Tue 15 November 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe central bank chief Gideon Gono has been sucked into
a scandal in which Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa and chief government
revenue collector, Gershem Pasi, are alleged to have swindled the state of
millions of dollars in foreign currency.
ZimOnline first revealed two months ago that police were probing
Murerwa and Pasi over allegations that the two illegally converted to
personal use tax money collected in hard cash from foreign motorists
entering Zimbabwe mainly from South Africa through Beitbridge border post.
Authoritative sources said the police had now widened their
investigations to include Gono who they believe assisted Murerwa and Pasi to
siphon the state funds when he was chief executive officer of the Commercial
Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) before his appointment as governor of the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
Murerwa and Pasi, who is Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority (ZIMRA), are said to have opened two foreign currency accounts at
the CBZ which they used to siphon money from ZIMRA.
A senior officer at police general headquarters, who spoke on
condition he was not named, said: "Not only was he (Gono) the CBZ boss. At
times money collected as taxes, particularly in South African rands and
Botswana pulas was surrendered to his office from where employees were told
it would be banked.
"We want to know the role played by Gono in opening and managing these
It was not possible to get comment on the matter from Gono, Murerwa or
Pasi. Murerwa could not be reached on his mobile phone and the Finance
Minister did not return calls despite several messages left at his office
since last week.
Pasi's office referred ZimOnline to ZIMRA spokeswoman, Priscilla
Sadomba, while Gono's office requested that questions be directed to Charity
Tambandini at the RBZ's information department. Neither Sadomba nor
Tambandini had by last night responded to written questions sent to them
National police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena last Wednesday refused to
discuss the matter, while Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi pleaded
ignorance about the matter saying he was not briefed on each and every case
investigated by the police.
But our sources said the police had so far unearthed two foreign
currency accounts at the CBZ into which hard cash collected by ZIMRA was
deposited. The accounts, numbers 331145023601 and 0531245023601, were opened
after Pasi allegedly ordered ZIMRA to ditch its long time bankers, Standard
Chartered Bank Zimbabwe Limited, in favour of CBZ.
The first account (331145023601) was initially operated from a CBZ
branch in Masvingo city, about 260km south of Harare before being later
switched to the bank's head office branch in Kwame Nkrumah avenue in the
The two accounts that police strongly suspect were the ducts through
which an as yet unknown amount of hard cash was siphoned from ZIMRA were
operated at the same time between 2002 and 2003 after which the first
account was closed.
The second account was later closed after Gono left the CBZ for his
new posting at the central bank. ZIMRA has now reverted to banking with
Standard Chartered Bank.
Another police officer, who also did not want to be named, said: "The
second account (0531245023601) was later closed after Gono left CBZ. All the
information we have point to a syndicate involved in diverting some of the
tax money for personal use or speculative purposes (on the illegal forex
black market) before handing the rest to the RBZ.
"The reason for frequently changing accounts was to avoid traceability
and indeed it is becoming difficult to trace the accounts apart from the
sketches we have."
The policeman said it had been extremely difficult to get more details
from Pasi, Murerwa or Gono who he said were unco-operative and were using
their political connections to scare police investigators from adopting
tougher tactics to extract information from them.
The police officer, who expressed fear that the case might even be
aborted because of political interference, said there was a possibility the
police might approach Interpol for help to probe an account allegedly
operated by Pasi with South Africa's First National Bank. Huge amounts of
foreign currency are said to be stashed in the alleged account.
Several cases in which top officials of President Robert Mugabe's
government or ruling ZANU PF party were accused of mainly corruption have in
the past been quietly swept under the carpet.
Police began probing Pasi, Murerwa - and now Gono - only after junior
workers at ZIMRA arrested under an internal campaign to weed out corrupt
elements in the revenue body blew the whistle on Pasi and Murerwa, telling
the police that the two had stolen tax money paid by foreign motorists.
Police investigations into the ZIMRA scandal - which sources said were
still in the early stages - have also revealed how Pasi has over the past
three years imported an assortment of goods, ranging from building materials
for a plush home in Harare's rich Borrowdale suburb, farm equipment, cars,
household goods and other luxury items.
The police investigators believe a large part of the goods - which are
said to be worth over 4.5 million South African rands - may have been bought
by money stolen from ZIMRA.
ZimOnline will on Wednesday give a detailed account of how Pasi
allegedly sometimes raided ZIMRA's cash office at Beitbridge for hard cash
to use on personal trips to South Africa and how most of the goods he
imported through Beitbridge were either undervalued or generally improperly
cleared by customs officials. - ZimOnline
Tue 15 November 2005
HARARE - Armed police yesterday rounded up about 250 homeless people
from Harare and took them to a camp outside the city as the government steps
up a fresh exercise to clean-up the capital ahead of a visit by a new United
Nations (UN) envoy.
The homeless people were living in an open field near the poor suburb
of Mbare after their homes were demolished by the government in a
controversial urban clean-up campaign last May that was roundly condemned by
the UN, Western governments, local and international human rights groups as
a gross violation of poor people's rights.
Their eviction, coming a week after the police said they were on a new
campaign to ensure homeless people did not return onto the streets, is in
clear violation of a provisional High Court order issued last month ordering
the police not to remove the homeless people from the open field.
"The police action undermines the independence of the judiciary,
because how can they simply ignore a previous court order like that? This is
frustrating to say the least," Wozani Moyo of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights that is helping the homeless people file a court application against
the police for contempt of court.
According to Moyo, the police raided the homeless people at about 2am,
loaded them onto lorries and dumped them at Hopley farm holding camp where
at least 1 500 other people are surviving in destitution after their homes
and means of livelihood were destroyed in the May-to-July urban clean up
Several tens of thousands more people are said to be also living in
destitution in remote rural areas where they were banished by the government
after their shantytown homes, backyard cottages and informal business kiosks
In a hard-hitting report UN Habitat chief, Anna Tibaijuka, who toured
Zimbabwe in July as a special envoy of the world body said the city clean-up
exercise left at least 700 000 people homeless and with no means of survival
while another 2.4 million people were also negatively affected by the
Tibaijuka, who said Harare's clean-up campaign may have violated
international law, urged the international community to mobilise aid for
internally displaced Zimbabweans.
President Robert Mugabe's government, which rejected Tibaijuka's
report, has however refused humanitarian aid from the UN saying it was
already providing for homeless people and building houses for them under a
new campaign codenamed Operation Garikai.
The virtually broke Harare administration that was already struggling
to feed about a quarter of the 12 million Zimbabweans facing hunger after
poor harvests, is unable to feed homeless people or build enough houses for
them, a situation that saw UN chief Kofi Annan last week criticising
Mugabe's government for its intransigency in refusing aid.
But Annan has also said that he will be sending UN relief co-ordinator
Jan Egeland to Zimbabwe early next month to assess the extent of the
humanitarian crisis afflicting the southern African nation.
Zimbabwe, in its sixth year of economic recession, is grappling severe
shortages of food, fuel, electricity, clean water for urban residents,
essential medical drugs and just about every other basic survival commodity.
Inflation is pegged at more than 300 percent while a burgeoning
HIV/AIDS pandemic is killing at least 3 000 Zimbabweans every week to
complete the profile of a crisis-torn nation. - ZimOnline
Tue 15 November 2005
GUTU - President Robert Mugabe's government has begun distributing
maize in a hunger-stricken constituency where it is facing a by-election, in
what the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party has said is
an attempt to bribe voters with food.
A ZimOnline news crew touring Gutu constituency at the weekend
witnessed thousands of villagers receiving 50kg bags of maize from the
government's Grain Marketing Board (GMB) at various rural business centres
in the area such as Zvavahera, Chinyika, Nyamandi and Utsinda.
Maize, Zimbabwe's main staple food, is in critical short supply in the
country and there is no other area besides Gutu where the GMB is
distributing free maize.
MDC candidate in the November 26 by-election, Crispa Musoni, said:
"The maize distribution is linked to the by-election because in
constituencies where there are no elections, there is no maize distribution.
The maize has been piling at GMB only for the distribution to coincide with
Musoni will battle it out with Lovemore Matuke who is representing
Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party in the poll to choose a replacement for the
late Member of Parliament for the area, Josiah Tungamirai, who died about
two months ago. Tungamirai belonged to ZANU PF.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who also oversees food aid
distribution, was not available for comment on the matter.
But an official of Gutu rural district council, who declined to be
named because he is not authorised to speak to the Press, insisted that the
distribution of maize had nothing to do with the by-election saying it was
planned well before anyone knew there would be an election in the area.
However, well-known MDC supporters in the area said they were being denied
the maize as punishment for backing the opposition party.
For example, chairman of the MDC in Gutu's ward 19, Makoni Goronga,
told ZimOnline that he and his family had been scrapped from the list of
recipients of maize from the GMB maize because of his links with the
Another villager from ward 11, Kassian Jaravaza, said he and all his
relatives were barred from getting the maize because they support the MDC.
He said: "I am not getting anything and my name and those of my relatives
have not been included on the list of those who must get the maize because I
support the opposition."
The distribution of maize is being handled by traditional village
heads and councillors, in the past accused by the MDC of being used by the
government to intimidate their communities to back Mugabe and ZANU PF.
The MDC, churches and pro-democracy groups have in the past accused
Mugabe of not only using food to buy votes but of also resorting to violence
to coerce villagers in remote parts of the country to back his ZANU PF
party. The Zimbabwean leader denies the charges. - ZimOnline.
Tue 15 November 2005
GABORONE - The Botswana government has banned the renewal of work
permits for foreign teachers in a move that could see hundreds of
Zimbabweans working in that country's schools without jobs.
Education minister Jacob Nkate told ZimOnline that the new policy was
meant to ensure that Botswana nationals qualified to teach got jobs ahead of
"Those with current permits will go on (performing their duties) but
their permits will not be renewed when they expire," Nkate said.
There are thousands of Zimbabweans working in Botswana the majority of
them in the teaching profession after fleeing home because of political
violence and worsening economic hardships.
The influx of Zimbabweans in Botswana has however strained relations
between the neighbouring countries with Harare accusing Goborone of
ill-treating its nationals visiting or working in that country. Botswana
denies the charge.
In a related development, a legislator in the Botswana Parliament,
Pono Moatlhodi, last week pushed a motion calling for a probe on the
increasing number of Zimbabweans in top managerial posts at Phonix Mine near
"It is disheartening to see foreigners in top management positions
when locals can do the jobs. I do not know why the government keeps renewing
foreigners' permits when local (university) graduates roam the streets,"
Moatlhodi told parliament.
But presidential spokesman Jeff Ramsay told ZimOnline that it was not
government policy to push out foreigners.
"It is not Botswana government policy to discriminate against
foreigners. In the case of the education ministry, government accepts that
there are a lot of qualified Batswana who can do the same duties.
"The non-renewal of work permits for foreigners is meant to allow for
a period of absorption for local graduates. It is a temporary measure,"
Zimbabwe is going through a severe economic crisis which critics blame
on President Robert Mugabe's mismanagement of the economy. Mugabe denies
ruining Zimabbwe's economy. - ZimOnline.
November 14 2005 at 09:36AM
By Angus Shaw
Harare - Allegations of corruption and misconduct were traded on
Monday by rivals within the only party to have seriously challenged
President Robert Mugabe's increasingly autocratic rule in this troubled
Rivals of Movement for Democratic Change party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai accused him on Monday of abusing funds. Tsvangirai's
spokesperson, William Bango, dismissed the allegations and said they were
harmful to the opposition.
"It is mud being thrown and we are going to expect much more. It
doesn't help anybody except Mugabe as long as Mugabe is in power," he said.
Supporters of Tsvangirai claim some of his critics within the
opposition party have been bought off by the ruling party.
The fight stems from Tsvangirai's call for a boycott of a November 26
vote for a Senate, a new body in Zimbabwe. On Sunday, Tsvangirai expelled 26
party officials who registered as Senate candidates, but they have vowed to
ignore their expulsion.
Paul Themba-Nyathi, a spokesperson for the faction supporting
participation in the November 26 vote, alleged money forwarded to Tsvangirai
both as party leader and when he led the main labour federation remained
He alleged Tsvangirai's love of money was "immeasurable".
After a decade as head of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions,
Tsvangirai founded the opposition party in 1999.
In a March vote the opposition and human rights groups charge was
skewed by intimidation of anyone seen as a dissenter by the government,
Tsvangirai's MDC captured just 41 of the 120 elected seats in parliament's
lower house. Mugabe appoints 30 other seats in that chamber.
Tsvangirai argues participation in the Senate poll will only lend
credibility to a flawed election process and an institution intended to
bolster Mugabe's hold on parliament.
The new Senate, introduced by constitutional amendment after the new
lower house was installed, includes 50 elected seats. Ten are reserved for
traditional leaders chosen by the ruling party and Mugabe appoints six
Tsvangirai's deputy, Gibson Sibanda, party Secretary General Welshman
Ncube and his deputy, Gift Chimanikire dispute the leader's authority to
order a boycott of the Senate race. They insist Tsvangirai was narrowly
outvoted in an internal ballot by the party's national executive on October
Tsvangirai's supporters have accused some of his rivals of being in
the pay of the ruling party and secret police agents. They in turn have been
accused of embezzling party funds.
Maverick opposition lawmaker Job Sikhala, at a rally in his
constituency in southern Harare on Sunday, described Tsvangirai as a
dictator and a "goblin".
In traditional lore, the goblin signifies a sinister, flesh-eating
spirit that stalks human prey at night. - Sapa-AP
The Citizen, SA
HARARE - Capitalising on damaging power struggles rocking Zimbabwe's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), a ruling party legislator
has urged Zimbabweans to vote for his party in this month's senate polls
because it is "more organised," the state-controlled Herald reported Monday.
Bright Matonga, who represents President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) in Mhondoro-Ngezi
constituency, said the "time has come for people to recognise the need to
vote for Zanu-PF (because) it is more organised than the MDC which has been
rocked by endless power struggles," the Herald said.
The MDC faces an almost certain split after 26 members this weekend
defied their leader Morgan Tsvangirai and refused to withdraw as candidates
for the November 26 poll. Tsvangirai is bitterly opposed to any
participation in the senate but other members of his party disagree.
Wrangling over the senate issue has spilled into the public arena and
is being closely followed by the government-controlled press.
At a rally this weekend, outspoken opposition member of parliament Job
Sikhala called the MDC leader a "goblin" who made it "unsafe for people to
sleep," the Herald claimed.
Tsvangirai is reported to have launched a last call for reconciliation
at a rally in the second city of Bulawayo on Sunday, urging dissenting party
officials to return "to the fold".
But some opposition officials say privately it is "only a matter of
time" before the six-year-old party splits into two.
The ruling party is already guaranteed 35 seats in the new 66-seat
senate: 19 in constituencies where the opposition failed to field
candidates, 10 reserved for traditional chiefs who are generally loyal to
the party and six to be chosen by Mugabe. - Sapa-dpa.
Gulf Times, Qatar
Monday, 14 November, 2005, 10:46 AM Doha Time
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe: Head of Zimbabwe's beleaguered opposition party
Morgan Tsvangirai extended yesterday an olive branch to a faction of his
party supporting participation in senate elections, but reiterated his poll
Tsvangirai said the door was still open for Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) dissidents after his spokesman confirmed the expulsion of 26
party members who defied their leader to register as candidates for the
upcoming senate elections.
The 26 are backed by more than half of the party's top leadership,
comprising vice-president Gibson Sibanda, secretary-general Welshman Ncube,
deputy secretary-general and national treasurer.
"I say to my colleagues Ncube and Sibanda the best thing is to come
back into the fold," Tsvangirai told some 10,000 supporters at a rally in
this heart of the dissenting oppositionists.
"Don't join (ruling) ZANU-PF or (ex-information minister) Jonathan
Moyo and don't form your own party," he appealed.
"Let's not give up at the last hurdle," he said.
Tsvangirai's spokesman William Bango earlier said the 26 registered
senate elections candidates were considered expelled from the party because
they had ignored an ultimatum from Tsvangirai's faction, to withdraw from
the race by Saturday.
"Any of the 26 who failed to comply with the directive ... are deemed
to have expelled themselves," Bango told AFP.
None of the 26 is known to have pulled out of the race, so far, and
deputy secretary-general Gift Chimanikire said all the candidates were busy
on the campaign trail.
Speaking at the same rally, MDC national chairman Isaac Matongo also
said there was still room for pro-senate faction, which boycotted the rally
yesterday, to return to the party.
"There is still time to sit down and talk and resolve our differences.
The door is still open for them to come back, but it will soon be late,"
Tsvangirai called for unity in the six-year old party that is
threatened with a break-up following sharp differences over the elections
for a newly re-introduced upper house of parliament.
"The first thing is to be united. It's time to change direction, with
me in front and you behind and we chase out Mugabe.
"Let's put aside elections and concentrate on democratic resistance.
Let's confront tyranny, any other agenda is not in sync with the people's
expectations," said Tsvangirai.
The opposition chief is opposed to participating in the senate
election, arguing it is an ill-timed and expensive venture amidst the food
and economic crisis wracking the country.
"On the 26 (November) let's go and look for tomatoes and look for food
for our children. We are not going to vote," he said.
"These elections will not benefit us at all," said Tsvangirai to a
wild applause from supporters.
Instead of wasting resources campaigning for "senatorial crumbs"
Tsvangirai said the opposition should move forward and start gearing its
energy towards pushing Mugabe out of power.
"Those who are tired must rest and let others continue with the
struggle. Every revolution has drop-outs, (but) we need to resolve the
national crisis," he said. - AFP
ZIMBABWEAN authorities have released the 118 Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) demonstrators who were arrested in Harare on Tuesday, 8
November during the procession against poverty.
The ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo and General Secretary Wellington Chibebe
are among those released.
The detainees were released after intense negotiations with the Attorney
General's office. The Attorney General said the police had no strong case
and they will have to proceed by way of summons in the case of new evidence
against the accused.
A statement released by the ZCTU on Friday, 11 November confirmed this
development and praised the international labour movement for their
"We cherish the support we got from all over the world. Your support and
inspiration has made us to believe that we are not alone in this world. We
also greatly appreciate the pressure you put on Zimbabwe Government, through
protest letters and solidarity messages during these four difficult days. We
thank you all for this unwavering support," said the statement.
Over 180 unionists, civil society and politicians were arrested by
Zimbabwean authorities following a demonstration that was called by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). They were detained at Chitungwiza
prison more than 45 kms from Harare.
On 8 November, the police had blocked the demonstrators from marching to the
labour ministers' office to present a petition to him on:
a.. high taxes
b.. price increases
c.. the high cost of living
d.. and the upcoming senate elections.
The demonstrators described the senate elections as a waste of resources
which could be spent on pressing national issues such as unemployment,
inflation, poor economy.
UNI-Africa News, November 14
Union Network International
http://www.union-network.org - firstname.lastname@example.org
From Zim Online (SA), 14 November
Gwanda - A Zimbabwe government minister was last week accused in court of
unlawfully dressing 20 private security guards in police uniform and sending
them to evict illegal gold panners from their panning site near Gwanda town
which he then took over. An official of a private security firm in Gwanda,
which lies about 150km south of Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo,
told a magistrate's court that Deputy Labour Minister Abednico Ncube hired
guards from the company and dressed them in police uniform before unleashing
them on the gold panners. Vengai Maphosa, who is a director of Undercover
Security firm, was testifying in court where he and his guards are facing
charges of illegally possessing and abusing police uniforms. He told the
court that Ncube approached him seeking to hire some guards. Maphosa, who
was remanded out of custody, said that he did not know that the deputy
minister would issue police uniforms to the guards in order that they would
use the uniforms to scare off gold panners. Speaking to Zim Online at the
weekend Maphosa claimed that he had only learnt of the abuse of police
uniforms after his guards were arrested by the real police who were
coincidentally patrolling in the area where the gold panners were supposed
to be evicted.
"I told the police that Ncube had hired the guards for a private mission.
But when they called him, he denied ever hiring the guards. He said he knew
that the laws of Zimbabwe were against such things," Maphosa said. The
deputy minister however denied ever hiring guards from Maphosa's company let
alone issuing police uniforms to the guards. He said: "Those people are
lying. Ask the police, they have a full version of my comments on that. I do
not have access to police uniforms and I did not send anyone. Those arrested
in police uniform should say where they got the uniforms from." Senior
officials of President Robert Mugabe's government and ruling Zanu PF party
have in the past been accused of illegally dealing in precious minerals
especially gold. But this is the first time that a government minister is
being accused of hiring private people and illegally dressing them up as
state police in order that they could scare off rivals to a gold claim.
By Stewart Payne
The Government was accused yesterday of ignoring the plight of hundreds of white Zimbabweans living in Britain on ancestral visas whose applications to remain in the country have been blocked by the Home Office.
The immigration service has retained their travel documents but has suspended consideration of their applications for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK. As a result, many Zimbabweans have been unable to return home for weddings, funerals and other family occasions.
With their travel papers lodged with the Home Office, their only hope of being able to leave Britain is to request emergency travel documents from the Zimbabwean Embassy in London.
However, requests from whites planning to set up home in the UK are unlikely to be treated sympathetically by the Mugabe regime. Most are in Britain to escape repression at home.
"We have effectively become prisoners of the country we hoped to make our homes in," said Reg Stephens, 46, who arrived in Britain on an ancestral visa in 2001 with his wife Charmaine, 43, and son Liam, 17. Their travel documents have been with the Home Office for more than a year, yet they still do not know if they will be granted ILR. In that time they have been unable to attend the funerals of his wife's sister and eldest son in South Africa.
Janine Pringle, 25, came to Britain to study and applied for ILR almost a year ago. Her British grandfather was a decorated Second World War veteran. She has been unable to return home for her brother's graduation and uncle's funeral.
Richard Benyon, the Conservative MP for Newbury, where Mr Stephens lives, has taken up the case on behalf of several hundred Zimbabweans in the same position. "It is a disgraceful situation," he said.
"These people have strong family links to the UK and have arrived on a very well established route of entry. The Home Office position is totally lacking in compassion."
Current rules allow for citizens of Commonwealth countries who have a grandparent who was British to enter the country on an ancestral visa. This is valid for four years during which time they must support themselves financially. They may then apply for ILR.
The government plans to move to a points-based managed migration system, under which ancestral visas may be scrapped. But the problem affecting Zimbabweans is more specific.
Two years ago the Home Office identified abuses in the ancestral visas system, particularly from Zimbabwe. As a consequence, it blocked all applications by Zimbabwean nationals for ILR.
Mr Stephens said: "We never anticipated this problem when we came to the UK. We still want to settle here but need our documents back."
Every attempt to get information about the progress of their applications has been "met with a wall of silence".
Miss Pringle, who lives with her partner in Leytonstone, east London, said: "I have only dealt with the British authorities, so how can there be any abuse in my ILR application?
"If I was to withdraw my documents from the Home Office then my application would fail. I can't go home, yet I don't know if I will be allowed to stay."
Andy Burnham, a Home Office minister, said the investigation into abuses of the system had concluded.
It had been carried out to ensure that procedures for ancestral visas were "robust", he said. "We hope that we will soon be able to reconsider applications."
November 14, 2005
By Lynda Loxton
Cape Town - Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) chief executive
Mandla Gantsho on Friday appealed to parliamentarians to help the bank shed
its "megabucks projects only" image, and get more municipalities and
communities to use its capacity-building services.
But pressed by members of the national council of province's select
committee on finance why it was not involved in much-needed development
projects in countries such as Zimbabwe, Gantsho said the risks were just too
high. The DBSA continued to negotiate with Malawi and Swaziland, even though
they had recently defaulted on loans.
Gantsho and his top managers were briefing the committee on the bank's
2004/05 annual report. He said the bank retained a strong balance sheet, and
good international and domestic credit ratings, which allowed it to leverage
funds for key development projects around the continent, with downstream job
DBSA projects included water provision, electricity, housing and generally
improving the standard of living of millions of people.
But a key new thrust had been identifying smaller projects that would
involve local industrial entrepreneurs to affect people more directly
throughout the country, even though it could not get involved in
microprojects at grassroots level.
It had also started local government capacity-building programmes such as
municipal payments and project management systems.
During the year, new investment approvals rose by R500 million to R3.9
billion and 88 projects were approved - 33 more than the previous year. More
than 60 percent of its new projects over the year had been for the provision
of basic services such as water, social infrastructure, sanitation and
The DBSA continued to mobilise private sector involvement in infrastructure
development in recognition of the key role the sector could play in this
area while supporting black economic empowerment initiatives in key areas
such as mining.
Gantsho said that because of the inverse relationship between risk and
return, it had been decided to add development to the normal commercial
assessment of returns on investment.
This meant "looking at lower returns at higher risks but you add to that
return for development impact, you see that there is a commensurate return
for the risk that you take".
But when it came to South Africa's neighbours, risks were much higher,
Gantsho said. The bank had adopted different approaches to different
countries and did not have any exposure to Zimbabwe "because we are worried
about foreign exchange and the recovery of our money".
He had no doubt that DBSA funding could help ordinary people in Zimbabwe,
"but there are risk issues which we are not able to mitigate.
"We have to wait for these particular risks to be sufficiently restated
before we expose our resources there. We have to ensure that we do recover
Generally, loans to Southern African Development Community states had had "a
very good record" until about 18 months ago when the portfolio of loans
outside the country had been performing better than the portfolio in South
"But recently we have seen defaults by Malawi and Swaziland."
The situation was now being reassessed. Swaziland had started repaying its
loans while Malawi had promised to do so soon.
The Department of Veterinary Services of Zimbabwe has called for
vaccination of animals to lessen the prevalence of tick-borne diseases,
which are most common in the rainy seasons.
"Taking cognizant that drugs to treat tick-borne diseases may be very
costly and difficult to access, there is need for dipping to be complemented
by other actions such as vaccination," chief veterinary control officer
Chenjerai Njagu said here on Sunday.
"Vaccination of animals against the various diseases is an effective
way to deal with the diseases that ticks transmit," he stressed.
Tick-transmitted diseases included Theilerios (January and corridor),
Babesioses (red-water and B. bovis), anaplasmosis (gall sickness) and
cowdriosis (heartwater) and there were prevalent in cattle.
Tick transmitted diseases remain some of the most difficult livestock
diseases that require thorough management by farmers, he said.
He said though tick-borne diseases were controllable through regular
dipping, there were frequent problems stalling effective control.
The problems included "water shortage, malfunctioning of dips, dip
chemical shortage especially as a result of foreign exchange," he said.
Nyagu said farmer ignorance and sub lethal dip chemical concentration
in dips was also exposing animals to ticks that resulted in high rates of
He said tick-borne diseases would reduced milk production, weight loss
in growing stock and temporary sterility in bulls.
It was the Lord Mayor's Show today so central London was choked with
visitors to the 800 year old ceremony. We were pleased so many stopped by
to sign our petition, many wearing a poppy for Armistice Day in memory of
those who have died in wars. A Buddhist monk spent some time with us. We
certainly get a lot of interest from people from the Far East.
The singing and dancing were, as usual, a great draw. New to our repertoire
is what we call the "Peep Peep" song in which the children of Zimbabwe cry
out to Tsvangirai in desperation as he is the only person who can rescue
them from the political crisis.
Having sold out of Vigil t-shirts we now have warm Vigil sweatshirts for
sale. With the cooler weather, they are already proving popular. We have
become quite a market place selling scarves in the Zimbabwe colours, the
"Make Mugabe History" wristbands and the Zimbabwean newspaper.
The Vigil has become such a bond for people that they stay chatting well
beyond the singing of the national anthem at the end. As we dispersed, the
night sky was ablaze with the Lord Mayor's fireworks.
FOR THE RECORD: about 40 supporters came today.
FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 14th October, 7.30 pm, Zimbabwe Forum at the George,
Fleet Street, London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice). This will be
the last forum at the George. From next Monday, 21st November, we will be
meeting at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London WC2.
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. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
The Herald (Harare)
November 13, 2005
Posted to the web November 14, 2005
ZIMBABWE's biggest milk processor, Dairibord Zimba-bwe Limited, is looking
at exploring business opportunities in countries such as Malaysia and China
where there is potential demand for some of its products, an official
disclosed last week.
The company's chief executive, Mr Anthony Mandiwanza, told visiting former
Malaysian Prime Minister that there was potential demand for products like
fruit juices in the Asian market.
"Outside Africa we are exporting to Mauritius, but we would like to pursue
business opportunities in Japan and China where we feel there is potential
demand for our juice products.
"A year ago we took some of our juice products to Malaysia and these are
opportunities we would like to continue to follow so that we export to your
country," he told the visiting former Malaysian premier who toured the DZL
Harare factory last week.
He added that his company had also exhibited some of its juice products at
the Aichi Expo held in Japan in June this year where they were favourably
received. - New Ziana
The Herald (Harare)
November 13, 2005
Posted to the web November 14, 2005
ZIMBABWEANS never cease to amaze me. Now, they seem to have totally
deteriorated or transformed for the worse. They are no longer that
world-renowned, straight-forward, hardworking lot you can trust with your
Instead, you now have a clan of some of the most crooked fraudsters who seem
to have no iota of patriotism and will do anything under the sun in the name
of making any other currency except their own.
Just take the case of the so-called "underground" or "parallel" foreign
Zimbabweans seem to now want no other way of doing business except through
dubious non-formal modes no matter what is done to make the formal market as
open, non-risky and attractive as can be anywhere in the world.
Take, for instance, last month's move by the country's monetary authorities
to completely open up the country's foreign exchange market.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on the 20th of last month discarded its
22-month-old foreign exchange auction system in favour of the Tradable
Foreign Currency Balances System under which the exchange rate would be
determined sorely by market forces.
Perfect! Isn't this what the neo-liberal economists and pundits of pure
capitalism have, for ages, been harping about? "Leave everything to market
forces, then the fundamentals will re-align themselves," we have heard and
been told over and over again.
But what is happening in this country simply boggles the mind. Instead of
the new inter-bank market immediately reigning in the existing forex
parallel market, it instead went in limbo as several hands continue fighting
to lay their hands on the new dispensation and crafting how best to have the
Out of the three options available: a system where banks negotiate rates
with holders of foreign exchange and importers with the central bank coming
in to weigh an average, seems would have been most ideal; the other two
alternatives where banks and industry would agree on a rate or whilst the
other would involve financial institutions simply running the show by
meeting daily to determine the rate, both seem not to have won the day.
The first option itself, also appears to have again fallen prey to the
machinations of the greedy hawks of Zimbabwe's financial underworld.
This is so given the fact that some of our commercial banks seem to have
decided to play the "Sicilian Mafia Godfather" over the new foreign currency
regime which was supposed to be based purely on market forces as was
demanded by the private sector.
The allegations come amidst strong indications that some of the financial
players were not honest in the first place when they, in reaction to the
RBZ's new forex regime, set the mid-rate at $60 000 to the US dollar.
They simply set their mid-rate, completely disregarding that it was supposed
to be an inter-market rate determined sorely by the existing factors of
supply and demand.
Would it, therefore, be wild assumption that some of our so-called guardians
of the country's financial services sector are, in fact, the very barons of
the parallel market, which is again rearing its ugly head amidst us even
after liberalising our exchange rate regime?
Could our security apparatus be off the mark to investigate rumours that
some bankers were buying the greenback at the agreed $60 000 mid-rate and
offloading it at as high as $90 000 to $100 000 - the present parallel
market exchange rate?
The Reserve Bank has been, as a result, forced to come in to prevent a
further fall-off of our local currency given such unscrupulous pressures
originating largely from the very formal foreign currency system the public
is supposed to get relief from.
The monetary authorities knew fully well that any attempts to "close the
gap" between the official and parallel markets in order to use ordinary
market forces to "drive out the parallel market" would, if not played
according to the rules or without transparency and honesty, lead to yet
another cycle of parallel market devaluation.
Yet it goes without saying that in countries where trading in the parallel
market is non-existent - and we look at the foreign exchange rates of their
currencies - they have not had any of the large mood swings we are being
subjected to from the nefarious activities of currency dealers, foreign
non-governmental organisations and even diplomatic missions.
It must be remembered that the parallel market is so destructive to any
country's economy because the rationale behind its modus operandi is simply
to reduce the value of its currency vis-à-vis the so-called hard currencies,
in particular the British pound and greenback.
Given such a scenario where among those given the mandate to oversee the
so-called market-driven foreign exchange regime, are some of the most
unscrupulous barons of the underground world, would it not be in the best
interest of the country's central bank to continue ensuring fair play?
Right now, we have a situation where exporters want a further crash of the
Zimbabwe dollar; importers are lamenting that the exchange rate is now too
high for them to remain in business whilst the inter-market rate has to
compromise all as the market determines the price without undue influence.
But it appears just impossible for Zimbabweans to achieve such equilibrium.
Isn't it that now is the most opportune time for us to hit hard and rid the
country, through our various arms of the law, of the few "fat and greedy
currency barons and marketers" who seem so invisible that they appear to
hold the economy in their hands?
We cannot continue to let the parallel market determine economic activity
nor benchmark our key economic fundamentals based on such miscreant factors.
Until and unless we break this chain by wiping out this underground currency
market, we may continue devaluating our money, but with no significant
The Herald (Harare)
November 13, 2005
Posted to the web November 14, 2005
THE City of Harare and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) have
attributed the perennial water shortage in the capital to poor
infrastructure at water treatment plants which has made it impossible to
pump out water efficiently.
This development has seen many residents having to go without water for
periods of up to three weeks.
Most hard-hit suburbs are Mabvuku, Ruwa, Msasa Park, Eastlea and Budiriro,
where residents have resorted to using water from unprotected wells and
Chitungwiza, a dormitory town lying 25km to the south of the capital, has
also been experiencing an acute water shortage as its two reservoirs, Harava
and Seke dams, are virtually dry.
Zinwa last week said the water shortage was a result of the water reservoirs
running below capacity.
"Harava and Seke dams, the sources of water for Chitungwiza, are dry.
"Harare needs about 660 million cubic metres of water per day. However,
records as of last Wednesday showed that supply was at 627 million cubic
metres," said a Zinwa official.
"We have 14 reservoirs, namely, Borrowdale Brook, Ridge Road, Hatcliffe,
Emerald Hill, Marimba Low, Marimba High, Philadelphia, Hogerty Hill,
Ventersberg, Donny-brook, Greendale, Letombo, High-lands and Alex Park but
the infrastructure there is poor.
"Ventersberg, Donnybrook and Highlands reservoirs are particularly in poor
condition, hence the water supply problem," added the official.
According to official statistics, the water level at Highlands reservoir was
at 0,6m on November 2 against the critical height of 0,9m.
At Greendale, the water level is at 1,7m while the alarm stage is 3m, while
at Ventersburg the level is at 0,7m against the alarm level of 1m.
"As you can see, most of the reservoirs are running low and that is why we,
at times, have to disconnect water supplies in order to pump it to higher
levels for it to flow outside for easy supply.
"Reservoirs contain treated water awaiting distribution and at times it will
go to residents with dirt," explained the official.
He, however, noted that some of the water was being lost through leakages.
"There are some pumps that still need to be upgraded. It takes time to
revamp the whole system and the other problem is that much treated water is
lost through leakages."
Harare Town Clerk Mr Nomutsa Chideya told The Sunday Mail Metro in an
interview that Harare's water shortages were also a result of the increased
number of residents who were putting a lot of pressure on reservoirs.
He said there was need for the city to build more reservoirs, which would
reduce pressure on the existing ones.
Mr Chideya said the city was struggling to send engineers to carry out
repair work in various suburbs because of fuel shortages.
"Fuel supplies at the City of Harare are low but we try to make up for lost
time whenever we get supplies. Sometimes we go for a week without fuel and
this becomes difficult for us to carry out our duties effectively," he said.
He said there was also confusion on who, between Zinwa and the City of
Harare, should maintain the city's water infrastructure, adding that they
were holding discussions with Zinwa to find the way forward on the adequate
provision of water.
"This is a process, not an event, and it might take time before normal
supplies are restored," said Mr Chideya.
By Lance Guma
14 November 2005
Students from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland moved a step
closer to stripping Robert Mugabe of his honorary degree. Mugabe received
the degree in 1984 in recognition of the educational programmes he
instigated in Zimbabwe and was at the time described as 'one of the great
figures of modern Africa.'
On Wednesday 600 students converged during an extraordinary general
meeting and unanimously moved a motion calling on authorities to take it
away. The Students Association president, Ruth Cameron, spoke to Newsreel
and narrated how the motion went through this time. A similar motion by
Labour students 3 years ago, at the same university, failed to take off
after only 100 out of 300 students turned up to vote. This fell short of the
This time the enthusiasm was there for all to see. The number swelled
from 100 to 600 students. Cameron described how the mover of the motion
first had to give an impassioned speech to the student body urging them to
vote the motion through. The floor was then given to any student who wanted
to object and none did so. The students then voted with a show of hands and
amazingly everyone did so, Cameron added.
A poor human rights record has seen Mugabe facing international
isolation and the students have expressed revulsion at the widespread
reports of massacres in Matabeleland, torture, suppression of freedom of
speech and oppression of homosexuals. The motion has been referred to the
University Court, the institutions highest decision making body. A
spokesperson at the university has already said the views of the students
will be taken into account.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Warren Moroka and Tererai Karimakwenda
14 November 2005
The political crisis and economic deterioration in Zimbabwe has cost
the 14-member Southern Africa Development Community trade bloc an estimated
R14 billion since it began in 2000, recent research has revealed.
The research was carried out by the Zimbabwe Research Institute. It is
the first attempt at quantifying the effects of the Zimbabwean meltdown on
the economies of fellow SADC trade bloc members.
Despite official denials and a warm stance towards the Zimbabwe
government, the South African economy has been hardest hit. According to the
ZRI, inflationary pressures from Zimbabwe's meltdown have forced the SA Rand
to stay 1.2% higher than normal and cost the overall economy 1.3% in
The ZRI research noted that SA lost R6bn worth of trade to the
Zimbabwe crisis in 2004 alone. The losses included unpaid invoices to
State-owned utilities and service providers, lost trade, forgone investment
and the effects of the collapsed tourism sector.
Researcher Mike Schussler said the chances are that the regional costs
of the Zimbabwe crisis are much higher because ZRI had only arrived at
conservative estimates. A full text of the findings is expected to be
published in Johannesburg this week.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
issue date :2005-Nov-15
MONTHS after government promised an increase in fuel supplies, Zimbabwe's
motorists, farmers and industry are still virtually running on empty, amid
sentiments that persistent fuel shortages are a major reason behind the
country's worsening economic state.
While addressing war collaborators three months ago, President Robert
Mugabe raised hopes of an imminent improvement in fuel supplies that he said
would happen "soon", but shortages of the critical commodity have continued
to bedevil the country since then.
"Fuel supply is expected to increase in the next few days and will gradually
improve in the next few weeks," Mugabe told a multitude of war collaborators
However since the president's statement, operators at a number of fuel
stations around Harare last week said they had gone for more than three
months without receiving any fuel supplies, and were bracing for a glum
festive season in coming weeks.
They said the last fuel inflows were received by a handful of fuel stations
owned by French procurement company Total in early October, with nothing
having been seen of the commodity since then.
In the wake of the fuel squeeze, operations in priority areas and essential
services such as ambulance operations, grain transportation, funeral
parlours, government departments and quasi-government institutions and local
authorities have virtually ground to a standstill.
Chances of the fuel supply situation returning to normal have become slimmer
by the month, with Energy and Power Development ministry officials opting to
stay mum on the fuel drought.
The gradually worsening situation has threatened to derail the country's
scrappy economic recovery programme, which economic analysts say is
dependent on a massive increase in Zimbabwe's productive capacity and its
ability to generate much needed foreign currency.
"Unless there is a huge increase in productivity, among other things, then I
don't foresee a situation where we will emerge from the current economic
crisis," said a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) advisory board member.
Without much hope for a reversal of the country's dry state anytime soon,
prospects of an increase in productivity - and a resultant boost in economic
activity - also remain slim, with manufacturers arguing that the absence of
consistent fuel supplies will make it impossible for them to produce at
Since the beginning of Zimbabwe's fuel crisis over three years ago, the
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has estimated that industry's
productive capacity has swayed between 40-60 percent of normal optimum
A number of firms have also been forced to shut down. Special supplies to
farmers and some transport operators have gradually thinned, with farmers
complaining that the worsening fuel shortages could ruin the impending
farming season even if the rains do fall. With all hopes now hanging on the
country's ability to jerk its agriculture sector into more vigorous action,
state fuel procurement arm Noczim has pledged to allocate half of all diesel
supplies to farmers.
But the credibility of farmers has come into question following reports that
farmers have been abusing the supply privileges and have resorted to selling
their special allocations on the parallel market for more lucrative returns.
Motorists' hopes of getting fuel from official pumps have also slowly waned,
and the winding queues that had become characteristic at fuel stations
across the country have gradually disappeared.
Ironically motorists and transport operators have barely managed to survive
the crippling shortages, thanks mainly to a thriving parallel market on
which prices are more than five times as much as official pump prices.
Fears have now arisen that the next time fuel is available it could be at
higher prices, as international oil prices continue to rise putting adequate
supplies increasingly out of the reach of government's coffers.
Energy and Power Development minister Mike Nyambuya recently said fuel
prices would be continuously reviewed in line with international prices,
with international oil costs continuing to go up, expectations are high of
yet another hike in fuel prices sometime early next year.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Nov-15
THE Ministry of Agriculture at the weekend said it needed $110 billion to
resuscitate more than 50 irrigation schemes in Mashonaland East.
The ministry's chief engineer in the province, Regis Chiwaya, told this
newspaper that the irrigation schemes would be rehabilitated before the end
of the year.
"The government has set a national target of 39 000 hectares to be put under
irrigation before the end of the year. In Mashonaland East between 3 500 and
4 000 hectares will be under irrigation," Chiwaya explained. However,
Chiwaya said the government was yet to release the bulky of the money and
other resources for the rehabilitation exercise.
"Our biggest problem is lack of money and other resources like vehicles and
personnel. There is a shortage of engineers in my department. I think we
will be able to open up our set hectares if resources are made available
soon," he said.
The ministry, Chiwaya said, was already rehabilitating an irrigation scheme
at Mhakwe Farm near the provincial capital, Marondera.
"We need about $15 billion to rehabilitate the scheme at Mhakwe. A total of
320 hectares are expected to be opened up at the scheme," he added. "Another
irrigation scheme is expected to be set up at Wenimbe Dam and a total of 500
hectares will be under irrigation."
He said a contractor was already on site clearing land and $2 billion has
been allocated towards the project by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
"The Wenimbe Irrigation Scheme will benefit A1 farmers and more than 100
people in Svosve communal area," Chiwaya said.
The RBZ this year set aside $3 trillion for the revival of irrigation
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
issue date :2005-Nov-15
THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has accused judges and magistrates of
having a lackadaisical attitude in discharging their duties, resulting in
delays in handing down of judgments.
In his end of year report, the LSZ president Joseph James claimed that some
judges and magistrates report to work late, while others do not turn up at
all resulting in the postponement of cases.
"There are difficulties in getting matters set down in both the High Court
and the Magistrate court, regardless of whether the matter is a civil or a
Urgent matters are not dealt with on an urgent basis.
To compound an already unsatisfactory situation, even where a date of
hearing is secured, there are many instances where the presiding officers
are late in commencing the proceedings, and in some instances, they do not
turn up at all," said James.
He said they had since approached Chief Justice, Godfrey Chidyausiku and
Judge President Paddington Garwe who had promised to do something.
The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa,
said the judiciary was working on the establishment of a judicial code of
conduct to address, the "shortcomings" referred by the lawyers, among other
"I am aware that the judiciary is in the process of drafting a judicial code
of conduct which will regulate the behaviour of judges and magistrates. The
code of conduct would stipulate a timeframe within which they must hand down
judgments and other norms which every judicial officer must abide by,"
Back to James, the LSZ boss said government must ensure that remand
prisoners were brought to court regardless of fuel problems in the country,
which at times resulted in inmates failing to attend courts.
"The failure by prison authorities to bring prisoners to court is an
untenable situation. These shortcomings were initially visited upon the
decrepit nature of trucks, but recently it has been blamed on the fuel
situation. Whatever the reason, there is no basis upon which the executive
can detain people and fail to bring them to court, especially when senior
members of prisons department continue to drive their motor vehicles without
any apparent shortage of fuel," he said.
The Bulawayo lawyer also said it was regrettable that inadequate resources
had also affected operations of the court.
"The problem of inadequately or poorly furnished courtrooms which have
defective, or no recording devices is still prevalent. There are avoidable
delays in transcribing records of appeal simply because there is
insufficient staff to do the typing," he added.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Nov-15
BULAWAYO MDC deputy mayor Albert Mhlanga, party secretary-general Welshman
Ncube's driver, Clopas Moyo, and 11 others were arrested on Saturday
following weekend violent clashes that erupted in the city over the
contentious Senate issue.
The 13 suspects were still in police detention in the city yesterday,
defence lawyer Nicholas Mathonsi told The Daily Mirror.
The fighting occurred on Saturday night, the eve of MDC leader Morgan
rally at the White City Stadium arena.
Mhlanga, also the opposition party's provincial secretary for Bulawayo, and
his co-accused were picked up by the police following the disturbances which
left one person hospitalised.
The arrested group belong to two opposing camps - Tsvangirai's faction,
agitating for the Senate boycott and Ncube's, in favour of contesting the
Mathonsi said the other faction engaged in running battles with the
pro-Senate faction seeking to stop Tsvangirai's camp from holding the
anti-elections rally in Bulawayo.
He said the 13 suspects were still detained at Bulawayo Central Police
The lawyer said when he visited his clients at the station yesterday, the
police told him they were still hunting for six more suspects allegedly
involved in the weekend skirmishes.
"It is alleged that they fought among themselves in the run-up to Tsvangirai's
"Some are said to have been on a vigil at White City Stadium, others are
said to have gone there seeking to disrupt the rally. They might appear in
court tomorrow (today)," Mathonsi said.
He said Moyo is accused of trailing an unnamed party member with his
Police chief spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena referred
all questions to Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandi-paka, who, however, could
not be reached for comment.
MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi, confirmed the Bulawayo arrests, but
said he did not have more details.
Last week, Mhlanga, who belongs to the Ncube's pro-Senate faction,
unsuccessfully wrote to the police asking them not to
sanction Tsvangirai's rally in Matabeleland.
Addressing the nearly 5 000-strong crowd at the rally on Sunday, Tsvangirai
called for the boycott of the polls.
IRENA KNEHTL email@example.com FOR YEMEN TIMES
Early Cultural Exchange In The Indian Ocean
Human activity along the shores of the Indian Ocean can be seen as operating along a curve from southern Africa to Yemen and from Southern Arabia to South western Australia. Along this curve, by land and by sea, people have moved eastwards and westwards for at least fifty thousand years leading to a constant intermingling of cultures, race, languages, religions, and trading goods. The Indian Ocean itself has been an important avenue for this complex pattern of human activity and movement. But people have also moved into the littoral lands from the interior of the bordering continents of Africa and Asia. Sometimes these folk movements have ended at specific points on the Oceans shore, but sometimes the migrating people have taken to the sea and traveled to more distant parts of the littoral or to the islands of the Ocean.
Details of the earliest human activity on the Indian Ocean region are obscure, but some general points can be made. Some five thousand to six thousand years ago distinctive core areas of cultural expression had evolved on the shores of the Indian Ocean, East Africa, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia, the Malay World and Australia. Each of these areas formed links in the giant chain of human activity which stretched along the littoral of the Indian Ocean. At best the areas are crudely defined, but the concept is valid and provides a working model with which it is possible to examine the processes of cultural evolution and interchange. Many migrating people followed the land route but the Ocean was the route of Austronesians, the Malays, who settled in Madagascar, the single most astonishing fact of human geography.
The process gained momentum with the discovery of the secrets of the ocean, particularly the monsoon winds, and refined shipbuilding techniques. A settled civilization developed and prompted the growth of trade within the Indian Ocean region. The process of human maritime expansion constantly intertwined with land-based migration of people on the littoral and both processes added to the growing complexity of the core culture. Too little is known of this early trade to accurately assess its importance as a factor in cultural interchange, but tantalizing hints indicate some exchange of idea and concrete form of cultural expression. The spread of Middle Eastern and Indian mercantile activity eastwards confirm the role of pre-Islamic Arab and Iranian merchants as the major participants in the maritime trade of the western Indian Ocean.
We also know that the ancient Egyptians, Sumarians and Sabeans/ancient Yemenis visited the East African coast for international trade. The Sabeans took control of the passage from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, then formally called the Zanzibar Ocean, around the first of Millenium BC and regulated the Indian Ocean from Sindh (present Pakistan) and possibly further, and the Persian Gulf. Extensive trade between East Africa and the kingdoms of the ancient civilizations of the world continued to and by 500 BC the East African coastal islands, had become part of a vast commercial empire, extending from Yemen, Egypt, Greece and Rome across the Indian Ocean to India. The single unifying factor used to be the monsoon, blowing from the southwest in summer and from the northeast in winter. It is the monsoon that was also responsible for the agricultural prosperity and made the ancient cultures of India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Yemen possible.
The Sabeans, also known as Sheba, were a maritime people, with a large kingdom in Yemen (1115 BC – 525 CE) and used the seasonal monsoon winds to travel regularly to and from East Africa. They sailed south between November to February, during the Northeast Monsoon, carrying beads, the Chinese porcelain and clothes. Between March and September, they returned to north on the Southwest Monsoon, carrying food grains, mangroves poles for timber, spices, gold from Sofala, ivory and ebony. Since remote antiquity, southern Arabia, with its maritime links to India and Ethiopia, had been the corridor for plant introductions from both East and West. Durum, wheat, sorghum, cotton, sugarcane, taro, indigo, oranges, lemons and many other plants and traveled this way. Some like wheat and sorghum, returned from India in improved varieties and were diffused in Africa or Europe.
The Afro Indonesian Contact
Today we are almost unimaginably more distant from the men who first sailed these waters, the speaker of Austroneasian languages, who beginning around 5000 years ago, populated the area of present day Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, the Indonesian islands, Madagascar and the islands of the remote Pacific. Their past seems to recede over the horizon and it has by now acquired a mythic dimension that makes their true character and achievements hard to assess. We know even less about alliances they formed, a possible division of territories, conditions laid down, and how they responded to opportunities and challenges. Yet this extraordinary process of development is but poorly documented, it was the work of generations all of whom were governed by the iron regime of the monsoon, synchronized by the clock – like regularity of the monsoon winds in the Indian Ocean.
Malagasy is the language of Madagascar, the large island just off the east coast of southern Africa. It is an Austronesian language most closely related
to the one spoken in South Borneo. Madagascar also shares such Indonesian cultural traits as outrigger canoes, blowpipes, wet and dry rice cultivation, house built on stilts and the use of domesticated cattle for plowing. The “discovery” of Madagascar, like the “discovery” of the Pacific islands, went unchronicled, yet both rank as extraordinary human achievements.
The Phanthom Voyagers
Indian Ocean studies have progressed rapidly and partly this has been the result of a broader acceptance of the region as a suitable and coherent geographical framework for the discussion of supra-national themes. Partly also because an increasing number of such studies have been able to give concrete substance to what otherwise might have remained an empty concept. Soon also economic, social and cultural themes were taken up and used to provide new approaches to an understanding of the Indian Ocean, with all its diversity, through the mutual relations of its constituent parts.
In recent years the movement of people across the Indian Ocean has become a powerful theme to demonstrate such regional cohesion amongst these people. The author defines the “Indonesian Problem”, closely associated with the divergence in current opinion about the Indonesian maritime trading cultures. Opinions vary between a “restricted” contacts limited to East African coast and an “extensive” penetration into the African interior.
The book explores how during the second half of the first millennium Indonesian expeditionary fleets, a highly mobile maritime culture, explored to the limits of the monsoons and contacted ports and coast across the Indian Ocean to reach the Mozambique channel, among others used the Yemeni port of Aden as a regular port of call, penetrated the African interior, and left substantial and important imprints on West African culture, especially in the region of the lower Niger. Large fleets from Indonesia, associated with Srivijaya, had established coastal colonies across the Indian Ocean, possibly rounded the Cape of Storms, and spread significant elements of their culture throughout a very large part of sub-Saharan Africa. Historical accounts indicate that they had traversed the East African coastal region, engaged in trading activities with Africans and thereby were in position to command the important Zimbabwe – Zambezi hinterland.
The enquiry indicates that the prospects of an extended and extensive development of the African trade outweighs the “restricted view of Indonesian contacts. An “Indonesian” period is proposed and patterns of Indonesian influence are traced widely over sub-Saharan Africa. The banana-plantain, the xylophone, beads and art suggest that an Afro-Indonesian development occurred in Africa rather than the Madagascar.
The Indonesian trace patterns are found across sub-Saharan Africa, and the Indonesians appear as the preferred candidates for the initiation and development of the interior linked to the East African coast and Indian Ocean ports. Major factors which contribute to the synthesis are the nature of the early Indonesian maritime cultures with their orientation to waterborne trade, the primacy of the commercial potential and population of the African interior along the major rivers. The presence of maritime subsistence trading cultures over the entire East African coast and finds of sea-shells in the far interior are also significant.
The Phantom Voyagers will be of interest to students, researchers, scholars but also as general reading and to all those interested in the early history of the Indian Ocean
Other Comments And Reviews
A fascinating read and a most impressive work of scholarship, bade on wide range of sources and a lifetime of travel and study of the art and culture.
Thank you for letting me see this fascinating work…
Sir Mervyn Brown, former British Ambassador to Madagascar and High Commissioner to Niger, author of “Madagascar Rediscovered” and “A History of Madagascar”
Your fascinating book defeated my best intentions! . It opens up a new historical vista.
Michael Holman, is for 25 years the Africa Editor of the Financial Times
About the author
Robert Dick-Read interest in the subject goes back to the months spent in northern Mozambique in 1957 upon hearing how people from Madagascar, speaking a strange language, used to make frequent trips to Africa. He felt there was much more to the “Indonesian” and “Madagascan” connection than was obvious. Exploring the subject became a life-long hobby.
The author Mr. Robert Dick-Read will give a presentaton about The Phantom Voyagers inSanaa in early 2006.