Sat 12 November 2005
BULAWAYO - Tension has gripped Zimbabwe's second biggest city of
Bulawayo ahead of a weekend rally to be addressed by opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai to denounce senate elections scheduled for later this
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which has provided
the biggest challenge to President Robert Mugabe's 25-year stranglehold on
power, has been split into warring factions following differences over
whether it should participate in a senate election set for November 26.
A faction backing Tsvangirai in his anti-senate stance yesterday
accused the pro-senate faction in Bulawayo headed by secretary general
Welshman Ncube of threatening to disrupt the weekend rally.
Tsvangirai is scheduled to address a star rally at White City Stadium
on Sunday after meeting the party's grassroots structures today.
The rally is crucial in gauging grassroots support for Tsvangirai who
has met fierce opposition from the party's senior leaders in the three
A spokesman for the pro-Tsvangirai group in Bulawayo, Getrude
Mthombeni, said the pro-senate group held a meeting earlier this week to
plot ways of disrupting the rally on Sunday.
"We are living in fear of these people who have started threatening
our members for supporting Tsvangirai. I personally have been threatened by
some top officials.
"The situation has been worsened by the President's (Tsvangirai) rally
to be held over the weekend, which they unsuccessfully tried to block," said
But MDC spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi, who is backing Ncube in the
pro-senate lobby, denied that their group was planning to disrupt the
Nyathi said: "That is nonsense. Ask even the police they know who is
going around the country threatening party members with violence; it's very
clear that it is the so-called Tsvangirai-led faction that is causing all
"In any case we are not worried about him coming to Bulawayo, what we
are worried about is our preparations for these (senate) elections. Anyone
who thinks he can stop us must be dreaming," he said.
Tsvangirai is fiercely opposed to participation in the election which
he says is a waste of resources in a country where at four million are in
need of food aid while Ncube and his faction insist a boycott of the poll
would surrender political space to Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.
The six-year old opposition party is on the verge of a split along
ethnic lines after Tsvangirai received support in his position from the
northern Shona-speaking regions of the country while the Ndebele speaking
southern region has backed Ncube in his pro-senate stance.
Yesterday, Nyathi said the pro-senate group was going ahead with
preparations for the election despite an ultimatum by Tsvangirai last week
for candidates who had registered to take part in the election to withdraw.
Tsvangirai fell out with Ncube and five other senior leaders of the
party after he refused to accept a narrow vote by the party's National
Council last month to participate in the controversial November 26 senate
Twenty-six MDC candidates went on to defy Tsvangirai when they filed
their nomination papers to stand for the party in the poll.
Meanwhile, Nyathi on Friday attacked Tsvangirai over his comments to
diplomats that the opposition party had embarked on an internal process to
resolve their differences threatening to split the party.
"He is posturing. How can he talk of healing the wounds while at the
same time threatening to expel people who are ready to take part in the
senate election?" said Nyathi.
Tsvangirai told the diplomats in Harare on Wednesday that the party
had already begun a "healing process" to reach out to colleagues in an
attempt to address their differences. - ZimOnline
Sat 12 November 2005
HARARE - Terarai Chitambira is an enterprising fuel black market
trader. Each night he drives his 15-seater minibus to a spot along the main
With the patience of an angler waiting for the big fish to come along,
he lingers at his "trading spot" waiting for the cross-border haulage trucks
that ply the route in the hope any one of the passing drivers might be up
for some business.
For 20-litres of diesel, Chitambira pays the equally enterprising
truckers Z$1.5 million. In turn he sells the fuel on Zimbabwe's streets -
where it is hard to find - at Z$120 000 a litre or $2.4 million per 20
litres, which translates to a cool $900 000 profit.
"This is how I have survived since the police demolished my (informal
business) kiosk in July," said Chitambira, as he confidently showed
ZimOnline around his trading spot, he actually calls it his "oil depot".
Warming up to our news crew after having initially refused to speak to
us for fear we could be working with the police to get him arrested,
Chitambira, added: "It is a tricky business because you can easily get
arrested by the police but it pays handsomely."
Welcome to Zimbabwe's illegal but thriving fuel black market - the
only reliable source of fuel in the country.
As is the case with nearly every other basic survival commodity in
crisis-hit Zimbabwe, the black market is the source of fuel for most people
in the country, government officials, lawyers, church priests, business
executives and ordinary motorists alike.
Or as Teddy Mungai, another fuel black market trader we encountered
further down the highway, summed it up: "For every five cars you see on the
streets of Harare, four of them get their fuel on the black market. We are
actually keeping the wheels of industry and commerce running."
Mungai, like Chitambira, was forced into illegal fuel trading after
his roadside fruit stall was demolished in July by the government under a
controversial urban clean-up campaign that the United Nations said left at
least 700 000 people without homes or means of livelihood after their homes
and informal business kiosks were destroyed.
Another 2.4 million people were also affected by the clean-up campaign
roundly condemned by the international community as a gross violation of the
rights of poor people.
But President Robert Mugabe and his government deny the clean-up
exercise violated human rights and say that the campaign was instead for the
good of the people because the government is going to build better houses
for people whose homes were demolished.
Whatever Mugabe's reasons for demolishing people's homes and informal
businesses, Mungai - who does not source from long-distance truckers but
from neighbouring Botswana - said when his fruit stall was destroyed, he was
left with no option but to play hide and seek with border police as he
smuggles hard cash to Botswana to purchase fuel.
"It is risky smuggling hard currency out. But once across the border
you are home and dry," said Mungai, whom we caught up with about 40km
outside the town of Gweru where his truck had broken down under the sheer
weight of five drums of petrol he was bringing in from Botswana.
Mungai, who said he had paid $290 000 excise duty for the thousand
litres, said: "When I get to Harare I will make a cool $120 million in less
than two days."
But sometimes lady luck just deserts the fuel black marketers and it
becomes just impossible to avoid arrest as what happened this week when a
South African trucker passing through Zimbabwe en route to Zambia to deliver
diesel decided to sell about 39 000 litres of the fuel to the illegal
Soon after clinching the deal, the trucker crashed his vehicle into a
ditch along the Harare-Chirundu highway that leads to Zambia. Whether it was
by design or by accident remains unclear but the trucker was quick to tell
the police that his load had been looted by local villagers.
But the police would have none of it, raiding known fuel dealers
living near the area where the accident occurred and were able to recover
about 2 800 litres of the diesel held in about 14 drums - the rest had
already been shipped to the black market.
And such are some of the "mishaps" of the fuel black market! -
Sat 12 November 2005
RUSAPE - Heavy pregnant clouds slowly gather in the dark, threatening
skies. A cool breeze, blows from the south amid flashes of lightning and
After weeks of eager expectation around the country, the rains are
finally here, to the relief of thirsty earth and thousands of farmers who
toil the land.
But for James Munzara, a small-scale farmer in Nyamajura village,
150km east of Harare, this farming season is threatening to explode into a
In a normal farming season, Munzara would have welcomed the rains
which fell earlier this week, signalling the start of the farming season.
Munzara, is among thousands of black Zimbabweans who benefited from
the government's chaotic and often violent land reform programme five years
ago. But he reckons this season will be his worst since moving here.
"I am going through my worst farming nightmare ever. Most farmers here
don't care whether it rains or not. The land has not been prepared, seed and
fertilizer are in short supply and where available we can't afford them,"
says Munzara, throwing his hands in the air.
Zimbabwe is facing severe food shortages blamed on President Robert
Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks
five years ago.
The farm seizures, which Mugabe said were necessary to correct
historical imbalances in land allocation, slashed food production by 60
percent leaving Zimbabweans dependent on food handouts from aid agencies.
A five-year old severe economic recession has seen Zimbabwe run out of
basic foodstuffs, medicines and fuel. Fertilizer, seed and other critical
farming inputs are also in critical short supply because of a lack of
foreign currency to import the products.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and the West
blame Mugabe for ruining what was once one of Africa's strongest economies
But Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabweans have known since independence
from Britain 25 years ago, denies charges of mismanaging the economy
blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and the West whom he says were
unhappy over his seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to
With this food crisis, the farmers say they expected the Zimbabwe
government to roll up their sleeves to, once and for all, break the cycle of
hunger and poverty brought about by falling output on the farms over the
past five years.
"We are going to have even more food shortages next year. Most farmers
will just watch while the season passes by because of lack of resources and
finance," says Munzara.
Another farmer in Nyamajura, 48-year old Mirirai Chikasha says the
government is squarely to blame for the lethargy in the farming sector after
failing to equip the new breed of black farmers with relevant skills and
inputs to maintain production on the farms.
"The responsible government ministers should be held responsible when
people die of starvation next year. They have failed to support the farmers
in a big way," says Chikasha.
Chikasha says he would not grow a single crop this year because he has
failed to access tillage equipment and has no money to buy seed and
fertilizers which are all in critical short supply.
Chairman of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Lands, Land Reform,
Resettlement and Agriculture Walter Mzembi, last week echoed the same
sentiments when has accused the government of failing farmers through
piecemeal support programmes.
Mzembi, a ruling ZANU PF legislator, admitted in Parliament last week
that all was not well in the farming sector.
"The fertiliser companies confirmed to your committee that they had
nothing in stock for the summer crop. The industry failed to secure foreign
currency to import vital raw material components," he said.
With no title deeds, the new farmers have found it almost impossible
to access loans from the financial sector. The government-owned District
Development Fund, tasked to help farmers with tillage, has also failed to
till the land because of the grinding fuel crisis.
"I used to admire our government but I am now left wondering what has
gone into them. Now they are wasting money on useless things like the Senate
yet farmers are stranded.
"How are we going to feed our families and the nation? Is the Senate a
granary?"asked a visibly worried Chikasha.
Zimbabweans go to the polls later this month to elect senators for an
upper chamber of parliament. The reintroduction of the senate which was
abolished 10 years ago, has been met with fierce criticism from Zimbabweans
who say the country cannot afford such a project while at least four million
people are facing starvation.
The president of the mostly black Zimbabwe Farmers Union, Silas Hungwe
admitted that the country was facing a food crisis. He said: "Preparations
are not at the stage we would have wanted them to be. Most farmers badly
need tillage, seed and fertilizer and it seems they are failing to access
these things and it's getting really late."
Contacted for comment, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, who has
presided over the collapse of Zimbabwe's farming sector over the last five
years, said the government was working flat out to ensure the farming season
"It is crucial that the farming season succeeds because we badly need
the food. We can't beg from other countries when we have our own farmers.
The government is working overtime to ensure that farmers have everything
they need," he said.
But as Made expressed the wish to see a successful farming season,
many farmers like Munzara have already written the season off, leaving
Zimbabwe to face yet another year of increased hunger and more begging
bowls. - ZimOnline
Sat 12 November 2005
CHIPINGE - Stray dogs in Chipinge town, about 200km south of Mutare,
are feeding on human placentas thrown away by hospital staff in the town
after the institution's incinerator broke down some few months ago in yet
another example of Zimbabwe's collapsing health system.
A nurse at the hospital who refused to be named for professional
reasons confirmed that dogs in the town were eating human placentas.
"This has been going on for a long time. The dogs have been seen
dragging the placentas in the streets. The situation is very sad," she
Sources at Chipinge District Hospital told ZimOnline yesterday that
the hospital was in a state of near collapse after years of neglect and
under-funding by the state.
The sources said there was only one medical doctor working at the
hospital which caters for about 30 000 residents of the small farming town.
The hospital generator is also said to be not working, putting at risk lives
of hundreds of patients at the institution.
The hospital mortuary, which has a capacity for 25 bodies, is also
said to be failing to cope as it sometimes carries as many as 60 bodies at a
Chipinge Hospital administrator, a Mr Ngwaru, refused to comment on
the issue after he was contacted by ZimOnline, ony saying: "Who told you all
this? Anyway talk to the Provincial Medical Director, he is the rightful
person to comment," Ngwaru said.
The situation at the hospital is said to have worsened last month
after the town's sole private doctor, Petra Baum Gartner, relocated after
her husband's farm was seized by the government.
Baum Gartner, who was running Chipinge Trust Clinic, relocated after
she and her husband, Robert Clowes, were kicked out by government supporters
from Destiny Farm.
Zimbabwe's health delivery system, like the rest of the country's
economic sectors, is in shambles after years of under-funding and
mismanagement. Thousands of doctors and nurses have fled the country, the
majority to South Africa and Britain, to seek better opportunities outside
the country. - ZimOnline
Sat 12 November 2005
HARARE - A few hours after getting an ultimatum to leave office from
players on Thursday, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) chairman Peter Chingoka and
managing director Ozias Bvute were picked up for questioning over foreign
The same night, Zimbabwe skipper Tatenda Taibu was hounded into hiding
after his unprecedented call on the ZC bosses to quit over allegations of
maladministration and financial mismanagement.
Police stormed the ZC offices after a disgruntled cricket official
tipped off Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Gideon Gono about the possibility of
irregular foreign currency dealings at the beleaguered union.
Chingoka and Bvute were, however, released at night after a close to
five-hour grilling by Gono. It could not be established whether the police
had found anything or were going to lay charges under the Exchange Control
"The police descended on the ZC offices and searched for forex before
picking up Chingoka and Bvute for questioning," a source close to the union
told ZimOnline. "They suspect the ZC might have breached the exchange
ZC generates a lot of forex from television rights and international
The union is suspected of dealing on the illegal forex parallel market
as well as keeping hard cash at its offices. A female ZC employee is
suspected to have stolen US$75 000, but she was not reported to police as
the union feared being questioned over the forex.
As the probe into the foreign currency dealings goes on, Taibu has
been forced into hiding after receiving threats from a well-known individual
linked to President Robert Mugabe's government.
Taibu addressed a press conference on Thursday morning, where he
boldly asked Chingoka and Bvute to leave cricket - or the cricketers would
The 22-year-old skipper received a phone call at his home over the
stance he and 35 other professional players had taken.
"I am taking the call very seriously," he said. "So much so I have
decided to go and stay somewhere for a while. I will not be deterred by the
threatening phone call in pursuing what I and all the others believe in, and
what is right for us. But I left home for and while for my own safety."
Taibu spent the night at a hotel together with his wife Loveness and
their four-week-old baby. Yesterday he sought refuge at a friend's place
until his safety is guaranteed.
Although the identity of the individual who threatened Taibu could not
be established, sources said they suspected it could have been Themba
Mliswa, a controversial sports administrator who boasts his links with
Mliswa last month stormed the meeting where provincial chairmen moved
the motion to oust Chingoka where he threatened to disrupt the proceedings
saying the meeting was political.
Although he has not been in cricket administration before, he is at
the forefront of moves to redraw the cricket provinces in tandem with
The Zimbabwe cricketers at the conference lamented the coming on board
of Mliswa, accusing him of destroying rugby. The players also said they were
aware the action they had taken might get them in trouble.
"We realise that by coming forward in this way, we may risk our
careers, especially as ZC has shown by its past that it will not hesitate to
bully players. But we have no choice but to speak out," the players said.
"We are tired of being threatened by ZC, we are tired of the way ZC
has sought to split us and attack us individually. We have lost confidence
in the ability of the current incumbent chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket, Peter
Chingoka, and the MD, Ozias Bvute." - ZimOnline
Nov. 11 2005
Press Release - Foreign Affairs Canada
Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew today expressed deep
concern about the arrest and detention of leaders and members of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions as well as representatives of other civil
society organizations. They were arrested for participating in peaceful
demonstrations in Harare and other Zimbabwean cities over the past week.
"I urge the Government of Zimbabwe to respect the right of
Zimbabweans to freedom of expression and assembly, freedom of association,
and the 'right to personal liberty' as guaranteed by the Constitution of the
Republic of Zimbabwe," said Minister Pettigrew. "I call on the Government of
Zimbabwe to release immediately all persons detained in recent days for
their participation in peaceful demonstrations."
Canada has conveyed its concern about the arrest of these
persons to the Chargé d'affaires of Zimbabwe to Canada and to senior
officials of the Government of Zimbabwe in Harare.
The Herald (Harare)
November 11, 2005
Posted to the web November 11, 2005
THE price of bread could skyrocket to over $60 000 per loaf within the next
few days as millers are allegedly failing to get adequate supplies of wheat
from the Grain Marketing Board, forcing them to rely on expensive imports.
An ordinary loaf of bread is currently selling at an average retail price of
Millers alleged that the GMB was facing logistical problems transporting
wheat from farms due to the prevailing acute fuel shortages resulting in it
supplying less than 40 percent of industry's wheat requirements.
Millers were buying Government-subsidised wheat from the GMB at $900 000 per
tonne but were now sourcing imported wheat for about $25 million a tonne.
At such a price, millers would have to sell baking flour at about $38
million per tonne.
"While most farmers have now harvested the wheat, GMB is having difficulty
moving this wheat to their silos because of fuel shortages.
"The Government-subsidised GMB wheat is sold to millers at $900 000 per
tonne but direct wheat imports at the current interbank rate will cost the
millers close to $25 million per tonne with the resultant flour sold at
about $38 million per tonne.
"Because nothing is available from GMB, this new price of flour will mean
that a loaf of bread will move from the current $30 000 to over $60 000 per
loaf should any further delays occur from GMB," said Mr David Govere, Bakers
Association of Zimbabwe president.
However, GMB chief executive Retired Colonel Samuel Muvuti flatly denied the
allegations saying the marketing board was not experiencing any logistical
challenges as farmers were moving their wheat to GMB depots on their own.
He also dismissed as mere fabrication claims that there were shortages of
flour saying millers were getting their traditional 6 000 tonnes allocation
of wheat per week.
"There is no shortage of wheat. The farmers are getting their allocation of
6 000 tones of wheat per week.
"Millers should just tell the truth if they are having problems collecting
their deliveries from GMB due to fuel problems," said Rtd Col Muvuti.
Asked what was pushing the price of bread if wheat and flour were not in
short supply, the GMB chief executive said price setting was the
responsibility of the Ministry of Industry and International Trade.
Players in the baking industry further alleged that stocks of imported wheat
already paid were being held in bonded warehouses in Harare while awaiting
clearance from the GMB.
Rtd Col Muvuti refuted these claims saying the GMB did not authorise
utilisation of imported wheat but only issued licences to would-be importers
with free funds.
He said the wheat being held in bond could have been used as collateral in
cases where the buyers had not paid in full for suppliers, assuming the
transaction was on credit terms.
AIR Zimbabwe is cheating its passengers and Zimbabwean residents being the
worst affected with varying fares for local, regional and international
routes. The national airline is, in its new fares, charging almost double
what its competitors require.
Not only is Air Zimbabwe charging more in US dollars for regional and
international flights than the airlines it shares the routes with, but it is
using exchange rates that vary arbitrarily between Z$70 000 (for the Dubai
route) and Z$100 000 (for the Kariba route) to the US$ when quoting in
Zimbabwe dollars. In fact each route uses a different exchange rate. The
official inter-bank rate used by other banks has the US dollar worth a
little over Z$61 000.
The net result of the two measures is that Zimbabwean passengers on Air
Zimbabwe pay up to almost 90 percent more than if they travelled on foreign
Air Zimbabwe has agreements with South African Airways for the Johannesburg
flights and with British Airways for the London flights that regulate
frequency of flights. At one time these also ensured rough parity of fares,
but that seems to have gone by the board.
So with its new rate structure, even in US dollars, Air Zimbabwe is charging
a lot more. For example Air Zimbabwe now wants US$400 for a flight between
Harare and Johannesburg, but South African Airways needs only US$322 and
British Airways only US$350.
Air Zimbabwe adds insult to injury by using an exchange rate of Z$92 500 to
the US dollar on this route, one of its highest rates, to give a Zimbabwe
dollar price of $37 million. SAA can do the flight for just under $20
million at the inter-bank rate, almost half the price.
On the Harare to London route Air Zimbabwe uses a more modest exchange rate
of Z$77 368 to the US$ but with its US$1 900 ticket this drives a ticket to
Z$147 million. If the airline used the inter-bank rate the ticket would cost
around Z$117 million, $30 million less.
The bulk of Air Zimbabwe's costs are in hard currency. It has to buy planes,
service loans, buy spares, buy fuel, pay crew lay-over costs and have some
of the maintenance work down in hard currencies.
For this reason, most involved in the airline industry are quite prepared to
see the airline calculate its costs and fares in US$ and then convert these
to Zimbabwe dollars when quoting prices for Zimbabwean residents.
But no one in the industry can understand why Air Zimbabwe uses a quite
arbitrary range of exchange rates and why all these rates are above the
inter-bank rates set by the market.
And Air Zimbabwe will not explain.
Air Zimbabwe spokesman Mr David Mwenga refused to comment referring all
questions to chief executive officer Dr Tendai Mahachi who was, however, not
available as he was reported to be in meetings throughout the day yesterday.
But members of the public are told by officials at the Air Zimbabwe town
offices said the prices were subject to change anytime and they encouraged
travellers to buy their tickets as soon as they were given price quotations.
The accompanying table shows the costs of an economy class return ticket for
selected Air Zimbabwe routes in US$ and Zimbabwe dollars and the exchange
rate that can be calculated from this.