The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Mugabe sits pretty as opposition rift remains
November 12 2006 at
By Fanuel Jongwe
Harare - A year after splitting over
whether to contest senate polls, the opposition party that posed the stiffest
challenge to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is now a pale shadow of its
Once seen as a good bet to wrest the reins of power from the
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) is now divided into two factions and appears to be
expending as much energy on internal battles as ending Mugabe's 26-year
"The MDC can never be the same again," Harare-based political
scientist Edmund Masunungure told AFP.
'The MDC can never be the
"The MDC is obviously weaker since the split. Each of the two
factions has its own strengths but it is not the same as the strength of the two
The MDC was rocked by simmering divisions for the
better part of last year which culminated in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai
expelling 26 senior figures on November 13, a fortnight before elections to the
upper house of parliament.
The renegades, who had opposed Tsvangirai's
decision to boycott the polls, refused to accept their expulsion and set up a
splinter group led by former firebrand student leader Arthur
Both factions now claim to be the legitimate MDC, leaving
supporters in a dilemma over which camp they should sit in.
The level of
bitterness was amply illustrated in July when Trudy Stevenson, a lawmaker from
Mutambara's faction, was attacked by a gang she claimed were Tsvangirai
Unemployment is at 80 percent
Newsapaper pictures of
Stevenson in heavily bloodstained bandages and with a broken arm prompted
widespread allegations of thuggery among Tsvangirai's camp.
who as labour leader led protests that threatened to bring the country to its
knees, insists the campaign to topple Mugabe remains on track.
democratic resistance is definitely coming," Tsvangirai said in a recent
But he was conspicuously absent from the last set of union
protests in September which were crushed at the outset by the security
The main beneficiary of the fallout has been 82-year-old Mugabe,
who remains unchallenged despite the prevailing economic crisis which has seen
inflation soar to beyond 1 000 percent and unemployment touch the 80 percent
Political commentator Caesar Zvayi said the faultlines within the
MDC had long been visible.
"It was an abnormal coalition of strange
bedfellows such as workers and employers, intellectuals and the unlearned who
had different visions," Zvayi said.
"As things stand it would not be
surprising if it loses its traditional urban vote because of the split and their
failure to reconcile after the split exposes the absence of common ground in the
The high point for the MDC came when it won nearly all
urban constituencies in the 2000 parliamentary polls.
in the democratic process was however undermined when he narrowly lost the 2002
presidential election to Mugabe which he insisted was fixed.
factions concede the split has weakened the once-buoyant opposition party but
say prospects of a reunion are hazy.
"We can't afford bickering in the
face of a country that is impoverished and writhing in agony," Nelson Chamisa,
spokesperson for the faction led by Tsvangirai, said.
"There is profit in
minimising our areas of difference."
Chamisa's opposite in the rival
faction Gabriel Chaibva said: "It's important that we agree."
welcome any initiatives that are in the interest of this country but we must sit
together in mutual respect and not have one side with a Big Brother mentality
dictating the terms." - Sapa-AFP
Watchdog unlikely to get teeth into Zim
Mail & Guardian Online
Fanuel Jongwe | Harare, Zimbabwe
The establishment of a new government watchdog to monitor
prices and incomes in Zimbabwe is only likely to further accelerate the
country's runaway inflation rate, according to analysts.
Officials say a
Bill is to be tabled in Parliament shortly for the creation of a prices and
incomes commission in a country where the level of inflation crossed the 1 000%
mark six months ago and now stands at 1 070%.
"The commission will
monitor pricing structures and safeguard consumers against overcharging which is
one of the major drivers of inflation," said Enock Porusingazi, a lawmaker for
the ruling Zanu-PF party and chairperson of a parliamentary committee on
industry and international trade.
The setting-up of the commission is the
latest in a series of government initiatives designed to put a cap on inflation
in Zimbabwe, such as slashing three zeroes from its currency.
economists argue such gestures are largely cosmetic and have failed to rein in
the inflation rate which stood at a world record 1 023,3% in
Eric Bloch, who runs a business consultancy group in the
second city Bulawayo, said a tightening of price controls was likely to prove
"The price controls will result in shortages and
goods will appear on the black market at much higher prices," Bloch told Agence
President Robert Mugabe's government first introduced
price controls for selected goods four years ago to snuff out a burgeoning black
market where scarce goods were sold for up to three times the state-imposed
The government occasionally deploys police to raid businesses and
arrest price control violators who are usually released after paying a
The planned law provides for the appointment of a commission "to
monitor price trends of goods and services...producing price monitoring reports
and initiating corrective measures in cases of unscrupulous businesses affecting
Zimbabwe's pricing system," according to a draft published last week.
The commission will also monitor salaries and assess the impact of
salaries on the prices of goods, the bill says.
But another independent
economist, Daniel Ndhlela, characterised the planned law as a desperate measure
by a desperate government.
"These things have never worked anywhere and
they can never work here," said Ndhlela.
"When governments are desperate
they put together these commissions and tell themselves they are going to work.
What we have are prices that are legitimately following the rising cost of
"If the government sets up a commission to control prices, it
will create price distortions. These distortions will drive manufacturers out of
the normal market to the black market."
Last month the country's major
towns and cities were hit by shortages after bakers stopped making bread in
protest over the refusal by government to increase the price of bread in line
with rising costs of inputs.
Several bakers were arrested for flouting
government price controls while some bakers circumvented the price controls by
making rock-shaped bread which did not fall under controlled
But the government has agreed to major increases in some
sectors to keep pace with inflation. Last month it authorised hikes of about
500% in international air fares while commercial electricity bills rose by
Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn in the last five years
characterised by runaway inflation and perennial shortages of basic commodities
such as cooking oil, fuel and the staple cornmeal.
Critics partly blame
the crisis on controversial land reforms that have compromised food production
and its boycott by traditional trading partners in the Europe Union and the
United States following the 2002 presidential elections which western observers
charged were rigged. - Sapa-AFP
Zimbabwe, ‘outpost of tyranny,’ seeks
New York Times, 12 November
By Michael Wines
How does a pariah state convince the rest of the
world to come visit on their next vacation? Zimbabwe’s tourism industry surely
would not pose the question that way. But that is the near-insuperable marketing
challenge the country - which Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice classified as
an "outpost of tyranny" last year - has faced since its autocratic president,
Robert G. Mugabe, started a scorched-earth campaign against all vestiges of
Western colonialism six years ago. In 1999, just before the government’s first
seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms sparked both an economic
downturn and Western condemnation, tourists streamed to Zimbabwe to visit sites
like Victoria Falls. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority recorded 2.2 million
arrivals at its airports and border posts, 600,000 of them from overseas. Last
year there were 1.56 million - and barely 200,000 were foreigners. "Tourism was
growing at the rate of 15 percent a year, and then came the land reform
program," Shingi Munyeza, the chief executive of ZimSun Leisure Group, one of
the nation’s top hoteliers, said in a telephone interview from
Zimbabwe’s loss has been its neighbors’ gain. Botswana’s
international tourist receipts have soared to $280 million a year, and Zambia,
on the other side of Victoria Falls, has seen its tourism take quintuple this
decade, to $150 million a year. Meanwhile, tourism revenues in Zimbabwe came to
just $30 million last year, said the Harare-based economist John Robertson,
compared with $200 million at the height of the country’s popularity. It appears
that many tourists have the idea that because Western governments have plastered
Zimbabwe with travel warnings, that because a million or more citizens have gone
into voluntary exile, that because the government bulldozed or burned the homes
of at least 750,000 slum-dwellers last year, sending them fleeing into the
countryside - that because of all that and more, a vacation there might be less
And they are, for the most part, right. The economy is a mess,
and for the tourist that means frequent shortages not only of essentials like
gasoline, but of everything else, from Coca-Cola to toothpaste, and lately,
electrical power for hours at a time. And with inflation nipping along at a rate
of 1,200 percent a year, prices, denominated in Zimbabwean dollars, rise almost
daily. (Tourists can exchange their currency for Zimbabwean currency, but only
the highly risky black market will deliver their money’s worth; the
government-rigged legal exchange rate robs visitors of up to half their money’s
true value.) Furthermore, if you get sick or hurt, there is little medical care
- or even medicine - available. And getting around the country is also
problematic. Air Zimbabwe has had many breakdowns and in-flight emergencies in
recent years, and the trains are not particularly reliable either. And yet.
Zimbabwe still has magnificent Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park, which
teemed with wildlife until 2001, when government mismanagement and starving
poachers began killing much of it. But what remains - giraffe, antelope, all the
big five game — is impressive. There are still comfortable lodges, vibrant
Harare night life and stunning art, from elegant Shona sculpture in soapstone
and verdite to handmade textiles and pottery.
But the ethical considerations
in visiting such an autocratic state are double-edged: many tourists avoid
Zimbabwe for fear of helping finance its regime, while the tourism industry and
its desperate workers could use some foreign exchange to feed their families.
All that, however, is a tough sell in the face of travel warnings, like the
latest from the United States State Department, which raises the specter of
political and economic turmoil, food shortages and violent crime. "These travel
warnings have really prejudiced both the travelers from North America and Europe
from coming here and enjoying the attractions and facilities we have," Mr.
Munyeza said. Zimbabwe’s government says its tourism woes are rooted in Western
economic sabotage and propaganda, which it calls foreign aggression. "After we
embarked on what we think was the right thing to do- to redistribute the land -
Zimbabwe was really ravaged, not only as a destination, but as a country," said
Karikoga Kaseke, the chief executive of the government’s Zimbabwe Tourism
The government’s image-polishing counterinsurgency is called the
Perception Management Program, and it consists in part of handing out junkets to
travel writers, travel agents and tour operators. Last year, Mr. Kaseke said,
the program brought 533 such people to Zimbabwe from around the world, including
the officially reviled United States and Britain. "The people are now hearing
another side, and they are making a decision with information," he said. At the
same time, Zimbabwe officials began a diplomatic campaign, lobbying foreign
embassies to soften or even lift their travel warnings. President Mugabe’s
government has also looked to Asia to replace lost Western investment and
tourism. Mr. Mugabe’s Look East policy, focused mostly on Beijing, has brought
to Zimbabwe Chinese shoes, buses, passenger planes, jet fighters, clothes and,
increasingly, Chinese and other Asian tourists - Asian arrivals are up 75
percent this year, the government says, although the absolute number is
Finally, both the government and the tourist industry have taken
some practical steps to reassure visitors. Victoria Falls now has a squad of
tourist police, modelled on those at Egyptian tourism spots, whose job is to
disperse beggars and pickpockets and to project an aura of security. The
country’s parks agency has begun to renovate some of its prime properties,
including lodges along the Zambezi River. While Sheraton gave up on Zimbabwe
this year, turning over its nouveau-Soviet tower to a local operator, other
hoteliers are sprucing up: ZimSun, for instance, is refurbishing its Crowne
Plaza hotel in Harare, one of the city’s largest, to the tune of $5 million. For
the Christmas holidays, the company plans to give fuel coupons to South African
vacationers who come by car. Whether any of this has made a difference depends
on whom one consults. Mr. Kaseke’s tourism authority says that visitor arrivals
in Zimbabwe leaped by one-third in the first half of 2006, to over a million
arrivals, compared with the same period in 2005. While visits from Europe were
down, he said, American tourism - mostly adventurers and hunters - rose sharply,
and arrivals from Germany and Asia soared more than 75 percent.
it would work," Mr. Kaseke said of his agency’s campaign, "but we never thought
it would work as good as it has." Alas, however, none of that success was
reflected in the hotel business. Occupancy rates fell to 32 percent, from 38
percent in the same span of 2005, according to the tourism authority. Hotel
operators say that is because the crashing economy has made hotels too expensive
for domestic clients, offsetting a rise in international visitors. And the
latest numbers indicate that overseas tourism in 2006 was virtually flat
compared with 2005. That was the year in which the government’s slum-clearance
project, dubbed Operation Drive Out Trash, rendered hundreds of thousands
homeless and loosed a torrent of international condemnation. Foreign tourism
seems not to have recovered from that blow. Perhaps the answer to whether a
vacation in this particular Outpost of Tyranny is worthwhile and even ethical,
lies in the type of tourist one is. Even casual tourists should abide by some
precautions. Tourism Web sites abound with stories of visitors who innocently
snap photos of forbidden sites, only to find themselves under interrogation in
the local police station. Changing money outside official channels can make
economic sense but is dicey, risking arrest or, perhaps, a clever
Having said that, tourists can comfortably revel in the marvel of
Victoria Falls or Hwange’s wildlife in considerable luxury and with little risk,
though more luxurious - and costlier - accommodations are available across the
river in Zambia. Tourists who travel in groups are virtually assured of a
trouble-free trip. Still, the visitor who totes a backpack instead of a cartload
of Tumi luggage may be the most satisfied category of tourist. Victoria Falls
has bungee jumping, microlight aircraft flying and extreme whitewater rafting,
and the rest of the country, a rough-hewn work in progress, is the sort of place
that may actually appeal to travelers whose sense of adventure cannot be quelled
by police roadblocks and fuel shortages.
Outcry over capture of wild
Sunday Independent (SA), 12 November
By Mike Cadman
During the capture operation in the 14 000 square kilometre Hwange
National Park, game-capture specialists working for Victoria Falls-based tourism
operator Shearwater Adventures isolated 12 elephants from family groups, darted
the animals and removed them to holding bomas to be trained for use in
captivity. The capture flies in the face of the International Conservation Union
(IUCN) and African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG) recommendations that no
wild elephants should be captured for use in captivity. The AfESG recommendation
is endorsed by the South African-based Elephant Managers and Owners Association
(Emoa) and increasing number of scientists, and local and international animal
welfare groups, which say removing animals from family groups is psychologically
damaging to both the captured animals and the wild herds and that training of
elephants is inherently cruel.
Allen Roberts, the chief executive officer of
Shearwater, said that the capture team involved was "highly respected" and while
the capture was undertaken for commercial reasons it also helped relieve
pressure on elephant populations in the park. "Shearwater specifically targeted
young elephants that were displaying evidence of deterioration and which we
believed we could help resuscitate," Roberts said. "Twelve animals have now been
translocated to Victoria Falls. Sadly one elephant did not survive the
translocation." He said that the elephant-back safari in Zimbabwe, and one near
Victoria Falls in Zambia, employed more than 200 people and brought about
$2-million (about R15-million) to the regional economy. Glynis Vaughan, the
chief inspector of the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals (ZimNSPCA), said that her organisation was outraged by the capture of
the elephants and would approach the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management
Authority to request that no further captures be permitted. "What is happening
to these animals is horrendous. We are definitely going to prosecute."
Bell-Leask, the southern African director of the United States-based
International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw), condemned both the capture of wild
elephants and the use of the animals in the elephant-back safari industry. "It
is disgraceful and a shame that any country or organisation is prepared to
sanction the abuses inherent in capturing wild elephants and subjecting them to
lives in captivity," Bell-Leask said. Elephant-back safaris are conducted by a
number of operators in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and Botswana. At present
no elephant culling is undertaken in any of these countries and young elephants
are highly sought after by the industry. The first elephant-back safaris in
South Africa were started five years ago and about 100 elephants are used by the
industry. Elephant safari operators say that no cruelty is involved in training
elephants and most use the "reward" system of training that entails offering the
animals food when they obey commands.
Those opposed to the industry say that
training elephants is cruel and that the huge animals also pose a danger to
handlers and tourists alike. In South Africa two handlers have been killed, at
least two visitors have been injured and at least one elephant has been put down
because its owners felt it was a danger to humans. The training of elephants in
South Africa is largely unregulated except for provisions of the Animal Cruelty
Act and the Performing Animals Protection Act and the industry is coming under
increasing scrutiny by conservation authorities. This month conservation
officials from all provinces requested the department of environmental affairs
and tourism to issue a directive prohibiting the capture of elephants for use in
captivity. The provincial authorities said that "the removal of wild elephants
for captivity is of no/little value to conservation and carries significant
risks. It is not considered a humane alternative to culling". Leseho Sello, the
chief director of Biodiversity and Culture at the environment department, said
this week: "[The department] can't make an overriding decision on the matter; it
is a provincial issue. The minister [Marthinus van Schalkwyk] is not in a legal
position to take that action."
Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 11th November 2006
11th November 2006
“Greetings and support from
the Arab lands” was a message to the Vigil from an Egyptian gentleman who spent
several hours with us and joined hands to sing the national anthem at the
close. Another passer-by who stopped to discuss the Zimbabwe situation with us was an
earnest Croatian. We get such support from so many quarters drawn by our
colourful banners and the vibrant singing and dancing. Today was the Lord
Mayor’s Show – an age-old procession through the city which drew many people
into London to witness the pageantry.
It was also Armistice Day remembering those who have died in wars to defend
freedom. We at the Vigil bought red poppies to wear to honour in addition our
own heroes of the struggle for liberation in Zimbabwe.
Thankfully the threatened
rain held off though we doubt it was because if the intercession by a Zimbabwean
‘down and out’ who spent some time with us on his knees. He proudly showed us
his papers allowing him to stay in the UK, though they do not seem
to have done him much good as he appeared rather aimless. But it is a good sign
that he was drawn to us.
Vigil Co-ordinator, Evelyn,
always a bundle of dynamism, made a passionate appeal to our Zimbabwean women to
ratchet up the protest. She believes that women are the key to change. Evelyn
joined the other Vigil co-ordinators , Rose and Dumi, at a meeting at our
friendly local pub afterwards which discussed how the Vigil was doing and the
way forward. Ephraim Tapa, head of the MDC UK and a long-time Vigil supporter,
outlined our plans to spread the Vigil to other centres. He said we’d been
invited to send representatives to Germany to help them get
started. Some 30 people
attended the post Vigil meeting which came up with useful ideas for the way
forward. But a central concern was that we are a family working together and
must look out to help each other. Supporters sometimes stop coming and later we
hear that they have been unwell or, in several cases, have died.
Supporters who attended
this week’s Zimbabwe Forum were given an authoritative overview of the situation
by the MDC acting Treasurer, Elton Mangoma, who was on a brief visit to the
UK. We were interested to
hear that moves were underway to discuss MDC reunification. Mr Mangoma was
encouraged by the level of support the party had received in the recent rural
elections, despite the usual Zanu-PF intimidation. He said the party was
desperately short of money and was looking to the diaspora for help. “We are
accused of being Blair’s puppets but we get nothing,” he said.
week’s Vigil pictures: http://uk.msnusers.com/ZimbabweVigil/shoebox.msnw.
RECORD: 51 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
Monday, 13th November, 7.30 pm, Central London Zimbabwe
Forum on action planning.
Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam
Street, London WC2 (cross the
Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy,
go down a passageway to John Adam
Street, turn right and you will
see the pub.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe
Embassy, 429 Strand,
place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The
Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until
internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in
Forced Expulsions in Beitbridge District
Following the conclusion of the
recent Rural District Council Elections
three members of the Movement for
Democratic Change have been expelled from
the River Ranch irrigation scheme
where they have been operating for some
years. In the semi desert conditions
of this District this action has far
reaching consequences for the farmers
and their families. The three farmers
were known as some of the best
producers on the scheme.
The affected farmers are: -
Mkwananzi (She stood as the candidate for Ward 6)
Sibusisiwe Hove (a polling
agent for the MDC in ward 6)
Rosina Duve (a polling agent for the MDC in ward
The physical expulsions were carried out by a team sent in by the
PF leadership and comprised the following individuals:
Joseph Mleya (elected Councilor for
Chipo Nyathi (Elected Councilor for Ward 9)
Mrs. Kembo Mohadi –
the wife of the Minister of Home Affairs and a local
were supported by a team of Zanu PF youth in a Zanu PF vehicle – names
At the end of the operation the Zanu PF people asked if there
were any other
“MDC” people on the scheme. The implication being that if
known they too
would be expelled.
This is a typical example of the
methods used over the past decade by Zanu
PF to intimidate and coerce the
rural population into voting for Zanu PF or
to allow Zanu PF to operate in
these areas unopposed. The Mohadi family
lives in Beitbridge Town and has
extensive commercial interests in the area.
These interests are used to
distribute scarce commodities and farm inputs to
the local people on a
political basis. Mr. Mohadi is the local Member of
MDC is considering what steps to take to protect the interests of their
members, including legal action to sue the local leadership of Zanu PF –
including the Senator, for the family’s loss of income. However it is also
recognised that if such action were taken this would expose the families to
further retribution including violence. No protection or assistance from the
Police can be expected, as Mr. Mohadi is the Minister responsible for the
We are also considering an appeal to the local traditional
leadership but as
these are the beneficiary of largesse from the State
including a salary and
the allocation of a vehicle, this is unlikely to
Corruption, Zimbabwe's biggest enemy
Last updated: 11/12/2006 20:34:03
ECONOMIC and political commentators have proferred varied reasons why
Zimbabwe is caught up in an economic recession never seen before.
reasons are indeed many, there is no doubting that Zimbabwe has collapsed
because of unprecedented corruption in all facets of our society.
acknowledge that corruption is as old as history and is not just a Zimbabwean
problem. Again they say it takes two to tango, therefore, for corruption to take
place there has to be a corruptee and a corruptor and for this reason,
corruption cannot be blamed on one party but two parties that enter into an
As the Watergate scandal and the Enron saga in the United
States demonstrate, corruption is not new to human nature neither is it just a
Third World phenomenon.
In Zimbabwe, corruption has taken an ugly face
primarily because it is being fuelled by the current macro-economic environment
which is characterized by scarcity of most basic commodities as well as the
temporary suspension of the rule of law at the height of the land grab.
think Mahatma Gandhi’s lessons many years ago are instructive here and they are
applicable to what Zimbabwe is going through today. Gandhi warned against what
he called seven social sins, namely politics without principle, wealth without
work, commerce without morality, pleasure without conscience, education without
character, science without humanity and worship without sacrifice.
social sins by the late Gandhi capture very well the state of our socio-economic
and political affairs today. We are making international news headlines for the
wrong reasons. Once envied and revered for being the breadbasket of Africa, we
are now a laughing stock for being an empty basket. Once the best educated in
Africa, we have been hit by the worst brain drain. We are experiencing one of
our worst political and economic crisis because of man-made disasters.
have suddenly been overcome by the triumph of materialism which has caused the
illness of the spirit. Corruption has become the ocean that we swim in and the
air we breathe and as a result, poverty and family disintegration have replaced
the aspirations for a decent life and a hopeful future. Added to this, I believe
we have entered an amoral era where notions of right and wrong, which were once
commonly held assumptions, are slipping away.
It is difficult to separate
right from wrong because those who wield power can get away with criminal
conduct without reprimand. Political office is a talisman for doing wrong with
impunity, it is a passport for looting without jail, and it is a passport for
vice without corrective action. We are in the “sugar daddy era” where powerful
men in our society use their wealth to corrupt our innocent and unsuspecting
young girls. Where is the conscience of our people?
Our politics no longer
has principle; the only guiding principle is to stay in power for as long as one
can. Politicians in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa are very rich and opulent
and one wonders what their sources of wealth are? Is this not wealth without
work as stated by Gandhi? Our politicians are working like “witches” to ensure
that they stay in power indefinitely. Politics is big business, those in
politics enjoy the national cake most, those in politics enjoy the fruits of the
liberation war most.
Power has corrupted our governors and the absolute power
they wield has made them more gluttonous. The young generations aspiring for
political office in our midst are no longer driven by a sense of servitude but
by the gains of the office that they would occupy. What happened to the founding
political principles of our young country? The euphoria of independence has gone
and we have entered a gloomy era where poverty, disease have ransacked
Zimbabweans left right and centre. The visions that were espoused at
independence have all become pipedreams and nightmares; we have lost the
The L.G Smith Report of 1984 categorically stated that
parastatals were posting losses year in year out because of endemic corruption.
The Report which was compiled by former Judge Smith, notes that patron-client
relationships, Board compositions and the absence of meritocracy in the hiring
procedures were some of the root causes of annual losses. While this report was
compiled as far back as 1984, one wonders why nothing has been done about the
findings of the Smith Commission.
This again is a clear demonstration of the
little political will to tackle corruption. This is because 22 years have gone
by since this report was presented to government. It is disheartening to learn
that parastatals with monopolies in their different sectors continue to post
losses year in year out. It is further disillusioning to the taxpayers who have
to bail them out of debt through their tax dollars each time they are said to be
on the brink of collapse.
The most recent case of corruption was reported by
a Cabinet Minister at ZISCO. We hope that the findings of the National Economic
Conduct Inspectorate shall be made public one day. This is because the
iron-making company is subsidised through tax dollars and the taxpayers deserve
to know what is going on at ZISCO.
The pullout of the Indian firm that would
have recapitalised the company leaves us with a lot of questions about the
magnitude of corruption at ZISCO. It is these strategic partnerships that our
government should capitalise on. Businesses in the world today are looking for
strategic mergers and partnerships. This is important in business environments
that are epitomised by competition and zero tolerance for poor end products.
Additionally, everyone is restructuring their business to streamline them to
meet the shifts in business paradigms. I personally think that ZISCO missed an
opportunity of a lifetime to change its flagging fortunes through a strategic
The ZUPCO saga is still in the courts and taxpayers must be relieved
that the company's chairman was incarcerated for his deeds. The punishment that
was meted out on Charles Nherera, we all hope, will be a deterrent to future
chairmen and board members of this parastatal. Additionally, we hope that the
current investigations will help close all the loopholes and gaps that have been
exploited by government officials to siphon funds from this company.
addition, it is disturbing that ZUPCO has been run like a personal company by
some government officials, i.e. we recently learnt that a Cabinet Minister
purchased a US$77 000 vehicle for personal use from ZUPCO coffers. We all hope
that investigations into this allegation will be concluded and taxpayers told
ZESA has been restructured several times but it continues to be a
loss making entity. This is also despite the fact that it has a monopoly in
power supply. The voluntary vacation of the chairman's post by Sydney Gata,
President Mugabe's son in law, is a welcome relief for taxpayers and one hopes
that good corporate governance will be restituted once again to this power
The fact that Air Zimbabwe has never had a fatal crash is
premised on divinity. This is because we have heard about the Chinese aircrafts
that have not run for more than a year after purchase before they were taken to
the shop for repairs. Allegations of corruption have been rampant and some
executives have been on indefinite suspensions pending dismissal for years. We
are also informed that Air Zimbabwe is currently dependent on one aircraft
because engine parts for the other aircrafts are in Germany or China for
repairs. We all hope that better corporate governance will see us through the
current problems at Air Zimbabwe.
The noble land reform exercise was marred
by graft. It is a clear testimony of the culture of looting by those in
positions of power. The greed and corruption that we have seen will go down in
history as a prime example of plunder and profligacy by the few with power and
wealth. The government officials defied their own President on the principle of
one man one farm and they have so far done this with impunity.
Makwavarara Commission running Harare has become synonymous with mediocrity and
scandals. This is in spite of the fact that the Commission has overstayed its
welcome. Why we choose to substitute mediocrity for good corporate governance is
quite a disturbing trend in our country. Is this the way we do things (culture)
in Zimbabwe? We had an opportunity to sack Makwavarara at the end of her term
but our politicians chose to retain mediocrity (Makwavarara) for another term.
Do we need someone to come from mars to tell us that Ms. Makwavarara has done a
shoddy job and does not need another term?
It was reported that the City
Council recently bought tractors from China without going to tender. Barely a
year has gone by and we are being told that all the 12 tractors -- of which one
never worked -- have all become grounded. Garbage in the city centre and
pot-holes have turned this once sunshine city into one of the worst in Southern
The private sector in the current environment has cashed in on
unsuspecting clients who invest their hard earned money into investment
portfolios and money markets in the hope that they will make a profit. The
private sector has suspended business ethics for profiteering. Prices of basic
commodities are being inflated everyday making life unbearable for the ordinary
The Watyoka and Muponda saga at ENG Asset Management is one that
we are all familiar with. Only the heavens know what the two gentlemen did with
investors’ funds. The few banks that ended up closing shop, we are told, were
all thriving on misappropriating clients’ funds. One wonders how much corruption
goes unreported and unnoticed in the private sector today.
In an era when all
other institutions of integrity are failing to wrest corruption, civil society
is expected to maintain a higher moral ground. Unfortunately, civil society,
besides failing to broker a meaningful way forward for the warring opposition
political parties, has failed the moral test dismally. Civic society has been
found wanting in respect of the many challenges facing our country and instead
of attending to these problems, leaders in this sector have been busy siphoning
donor funds for their own use at the detriment of programmatic work.
for power has also seen leaders in some NGOs clinging to power beyond their
constitutional terms. Some have changed constitutions to suit their appetite for
power becoming more like Mugabe who has overstayed his welcome. Civic leaders
have like our politicians, succumbed to the “founder member and liberator
For the ordinary men and women in the streets, the surest way to
escape a fine or sentence is to bribe a police/traffic officer. Traffic offenses
are no longer punishable by monetary compensation but by greasing the palm of an
officer. In Zimbabwe, one can get away with anything these days depending on who
you know and how much money one is prepared to pay for their alleged crime.
From the foregoing, corruption has become endemic, none of us is immune. It
has become the order of our society and it is especially fuelled by the current
scarcities in fuel and basic commodities. In an environment where nothing is
readily available, that becomes a groundswell for corruption. In an economy
where red tape and procedures are not properly defined, corruption rides
roughshod. But can behaviour be legislated?
I personally think that the
future of a New Zimbabwe depends not only on the much talked about new
constitution but a cultural transformation vis-à-vis good governance and
corruption. This is because we cannot legislate behaviours but we can only
educate people about the appropriate conduct in society, political office and
business circles. If people’s attitudes towards greed for power and wealth,
plunder and profligacy don’t change, the new constitution may be good on paper
only and may never change our ways of doing business (culture).
Munakiri is a regular opinion writer and writes from South Africa
AIDS ORPHANS OF
ZIMBABWE: Part 1 - Fighting For Life One Hard Step At A Time
Article published Nov 12, 2006
AIDS ORPHANS OF
ZIMBABWE: Part 1 - Fighting For Life One Hard Step At A Time
||Hear the children
||To hear orphaned kids sing and
see more photos from Tribune staff writer Joseph Dits' Zimbabwe trip, check out
a slide show at the Web site www.southbendtribune.com. Also, find poems written
by a current and former orphan.
To help Kuaba's kids
For more information about Jayne
During, her projects or her nonprofit organization, contact Kuaba Humanitarian
Foundation at 876 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46204; (317) 955-8405 or
Humanitarian trips to Zimbabwe show cost of doing
A 28-year-old mother named Precious grins from her
wheelchair and soaks up the sweet but alien sight next to her family's thatched
Lit up at night by the headlights of a van, three musicians
from the United States play a victory song against AIDS on violin, cello and
flute. The tune rollicks in free-spirited jazz. Precious' 6-year-old son wiggles
his legs in a dance on the dirt yard. Goats squeak. A cow grumbles.
months before, Precious was lying on the floor of that hut, weak and unable to
walk since 2004 because of AIDS.It is late July. Precious rises gingerly from
her chair, grasps her walker and shows how she makes daily laps out to the dusty
road and back.
An Indianapolis woman, Jayne During, stares and repeats,
"Oh my God."
She cannot get over Precious' short hair, once thin as silk
from a spider's web, now vibrant and curly -- a sign of the body's resurgent
During drinks this up as sweet reward. Kuaba Humanitarian
Foundation, which she founded, gave the life-saving antiretroviral drugs, the
wheelchair, the walker and the new little house with a proper roof and bed where
Precious and her son now sleep. Those drugs also prevent the onset of AIDS in
the boy, who is HIV-positive.During flies to Zimbabwe four times a year, leaving
behind the Kuaba Art Gallery she owns in downtown Indianapolis, to furnish food,
medicine, school uniforms and school fees for orphaned kids.
via a crew of helpers in Zimbabwe -- fellow Rotarians, an internationally known
stone sculptor, a school superintendent, the staff of an orphanage, young adults
who grew up orphans.
The musicians, with her on a mission to teach music
to kids, and other visitors gasp at the rural beauty here in
Precious doesn't think much of the gorgeous night sky. Or
the Milky Way, which shows itself like a thin veil of clouds. It's all so common
to her. She'd love to see the lights of Harare, the capital city not far away,
because she scoots around at night without a lantern. She cannot afford the
When asked what she'd like to do when she walks again, Precious
avoids talk of herself or even a fantasy."I want to help my father because he's
getting older," she replies quickly, "and I want to help the orphans of
The possibilities are fatally clear to her.
estimated 3,000 people die from AIDS each week in Zimbabwe. Time is life. During
races that clock. It's full of frustrations. But During says fear of the
challenge -- however daunting -- means that nothing gets done.
At an orphanage on the outskirts of Harare, During perches
herself on the stone wall of a flower bed next to a woman and her tiny,
emaciated grandson. He's 9, but like other kids who suffer from the
growth-stunting effects of AIDS, he looks four or five years younger.During
wants to know why the boy, whose parents have died, hasn't been taking the
antiretroviral drugs that she provided while in his grandmother's care in the
"Tell her I'm not happy with her," During says
to a deputy superintendent from a local school, who translates into the Shona
language for the grandmother. "Why isn't she giving the pills?"
grandmother fumbles with several little bags of pills that the boy should have
eaten. She says she knows which ones are the antiretrovirals. She points to one,
but it's just a painkiller.
"She cannot read," the deputy superintendent
The deputy and another Zimbabwean volunteer tell the grandmother to
return to the pharmacy to mark which drugs to take and when. The drugs cannot
work unless they are taken correctly and unless the patient eats the proper
nutrients.Two months later, During calls from her Indianapolis home phone to the
deputy in Zimbabwe -- only to be heartbroken by the news. The boy has died from
AIDS.In her five years of mission to Zimbabwe, During says she has helped about
2,200 kids in some way, even if it's just a new sweater, including some 500 who
receive ongoing help with school fees, AIDS drugs, food and other
But, she says, "I've never lost a child."
Several caretakers of the kids, like that grandmother, exit
a meeting where they've talked with During about transporting sick kids to the
hospital and paying for it. They meet at the orphanage because it's a safe,
central point in the sprawling and impoverished community of Epworth, where they
A few rest on smooth, wide boulders, accompanied by the
AIDS-infected kids that the Kuaba foundation supports.One caretaker, Victoria,
explains all that she understands of her adult daughter's death: Her daughter
suffered from a flu and cough, then died in two weeks. Was it AIDS? Maybe,
Victoria says. Her daughter was never tested for HIV -- nor was her daughter's
husband, who also died.
Lots of people die in Epworth, and the families
only guess why. The stigma of AIDS may be one reason, but the test also costs
money that people don't have.
Now Victoria is caring for her daughter's
girl, 6-year-old Primrose, who quietly sits at her side. The girl has had a
headache, cough and stomach ache, and Victoria adds, "Every day she says, 'My
hands hurt, my teeth hurt, my legs hurt.'æ" Primrose tested positive for HIV two
Victoria buys tomatoes and collard greens and resells them
to neighbors to make money. It yields a tiny income she uses to also care for
her son and daughter, both asthmatic, and her husband, who's
Another caregiver, 35-year-old Ruth, sits with her niece,
Laurah, age 5, who shows off the skin across her body where nasty sores opened
up and bled until she started taking AIDS medicine in May.Ruth looks after four
other kids, too. Her father used to help, but he died. And her husband left her.
She dreams of making bus trips across the border to Botswana, where she'd buy
soap, oil, blankets or food and bring them back to sell. She gained a passport
to do that but lacks the money to go.
Job for an adult
needs run deeper for orphaned kids like Sekai who, at age 17, fends for herself
and her four younger siblings in their Epworth home.
She lives in a
"child-headed household," a term that has spread across Africa in recent years
as the AIDS toll climbs.
During meets her at the orphanage one day to
check on the sewing machine and training that the Kuaba foundation provided so
she could earn money, plus the financial aid for the siblings.But Sekai has made
a choice that shows how she needs an extra person -- a mentor -- to shoulder the
emotional burden of this very adult role.
A week earlier, Sekai says, she
left her siblings and moved in with her boyfriend. During is deeply troubled
after so much effort, so many visits to work with her.
"Are you using
condoms?" During asks.
Sekai looks away in awkward silence. During asks
if she'll return to her siblings. Sekai just walks away.
Monday: Zimbabwe orphans write and sing songs about one of life's critical
Staff writer Joseph Dits: