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Mugabe sits pretty as opposition rift remains


    November 12 2006 at 10:33AM

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 former self.

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 rule.

"The MDC can never be the same again," Harare-based political scientist Edmund Masunungure told AFP.

'The MDC can never be the same again'
"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 groups combined."

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 Mutambara.

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 followers.

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.

Tsvangirai, who as labour leader led protests that threatened to bring the country to its knees, insists the campaign to topple Mugabe remains on track.

"Our mass democratic resistance is definitely coming," Tsvangirai said in a recent interview.

But he was conspicuously absent from the last set of union protests in September which were crushed at the outset by the security forces.

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 mark.

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 first place."

The high point for the MDC came when it won nearly all urban constituencies in the 2000 parliamentary polls.

Tsvangirai's faith in the democratic process was however undermined when he narrowly lost the 2002 presidential election to Mugabe which he insisted was fixed.

Both 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."

"We will 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

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Watchdog unlikely to get teeth into Zim inflation

Mail & Guardian Online

Fanuel Jongwe | Harare, Zimbabwe

12 November 2006 11:00

  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.

But 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 September.

Eric Bloch, who runs a business consultancy group in the second city Bulawayo, said a tightening of price controls was likely to prove counter-productive.

"The price controls will result in shortages and goods will appear on the black market at much higher prices," Bloch told Agence France-Presse.

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 price.

The government occasionally deploys police to raid businesses and arrest price control violators who are usually released after paying a fine.

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 production.

"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 commodities.

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 270%.

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

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Zimbabwe, ‘outpost of tyranny,’ seeks tourists

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 Harare.
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 than idyllic.
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 Authority.
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 unclear.
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.
"We thought 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 fraud.
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.

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Outcry over capture of wild elephants

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."
Jason 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."

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 11th November 2006

Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 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. 


For this week’s Vigil pictures:


FOR THE 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.


Vigil co-ordinator


The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes 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 Zimbabwe.



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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: -

Josphine 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 6)

The physical expulsions were carried out by a team sent in by the local Zanu
PF leadership and comprised the following individuals: -

Rabelani Choen
Beauty Mbedzi
Joseph Mleya (elected Councilor for Ward 6)
Chipo Nyathi (Elected Councilor for Ward 9)
Mrs. Kembo Mohadi – the wife of the Minister of Home Affairs and a local

They were supported by a team of Zanu PF youth in a Zanu PF vehicle – names
are available.

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

The 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 yield satisfaction.

Eddie Cross

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Corruption, Zimbabwe's biggest enemy


By Tonderai Munakiri
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.
While the reasons are indeed many, there is no doubting that Zimbabwe has collapsed because of unprecedented corruption in all facets of our society.
I must 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 unholy alliance.
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.
I 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.
The seven 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.
We 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 Zimbabwean dream.
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 merger.
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.
In 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 the truth.
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 utility giant.
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.
The 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 Africa.
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 consumers.
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.
The love 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 syndrome”.
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

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AIDS ORPHANS OF ZIMBABWE: Part 1 - Fighting For Life One Hard Step At A Time

Article published Nov 12, 2006
Hear the children sing
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 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

AIDS ORPHANS OF ZIMBABWE: Part 1 - Fighting For Life One Hard Step At A Time
Humanitarian trips to Zimbabwe show cost of doing nothing

Tribune Staff Writer

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 African hut.

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.

Five 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 health.

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.

She works 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 Chishawasha.

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 oil.

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 Chishawasha."

The possibilities are fatally clear to her.

An 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.

Tender life

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 surrounding neighborhood.

"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?"

The 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 says.

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 help.

But, she says, "I've never lost a child."

Test of survival

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 live.

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 weeks earlier.

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 unemployed.

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

The 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.

Coming Monday: Zimbabwe orphans write and sing songs about one of life's critical needs.

Staff writer Joseph Dits:

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