International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: November 16, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe has said ministers at a Cabinet
meeting he chaired agreed to pay two head of cattle and three buffaloes to a
woman who claimed she could produce gasoline out of rocks, the official
media reported Friday. Mugabe later order the woman's arrest on fraud
The Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece, reported the woman claiming
to be a tribal healer, known in the West as a witch doctor, also took large
sums of money, a car and a piece of land from the nation's highest ranking
politicians, promising in return to use spells to produce diesel fuel from
rocks in the bush outside the provincial town of Chinhoyi, 115 kilometers
(70 miles) northwest of Harare.
Instead of invoking spirits, the woman bought refined diesel from truckers
plying the route from neighboring Zambia and piped it into the rocks, the
It said Mugabe himself ordered Rotina Mavunga's arrest. She was charged with
fraud last month - more than a year after the gas from rocks saga began.
"We are not going to be too hard on her. We just want the truth and to know
who put her up to such things," the state media quoted Mugabe as telling
guests at the commissioning of a biofuel plant Thursday in the nation
stricken by the world's highest official inflation and chronic gasoline
Mugabe said police were afraid to pursue Mavunga. While most Zimbabweans are
Christian, many also hold ancient beliefs in the powers of tribal ancestors.
Mugabe said he at one point sent a delegation of his most senior colleagues,
including State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, Defense Minister Sydney
Sekeramayi and police minister Kembo Mohadi to investigate the claims, and
when they returned without a clear answer he dispatched the ministers of
energy, mines and science and technology and a third delegation of top
military and police officers, the Herald reported.
Mugabe, 83, the nation's only ruler since independence from Britain in 1980,
launched the first processing plant near Harare Thursday for jatropha, a
plant used to make biodiesel fuel.
State radio said Friday the factory was a joint venture of the central bank
and South Korean investors to process jatropha, cotton, sunflower and soya
November 17, 2007
Jan Raath in Harare
Zimbabwe's economic meltdown is gathering pace, with inflation spiralling to
almost 15,000 per cent, according to figures leaked yesterday.
The 14,840 per cent annual inflation in October was nearly double what it
was in September. Prices between September and October rose 135 per cent.
President Mugabe told state media that "Zimbabwe will not collapse, now or
in the future," even as his strategy for beating inflation with draconian
price controls lay in ruins.
In June Mr Mugabe ordered businesses to slash prices to below what it cost
them to stock shelves. Annual inflation has since shot up nearly 10,000
percentage points. "I am speechless," said one economist. "I cannot get my
head around these figures. They are so enormous."
But the consequences were entirely predictable. Price controls and printing
money are primary causes of inflation. "It is ludicrous. The economy hasn't
collapsed for him and his ministers in their Hummers and their
Mercedes-Benzs. But they have made it collapse for everyone else."
The latest figures were published in Harare's privately owned Zimbabwe
Independent, which said that they had been leaked by the state statistical
office. The department had been promising to issue them since Monday. On two
previous occasions this year the body has been forced by Samuel Mumbengegwi,
the Finance Minister, to stifle its embarrassing inflation numbers.
Other countries stricken by hyperinflation have coped by printing vast
quantities of banknotes with rapidly increasing numbers of zeroes.
In Zimbabwe, however, the phenomenon of "Mugabenomics" has delivered a
three-headed monster - exponentially rising prices, a critical cash
shortage, because the Government regards adding new rows of zeroes on the
banknotes as an admission of defeat, and virtually nothing to buy in the
shops because price controls have destroyed the retail trade.
The Z$200,000 (7p) note, the highest, has almost disappeared. This week
banks were issuing batches of Z$20 million in wads of $500 bills stuffed in
Hole-in-the-wall cash dispensers are now largely redundant because it takes
only four customers to empty machines. Yesterday banks were limiting
customers to Z$10,000 a day.
Cash itself has become a tradable commodity. Swapped for products such as
fuel and beef, it is attracting a 20 per cent premium to its face value.
The search for cash is an unrelenting daily ordeal for Zimbabweans, who were
paying Z$1.6 million for a bus fare to and from work yesterday, Z$800,000
for a loaf of bread, and Z$700,000 for a pint of beer.
This week the Government said that its price controls would be stepped up.
Economists fear the move will exacerbate shortages and increase inflation
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
16 November 2007
Posted to the web 16 November 2007
As Zimbabwe's economic woes continue to load a mounting burden on an already
weakened health delivery system, recent hikes in doctor's fees have now
moved even basic medical care beyond the reach of most.
"Because of the constant rise in medical costs and the sorry state of the
economy, access to healthcare is becoming a pie in the sky for the poor,"
Murisi Zwizwai, member of parliament for the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change party, told IRIN. "Healthcare is now almost the preserve
of the rich."
The Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe, an independent
organisation that sets medical costs with the approval of government,
recently announced new consultation and laboratory test fees, adding to the
financial squeeze that most Zimbabweans feel.
According to the state-run Herald newspaper, doctors' consultation and
laboratory fees have increased 10-fold in some cases. "General practitioners
are now charging between Z$3 million [US$2.3] and Z$5 million [US$3.85] a
visit, up from Z$500,000 [US$0.38] in June. Physicians and paediatricians
are now charging an average of Z$8 million [US$6.5] per consultation," the
Zwizwai, who is also a member of the parliamentary committee on health and
child welfare, said "the increases, steep as they are, might be justified in
order for those that provide health services to remain viable, but the
tragedy is that the sick, particularly those that belong to the 80 percent
of people living on less than a [US] dollar a day, have been dealt a body
Zimbabwe's economy is buckling under the highest inflation rate in the
world - nearly 8,000 percent - unemployment levels of 80 percent, and acute
shortages of basic foodstuffs, fuel and electricity. The public health
system has been crippled by a lack of foreign currency, making it unable to
replace ageing hospital equipment and essential drugs, while many medical
personnel have left for better-paying jobs abroad.
"The poor now have no option but to trek to government hospitals and
clinics, but then these institutions are overwhelmed and suffer severe
shortages of drugs, nurses and doctors," Zwizwai commented.
"While there is a need to factor in costs in delivering services, there is
nothing that supersedes the value of life," he added, referring to a number
of institutions that have started refusing care to patients who do not have
the cash to pay for treatment upfront.
Most vulnerable bear the brunt
"Vulnerable families, such as the ones that are headed by children owing to
a variety of reasons but mostly orphaning through the HIV/AIDS epidemic,
have been presented with a serious challenge in the wake of the rise of
medical expenses," Zwizwai said.
Estha Mugoni 17, who lives in the capital, Harare, became a 'parent' and the
family's only breadwinner last year after her father died in an accident at
a factory and her mother left with another man. She now looks after two
sisters and the youngest, 10 years old, recently developed a tumour in her
abdomen that requires specialist attention. Mugoni's cleaning job means the
treatment is well beyond their financial reach.
"I am at a loss as to what I should do. I am struggling to fend for my
sisters on the salary that I receive. We cannot have enough food and we have
all stopped going to school because money is hard to come by," Mugoni said.
"Since I cannot raise the money that is needed for a major operation, I have
resigned myself to watching my sister die slowly."
After visiting the social welfare department on several occasions to ask for
help, Mugoni realised her family's story was not unique: the underfunded
department had long waiting lists of needy people to tend to before it would
be their turn.
Josphat Mapanda, 45, a teacher earning Z$14 million (US$10.77) a month, half
of which goes to pay his rent in Harare, said hospital officials had kept
his wife in detention for three weeks when she could not pay for medical
treatment she received after suffering a miscarriage.
He told IRIN he would now have to avoid hospitals and visit a traditional
healer if he or a member of his family fell ill. "Drugs have been beyond our
reach for a long time, and I have seen many relatives and friends die
because of that, but it seems the recent rise in medical fees is the final
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
By Tichaona Sibanda
16 November 2007
The MDC will make further representations to South African President Thabo
Mbeki about the escalation of political violence and intimidation against
Secretary for Home Affairs Sam Nkomo said they would task their negotiating
team to ensure that Mbeki gets the message that Zanu-PF has not scaled down
its violence against MDC activists.
Nkomo disclosed that when the government agreed to meet a delegation from
the MDC last month, which briefed Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi on acts
of violence against MDC supporters, it was only after the intervention of
That meeting was held following Mohadi's request to MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai that he wanted the opposition to corroborate statements that
politically motivated violence was on the increase, despite the South
African brokered talks between the opposition party and ZANU PF.
'Violence against our supporters hasn't stopped. It has escalated since the
last time we met Mohadi. During that meeting Mohadi acknowledged that our
supporters were being victimised and admitted this could jeopardise on-going
dialogue between his ruling ZANU PF party and the opposition,' Nkomo said.
Nkomo added that they have since tested government's sincerity on freedom of
speech and freedom of association but have discovered that it is still
impossible to hold a public demonstration or political rally.
The police, who under state security laws must sanction all public
demonstrations, have in the past banned the MDC from holding demonstrations
although Zanu-PF supporters are regularly allowed to march in the streets in
support of President Robert Mugabe.
Scores of MDC supporters have in the last week been arrested and assaulted
in Chipinge, Mutare and Bulawayo for holding legitimate consultative
meetings. Nkomo said they would once again impress upon President Mbeki that
dialogue could only proceed if Zanu-PF desists from acts of violence on the
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
SW Radio Africa (London)
16 November 2007
Posted to the web 16 November 2007
In a move that has been strongly criticised by economic experts, the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) recently ordered businesses
to clear their existing stock of imported goods by Thursday next week and
adopt new prices based on the official exchange rate
The order came with a warning that those who buy their foreign currency on
the black market would be prosecuted. The move will affect many businesses
negatively because the government does not have enough foreign currency to
sell to them. Businesses in turn will not be able to afford new imported
stock or inputs and consumers will see more severe shortages of already
scarce essential goods.
Economist Erick Bloch explained that the new policy applies to retailers,
wholesalers and manufacturers, and everyone who imports finished products or
materials used to produce them.
The new regulations were announced by Godwills Masimarembwa, the recently
appointed NIPC chairperson. He is quoted as saying: "We held a meeting with
business last week on Friday informing them to clear stocks by November 22
on the basis of existing prices. From November 23 restocking should be on
the basis of the official exchange rate."
Given the scarcity of inputs locally and the shortage of foreign currency
from the official sources, businesses are due to have a tough time. Bloch
described the new pricing policy as "a nail in the coffin for many
businesses". He said: "Many businesses completely depend upon imported
inputs for their manufacturing purposes, and similarly most retailers right
now have been relying upon imported goods because the local manufacturers
cannot afford, under price controls, to produce goods."
Bloch said in reality there is such a scarcity of foreign currency available
that the importers, retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, cannot obtain
currency on the official market. He said businesses are obtaining goods from
runners and foreign currency traffickers, which forces the prices for
consumers to skyrocket. Ironically, government accuses businesses of
overpricing when it is clearly its own policies that are destroying the
by Lizwe Sebatha Saturday 17 November 2007
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwean police this week stopped commissioning of a school
library funded by Britain, surprisingly citing a tough security law that
prohibits unsanctioned political gatherings.
The government's Public Order and Security Act (POSA) requires Zimbabweans
to seek permission from the police before meeting in groups of more than
three to discuss politics. However, the law does not place restrictions on
social gatherings such as school or church meetings.
The Z$30 billion library that was due for commission on Friday at Tshangwa
secondary school in rural Bulilima constituency, Matabeleland South province
was sponsored by the British embassy in Harare.
The legislator for the area, Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, from the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party told ZimOnline the police
threatened to use force to stop the commissioning ceremony.
Mzila-Ndlovu said: "Police did not give any solid reasons for the
cancellation other than POSA. We (had) notified the police about the event
but they decided to keep quiet until the last minute on Thursday night.
"We had to cancel the Friday event since police were threatening to use
force to stop the function."
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was not immediately available for comment
on the matter.
A British embassy official expressed disappointment at the interference by
the police in an event that was entirely non-political, adding the police
action "deprived the community to celebrate a major achievement and months
of hard work."
Relations between Britain and Zimbabwe are at their lowest with London
accusing President Robert Mugabe's government of human rights abuses and
ruining his country's once brilliant economy.
Mugabe denies mismanaging Zimbabwe and instead claims an acute economic
crisis gripping his country is because of sabotage by Britain and its
Western allies bent on overthrowing his government as punishment for seizing
white farmland to give to landless blacks.
Meanwhile, police on Friday stopped a lunch-hour civic society meeting in
Bulawayo to discuss ongoing negotiations between Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF
party and the MDC because organisers had not sought permission.
An official of Bulawayo Agenda that had called the meeting said the police
told the group they could go ahead with the meeting at their "own peril."
Bulawayo Agenda co-ordinator Xolani Zitha said: "Police only told us just
before lunch hour to cancel the meeting, saying it was at our own peril if
we went ahead with it."
ZANU PF and the MDC have since last April held talks under South African
mediation aimed at finding a solution to Zimbabwe's long running political
and economic crisis. A key objective of the talks is to ensure free and fair
presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
But political analysts say South African President Thabo Mbeki should urge
Mugabe to end political violence, repeal his tough security and press laws
if next year's polls are to be free and fair. - ZimOnline
by Lizwe Sebatha Saturday 17 November 2007
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's largest retail supermarket chain group OK Zimbabwe has
retrenched an undisclosed number of workers as it counts losses from a price
freeze imposed five months ago.
OK Zimbabwe chairman Eric Kahari said in a statement this week that the
decision not to renew contracts of some workers was taken in response to an
acute shortage of merchandise for sale.
President Robert Mugabe last June ordered companies to slash the prices of
goods and services by half and sell at a loss.
The government crackdown, code-named Operation Dzikisa Mutengo (Operation
Reduce Prices) saw Zimbabweans taking advantage of the bargains to hoard
basic goods, leaving most shop shelves empty.
OK is not the only retail group to have laid off workers in the past few
months. Its main competitor TM Supermarkets recently retrenched about 300
workers due to continuous unavailability of goods on the market in a bid to
reduce crippling costs.
Zimbabwe's leading clothing retail chain Edgars Stores sent scores of
workers home after closing some of its shops in Bulawayo in October in
response to a controversial state blitz on prices.
Edgars had announced in September plans to close 19 of its 55 outlets citing
viability problems triggered by a controversial government blitz on prices
that forced producers and retailers to sell at a loss.
Kahari said OK Zimbabwe's operating losses jumped a staggering 1 120 percent
to $1.2 trillion during the half-year to 30 September compared to the same
period last year as revenue growth failed to keep pace with cost increases.
"The introduction of the price freeze during the second quarter created
significant commercial obstacles and many businesses struggled to sustain
operations at the prescribed prices," Kahari said.
"Such losses caused by price reductions from the price blitz compounded the
company's poor operating profit performance," said Kahari.
The OK chairman said the group has had to shelve plans to invest in new
outlets and other capital expenditures. - ZimOnline
Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe's inflation soared to 14,841 percent last
month as food and fuel shortages deepened a crisis in the world's
Inflation accelerated from 7,982 percent in September, said an official at
the Central Statistical Office in the capital, Harare. There are so few
goods left in shops that it has become impossible to ensure the data's
accuracy, said the official, who declined to be named in line with the
Shops have run out of even the most basic foods after President Robert
Mugabe ordered retailers to slash prices by half in June, forcing people to
queue for days for bread, milk and other essentials. A quarter of the
population has fled the country that once supplied food to much of southern
``Between inflation, which demands that we re-price goods daily, and price
control officials who demand we lower prices, trade has become impossible,''
said Vinod Patel, who owns a wholesale shop in Mvurwi, 100 kilometers (62
miles) north of Harare. ``Shelves are virtually empty and the scarcity of
locally made goods is across the range in the formal market.''
Inflation rose 136 percent in the month, the Zimbabwe Independent reported
Zimbabwe is in its ninth year of economic recession following a failed
land-seizure program implemented by Mugabe in 2000 that slashed agricultural
production. The economy will probably shrink 5.7 percent this year, after
contracting an estimated 1.6 percent in 2006, the central bank said Oct. 1.
Moffat Nyoni, director of the CSO, said it is becoming increasingly
difficult to calculate the real rate of inflation.
``We don't know the rate of inflation,'' he said in an interview today.
``There is such a scarcity of goods that there are too many blanks in our
baskets of goods to calculate it.''
Shortages of food and an unemployment rate of 70 percent have forced 3
million Zimbabweans, about a quarter of the population, to flee, according
to the United Nations.
Inflation, coupled with a shortage of foreign exchange, resulted in the
Zimbabwe dollar collapsing to more than 1 million per U.S. dollar on the
black market last month, from about 5,000 in January. The central bank
devalued the official rate to 30,000, from 250 to the U.S. dollar, on Sept.
6, and may devalue the currency further when it presents its annual budget
``Prospects for lowering inflation are almost impossible,'' said
Harare-based economist John Robertson. ``The authorities don't always seem
to appreciate that we're in a very real crisis and urgent action is
Mugabe, 83, has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980.
Last Updated: November 16, 2007 06:56 EST
The Associated Press November 16, 2007, 10:46AM ET
By ANGUS SHAW
Buses pull in at the chaotic terminus here, roofs stacked with supplies of
rice, sugar, corn, salt, soap, powdered milk and soft drinks from crisis-hit
Zimbabwe's eastern neighbor, Mozambique.
They were the latest arrivals from Mutare, a former sleepy Zimbabwean border
town 160 miles from Harare, transformed this month into a busy trading hub
after Mozambique scrapped visas for Zimbabweans.
Often violent seizures of farms from whites to be handed over to blacks
first ordered by President Robert Mugabe's government in 2000 disrupted the
agriculture-based economy in a country that once exported food. The economic
crisis has been accompanied by a crackdown on Mugabe's political opponents
and increasing international isolation.
A 55-pound bag of Pakistani rice was on offer this week in Harare's western
suburb, Mbare, for 25 million Zimbabwe dollars, twice the monthly salary of
a teacher. That amount is $25 at the dominant black market rate but $830 at
the official rate.
Regular buyers at the bus station could probably get the rice for less and
double their money on the black market. White shoppers, presumed to be
better off, generally pay more.
"Thirty meters. Take it or leave it!" said a vendor who gave his name only
as Ephraim. In street parlance, a million Zimbabwe dollars is a meter.
Just across the border from Mutare, a trading post has sprung up in a
wasteland known as Pamimango, or "the place of the mango trees" in the local
The nearest town, Manica, lies 12 miles inside the border. While Mozambique
is among the world's poorest countries, devastated by three decades of civil
war that ended in 1992, its currency is stable and official inflation is
close to single digits.
Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 has spurred
official inflation of nearly 8,000 percent, the highest in the world.
In a bid to fight inflation, Mugabe imposed sweeping price slashes in June
and then a six-month price freeze. But that only resulted in panic buying,
and the disappearance of goods fom shelves as merchants argued they couldn't
afford to sell for less than wholesale prices. Price controls have since
Mozambique is closer to Harare, the capital, than South Africa, Zambia and
Botswana, which are the usual destinations for Zimbabweans shopping for food
and other essentials.
Police at Mbare bus park and an adjacent market have been given the power to
enforce a ban on carrying firewood without a permit from the state Forestry
Authorities said the move this week was meant to stop indiscriminate tree
felling. But with daily power outages across the country, wood has become
the most common fuel for cooking. Cooking fires have appeared even on the
balconies of city apartments.
Ephraim, the vendor, said he bought wood from bus drivers and hauled it on a
cart to the nearby market.
"What will people do now?" he asked, but added that in a few days police
likely would turn a blind eye in return for a bribe.
Fri 16 Nov 2007, 17:21 GMT
By Paul Simao
MIDRAND, South Africa, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Africa's insistence that Robert
Mugabe be invited to a summit in Europe is a matter of principle and not a
sign of support for the Zimbabwean leader or his government, the chairman of
the African Union said on Friday.
The prospect that Mugabe, widely accused in the West of abusing human rights
and suppressing political opposition, could attend a European Union-AU
summit in Lisbon next month has threatened to derail the meeting.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he will boycott the summit, the
first to be held since 2000, if the 83-year-old Mugabe is invited. The
53-member AU, however, has held firm in its demand that Mugabe be allowed to
"It's a matter of principle," AU Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare told reporters
at a conference outside Johannesburg. "That position does not mean that we
support what is happening in Zimbabwe. It is the principle."
Konare, the former president of Mali, said he was confident that the
controversy had largely been defused, adding that he did not think the
political crisis in Zimbabwe would be an issue high up on the agenda in
The summit is intended to focus on areas requiring closer cooperation
between Europe and Africa, notably trade, migration and the establishment of
an energy partnership.
Mugabe, who sparked international outrage earlier this year when his police
arrested and beat dozens of political opponents, became persona non grata in
much of Europe after winning a 2002 election described as rigged by
The Zimbabwean leader and more than 100 other Zimbabwean officials are
banned from travelling to EU nations under sanctions imposed that year.
Britain, which ruled Zimbabwe under its former name Rhodesia until
independence in 1980, is the EU nation most publicly opposed to inviting
Mugabe to Portugal. Under EU rules, any member can veto the invitation.
But Brown has found little support for his summit position among his
European partners. Germany and Portugal, which holds the rotating six-month
EU presidency, are among those who have said they don't want the impasse to
block the summit.
The issue of whether to invite Mugabe, who has vowed to run for another term
as president next year, is the main reason the EU and Africa have not held a
summit since their first effort in Cairo seven years ago.
Harare - Zimbabwe has launched its first ever commercial bio-diesel plant
amid high hopes the project could ease diesel shortages, reduce the
country's imports bill or eventually lift the troubled nation's economy out
of recession. According to state daily, The Herald, the new plant will save
the foreign currency squeezed government US$80m annually in diesel imports.
The bio-diesel plant, according to the paper, has the capacity to produce
100 million litres of diesel annually if fully operational according to the
government mouthpiece. The plant, which processes jatropha, cotton seed,
sunflower and soya, among others, to produce bio-diesel, is a joint venture
between the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and Youn Woo Investments of South
Korea. Zimbabwe also scored big by being the the first country in the world
to produce bio-diesel with a bio-purity level of virtually 100%. Germany has
a bio-purity level of 75% while other European countries range from 2% to
20%. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who officiated the plant heaped
praises on the central bank and commended the two partners for coming up
with such a genius innovation. The achievement, Mugabe claimed was a
"derivative of government's far-sighted land reform programme." Zimbabwe,
according to the Herald "would now be cushioned against exogenous threats
relating to fuel supplies, particularly in terms of pricing and availability
when the plant is at full capacity". Mugabe said: "The strategic importance
of this bio-diesel programme is its symbiotic integration with Government's
thrust in agricultural productive activity. I am informed that once wholly
customised, this plant will, at full capacity, yield a production level of
100 million litres of diesel per year, meeting virtually all the
agricultural sector's diesel requirements for our strategic crops and other
"As a people, we have demonstrated that the dark clouds of our hard times,
particularly those sown by Western destructive forces, have their silver
lining by way of not just strengthening our resilience, but also of
deepening our scientific research and stimulating our innovativeness," he
said. Zimbabwe is also planing to install similar plants in all provinces of
the country within the next three years to meet the country's agricultural
and industrial productive sector fuel demands. Mugabe also called on
resettled farmers to produce enough oil seeds to meet both consumptive and
fuel production needs. At least 500 tonnes of seed oil would be required
annually to produce the targeted 100 million litres of bio-diesel. "Within
this context, therefore, it is once more necessary to challenge all
beneficiaries of the land acquisition exercise to ensure that every inch of
allocated land is put to good use," said Mugabe. Government hopes the
2007/2008 agricultural season will be the turning point in the country's
economic fortunes, with agricultural production providing the lead in the
transformation process. But critics say turning around the economy will not
be al that easy suggested by Mugabe. At the same event, Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe chief Gideon Gono announced a Z$1trillion finance facility for each
province for the production of jatropha, the major oil seed for the
bio-diesel processing technology. He said the facility was meant to
stimulate the growth and propagation of jatropha as feeder stock for
bio-diesel projects in each province. The launch of the bio-diesel plant is
part of a two-year strategy towards energy production, self-sufficiency and
import substitution. Jatropha had the highest oil content ahead of other
vegetable oil seeds. More farmers have been growing Jatropha after
government mooted the idea three years ago.
The jatropha facility would augment efforts to encourage production of the
crop, which has a 35% oil content, much higher than other seeds that average
17%. It took two to three years before jatropha seeds could be harvested
and, in the meantime, Zimbabwe is said to have excess capacity in terms of
pressing other oil seeds such as sunflower, cotton seed and soya. Zimbabwe
needs a least a billion litres of diesel annually. "Your Excellency, the
declared and undeclared sanctions against us as a country as well as the
hardships our people are experiencing, coupled with the continued rise in
the price of oil internationally, demands that we reconfigure our lives and
our economy in a manner that eases the plight of our people and reduce
dependency on those externalities and exogenous factors which we cannot
influence in our favour," said Gono. Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate
in the world now close to 8 000%, but economic experts say the figure will
come out higher this month.
Zimbabwe: House of Hunger
Published 2007-11-17 06:37 (KST)
When you walk in the rural parts of Zimbabwe you see the flip side of the
country's economic meltdown as characterized by empty shelves and an
inflation figure of 14,841 percent. Instead of the long lines for money,
maize meal, bread or whatever else that would have normally appeared on the
market that day, you come across solemn faces gathering wild fruits to
prepare for their next meal.
In the same village where people are struggling to find at least one meal in
a day, under a tree behind the hut where the chief sleeps is a brand new
Mazda B1800 and a tractor recently provided for him by the government. He is
one of the chiefs who has benefited from the agricultural mechanization
program the government has embarked on. The irony is that the chief does not
even have a Blair toilet and tills only two acres of land.
He experimented and started the B1800 before the villagers and his wives.
The car responded by leaping toward the unsuspecting villagers, who were
looking on and admiring the chief's latest acquisition. Now, the chief
enters the vehicle only to sit on a more comfortable sit or to discuss
An old man from the village told me, "We are surviving on sozvo [a wild
poisonous fruit that must be boiled and washed several times before it can
be consumed] and tamarind. We are fed up of these wild fruits but that is
all we can survive on. Sozvo has to be prepared by experienced people. I
have seen people dying after consuming it. I ate it yesterday and could not
do anything else as I spent the day drunk."
I could see tears in his eyes as he related his story.
He continued, when boiling sozvo the water foams; hence, you throw it away
and take the fruits to the river, a few kilometers away to rinse them. You
repeat the process of boiling and rinsing before you can cook them
overnight. Consequently, because the preparation process takes two to three
days, sozvo is prepared in large quantities by experienced people within the
village. If you are not careful in the preparation, the whole family can get
drunk after the meal, which is mainly consumed at suppertime due to its
In rural areas, mainly in the hot dry low-lying country, tamarind is mixed
with ashes from the colophospermum / mopane tree. This is mainly because its
ashes are white and they resemble maize meal, Zimbabwe's once staple diet
now hard to come by. This process again needs experienced people because if
the two are not mixed properly they result in a running stomach. This makes
the situation even worse for dogs in the communities that now survive on
The situation is not any better in urban areas as a balanced diet has become
a thing of the past.
The old man's parting words were, "We need help, we are hungry my child." He
probably has not eaten again today.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
16 November 2007
A strike by Zimbabwean magistrates now in its third week has paralyzed the
judicial system such that police officers with some legal training have been
brought in to help provincial magistrates in the main urban centers keep the
wheels of justice grinding.
But assistance from the provinces may not be lasting - magistrates and
prosecutors from Mashonaland West Province joined the strike Thursday,
bringing the number of provinces concerned to seven of 10, with disruption
throughout the country.
Members of the parliamentary committee on justice who met Thursday with
Ministry of Justice officials heard that the government does not have money
to meet the demands of the striking magistrates because the ministry has
exhausted its 2007 budget.
Magistrates are now demanding an increase in pay to a monthly Z$140 million,
about US$140, having stepped this up from an initial demand of $80 million.
Figures leaked from the national statistical agency showed inflation in
October at 14,841%.
University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Lovemore Madhuku told reporter Jonga
Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Harare has shown it is not
taking the strike seriously by saying it does not have enough money to reach
By Patience Rusere
16 November 2007
Among indications that the beginnings of reform may be starting to stir in
Zimbabwe is the possibility that the Daily News of Harare, shut down by the
government's watchdog over media in 2003, could return to the country's
newsstands before too long.
However, there is no shortage of skeptics who say that it may be asking too
much to hope that the Media and Information Commission, which refused to
grant a license to the Daily News four years ago, has sufficiently changed
as to reverse itself.
Still, Acting Chief Executive Officer John Gambanga of the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe, onetime publisher of the Daily News and the Daily
News on Sunday, said the group wrote to the MIC on Thursday asking it to
schedule a licensing hearing.
Gambanga told VOA if the commission reverses itself and authorizes
publication, the newspaper could hit the streets of Harare in about one
week's time. He said the group has a printing press and can quickly rehire
laid-off editorial and production staff.
After extended court action and deliberations in the government, Information
Minister Sikahanyiso Ndlovu said this week that he had instructed the
commission's chairman, Tafataona Mahoso and board member Pascal Mukondiwa,
to recuse themselves in the Daily News case. A court ruled early this year
that the two had shown a bias.
Gambanga told reporter Patience Rusere that despite a harsh economic
environment, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe is raring to relaunch the
Daily News co-founder and ANZ minority shareholder Wilf Mbanga, now
publisher of The Zimbabwean, a weekly published from London, cautioned that
the new media commission named last month may still harbor a bias against
Fri, 16 Nov 2007
South Africa and Zimbabwe have vowed to work together against forces
undermining political talks in Zimbabwe, the SA-Zimbabwe Joint Permanent
Commission on Defence and Security said on Thursday.
"The commission resolved to exchange information on those forces, internal
and external, which through misinformation and disinformation are bent on
undermining the process," the commission said in a media release.
At the opening of the session in Vanderbijlpark, Defence Minister Mosiuoa
Lekota said southern African countries faced a "very real challenge" of
regime changes encouraged by foreign powers.
His Zimbabwean counterpart Sydney Sekeramayi singled out Britain, calling
the former colonial power the chief architect of the regime change agenda in
Sekeramayi thanked President Thabo Mbeki for facilitating the talks between
the ruling Zanu PF party and the opposition MDC in Zimbabwe.
"It would not come as a surprise if Britain, the chief architect of regime
change agenda in Zimbabwe, makes a last ditch attempt at derailing the
talks," he said.
"They are rubbishing the progress that has been made so far and say, no,
there must be regime change - which is the agenda they are following,"
Sekeramayi told Sapa.
South Africa and Zimbabwe said they had noted progress.
"We are happy with the progress that is being achieved in these talks. It's
not going to be a quick march. It's naturally a slow process but so far so
good," Sekeramayi said.
He was confident that the elections scheduled for next year would be free
and fair. "The election will be held on schedule and as things are now in
Zimbabwe the environment is quiet," he said.
The two countries urged the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
On other "external threats", Lekota urged the Southern African Development
Community (Sadc) to use its influence in the African Union to sway other
countries on the continent to its stance on the newly established United
States African military command, known as Africom.
"We also have to manage Africom, which threatens our sovereignty," Lekota
He also warned of the "growing danger" of private security companies.
"This is a complex area because it's difficult to legislate against it. We
need to share information so that we can at least keep an eye on what these
companies are doing," he said.
By Henry Makiwa
16 November 2007
The sensational saga of the fake spirit medium who fooled the entire Mugabe
regime into believing that she could extract refined diesel fuel from a rock
has taken a new twist. On Thursday Robert Mugabe issued a long rant at the
"devious n'anga" Nomatter Tagarira, and publicly accused one of his
officials of being attracted to the self-proclaimed spirit medium.
Newsreel's investigations today revealed that many of those close to Mugabe
believe that National Security Minister Didymus Mutasa is the unnamed
official Mugabe suspects had an affair with Togarira. Addressing guests at
the commissioning of a new bio-diesel plant at Mount Hampden, Mugabe
admitted that his government had been duped by Tagarira, charging that he
will make sure that she "pays up."
He said: "I dispatched up to three ministers to her home after gathering
information about her work. When I asked them to report to me about the
spirit medium, some said she appeared too young, and others even said she is
"That's when I decided to kill off the story," Mugabe said.
Revelations that Tagarira in her Muningwa hills sanctuary hosted Mutasa for
a month, have led to widespread suspicions that he may have had an affair
Mutasa is understood to be under fire from Mugabe after Tagarira's male
spiritual aide told the press that the security minister had attempted to
put a curse on Mugabe. The man, Jeremiah Mambo Jenami says Mutasa wanted to
eliminate Mugabe to become president himself. Jenami now claims Mutasa's
henchmen are after his life for divulging the information.
The Standard newspaper's news editor Walter Marwizi, who has been following
the story, says the whole saga demonstrates government's desperation at
solving economic crisis.
"Mugabe is clearly lost for ideas on how to solve his mess," he said. "They
(ZANU-PF) bowed to her demands of two beasts and three buffaloes purportedly
required by the spirit possessing and guiding her. In addition they gave her
land, cash and a farmhouse. To imagine that the taxpayer lost over Z$5
billion to this prankster is just sad."
Marwizi added, "Instead of focusing on real issues Mugabe is searching for
answers in a lost world."
Zimbabwe is grappling with a severe economic crisis characterised by
shortages of basic commodities and fuel. It is under these circumstances
that Tagarira hatched her scheme.
Tagarira, whose aliases include Rotina Mavhunga and Changamire Dombo, pulled
a major scam on Mugabe's regime earlier this year. The self-styled spirit
medium claimed that she could conjure refined diesel out of a rock by
striking it with her staff in the same way the biblical Moses did while
drawing out water for the children of Israel in the wilderness during their
exodus from Egypt.
Even though Tagarira is locked up in custody awaiting trial on charges of
criminal nuisance, Mugabe on Thursday inferred that she is guilty and should
be punished. This may put judges under pressure to find her guilty.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Whether you are here at home in Zimbabwe or anywhere in the Diaspora, it is
clear to us that Zimbabweans deserve better political leadership than we
have seen so far through the ruling ZANU PF and the Movement for Democratic
Change. The time is now for political renewal and a new collective political
effort to take Zimbabweans that extra mile.
While the MDC can never be blamed for the current state of affairs in
Zimbabwe, as they are not the authors of the disastrous streak of policies
in Zimbabwe today - we all shudder at the realisation that the MDC as a
party has failed to be part of any meaningful solution. No longer the strong
party that was born in 1999, the MDC has since disintegrated into a
squabbling and ineffective group.
The ZPDP is now ushering in a new era of mature politics. We now introduce
the politics of engagement and constructive, resourceful thinking. The time
for flimsy and inconsistent policies is up. Our party has clearly
established and enunciated our New Vision for Zimbabwe's youth, women, men
and children. This is the time for all Zimbabweans to step up to the
political plate and partake in the process of reclaiming our country from
the possessive and destructive hands of a few politicians who are only
serving their personal interests at the expense of the nation of Zimbabwe.
We not only appeal to the hearts of Zimbabweans, but to the minds of our
colleagues too, because the politics we have seen so far has imprudently
been about wooing the hearts of people, with the impression that the people
of Zimbabwe do not think. Our people are being taken for granted and
appeased with petty hand-outs from the very people Zimbabweans have
entrusted with our own national resources. This is why some politicians use
money to buy their way into the hearts of people, thinking that the
Zimbabwean people do not have the heads to think and see beyond cheap
Our youth are being used as tools of violence, while our women are being
treated as second-class citizens. The ZPDP has and always will uphold an
open door policy towards the youth and women of our country. We not only
seek to meet SADC and UN prescribed quotas for representation of women in
politics, but we will go further. Our party will ensure that the involvement
of women and youth in Zimbabwean politics is meaningful and impactful. Our
Youth Policy is already posted on our website at www.zpdp.org and clearly
states what role our party would like to see our youth play including that
of active leadership.
The ZPDP would like to place our youth at the heart of government policy
formulation and implementation. We see the tremendous potential of our
youth, not as tools of violence and manipulation by politicians, but as
partners in the fight for the development and democractisation of our
country. Zimbabwe's youth are extremely resourceful, but they are being
denied the proper platform from which to play a meaningful role in the
betterment of their country. Under the current government, they have merely
been relegated to a peripheral role of catering to the interests of selfish
and abusive politicians. The ZPDP will seek to change that.
The ZPDP also fully understands the role that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora
can play. We are fully aware of the problems and implications associated
with the massive exodus of our people who have left Zimbabwe in droves to
live in other countries. The ruling ZANU PF has worsened the plight of
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora by adding scorn to the problem. The current
government has refused to recognise our people living in foreign countries
as equal citizens of our country and has gone as far as denying them the
right to vote in any elections.
Our party fully recognises the equality of Zimbabweans at home and those
abroad. We will create a policy environment in which Zimbabweans at home and
abroad will play an equally meaningful role in the development of our
country. It is a shame that the ruling ZANU PF has been very quick to
utilise the economic resources of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, while at the
same time disenfranchising them and failing to fully recognise their right
to political involvement in Zimbabwe.
The ZPDP will ensure that Zimbabweans abroad will be fully acknowledged in
all respects and will be allowed to fully participate in the democratic as
well as the economic processes of developing in Zimbabwe. This is why as our
party launches its New Vision for Zimbabwe we will be ensuring that
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are fully engaged.
The ZPDP is now in the process of establishing external structures around
the world. Our party will seek to set up offices and structures in South
Africa, the United Kingdom & Northern Ireland, the United States of America,
Republic of Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. This
is an opportunity for all Zimbabweans, both old and new the politics of
their motherland to come on board and play an active, meaningful part. Our
party strongly distastes nepotism, favouritism and patronage. All ZPDP party
structures at home and abroad will be filled according to merit only. There
will never be unjustified appointments of people to positions especially
those they have lost in elections.
Zimbabweans wherever they are, who wish to be part of the now very vibrant
and promising ZPDP party are encouraged to get themselves organised and
involved. Notices will be going out soon in various parts of the world and
all those interested in joining the party will be advised to respond to
these wherever they are conveniently located. Here in Zimbabwe our party is
finalising structures at national and provincial levels. These will be
confirmed at the forthcoming ZPDP conference in Zimbabwe.
Lastly, let me kindly challenge all Zimbabweans, wherever you are, to seize
the moment and become part of Zimbabwe's history. By working together, we
can secure the future and heritage of our people and our country.
We are stronger together.
Ms. Isabel Shanangurai Madangure
President, Zimbabwe People's Democratic Party (ZPDP)
Business In Africa
By Dr. Erik Hofstee
Zimbabwe is in the news again. No surprises there. This after Mugabe
achieved another minor victory at the recent Southern African Development
Community summit, further entrenching the status quo. No surprise. And South
Africa's role? You guessed it. No surprises there either. The Zimbabwe
question remains at an impasse.
Past loyalties aside, clearly South Africa does not want to get involved in
a matter that has all the characteristics of a lose-lose situation. Mugabe
is deeply embarrassing to South Africa and the consequences of his actions
impact South Africa negatively in many ways, but in the absence of any new
ideas, hoping for the best ("quiet diplomacy") remains South Africa's
preferred strategy. And truthfully, there's a lot to be said for it. The
problems in Zimbabwe are not of our making and, no matter what the rest of
the world may say, it's not our responsibility to solve them. Besides, what
can South Africa do? A diplomatic solution seems virtually impossible, and
an intervention involving the use of any kind of force is likely to prove
disastrous. But South Africa's interests are now under threat to such a
degree that it is becoming virtually impossible to remain on the sidelines.
Mugabe is an accomplished and ruthless politician, and by no means a stupid
man, but events have overtaken him. He is now one of Churchill's dictators
who ride "upon tigers which they dare not dismount". At this stage Mugabe's
only sane ambition can be to protect himself, his family and his fortune,
and perhaps if his loyalties extend that far, those of selected cronies. If
he can devise a way of exiting the stage on his own terms while leaving a
worthwhile legacy, so much the better, although even he must admit that this
is looking increasingly unlikely. Can Mugabe's goals be accomplished without
sacrificing either South Africa's interests or those of ordinary
Here's an idea: What if Zimbabwe could be persuaded to hold a referendum to
decide whether they wanted to merge with South Africa to form a new,
amalgamated nation? This is not South African neo-colonialism, but rather a
merger between two sovereign nations in the best interests of both. A
statesman of the calibre of Nelson Mandela has the standing and moral
authority to mediate such a deal.
Under those circumstances South Africa could afford to invest heavily in the
reconstruction process (after all, it would be akin to taking money from one
pocket and putting it in the other; Zimbabweans will be us, and we will be
them). Foreign nations with a stake could be persuaded to do the same, again
to the advantage of all concerned.
The outcome of the referendum would seem almost a foregone conclusion. Given
the current situation and the probable future, full citizenship in South
Africa is a prize worth winning. Indeed, millions of Zimbabweans have
already voted with their feet. In the new meta-state those who prefer to
remain in South Africa could legally do so, while those who prefer to return
could return in safety. Zimbabwe's people, well-educated and hardworking,
would be an asset to South Africa, and the looming refugee situation would
be solved in one fell swoop. There are no patriotic reasons to object; by
what reasoning, other than pragmatic, should modern Africans owe loyalty to
borders drawn up by defunct colonial powers?
Mugabe could be guaranteed freedom from prosecution within the borders of
the new meta-state, and perhaps with some clever diplomatic manoeuvrings,
beyond its borders. His wealth can also be secured. A similar amnesty could
be granted to other power-players in Mugabe's regime. One can also think of
several other incentives that would encourage their cooperation. The same
can be said regarding opposition politicians. Not least, a solution of this
nature would allow Mugabe to exit the political arena as a statesman who
ultimately used his power in the best interests of his people and Africa in
general. The concessions that will need to be made will be unpalatable to
many, but consider the alternatives.
From South Africa's perspective, Zimbabwe is a country full of potential -
its people, its mineral wealth and arable land are just what South Africa
needs. South Africa would benefit not just from the material assets but also
from the regional stability, the newly created economies of scale, and from
the resolution of a very thorny problem. The difficulties of integration and
reconstruction would be repaid many times over to the benefit of the
citizens of the new meta-state, both those of today and future generations.
The amalgamating of the two nations will be full of practical difficulties,
but it is by no means impossible. Borders change all the time, and the
expansion of borders to form new nations is far from being without precedent
in world history. But history also shows that worthwhile accomplishments
require proportionate effort. Given the current situation, the time seems
right to bring forth that effort from both sides of the border.
Sokwanele Article: 16 November 2007
[More images available here -LINK] Last week on the night of Wednesday 7th November, Amber, DJ and Sprinter were murdered. They were three adult black rhino, all shot dead by poachers. Amber was pregnant, due to give birth this week, but her perfectly formed foetus died with her. Their deaths represent a massive blow to black rhino conservation efforts in Zimbabwe.
The black rhino is listed as critically endangered, and is the most highly endangered large mammal on earth - it is being wiped out of existence faster than any other large animal on earth.
Imire Game Farm in Wedza, near Marondera, has been involved in wildlife conservation work since 1972. Whilst the world population of black rhino fell from 65,000 to 2,300 between 1970 and 1994, the Zimbabwe population fell from 2,000 to only 263 in the 6 years prior to 1993. The latest figures for the Zimbabwe rhino population are from December 2005 when there were 527 black rhino and 308 white rhino, but these figures have fallen since then due to poaching. By 1987, a decision was taken in Zimbabwe to move the remaining rhinos from the Zambezi Valley and to relocate them in Intensive Protection Zones. It was a desperate bid to save Zimbabwe’s last black rhino.
Amber, DJ and Sprinter, along with four other rhino orphans, began their new lives at Imire in 1987. They were aged between 4 and 6 months. 20 years later, last week, the three adults were senselessly slaughtered. Internationally renowned conservationist Dr Ian Player, who spearheaded Operation Rhino, an initiative in the Umfolozi Game Reserve that saved the few remaining southern race of white rhino from extinction, was appalled at the news.
Speaking from his home in South Africa, Dr Player said:
The shocking killing of a heavily pregnant black rhino and leaving a four week-old orphaned rhino calf on Imire Game Farm in Zimbabwe must arouse the anger of human mothers throughout the world to rise relentlessly against this crime against endangered animal life.
Reports are that their killers arrived at the farm on Wednesday evening dressed in Zimbabwe Army camouflage fatigues and that they were armed with AK-47 rifles. They beat up a maid and left her tied her up. They then forced someone else to lead them to the rhino pens where they viciously assaulted the guards whose job it was to watch over the vulnerable animals all day and all night. Amber, DJ and Sprinter were shot and killed, and only Tatenda, a four-week-old calf, was left unharmed. (DJ and Sprinter were Tatenda’s parents).
The senselessness of their killings is compounded by the fact that two months ago a decision was taken at Imire to have Amber, DJ and Sprinter dehorned - this is a procedure that involves a wildlife veterinarian literally sawing off the rhino’s horn. It is expensive to carry out, has to be repeated annually every time the horn stumps re-grow, and it carries mortality risks for the animal brought on from the stress associated with immobilisation and capture. It also may not work: poachers in Zimbabwe killed 80 dehorned rhino in 1993.
This must have been a very difficult decision for the owners to take, and indicates some measure of their concern and desperation. Their decision was made after another wildlife conservancy close to Imire had experienced a similar violent attack that resulted in the deaths of three white rhino.
The slaughter of three dehorned rhino seems to be especially pointless and motiveless, leading the owner of the game farm, John Travers, to assume that the poachers couldn’t see that the rhinos had had their horns removed because it was a dark night.
But Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, assumes differently.
Speaking in his personal capacity, he told SW Radio Africa that he believed the shootings were linked to the ongoing illegal eviction of commercial white farmers. He said:
As far as I am concerned it is some greedy officer in the army or air force that actually wants that property and that's one way of trying to get the people off.
The fact that the poachers were dressed and armed just like Zimbabwean soldiers adds to the suspicion. So does the knowledge that the government frequently uses armed soldiers and militia to intimidate and enforce commercial farm evictions. It is also fair to say that the rarity and importance of black rhino conservation efforts to the whole world would be a major stumbling block to any ‘greedy officer’ who wanted to seize the farm. Killing them, dehorned or not, removes the stumbling block.
A private email, forwarded to Sokwanele by a subscriber to alert us to the story, clearly articulates the owners’ position with regards the rhinos and their conservation efforts in the complex and difficult political climate that is Zimbabwe today. It reads:
Imire Safari Ranch has always been apolitical, and we remain that. Our sole job is to protect and cherish the wildlife belonging to Zimbabwe. We have worked alongside National Parks and Wildlife, and the Ministry of Tourism since 1972. Through these trying times, we have had enormous support from these Departments. We will continue to do so.
Unfortunately, the repercussions of Zimbabwean politics ripple through all aspects of Zimbabwean life, regardless of political inclination, and it is possible that the Amber, DJ and Sprinter are among the latest victims. The more rapidly the country disintegrates into lawlessness and economic chaos, the more vulnerable protected species become and the harder it is to protect them.
In a report released earlier this year, the wildlife monitoring organisation TRAFFIC said that rhino poaching is at its most severe in Zimbabwe and the DRC, where 60 percent of rhino population were illegally killed between 2003 and 2005. In Zimbabwe, poaching accounted for two-thirds of all rhino mortalities over the same period, affecting one in eight animals. The Congo is recovering from years of conflict and Zimbabwe is experiencing civil unrest, a crippled economy and soaring inflation; both countries, the report said, are not only failing to rein in poachers, but their law-enforcement agencies are struggling to prevent horns being illegally traded.
Inflation stood at 7 892,1% in September 2007 (independent estimates put real inflation closer to 25 000%). Hyperinflation, coupled with massive unemployment, food shortages and declining social services leads to increasing desperation among decent Zimbabweans. Add to that a social environment where the rule of law is discarded in favour of political imperatives, it isn’t difficult to see how poaching for something as internationally lucrative as ‘rhino horn’ starts to look like a viable survival option with diminished risks. It is hardly surprising in this context that, having slaughtered Amber, DJ and Sprinter, the poachers spent some time trying to hack out the inch of new horn growth from Sprinter’s face. Regardless of why they were originally there – whether they were soldiers or poachers – even the smallest piece of horn in a crumbling economy was too tempting an opportunity to pass up.
The decimation of Zimbabwe’s wildlife and environment has been worsening every year. In 2005, we reported on the wide scale destruction one of our reporters witnessed in Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park:
The first thing they noticed on entering what used to be a strictly controlled ecozone of outstanding natural beauty, was that all the fences had been removed. All that remained were the steel poles bedded in the hard earth. Entering the park they were then struck by the number of indigenous trees that had been felled - literally thousands - leaving bare, empty plains where mixed woodlands had once stood. So much for the natural habitat that once supported a vast range of wild and bird life, but there was worse to come.The formerly abundant grasslands had been devastated too, grossly overgrazed by cattle and goats, which now wandered freely through the area. The cause of this massive degradation of natural resources was of course the settlers who had moved into the area in search of fresh pastures and easy-to-harvest game. Indeed our reporter found abundant evidence of the hunting and slaughter of wildlife with rifles. The game wardens who at one time jealously guarded the wildlife against poachers are now instructed by their new political bosses to let things be.
As well as our National Parks, private game farms and conservancies have also been bitterly affected. It is estimated that over 80% of the wildlife kept in conservancies and on commercial farms has been destroyed through poaching and snaring since the land invasions began. The total loss of wildlife on private game ranches is believed to stand at over 90%, equating to a total of about 560,000 animals.
The reality is that these estimated figures are just that, estimates. The political situation in the country makes it very difficult to get a real grip of the scale of the problem. An opinion piece published on zimbabweconservation.com attempts to get to grips with the facts and figures and the process of doing so describes the difficulties as follows:
Accurate monitoring of the poachers’ toll is impossible. Wildlife researchers and law enforcement are now barred from going into many former game farms and safari concessions, making any systematic appraisal impossible under the current regime. These areas often abut National parks and it is likely that they represent wildlife sinks for animals that move beyond National Park boundaries. A few well-documented cases offer a tip-of-the-iceberg view of the situation.
If Amber, DJ and Sprinter represent the tip of the black rhino iceberg, then it is worth pointing out that, when we talk about endangered species like the back rhino, we are talking about a very very small iceberg.
We had an approximate 7,500 black rhino in Zimbabwe in the 1980s and wildlife experts estimate now that only 500 black rhino are still surviving. This figure represents a very small gene pool, and three healthy adult black rhinos therefore play a critical role in building a healthy population that will help the species to survive.
Imire, has lost their entire adult population and now face a struggle to protect the four remaining orphans under their care. In addition to this farm’s losses, it is reported that a large conservancy in the Mavuradonha area, about 200km north of Harare, had their rhino population fall from 54 to 8 in the last year. Other conservancies in the central Midlands province lost 31 in the same period, and are down to 21 now. The rhino ‘iceberg’ is melting fast, and if steps are not taken to address the grotesque scale of the problem, then very soon – perhaps in a few short years - there will be no black rhino left in Zimbabwe at all.
Zimbabwe ratified the Convention on Sustaining Biodiversity in 1994, an International Treaty emerging from the Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992. It needs to take action and address the devastating consequences that Zanu-PF government policies have had on our country’s biodiversity and ecological sustainability. For example, a return to the rule of law would help: Sue Lieberman, the director of WWF's global species programme has said, “better law-enforcement and protection measures are still needed for African rhinos, particularly in the DRC and Zimbabwe”.
Why should the Zanu PF government or we care about a few rhino?
The email from Imire referred to earlier in this article hints at a global imperative motivating and sustaining those fighting for the survival of critically endangered species:
We are sickened, we are deeply wounded. As a human race, we have let down these Black Rhino, which are disappearing from the face of our planet so very fast.
In response to news of the atrocities, Dr Player sent out this appeal:
The whole of the African continent will now suffer the consequences of this unforgivable act. I appeal to the world to help save the black rhino in Zimbabwe as we in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, saved the white rhino.
The slaughter at Imire is not simply a loss to Zimbabwe, it’s a loss to Africa, and it’s a loss to the world. When the poachers shot and killed Amber, DJ and Sprinter they recklessly hastened the demise of a species that will affect the whole human race throughout the world. The likelihood that our children will ever see a black rhino in their lifetimes diminishes dramatically with the slaughter of every single rhino. The black rhino is so rare and is so endangered, that the knock-on effect of each death is literally that dramatic.
Imire Appeal for reward funding
Reward funding required towards the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for the brutal killing of our 3 Black Rhino at Imire Game Park on the night of 7th November 2007
DJ mother of 7 week old Tatenda (now orphaned); Sprinter (father of Tatenda); and Amber (pregnant mother and ready to give birth).
They were shot while in their bomas. In 20 seconds our Black Rhino breeding stock were annihilated
Obviously the bigger the reward the better the prospects of these culprits being brought to JUSTICE all funds will be carefully monitored and invested until such time the reward is paid or refunded to those who have contributed
All funds made payable to
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November 16, 2007 Silver Spring, Maryland, United States .... [Elizabeth
Students at Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities in North America
are raising funds to provide immediate assistance to a fellow university in
Zimbabwe that church leaders say is running out of food.
Adventist-owned Solusi University near Bulawayo, in the Southern part of
Zimbabwe, is on the verge of sending students home due to the country's food
crisis. Solusi's estimated 3,200 students, faculty and staff -- along with
much of the country -- have faced dwindling food supplies since February
2007, when hyperinflation and widespread droughts cleared the country's
shelves and fields of food.
At a November 9 worship service, students, faculty and staff at
Adventist-owned Andrews University started a fund for Solusi. The Berrien
Springs, Michigan-based university has since matched the amount collected,
and "ripple effect" collections on campus have added to the tally,
organizers there say. The fundraising is expected to continue into the
November 16 to 19 weekend.
Other Adventist universities in North America -- including Union College in
Lincoln, Nebraska, and Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California --
are expected to join the effort, organized by leadership in the church's
North American region. In a separate effort, La Sierra University Church
also collected funds for Solusi.
"This has to be an ongoing effort," says Larry Blackmer, vice president for
Education for the church in North America. "Otherwise, Solusi will get a
bunch of food in one load and none afterward." Blackmer anticipates the
project will continue for six months to a year.
The first collection of funds, Blackmer says, has already been sent to the
church's regional headquarters in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where the money will
be used to purchase food in Botswana, Mozambique or South Africa and trucked
across the border into Zimbabwe. University officials estimate US $120,000
would buy enough food in Zimbabwe's neighboring countries to sustain Solusi
for a year.
Church leaders resorted to a similar solution in September, when the
organizers of an Adventist youth training conference brought food in from
Botswana to feed the 350 delegates gathered in Zimbabwe for nearly a week.
Food supplies for Solusi have "been scarce for quite some time," according
to the church in Zimbabwe. Reports from the university indicate that food,
where available, is prohibitively expensive for those on Solusi salaries.
Fifty percent price cuts ordered by the Zimbabwean government in June to
fight inflation have only accelerated the country's food crisis. Reports
indicate the abrupt cuts spurred panic buying that drained already limited
"Food is a short-term solution, but it is really the only way to help the
students at Solusi right now," says Andre Brink, director of Communication
for the Adventist Church's Southern Africa-Indian Ocean region. "Even their
agricultural fields in the south of the country are all dried up. They are
not able to plant because of the drought. People in that region are really
Brink, who visited Zimbabwe in February, says that sending money or food to
the country is a challenge. Published reports indicate most non-governmental
agencies refuse to work in Zimbabwe because aid is often seized and
redistributed to government-approved recipients. Limits on food purchased in
neighboring countries and brought back to Zimbabwe have also been imposed.
Compact, highly nutritious packets of food are the best way to get food to
Solusi, Brink says.
University officials say they plan to obtain an irrigation system and
farming equipment in an effort to achieve food self-sufficiency within six
Solusi University, established in 1894, is Zimbabwe's largest private
university. The campus also includes an elementary school and a high school.
New Era (Windhoek)
16 November 2007
Posted to the web 16 November 2007
Namibia will receive the first 40 megawatts of electricity from Zimbabwe's
Hwange Power Station on December 31.
This follows the signing of a multi-million-dollar loan and power purchase
agreement between the two countries early this year.
Namibia and Zimbabwe signed an agreement that provides for US$40 million
(about N$280 million) loan financing by NamPower for the refurbishment of
the Hwange Power Station's four generators and a power purchase agreement to
underpin the investment made by NamPower.
Minister of Mines and Energy, Erkki Nghimtina, on Monday visited the Hwange
Power Station to assess progress made on the project.
Yesterday the Minister confirmed to New Era that the project has progressed
well and that Namibia will soon receive power from Zimbabwe.
The agreement will allow Namibia to import 150 megawatts for a period of
five years from the Hwange plant that has a generating capacity of 480
In terms of the agreement, the first 40 of the 150 megawatts would be
supplied to Namibia as soon as the first generator is rehabilitated.
"They will be ready by December 30 and on December 31, we will receive the
first 40 megawatts," said Nghimtina.
Work on the four units is at various stages of completion.
Unit one is likely to be commissioned in May next year, unit two in July and
unit four in September.
So far, the two utilities are on schedule to meet these targets, the
The power will be imported from Zimbabwe via South Africa until the Caprivi
link is completed. Once complete, Namibia will directly import power from
Zimbabwe. The Caprivi link is likely to be commissioned in 2009.
"The Zesa/NamPower Agreement is a reflection of the excellent relations that
exist between our two countries and people. In this regard, the visit by the
Minister is a demonstration of concretising those relations into economic
development in the context of SADC and South-South Cooperation," said a Zesa
Namibia's maximum power demand stands at 410 megawatts and it imports
between 50 and 150 megawatts from South Africa.
The Ruacana plant generates a maximum of 240 megawatts. The Paratus plant
with a generation capacity of 24 megawatts and Van Eck, whose capacity
stands at 120 megawatts, are stand-by utilities.
Zambia and Zimbabwe, which are on non-binding contracts with the country,
supply approximately 50 megawatts to Namibia.