issue
,which should not be overlooked if the production of the golden leaf was to
"Zimbabwe still need tobacco and we still want to grow the
crop but if the situation does not change farmers will feel threatened and
might think of diverting their attention to other crops." Mugabe
Zimbabwe this year is expecting an output of around 85 million
kg's, a sharp decline from the country's peak of 236 million kg's in 2000
which brought in over US$400 million in foreign currency.
Tribune newspaper, which was closed last year by the Media and Information
Commission (MIC), is set to bounce back next month following the expiry of
its one-year ban.
The newspaper was banned last June for one year after
it failed to inform the MIC about the change in ownership from Ukubambana
Kubatana Investments which sold its shares to veteran journalist, Kindness
Paradza and management. The newspaper was also punished for not informing
the MIC that it had merged its two titles, The Tribune and The Business
In addition to The Tribune, the MIC has closed The Daily News,
The Daily News on Sunday and The Weekly Times, throwing hundreds of
employees on the streets.
However, the closure of The Tribune was
attributed in some circles to political bickering in Zanu PF as The Tribune
sided with Vice President Joseph Msika and Zanu PF National Chairman John
Nkomo against the then junior minister of Information and Publicity,
Jonathan Moyo over Kondozi Farm and the issue of multiple farm
But MIC chairman, Tafataona Mahoso, told The Standard on
Thursday that the expiry of the ban would not mean automatic re-registration
for the embattled Zanu PF member and former Makonde Member of
"You can't have automatic registrations because there would
have been some changes between the time that they stopped publishing to the
time that they would want to resume publishing.
"We will contact them
because they still have to document their current status."
buying The Tribune and calling for amendments to the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act, (AIPPA), in his maiden speech in Parliament,
Paradza faced an onslaught from many directions.
Sources said after
buying The Tribune from Mutumwa Mawere, he was regarded with suspicion in
Zanu PF circles.
His membership in the ruling party was suddenly brought
under scrutiny and the final nail was when he was barred from contesting
against President Robert Mugabe's nephew, Leo Mugabe in Makonde Constituency
despite being the incumbent MP.
He has also been perceived as an ally
of Emmerson Mnangagwa, one of the ruling party chefs who were believed to be
in with a chance to succeed President Mugabe when he steps
Paradza confirmed in an interview that he was working round the
clock to ensure that his newspaper hits the streets in June.
already been to the MIC to discuss with Mahoso if there are any outstanding
issues before we can re-open. We are supposed to have another meeting on 15
He said he was aware that his clashes with Professor Moyo had
resulted in the closure of The Tribune.
"When we published a story
perceived by Moyo to side with Chairman Nkomo and Vice President Msika, he
approached and told me that he had always assumed that I would stand by him
in his fight against the two senior members of the party before he vowed
that I would pay for it."
Paradza said the one-year closure of The
Tribune had brought suffering to scores of his former
"Some of them are still roaming the streets, while I have had
to employ others at my farm," Paradza said.
But the majority of the
journalists were absorbed by other media organisations.
He called on
the MIC to be cognisant of the fact that the closure of media organisations
had destructive effects and could weaken the confidence of prospective
investors in the media.
"I have not heard of the MIC holding seminars on
media development. The highlights of their activities have been to meet and
close down newspapers."
But Mahoso said the MIC had not been able to
conduct such activities because of sustained efforts to destroy
"The Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe, Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists to some extent
have been fighting to destroy AIPPA and they have failed. We have been
defending the Act instead of implementing it and that has cost us a lot of
money," said Mahoso, who trained scores of the journalists who have been
thrown on the streets by the commission he now he heads.
vice president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Njabulo Ncube, said he
hoped the MIC would allow The Tribune to resume publishing.
"A lot of our
members have lost jobs as a result of the continued closures of newspapers.
We hope the MIC will grant The Tribune a licence to resume operations so
that our members can be re-employed. The media industry is shrinking and we
hope the case of The Tribune will offer some hope to young aspiring
journalists," said Ncube.
Bulawayo acts on looming water crisis By Savious
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, has started
rehabilitating its old and neglected boreholes sunk during the ravaging
1992/3 drought in anticipation of another serious water crisis, The Standard
The local authority has started installing new bush
pumps and engines to the boreholes, drilled more than 10 years ago, in a bid
to ensure that the city does not run out of water. New boreholes are also
being drilled. According to the latest Bulawayo Council minutes, only 153 562
247 cubic metres of water, which represent an operational percentage of
42.35 percent, had remained as of 31 March 2005.
Acting director of
engineering for Bulawayo, Job Ndebele, said the water was only enough to
last 18 months. He said the local council was taking precautionary measures
in the event that there is a drought next season.
A total of 4 193 324
cubic metres of water were used in the month of March at an average rate of
144 597 cubic metres a day. Presently, Bulawayo has a population estimated
at slightly above two million residents.
"Should we have a serious
drought then we will use these boreholes to supplement the city's dwindling
surface water supplies. They will just be on standby," Ndebele
According to council minutes consultants have been invited to carry
out surveys to locate ground water within the city as a source of emergency
There was no immediate comment from the Zimbabwe National
Water Authority (ZINWA) on the latest water levels in Bulawayo's water
Getting a passport is a nightmare' By Bertha
FOR Tichaona Mukundu of Glen View 7 in Harare, the heartbreak came
on 2 April, the day the final results of the 2005 parliamentary elections
He says his hopes of a better Zimbabwe under a new
government, sensitive to the plight of the people, were dashed when Zanu PF,
accused of running down the country's economy, was retained in power. The
unemployed university graduate has, for the past two weeks been queuing at
the Passport Office at Makombe Complex in Harare in a bid to obtain a
passport so that he too can join the great exodus of Zimbabweans into the
But his efforts, so far, have been in vain. But he is not
about to give up, he vows.
With chapped lips, a clear sign of hunger,
Mukundu waits patiently in the line with more than 50 people in front of
him, and many more behind him in a seemingly endless queue
passport in Zimbabwe is a nightmare. I have never seen anything as difficult
as this in all my life but I have no choice, I will soldier on," says
Mukundu wearily as he looks anxiously at those ahead of him to see whether
there has been any movement in the meandering queue.
He wondered whether
other countries with greater population numbers than Zimbabwe also have to
contend with such passport queues.
"I must leave this country because as
youths there is no future for us here.
"Our economy is in shambles. It
has been ruined by those who continue to cling to power at our expense when
it is so obvious they have failed."
Mukundu believes he has to seek
"greener pastures" abroad, away from Zimbabwe's long fuel queues, the
transport blues, erratic electricity power cuts, water supply interruptions
as well as shortages of basic commodities.
Many people who spoke to The
Standard at Makombe Complex last week echoed Mukundu's sentiments saying the
worsening economic situation was forcing them to seek passports so that they
can try their luck abroad.
While some people leave the country in search
of jobs others cross into neighbouring countries to buy wares to resell
Other reasons cited for the passport rush in the wake of the 31
March Parliamentary elections range from visiting relatives in the United
Kingdom to studying abroad.
Unemployment stands at 80 percent because
the economy has continued to shrink. Those that are employed are failing to
make ends meet because prices of basic commodities continue to skyrocket,
while salaries remain stagnant.
Last year, more than 500 teachers, nurses
and doctors were reportedly leaving the country every month in search of
better paying-jobs, mostly to destinations such as the United Kingdom,
Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America.
the Registrar-General's office last week said the demand for passports was
"We turn away hordes of people on a daily basis, we can
not cope anymore," said one official.
The Harare office is only
issuing 200 application forms a day, although more than 500 people visit the
A notice at the inquiries section informs visitors that,
"The department has as from 3 April 2005 been issuing out 200 application
forms per day with appointment dates for submissions. This practice will
continue in order to avoid members of the public converging in masses
outside the passport office".
This creates its own frustrations.
Interest Muchena from Budiriro in Harare said: "We came here very early in
the morning and we spent the whole day here because the service is
"If you want a passport through the normal channel you need to give
yourself at least two weeks to complete the exercise. Your first hurdle is
to get a form, and then get a number for submission then wait for the
service. It is cumbersome."
Another passport seeker, Martha Muza,
from Harare's Sunningdale suburb said the outcome of the elections had
dashed hopes of a better Zimbabwe.
"You think I want a passport to
display in my house? Things are bad that is why I have been in this queue
since morning. I must get that passport and leave," said an angry Muza, who
had a baby strapped to her back.
Muza attributed the current problems
bedeviling the country to mismanagement of the economy.
Robert Mugabe is making us flee our homes and leave our children behind.
There is really nothing I can do about it. I have to leave the country
otherwise she (referring to the baby on her back) will never see the door of
a school when the time comes," Muza said.
The huge demand for passports,
without a corresponding increase in manpower at the passport offices, has
also resulted in increasing incidents of corruption.
some officials at Makombe Building were demanding as much as $600 000 to
enable them to "fast-track" a person's application form.
As a result,
instead of waiting in long queues to submit application forms and then wait
for at least six months to get a passport, many people have resorted to
circumventing the process.
Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede could not be
reached for a comment last week. He is however on record as saying the long
queues were caused by impatient applicants from outside Harare, who wrongly
assume that they should come to Harare for their travel
The registrar-general has provincial offices which provide the
same services, said Mudede.
THE proposal by
the Commission running Harare that it intends to unbundle its current
structure into strategic business units in a development expected to improve
efficiency and service delivery must qualify for the biggest hoax of the new
This is a gimmick intended to provide justification for the
extension of the term of the commission - never mind the fact that the law
says they cannot continue beyond this week. There a very few examples in
this country where unbundling has produced the intended results. Unbundling
may mean a lot of different things to different people. However, under the
current environment, it is likely to mean people providing for themselves
under the pretence of streamlining service provision.
several examples that inform this scepticism. The Zimbabwe Electricity
Supply Authority (Zesa), National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), the Posts and
Telecommunications Corporation (PTC), and now the national airline says it,
too, is determined to go that route.
At another level, in the late 1980s
early 1990s, the government did away with the Agricultural Marketing
Authority (AMA) and the Senate. Today they are presented as representing new
thinking. Really? One way of looking at it is that this is an admission of
The Kadoma meeting that came up with the proposal for unbundling
was nothing but an attempt to justify an extravagant waste of ratepayers
resources, while the commissioners laid the groundwork for their
reappointment on the basis that they need to accomplish projects they have
embarked on. For some, sitting on the commission means attractive packages
and that in the end is what really matters in this country.
who believes that the commission has the capacity and desire to provide
quality service to the ratepayers other than the commissioners themselves is
very naÔve. The whole lot at Town House has no desire or intention
whatsoever of doing anything more than lining their own pockets.
not a single effort or project that those at Town House can point to as a
success, unless of course increases in rates without corresponding
improvement in service delivery is considered one of them.
proposal is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from the monumental
collapse in services and the failures that the city has been subjected to.
Each time an idea as fanciful as this one is floated there is a cover up
with the intention of diverting national attention in order to concentrate
focus on some Utopia.
The absence of a united grouping of sharp civil
society organisations has allowed those entrusted with leadership to abuse
office and run rings around the citizens of this country.
by local authorities aimed at improving services must understand how and why
since 1980 there has been a gradual decline in the ability and capacity of
local authorities to improve service delivery.
There are instances of
Mutare, Masvingo and Bulawayo, among others, where attempts to maintain or
improve service delivery have been thwarted by a panic-stricken government,
whose total contribution has been interference and paralysis of operations
of local authorities.
In fact, so rampant has been the interference such
that in the case of Harare, the elected council was unable to meet and
consult with the people who elected them, because the government invoked all
kinds of laws in order to prevent any meetings from taking place.
yet the person who has spearheaded this campaign to deny democracy from
functioning at local authority level had the gall to suggest that local
authorities should always communicate with residents over problems affecting
them. It is inconceivable that people can have so short
Non-communication, he dared to suggest, would result in
burgeoning discontent and anger directed at the council as had been the case
over the recent water shortages. And he was applauded.
with this country is that for all the intelligence of its so-called leaders,
they are incapable of learning from past mistakes. The day when we can
confront problems and seek solutions as Zimbabweans and not members of a
particular political organisation is the day we will begin to serve the
greater interests of the citizens of this country.
But it is time that
civil society woke up and asserted its role in demanding performance from
those claiming to lead or represent them. For far too long Zimbabweans have
allowed or watched the progressive decline in service nationwide as if they
are unaffected, yet it is their right to demand results and value for money
performance from their rulers, leaders and local authorities.
able to articulate these demands has nothing to do with the opposition. It
is merely an assertion of rights to be entitled to a better life and
improved services. This is what Zimbabweans are entitled to and deserve.
Zim women: what emancipation? sundayfocus with Janah
ZIMBABWE turned 25 on 18 April 2005. Personally, I did not
celebrate our Independence Day. I am ashamed that my disenchantment and
despondency led me not to even take a moment of silence out of that day, in
memory of those who did so much for Zimbabwe's independence.
certainly regret that deeply, for every Zimbabwean should remember the
thousands of women and men who were maimed and scarred for life and the
thousands that paid with their lives, the dearest price for an ideal they
had never tasted; an ideal they never got to witness. For Zimbabwe to exist,
many fearlessly, ferociously and relentlessly fought colonial and racial
forces that kept black people subservient, extremely dominated, persecuted,
discriminated against and very poor. White supremacy was conquered and
self-determination was realised. This day brought about high hopes not just
for Zimbabweans but also for all black people all over the world. Having
dreams of success, dignity, respect and wealth ceased to be a luxury but
became a right and a motivation for black people. The ability and right to
aspirations about self-maximisation, based on the fact that finally, black
people in this new country could have their interests prioritised was
The boundaries set by racial and colonial subjugation were
eroded; the access to wealth denied to black people both literally and
metaphorically was suddenly theirs. All Zimbabweans, white and black, old
and young must, always remember those who died for the liberation of this
country. Their lives, their blood, their broken limbs and scars must forever
be hailed as trophies and badges of honour, treasured by each of
I feel strongly about our liberation struggle. I am aware of the high
cost, which our elders paid and yet, I still did not celebrate. A quarter of
a century later, after five post-colonial governments led by black
proliferators of the liberation struggle, why is it that freedom is still an
ideal for me and has remained only in my imagination? Why does freedom sound
like a big and abstruse word and its concepts seem like an unattainable
Why should I, a young black woman, who did not grow up under
the Ian Smith regime but under the Mugabe regime still search relentlessly
for freedom? Indeed, so much was sacrificed for me, my generation, future
generations and certainly life today is way better off than it was in the
days of my mother's growing up but I do not identify the notions of freedom
in what I am told about my freedoms, rights and in the opportunities open to
Freedom is about being independent, autonomous and having the right
and capacity to exercise choice. It means not being subjected to external
restraints, not controlled or bound, having full rights and full access. On
a day-to-day basis it is about being able to go where I want when I want,
speak my mind, do what I want, make rules about my own life, not being under
the control of anyone and above all it means no one owns me or has rights
over me, which I have not willingly given.
So while the black men of
Zimbabwe won the ability to determine the paths and destinations of their
lives, the women did not. While the men of Zimbabwe embarked on
self-maximisation and pursued self interests the women were allowed minor
accesses, our parameters were widened a little bit more but the controls
remained, the freedoms denied. While the black men's chains were broken, the
woman's were replaced by a leash, so she could move but only so far. Sure,
she could grow in her aspirations but only to a specific extent. Indeed she
could choose but only if the men that own her approved.
The reason why
black people rejected out rightly the Bishop Abel Muzorewa government was
its lack of autonomy, its pseudo-independence and the fact that the black
leadership were a mere cosmetic facade of the Smith regime. On the surface
it looked black, whilst in actual fact it was the white, colonial Smith
regime in charge.
Smith thought that merely having a black person being
called prime minister would pacify the quest for freedom. History bears
testimony to how wrong he was. Real freedom is not skin deep and real
freedom is blind to gender. The freedoms gained in 1980 certainly saw the
"Muzorewarisation" of the women of this country. We are free at the behest
of men be they our fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands, neighbours, bosses
or political leaders.
The phallocentrism that our institutions and
systems are founded on has spun a web of severe and seemingly perpetual
subservience, exploitation, persecution, discrimination and powerlessness
that has continually left women in this country poor no matter what station
they find themselves in.
Indeed the skilfully played politics of
accommodation has created perceptions of some inclusion; some gains and
progress as we have seen laws being changed to declare women as adults who
now have responsibility over themselves. We have seen laws that make it
illegal to pay women less than men or even to penalise women in the
workforce of the country for bearing children .
With every election
since 1980, there have been a handful of women 'allowed' into Parliament and
even into cabinet but the strings of patronage and the chains of patriarchy
hamper them and render their impact lukewarm. These changes are just
tinkering with the edges, which has been granted after much fighting,
threatening and negotiations and have not yet delivered true freedom for
The Zimbabwe we live in is very much like the Rhodesia we
abandoned. It is still a place where power, wealth and dignity are unevenly
and illegitimately distributed. In the Rhodesian era, the distribution was
pronounced first in racial tones then in gender tones. In Zimbabwe they are
more pronounced first in gender tones then in class tones - the very evils
our liberation struggle was avowed to abolish. Racism forced black people to
prove to white people that they were fully human with equal intellect and
capability and the current gender discrimination has placed the same demands
on women. Why is it women are still negotiating their legitimacy in
As a black Zimbabwean woman I am not free to talk about the
horrors done to me and many other girl children by the men who should
protect us, our fathers, our brothers, our relatives. When they molest us
and rape us somehow society has a way of blaming the way we sit, dress or
for being alone in a room, at home with a man whom you should be most safe
with. I am not free to say what I think about the man who has run down a
country he suffered much torture and incarceration for, who has led a
political party and system responsible for the systematic rape and torture
suffered by hundreds of women just in the last five years alone.
I am not free to speak. As a woman I am not free from male ownership. Unless
my father is paid some money by another male, my family and society will
reject me if I chose to get married without this bride price paid for me.
After he has paid for me, I should, of course, endure it if he beats me up,
rapes me, molests our daughters. Who do I turn to, my father?
The man who
has amassed wealth from this very man? If I chose to live with a man without
him paying for me, should I make the mistake of dying, the poor guy still
has to pay for my corpse before my family agrees to attend my funeral. Even
in death, I am still good for money. No, I am not free.
If I walk from
one place to another in the evening in streets of Harare I am afraid. I am
afraid that my gender communicates to the thief that I am weak so he can
attack me. It communicates to any male that I am available for sex with him
by force with or without a monetary exchange, it communicates to the police
that I am soliciting sex for money so they must arrest me. No, I am not
Stench of politics in Bulawayo sports sundayopinion with
"THESE guys are anarchists," a dreadlocked young man
complained. One would have easily imagined the young man was talking about
some celluloid bad guys with no regard for all things within the limits of
But no, he was talking about horse-mounted police who fought
running battles with soccer fans in Bulawayo on Independence Day. The
Silver Jubilee celebrations became, ironically, reminiscent of white
cop-black man street wars during the march to the very independence that was
being celebrated 25 years later. The truck mounted with a power-hose as seen
in archive footage of apartheid South Africa was also called in to control
crowd trouble, reportedly before the ball was even kicked in the
Highlanders-Motor Action clash during which the Bulawayo giants lost to the
team that has been dubbed the Chelsea of Zimbabwe.
As soccer fans who
had thronged Barbourfields Stadium - for the free match rather than the
Silver Jubilee celebrations some confessed - scurried for cover with the
police on horseback in hot pursuit, they wondered if it was just cops
responding to a rowdy Bulawayo crowd demanding to enter the already packed
stadium or it was based more on heckling the city's resident
But then "ridiculing" the President is illegal under the
Public Order and Security Act, thus the people could expect punishment for
also booing the resident minister. On the Independence carnival, sport met
politics and it became ugly. One was reminded of the entire furore that is
always raised by the regime spokespersons that sport and politics are
mutually exclusive: in Bulawayo on Independence Day, the relationship became
While the ruling party has in the past attempted to make a
distinction that Independence Day is not a political event, its very
behaviour has failed to divorce this day from being a Zanu PF affair. This
has been done through its constant jingles and media spin that it brought
independence and democracy to the people, thus Zimbabweans seemingly owe it
perpetual gratitude. If 18 April were separated from all the politicking, it
is not an exaggeration the people here would take that day seriously, and
they would not attend a soccer match based on the match being free of
charge, but a true outing where the end of white rule is genuinely
More than two hundred years later, 4 July is cherished by all
Americans and no one reminds them which party George Washington belonged to!
But back to the Bulawayo Silver Jubilee.
The heavy handed police
interventionist policy in a soccer match only succeeds in getting the people
talking about the voting trends in this city. This is the city where the
residents have shown an indefatigable loyalty to the opposition MDC, and one
could understand the soccer fans speculation that the police were acting
more on the voting trends of the people here than the alleged rowdy
behaviour of the so-called hooligans.
That the MDC mayor and the resident
minister spoke on this occasion means it was going to be difficult for the
crowd to ignore the politics and concentrate on the day as would be reasoned
by the ruling party. Naturally the people showed their allegiance to an
official they elected, and the brickbats the other speaker got were just as
The apparently peeved force, despite the criticism being raised
by virtually everybody with an eye on political developments here since the
emergence of a powerful political opposition, has demanded proof in that
regard from Lovemore Madhuku and threatened him with arrest if he failed to
furnish them with evidence to that effect. Imagine then how many people
across the country would fill the already bursting prisons for accusing the
police force of acting on orders from the executive to quell any inkling of
The soccer fans who raced against horses - and not
because their team lost - would be veritable candidates for many nights
behind bars judging by the venom they had for these civil
But the people here have come to understand the workings of the
force. You are better off taking the punches lying down than trying to stand
up and fight. But having somebody then calling cops anarchists paints a
picture on the extremes of unacceptable behaviour from the police - an
institution tasked with keeping the peace and protecting people's rights and
liberties. So what happens then when you get keepers of the peace violating
While crowd trouble cannot be condoned, it is the response therein of
the law enforcement agents that becomes the focus, not why they were called
in to start with. But the fact that running battles occurred even before the
match started, smacks of a force that was waiting for something to happen.
These chaps always have a reason to beat people up.
residents, fortunately or unfortunately, everything is not as black and
white as some would have them believe. They are part of that constituency
the President has among other things called "habitually fickle" whose vote
the ruling party has long lost to the MDC. And these are the same people who
were being exhorted in the run-up to the parliamentary poll not to repeat
the mistake they made in 2000. And the mistake? Voting for the MDC! This is
the city where loyalty to the local football giants seemingly translates to
political activism with the supporters raising the ire of the ruling party.
And many had predicted the professionalism of the force was meant to last as
long as the polls, after that, it was back to business as usual.
FRIENDSHIPS can be
shattered or lost over minor misunderstandings or utterances of the
A Freedonian national travelled north, across the Zee River. He
was in an animated discussion that threatened to erupt into an ugly scene.
It was after observing numerous vehicles. "I am surprised by your
capacity to imitate others. You are the second country in the region to use
similar registration numbers to ours," said the Freedonian national in an
Masauso Mulenga, the friend from the country to the
north was getting exasperated. For far too long they had been the target of
such arrogant taunts from their southern neighbour, which long reckoned
itself as the rising star of the region. But that was only until others
stars started rising up and every one of its citizens were in a hurry to
escape from it. Many said it had become like one huge open
Mulenga tried the calm approach: "Those registration numbers have
been in use here since independence. We are upset that you have just helped
to make it easier for carjackers to steal cars from here and drive them
across or vice-versa. You are exporting problems into the
"But that is not the only thing you are exporting. your people,
your agricultural producers, your bankers, your teachers and medical staff
and yes; soon you could be exporting your millionaire household
The Freedonian was adamant:"Our registration was launched by our
Vice President and it was on satellite television. That is how you got the
idea and that is why you are arguing they form the basis for regional
registration when we move to a common market for the region.
need to set up a committee to recommend a commission which will identify a
committee to implement." Mulenga was no longer listening at this
It was amazing how one misunderstanding or truth can
suddenly change how we see and relate to others. Although Mulenga and the
Freedonian had known each other much longer, for the first time he realised
how little he knew about his friend. Behind the veneer of friendship is
always a vicious side, ready to explode if someone ignites the
Neighbours of Freedonia had welcomed its independence. Then they
admired, nay became envious of, its resourcefulness and how it was becoming
the darling of the world, apparently at their expense. Freedonians became
conceited. Somehow in the past few years these roles appear to have been
Even though Freedonia's loss was its neighbours' gain, it
frustrated them how something which had so much to offer could turn out this
badly, so much so that everyone able to flee was on his or her way out. The
country seemed to be exporting more of its people than its other products
Naturally its neighbours were concerned about what was
happening in Freedonia because over the past, their destinies seemed to be
interwoven. They benefited from its rapid development in decades soon after
attaining self rule, because all roads led to Freedonia and all
international flights turned it onto a regional hub; it was the gateway to
this part of the continent.
"Do you think we are happy when we see
your nationals coming to sleep on our pavements in order to purchase a few
goods to go and sell back home; and do you think we rejoice when you render
most of your workers jobless; and do you think we applaud when your
nationals spend most of their time queuing for goods and services that no
one is certain they will get? What continental and regional pride is there
when all you see is potential squandered? Are your leaders happy to lead a
country where they will be the only inhabitants left?
are you doing here if you still believe what you have is paradise? Are you
not fleeing the mess you have allowed the Promised Land to
The Freedonian looked at his "friend". It was as if he had
gained his sight for the first time. He was transfixed for a time. Then he
got into his car and drove off. The truth can shatter friendships.
I have been silent since we got home from our long
break in RSA.
It was with a certain reluctance that we set off for home
as can be imagined. We had spent a useful and generally relaxed time at the
coast. Our first return to the reality of Zimbabwe was the ordeal of the
border crossing at Beit Bridge but in that too we were lucky as it
was comparatively quiet and we were through in half an hour! Apart from
the inevitable touts (who in fact were helpful for a price!) it was free of
So were in good time to arrive at the Lion and Elephant
in time for a cold beer or two before dinner. Alas, even by the rather
pedestrian culinary standards of that establishment, the food was a bit of a
mission. The roast beef of the day would have served well to resole my boots;
the Yorkshire Pudding you could bounce off the floor and the potatoes might
have served better as glazing for a window or two. The pudding ( they always
serve boarding school pud. - roly-poly, bananas and custard, that night
apple crumble) was so stodgy as to be best used for pasting on a bill board!
After dinner I went and paid our bill and had the pleasure of parting with
over 300K Zim dollars. I was a bit short of actual cash as I only had 850K on
me and we still needed to buy fuel and the odd grocery in Harare, so I
had hoped to pay by card. Alas, cards are no longer accepted at the L and E†
I was told, probably because by the time the hotel recovers its money
the stuff is only worth half what it was the day you made the transaction.
Such is life in the country with the highest inflation in the world. (I
read somewhere that in Yugoslavia before things finally went completely
bonkers, one negotiated the price of a meal before actually sitting down to
eat, so perhaps there was some logic in not taking a credit card!)
left early the next morning at about six, deciding to forgo breakfast! We
reserved that pleasure for the Wimpy in Masvingo where we arrived at about
nine. Here we had a bacon and egg sandwich, with a cup of Ricory instant
coffee. The bread was marginally better than the Yorkshire pudding of the
By now we had come through three road-blocks. At the
first I very nearly achieved national hero status by missing† running down a
policeman by a whisker. There was no warning sign announcing their presence.
All I saw a was a huge lorry stopped on the road. I slowed down to pass as he
was occupying quite a bit of road. Only with feet to spare did a policeman
turn his attention from the lorry and move into the road. He had no
'dayglow" vest and against the dark tar and the olive green of the mopani in
the background was not a conspicuous figure. I stopped with the front of the
car a foot or two beyond where he stood.
I suppose the man was a
little alarmed by the near contact and he approached with some aggression and
asked me what I thought I was doing. I answered truthfully that he was hard
to see and I had no idea it was a road block. "You are lying", he said rather
nastily. It is not something I like being told and I responded vigorously to
the insult and on that note drove off. Subsequent encounters were all
innocuous and the policemen polite and even friendly. We must have gone
through twelve before getting to Harare, the reason, ironically for these
irritations, apparently was that the following day was Independence Day
marking twenty five years of so called freedom.
Next morning in Harare we
bought a small basket of groceries (bread, veg., and a few other perishables)
and parted with most of the remains of our $850 000 searched for diesel with
out any success and made for home where we arrived at about lunchtime. D was
there to meet us and M had the house all spick and span.
This is the
reality of Zimbabwe. Multiple little dramas and aggravations and the
civilised† pleasure and tranquillity of one's home.
Since being back we
have discovered it was not all quite so well ordered as at first appeared. D
with a driver we had employed while we were had clocked up a staggering 2500
kilometers by using the old landy as a pirate taxi. Said driver was an ex
Intaf. Corporal driver from Rushinga (once part of Darwin) and he and D
slipped swiftly into the skiving habits of their past. When confronted with
the speedometer readings the response is of course to look blank and stand to
attention. Temporary driver has not been seen and D sent off to repent. I
told him Satan akakubata pamuswe wako saka endai monatsofunga nesve murarioro
wako. Satan has grabbed you by your tale so go and think what is your
punishment." He announced a day or two later that he had indeed 'tadza'd" and
I told him it was time he went home to his wife so she could straighten him
out. So he has done that and I envy him not! She is a formidable lady and
very stout. That she will give him a sound boxing around the ears I have no
doubt what ever.
Otherwise things were in pretty good shape except that
the seedlings in the shade house were more than over due for transplanting.
So we have had a busy time getting the garden back in shape. This is
important, as the price of vegetables is astronomical and the product not
much to look at. At our favourite Green Grocers (Eskbank to those of you who
know the Mazowe Road) I asked for carrots the other day and the woman who who
serves behind rthe counter and has been there for years said to me "Hongu as
anenge makoroti akarimwa namaNewfama: Yes but they look as if they were grown
by the new farmers!"
I have been talking to all my friends and
acquaintances and slipping in the odd question about the elections. The
remarks all include stories of threats, direct and indirect, and about how
the votes seemed to bear no relationship to the numbers who turned out. There
were also some hilarious little stories. The best concerns our neighbour Mrs.
C. She is a ardent party supporter and a devoted sycophant of our sitting MP,
the Minister of Local Government. On the day of the election she met him near
the polling station and asked for some money to buy bread and cool drinks for
the faithful. He gave her $40 000. Witness to this was the "chair person" of
the Womens' League a formidable harridan, notorious for her capacity for
liquor and course behaviour. She approached Mrs. C (they are arch enemies)
and suggested they split the money. This was greeted with a cold refusal
and Mrs. C made preparations to depart. The upshot was that her rival
attacked her and the two very overweight matrons proceeded to do battle. In
short they had a most unseemly scuffle, during which Mrs. C's wig was
This event has left a bigger impression on those who were
lucky enough to watch the match than all other election
On† a more sober note I have to report that almost coinciding
with the elections has been a rapid and dramatic turn for the worse in the
whole fabric of the country. Harare is in dire straights with water and power
cuts lasting for 48 hours and more even in the upmarket suburbs. In the
townships it is worse with shortages and sewage systems collapsing. Maize
meal is in such short supply as to be almost not available and other basics
like sugar and cooking oil are once more off the store shelves. The COL has
started to climb steeply again and fuel is unavailable. I am down to a
2/3tank in the petrol landy and a 1/3 tank in the diesel and no hope of any
coming in as there seems to be no forex† available. The black market price of
a US dollar is somewhere near the 18000 mark and the pound and the pound and
the Euro over 30K/1. The rand is about 3500 to 4000/1!!!
In the short
term it means terrible hardship and people are dying literally like flies. We
witness this in our own little world especially as our neighbour K is a nurse
and well known in the area, so people flock to her when they are sick. Most
of then have AIDS† and of course with poor diet, the cold weather coming on
and flue and TB ever lurking it is taking a huge toll.
The "good" news
is that if the final and long awaited collapse is at hand, then it means that
once the regime can no longer sustain itself, the country can begin to
rebuild. But it is still a bit too soon to say that it this is about to
happen. We have had too many false starts over the last four years; and
somehow they may just bail themselves out again for a while. China is a wild
card and they may just hold out a life line? After all we bought five new jet
fighters from them just a few weeks ago! (And if anything is an indication of
a regime in a state of terminal self-delusion it is this purchase!)
commander in chief of the 2000 farm occupations, Joseph Chinotimba, caused a
stir in Harare's City centre last week after he led a group of municipal
workers to assault touts he accused of beating up a council police
officer. Chinotimba, the council's chief security officer, confirmed the
incident and said they had already arrested three suspects involved in the
assault of their colleague. The incident occurred at the corner of Kwame
Nkrumah and Park Street after the suspected touts ganged up to free their
colleague who had been arrested by the council police officer for washing a
commuter omnibus in an undesignated place. Chinotimba arrived at the
scene with a group of about 10 council policemen armed with baton sticks and
beat up the suspected touts. "Chinos (Chinotimba) arrived here in a pick up,
while a lorry with the officers was following behind. The officers
disembarked from the lorry in a flash and started assaulting the touts whom
he said he "wanted to fix"' for assaulting a municipal police officer," a
vendor who witnessed the incident told The Daily Mirror. Chinotimba
defended his actions saying the touts were assaulting municipal police
officers who were arresting illegal street vendors. "They are attacking our
officers who are arresting illegal vendors, and on Wednesday (last week)
another officer was beaten up by these guys. Besides that, they stole a pair
of handcuffs from him and we are not going to rest until we recover
them. "We are also going to remove all commuter omnibus operators from that
area (Corner Kwame Kruma-Park Street)," said Chinotimba. He said the
suspects had been arrested in order to assist them with
investigations. Police spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena said it was illegal
for anyone to beat up any suspect, adding the municipal police were only
empowered to arrest people who violate city by-laws. Bvudzijena said: "We
have always said it before that no one is allowed to assault suspects and we
urge people to bring them forward and press charges. Those you allege were
assaulted in that incident should report to the police." The City of
Harare has been fighting running battles with street vendors who have been
descended in the capital's streets due to the biting economic conditions
that has seen unemployment rising to over 70 percent. Chinotimba is not new
In 2000 Chinotimba was arrested for attempted murder
of a neighbour he was alleged to have shot because she was an opposition
political supporter. The Harare magistrates court acquitted him on the
attempted charge, but found him guilty of contravening the Firearms Act and
THE fate of the NGOs Bill,
designed to regulate the operations of civic groups in the country, remains
shrouded in mystery five months after it was passed by Parliament on
December 9 last year. Constitutional law expert, Lovemore Madhuku said it
was likely that President Robert Mugabe had rejected the Bill or was waiting
for an opportune time to publish it in the Government Gazette so that in
becomes law. †"The president has up to 21 days (in terms of the constitution)
to assent to a Bill after it has been presented to him and can't do that
after 21 days. In this case we do not know when it was presented to him, but
it had to be before Parliament was dissolved on March 31," Madhuku
said. The lawyer added that even if the President had assented to the Bill,
it would only become law if it had been published in the Government
Gazette. He said: "If he has signed the Bill, he has the right to determine
when to gazette it so that it becomes an Act of Parliament. He can publish
at a time he so wishes." "There is, however, no time frame for him to
publish it and he can do so at a time he feels like. It is perfectly
acceptable under the current constitution," Madhuku said adding that there
was no Bill in the history of the country that had gone this long before it
becomes a law. Director of National Association of Non Governmental
Organisations (Nango), Jonah Mudehwe also echoed the same sentiments, but
added their focus was now on the way forward on the Bill and whether there
it was going to be re-drafted or debated again in its present
form. "Normally a Bill has to be signed after 21 days and we are now looking
forward to what is going to happen to it and whether its going to be
re-drafted or debated in its present form," he said. Mudehwe added that
they were also looking at ways of engaging the new Minister of Labour,
Public Service and Social Welfare, Nicholas Goche on the issue. Most NGOs
oppose the Bill, which among other things, seeks to ban foreign funding of
civic organisations and set up a council to regulate NGO operations. The
Bill was widely seen to be draconian and meant to narrow the country's
A FIRE broke out yesterday at the
National Foods Limited Aspindale branch destroying millions of dollars worth
of wheat seed. An official at the company's security office said: "The fire
started at a wheat-seed stark. †The starks have to be maintained at a certain
temperature. In this case the temperature may have exceeded the limit and
ignited the fire," the officer said. The officer said members of the fire
brigade were still battling to extinguish the fire by late yesterday
afternoon adding that the value of the wheat seed was still to be
established. "The value of the seed destroyed is yet to be ascertained
because they are still battling to put out the fire and removing the seed
that has not been affected," the officer added. -Mirror Reporter
HARARE has been hit by a
critical shortage of milk, amid revelations that Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited
(DZL) was failing to meet demand because of the reduction of supplies from
its traditional sources. A survey carried out by The Daily Mirror showed
that Fresh Milk had indeed disappeared from shop fridges in most leading
retail outlets. The situation has forced customers to resort to "powdered"
milk as a supplement. Angry consumers said the shortages were artificial and
urged the government to intervene. Efforts to get a comment from DZL
officials proved fruitless at the time of going to press yesterday. Mirror
Harare agree to increase prices of refuse
The Daily Mirror Reporter issue date
THE commission running the affairs of the capital has agreed
to increase the prices of refuse collection following requests by the
companies contracted to do the job. The private operators wrote to the
commission in January requesting that the price be reviewed upwards from the
current $768 set in May last year. According to council minutes of a
meeting held on April 11 by the procurement board, the contractors proposed
a new price of $1 459, but the city fathers agreed to increase it to $1
200. "The current bin price of $768 had been negotiated in May 2004. After
discussion with the refuse contractors the bin price was pegged at $1 200,"
part of the minutes read. The new increases are effective January 1 2005.
The price is subject to review after six months. Harare has been failing
to timeously collect refuse due to the lack of capacity and dedication of
players, resulting in rubbish being left on the streets for months posing a
Zimbabweans get Marburg warning 08/05/2005 20:43† -
Harare - Zimbabwe is warning its citizens against travelling to
Angola following the outbreak of the Ebola-like Marburg virus which has
claimed 280 lives, the health minister said on Sunday.
not fear but I am discouraging people from travelling to Angola... at this
point in time," said health and child welfare minister David Parirenyatwa on
state-run Newsnet TV.
"We are aware that the countries around Angola have
taken alert measures. We in Zimbabwe are on very high alert to make sure
anybody who comes in, especially through the airports...we screen them, we
thoroughly screen them for that virus," he said.
Zimbabwe has not
recorded any case of the deadly virus that has left 280 dead in Angola since
it was first detected in October, with most of the fatalities in the
northern Uige province of Angola.
The Marburg virus, whose exact origin
is unknown and for which there is no cure, spreads through contact with
bodily fluids such as blood, excrement, vomit, saliva, sweat and tears, but
can be contained with relatively simple hygenic precautions, according to
The outbreak in Angola has overtaken an earlier outbreak in the
Democratic Republic of Congo as the largest ever recorded of the virus,
first detected in 1967 when West German laboratory workers in the town of
Marburg were infected by monkeys from Uganda.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to
meet Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare at the end of the month
over the country's political and economic crisis. Senior government
officials in Zimbabwe said Annan had been in touch with Mugabe and plans
were afoot for a meeting in the next three weeks. They said Annan had
indicated to Mugabe that he wanted to discuss the prevailing food shortages
and other humanitarian problems. "If current arrangements go according to
plan, they should have a meeting at month end," a government official said.
He said that if Annan was not able to visit, an envoy would come in his
stead. UN agencies have stopped distributing food aid to the country due to
political problems. Zimbabwe admits it will need to import 1.2 million tons
of maize to make up for a 600 000 ton shortfall this year.
The past week has seen tablets of "no fuel" at most petrol filling stations
in Zimbabwean capital Harare, and there was virtually no petrol at service
stations outside the capital.
††††† Zimbabwe is now facing a serious fuel
crisis due to shortage of foreign currency and low prices of
††††† On Friday afternoon it was said that there was fuel at a
petrol filling station at Fourth Street, where cars were immediately seen
queuing for this precious liquid, which has increasingly become
††††† In a few minutes, a fuel delivery tanker arrived. It
off-loaded about 20,000 liters of fuel and vehicles began to assemble in a
single line and the police were soon called in to calm the possibly
††††† Two hours later, the service station
management announced that the fuel has run out and grumbling drivers began
††††† Was it true that 20,000 liters of fuel have been sold
††††† There comes the answer of some drivers. The fuel was still
available, but would be sold to dealers who will in turn sell it on the
thriving "black market" at inflated prices, although selling fuel on the
black market and demanding bribes from desperate motorists is a criminal
offense in Zimbabwe.
††††† The government price for petrol and diesel is
currently 3,600 Zimbabwean dollars (about 58 US cents at the official rate)
††††† In South Africa, the forecourt price of both petrol and
diesel is around 5 rand (84 US cents) a liter, which can be translated into
5,000 Zimbabwean dollars at the official rate and more than 15,000
Zimbabwean dollars a liter at the parallel market rate. The wholesale price
of petrol in South Africa is 4.61 rand, or 4,610 Zimbabwean dollars at the
††††† The fuel service station manager told Xinhua
that after factoring in transport costs, fuel could be landed in Zimbabwe at
around 5,000 Zimbabwean dollars if foreign exchange secured at the official
rate was used.
††††† "The government is therefore paying almost 1,500
Zimbabwean dollars (about 24 US cents) to subsidize every liter of fuel sold
at service stations," the manager said.
††††† He added that Zimbabwe
normally consumes two million liters of fuel daily. So skewed is the pricing
structure in the country that a liter of fuel is cheaper than a bottle of
mineral water which stands at 9,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about 1.45 US
dollars at the official rate).
††††† The manager said the price of fuel
should be reviewed immediately.
††††† "What the depressed price has done
is to make our margins small and forecourt business unviable," he
††††† "Between October and March, there was about 4 million US
dollars a week for fuel imports which was distributed between National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZ) and the Petroleum Marketers Association of
Zimbabwe (PMAZ)," he said.
††††† Now there was no foreign currency to
import fuel and there was no petrol in reserve at the NOCZ's holding tanks
so that the situation was degenerating fast.
††††† It is said that
because of the country's poor credit rating, Zimbabwe has in the last five
years failed to secure lasting lines of credit to pay for fuel imports.
Currently, the country is doing "spot purchases" from ships anchored off the
††††† Zimbabwe's fuel is grossly under-priced and the
government has been paying billions of Zimbabwean dollars weekly in
subsidies in a bid to suppress price increases of the commodity. A rise in
the price of fuel is considered inflationary and could negate the
government's economic turnaround efforts.
††††† It is also heard that
the centralized procurement of fuel through the PMAZ and the strict
surveillance of import license holders meant that individuals could not
organize their own foreign exchange and bring in fuel.
††††† The manager
said "in the past one could go onto the parallel market, buy foreign
exchange and then import fuel."
††††† "That explains why last year fuel
was available but at different prices. That is no longer possible. If
importers were given the go-ahead to import as individuals, fuel would
become readily available again," he added.
IN A move to control the flow of information in and out of
Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe's beleaguered government has acquired sophisticated
phone-tapping, radio jamming and internet-monitoring equipment from
communist hardliners in China.
Sophisticated Chinese bugging
equipment is being installed clandestinely in homes, offices, restaurants
and even lavatories. Chinese technicians handed it over to the Central
Intelligence Organisation earlier this year in an effort to block the
circulation of what Mugabe calls "hostile propaganda".
First to suffer is
a popular UK-based shortwave radio station that sends out anti-Mugabe
stories to Zimbabwe seven days a week. The independent radio station, SW
Radio Africa, has been experiencing jamming problems all this year from
transmitters installed in the Zimbabwean Midlands.
The station's founder,
Gerry Jackson, flies to Nairobi, Kenya, next week to pick up the
International Press Institute's Free Media Pioneer Award for courageous
"Mugabe will do anything to stop the truth being heard in
Zimbabwe," she says.
Hi-tech bugging includes updated versions of
pirated Israeli-made equipment which enters Zimbabwe through Cuba. It's a
copy of the sophisticated equipment Mossad uses to spy on
Wilf Mbanga, who edits the new weekly paper, the
Zimbabwean, said: "The plan is to tap all landlines belonging to anyone of
importance or prominence in Zimbabwe."
After this year's general
election Mugabe told party hardliners that he had turned again to the
On Independence Day (April 18), to cheers from party loyalists, he
said: "We are returning to the days when our greatest friends were the
Chinese. We look again to the East, where the sun rises, and no longer to
the West, where it sets."
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe Monday April 25th - May 1st
2005 Weekly Media Update 2005-15
COMMENT 2. ECONOMIC DECLINE 3. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND HUMAN
1. General Comment
WHILE the democratic world
commemorated World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, there was very little cause
for celebration in Zimbabwe. Repressive media and security laws such as the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and Public Order
and Security Act (POSA) are still on Zimbabwe's statute books and have
continued to be selectively used against media practitioners, particularly
journalists working for the private media.
Since their enactment,
dozens of journalists from the private media have been charged under the two
draconian laws although not a single prosecution has been
successful. Private media houses have also borne the brunt of these
undemocratic laws. For instance, four privately owned newspapers have been
closed under AIPPA in the last 19 months as part of the authorities'
systematic campaign to silence all sources of information critical of their
policies and actions. Scores of journalists working for the affected media
houses have consequently been deprived of their jobs following the
The broadcasting environment remains equally restrictive.
Despite the invalidation of the ZBH's broadcasting monopoly by the Supreme
Court in 2000, the government-controlled broadcaster still enjoys a de-facto
monopoly of the airwaves. This is because almost five years after the
Supreme Court ruling no other private broadcasters have been licenced as the
restrictive clauses of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) have made it
difficult for the majority of Zimbabweans to establish their own commercial
and community radio stations. In fact, this was fully exposed when The Herald
(29/4) and The Sunday Mirror (1/5) reported that only one out of the five
organisations that had applied for broadcasting licences had been short
listed by the government appointed Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ)
to attend a public enquiry as stipulated under the BSA.
quoted BAZ acting chairman Pikirayi Deketeke saying the unsuccessful
applicants had failed to meet the requirements of the law without elaborating
save to say that the authority would write to the applicants explaining the
"reasons why their applications were turned down".
It is such restrictive
media environment that has seen the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
name Zimbabwe as one of the "World's Worst Places to Be as a Journalist", The
Standard (1/5). The government-controlled media ignored the CPJ
2. Economic decline
THE country's deepening economic
crisis continued to dominate the media, which carried 145 stories on the
matter. Of these, 71 appeared in the government-controlled Press, 43 in the
private papers, 29 on ZBH (Power FM, ZTV and Radio Zimbabwe) and the
remaining four on Studio 7. The stories included the continued collapse of
local industries, the worsening shortages of fuel, power and foreign currency
and the crumbling of service delivery in the main cities, particularly
Harare. As has become the norm, it was only the private media that viewed
the shortages as symptomatic of the country's shrinking economy. The
government media largely evaded such discussions. They either reported on the
economic problems in isolation or simply glossed over the issues with
authorities' promises to rectify the economic slide.
For example, none
of ZBH's nine reports on the crippling fuel shortages fully discussed the
reasons behind the shortages or gave a holistic picture of its effects
countrywide. Rather, it restricted coverage on the matter to the situation in
Matabeleland South and Harare and tried to blame the shortages on fuel
dealers who were allegedly holding on to the commodity in anticipation of a
price hike. The broadcaster's reluctance to openly discuss the matter was
reflected by its failure to access comments from officials and economists on
the issue as shown by the voice distribution on ZTV and Power FM.
1 Voice distribution on Power FM and ZTV
MEDIA No. Of stories Ordinary
people Police Alternative Government Business ZTV 5 8 2 0 0 0 Power FM
2 2 0 0 0 0
All ordinary voices were quoted complaining of the fuel
crisis and calling on government to resolve the matter.
As if to
respond to their calls, The Sunday Mail (1/5) reported Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono saying the fuel crisis "will be fixed" in
the "next one and a half to two weeks". However, the paper failed to
challenge Gono to fully explain on how he intended to tame the fuel shortage
and turn "around our beloved economy". Such mere regurgitation of official
pronouncements and passive presentation of government's commitment to
resolving the country's economic crisis was also apparent in stories such as:
Zim committed to NEPAD, the Chronicle (27/4); Zim committed to COMESA, SADC
trade protocols, the Sunday News (1/5) and Zim expects 1.2m tonnes of maize:
Muvhuti, The Herald (28/4).
It also manifested itself in the government
media's coverage of the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
Although the official Press carried 29 stories on the matter, in addition to
two ZITF supplements carried by The Herald and Chronicle (26/4), these were
public relations pieces that acquiescently portrayed the Zimbabwean economy
as finally overcoming its problems. Despite the government-controlled
papers' depiction of the ZITF as having been a "success", they provided
little evidence to support this. Rather, these papers, as exemplified by the
Sunday News and Sunday Mail (1/5), merely quoted Trade Minister Obert Mpofu
saying the Fair was successful because "many companies from the Far East" had
come to exhibit. However, he did not say how many companies from Asia
constituted the 604 companies (562 foreign and 42 local) that exhibited at
Similarly, The Herald (30/4) and Sunday News used Mozambican
President Armando Guebuza's official speech at the Fair stressing the need to
"foster and nurture" co-operation between Zimbabwe and Mozambique on economic
and bilateral issues as vindication that the country's economy was poised
for recovery despite hostile machinations by Britain and its Western
ZBH's 47 stories on the Fair were tailor made in the same
fashion. The reports presented the annual trade showcase as a success and a
reflection of the country's purported economic growth. Throughout the week,
the government-controlled broadcaster emphasised on how enquiries and deals
were made during the event without elaborating on the actual worth of
the business deals.
In a bid to downplay the absence of big companies
at the Fair, ZTV (27/4, 8pm) seemed to celebrate the presence of
small-to-medium scale enterprises and resettled farmers saying this
demonstrated that they were committed to the country's economic turnaround
programme. However, except for five public relations stories published by the
Mirror stable on ZITF, the rest of the private media viewed the matter
differently in the seven reports they carried on the topic. Five of these
were in the private Press while the remaining two were on Studio 7. The
private media stance on ZITF was epitomised by The Standard (1/5) comment,
Shrinking ZITF mirrors economic collapse. It noted that the trade fair was
poorly attended as it recorded the least number of exhibitors since 2003. The
paper largely attributed this to Zimbabwe's poor international image and the
current foreign currency crunch. It observed that larger companies were
forced to stay away because they would have been unable to fulfil orders made
at the Fair due to lack of foreign currency to import critical raw
To buttress its point, The Standard observed that "as of last
week" the foreign currency auction floor was only able to avail US$11 million
"against a demand for 6 436 rejected bids for US$125 million". Therefore,
added the paper, it was "unfair" for government to officially invite Guebuza
"to preside over an event that is either predominantly empty or overly
populated by quasi-flea market operators". The rest of the private media's
43 reports on the economy largely highlighted the extent to which the
economic situation had deteriorated. This was summed up in the Zimbabwe
Independent comment, What legacy will Bob bequeath?
The paper accused
government and Gono of peddling "the lie that the economy has turned the
corner" while things were falling apart in the country. It cited shortages of
basic commodities such as fuel, power and water in Harare as well as the
collapse of sewerage systems in Harare and Chitungwiza. To further highlight
Zimbabwe's economic woes, The Financial Gazette (28/4) reported that
government had angered the International Monetary Fund - which the central
bank is trying to engage for the crucial balance of payments support - by
attempting to block the Fund's scheduled visit next week. The paper quoted
"impeccable sources" saying government's plans to delay the Fund's routine
consultation on the pretext that it was "not yet ready to meet the IMF
delegation" because the recent split of the Finance and Economic Development
Ministry into two portfolios could "negatively influence the IMF board's
decision on Zimbabwe".
Meanwhile, the Independent and The Daily Mirror
(28/4) predicted more power cuts as a result of a breakdown in the power unit
at Hwange Power Station that supplies the country with over 220 megawatts.
The Mirror quoted ZESA Holdings corporate Affairs manager Obert Nyatanga as
saying the power utility required at least US$7 million ($45 billion) per
month to arrest problems that led to the breakdown. Studio 7 also
highlighted similar economic woes in its four stories, which were all
critical of the country's economic performance. However, the private radio
station's sourcing was thin as it heavily relied on alternative comments at
the expense of official sources as compared to the private papers, which were
See Fig 2 and 3 below. Fig 2. Voice distribution in
the private Press
Voice Total Government 12 Alternative
11 Business 15 Professional 5 Ordinary people 8 Editorial comments
4 Local authorities 8 MDC 1 Unnamed 7
Fig 3. Voice distribution
on Studio 7
Voice Total Government 0 Alternative 4 MDC
1 Reader 1
Although the government media also touched on some of the
issues raised by the private media, they hardly went beyond official
statements. For example, while the Chronicle (28/4) reported ZESA as
acknowledging that it required over US$2 billion between this year and 2010
to avert a power crisis, the paper did not ask, as did the Mirror of the same
day, why the power utility had not made efforts long ago "to develop its own
local power supply that would generate electricity for all domestic needs
without having to rely on another foreign country".
International relations and Human rights
THE re-election of Zimbabwe to
the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) provided ZBH with the opportunity to
further defend the country's poor human rights record. The
government-controlled broadcaster carried three reports on the matter. All
the reports celebrated this latest development and used it to
reinforce official claims that allegations of human rights violations in the
country were baseless and only emanated from Western countries that were
against Zimbabwe's land reforms.
It was hardly surprising therefore
that the broadcaster ignored incidents of continued human rights violations
which appeared on Studio 7. The private station carried 10 stories on human
rights issues. Of these, six stories were on fresh incidents of rights
violations, including the murder of an MDC activist while three were on the
US and civic organisations' condemnation of Zimbabwe's re-election to the
UNHRC. The remainder was on government's efforts to have the African
Commission on Human and People's Rights postpone hearing a case in which
human rights activist Gabriel Shumba is suing the Zimbabwean authorities over
his alleged torture by the police. The victims of the rights abuses ranged
from MDC supporters, civic society to members of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) while the perpetrators were either state security agents
or ZANU PF activists.
The trend was similar in the print media. Out of
the 11 reports on rights violations published by the Press, nine were in the
private papers while only two were in the government-controlled Press. The
two government papers' stories, which appeared in The Herald and Manica Post
(29/4), stemmed from an incident in which MDC supporters allegedly beat up
ZANU PF supporters in Chipinge South in protest against the disputed March
election results. The papers cited the police attributing the outbreak of the
violence to an alleged report by the private radio station, Studio 7, which
claimed that the election process that resulted in ZANU PF candidate for the
constituency Enock Porisingazi winning had been fraught
These papers, however, ignored 11 cases of rights
abuses, which included four incidents of politically motivated harassment and
violence and one case of murder that were recorded in nine reports carried by
the private Press. Like on Studio 7, the police could not readily confirm
some of the cases reported by the private papers. For example, while The
Standard quoted MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi claiming that suspected ZANU
PF activists had allegedly murdered the party's chairman for Ward 6 in Karoi,
Ebrahim Moffat, the same paper quoted police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka
saying he could not confirm the murder since he was attending ZIFT. Other
efforts to contact another police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena, were
"unsuccessful", said the paper. Notably, Bvudzijena and other police
officers that Studio 7 reportedly contacted over the murder case were
But while the government Press turned a blind eye to these
rights abuses, especially the clampdown on ZCTU leaders by State security
agents ahead of the May Day celebrations, it diverted public attention from
the matter by devoting six stories to accusing the labour body of deserting
workers and engaging in politics. And in a bid to gloss over the isolation
of Zimbabwe mainly over its poor human rights record and bad governance, the
government-controlled Press carried 25 stories that sought to superficially
depict the country as enjoying cordial relations with the rest of the world.
Visits by Mozambican President Guebuza and the South African National Defence
Forces chief, General Sphiwe Nyanda were conveniently used to spruce up
Zimbabwe's tattered international image. So was the UN's invitation to
Zimbabwe to send its army officers to participate in a military observer
mission in Southern Sudan.
ZTV and Power FM also carried 12 reports
that conveniently used supportive statements by Guebuza and outgoing South
African ambassador Jeremiah Ndou to give the impression that Zimbabwe has the
support of the international community. But the government media was mum
on plans by the US to widen its targeted sanctions against the Zimbabwean
leadership in the aftermath of another disputed poll as reported by The Daily
Mirror (27/4) and Sunday Mirror (1/5). The official media also largely
downplayed the criticism levelled against government by the US, Canada and
Australia over its re-election to the UN body as compared to the Zimbabwe
Independent. Neither did it tell its audiences, as did the Independent, that
UN secretary-general Kofi Annan would abolish the "controversial body" later
this year anyway.
Rather, The Saturday Herald buried all these concerns
in glowing comments by Zimbabwe's Permanent Representative to the United
Nations in New York, Boniface Chidyausiku, who described the re-election as
"a triumph for Zimbabwean democracy". Ends//
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