The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

JAG Open Letters Forum No. 397


Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Letter 1:


There is a chance that Avian Influenza may enter Zimbabwe.

Please be on the lookout for dead birds, especially groups of dead birds
and water birds.

If you find any dead birds, please USE GLOVES, put it in a plastic bag (do
not freeze/refrigerate) and take to the WildLife Veterinary Unit on the
Borrowdale Road - Attention Dr Chris Foggin, Dr Varaidzo Mukorera or Mrs
Jane Chambers - for immediate post mortem.

The Wildlife Veterinary Unit (Zimbabwe Government) has asked us to give all
our members this instruction.

Thank you for your help and support.

There is the belief that it will be spread via migratory birds.

Advice is to make sure that chicken meat is cooked well and no raw eggs to
eat or use. Eggs should be very well cooked, baked or fried .


Letter 2:

Dear JAG,

A friend of mine is in need of a lift from Howick, Kwa Zulu Natal to
Harare. Wishes to leave Howick approx.18th December. Please contact Jill
Hunter on 04 494660 before the 7th December.  Many thanks.

All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Forget MDC, force ZANU PF out then piggy-back Zimbabwe

by Godwell Manyangadze

After allegations against Morgan Tsvangirai by his deputy and ex-ZCTU
Chairman, Gibson Sibanda, there is no choice except to

1.) forget about MDC beating Mugabe to the political game,

2.) fight Mugabe, even through the barrel of the gun,

3.) have Koffi Annan come in through the United Nations "only after a blood

4.) then piggy-back Zimbabwe with one of the developed countries, if we are
to save ourselves as a nation.

Gibson Sibanda's faction has also just given itself a very long strong rope
to hang itself, by revealing exactly what it is also made of. Gibson Sibanda
just revealed to the public that they are also corrupt like ZANU PF. Why did
they sweep under the carpet Morgan Tsvangirai's corruption in the ZCTU, as
well as his mistakes now when he is the MDC leader? It is because that is
what us Africans are made of. We tell the boss or ourselves what we want him
or ourselves to hear. We never tell the truth. Had Gibson Sibanda told the
truth and died for it, he would be a true hero today, but he opted to lie to
the masses; making Morgan Tsvangirai look like a good leader yet he was not.
People trusted Morgan Tsvangirai but today how do the same people feel about
what Gibson Sibanda is saying?

Gibson Sibanda bred a snake who later on was now biting him by "secretly and
unbeknown to his collegues", flying to Montreal, Canada, to get  US$5
million from Ari Ben Menashe-a former Isreali spy, who later turned out to
be the State's star witness in his treason trial. Gibson Sibanda has told us
that he is one of the people responsible for lying to the masses of Zimbabwe
about the true nature of Morgan Tsvangirai. What Gibson Sibanda did not know
was that the carpet he was using to cover Morgan Tsvangirai's corrupt
tendencies during their ZCTU era and incompetence in the present office
would one day wear out and need to be removed by either himself or someone
else. It just makes me feel better that he is trying to clean up that mess
he had put under the carpet. The interesting lesson Gibson Sibanda should
learn from this is that "never sweep any rubbish under the carpet-it smells
more for whoever attends to it later". Rubbish belongs to the rubbish dump.

There are 50 percent chances that MDC is also being affected by the
tribalism game. That is one of Africa's main enemies. We do not know how to
deal with it.

Looking at Mugabe you would find out that people never told him what he did
not want to hear because everyone around him did not want to die or be
punished for the truth. They preferred and still prefer to please him
whether his government does good or bad. Why? Because it is our nature. It
is Zimbabweans' nature to lie, pretend, and not to say it as it is.
Zimbabweans' nature is that of neither conscience, dignity, nor respect for
human life. Both in the high ranks of Robert Mugabe's government and that of
the now fighting factions of MDC have neither conscience nor respect for the
people they lead and are hoping to lead respectively.

These corrupt officials come from us, Zimbabweans, and some are our
relatives and whether we gain from it or not, it is all our nature and that
is why we have to forget about MDC, force ZANU PF out and then piggy-back
our country if, and only if, we still want to survive. Otherwise, Africa is
going to be EXTINCT.

For some of you selfish ones, it will be better piggy-backing to the same
people who will definitely take over when we are extinct because of our lack
of accountability.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwean government urged to implement consistent investment

People's Daily


      The Zimbabwean government should implement consistent investment
policies to boost investor confidence and attract foreign direct investment
into the country, stakeholders said on Wednesday.

      Stakeholders who attended the last pre-budget seminar to be held
before the presentation of the 2006 National Budget on December 1, said
predictable and consistent policies and reassurance on the safety of assets
would create a conducive environment that promotes investment and
reinvestment by companies that have relocated elsewhere.

      Stakeholders said sectors, chief among them the mining sector, were
not benefiting from foreign investment as investors had adopted a wait and
see attitude as a result of "unfavorable and unclear policies."

      "Investment is the only way industry can grow and the key to luring
investment and key to ensure that is the issues of policies, " said Chamber
of Mines economist, David Machaga.

      The stakeholders said it was through investment that industry,
currently reeling under macro economic instability, could increase its
capacity currently at bout 30 percent.

      Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono, in his recent monetary
policy statement said creating an enabling environment was central to the
economy's turnaround program.

      Investment attraction could only be achieved through unreserved
assurance to the international investor community of total security of their
assets, he said.

      "It is for this reason that we implore the relevant authorities to
institute stringent laws that protect private property rights," he said.

      Other key issues stakeholders raised were the need of proper financing
to the agricultural sector to ensure food safety, infrastructure

      Key stakeholders including the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce,
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Chamber of Mines, Affirmative Action
Group and representatives of labor bodies among others, attended the

      Source: Xinhua

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Is this any way to begin life?

Premature births have reached epidemic proportions in Britain with 18,000
babies a year spending their first weeks in an incubator. But a pioneering
doctor claims keeping them apart from their mothers damages their
development. Nils Bergman tells Emily Wilson why the best place for an early
baby is on its mother's skin

Thursday November 17, 2005
The Guardian

In 1988 Nils Bergman, the son of two Swedish missionaries, began work as a
doctor at a remote mission hospital in south-west Zimbabwe. He was one of
two resident medics, and between them they were responsible for an operating
theatre, 106 hospital beds, 11 rural medical centres and the health of
200,000 people. Bergman's duties were varied, his interests likewise: for
several years, he was primarily concerned with the treatment of scorpion
stings (the fourth most common cause of inpatient admissions in the area).
But he also developed an interest in premature babies, and it is this that
may one day make him famous.

There were no incubators at the Manama mission hospital, nor ventilators.
Care for premature babies involved hot-water bottles and cotton-wool
blankets: nine out of 10 died. One of Bergman's colleagues, a midwife named
Sister Agneta Jurisoo, had read about work on "kangaroo care" - skin-to-skin
contact between mother and premature baby - in Colombia. Why didn't they try
it? Kangaroo care was designed as therapy for babies who had already been
stabilised, but in the absence of better options, Bergman and Jurisoo took
it as their starting point.
"We used mothers as incubators," says Bergman. "Flat out, full out. Instead
of using incubators to stabilise the baby, we used the mother." Mothers were
told to hold their babies to their skin day and night. Bergman's wife helped
design a shirt that would hold the baby in place; Bergman learned to make
sure the baby's airways stayed open by tying the infant's head in position
with a theatre towel. The team found, through trial and error, the best
angle at which mother and baby should lie in their hospital bed. They were
soon saving small babies - babies of just over 2lb at birth. The youngest
they saved was born at 28 weeks. And the babies seemed peculiarly well in
themselves, Bergman says. "I saw babies that behaved in a way that was
extremely different from what an incubator baby looks like. It's so chalk
and cheese, I sometimes jokingly say, 'This is a new species of premature
baby.' They're aware, they're connected, they grow."

With nothing more sophisticated than piped oxygen and antibiotics at their
disposal, there wasn't much they could do with babies born before 31 weeks'
gestation, Bergman says, but survival rates generally went up to 50%. That
may compare badly with near-100% survival rates for post-30-week babies in
state-of-the-art western units, but then survival, for Bergman, is a
"surrogate outcome". His work on kangaroo care in Zimbabwe, and since then
in more sophisticated circumstances in South Africa, has brought him to the
conclusion that incubators - ubiquitous in rich countries since the 1940s -
have led orthodox neonatal medicine up a blind alley. An entire raft of
medical science has been built around incubators - but they are a poor
second best. "Mother's skin, chest, is a far better place and safer place to
stabilise a baby," he says. It's the only place, he argues, where a
premature baby's brain can develop properly, where "wiring defects" can be
avoided. "We are producing babies with brain wiring of 70% but 100% survival
and we're smiling, because we're saving them. I'm saying: 'This is

Premature births have reached epidemic proportions in Britain: around one in
eight babies are now born early - 80,000 a year. There are lots of reasons
for the rise: increasing numbers of older mothers, increasing numbers of
younger mothers, increasing numbers of multiple births (thanks to IVF) and
advances in antenatal medicine. People argue a lot about how far we should
go with all this - whether 22- or 23-week babies should be saved. What they
don't argue about is the core treatment that is doled out to these babies.

According to Rob Williams, chief executive of the premature baby charity
Bliss, of the British babies born early each year, around 18,000 receive the
full-on, hi-tech, alarm-heavy, floodlit incubator experience. Most of the
rest receive some sort of "special care" in a cot on a neo-natal ward. All
are separated from their mothers - that's the constant. Babies on one ward,
mothers on another, or even in a different hospital, as happened to Prince
Andrew's wife, Sophie. It's a separation that feels beyond awful for all
directly concerned. But parents are kept going by the knowledge that the
horror is unavoidable; that without it their child might die. In most units,
parents are encouraged to take their child out of its cot or incubator for
so-called kangaroo-care sessions - there's plenty of science showing that
such contact is good for both mother and baby - but it's very much an
add-on, and if the baby's not judged to be stable, the baby stays in its

Bergman says this is topsy turvy. He thinks mothers and babies should only
ever be separated in extreme circumstances. "You want babies on their
mother's skin 24 hours, as the default setting," he says. Skin-to-skin
contact provides all the warmth a baby needs, and helps to regulate a baby's
breathing, he says; any extra help needed (such as oxygen, drips, monitors
or a feeding tube) shouldn't stop the baby being on the mother - just add
the technology to the mother-baby unit.

Only proximity to the mother can provide a baby with all the sensory
stimulation necessary for proper brain development, he goes on. When he
talks about "70% brain wiring", he is plucking figures from the air - he
does not mean to be taken literally. But if premature babies do only achieve
70% wiring, say, what sort of things are going to be wrong with them?
There's the obvious, measurable stuff, he says - IQ and so on - and then
there's the stuff that's hard to measure. Such as? "Ability to relate."

He says: "The brain is complex. Layers on layers. It depends on timing, on a
complex glue of nature and nurture and sequence ... if something happens at
this point, it could make an aggressive child; if it happens at that point,
it could make a passive child." But what about the really little babies, the
24-weekers the length of pencils? Bergman would argue that those babies need
their mothers more than most, if they're to have any chance of a good
outcome. Can a child ever recover, in his opinion, from the "insults", as he
calls them, of separation and incubator care? Does he think you can love it
out of them afterwards? "Yes I do," he says. "To an extent."

Bergman has done research on skin-to-skin versus incubators at Cape Town's
Mowbray maternity hospital, the first of its kind, and the first proper
controlled trial, he would argue, of incubators. It was a very small study,
involving just 33 babies, and lasted for only the first six hours of the
babies' lives, but it's interesting none the less. Bergman says 92% of the
incubator babies got into trouble at some point; enough to need a doctor to
step in - against only 17% of the skin-to-skin babies. The second group were
"very much more stable", he says.

Bergman is a religious man, and he is evangelistic about kangaroo care and
breastfeeding (and the perils of formula). The west prefers its scientists
rather more cool and dispassionate, but Bergman is no New Age flake. His
pioneering work in South Africa has had real impact: in some provinces,
round-the-clock kangaroo care is becoming standard. Bergman says a hospital
in Pretoria now has 40 or so "mother beds" on its neonatal ward - mothers on
drips, babies on oxygen, but together. Could it ever happen here?

"We're interested in funding more research into this sort of area," says Rob
Williams, at Bliss. "We're about to fund a study into kangaroo care in the
UK ... but it wouldn't be instead [of incubators] but with." But he doesn't
dismiss Bergman's ideas of 24-hour kangaroo care out of hand - far from it.
"This reflects a lot of new thinking," he says.

Bergman, who is 50 and a father of three, was in Britain this week to
address Unicef UK's annual baby-friendly initiative conference. He was here
to talk about premature babies, but his interests remain wide - he talks
about "the biology of wellbeing", and has strong views on a wide range of
parenting issues. He thinks it's wrong to separate women from their
full-term newborns, too, even for short periods, and that separation is a
key cause of low breastfeeding rates. He thinks women should carry their
babies everywhere for the first eight months; that they should take them to
work with them if necessary; that workplaces should change dramatically to
accommodate babies, and if they can't, that women should be properly
rewarded for staying at home. Bergman says that babies can only cope with
one change in their primary carer in the first year, and that nurseries are
not a suitable habitat for babies.

He gets shouted at a lot when he talks like this, he says, but he remains
unrepentant. "If it's damaging their babies, I have an obligation to tell
them. If society insists they damage their babies, they have a
responsibility to tell society where to go. Society can't change overnight,
but it must know it has to change. I'm a public health physician, woe to me
if I don't tell you the truth"

ˇ The full abstract of Bergman's kangaroo-care trial can be found at For more information on his
work, visit

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim passports for 15 000 Libyans


November 16, 23.55 HRS BST

Harare - Zimbabweans applying for passports, births, deaths certificates and
national identity cards at the Registrar-General's Office at Makombe
Building in Harare, have complained the office is giving preference to
Libyan, Congolese and Mozambican nationals.
 Zim cops profit in housing scheme!

Unofficial estimates say that about 15 000 Libyans have had their Zimbabwean
passports processed by the office after they renounced their Libyan
citizenship. There are fears that once the aliens have acquired local
passports, they will be allowed to register to vote in the next presidential
election, boosting Zanu PF's waning fortunes. Libyan embassy officials last
week played down the number of Libyans in Zimbabwe, saying they did not
exceed 1 000.
"Only about seven people have renounced their Libyan citizenship to assume
Zimbabwean citizenship to abide by the recently enacted Citizenship of
Zimbabwe Act," a Libyan embassy official said.
More than 100 000 foreigners have been to the Citizenship Office in the last
three months to renounce their citizenship to enable them to vote in the
next presidential election. Hundreds of people are spending the night at the
Registrar-General's Office, but most say they still fail to obtain
passports, births, and deaths certificates and national identity cards.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

CIO Tortured UK Deportee


November 16, 23.55 HRS BST

A Zimbabwean dissident who was refused asylum in Britain and sent home has
been beaten and tortured by the Central Intelligence Organisation, a
confidential affidavit seen by our sources reveals.

The deportee (name provided), who supported the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), had his asylum claim turned down and was deported
on 16 July from UK.

He arrived in Zimbabwe a day later despite protests from human rights
groups. The affidavit obtained from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
stated that the deportee was picked up at the airport by secret police from
President Robert Mugabe's feared CIO and beaten. He escaped through a police
station window. He then turned up at a relative's house in the southern city
of Bulawayo bleeding and bruised, and wearing only shorts.

"I found the CIO waiting for me (at the airport) and (they) took me to jail.
Their main aim was to kill me,' said written testimony obtained from ZLHR.

The deportee has now fled to a neighbouring country. The relatives who
helped him flee have been beaten by security police looking for the
activist. Other Zimbabwean asylum seekers with links to the MDC have been on
a waiting list of deportation from Britain after having their claims turned
down, despite evidence of the killing of opposition figures.

Zimbabwean asylum seekers waiting to be deported from Britain have long been
terrified of the fate that awaits them. But our sources understand that the
British government has stayed the deportation of Zimbabweans . Activists say
the deportation of the dissidents was against Britain's own political stance
on Zimbabwe which has been critical of Mugabe's actions against the

'The Home Office is unwilling to recognise the situation is going into
freefall in Zimbabwe. It is getting worse every day. The risk to these
people who are being sent back is very real,' said an activist of the
Zimbabwe Association.

Liberal Democrats are on record saying the returnees faced a 'very
dangerous' situation and that Britain was ignoring the massive human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe. The Home Office had not responded to an e-mail query at
the time of going to press.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwean Opposition Party Implodes

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

The MDC appears divided over whether to take part in an election, but the
real divide, along ethnic lines, has the potential to tear the party apart.

By Benedict Unendoro in Harare (Africa Reports No 46, 16-Nov-05)

With Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, on the verge of a
dramatic and fatal split, there is a danger that the infighting will
degenerate into tribal politics, changing the face of opposition politics in

The immediate problems in the six-year-old MDC have been created by
President Robert Mugabe's decision to create a 66-member Senate or upper
house of parliament, with first elections to the new body scheduled for
November 26.

However, it is the tribal politics which now dominate the increasingly
acrimonious discourse within the MDC leadership that is likely to ring the
death knell for the party.

The MDC has taken the country back to the tribal divisions that
characterised nationalist politics during the struggle against white rule.
These divisions culminated in the massacres that immediately followed
independence in 1980, when Mugabe's troops swept through Ndebele areas of
western Zimbabwe in what was known as the "Gukurahundi" (sweeping away the
chaff) campaign, killing some 20,000 to 30,000 people.

The bickering in the MDC is also reminiscent of the events leading up to the
1963 split in Zimbabwe's founding black resistance movement, the Zimbabwe
African People's Union, ZAPU, which almost derailed the liberation struggle.

The schism came after ZAPU's leadership failed to agree on how to confront
the Rhodesian regime of Ian Smith, in the same way that the MDC is now
unable to effectively oppose Mugabe's authoritarian ZANU-PF government.

The moderate ZAPU faction led by Joshua Nkomo, an Ndebele widely regarded as
the founding father of Zimbabwean nationalism, favoured negotiating a
settlement with Smith and Britain, whereas the more militant wing under
Ndabaningi Sithole believed armed resistance was the way to gain
independence. After failing to get Nkomo to adopt a more aggressive stance,
Sithole pulled out of ZAPU to form the breakaway Zimbabwe African National
Union, ZANU, with Mugabe as its secretary-general.

That split contained the seeds of the Gukurahundi massacres, in which Mugabe
and his government tried to block the formation of an Ndebele state.

The wounds of that era are still open. The Ndebele people have not forgotten
the massacres, and the old Shona-versus-Ndebele politics that characterised
the ZAPU-ZANU debate are apparent in the MDC's current leadership wrangle.

A faction in the MDC which wants to contest the election to the Senate is
led by secretary-general Welshman Ncube. He is an Ndebele, and his faction
is being viewed as tribal in the same way that Nkomo's ZAPU was seen as an
Ndebele party. The camp boycotting the vote is loyal to MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, who was born into the Manyika clan of the Shona. This faction is
thus seen as Shona, just as ZANU was.

No one has satisfactorily explained why Zimbabwe needs a Senate or what its
members will do.

Veteran Zimbabwean journalist Bill Saidi dismisses it as an institution his
countrymen need "like a hole in the head".

The main criticism is that the Senate will provide another avenue through
which Mugabe can exercise patronage, enabling him to offer salaries and
perks in a kind of retirement home for failed politicians whose loyalty he
wishes to retain.

"For most people, the senators will do more dozing than debating," commented

Litany Bird, a journalist who publishes a weekly website column on her life
in Zimbabwe, is critical of the MDC candidates who want to join the Senate,
saying, "I cannot believe that any one of them will be able to look at
themselves in the mirror and feel good about earning a living as a senator.
It will be a living that ordinary people are dying, literally, to give them.

"I cannot believe that any of the MDC leaders, even one of them, think that
these elections will be different - clean, unrigged, free, fair and

However, John Makumbe, a senior lecturer in politics at the University of
Zimbabwe, believes few if any of the pro-Senate MDC groups are likely to be
elected to the new house.

He notes that ZANU-PF, delighted at seeing the MDC in disarray, is
supporting the breakaway group, and comments, "Under these circumstance,
they'll have nobody to campaign on their behalf."

While the two warring MDC camps may have rational arguments to support their
respective attitudes towards the Senate, it is the tribal labels now
attached to them that spell doom for the party as a whole.

If statements attributed to MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda, an Ndebele,
are anything to go by, then the collapse of the MDC is imminent. Sibanda was
quoted in the Daily Mirror, a national daily, as saying there was a need for
the formation of a separate Ndebele state along the lines of Lesotho or
Swaziland, two small landlocked single-tribe countries in the shadow of
South Africa.

"Ndebeles can only exercise sovereignty through creating their state like
Lesotho, which is an independent state in South Africa, and it is not
politically wrong to have the State of Matabeleland inside Zimbabwe," said

These remarks, made at a rally in Bulawayo to garner support for the Senate
elections, indicate there is more to the dispute than the legitimacy of the
new body. Sources in the party say the Ndebele camp may be planning to form
their own party out of the current confusion, effectively becoming the heirs
to ZAPU.

There is clear evidence of a full-scale conflict along tribal lines raging
inside the MDC. Ncube's pro-Senate camp is made up almost entirely of
Ndebeles, including party vice-president Sibanda and treasurer Fletcher

The voting pattern at an October meeting of the MDC's National Council on
whether or not to contest the election reflected these tribal divisions. Out
of the six provinces that voted in favour of participation, three are in
Ndebele strongholds - Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South.
Two other pro-participation provinces - Midlands North and South - have a
strong Ndebele element within more mixed communities.

Manicaland was the only purely Shona province that voted for participation,
while the rest - Chitungwiza, Harare, Mashonaland Central and Masvingo -
voted against.

The Ncube camp won a narrow majority of 33 to 31 on the National Council in
favour of taking part in the election. But it is increasingly clear that the
pro-Senate group have the wider ambition of creating a new party based on
the Ndebele, who make up about 16 per cent of Zimbabwe's total population.

That will mean the end, in its current form at least, of the MDC, which had
offered the biggest challenge to Mugabe's leadership since Zimbabwe came
into being.

But in reality, the MDC has already imploded. "It looks as if Zimbabwe's
best hope for a democratic future is determined to go down fighting
[against] itself," said Iden Wetherell, projects editor of the weekly
Zimbabwe Independent newspaper group.

The immediate result of a split may be that the opposition space is filled
by militant public movements.

In mid-November, anti-Mugabe demonstrations were organised in major cities
by the Zimbabwe National Congress of Trade Unions and other assertive
organisations such as the National Constitutional Assembly.

These protest actions were, as expected, brutally suppressed by Mugabe's
security forces. But the placards carried by demonstrators saying they were
ready to die for a new constitution indicated that more protests are in the

Few would argue that the party which once carried the hopes of millions has
failed to deliver, and that a new force is overdue. With the worsening
economic climate that saw inflation top 411 per cent in November, a popular
uprising driven not by the MDC but by the grassroots becomes ever more

Benedict Unendoro is a pseudonym used by a journalist in Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Harare Accepts UN Offer of Emergency Shelter


By Blessing Zulu
      16 November 2005

The United Nations could start building temporary homes for those displaced
by the Zimbabwe government's May-July slum clearance operation by next week,
following Harare's acceptance of the humanitarian aid in a reversal of its
earlier position.

The government of Zimbabwe last month rejected an initial U.N. offer of
emergency housing, denying there was a crisis, drawing an expression of
dismay from Secretary General Kofi Annan. The U.N.'s top relief official is
due in Harare in December.

The U.N. plans to build 20,000 one-room homes measuring 4.7 by 2.6 meters,
set on concrete slabs and constructed of concrete and brick, a senior U.N.
official said.

Reporter Blessing Zulu spoke with Hiro Ueki, acting director of information
at the U.N. Information Center, about the U.N. initiative to provide housing
to a significant number of the hundreds of thousands of families displaced
by the "cleanup" operation.

Reporter Zulu spoke with Zimbabwe's ambassador to the U.N., Boniface
Chidyausiku, and asked him why Harare had shifted its position over the past

Otto Saki of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said Harare's volte-face
proved the need for shelter existed earlier but that the government wanted
to hide it.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe minister calls for fiscal discipline to curb inflation

Zim Online

Thu 17 November 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa on Wednesday called
for "restrictive fiscal and monetary policies" to curb inflation which he
said remained the biggest challenge facing the troubled country.

      Zimbabwe's inflation, which some analysts say could end the year above
600 percent, was pegged at 411 percent in October up from 359.8 percent the
previous month, according to the latest data from the government's Central
Statistical Office.

      Addressing economists and business leaders in Harare at a seminar to
review key economic concerns ahead of presentation of the 2006 national
budget, Murerwa said there was need for correct policy prescriptions to tame
inflation and promote economic growth.

      He said: "The economy needs right policy prescriptions that promote
suitable economic growth, that is brought about by increased investment,
exports, value addition, public-private partnership and increased employment
opportunities and overall productivity of all economic sectors."

      But former finance minister and leading member of President Robert
Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, Simba Makoni, told the seminar that it was
high time the government was honest about the problems facing the country,
adding blaming poor weather alone could no longer suffice.

      Makoni, who resigned from the finance post after disagreeing with
Mugabe over the direction of the economy, said:  "We need to be honest with
ourselves. We know our problems and we all know our solutions.

      "If we had drought then let's admit that we had drought, if we have
policy problems then let's admit that we have problems in implementing

      Mugabe and his government insist that Zimbabwe's food and economic
problems are because of a cruel combination of erratic rainfall and sabotage
by Western governments out to punish Harare for seizing land from whites and
giving it  to landless blacks.

      But critics say repression and poor policies by Mugabe - in particular
his chaotic land redistribution exercise that slashed  food production by
about 60 percent - are to blame for Zimbabwe's crisis.

      Murerwa, citing rising inflation and its impact on prices of goods,
said the government was considering reintroducing subsidies on some basic
commodities to cushion the poor.

      The Finance Minister said: "There is no doubt that inflation remains
the country's single biggest challenge . . . we need target subsidies to
(cushion) vulnerable groups."

      Zimbabwe is grappling its worst ever economic crisis that has spawned
shortages of fuel, electricity, essential medical drugs and nearly every
other basic commodity because there is no hard cash to pay foreign
suppliers. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Former television personality implicated in US$2 million scam

Zim Online

Thu 17 November 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - A former television personality with strong links to
President Robert Mugabe's government is under police probe over a US$2
million (about Z$200 billion on the parallel market) scam involving the
purchase of an outside broadcasting van for Zimbabwe Cricket.

      The former broadcaster is alleged to have connived with Zimbabwe
Cricket authorities to inflate the mark-up price on the van by US$2 million
which they allegedly went on to share among themselves. The cost of the
vehicle, which was bought from Belgium, is still unknown.

      A police officer close to the investigations said the net was closing
in on the former broadcaster and three other cricket officials.

      "It's a massive scandal and so far the police have made headways. Our
investigations are focusing on three people but more could have been

      "Besides making an illegal profit from the deal, these guys clearly
externalised money because the $2 million was never brought into the

      "We have information that some of them are operating foreign currency
accounts in South Africa which they used in the externalisation scam. We are
still not sure how these guys from cricket linked up with the former
broadcaster," said the police officer.

      Zimbabwe cricket generates millions of dollars in foreign currency
from television rights as well as lucrative sponsorship deals.

      The sport is currently embroilled in turmoil following the arrest last
week of chairman Peter Chingoka and controversial managing director Ozias
Bvute over illegal foreign currency transactions. Senior players are also
demanding that Chingoka, whom they accuse of gross mismanagement, relinquish
his post. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The watershed and why I am remaining with MDC

From: Trudy Stevenson
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 5:46 AM
Subject: The watershed and why I am remaining with MDC

*Note - The first part of this article was published in the Zimbabwe
Independent on 28 October, and the second part on on Mon 7
Nov and (edited to remove attacks on ZanuPF) in the Daily Mirror yesterday 8
The watershed and why I remain MDC
Trudy Stevenson - 25 October 05
During the fateful MDC National Council meeting on Wednesday 12 October - to
participate or not in the Senate - I made just two points, which bear
reiterating because they crystallize the crisis my party is in, and
emphasize why I intend remaining in the core MDC:
The outcome of that meeting was indeed a matter of life and death to the
party, but not because of the Senate - which was and is relatively
unimportant.  What is important is that this party must remain intact to
continue the struggle against the Mugabe regime - and we must not allow the
senate issue to destroy what many of us have given six years of our life to
build, many suffering unspeakable violence and trauma, some even dying for
the MDC.
I was absolutely disgusted by the report from Mashonaland East that there
was manipulation, vote-buying and intimidation behind the scenes for the
"No" vote, to the extent that they were not in a position to make a
conclusive report of the wishes of their province.  If that was what MDC had
come to, I proposed that we should either fold up as a party or I would
certainly leave.
 I am convinced that the entire Senate issue was a very clever plot by
ZanuPF to destroy MDC by putting us into an impossible no-win situation.  If
we don't contest, we give up our strongholds to ZanuPF without any fight
whatsoever, which our Ndebele members absolutely refuse to do for strong
historical reasons, especially Gukurahundi - and I believe we should respect
those members.  But if we do contest, we go against the very strong wishes
of many members and supporters outside Matabeleland. So the regional
dimension is very cleverly hidden beneath the overt Senate issue - and used
as a knife to drive further regional and ethnic divisions within our party.
We fell right into the trap of trying to allow our members and supporters to
make a democratic decision - and see where it has landed us!  This lack of
strong leadership is an indictment against the very man who is now insisting
the party should respect him as its leader.
Secondly and perhaps more importantly, I believe that this struggle is not
about the Senate at all.  It really won't make much difference, in my view,
whether we participate or we don't.  The taxpayers' money will still be
squandered - but on ZanuPF rather than MDC.  Food, shelter, jobs, health,
education, etc. will not be provided to the people, whether we participate
or we don't.  I am willing to take a bet with anyone who says that by this
time next year, there will be an improvement in people's lives if MDC does
not participate in the Senate. For people to become so hysterical as to
denounce MDC because it puts candidates in an election, at whatever level,
is to miss the point entirely. The MDC was born to contest power, and that
contest can and will take various forms - elections, strikes,
demonstrations, passive resistance, etc.  Every single form of contest is
valid - and none is mutually exclusive.  Let us see people on the streets
protesting, and I can guarantee you every single MDC MP, Mayor and
Councillor will join those people - but meanwhile, let them struggle in
their own space, on the many platforms they are given locally and
As for jumping on the infamous gravy train, parliamentarians' salaries are
barely above the poverty datum line, being currently around $12 million per
month - to keep their families, pay for their own administrative costs,
constituents' funerals, school fees, medicines, projects, etc, etc.  MPs are
supposed to supply the resources for whatever their constituents might
need - a tall order indeed!  On the contentious issue of MPs' vehicles, it
must be noted that MPs have to pay for their vehicles.  They are not
provided free and do not come out of taxpayers' money, unlike ministers'
vehicles.  MPs have to take out vehicle loans, unless they have adequate
funds - and they have to repay those loans.  The only advantage - and I
agree it is a major one - is that they are entitled to a duty-free vehicle -
if they can find the foreign currency to buy one!  Even then, they have to
pay quite substantial local charges, and cannot re-sell that vehicle for 5
The real gravy train carries the NGOs and "civil society" organisations,
where a CEO earns up to 10 times or more what an MP earns, and where huge
4x4's and other perks are the norm - but they and others with forex accounts
are the ones shouting loudest about gravy train, in this debate!
What has been problematic has been the way in which the Senate debate was
handled, and to me this was the final straw which broke the camel's back.
Part Two
MDC is a social democratic party.  Our core values include freedom,
democracy and justice.  It therefore follows that debate within the party
should be free, democratic and fair.  Members should be free to put their
point of view without fear of being labeled a "sellout" if they don't hold
the president's view.
Regrettably, because the president came out in the media early on - even
before the National Executive meeting at which the matter was first
debated - against participation, many members felt obliged to support that
view: he is, after all, the leader of the party, so the argument goes that
we must support our leader.  It is natural, both in traditional culture and
in most political parties, for junior members of a group to respect their
elders and seniors and not to challenge them, at least openly.  So when the
president addressed rallies calling on members to boycott the senate, it was
difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to speak with an alternative view.
This resulted in many members not even knowing there was an alternative
view, and what its arguments were.  The case for participation was never
made public, probably out of fear of being labeled "sellout".   There was
also fear of being politically incorrect, daring to differ from the noisy
NGOs who had already threatened they would actively de-campaign anyone
thinking of going for the Senate.  Did I not hear somewhere that tolerance
is an MDC value?
This is where the departure from our party values comes in - long before the
Senate vote on 12 October.  But non-democrats among us departed from our
values much further back than the senate issue.  Sadly, because undemocratic
behaviour - violence, vote-buying, intimidation, corruption - was never
effectively dealt with early on, members got the message that they could get
away with it, and even that it was condoned.   Our values and principles
dimmed into the background, and some members began to behave more and more
like ZanuPF.  Violations of the constitution increased incrementally until
we have the situation we find ourselves in today, where there is virtually
no difference between some groups in MDC and our ZanuPF opponents!
Back to the heart of the matter.  I am a founder member of the MDC.  I was
there at the Working People's Convention in February 1999 when we resolved
to form a political party to contest power in order to meet the aspirations
of the people, who had been badly let down by ZanuPF after independence.  We
agreed on the core values of our new party at that time, and drew up a
constitution to enshrine those values and ensure that the party would always
uphold the same values and principles which bound us together at our
So now, 6 years down the road, when we find that at least part of the party
is straying from those values and principles, it is not surprising that
members start to blow the whistle.  In my view this is healthy.  This is
what democracy is all about.  The problem is that those "in the know" have
watched the sad shift away from our values and principles over several
years, so that this crisis is no surprise at all, whereas for most of our
members and the general public, this is like a bolt out of the blue.
Most members and supporters cannot even begin to imagine that Morgan
Tsvangirai or any other leader is not the god-like figure they have
hero-worshipped for 6 years or more.  They refuse to believe that these
people could have actually done some of the things they are hearing about
for the first time.  It is simply not possible, in their mind - so this must
be a conspiracy by someone eager to remove him in order to take his place -
Welshman Ncube, to be precise.
Tragically, Morgan Tsvangirai is as human as the rest of us, and as subject
to the basic weaknesses of the rest of mankind.  It is in fact our fault, as
his colleagues, that we have allowed him to stray from the vision of the
MDC, which is not so much about removing Robert Mugabe and taking over
government, but about the kind of society we want to build in Zimbabwe.
Removing ZanuPF is merely a necessary step in achieving that society.  There
is no point whatsoever in removing Robert Mugabe and ZanuPF and replacing
them with a leader and party who behave just like them!  What improvement
will that bring to the lives of the people who have placed their trust in
the MDC to lead them out of their misery?
Many of us have tried, over the years, to warn our president against
surrounding himself with sycophants, and we have tried to pull him back onto
the right path.  But all this has been spliced with the cultural necessity
of respect and refusal to challenge him openly as he allowed himself to
become a virtual prisoner of his closest employees and advisors.  Some of
those employees and advisors were undoubtedly working for the other side all
along - and so our hero gradually mutated into a Morgan Tsvangirai we refuse
to believe is the real person.
But indeed, it appears that this man is no longer the Morgan Tsvangirai we
hero-worshipped in 1999, the man who led the ZCTU protests against
government, who led the "food riots", who founded and led NCA towards the
"No" vote in February 2000, just a few days after the MDC's inaugural
congress.  How can this same man allow his colleagues to be called
 "sellouts" because they went to South Africa for a meeting planned two
months ago?  How can he sit quietly while party members sing songs in front
of him denouncing other senior officials, including the vice-president -
unless he himself condones such activities?  If indeed these allegations are
true, is this the person to lead this nation to a new Zimbabwe where
freedom, democracy, justice, equality and solidarity will prevail?
So the Senate is only a very small part of what this struggle is about.  It
is unfortunate - but cleverly calculated by ZanuPF - that for most of the
general public, the Senate is the only issue.  This is why there is such
confusion and such anger against the MDC as a whole that "the party is
destroying itself" or as the Zimbabwe Independent put it last week
"committing hara kiri" "self-destruct" etc, etc.  "How dare you!" people
I can only answer that some members of the MDC dare because we are
determined that this party will not become another ZanuPF.  We insist that
this party must survive and continue the struggle until we do take over
government in a free, democratic election under a new people-driven
constitution.  But this does not mean we should allow our president or
anyone else to mutate into just another ZanuPF-style demagogue.  That is all
we have been fighting against these past 6 years and more.
Hero-worship is a great danger, in a young political party.  In reality, the
whole is greater than its parts - and MDC is greater than any one of its
members, even its president.   All the one million-plus members of MDC are
determined that our party will survive this crisis and emerge stronger and
more united to bring change for a better life for all Zimbabweans.
Did someone say Senate?


Back to the Top
Back to Index