International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: October 31, 2007
ACCRA, Ghana: European officials have invited all members of the African
Union to an EU-African summit in Portugal in December, Portuguese officials
said Wednesday, a confirmation that a controversial welcome has been
extended to Zimbabwe.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amando told reporters in Ghana's capital,
Accra, that all A.U. member states had been asked to attend.
"Zimbabwe is a member of the A.U., and since the invitation does not exclude
any member country it means President Mugabe is invited to attend," Ghanaian
Deputy Foreign Minister Brempong Yeboah said.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would skip the Dec. 8-9 AU-EU
summit in Lisbon if Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was attending — a
protest against the alleged economic mismanagement, corruption and contempt
for democracy in Zimbabwe.
The International Monetary Fund has said that acute shortages and inflation
in Zimbabwe could cause inflation to surge to 100,000 percent by the end of
The summit aims to strengthen economic and trade ties between the 27-nation
EU and the 53-member Africa Union.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair stayed away from the first
EU-Africa summit in Cairo seven years ago because of Mugabe's presence. In
2003, an EU-African summit in Lisbon was called off when some African
nations balked at the EU's refusal to invite Mugabe.
Mail and Guardian
31 October 2007 06:36
European Union and African ministers met in Accra, Ghana, on
Wednesday to decide whether to risk a diplomatic storm by inviting
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to an EU-Africa summit.
Britain has said it will boycott the proposed summit in Lisbon
on December 8 and 9 if Mugabe attends. Some African nations have said they
will stay away if the Zimbabwean leader is not invited.
Portugal would host the summit as current president of the EU
and its Foreign Minister, Luis Amado, was the senior European at the Accra
talks, officials said.
Europe and Africa held their first summit in 2000. The last
planned meeting in 2003 was cancelled, also because of Mugabe.
Portugal has said that it wants to invite all leaders, and
Mugabe has said he will attend if asked, even though he faces an EU ban on
travel to Europe.
Pedro Courela, adviser to Portugal's Secretary of State for
Cooperation Joao Gomes Cravinho, said on Tuesday that invitations would be
issued "in the next few days".
But the Britain-Zimbabwe dispute has led many observers to
express doubt whether the Lisbon summit will go ahead.
Britain Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said neither he nor any
senior British minister would be at any summit attended by Mugabe. Britain
accuses him of human rights abuses and fixing 2002 elections to stay in
Britain has qualified backing from its European partners.
The Netherlands said on Tuesday it opposed the presence of
Mugabe at the EU-Africa summit but the Foreign Ministry did not say if it
would boycott the event if he was there.
Sweden also opposes inviting Mugabe to the summit but will not
boycott the meeting if he attends, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said on
European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said this month
that the summit should not be derailed by the tensions between London and
Governments belonging to the Southern African Development
Community regional bloc, which includes Zimbabwe, have threatened to boycott
the summit if Mugabe is not allowed to attend.
The leaders of Mozambique and Angola added their weight on
Wednesday to pressure for Mugabe to be invited.
"We reaffirm our support for the decision taken by the AU, which
demands the unconditional participation of all African countries at the
Europe-Africa summit, including Zimbabwe," Angolan President Jose Eduardo
dos Santos and Mozambique's Armando Guebuza said in a statement after talks
Ghana is current president of the African Union and African
foreign ministers met in the capital at the weekend to try to hammer out a
stance on Zimbabwe and the final summit agenda.
Top EU and African officials have been meeting in Accra since
Monday to discuss the various problems surrounding the summit, where EU and
African leaders want climate change, migration and China's growing
involvement in Africa to top the agenda.
Mugabe's relations with the West have plummeted since he
embarked on a programme of land reforms, which saw thousands of white-owned
farms expropriated by his government. Zimbabwe's economy is now in deep
crisis with rampant inflation, mass unemployment and widespread poverty.
The EU and United States imposed targeted sanctions, including
the travel ban on Mugabe and his close associates, after elections in 2002
that he is alleged to have rigged.
Mugabe says he is not at odds with Europe as a whole but merely
Britain, which he says has reneged on an agreement to fund the land
redistribution. -- AFP
Wed 31 Oct 2007, 12:37 GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - The trial of white Zimbabwean farmers charged with
resisting eviction from land targeted for seizure was on Wednesday postponed
to December after the state failed to present documents requested by defence
President Robert Mugabe's government embarked on a drive in 2000 to take
commercial farms from whites to resettle landless blacks. An estimated 600
out of the previous 4,500 white farmers now remain on the land.
Eleven white farmers from Zimbabwe's northwestern Mashonaland West province,
who appealed against eviction notices issued by the government, now face
trial for failing to leave the farms after a September 30 deadline lapsed.
They have been charged under the gazetted land act for failing to vacate
farmland marked for acquisition by the government. They stand accused and it
remains to be seen if the prosecution will seek to place them in custody.
If convicted, the farmers face heavy fines or jail terms of up to two years.
"The trial cannot kick off because the lands office didn't supply the state
with the necessary papers requested by the defence counsel," prosecutor
Allen Chifokoyo told the court.
"The state is unable to proceed into trial today and will, with the consent
of the defence, ask for the accused to be remanded to December 17."
Critics say Mugabe's controversial land policy has plunged the southern
African country -- once a food exporter -- into a severe economic crisis
marked by food shortages and the highest inflation in the world above 7,900
Mugabe says his land seizure drive was meant to correct colonial imbalances
that saw a few white farmers owning the bulk of the country's prime
The trial of the first farmer, which was supposed to start on Wednesday, was
delayed because the lands ministry failed to provide information requested
by defence lawyers.
Defence lawyer David Drury had asked the prosecution to provide information
from the state land allocation committee detailing how the farms in question
were targeted for seizure, before the trial could begin.
Wed 31 Oct 2007, 14:13 GMT
LILONGWE (Reuters) - The United Nations World Food Programme said on
Wednesday it had bought 35,926 tonnes of white maize for Zimbabwe from
Malawi as part of over 80,000 tonnes of food it purchased from Malawi to
feed five countries.
"Food commodities have been bought from Malawi by WFP for operations in
Liberia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, "said Mathews Nyirenda
Senior Communications Officer at WFP Country office in Lilongwe.
Nyirenda told Reuters that in total close to $11 million has been spent on
food from Malawi.
SW Radio Africa (London)
31 October 2007
Posted to the web 31 October 2007
The SADC led mediation talks on Zimbabwe resumed in Pretoria on Wednesday
after a month long break. The talks, which are already behind schedule on
several fronts, missed Tuesday's key deadline for agreement on a broad
framework for free and fair elections.
A source told us from Pretoria that during the month long break negotiators
from Zanu-PF and the MDC have been comparing notes and reporting back to the
facilitating team in South Africa.
'A lot of ground was covered during this period because the negotiating
teams made contact on a number of times and a number of concessions were
made during this period,' said the source.
David Coltart, MDC MP for Bulawayo South, said it was unfortunate that
Zimbabweans were not being informed about the progress of the talks, but
stressed that whatever the outcome, a transitional period of six months was
needed to push through any changes agreed on by both sides.
'If the mediation process were to be concluded today (Wednesday) we will not
have sufficient time to establish conditions for free and fair elections. We
need at least six months to put everything in place before calling for an
election,' Coltart said.
The MP from the Mutambara led faction said they understood the reasons for
not meeting Tuesday's deadline, because of the weighty issues under
The talks that resumed Wednesday are expected tackle the remaining issues on
the agenda that include the roles of the police, military and the CIO during
SW Radio Africa (London)
31 October 2007
Posted to the web 31 October 2007
Next year's crucial elections hang in the balance after the government said
it has no money to print the voters' roll. A senior government official on
Tuesday told parliament that the Registrar-General's Office responsible for
elections had inadequate funds for the exercise.
Presenting an audit before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence
and Home Affairs in parliament, chief accountant in the RG's Office Edwell
Mutemaringa said government requires Z$3,5 trillion before the end of the
year to print the voters' roll. He added that the department has received
only Z$110 billion from the fiscus.
The development has raised widespread concerns over the holding of the
crucial polls, upon which high hopes of a political turn-around are pinned.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) on Wednesday described the
situation as "unfortunate".
Noel Kututwa who heads ZESN said: "Constitutional Amendment number 18
created additional constituencies, meaning that there has to be a new
delimitation exercise and a new voters roll to reflect the new
constituencies. If there are no funds it means we will go into the election
with a voters roll that does not reflect the new scenario and some voters
may be prejudiced; and some may fail to exercise their right all together.
The alternative will of course be to use identification cards only, as we
did in 1980. We will however need to use efficient indelible ink on voters'
hands so that they do not cast ballots twice or more."
SW Radio Africa (London)
31 October 2007
Posted to the web 31 October 2007
More than 500 students from Harare's institutions of higher learning on
Tuesday held a demonstration outside Robert Mugabe's offices in protest at
the decay of education standards in the country.
Students from state-run colleges took to the streets of Harare with a
petition addressed to the Minister of Higher & Tertiary Education, Stan
Mudenge, expressing displeasure over the deterioration of the education
delivery system. Most of the students came from the University of Zimbabwe
and Chitungwiza's Seke College.
According to witnesses students marched along the capital's streets singing
and chanting student revolutionary songs and slogans, before riot police
dispersed them when they reached Monomutapa offices. No arrests were made
but the police confiscated the petition and Zimbabwe National Students Union
Zinasu spokesperson Dominic Shumba said: "The students have vowed to
continue expressing their grievances through all means possible until a
state of normalcy is realised in all institutions of higher learning.
"The students' unrest emanates from the continued lack of delivery on the
part of the lecturers who have been on a continuous go slow since the
semester began. This has compromised the delivery of an effective education
system. Due to a combination of the unavailability of adequate teaching
staff, poor and inadequate learning materials, prohibitive tuition fees and
the unavailability of decent and adequate accommodation institutions have
been producing half baked graduates."
Elsewhere Eston Farayi, the President of Masvingo Polytechnic Students
executive council (SEC), was picked up last night by police from the law and
order section in connection with a demonstration at Masvingo Polytechnic
early this month, when students launched the "Free Edison Hltsthawayo
Student leader Hltsthawayo spent a month in custody on charges of violent
The arrest of Farayi brings the total number of students' arrests in
Masvingo to thirty for the month of October. There are concerns that Farayi
is likely to miss the end of year examinations that are currently underway
at the college.
SW Radio Africa (London)
31 October 2007
Posted to the web 31 October 2007
The business community in Bulawayo is appealing for more funds for its
planned project to draw water from the Nyamandlovu Aquifer for the city's
high-density suburbs and industries.
Pledges have already been made to fund the project, but they are not enough
for the mammoth task, whose costs may run up to Z$30 billion, according to a
statement released by the business community.
Much of Bulawayo has had water shortages for months now and residents and
city officials say large sections in the western suburbs have been virtually
dry for close to two months, because some dams have dried up.
As a result the Matabeleland Chamber of Industries and the Association of
Businesses in Zimbabwe have embarked on a humanitarian exercise to try and
save the city.
The exercise involves connecting seventy-seven boreholes from the aquifer
area and directing the water to the high-density areas, as well as drawing
water from the Nyamandlovu dam to supply the city's industries.
'The operation of boreholes will provide 15 000 litres a day, which
represents over fifty percent of normal requirements. It should be noted
that those less privileged than most of us are spending many hours in
search, and queuing for water. We believe this is within our ability to
alleviate,' said a statement.
But Zapu leader Paul Siwela who is based in the city was very critical of
the government for doing nothing to solve the water crisis. He said a lot of
the city's industries were relocating to other areas where water was readily
'This is a mission by Robert Mugabe and his government to cause genocide in
Matabeleland by failing to provide water for the people. We appreciate what
the business community is doing but this is an urgent matter that should be
dealt with by the government,' Siwela said.
SW Radio Africa (London)
31 October 2007
Posted to the web 31 October 2007
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu announced on Tuesday that a new board
had been appointed to the Media and Information Commission (MIC) and it had
the mandate to immediately deal with an application by the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), to resume publishing the Daily News newspaper.
Armed police shut down the popular daily paper back in 2003 and the
publishers have since been battling government in the courts over the ban.
Speaking at a press conference in Harare, Ndlovu said this new board will
immediately consider applications for licenses by independent media houses
plus accreditation for journalists seeking to practice in the country. The
chairman of the outgoing Commission which banned the Daily News, Dr.
Tafataona Mahoso, has been retained on the new board, and this has already
raised suspicion and concern.
It is widely understood that this move by government is a result of the
ongoing talks between the opposition and the ruling party, mediated by South
Africa's President Thabo Mbeki. The talks are meant to lead to free and fair
elections next year and both factions of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change have insisted the need for a liberal democratic space that
includes independent media.
Geoffrey Nyarota, former editor of The Daily News, described the
announcement by the Information Minister as "gratifying", given the paper's
long struggle to resume publishing. Nyarota said: "Any process of political
change in Zimbabwe hinges on the existence of a level playing field,
including a democratic media climate."
Regarding government's decision to retain Mahoso on the new board, Nyarota
said this was not a major concern because he views the former Media
Commission chairperson as a servant of government who does what he is
ordered. Explaining further he said Mahoso now has a new boss, and it
remains to be seen whether Information Minister Ndhlovu is serious about
change in the media or whether these are more stalling tactics.
31st Oct 2007 16:15 GMT
By a Correspondent
HARARE - Workers at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) last friday went on
strike after failing to receive their salaries as scheduled. The 25th of
each month is the traditional payday for the employees.
A number of workers received their salaries over the weekend and reported
for work this but others who have not are continuing with the work boycott.
The enraged workers held a meeting on the matter at the university on
Thursday afternoon where they resolved that industrial action was the only
way they could arm-twist the UZ administration and Government to make
available their salaries without delay.
"The patience of the workers has run thin. We are very poorly paid so it is
inexcusable for the UZ authorities and the responsible Government Ministry
to fail to pay us on time. We will only get back to work when we get paid."
said one worker who refused to be identified.
The workers checked for their salaries on the 25th and 26th and found no
The situation has been made even worse because in September Government
promised that the back pay that was offered recently to civil servants would
also be extended to state universities but to date nothing has materialised.
Efforts to get a comment on the issue from the UZ management were
unsuccessful but the leader of the workers' representative body Mr Mapfumo
Tafirenyika, who was rather evasive when he was contacted for a comment,
"As far as I am concerned the situation has generally been resolved. In fact
I will be addressing a workers' meeting this week on the issue. Workers have
started getting their salaries", he said.
But insiders say the salaries that will be paid out exclude the retention
allowance that was being paid all along to workers in an effort to contain
the resignations that have engulfed the university. The sources added that
retention allowance would only be paid to workers from the 7 th grade
This is likely to further demoralise workers.
The University of Zimbabwe, once of the most prestigious universities in
Southern Africa, is now a pale shadow of the once glamorous academic
institution. Insiders say the UZ is virtually broke.
"The halls of residence remain closed after they were condemned by the
health inspectors in the Harare City council, libraries have no lighting,
and toilets are not working…the list is endless", said a student who could
only identify himself as Edmond.
The majority of the UZ workers are now surviving on vending. The Zimbabwe
Times recently witnessed how vending by UZ workers has become so rife at the
once great academic institution.
Vending by UZ workers has become an eyesore in front of the Great Hall. A
number of workers confirmed that the UZ staff buses that carry workers to
and from work are always full of foodstuffs meant for selling like pop corn,
bananas and oranges.
REPORTER: I've got the visa. Do I have to go over there and get it stamped or anything, before we go out?
I'm at the border about to cross from South Africa into Zimbabwe. I'm filming secretly because the government of President Robert Mugabe doesn't want the world to know about his country's economic collapse.
REPORTER: OK, so I've got the visa, I've got this form, is there anything left?
To be caught filming or working as a journalist is to risk jail. Anyone seen helping me faces an even lengthier jail term, so I'm posing as a member of a church group until I know it's safe enough to say otherwise.
CUSTOMS: What are you carrying my sister?
REPORTER: I'm carrying my personal stuff, and some food and water.
REPORTER: Water. Yeah, drinking water.
My first stop is to meet a black-market fuel supplier. This is how those with connections or hard currency get around when even the government struggles to buy fuel. These cars are lined up outside a petrol station.
CHARLES MPOFU, BULAWAYO CITY COUNCILLOR: It's very bad, that's the only garage. Look at the size of the city, look at the moving around, not all of them getting fuel from this garage.
I'm being taken on a tour of Bulawayo, the largest city in the country's south-west, by city councillor Charles Mpofu. He says his city suffers from more than just fuel shortages. Whole areas have been without water for months. These people have been queuing for hours at a bore hole to pump some water.
CHARLES MPOFU: Some come early in the morning, around 4:00 or 5:00am and then some come just to prepare the children to go to school.
The supermarkets I visit throughout Zimbabwe's south-west all have one thing in common, virtually nothing for sale. Some shops are open, many no longer bother.
REPORTER: What have you got today?
SHOPKEEPER: Ah, today there is nothing.
REPORTER: He's just saying nothing, nothing has come in today.
SHOPKEEPER: Nothing, nothing, there is only these rolls, these bread rolls.
These bread rolls are amongst the few baked today. So few, they never even make it to the shelves inside the store.
REPORTER: When was the last time you had bread?
SHOPKEEPER: I think a month ago.
CHARLES MPOFU: And this is one of our busiest shops, providing services to the community that come. So this was the hope of getting everything you wanted. But now you can't. There is no washing soap, no bathing soap.
REPORTER: When was the last time you could buy milk?
SHOPKEEPER: Two months back.
REPORTER: Two months ago? When was the last time you could get meat in a supermarket?
CHARLES MPOFU: It was also over two months now. It is a dream to get beef anywhere, it is a dream to get fish anywhere. And it is a dream to get chicken anywhere.
These women have come in search of anything, but they hold out little hope.
WOMAN: Each and everything what comes, there is a queue. With a baby they push you. You don't get anything. At the end of the day and if there is someone who helps, they say "come here with your baby".
CHARLES MPOFU: What makes it like that with the queues? There is scarcity of everything. The little milk that comes, everyone runs for it.
WOMAN: Whatever comes, queue. Whatever comes, queue.
The few things I am able to buy here, some water, vegetables and a plastic bucket to cart water cost more than a million Zimbabwean dollars, which is roughly what a junior shop assistant earns in a month.
REPORTER: Three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, a million. Sorry, I don't have.
The average wage for a security guard in Zimbabwe today is about $2 million a month. For a teacher, it's about $2.5 million. But to give you an idea of what that will buy you in Zimbabwe today, it's roughly equal to a simple fast food meal of chicken and chips for a family of four. Malnutrition and contaminated water is taking its toll on people's health.
DOCTOR THANDAZANI: I can say for the past two months about 50% of the patients who are coming in some cases up to 75% of the patients coming in have got diarrhoea and vomiting.
Doctor Thandazani, not his real name, runs a private clinic. But even if you can afford to see him, there's only so much doctors can do without medical supplies.
DOCTOR THANDAZANI: The main thing which has happened is that, as any tradesman or professional, a doctor needs to have his tools in place, like I need to have all the fluids I want, the drugs I want, the gloves whenever I want them, injections, syringes, but these are lacking and sometimes a patient comes who needs emergency care and I just look at them and I feel hopeless because I don't have the tools to use.
At this council clinic people can afford to seek help as consultation fees
have been kept low, but there's no money to buy drugs. This is where the
clinic's few drug supplies are kept.
NURSE: As I told you, we haven't got much, what we haven't got is the larger list.
The day after I left Zimbabwe, I arranged to meet the country's ambassador to South Africa. As it turns out Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo happened to be visiting Zimbabwe at the same time as me, but it seems like we were in different countries.
SIMON KHAYA MOYO, ZIMBABWE AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH AFRICA: I was last there last weekend and I could see really a lot of activity in terms of manufacturers.
REPORTER: I was also there last week.
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: Yeah.
REPORTER: And there's nothing in the shops.
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: Depends where you were last week.
REPORTER: I was pretty much all over the southern region, I was in Gwanda, I was in Bulawayo, I was in Beitbridge. The shops are pretty much empty.
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: Maybe this is what you wanted to see but I saw a different story.
REPORTER: I want to major shopping centres everywhere and they were shut.
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: I'm saying so, I also saying so I saw a different story.
REPORTER: Where did you see it?
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: Everywhere I went in Zimbabwe.
REPORTER: What shops?
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: All shops, I'm a minister in government for 10 years, I was a minister of government for 10 years. I'm an ambassador of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mauritius and Lesotho.
This is rush hour in Bulawayo, a factory siren is calling people to work. Many here have been walking since before dawn. This is the only way for most people to get to work.
REPORTER: How far is it for you to get from your house to work every day and how long does it take you?
'TONY': Definitely around seven to eight kilometres, and I have to walk for 1.5 hours if I am fast.
I meet a man who we'll call 'Tony' on his way to work.
'TONY': But if I am walking slowly so I won't be tired it can take me two hours. If I took a transport alone, it will consume something like $5 to $6 million. As I'm talking, as I talk now, it has been increased to $150,000 per trip which makes it totally absurd. You cannot face reality when you earn less than $2 million yet the transport alone is $6 million.
Tony takes me to his office to show me on paper just how much people earn each month. I decide to chance telling him I'm a journalist. He takes a bigger risk in agreeing to speak to me on camera, saying he wants the world to know what's happening inside his country.
'TONY': There is no water, no mealie-meal, nothing, just nothing. Children are going to school but they're not learning because teachers are just sitting, they cannot teach from empty stomach. Children are just hungry, everyone is hungry. We are totally angry but definitely there is nothing we can do beyond this. Our government is a monster. We cannot get meat anymore, there is no meat in this country.
Tony invites me home to meet his family but the children aren't all his. With almost a quarter of the population having left the country in search of work, and a high death toll due to HIV/AIDS, almost everyone in Zimbabwe is raising someone else's children.
TONY: This young baby needs all types of good stuffs like milk and almost everything but she's getting nothing. We feed this child with this vegetable, we are using it, which is incredible.
Tony once considered himself middle-class, but his family has been thrown
back in time. There's no longer any running water or electricity. These city
dwellers are living a rural life. Water is gathered in buckets, and cooking is
done outside. What were once little things have become major burdens according
to Tony's wife.
WIFE, (Translation): We're struggling to survive. Most things are unavailable. There's no money. If we can find any maize meal, it's poor quality. Sometimes we can't get any, nor any meat or vegetables. And transport people have to walk to work. That's all there is.
REPORTER: You were there last week?
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: Yes.
REPORTER: What you saw, were you embarrassed?
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: I was not embarrassed. I'm very happy because we're really moving in the right direction.
REPORTER: How did you get around when you were there?
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: Pardon?
REPORTER: How did you get around? What form of transport?
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: What do you mean? What form of transport? I have a car.
REPORTER: You went by car. How difficult was it for you to get petrol?
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: I didn't have difficulties.
REPORTER: Did you see everyone walking to work?
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: Pardon?
REPORTER: Did you see everyone walking to work?
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: Of course, the difficulties of transport, as I say if you are slapped with sanctions and your fuel does not come as it's supposed to be, naturally there will be problems but the government has done all measures possible, including even trains are now carrying people, buses are carrying people but certainly the difficulties are there, the challenges are there but those who are responsible for the difficulties know themselves very well.
Ground maize or mealie-meal is the dietary staple in Zimbabwe. At this school, like many across the country, children are fed porridge made from mealie-meal. For a lot of the children here this may be all they get to eat today. The school principal agreed to speak to me and to let me film, but did not want to be identified.
PRINCIPAL: Children are coming to school hungry, some dirty, because soap is so scarce and the water situation is unstable because water is sometimes cut off so children are sometimes forced to come to school without having a bath.
At this school, an international charity supplies the mealie-meal, but it still has to be cooked and with electricity almost non-existent they have to rely on firewood.
PRINCIPAL: We have problems, most of the time we have problems when the firewood runs out because the non-governmental organizations that is providing the porridge is not in a position to constantly provide us with the firewood and when it does run out the money that we use to purchase firewood for the school is so high that at sometimes we find it is very difficult to operate.
The government blames drought for the nation's inability to feed itself. But for years now it's been seizing white-owned farms and giving them to blacks with little farming experience or equipment. Today rumours have spread that new supplies of mealie-meal have arrived, and a queue appears from nowhere. Inside the store the manager is nervous.
REPORTER: Excuse me, Sir. I'm just checking about the mealie-meal. When are you going to start selling it?
STORE MANAGER: I'm sure within 10 or 15 minutes.
Customers are not allowed inside this store to buy, only staff are given that privilege. There's never enough, and there's always fear that hunger may lead to violence.
REPORTER: You're buying? Are you buying it for yourself?
WOMAN: Yes, for my family. At least I can get 10kg, which is for a week or so, and then we start queuing again.
When the gate opens, there's a new scramble to take up positions. And this desperation is only likely to worsen, with aid agencies warning food shortages are set to escalate in coming months due to poor harvests.
GORDON MOYO, POLITICAL ANALYST: The economy is totally collapsed in my view.
REPORTER: So it's not, it's not facing it, it has happened?
GORDON MOYO: It has happened. Only that people continue to say, "it is going to happen, it is going to happen." But the truth of the matter is that it has happened because we cannot sustain anything, families are going for the all day, two days, three days without food, without water, without electricity, and the government can't supply anything.
Gordon Moyo works for a private think tank based in Bulawayo. He says there is only one reason people are able to survive, they rely on money remitted from people who've left the country.
GORDON MOYO: Over 5 million Zimbabweans are living outside of Zimbabwe, in South Africa, Botswana, United States and Australia and these are the people who are at least maintaining families at the household level. Otherwise, from within the country, there is nothing to lean on.
In 2005, the government launched an attack on market traders, and tens of thousands of people were left homeless when their homes were bulldozed. Now manufacturers and retailers believe they're the new enemy of the state. Sam Ncube is a businessman trying to make sense of the government's latest policies. He has outlets selling tyres in two cities but says he has no stock. He agrees to speak to me in his store, but I have to hide my camera when he gets nervous about being seen. We continue crouched low out of view.
SAM NCUBE: What we are seeing at the back here, they are customer tyres which have come for puncture repairs otherwise for new tyres, we have got just those two, few new tyres, big ones. I mean, otherwise we don't have the stocks.
In July, the government forced businesses to cut their prices in half. Widespread looting resulted. More than 10,000 retailers have been arrested and jailed for failing to comply with the new price controls. Now the government is proposing to nationalise 51% of foreign or white-owned businesses. Sam Ncube chooses his words carefully in daring to call for change.
SAM NCUBE: Unfortunately in Zimbabwe, there are certain words which are taboo, and they are things which are undiscussable, and I'm saying I think now, as a people, we have to allow ourselves to discuss the undiscussables, because we have to have a paradigm shift. We have to change ways of doing things. We have to think and say why are we in this predicament, and address, because if we don't do that we'll be fooling ourselves.
But it appears there's no turning back. Having ruined the economy, the
government now says it wants to hand back what's left to black Zimbabweans. The
bill to take over foreign and white-owned businesses is already before the
SIMON KHAYA MOYO: The economy must be in the hands of the Zimbabweans and that's exactly what we are implementing. It may not take two days, it may not take three days, but by the end of the day, I can tell you, Zimbabwe would be one example of the country where the economy's reverted to the hands of its indigenous people, and that is very, very correct and it applies to every country.
PAUL SIWELA, INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE: The farming community as you can see this is farming area. Most of these people they used to keep dairy cows, goats, sheep and things like that and do some farming. Nothing is taking place at the moment.
Paul Siwela stood as an independent presidential candidate in the last election. He's since been labelled an enemy of the state and charged with treason. He's taking me to his home just outside Bulawayo city where it should be safer to speak but even here, police have him under surveillance.
REPORTER: They're coming?
PAUL SIWELA: Yes, there they are.
We retreat indoors. He does not believe elections scheduled for March next year will be free and fair, or that Robert Mugabe will willingly hand over power.
PAUL SIWELA: What you are asking me is simply like saying Saddam Hussein
would willingly hand over power to a democratically elected government. There
was no way he was going to do that. Neither would the Taliban they've been
pleased to see democracy in Afghanistan.
REPORTER: Why contest the election then?
PAUL SIWELA: Yes, why contest the election? It's a very difficult question. Because if you don't go to the elections in one way or the other, people will be saying, "Look, you have no support." So this is why you're not going to those elections.
To speak out in Zimbabwe is to invite attack. Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube has been one of the most fearless and vocal critics of the state.
BISHOP PIUS NCUBE, CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP: Unless we care for the poor as a country, we will have failed in our duty to fellow human beings.
Earlier this year, Ncube called for foreign intervention to oust a president who he later called both a bully and a murderer. But he's now he's stepped down, a victim of what's widely believed to be a dirty tricks campaign orchestrated by the state. Just weeks after his attack on Mugabe the state media gleefully published these photos, alleging they are of Bishop Ncube and a number of woman taken in the bedroom of his home.
REPORTER: They showed a video tape on television unusual for here?
FATHER NIGEL JOHNSON, SPOKESMAN FOR BISHOP PIUS NCUBE: It's never happened before. I mean, they don't show people, whoever they are, in bed together on primetime news, even in Zimbabwe you don't. For the majority of the people, though, who are not Catholics, that was not a very big deal, whether it was true or false. The fact was that it was one of their leading people, a champion of theirs, who was being, well, mistreated, tricked, treated very badly.
For now, the one remaining industry in Zimbabwe that appears to be booming is the funeral business. The city's gravediggers can't keep up with demand according to Bulawayo city councillor Charles Mpofu.
CHARLES MPOFU: The requirement of people to be buried a day to move along with the requirement of meeting that demand, we have completely failed and that at the same time one of the reasons we don't have adequate staff.
Zimbabwe is presided over by an octogenarian leader, but it has the world's lowest life expectancy, 37 years for a man, 34 for a woman. This is the children's section of the cemetery. This gravedigger started early this morning. He works slowly because he's hungry. He doesn't earn enough to buy sufficient food for himself, or his family.
REPORTER: How many graves do you do a day?
REPORTER: Two a day?
GRAVEDIGGER: Yes. And I've never ate anything from morning.
GRAVEDIGGER: You've had no breakfast?
GRAVEDIGGER: No mealie-meal, no money. Very difficult.
With little water, electricity, food or fuel and no relief in sight,
Zimbabweans can only pray that they survive the death of their economy.
Feature Report: Zimbabwe – Inside a failed state
Monsters and Critics
Oct 31, 2007, 9:01 GMT
Johannesburg/Harare - Top Zimbabwean banker James Mushore has to spend
another seven days in custody after the state appealed against him being
granted bail, the official Herald daily reported Wednesday.
Mushore, who is being accused of authorizing the illegal export of foreign
currency when he was deputy managing director of NMB Bank in 2003, was
granted 100 million Zimbabwe dollars bail by a Harare magistrate on Tuesday,
the report said.
But the state immediately opposed the decision.
The banker will now have to spend another week in custody pending the
outcome of the state's appeal.
Mishrod Guvamombe, the Harare magistrate who read the bail ruling, said
something was going on but did not elaborate further, the Herald reported.
Mushore fled to Britain in 2004 but recently made several trips to Zimbabwe,
apparently on the understanding he was no longer to be charged with
violating exchange controls since NMB Bank had already been fined and
convicted for the alleged offences.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
By Sekai Holland
Last updated: 10/31/2007 07:25:42
WHEN visited Sydney in August this year, Morgan Tsvangirai he made a
briefing during which he mentioned that the MDC would adopt a policy of
'Devolution of Power' in the New Zimbabwe.
Knowing how our male leaders work, I asked him where women would be in this
scheme, crafted by men with no women present. I demanded reassurance.
I told Tsvangirai that his handicap is his close friends masquerading as
advisors who give him bad advice. I quoted the recent dropping of the deputy
secretary post, an unconstitutional move.
For MDC women, it has led to the removal of four articulate, solid
professional women, who are all graduates. These are Dr Elizabeth Marunda
(Policy and Research), Editor Matamisa (Education), Jessica Majome (Legal
and Parliamentary Affairs) and Grace Kwinjeh (International Affairs).
They were part of a list of 10 women proposed by Women's Assembly (WA) chair
Lucia Matibenga after the March 2006 congress for the NEC, to ensure that
MDC met its third quota of women in leadership positions still verbally
agreed to by MDC’s top male leaders who reject the SADC, African Union and
United Nations 50% women's quota whenever we demand it be honoured. There
now remains only two female shadow ministers out of 15 in the new line up. I
told Tsvangirai this was unacceptable. Tsvangirai agreed to correct this.
I did not refer to my own sacking as secretary of international affairs in
2003 when I was the first woman casualty of the MDC’s so called ‘Top 6' male
chauvinism and dictatorship. I dealt with that painful episode decisively
and swiftly when after his announcement, I took the President Tsvangirai and
Vice President Gibson Sibanda into the president's office and had my say.
With support from my spouse and a small network, I am still working even
after that torture with others by Mugabe's thugs on March 11 to add to
pressure on Mugabe by civil society and the MDC members for free and fair
elections for a democratic Zimbabwe. For us, the struggle continues till
After Tsvangirai’s reassurances in Sydney, the recent women’s assemly
dissolution was unexpected and is a big shock. We read that MDC Youth
Assembly (YA) members loyal to Matibenga committed acts of violence against
WA delegates in Bulawayo! There are no names provided of the 60 people said
to have been injured and taken to Mpilo Hospital. The reason for that is
simple, it’s because the YA did not beat up anyone. They performed their
duties and did so with respect and excellence.
However, what did happen -- and this information was everywhere a few hours
after it happened – is that the night before the congress, Gogo Sanelisiwe
Sibanda, popularly known as Gogo Ma Sibanda, had her home stoned as
punishment for organising congress delegates according to the MDC
constitution, which is how Lucia Matibenga invited the 1500 delegates from
all over the country. She followed the MDC constitution.
Ma Sibanda lives at Emakhandeni just near the Hall. Her eyesight is her
latest ailment following a long and difficult illness after surgery these
past few years. Matibenga had not arrived in Bulawayo when this gruesome act
took place against one of the MDC’s strongest founding members. We salute Ma
Sibanda for her courage, for her work over the years in organising the MDC
in such difficult terrain. Sisonke Gogo MaSibanda! Tiritose Mbuya Sibanda!
Another incident of violence also ignored took place on the day when MDC
Tsvangirai faction members of parliament met in Bulawayo. This act is
reported to have been committed by the bodyguard of one of the
Bulawayo-based NSC members. He hit one of the YA members who sang with
others against their own two NSC leaders present for derailing the MDC in
Matabeleland by breaking the constitution.
Someone gave Tsvangirai wrong information about what was happening in
Bulawayo. He rang the deputy YA chairperson instructing him to address the
YA members at Emakhandeni Hall to stop beating people. The YA leader pointed
out that he was unaware of a WA congress taking place in Bulawayo. The
President had not advised him about such a congress taking place in the
first place. YA members were present in force with each delegation from
their provinces. As at any party congress, they looked after delegates at
Emakhandeni Hall. There was no violence.
Here is what we know from eyewitnesses.
Even Bulawayo-based delegates said that they were not told of the congress
venue, agenda or time. By morning stories were about that women were being
registered secretly at Selbourne Hotel in the city centre. Once they went
inside, their cell phones were taken away from them until after the
By morning leaks confirmed that the congress was booked at Emakhandeni Hall.
The properly constituted 1500 delegates went there. There are no secrets in
Zimbabwe. It was soon whispered that there was a secret meeting in progress
behind closed doors at Vice President Thokozani Khupe’s restaurant. The
delegates went there to demand that the congress be convened at the correct
venue with all present. The restaurant doors were locked. Some observers
inside came out to interview delegates. The Bulawayo province chairperson is
a grassroots woman, a party stalwart. She apparently went to the restaurant
meeting and was ejected from there!
Matibenga as chairperson addressed delegates outside the VP's restaurant.
The delegates adopted a resolution that those not attending the Congress at
the venue booked by the party were deemed absent. Police arrived to confirm
that Emakhandeni Hall was booked by the MDC for the WA congress that day.
They advised the women to return there. The delegates made another plea for
those locked inside the restaurant to return to the venue and join the other
delegates. They refused. Tsvangirai was apparently advised about this
There are those who write that two congresses were held. The restaurant
group did not invite their delegates according to the requirements of the
MDC constitution. Lucia Matibenga did. The restaurant group did not have the
constitutional composition of delegates to claim that they held a congress.
They even discussed whether to set up an interim committee -- another
unconstitutionality, an anomaly! But they then concluded to make themselves
the real WA NEC.
In Zimbabwe the worst tragedies produce humour as well. There are many
hilarious stories from the restaurant crowd from those who were locked in!
The Emakhandeni party congress deliberated. They resolved not to dissolve
their NEC but gap-filled the posts of those absent. The meting resolved to
hold their annual conference this year.
The new WA NEC line up is:
Chairperson – Lucia Matibenga (Midlands South) Deputy Chairperson –
Sanelisiwe Sibanda (Bulawayo) Secretary – Faith Musarurwa (Harare) Deputy
Secretary – (Manicaland Province to provide their name) Organising
Secretary – Lucia Masekesa (Masvingo) Deputy Organising Secretary –
Constance Taruvinga (Chitungwiza) Treasurer – Chetamasile Katanga –
(Mashonaland Central Information and Publicity – Catherine Bobo (Midlands
Those writing in the press expose their naivety. Accusations are that women
want Tapiwa Mashakada and Gift Chimanikire as new MDC leaders! How insulting
to women's intelligence! After everything that has been done to people
inside the country by Robert Mugabe, the father of male chauvinism, ordinary
people see through the stupidity of all forms of chauvinisms in Zimbabwe.
The women at Emakhandeni Hall this weekend were clear. The 50% will be a
reality this time. They were jubilant.
Those leadership qualities of those NSC members who made the dissolution
decision will be tested in the next few days. Their judgment would be how
they work out the solution to bring the party back on an even keel and tap
the women's energy displayed at Emakhandeni Hall, not only for our party's
survival but for victory in 2008. There is no going back. Matibenga has
demonstrated the required skills not only to provide principled leadership
internationally, but inside Zimbabwe itself. The weekend proved that.
Matibenga as WA chairperson and Nelson Chamisa as YA chairperson saved
President Tsvangirai by mobilising consultative gatherings around Zimbabwe
when he was nearly toppled on October 12, 2005, by his ‘Top 6’ colleagues.
The claim that Matibenga was offered the deputy chairperson's post to
replace acting chairperson Lovemore Moyo is presumptuous. Matibenga refused
this offer outright.
This is yet another strategy to get women fighting. On one hand Matibenga is
expected to vacate her post by backdoor unconstitutional male deals to make
way for a favoured-by-male-leaders woman, to kill off the very body in the
party for women's advancement. On the other she is being made to fight with
me. I stood as deputy chairperson at the March 2006 congress. Our men fished
out Lovemore Moyo who stood and lost in the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC
congress the week before, to block me.
So far when people ask me my plans, I tell them that as soon as I am well I
am returning home and will contest for the deputy chairperson's post at this
year's annual conference. So Matibenga and I are to fight each other for
The offer to Matibenga is unconstitutional. We have to fill in the
chairperson's post at the annual conference whenever that is held, as well
as the deputy chairperson's, by voting. The restaurant politics has shifted
all that to something new and exciting.
In conclusion, MDC party structures at home are united that we must all be
bound by our constitution. Men and women are standing shoulder to shoulder
to ensure that observance of the constitution becomes an integral part of
MDC culture, Zimbabwe's culture.
Also, Zimbabweans everywhere are exhausted. We are in endless pain emotional
and physical. For example my whole left side has been bad again since all
this drama began. This latest male chauvinist abuse is dragging all our
positive energies to ground. It is the height of arrogance, whoever thought
out that plan to hold this charade in Bulawayo. After everything that has
been done by the regime to the people of Bulawayo! Udiniwe uBulawayo
bakithi! VokuBulawayo vaneta veduwe!
Bulawayo is exhausted with Zimbabwe's political antics, always emanating
unexpectedly from Harare in their backyard. This morning when we spoke to
members who attended the congress and others, the restaurant, they said that
Bulawayo was sad at the tragedy played out in their city. Others were in
fits of laughter at the Harare circus that they said had come to play out
its foolish show in their otherwise quiet city over the weekend. Bulawayo
residents are mostly stunned.
Sekai Holland is an active MDC member. She writes from Sydney, Australia
31st Oct 2007 16:59 GMT
By a Correspondent
LONDON - The dissolved MDC-UK executive, led by trade unionist and one of
the opposition party’s founding members, Ephraim Tapa, has today announced
that it would next week hold an assembly for its members here against the
wishes of its leadership in Harare.
The executive, which has refused to accept its dissolution by the MDC’s
national chairman, Lovemore Moyo a few weeks ago, says after wide
consultations with the MDC-UK external assembly structure, “a vigorous and
rigorous scrutiny of the procedures to be followed when a Provincial
Executive is dissolved” and in light of experiences drawn from dissolutions
elsewhere within the wider MDC Party, it was formally advising its
leadership in Harare and members “that we have failed to accept the outcomes
of the Northampton debacle and that we reject them”.
A statement from Tapa reads: “We are of the view that what happened on
13/10/2007, Northampton grossly violated the MDC Constitution. We consider
the MDC Constitution to be a sacrosanct document, which should not be
tampered with to satisfy individual idiosyncrasy.”
“It would be unfortunate if we, as an Executive allow such a flawed process
to go unchallenged and we also think that it is healthy for the party
leadership to be aware that their decisions will always be robustly examined
and that they must be prepared to give their following satisfactory
Continued Tapa: “It is our humble submission that any punishment meted out
must be done justly, fairly and transparently. Since all these basic tenets
of a democratic organisation were absent during the Northampton meeting we
are persuaded to disregard the proceedings, appeal against what was at best
a bad spectacle and continue with our work for the party that we love. Given
that human beings are selfish by nature, our brief as a party is to
safeguard and demand the upholding of the party Constitution in all respects
and promote accountability and equality of all before the law.”
Tapa’s executive that includes secretary general Julius Sai Mutyambizi-Dewa
was dissolved following massive disagreements between the elected leadership
here and Morgan Tsvangirai’s appointed representative, Hebson Makuvise.
The two groups differed on the way the party was run, who attended foreign
meetings, talked to the foreign and home office and related issues. Moyo
said the decision to dissolve the executive was brought about by the fact
that the executive had failed to work together in tandem in organising party
structures and related issues. Tapa and his colleagues deny they failed
instead citing nepotism and tribalism in the way the MDC is being run.
Makuvise on the other hand accuses Tapa and his team of failing to totally
to revamp the party in the UK, organise and bring more people into the party’s
Please read below the rest of Tapa’s statement to the MDC leadership
3. The first strand of our case is that the National Chairman did not give
the minimum notice required (7days) as per Article 5.8.19 of the MDC
Constitution. This therefore means that the meeting was void ab initio.
Since the Northampton meeting was not properly constituted, our view is that
any decision/resolution taken therefrom is of no legal consequence, it’s
null and void. We take it that the 7-day notice requirement, if observed,
would have given all branches and executives reasonable time to prepare and
make themselves available for the meeting. We respectfully hope that in
future the National Chairman or those who organise such meetings for him
will take this Constitutional provision into consideration to avoid any
thoughts of him being viewed as vindictive by those affected.
As a result of the inadequate period of notice, many of our branches failed
to attend and so did many officials at both branch and Provincial levels
(including Women and Youth Assemblies). In fact, most of them went to
commemorate the 5th Anniversary of the Zimbabwe Vigil on that day.
This scenario left the event open to manipulation by the event organisers
who happened to be pro-dissolution and had actually orchestrated the
Chairman’s visit for the purpose. As a consequence, we saw ordinary people
being organised into representing those branches not in attendance and in
some cases, branches that did not exist (e.g. Oldham). The Northampton
meetings (Youth, Women and Assembly) with National Chairman will go down in
history as the first in the MDC-UK and Ireland where the quorum or the
Constitution did not really matter.
Whilst we acknowledge the fact that the Chairman would naturally be unaware
of these anomalies, we find it difficult to absolve him of blame given that
it was him who called for the meeting at a time of his choosing and
organised the meeting through individuals of his choice rather than the
MDC-UK and Ireland Executive. We are at a loss as to what this was meant to
4. The second strand of our case is that the National Chairperson does not
have the power to unilaterally dissolve a Provincial Executive. This power
is vested in the National Council as provided for under Article 184.108.40.206(i)
of the MDC Constitution. The National Chairperson’s powers are clearly
enumerated in Article 6.3 of the MDC Constitution. We therefore wonder which
powers the National Chairman was using to dissolve the Executive. Whilst we
accept that External Assemblies fall under the office of the National
Chairman, that on its own does not confer upon the Chairman the power to
dissolve such structures without due process.
5. The third strand of our case is that the National Chairman breached the
rules of natural justice in that (1) no charges or accusations were directly
or indirectly put forward to the Executive and (2) as the accused persons,
we were never given the opportunity to tell our side of the story. We have
it on good account that dissolutions elsewhere within the Party included
efforts to unite the warring parties and seeking guidance where dissolution
was called for. In our case, the National Chairman never held a meeting with
the Executive, let alone, make reference to the constitution. He further
exacerbated the anomaly by including one of the chief instigators of the
coup (the Chief Representative) to participate in the decision –making
process. The little respect left in the process was eventually lost by such
blatant show of bias.
6. It is also instructive to note that the National Chairman’s decision to
dissolve the Executive was pre-mediated as the Chief Representative (Mr
Hebson Makuvise) told everyone who cared to listen two weeks before the
National Chairman, came that the Executive was going to be dissolved. This
was shortly after 5 members of the Executive (Rodwell Mupungu – Vice-
Chairperson, Jaison Matewu- Organising Secretary, Mary Kasirowore-
Treasurer, Matthew Nyashanu – Publicity and Information and Jameson
Mashakada – Youth Chairperson) had broke away from the rest of the Executive
to form the so-called ‘new province’ in solidarity with the 4 suspended
branch Chairs. It is our submission that the National Chairman’s trip and
the Northampton event were hastily organised at the behest of the 5 to stop
the Executive from executing the Coventry Council resolutions that included
the filling up the gaps left by the five and restructuring all branches
affected by the five’s nefarious activities. By agreeing to the rebels’
agenda, the National Chairman became complicit to the problem.
7. We are also aware that the National Chairman came here on the basis of a
fraudulent petition signed by only 7 Branch Chairpersons (that includes the
chair and organising secretary of the now appointed coordinating committee)
and a few of their friends, uncollaborated reports from certain individuals
belonging to the Standing Committee and media gossip. In his unlimited
wisdom he did not bother to check the veracity of this petition, reports or
gossip. Equity does not help those who come with dirty hands, but in this
instance it seems those with dirty hands won the day. We are also aware that
the other side to the case paid for the National Chairman’s airfares and
accommodation. This made his position as an arbiter untenable, as they say;
he who pays the piper calls the tune. In the fog of the pampering, justice
8. We are also worried by the fact that two people who lost heavily in the
Chairperson’s contest at the 2006 MDC UK and Ireland Congress and the lady
who lost the Women’s Assembly Chairperson post at the properly constituted
Congress last year were appointed to lead the Co-ordinating Committee. These
are the very same people whose failure to accept the Congress results turned
them into bitter political rivals to the MDC-UK and Ireland Chairman and his
Executive (minus the 5). A prudent and reasonable adult can easily tell that
something was very amiss with the whole procedure. Despite the National
Chairman’s insistence on excluding all those involved in the so-called
problem from appointment to the coordinating committee, he nevertheless went
on to appoint 80% of them including the following:
Mr John Nyamande (Appointed Chair) –contested for the Chairs position at
Congress and managed only 25 votes out of over 200. He failed to accept the
results after running a very expensive campaign and did everything to ensure
that the Tapa administration failed from day one. With others, he
masterminded the January 2007 petition, which was crushed by the people at
the Wolverhampton Assembly and have also been heavily involved in the most
Ms Suzet Kwenda (Appointed Vice- Chair) – She contested the Women Assembly
Chair’s position and lost heavily to Amai Chiminya. Like Mr John Nyamande,
she worked tirelessly with others to cripple the Women Assembly (WA)
Executive and cause disunity within the party. Furthermore, a year after she
lost office, she failed to handover over £800 of party funds belonging to
the Women’s Assembly.
Mary Kasirowore (Appointed Advisor) – Former Treasurer of the MDC-UK and
Ireland was one of the rebellious five who broke away to form their ‘new
province, new beginning’ and has failed to arrange for a proper audit more
than a year since coming into office.
Ms Chipo Machida (formerly organising secretary for the WA and now Appointed
WA Chairlady) –the centre of controversy within the WA. Was dismissed by the
WA in August 2007. The same applies to Mr Cuthbert Chisango (Appointed
Organising secretary) – suspended branch Chair for Milton Keynes and one of
the main organisers of the ‘new province’.
The list continues and if this is the Party’s way of dealing with disputes,
then God help us.
9. It is against this background of a plethora of underhand dealings that
we, members of the MDC-UK and Ireland Executive (minus the 5 of the ‘new
province, new beginning’ have decided to reject the results of the
Northampton circus and resolved to continue with our programmes; branch
formation and restructuring, demonstrations and rallies, writing support
letters, fundraising for the Party, etc. We also want to reaffirm our
support for the President of the Party, Morgan Tsvangirai and his Liberation
Team and hope that they will see reason and be persuaded to act
constitutionally and uphold the founding principles of the Party.
We also reiterate the fact that we have nothing against National Chairman
Moyo as a person or anyone within the leadership. However, to us nothing
matters more than to remain true to the aspirations of the People and the
Struggle by way of a democratic, transparent and fair system as entrenched
in the Party Constitution. In this resolve, we shall endeavour to support
and co-operate with all MDC members and Party structures (home and away)
that share the same values with us and hope that common sense will prevail
within Party Leadership.
We will not dither nor shy away from the truth and the trust the people
bestowed in us. WE DARE THE LEADERSHIP, NATIONAL COUNCIL AND THE GENERALITY
OF PARTY MEMBERSHIP TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND SAVE THE MDC AND THE SUFFERING
PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE.
10. It is also important to bring the Party to recalling that the overriding
objective of the existence of the Party through its National Council in
matters of disputes is not only to be fair, but also to be seen to be fair
at all times. It is within this framework that the Standing Committee must
be respectfully reminded that it does not have the power to make resolutions
but only exists an implementing arm of the National Council: 5.4.14 The
Committee shall be responsible for the day to day administration of the
Party and shall report to the National Executive and shall make no
Executive or Policy decisions.
11. As such, it is our responsibility within the scope of the inescapable
persuasion to deliver the Party from the temptations of countervailing
behaviour that we are calling on all who are intent on the truth and
sanctity of the MDC Constitution as the guiding manual, be aware that this
by the MDC-UK& IRELAND is in the best interests of the Party of which we all
Ephraim Tapa [MDC-UK and Ireland Chairperson, THE EXECUTIVE AND WE THE
“CHINJA MAITIRO, GUQULA IZENZO!”
Mens News Daily
October 31, 2007 at 12:57 am ·
Yesterday the local State press announced that the government had agreed to
new regulations that made it an offence to use market exchange rates in the
determination of either costs of production or final retail prices on goods
that had been imported. We immediately received reports of arrests in the
City and assume that these relate to the new regulations. Already, under the
so-called "price control" regulations, we have had 28 000 businesspersons
arrested and jailed.
The consequences of the price blitz and the subsequent attempt to hold down
escalating prices driven by high levels of inflation has simply been the
near complete disappearance of goods for sale in the formal sector.
Wholesalers and retailers are still standing with vast areas of empty
shelving and thousands of idle staff.
Industrial firms are similarly idle - output is tiny in relation to their
capacities or domestic demand. Export activities have continued - mainly in
desperation as firms tried to do something that would at least help with
These new regulations (I have not seen the actual regulations themselves -
just press reports and these seem to be enough for the Police to act against
traders and businessmen) are another nail in the coffin of the remaining
private sector in Zimbabwe.
For those who live in a normal society with a functioning market economy I
must explain. The State here operates a very strict and rigid exchange rate
regime. Under this regime right now the official exchange rate for the US
dollar is 30 000 to 1. There are many different exchange rates managed by
the Reserve Bank (a different one for exporters, tobacco farmers, wheat
producers and so on) but the "official rate" is the one used for exercises
like this one. The open market rate for the dollar right now is about 1 200
000 to 1. That is 40 times the official rate.
The Reserve Bank buys about US$500 million from exporters and others at the
"official rate" and then uses this for essential imports and patronage. If a
Zanu PF person gets foreign exchange at the official rate from the bank then
they can import a luxury vehicle, for example, for a tiny fraction of its
real cost. So a Member of Parliament, who gets a small salary, can in fact
afford to import and drive a top of the range SUV or luxury car.
But US$500 million does not go very far when total import demand is in
excess of US$2,5 billion, especially if a significant proportion is used to
support the life styles of the rich and privileged (there is a once a week
flight to Dubai - just for shoppers). So the business community has to buy
its foreign exchange in the open market. This comes in many forms: -
So called "free funds" which are available for sale in Zimbabwe in return
for local currency in quite significant quantities - multiples of 1000 US
dollars at a time perhaps. These attract the highest rates of exchange as
the funds are not traceable and can be moved anywhere in the world. People
here who want to liquidate their assets and get out use this route and pay
the premium (about 50 per cent over the market rate) to do so. It is
estimated that something over US$500 million a year makes its way out of
Zimbabwe in this manner.
Then there are the funds in local Foreign Currency denominated accounts with
local Banks. These have many sources - foreign inflows from NGO's, export
earnings, allocations from the Reserve Bank in return for export commodities
(gold and tobacco). These can be traded - the way this happens is that the
owner of the FCA arranges to import something for another company or
individual and then sells that product under a local invoice that reflects
the agreed price for the foreign exchange used. Often this system also
attracts a premium as exporters try to make up the shortfall in export
earnings arising out of the purchase of 40 per cent of all foreign earnings
by the Reserve Bank at the official rate. Because of the shortage of foreign
exchange this is accepted as a normal cost of doing business. It means that
often local manufacturers pay well above import parity prices for raw
And then there is the street. About US$100 million a month comes into the
system from remittances sent by the 4 million or so Zimbabweans living
outside the country. In addition there are many other smaller sources -
tourists and visitors, diplomats and any other person with cash foreign
exchange. This market is extremely efficient - prices change by the hour and
are set nation wide driven by the ubiquitous cell phone. It also pays the
lowest exchange rates that are available and are used to set a myriad of
prices - fuel is the best-known example and this tracks the price of fuel at
about US$85 cents per litre. The market is huge and the volumes traded daily
exceed the turnover of many Banks. Traders make a fortune on margins that
are higher than would normally apply in a formal system.
So any attempt to enforce the use of the "official exchange rate" on costing
where the open market, in whatever form, is the source of the foreign
exchange (over 95 per cent of all transactions) will simply mean that the
whole system will shut down except for those who wish to close down and
leave with their assets. This will greatly exacerbate the present chaos in
formal markets and further enhance the informal sector as the main source of
all basic needs at much higher costs. Yesterday for example I spoke to a
woman who had paid Z$2,8 million for 15 kilograms of maize meal that cost
(ex GMB) Z$60 000. Not a bad margin for the seller (a street trader) but a
disaster for the consumer.
So the so-called "war on prices" continues. In fact this rhetoric simply
disguises the real purpose which is to bankrupt the private sector, close it
down and take it over for a tiny fraction of its value and then resume
production and sales - but under tight political control. The other main
objective is the same one that underlay the Murambatsvina exercise - drive
as many of the urban population out of the country before the 2008
elections, as is possible. In this respect they are succeeding with nearly a
million Zimbabweans having fled the country since the start of the year.
This is nothing more or less than the ongoing Zanu PF/Joint Operations
Command election campaign. This takes time and I think you can now
understand why the talks with Zanu PF under the auspices of the SADC have
taken so long to come to finality. They were supposed to be concluded by the
end of June, then the end of October, they still meander on - the objective
is clear, to try and hold the elections before the MDC can recover or get
its message out to the people or get the Diaspora organised.
I cannot imagine that the South Africans are not full conversant with this
state of affairs and therefore must conclude they are in cahoots with Zanu
PF on this issue. It's dangerous for them as they can ill afford to have
another two million Zimbabweans in their overcrowded slums wreaking havoc in
Bulawayo, 31st October 2007
Wednesday 31 October 2007
By Thulani Munda
HARARE – Zimbabwe's preparation for the synchronised presidential and
parliamentary elections next year is running behind schedule as it emerged
yesterday that there is inadequate money for the printing of the voters’
Edwell Mtemaringa, chief accountant at the Registrar General's office that
prepares the voters’ register told a parliamentary portfolio committee on
Defence and Home Affairs yesterday that the voters roll is supposed to be
printed this year but this had not yet happened because of inadequate funds.
“Printing of the voters’ roll has to be done this year so that it will be
ready for inspection. We requested $3.5 trillion and were given only $110
billion,” Mtemaringa said.
Portfolio committee chairperson Claudius Makova told Alois Matonga, acting
permanent secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, to take the issue of
the voters’ roll to Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi who would in turn
brief his colleagues in Cabinet.
“This is a serious issue which the permanent secretary should raise with the
minister,” said Makova, who is a legislator of President Robert Mugabe’s
ruling ZANU PF party.
The voters’ roll requires major surgery to put it in order. For example, the
roll is said to contain millions of names of voters who died or who have
left the country over the years to work and live abroad.
Thousands of voters have failed to vote in previous polls either because
their names were entered under wrong constituencies or did not appear at all
on the roll.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party has in the past
accused the government of taking advantage of the lack of accurate figures
on the number of voters to rig polls. The government denies the charge.
Meanwhile a senior police officer told the parliamentary committee that
preparations by the law enforcement agency to ensure adequate security
during polls were being hampered by a lack of resources.
Deputy Police Commissioner William Sibanda said there was need for the
police to recruit and train more officers but there was such a serious
shortage of resources with for example, new recruits having to train in
their civilian clothes because there are not enough uniforms.
“There is a serious shortage of uniforms. We can't buy uniforms, even shorts
and T-shirts such that people are being trained in their own clothes,” said
Sibanda, who was however keen to emphasise that lack of resources or not,
the police has acquitted itself well in previous polls.
A long running economic crisis described by the world bank as the worst in
the world outside a war zone has left the Harare government scrounging for
cash and resources to keep basic operations running.
Analysts say credible elections next year are vital to any attempt to pluck
once prosperous Zimbabwe from an economic meltdown, marked by the world’s
highest inflation rate of close to 8 000 percent, deepening poverty and
shortages of food. - ZimOnline
Wednesday 31 October 2007
By Hendricks Chizhanje
HARARE - The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party has
warned that President Robert Mugabe's dismissal of its claims about
escalating violence against its members could undermine delicate talks
between the opposition and the ruling ZANU PF party.
Mugabe last weekend dismissed as unsubstantiated opposition claims of
state-sponsored violence against its supporters and labelled MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai as being "amateurish" and "unacceptable".
But MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa yesterday accused Mugabe of undermining
the spirit of ongoing talks between ZANU PF and the opposition by dismissing
its concerns about escalating violence.
"Mugabe is undermining the people's confidence. It (Mugabe's tirade)
undermines the confidence of Zimbabweans in the dialogue process. People
expect positive signals from the incumbent," said Chamisa, who last March
was a victim of a government crackdown on MDC leaders and civic activists.
Chamisa said Mugabe was being economic with the truth by dismissing the
opposition's claims of violence.
"Mugabe is either misinformed or is trying to be deliberately mischievous
which is not going to aid and amplify confidence building. Our biggest
problem in Zimbabwe is being in a denial mode," Chamisa said.
An opposition delegation last week met Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi to
substantiate claims of escalating targeted violence against the party's
supporters following pressure from some Southern African Development
Community (SADC) leaders worried that the MDC could pull out of the talks.
"We gave evidence (to Mohadi) in detailed form," Chamisa said.
Mohadi promised to probe the allegations of violence against opposition
Mohadi's meeting with the MDC officials followed allegations made by the
opposition party that the government had stepped up violence against its
supporters ahead of next year's presidential and parliamentary elections.
Chamisa said the MDC was not expecting a response from the SADC secretariat
after writing to them about escalating violence in the country.
"Those issues (violence) are going to be addressed in the context of work
currently in progress," Chamisa said, referring to ongoing talks between the
Negotiators from ZANU PF and the MDC were this week expected to resume talks
in South Africa to end Zimbabwe's long-running political crisis.
The South African-mediated talks are being held under the aegis of SADC,
which last March mandated President Thabo Mbeki to end the political
stalemate between the Zimbabwean foes. - ZimOnline
Wednesday 31 October 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO – Local authorities in Masvingo province are buying water treatment
chemicals from the black market as the country’s sole manufacturer of the
product is failing to cope with demand, ZimOnline has learnt.
At a meeting for local authorities held in Masvingo yesterday, provincial
administrator Felix Chikovo said the quality of water served to people had
deteriorated because of the shortage of water treatment chemicals.
Most local authorities in Zimbabwe used to buy water treatment chemicals
from Zimbabwe Phosphate (Zimphos) Limited but the company, hit hard by the
country’s eight-year economic crisis, has struggled to cope with demand.
There are fears that residents in Masvingo town and other outlying areas
could be forced to drink contaminated water. Masvingo town, which is home to
about 500 0000 people, needs 30 tonnes of water treatment chemicals a month.
Masvingo city council has over the past few months resorted to acquiring the
chemicals from the illegal parallel market at a cost of Z$11.6 billion for a
month’s supply, according to documents seen by ZimOnline.
“We are worried with the situation and hope that we are not going to have a
catastrophe. The water situation is now a major problem and we have since
approached central government to provide funds to ensure that clean water
continues to reach the people.
“We cannot continue to rely on the black market because we do not know how
genuine are these products from the black market,” said Chikovo.
Masvingo mayor Engineer Alois Chaimiti confirmed that his council was buying
water treatment chemicals from the black market.
“We are now buying our water treatment chemicals from non-traditional
sources because Zimphos is failing to cope with demand,” said Chaimiti.
“The council has since stopped all water related capital projects to focus
on the water situation because it has become a priority.”
Most Zimbabwean cities and towns have battled severe water shortages over
the past few years due to gross mismanagement and drought with the country’s
second biggest city, Bulawayo, being the worst affected.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) was last year mandated to take
charge of all water supplies around the country amid a storm of disapproval
from residents in all the major cities and towns who accused the parastatal
of gross incompetence. - ZimOnline
By Patience Rusere
30 October 2007
Some Zimbabwean civic groups are rejecting a draft constitution said to have
emerged from crisis resolution talks between the ruling party and the
opposition because, they argue, the document does not reflects the wishes of
the Zimbabwean people.
About 20 civic leaders met in Harare Tuesday to compile the results of
meetings held recently on the South African-mediated crisis talks amid
reports a draft constitution is afoot - as both factions of the Movement for
Democratic Change have confirmed.
The draft constitution, reportedly assembled by MDC and ZANU-PF negotiators
on a houseboat in Kariba, on the Zambezi River, is said to have been
compiled from drafts produced not only by the political parties but by a
leading civil society group.
Many in civil society were incensed in September when the opposition voted
with the ruling party in parliament to pass a constitutional amendment which
made important changes in the electoral dispensation, including a provision
which allows parliament to choose a new president in the event of
resignation, death or incapacitation.
Support for that amendment by the Movement for Democratic Change emerged
from the Pretoria talks, engendering distrust of that forum on the part of
civic leaders who have demanded greater transparency and disclosure to all
National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku told reporter
Patience Rusere that civic groups and MDC leaders no longer share the same
perspective on important issues and can no longer collaborate on
By Carole Gombakomba
30 October 2007
The chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said Tuesday that his
agency is on track in preparations for national elections slated for March
of next year.
But many other involved parties are expressing concern about the timetable,
and civic groups say that so long as President Robert Mugabe has not signed
a constitutional amendment concerning elections into law, no definitive
preparations can be made.
Electoral authorities will have a lot on their hands creating new
constituencies as the constitution calls for the addition of 90 new elective
seats to the lower house.
Also, a delimitation commission will have to redraw many constituency
boundaries and voter rolls for those districts will have to be manually
Electoral Commission Chairman George Chiweshe told reporter Carole
Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that much remains to be done
before the elections, but until Mr. Mugabe signs the amendment into law, his
panel's hands are tied.
Elections Director Ian Makone of the Movement for Democratic Change faction
led by Morgan Tsvangirai said his formation has written to the commissioner
expressing concern about the state of preparation for the elections.
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
30 October 2007
The faction of Zimbabwe's opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai attempted
Tuesday to close a highly charged episode by naming a new slate of officers
to head its women's assembly following the dissolution of the executive
earlier this month. But it was not clear whether the executive removed
earlier this month would concede defeat.
The naming of the new executive followed a congress of the women's assembly
of the Tsvangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change held Sunday
in Bulawayo - though logistical confusion resulted in two separate
congresses being held, one of which voted to restore former executive
chairwoman Lucia Matibenga to power.
In the statement released Tuesday, Chairman Lovemore Moyo of the Tsvangirai
MDC faction named Theresa Makone, wife of the faction's secretary for
elections, Ian Makone, the new chairwoman of the women's assembly executive.
Moyo asserted that the dissolution of Matibenga's panel was constitutional,
contrary to a lawsuit by Matibenga saying it violated the party's
constitution. A Harare high court judge ruled that a congress should decide
on the issue of constitutionality - but the disorganization surrounding the
congress seemed to leave the issue open.
Moyo said the dissolved executive was dysfunctional and discordant, and he
charged that Matibenga loyalists were bused to Bulawayo to disrupt congress
The other women named to the women's executive were: Enna Chitsa, deputy
chairwomen; Evelyn Masaiti, secretary general; Margaret Matienga, deputy
secretary general; Sphiwe Banda, treasurer; Lynete Karenyi-Kore, organizer;
Judith Chitembwe, deputy organizer; and Sibusisiwe Masara, information and
Reached late Tuesday, Matibenga declined to comment on the MDC move.
South African based political analyst Glenn Mpani, speaking before the
release of the MDC statement, told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the controversy had marred the Tsvangirai
By Jonga Kandemiiri
30 October 2007
Zimbabwe's parliamentary committee on transport has backed a proposal by Air
Zimbabwe to set regional and international fares in foreign exchange.
The panel said this will help the national airline stay afloat while
longer-term solutions are found. The committee Monday endorsed the national
air carrier’s pricing shift.
Air Zimbabwe Chairman Mike Bimha said last week that he had broached the
subject of hard-currency pricing with the Ministry of Transport.
Opposition lawmaker Murisi Zwizwai told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that Air
Zimbabwe desperately needs hard currency, not only to pay for fuel but to
retain its pilots.
By Blessing Zulu
30 October 2007
Zimbabwe's National Incomes and Pricing Commission, named by President
Robert Mugabe in August, has warned companies not to turn to the parallel
market for the foreign exchange they need to finance imports of goods and
Panel Chairman Godwills Masimirembwa told the state-controlled Herald
newspaper the commission would let firms calculate import costs and prices
using the official rate, currently Z$30,000 per U.S. dollar. It was unclear
how this would help firms given the hard currency drought and a parallel
market rate of Z$1 million per U.S. dollar.
President Marah Hativagone of the National Chamber of Commerce told VOA the
new pronouncement would aggravate already serious shortages of food in the
Consumers will soon feel the impact as the few bakeries continuing to
operate have rejected the panel's proposed official price for bread of
Z$100,000. Chairman VIncent Mangoma of the National Bakers Association said
a loaf must fetch Z$400,000.
Director Godfrey Kanyenze of the Labor and Economic Development Research
institute told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
even the central bank is turning to the parallel market to obtain foreign
Siestas, traditional short afternoon naps taken in hot countries, have been adopted by refugees in Pretoria.
With its searing hot weather, a city park is the perfect place to enjoy a siesta. Thorn trees and other makeshift shelters filter the sun for those who enjoy a nap.
Across the street from the Marabastad Refugee Reception Office of the Home Affairs Department, three groups of people nap under the trees, taking a break from the long queues.
The office is the busiest of the country’s five refugee reception offices. The others are in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.
The office is filled with asylum seekers hoping for that piece of paper that will allow them to stay temporarily in South Africa.
Fungiso Mufumi, 41, of Zimbabwe is one such hopeful. Sitting under a tree on an old plastic bucket, he mourns the loss of his treasured permit.
“I finally received the permit last week, but it was stolen.”
Mufumi recently fell off a scaffold. His right arm is in a cast.
A thief took advantage of his injury and stole his money and a jacket.
“I had R384 in that jacket. A brother in Johannesburg who had heard I was struggling sent me the money.
“Now it is gone, taken by people with bad habits,” Mufumi says, hardly looking up.
Thousands of asylum seekers endure long waits while their applications are processed – or not.
An application should take 180 days – six months – to be approved, but it seldom does because of inadequate infrastructure, systems and staff shortages. But the department says it will reduce the backlog by next December.
Director for refugee affairs, Busisiwe Mkhwebane-Tshehla, says: “These challenges are not new.
“We are aware of them. We are not sitting and waiting for the situation to explode.”
She says a process to “turn around” the five reception offices was in progress to “address the influx of asylum seekers”.
The system will double the capacity of the offices.
Mkhwebane-Tshehla denied the process is hindered by officials with little understanding of refugee law. She said officials were trained by the UN High Commission for Refugees.
She said the department was not coping with applications because the “demand for permits is greater than the supply”.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Many seriously ill patients can no longer afford prescription charges.
By Nonthando Bhebhe in Harare (AR No. 141, 31-Oct-07)
As the prices of drugs and healthcare continue to soar to astronomical
levels, many Zimbabweans with life-threatening conditions are going without
the treatment they need.
Spending an afternoon at one of Harare’s busiest pharmacies is
heartbreaking, as patient after patient walks in and out without collection
their prescription because they just can’t afford it.
Barely able to stand without leaning against the wall, Martin Sibanda, a
self-employed welder, waits anxiously for the pharmacist to give him the
prices of the five drugs that were prescribed to him at a clinic close to
his home in Harare’s poorest suburb, Mbare.
After a two-minute wait, the pharmacist hands him a piece of paper with the
total cost of the drugs. He looks at the paper and as if in slow motion, he
shifts his gaze to the pharmacist, who repeats the figure and asks if he
should supply the drugs.
Sibanda whispers the figure and shakes his head in bewilderment, “My son,
are you saying 28 million [Zimbabwean dollars, ZWD – 28 US dollars at the
black market rate]? Did I hear you right? Please check again, you must be
But it is not an error. It is the cost of three life-prolonging drugs for
his two chronic illnesses, and two others for a new infection.
Sibanda suffers from high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, and diabetes. A
month’s supply of nifedipine to treat hypertension costs an average of five
million ZWD; drugs for diabetes go for about six million ZWD and ulcer
medication costs ten million ZWD.
In addition, Sibanda has developed a chest infection and was prescribed an
antibiotic and cough mixture. The antibiotic, erythromycin, costs about 2.5
million ZWD and the cough mixture, 4.5 million ZWD.
With a teacher’s monthly salary at 14 million ZWD a month as of October - a
figure still below the official poverty line which was set at 16.7 million
ZWD in August - Sibanda’s pharmacy bill of 28 million ZWD is way beyond the
reach of the majority of Zimbabweans.
Sibanda stares blankly at the pharmacist and then turns to his wife. He
tells her that they will just have to go back home and pray for God’s
His predicament mirrors that of millions of other Zimbabweans, suffering as
a result of a collapsing public health system.
Zimbabwe’s health service used to be the marvel of the southern African
subcontinent, with the government’s vision of “Health for All by 2000”
almost within reach.
By the turn of the millennium, each of the nine rural provinces had a well
equipped referral hospital. District clinics were complemented superbly by
mission hospitals scattered all over the country.
However, a declining economic situation attributed to government’s ruinous
policies has seen the situation deteriorate to pre-independence levels.
Zimbabwe is going through a severe economic crisis with serious fuel and
food shortages which are blamed on recurring droughts as well as the
government's fast-track land redistribution programme, which has disrupted
agricultural production and slashed export earnings.
This has taken its toll on the health service. Now drugs are scarce, those
which are available are exorbitantly priced, medical equipment is
dilapidated and there are persistent strikes over poor salaries on offer to
In recent years, those who can afford it have been forced to turn to private
medical practitioners for services no longer offered by government clinics
and hospitals. However, as private hospitals now demand an upfront cash
deposit of 50 million ZWD before admission, this is out of the reach of most
Touched by Sibanda’s plight, IWPR sought an interview with him. He seemed to
have resigned himself to whatever fate awaited him.
When IWPR visited his home four days later, his condition seemed to have
worsened and his breathing was strained. He tried to sit up on his small
wooden bed, but this made breathing more difficult.
“I am in a lot of pain. If I had money, I would seek private medical care or
buy those drugs I was prescribed. But I have nothing and I’m now waiting for
my death. My condition is getting worse every day and I just don’t know
anywhere to turn to,” he said.
Asked why he does not go to any of the government hospitals, Sibanda smiled
and said, “Government hospitals are now deathbeds – people are referred
there to die. There is no medication and they are filthy and you can almost
smell death as you enter their buildings. So, no, thanks – I would rather be
with my loved ones and die surrounded by love.”
The high costs of medical care are affecting everyone, including those with
medical insurance, who still have to meet more than half of the medical
Commonly prescribed drugs are unaffordable to most. For example, Ranferon -
which is recommended for pregnant women to increase circulation and avoid
birth complications - now costs more than 13 million ZWD.
One pharmacist told IWPR that although they understood that most Zimbabweans
can no longer afford medication, there was nothing they could do because
they have to sell drugs at profit.
“I tell you many people are dying in silence without medication and proper
health care. I have to develop a hard skin to deal with the situation in
Zimbabwe. My heart bleeds every single time when a patient walks out without
her medication,” he said.
“You can almost feel or even touch the helplessness in people. I am sure if
we were to do a proper survey, we will find that hundreds of people have
died when they should not have. The government has to address this issue;
otherwise, it is presiding over a dying and hungry nation.”
Many of those worst affected by the rising prices of drugs are those with
In a country with the world's fourth highest rate of HIV infection, many
infected people simply cannot afford the antiretroviral, ARV, drugs they
need, said Lynde Francis, who runs The Centre - an HIV/AIDS non-governmental
organisation with 4,500 registered clients.
"People are giving up [taking their] drugs - they have to choose between
feeding and educating their kids or taking ARVs,” she said. “It's becoming
more of a struggle to get the basic necessities. ARVs are way down on their
list of priorities.”
Nonthando Bhebhe is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
They will have their work cut out to reduce tensions ahead of next year’s
By Yamikani Mwando in Bulawayo (AR No. 141, 31-Oct-07)
Zimbabwe - like many African democracies - has been plagued by election
violence since the country opted for multi-party politics upon attaining
black majority rule in 1980.
Violence has escalated since the 1999-2000 electoral campaign, when the main
opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, gave the ruling
ZANU-PF a run for its money. Houses have been burnt, people abducted,
pro-democracy activists tortured and killed.
Politicians and the ZANU-PF government in particular have routinely been
accused of fanning violence before, during and after elections and stoking
tribal conflicts in the process.
Non-governmental organisations involved in peace-building initiatives are
already reporting politically motivated violence and killings ahead of
Zimbabwe’s potentially bruising presidential and parliamentary elections
early next year.
While some communities have begun efforts to make this election
violence-free, they agree it is not - and has never been - an easy job.
Themba Phuthi, 36, a volunteer for the Catholic Commission for Justice and
Peace, CCJP, is involved in efforts to ensure tolerance of diverging
political views. He works among communities where the expression of
political loyalty has, in the past, turned bloody.
At a time when there is widespread resentment of all things political, the
CCJP is in the vanguard of preaching peaceful co-existence amid growing
agitation amongst locals as the nation prepares for next year’s polls.
“This is a job one has to do,” Phuti told IWPR from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s
second largest city - which was considered a hotbed of opposition politics
before the MDC was rocked by divisions.
The local authority has been controlled by the MDC since the 2000
legislative polls. Political temperatures have risen with each approaching
election as President Robert Mugabe tries to wrest control of the city from
his political nemesis, explained Phuthi.
During the 2000 elections - which threatened to oust the Mugabe regime -
Phuthi said he was on the receiving end of political violence, which
convinced him to preach a new gospel of political tolerance.
“This was the time when we were all excited by the prospect of voting for
change and I was one of the people who actively took part in the activities
of the new political opposition,” said Phuthi, referring to the MDC.
Today, however, instead of luring neophytes to a particular political party,
he preaches tolerance of opposing political preferences.
“I work with a team of volunteers and we use the platform of the church to
educate our communities,” he said.
Working from parish premises has made the job easier for him, as people from
different political persuasions come in as members of the same church and
are encouraged to raise these issues with their non-Catholic neighbours.
Because of Zimbabwe’s restrictive security laws, NGOs say it has become
increasingly difficult to organise public meetings where issues of a
political nature are discussed.
Such a meeting would require police clearance under the strict Public Order
and Security Act - which was introduced in 2002 and makes it illegal to
“undermine the authority of the president" or "engender hostility" towards
him - because the authorities maintain such a meeting is likely to breach
So instead, the CCJP has organised meetings of that nature as “prayer
meetings” within parish premises, John Nkatazo, the CCJP coordinator in
Bulawayo, told IWPR.
Nkatazo has made inroads into rural Matabeleland in southwestern Zimbabwe,
organising workshops on political tolerance. He said it is especially
difficult working with these communities.
“These are areas where the ruling party says it enjoys majority support so
you can imagine how difficult it is coming to these areas preaching peace
and tolerance,” said Nkatazo.
Moreover, “because we are from the CCJP we are viewed with suspicion”, he
The CCJP was accused by the regime of working in cahoots with enemies of the
state after it published a damning report documenting government-sponsored
atrocities in Matabeleland in the early 1980s, and their relationship has
been stormy ever since.
The report accused the government of launching a massive security clampdown
against bands of "dissidents" who were killing civilians and destroying
property, and also against supporters of the former opposition party the
Zimbabwe African People's Union.
During this, said the CCJP report, “thousands of unarmed civilians died,
were beaten, or suffered loss of property during the 1980s, some at the
hands of dissidents and most as a result of the actions of government
Working as a peace activist like Phuthi takes a great deal of courage.
A recent report by the Zimbabwe Peace Project - a non-governmental
organisation involved in documenting political violence and human rights
abuses - notes that the project recorded more than 4000 human rights
violations between January and June this year, which were politically
motivated in most cases.
Seemingly echoing these findings, the internationally respected Zimbabwe
Human Rights NGO Forum says 2007 is set to be the worst year for human
rights violations by police and government agents yet.
This increasingly restrictive climate presents one of the biggest challenges
for volunteers, such as Phuthi.
“It’s easy to attract the attention of security agents who are largely
blamed for the abductions, but the fact that we work within parish walls,
though very limited in our outreach efforts, we manage to escape their
wrath,” said Phuthi.
For Nkatazo, the biggest challenge is instilling values such as tolerance in
parishioners, who also wear another hat as activists of a particular
“I have had instances where a parishioner is a fervent supporter of the
ruling ZANU-PF and has embraced the party’s beliefs and philosophies about
who are the real perpetrators of violence, its enemies, etc. So when you try
to explain such issues as tolerance, instead of understanding these issues
from the point of view of the Church, they will tell you that is not their
party’s position, but rather that they have an enemy to fight,” he said.
“They actually try to convert you to their party. You can imagine the
frustration we have to deal with.”
Yamikani Mwando is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
President’s rivals caught flatfooted over ZANU-PF candidature for
By Joseph Sithole in Harare (AR No. 141, 31-Oct-07)
President Robert Mugabe appears to have outwitted ZANU-PF rivals seeking to
oust him from power, but remains at a loss as to how to turn around the
country’s collapsing economy.
The ZANU-PF politburo last week all but endorsed Mugabe as its sole party
candidate for presidential elections, to be held jointly with a
parliamentary poll, early next year, beating back any challengers for the
Last December, he failed to get endorsement for a plan to extend his term of
office by two years to 2010 at the Goromonzi People’s Conference, where he
faced opposition from a ZANU-PF faction led by retired army general Solomon
Mujuru. The proposal was also fiercely attacked by civil society
organisations and the Movemnt for Democratic Change, MDC, which accused
Mugabe of trying to extend his term of office because he was afraid of
defeat at the polls.
A ZANU-PF central committee meeting on March 30 again failed to endorse
Mugabe’s bid to extend his term in office. Instead, it resolved to reduce
the term of the current parliament by two years, to run concurrently with
the presidential term, starting next year. A special ZANU-PF congress in
December was scheduled to decide who should be the ruling party’s candidate
for the presidency, but Mugabe last week managed to head off any challenge
to his candidature.
For some time now, Mugabe has deftly turned the tables against the enemy
within. He recently mobilised alleged veterans of Zimbabwe’s independence
war, led by the abrasive Jabulani Sibanda, who have been criss-crossing the
country in support of Mugabe’s candidacy at the party’s special congress in
December. Despite the resentment Sibanda has provoked among senior members
of the party, especially from the two Matabeleland provinces, he appears to
enjoy Mugabe’s tacit backing.
Formerly provincial chairman for Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city
and an MDC stronghold, Sibanda was suspended from the party in 2004, and
expelled two years later, for “indiscipline”, specifically for attending a
meeting opposing the accession to the vice-presidency of Joice Mujuru, wife
of the general.
The war veterans are aligned to Rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, a
bitter rival of Mujuru, and seen by many as a favourite of the president.
The women’s and youth branches of ZANU PF have already expressed their
backing for Mugabe. The two groups are led respectively by Gender and Women’s
Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri and Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere,
both of them in the Mugabe camp.
With the key grassroots constituencies safely in his pocket, Mugabe last
week turned on his senior opponents in the party. At the party’s ordinary
session of the central committee on October 26, Mnangagwa, who is also the
party’s secretary for legal affairs, said the special congress in December
would only discuss agricultural mechanisation and the harmonisation of
elections, and ratify a reduced term for the president from six to five
year - which means there will be no debate of the presidential candidate.
Mugabe’s opponents were caught literally flatfooted as two weeks ago ZANU-PF
spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira had told the party mouthpiece, The Voice,
that all positions in the presidium would be contested. But last week,
Mugabe loyalists changed tack saying there would be no competition since,
according to the ZANU-PF constitution, the first secretary of the party is
automatically the presidential candidate.
“What this means is that anybody who raises the issue of a presidential
candidate other than Mugabe would be declared out of order,” said a senior
ZANU-PF official in Harare. “Those three agenda items mean the fireworks
that people were expecting from the likes of Mujuru challenging Mugabe are
dead and buried. Only divine intervention can change that reality.”
A University of Zimbabwe political lecturer said he was surprised by the
ease with which Mugabe had outwitted his opponents within his party. “He won
without breaking a sweat against dire predictions that the Mujuru camp would
want to build on the victories they scored in Goromonzi against [extending
Mugabe’s term to] 2010 and against Mugabe’s automatic endorsement in March,”
he said. “It’s an unbelievable anticlimax.”
However, he said the party might have alienated significant constituencies
in Matabeleland and Manicaland, where senior party leaders are against the
readmission of Sibanda into the party. Most senior party leaders in the two
provinces have boycotted Sibanda’s solidarity marches, while Mnangagwa
claims Sibanda has appealed against his suspension, and in any case was
doing work for a welfare organisation as leader of the war veterans.
Another analyst noted a bigger irony in the whole drama. He said while
Mugabe had made “mincemeat” of his opponents in the party and the opposition
was too weak to mount any serious challenge, there was no sign that the root
cause of all the anger against Mugabe’s leadership - a collapsing economy -
was responding positively to his political victories.
“If Mugabe could confide in anyone,” said the analyst, “I have no doubt he
would confess that the economy was his greatest nemesis. He can see only
spurts of sunlight in a bitterly cold winter night. While he has made
mincemeat of his political opponents, in fact beating them before the game
has started, the economy remains his most stubborn challenge against which
he doesn’t appear to have a trick to play.”
The analyst said Mugabe had given Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono carte
blanche to print money in the hope of improving the supply side of the
economy. “They are hoping that increased production might shore up the
economy,” he said. “But that is a big ‘if’ because it all depends on the
inputs available and the rains, over which they have no control.
“Mugabe scored a lot of points against George Bush at the recent UN General
Assembly in New York. He is also winning his latest spat with British prime
minister Gordon Brown over his presence at the forthcoming European
Union-Africa Summit in Lisbon. He has all of Africa in his pocket. Back
home, the MDC is all but beaten.
“Yet with inflation raging at 8,000 per cent and unemployment nearly 80 per
cent, plus pervasive shortages of all basic commodities, the economy doesn’t
appear to respond positively to Mugabe’s political fortunes. That should
have been a godsend for any competent opposition party.”
Joseph Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
As elections draw closer, the already divided opposition is stricken with
By Joseph Sithole in Harare (AR No. 141, 31-Oct-07)
October has not been a good month for Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, in the last couple of years.
In October 2005 the party split into warring entities, while this month two
key groupings within the larger of the two factions have been dissolved
under controversial circumstances.
The MDC has also spent the month dealing with the fallout of its
controversial decision to back constitutional amendments that, among other
things, allow President Robert Mugabe to effectively hand-pick his
The MDC split in October 2005 badly weakened the party in its fight against
the ruling ZANU-PF. The bigger faction, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, decided to
boycott an election for the Senate, or upper house of parliament, fearing
that the institution - newly reconstituted after a eight-year lapse – would
simply be stuffed with supporters of President Robert Mugabe.
The other MDC, which took part in the Senate vote, is now led by Arthur
Both factions have since tried to damp down their differences as they
confronted an increasingly violent Mugabe administration, but in September
they jointly incurred the wrath of their opposition allies when they took a
tactical decision to back the constitutional bill, which went through both
houses of parliament unopposed.
They are still struggling to mend the rift with their main civic society
partners within the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, which accuse them of selling
out. At a recent meeting in Bulawayo, non-government groups voted to reject
the amendments and continue pressing for an all-new constitution.
The MDC factions need to draw a line under this issue and start working
towards crucial presidential and parliamentary elections in March next year.
But even as attempts are made to heal the rifts and form a united front, the
Tsvangirai-led MDC has become embroiled in two internal conflicts of its own
that could be leading to a messy implosion.
On October 10, the faction’s influential women’s assembly led by Lucia
Matibenga was dissolved by the MDC’s standing committee, on the grounds of
“With the MDC’s attack on its women’s league, we are relegated once again to
a second-class citizen position,” said Grace Kwinjeh, one of the senior
leaders of the dissolved women’s assembly.
Matibenga disputed the legality of the move and took the matter to Zimbabwe’s
High Court, which ordered the party to hold a congress of its female members
to decide whether the assembly should be dissolved.
MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti rejected claims of unfair treatment,
saying the party had run an internal inquiry into “disharmony” in the body
and had acted on the basis of most of the evidence it had gathered. The
decision did not reflect “patriarchy, chauvinism or contempt of the feminist
movement”, he said, in remarks quoted by the London-based SW Radio Africa.
Meanwhile, the Tsvangirai-led MDC branch for Britain and Ireland, led by
Ephraim Tapa, was dissolved on October 13 at a meeting presided over by MDC
national chairman, Lovemore Moyo.
Both disputes have stirred up furious infighting, with accusations of
wrongdoing on both sides, and claims that people are being pushed out to
make way for friends and relatives of senior party leaders.
"What happened today among Zimbabweans here is an assault on both democracy
and human rights. Once again, Zimbabweans have been deprived of a right to
choose their leaders,” said Tapa the day he was removed. “The MDC…. can
never take us to the freedom that we are craving as Zimbabweans. The freedom
I am talking about is the right to make decisions on who should lead us.”
However, a senior party official, who declined to be named, defended
Tsvangirai. He said they had information that the party had been infiltrated
by the Zimbabwean security services - “hence the need to move with speed”.
“This is a very sensitive issue, and for the president [Tsvangirai] to
follow all the constitutional processes at this critical time would have
been remiss,” he said. “He is fully aware of the constitutional
requirements, hence he has already called for fresh elections this week.
Those who have been suspended are free to contest,” he said.
A political analyst in Harare said the internal strife and the accompanying
allegations reflected badly on Tsvangirai’s leadership skills.
“It doesn’t augur well for a person who is fighting what is generally
regarded as a dictator to be constantly accused of ignoring party rules and
regulations. It gives you an ominous picture of the future when such a
person wields real state power,” said the analyst, who did not want to be
He suggested the lack of unity and public conflict was bad news at a time
when the MDC should really be focusing all its efforts on the elections.
"Tsvangirai keeps shooting himself in the foot," he said. "The party is
already too weak to pose a serious threat to ZANU-PF in next year's election
and he provokes a new storm in the party when civic society partners are
already ambivalent about his ability to lead.
“The MDC is being forced to fight on too many fronts, when it should be
mobilising the limited resources it has for the big fight against ZANU-PF. I
don't know what will happen next year, but they appear keener to destroy
themselves than face ZANU-PF head on as a united party."
Joseph Sithole is the pseudonym of a reporter in Harare.
Date: 30 Oct 2007
by Sibusisiwe Ndlovu
Diarrhea outbreaks and other waterborne diseases continue to be reported in
municipal health centres in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, as the
water crisis affecting the city worsens. World Vision is responding with
efforts to restore water sources and educate the public about disease
Bulawayo has been suffering from an acute water shortage because of
unreliable rainfall into the dams supplying the city with water. Drought has
plagued the area for five years.
Bulawayo Health Director Dr. Zanele Hwalima said that 371 cases of diarrhea
were reported during the last week of September.
She said: "The city's health department, working together with community
stakeholders, is wrestling with this outbreak, as there is urgent need to
stop the spread of infection. The water crisis has compromised hygiene
standards in the city as some residents have resorted to using unprotected
water for domestic use and sewerage systems are functioning far below
capacity due to lack of water. There are fears of more disease outbreaks in
the drier parts of the city."
Bulawayo's normal daily water consumption for the city's 1.25 million
residents used to be an average of 145,000 cubic metres but has been reduced
to 45,000 cubic metres a day as four of the five dams supplying the city
with water have dried up.
World Vision has rehabilitated 94 boreholes in the city. Residents spend
hours queuing at the boreholes to obtain the precious liquid for domestic
To avert further outbreaks and boost hygiene awareness, World Vision will
sponsor a radio programme that will be aired on a popular local radio
station in Bulawayo.
World Vision Zimbabwe Water and Sanitation Co-coordinator Moreblessings
Munyaka said that the programme aims to educate the residents of Bulawayo on
how best to prevent the spread of diseases, such as diarrhea, which can be
fatal for young children, and even adults, if not treated promptly.
"Issues such as basic hygiene and food handling will be emphasised.
Residents will also be given a platform to share ideas on how best they can
conserve the little water resources that they have left," she said.
Commenting on the water crisis, a 36-year-old resident of Magwegwe High
Density Surburb, said, "If it wasn't for World Vision rehabilitating
boreholes in our area, we would still be relying on a dirty, unprotected
The mother of four found it difficult to boil water due to frequent power
outages and scarcity of firewood, increasingly common in urban areas.
"My family suffered from diarrhea often. But when World Vision installed a
borehole for us, this problem disappeared from my home," she said.
Wednesday 31 October 2007
By Nigel Hangarume
HARARE - A forensic audit report of Zimbabwe Cricket's finances was
yesterday tabled before the International Cricket Council (ICC)'s board
meeting which ends in Dubai today.
The ICC had in June ordered the forensic audit after allegations that
Zimbabwe Cricket's accounts had been "deliberately falsified".
KPMG South Africa was appointed to handle the probe after an initial audit
by a local firm was treated suspiciously.
"The board will consider the forensic audit of Zimbabwe Cricket, carried out
by accountancy firm KPMG of South Africa," said Brian Murgatroyd, the ICC's
media and communications manager.
ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, in a report leaked to the press, in June
made damning comments and raised serious concerns about the governance and
financial accountability of Zimbabwe Cricket.
Speed's report came after disgruntled stakeholders and former Zimbabwe
Cricket administrators made allegations of mismanagement and embezzlement
against the union.
Queries had been raised concerning payments totalling US$640 350 which
Zimbabwe Cricket had made to "three unknown companies" as well as a deal
with a vehicle company which imports cars.
Stakeholders had also questioned the purchase of an outside broadcasting van
as well as the contravention of Zimbabwe's tough foreign currency
Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka, who has survived several attempts
to oust him on the basis of financial mismanagement allegations, is
attending the ICC board meeting in Dubai.
The board's discussions also include umpires' taskforce recommendations, the
ICC centenary and the appointment of the next ICC chief executive officer. -
Africa News, Netherlands
Posted on Wednesday 31 October 2007 - 13:04
Solidarity Peace Trust
Solidarity Peace Trust
Since the onset of the Zimbabwean crisis, the role of South Africa, as both
a help and hindrance, has been continuously debated. In particular there has
been a certain cynicism about South Africa's policy of "quiet diplomacy"
being driven by the economic interests of the South African state and its
While this report argues that South Africa’s policy has been guided by the
broader political concerns of the South African state on the continent, it
is clear that the growing evidence of South African business concerns
exploiting the conditions of the Zimbabwean crisis has to be looked at more
carefully in terms of its on-going effects on South Africa’s strategy on
The collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy in recent years has been catastrophic.
Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product (GDP) plummeted 40% from 1999 to 2003,
since when it has continued to decline precipitously. The drastic
shrinkage of the economy has been attributed to the collapse of the key
contributors to the country’s GDP – agriculture, manufacturing and tourism –
following the introduction of the government’s contentious fast-track land
redistribution programme in 2000.
Manufacturing, mining and export sectors have declined steeply.
Manufacturing, which at its height constituted 16% of GDP, has shrunk by
more than 35%. Unemployment hovers near 80%. The Zimbabwean dollar is
almost worthless from hyperinflation. Tourism earnings, once Zimbabwe’s
second biggest source of foreign currency, declined form US$198 in 2004 to
US$98 million in 2005, a decline of 49%. The mining sector has been faced
with serious shortages of raw materials due to the dearth of foreign
exchange. Production capacity has declined precipitously and production
costs have increased hugely. The deterioration of agriculture, the mainstay
of Zimbabwe’s economy which at its prime constituted 50% of exports, has had
a disastrous impact on the economy.
Between 1998 and 2001, foreign direct investment in Zimbabwe dropped by 99%.
The risk premium on investment jumped from 3,4% in 2000 to 153,2% by 2004.
And Zimbabwe has experienced a tremendous drop in agricultural production,
with maize, groundnuts, cotton, wheat, soybean, sunflowers, and coffee
production contracting between 50% and 90% between 2000 and 2003. The
country’s financial institutions are in disarray and its once productive
farms sit idle. Thanks to the Zimbabwean government’s lack of fiscal
discipline, Zimbabwe’s domestic debt has swelled considerably in recent
years. In 2003, the ratio of domestic debt to GDP stood at 14.2%. In May
2005, the ratio had risen to over 16% of GDP.
The economic crisis in Zimbabwe, like economic crises in many African
countries, has bred a political and social crisis. Operation Murambatsvina
struck at the heart of Zimbabwe’s informal economy. With national
unemployment hovering around 80%, the clean-up campaign aggravated the
already unbearable levels of poverty, social suffering and hopelessness
pervading Zimbabwe. A related social impact of Operation Murambatsvina has
been the rise in homelessness caused by the government’s crackdown on
‘illegal structures and crime,’ with as many as 1.5 million Zimbabweans
losing their homes in the clampdown.
Owing to unreasonable price controls and ballooning overheads, many retail
outlets have not been able to stock foodstuffs and basic commodities such as
sugar, maize meal, soap, margarine, toothpaste, salt, milk, bread, flour and
cooking oil. The high demand for essential goods has led to high prices
for basics, denting the incomes of workers already reeling from increases in
transport and medical costs. Zimbabwean national life has been crippled by
a deepening fuel crisis induced by a chronic lack of foreign currency and
escalating international prices for oil. In addition to food and fuel
scarcities, Zimbabwe has experienced constant electricity and water cuts.
The unprecedented economic crisis besetting Zimbabwe has forced many highly
educated citizens to leave the country. Doctors, nurses, lawyers, bankers,
teachers, civil servants and many other professionals have emigrated to
countries such as Australia, Britain, Botswana and South Africa in search of
a better life. The exodus of professionals has resulted in critical staff
shortages and the collapse of key public service sectors, notably education
and health. The health sector the government had resorted to re-employing
retired nurses to help alleviate staff deficiencies in government hospitals.
Zimbabwe’s public hospitals are estimated to have a shortage of 3000 nurses.
This poses immense challenges for a nation where the overwhelming majority
of the population depends on public health care, and where approximately 20%
of the adult population is afflicted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The responses of the Zimbabwean government to this economic catastrophe has
thus far added to the existing problems. In June 2007 the Government
introduced Operation Reduce Prices, which according to the Reserve Bank
Governor, Gideon Gono, in part, “fell prey to selfish predatory tendencies
for certain players in the Taskforce implementation teams.......through a
disproportionate course of activities geared to promote personal interests”.
This admission adds to the growing evidence of rent-seeking activities that
have been carried out by large sections of the ruling party elite and have
contributed to the economic debilitation of the country.
Similarly with the recently passed Indigenisation Bill, there is strong
reason to expect that the legislation which insists on 51% ownership of all
foreign business passing into indigenous hands, will in fact add to the
patronage base of the ruling elite without dealing with the more fundamental
problems in the economy. Both theses responses speak more to the electoral
opportunism of the ruling party and accumulation needs of the ruling elite
than to the broader national interests of Zimbabweans.
The roots of the South African government’s policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’ or
constructive engagement towards Zimbabwe can be traced to 1999 when Thabo
Mbeki became South Africa’s president. The key objective of this policy
has been to use non-violent means to “encourage” the Mugabe regime to bring
about democratic change in Zimbabwe. Furthermore, the policy has been
designed with the objective of “preventing a complete collapse of authority
South Africa’s policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’ has drawn severe criticism
internationally, in South Africa and in Zimbabwe. Some have suggested that
South Africa’s diplomacy has bordered on collaboration with the Mugabe
Concerns have also been raised about the incompatibility of Mbeki’s
Zimbabwe policy with his proclaimed vision of an African Renaissance.
Given Zimbabwe’s economic dependence on South Africa, domestic and
international critics of Zimbabwe have urged South Africa to use its immense
economic leverage coercively against Zimbabwe by imposing economic
sanctions. Mbeki has adamantly opposed the implementation of sanctions
against Harare, pointing that punitive economic measures would have
potentially destabilising consequences, including a huge including a huge
influx of refugees, disruption of trade links, and general chaos on the
This study has four main findings. First, South Africa’s policy towards
Zimbabwe is extremely unlikely to change under the Mbeki presidency. Mbeki’s
refusal to consider an alternative policy to ‘constructive engagement’ is
rooted in several important considerations, including: a desire to shed
South Africa’s ‘Big Brother’ image; a preference for multilateral, not
unilateral, approaches to conflict resolution; a belief in African solutions
by Africans; a quest to cement South Africa’s African identity; a
sensitivity to domestic black opinion; a refusal to interfere in the
internal affairs of another sovereign state; and constraints imposed by the
challenge to South Africa’s leadership by other regional states. These are
salient factors that Mbeki’s successor would have to weigh carefully before
deciding on his/her policy approach to Zimbabwe.
Second, notwithstanding Zimbabwe’s political and economic problems, trade
and investment ties between South Africa and Zimbabwe remain very strong.
Perhaps because of its troubles, Zimbabwe remains South Africa's most
important trading partner in Africa. And the strong economic ties between
the two countries are poised to continue into the future; South African
companies are unlikely to pull out of Zimbabwe because of that country’s
internal crisis. Many South African firms believe Zimbabwe is still a
better and easier place in which to do business than many other African
countries, and they have found ways to negotiate Zimbabwe’s largely
dysfunctional economy in order to maintain a presence there in expectation
of eventual political change and economic recovery.
Third, while the South African government’s response to the Zimbabwean
crisis has been driven by broad political concerns, it is also clear that
sections of the corporate sector from South Africa engaged in Zimbabwe have
exploited the opportunities thrown up by the crisis in that country.
Fourth, although the South African business sector has supported the South
African government’s policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’ towards Zimbabwe, it has
urged the government to take a much tougher line and speak out more
forcefully about the breakdown of the rule of law, human rights abuses, and
economic chaos in Zimbabwe. This opinion has emerged particularly since SA
business interests have also had to deal with the vagaries of the
authoritarian Zimbabwean state. Whether the South African business sector
can meaningfully influence the process of resolving Zimbabwe’s problems will
depend on the degree to which the government is willing to accommodate its
proposals and concerns.
Read full report on www.solidaritypeacetrust.org.za