Thu 24 November 2005
HARARE - The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has been
Zimbabwe's single largest foreign financier over the past five years, giving
the country US$195 million this year to pay for critical requirements, the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) disclosed on Wednesday.
In wide-ranging discussions with journalists in Harare, RBZ governor
Gideon Gono said the Egypt-based Afreximbank had since January given
Zimbabwe US$75 million to buy grain, US$25 million for fuel and US$95
million for export finance.
"Over the past, Afreximbank has been our single largest foreigner
financier, at a time when some traditional external lenders are shunning us
for our non-compromising stance against exploitation by former colonial
adversaries," said Gono, who has battled hard with little success yet to
mend Harare's relations with traditional lenders such as the International
Monetary Fund (IMF).
"Zimbabwe has benefited from the Afreximbank facilities financing the
importation of grain and oil, as well as through availing of pre and post
shipping financing facilities to our exporters," said Gono.
But the RBZ chief, tasked by President Robert Mugabe to change the
fortunes of Zimbabwe's limping economy, indicated that all the money from
the African bank was used up and said that Harare was pressing on with
negotiations with the South African government for a bailout loan reportedly
worth about US$500 million.
Mugabe's government was also negotiating a separate fuel financing
deal with a South African merchant bank, the Rand Merchant Bank, the RBZ
He said: "Negotiations are still going on but we have said no to
Although officials from Harare and Pretoria have occasionally
confirmed they were discussing the loan deal, the negotiations have been
largely kept out of the public eye.
But media reports have indicated that the South African government has
insisted it will not release the money until Mugabe undertakes to implement
wide-ranging political reforms, including reopening dialogue with the
opposition to find a negotiated solution to Zimbabwe's political and
Zimbabwe, grappling its worst economic crisis since independence from
Britain 25 years ago, wants money from South Africa to pay a remaining
US$165 million debt to the IMF and to buy food, fuel and other essential
The IMF cut financial assistance to Zimbabwe in 1999 after disagreeing
with Mugabe over fiscal policy, land reform and other governance issues.
Other financiers, development agencies and donor groups taking a cue
from the Fund have also suspended co-operation with Mugabe's government
leaving Zimbabwe in a severe foreign currency crunch that has spawned
shortages of all essential commodities because there is no hard cash to pay
Gono said Afreximbank had attempted to fill in the void giving Harare
more than US$500 million between 2001 and 2004 to pay for food, fuel and to
support the export sector. - ZimOnline
THE Zimbabwean government's decision to turn to the army to revive the
agricultural sector ? the mainstay of the economy ? is an admission of the
failure of its land-reform policy and civilian administration.
As starvation stalks millions in the country, President Robert Mugabe's
regime has decided to rope in the army to launch a command agriculture
operation ? to farm the vast tracts of land, now lying idle and derelict,
which were seized from the country's (now displaced) white commercial
The agricultural sector, which was the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy, has
practically collapsed due to the chaotic and often violent implementation of
a necessary but badly thought-through land reform programme. Instead of
adopting a well-structured and adequately funded plan, Mugabe opted for a
haphazard exercise, which has left a trail of destruction in its wake.
The sector, which was infrastructurally sophisticated and highly mechanised,
has been rubbished. Thousands of productive farms, modern equipment and
crops were seized, while irrigation systems were vandalised in the name of
land reform. In a space of five years, development which took nearly a
century to achieve was reversed. In the end, the land reform programme
became a great leap backwards.
Food shortages and the closure of downstream industries as well as foreign
currency shortages due to the collapse of the sector have forced the
government to resort to Stalinist agricultural planning. This illustrates
that Mugabe has never had a consistent economic policy. He has adopted the
command-agriculture initiative in which farmers are given production
targets. Those who fail to meet the targets risk having their farms
confiscated, meaning the danger of another wave of farm expropriations
Despite government's claims that land reform has ended, fresh land takeovers
are under way. Farms are still being grabbed. But now the situation is worse
because of a recent constitutional amendment that prohibits disposed farmers
from resorting to the courts to protect their rights.
Zimbabwe's Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga and other top
government officials have, of late, been grabbing the headlines for seizing
farms. Although some senior government officials have spoken out against
more land grabs, the crusade will not stop if the rule of law and property
rights are not restored.
There is nothing that rattles investor confidence like the risk of arbitrary
seizures of private property. No country in the world can prosper if
government officials are practically above the law.
Zimbabwe, a failed state by any measure, is today a classic case study of
lawlessness. This is shocking considering that until quite recently it was
one of the brightest spots in Africa.
The cost of the land seizures, particularly the humanitarian cost, is
extraordinarily high. The land grabs have undermined the economy and driven
millions into poverty. Farm workers are the worst affected.
The destruction of property and livelihoods has left Zimbabweans some of the
poorest people on the continent.
But the unique thing about Zimbabwe is that the poverty is man-made. While
other countries suffer from a lack of resources, Zimbabwe has an abundance
of resources ? natural and human ? but suffers a chronic drought of
leadership. A parliamentary portfolio committee recently warned of more food
shortages due to government's poor planning. The committee also said the
command agriculture plan was bound to fail.
Meanwhile a report conducted by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment
Committee, on which the government sits, recently revealed that 36% of the
rural population was facing food shortages. Others have put the figure at
around five million.
It will be interesting to see if Mugabe will, in the end, get away with his
misrule. In any normal country there would be a political price to pay.
Muleya is Business Day's Harare correspondent and Zimbabwe Independent news
Mail and Guardian
Angus Shaw | Harare, Zimbabwe
23 November 2005 03:57
A High Court judge and a businessman have claimed part of a
Danish-owned farm south of Harare, the owners said on Wednesday, part of a
stepped-up drive to seize white-owned land for black Zimbabweans.
Judge Tendai Bunhu and businessman George Manhiwa arrived on
Monday at one of Zimbabwe's most productive dairy farms accompanied by
police, district officials and supporters who besieged a homestead and
disrupted cattle feeding, said the property's director, Mads Kirk.
Manhiwa, a former military officer armed with a
government-issued seizure notice, gave Kirk seven days to vacate 500ha of
land owned by his Red Dane Dairy company.
"We want to be good neighbours -- unless you choose otherwise,"
Kirk quoted Manhiwa as saying.
At least 5 000 white-owned farms have been seized since 2000 in
an often-violent campaign that has disrupted the agriculture-based economy
in Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket. More than four million of the
12-million population are now in urgent need of food, according to United
Last month, central bank Governor Gideon Gono urged a halt to
seizures of productive farms, saying some have become little more than
"weekend picnic venues" for the urban elite.
But farmers say seizures have instead picked up after a recent
About 60 white farmers have been driven off their land in the
past three months, leaving less than 250 running productive enterprises,
said John Worsely-Worswick, head of the Justice for Agriculture farmers'
"Losing 60 is a big knock at a time of food shortages and an
impending humanitarian disaster," he said.
Half of the country's judges and other senior judicial officials
have been allocated prime farms under the redistribution drive, according to
a tally by Worsely-Worswick's group.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku argues judiciary members are
as entitled as anyone else to land. But independent lawyers allege the farms
were given out as inducements to the largely pro-government judiciary.
A stalemate persisted on Wednesday at Kirk's dairy, with at
least four occupiers still on the property near Beatrice, about 60km south
of the capital, Harare.
The company has appealed to the provincial governor to
intervene, saying the property is protected by an investment agreement
between Zimbabwe and Denmark.
"This is highly productive land critical to our operations,"
said Kirk, whose company also owns three adjacent properties producing corn,
tobacco and beef.
The agriculture ministry backed down in a previous attempt to
claim the dairy, which produces nearly 9 000 litres of milk a day. --
Times Online,UK November 23, 2005
Michael Holman argues that by omitting Zimbabwe from the agenda
of this weekend's summit the Commonwealth has made itself irrelevant
If anyone doubts that the Commonwealth is in trouble, let them
come to Malta, where the association's biennial summit is about to begin.
It is not that the event is getting shorter, cut from five to
three days. After all, the world is a busier place.
It is not the fact that Commonwealth leaders are less
accessible, escaping the press and assorted lobbyists by going into
"retreat" for most of the time.
It is not the proliferation of non-government organizations in
attendance, kidding themselves that they influence the proceedings, such as
the Commonwealth Peoples Forum - "underlining the relevance of civil society
as an instrument of democracy"; or the Commonwealth Youth Forum -"discussing
issues and coming up with action plans".
Nor is it the prospect of Friday's opening ceremony, to be
attended by 53 presidents, prime ministers and a sultan, expected to have
all the dignity of a Miss World competition and the pomp of a Eurovision
All this is disturbing enough.
But the real indicator of the club's distress is revealed in the
latest report of Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth secretary general. An
extraordinary omission in the document suggests that members have allowed
themselves to become little more than a eunuch at a brothel: avid voyeurs
but unable to participate. It should have been a celebration of an
association whose time has come. For years the Commonwealth has played the
role of the international community's canary in the coal pit; or to change
metaphor, a trip wire that warns of distress that lies ahead. You name it,
and the Commonwealth has produced a report on it, usually produced long
before the subject became fashionable.
From global warming to the global economy, world trade and drug
trafficking, micro states and money laundering, from the plight of
minorities to the crippling impact of external debt on weak economies, the
Commonwealth has produced an informed view. It was informed because all
these concerns had been experienced by its own members, who could confide
their worries to their peers at meetings of Commonwealth foreign ministers
and finance ministers, and aired at summits such as the one taking place in
The members embrace some of the world's richest states and the
poorest; the fastest growing economies and the slowest; the world's biggest
democracy and one of the tiniest. The world's main religions and every
colour under the sun are represented. Indeed it is hard to think of a
problem this association has not faced or endures. United by common values -
a commitment to democracy and good governance and human rights, and enjoying
a common language of English - meetings like this have generated that
mysterious thing called the Commonwealth chemistry.
We saw it at work in Lusaka in 1979, when delegates to the
summit arrived split over how to handle minority rule in Rhodesia. They left
in consensus. The ground was laid for talks in London which produced the
constitution that led in turn to 1980 elections. Rebel Rhodesia became
So it is all the more extraordinary that there is not a single
reference to Zimbabwe in the Commonwealth's secretary general's 50-page
report to members, covering the two years since the last summit.
The country has been airbrushed out of Commonwealth history.
So much for Mr McKinnon's pledge this week to "make human rights
one of the Commonwealth's cornerstones". Not a mention of the plight of
Zimbabwe's people on behalf of an organization which, ironically, drew up
its commitment to decency in Harare itself in 1991.
The reason for the omission? Since Zimbabwe withdrew from
membership two years ago, it is, Mr McKinnon told us, no longer a
Commonwealth concern - an evasion which, by the way, was never applied to
apartheid South Africa, which also left the club. The result is that a human
rights crisis as serious as any Africa has faced is not on the official
agenda in Malta. So it is victory for Robert Mugabe. And ignominious defeat
for the leaders of two billion people.
Like the eunuch in the brothel, the Commonwealth seems to have
lost its cojones.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
23 November 2005
On November 20th and 21st, human rights activists from across the
Commonwealth met in Valletta, Malta, for the second Commonwealth Human
Rights Forum. Their meeting was just days prior to the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting (CHOGM) on November 25th to 27th and they made several
recommendations for the heads of state to consider. Zimbabwe was one of 3
countries discussed specifically for its human rights abuses, along with
Uganda and The Maldives.
Members of human rights non-governmental organizations, National Human
Rights Institutions and other civil society actors participated in the
meeting, as well as a representative of the Commonwealth Secretariat as
observer. The participants recommended the Commonwealth continue dialogue
with the Zimbabwean government, as it did in Nigeria and South Africa during
their suspension and withdrawal periods, and not
abandon the people of Zimbabwe. They urged that Heads of State of SADC
countries in particular demand greater adherence to human rights norms by
the Zimbabwean government.
In addition, participants recommended that civil society should
provide support and solidarity to human rights defenders and other civil
society groups in other Commonwealth countries and Zimbabwe. They should
also publicise their efforts to advocate on human rights issues within the
Commonwealth, and monitor the implementation of Commonwealth
commitments by member states.
A full statement by the Commonwealth Human Rights Forum can be found
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Violet Gonda
23 November 2005
The MDC legal expert David Coltart has spoken out over the
controversial senate election that has divided the opposition party. He says
positions have become entrenched over this issue and hoped that things can
be restored to normal, but added it would be difficult given the enormous
amount of damage done to relationships.
Leaders from both camps have over the weeks embarked on a war of words
which degenerated into personal verbal attacks. Coltart, who said there are
strong arguments from both sides, is saddened that people within the MDC,
civil society and media have adopted absolutist positions as if there is
only one side to the argument. He lamented the fundamental lack of tolerance
of genuine views expressed by people with opposing views. The opposition
official believes this is an indictment, not just against the MDC but
against pro-democracy groups in Zimbabwe.
Coltart who is the MDC Secretary for Justice asked, "Are we as a
party, as members of civil society, as members of the media genuinely
committed to democracy? If we are genuinely committed to democracy we would
listen to views of other people. We would consider them.. Even if we
disagreed with them we would acknowledge their rights to have these views
and that hasn't happened."
Both sides have made accusations against each other and labelled each
other traitors and sell-outs. Coltart said this is unacceptable saying this
has been a test that all of us have failed and hoped that as a nation we all
take stock and think about these unrestrained comments that have been made
by both sides. He said this has been damaging to all parties who are trying
to get rid of this brutal regime.
When asked what his position over the participation in the senate
election is, he said personally he does not want to be in a senate as it is
costly for the nation but he is persuaded by those who believe strategically
there is no choice.
He said he has been accused of sitting on the fence, but added: "This
is a no win situation. If we are not in this election we are going to lose
in certain respects and if we participate we are going to lose.these senate
elections at the end of the day are irrelevant. The day after senate
elections the ZANU PF regime is still going to deal with 400% inflation, 5
million Zimbabweans with insufficient food, 1.5 million Zimbabweans who are
HIV positive and none of these issues are going to be addressed. to the
extent that all this hullabaloo about the senate is misplaced."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Embassy, November 23rd, 2005
By Brian Adeba
Magistrates are routinely bribed or beaten if their rulings go against the
government line, and neighbouring African governments remain silent.
The judiciary in Zimbabwe has become impotent as a result of being
undermined by Robert Mugabe's government, said Arnold Tsunga, Executive
Director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
In a lecture on Nov. 17 at the University of Ottawa, Mr. Tsunga said there
is no transparency in the appointment of judges in Zimbabwe and that the
current judiciary is not independent, especially when it deals with cases of
a political nature. In an hour-long lecture, Mr. Tsunga, who is also Acting
Secretary of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, said judges and magistrates who do
not tow the government's line are humiliated, beaten and transferred to
He cited the case of a magistrate who was pulled out of his office and
physically assaulted because he made a ruling against war veterans. Veterans
of Zimbabwe's war for independence form the bulk of the support base for
ZANU-PF, the ruling party in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Tsunga said the Minister of Justice publicly stated later that the
magistrate had brought the beatings upon himself. According to Mr. Tsunga,
the government buys the support of judges and magistrates by offering them
soft loans, foreign currency (which is in high demand as a result of a
valueless Zimbabwean dollar because of inflation) and farms confiscated from
Mr. Tsunga also said the media in Zimbabwe is under tight control by the
government. Anyone wishing to publish or broadcast has to get a special
permit issued by a minister in the office of the president.
"We are one of the most closed societies in the world," said Mr. Tsunga. He
added that Zimbabweans are getting poorer every day as a result of high
taxation and inflation, which he said stands at 450 per cent.
"Sixty per cent of any income goes to the government as taxes because of a
The confiscation and seizure of white-owned farms has also created food
shortages in the country. High food prices, repression and worsening living
conditions have forced an estimated 3 million people into exile in South
Africa, where xenophobia is rising resulting in the mistreatment of the
Asked why African countries are not condemning the Zimbabwean government,
Mr. Tsunga said Mr. Mugabe's language of fighting whites, neo-colonialism
and neo-liberalism resonates well with most Africans because of the colonial
legacy of the continent.
While no African government has condemned the Zimbabwean regime on the
political level, individuals and non-governmental organizations in the
continent have done so. Not long ago, the Congress of South African Trade
Unions, a powerful organization that rattled the Apartheid regime in South
Africa and a host of church organizations, visited Zimbabwe and voiced their
concerns, but were kicked out of the country.
"It is true that a frightened regime goes to extreme extents to maintain
itself," said Mr. Tsunga.
But Amir Attaran, a professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of
Ottawa, said Zimbabwean ministers and some lesser officials could be
prosecuted in Canada under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act
passed five years ago. Mr. Attaran said this could be done either by the
Attorney General, who also happens to be the Justice Minister, or a private
prosecution. A lawyer representing a Zimbabwean complainant would do the
latter. Mr. Attaran contends that there is plenty of evidence from human
rights organizations if the will to prosecute is there.
"There are conditions where it is definitely possible," he said, adding that
the law has only been used once (against a Rwandan accused of crimes against
humanity in his country) since it was instituted five years ago.
Mr. Attaran said he and some colleagues spent two years asking the
Department of Justice to use the law but have received no definite response.
"It proves Canadian foreign policy is some way validating the worst
stereotype of Canadians in the world, that we talk with a big heart and
grand humanitarian intentions and then we do not act," he said.
From the Globe & Mail (Canada), 23 November
Mozambique's money is almost worthless, so the country is banking on a wild
idea: lopping off three zeroes, Stephanie Nolen writes
Maputo - Mozambique has money troubles. Not just of the foreign debt or
empty government coffers kind, though these are certainly a problem. There
is the more immediate problem: It takes two million meticals to pay for
lunch, a wad of crumpled bills to buy tomatoes and bananas in the street,
and a box load of cash if you are one of the lucky few who can afford a
television. Buying a new car? You will need a wheelbarrow when you go to pay
for it. The metical is one of the weakest currencies in the world,
outstripped these days only by the Zimbabwe dollar, which loses half its
value every month or two. Years of hyperinflation, as Mozambique made the
rocky transition from socialist state to free market, have rendered the
currency almost worthless: today $1 (U.S.) is worth 32,000 meticals. "I
can't sell calculators, even though lots of people want to buy them, because
they only show eight digits and what good is that in Mozambique?" said a
sighing Salim Ismail, who runs an electronics store.
The government has tried through the years to respond to the problem by
issuing higher and higher denominations of bills. It came out a few months
ago with a 500,000-metical note, which helped well-paid urban dwellers but
didn't go over very well with labourers who suddenly found themselves
receiving one measly note in their once-bulging pay packets. But in an
effort to start afresh, the Bank of Mozambique is proposing to lop the last
three zeroes off the end of the metical, so a one-million-metical pair of
shoes will now cost 1,000 meticals, and a beer a mere 10 meticals rather
than the wad of old notes it costs now. Mozambique is not the first nation
to do this - Russia did it with the ruble, for example - but it's a risky
move in a country where much of the population is illiterate, and at least
half the economy is informal - made up of traders and farmers who have
nothing to do with the banking system. To complicate matters further, the
metical is more than just a currency. It's a symbol. There is Metical Day, a
holiday each June, the anniversary of the day independent Mozambique adopted
the currency, replacing the escudo of the Portuguese colonizers. There is
also a museum to the metical. It traces a fascinating history, from the use
of cowrie shells through revolutionary-era bills with impressionistic
paintings of suffering peasants all the way to the current metical.
Yet despite the currency's symbolic value, the denominations required for
basic transactions have become unwieldy. And while the majority of
Mozambique's population are subsistence farmers who use the currency rarely
if at all, the country is promoting an open-for-business ethos, wooing major
mining companies and manufacturers, and that makes the badly devalued money
an embarrassment. "It's going to be good for business, and good for
tourism," architect Memed Loonat said about the dropped zeroes. "You won't
have to come with a suitcase [of money] any more." Mr. Loonat makes low-cost
houses these days: People who want one of his houses must pay him 300
million metical in cash. (The vast majority of transactions here are cash,
because there is little infrastructure for credit cards, and the banking
sector, while rapidly expanding, is still in the main antiquated and clumsy,
and serves only a handful of urban centres.)
"It's going to be easier to handle the money; it's going to increase the
efficiency of payments between institutions and it will facilitate the use
of computer systems and automatic tellers," said Augusto Joaquim Candida,
director for currency and payment systems at the Bank of Mozambique. "Also,
it will be an improvement in terms of security: Today, even if you're buying
something small, you need to carry a lot of money so anyone can see it." He
said the bank is aware that the large numbers of innumerate people operating
in the informal economy make the change a challenge. "It's not going to
happen in one day," he said. If parliament approves the change, likely in
the coming days, then businesses will be ordered to post all prices in both
old and new metical prices beginning Jan. 1. Then, in June, the new notes
will be introduced, and both will remain in circulation (so a buyer can pay
two million old or 2,000 new meticals) for another six months or so, he
said. Local authorities will be primed in rural areas to tell people about
the change and alleviate panic about their savings. And Mr. Candida was
quick to stress that the change will be only the zeroes: "The metical is the
metical and we can't change that, of course," he said. "So the new currency
will be the metical nuovo, and once it is fully phased in, it will the just
be the metical again."
Hyperinflation is characterized by monthly inflation greater than 50 per
cent, which means something worth $1 would cost $130 a year later. While its
causes are varied, the results are similar. In Germany after the First World
War, prices were doubling every 49 hours. Workers were paid daily or more
often with bundles of cash, and would dash out to buy something before it
grew more expensive. Someone could buy a bottle of wine, and the next
morning the empty bottle could be sold for more than it had cost full. The
largest denomination was a 100-billion mark bill, which would buy two
postage stamps. In Bolivia during the mid-eighties, inflation was at 25,000
per cent annually. The stack of money needed to buy a chocolate bar far
outweighed the candy. In Argentina in 1989, prices for some things would
double overnight. Many restaurants and stores refused to accept credit
cards, because the charges paid at the end of the month were worth much less
than they were at the time of purchase. In Yugoslavia, the rate of inflation
was 5 quadrillion per cent between Oct 1, 1993 and Jan 24, 1994. (A
quadrillion is a 16-digit number). At the time, it was against the law to
refuse personal cheques. Some people wrote them, knowing that in the few
days it took for the cheques to clear, inflation would wipe out as much as
90 per cent of the cost of covering the cheques.
23 November 2005
News that unopposed ZanuPF Senators have already started targetting MDC supporters in their constituencies is no surprise, since their colleagues in the Lower House have been doing this for the past six years.
What is disturbing is that the general public, particularly in Harare, have not yet understood the reality of the situation, which is that there WILL be a Senate.
They are so determined in their mind that the Senate is a bad thing that they simply refuse to accept that it is about to become reality. The result of this mental block is that half the constituencies have been given to ZanuPF without any fight whatsoever, and those are the ones which are already tasting the reality of ZanuPF Senators, even over MDC MPs, as in the case of Dzivarasekwa-Kuwadzana-Kambuzuma-Mufakose.
Those MPs will have great difficulty resisting the regime's efforts to thwart their successes and their programmes with the people, for the simple reason that the Senators will be given all the resources and use of state machinery for their own purposes. Removing MDC is their Number One purpose - starting with vendors, but moving on to businesses, lodgers, house-owners - until every non-card-carrying member is booted out.
What Murambatsvina failed to achieve, ZanuPF Senators will finish off. It is difficult to see a positive outcome to this situation, even in MDC strongholds, brought about by lack of proper analysis - or more graphically, by the ostrich head-in-the-sand mentality.
Parliamentary Spokesperson for Local Government, MDC
November 23, 2005, 19:00
Gideon Gono, the governor of Zimbabwe's central bank, says the bank is still
confident of bringing inflation down to double-digits by the end of next
year. He would not, however, say whether this year's target is achievable.
Rampaging inflation is one of the most visible signs of an economy in its
sixth year of recession, marked by chronic shortages of foreign currency,
fuel and food widely blamed on the government of Robert Mugabe, the
Zimbabwean government. Official data shows that inflation jumped to 411%
last month on the back of soaring demand for bicycles in a country crippled
by fuel shortages, all but burying the reserve bank's hope of taming it to
300 by year-end, analysts said.
"We are not surprised by the year-on-year inflation (but) we have seen a
decline in the month-on-month inflation, that is a significant indicator of
the direction," Gono said. "We are still hopeful that, in broad terms by the
end of 2006, we will have brought our inflation down to lower double-digits
with single-digit levels being attained in the first half of 2007," he
added, but declined to comment on the 2005 target.
Introducing a new currency next year
Gono said the southern African country, where simple day-to-day transactions
like grocery shopping now involve six-digit figures, would introduce a new
currency next year, but would not give details.
He said a foreign currency crunch, which has plagued Zimbabwe since 1999 had
eased since the partial float, but gave no figures of in flows into the
formal system, which has in recent years been starved of currency by a
thriving black market where higher rates are on offer.
Gono rounded again on reported fresh farm invasions in a repeat of 2000 when
hundreds of Mugabe's supporters moved onto white-owned properties in support
of the government's land reforms, saying these undermined food security.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britian in 1980, argues that local
and foreign opponents of his land reforms have sabotaged the economy in
retaliation. - Reuters
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 23 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwean NGOs have appealed to the
African Union's human rights body to help the hundreds of thousands of
people left homeless by the government's recent clean-up campaign.
The AU's African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) is in
session in Gambia until next week, "and we are asking the organisation to
champion the cause of those affected by Operation Murambatsvina [Drive Out
Filth] - it is a humanitarian disaster," said Eileen Sawyer, director of the
Human Rights Forum (HRF), a coalition of 17 Zimbabwean NGOs.
A UN report estimated that Operation Murambatsvina, which the government
said was aimed at clearing slums and flushing out criminals, had left more
than 700,000 people homeless or without a livelihood after kicking off in
Bahame Tom Nyanduga, an ACHPR representative and Special Rapporteur
Responsible for Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Internally Displaced Persons in
Africa, attempted to gauge the impact of the operation in July, but had to
leave the country without completing his mission after his visit was
described by Zimbabwe's official media as "unprocedural" because diplomatic
protocol had reportedly not been followed.
HRF has also released an audit of ACHPR's recommendations, made in 2002
after a fact-finding mission in the wake of elections, which found evidence
of human rights violations. The AU has not commented on the report, which
was finally adopted last year.
"We wanted to point out that there has been no improvement in the situation
since then . While physical violence has dropped, there has been an
increase in intra-party violence in both the ZANU-PF and the [opposition]
MDC [Movement for Democratic Change] as a result of faction fighting ahead
of the [26 November] senate elections," explained Sawyer.
The intra-party violence "is to an extent" related to power struggles within
the parties, she noted. The MDC is believed to be on the verge of a split
over its participation in the senate elections, scheduled for this weekend.
Sawyer said recent amendments to the constitution had made "life
increasingly difficult for ordinary people": they effectively abolish
freehold property titles; remove the landowner's right to appeal
expropriation; usurp the authority of the courts, and restrict the movement
Early this month several hundred trade unionists and members of the National
Constitutional Assembly, a pro-democracy civic alliance, were arrested for
holding an anti-poverty demonstration.
"As the Zimbabwean crisis extends into another year, the absence of national
dialogue remains a deeply disturbing feature of the political landscape ...
It appears highly unlikely that internal opposition forces will, in the near
future, be able to build sufficient pressure to force ZANU-PF into a
political compromise," the HRF report observed.
According to HRF, the rapidly declining economy was unlikely to make the
government "more pliant", and could perhaps lead to a "more authoritarian
Zimbabwe's Minister of Security, Dydimus Mutasa, dismissed HRF's claims as
"lies", saying, "What human rights have been abused?"
He also rejected suggestions of dialogue with the opposition. "Who is anyone
to tell us to talk to the opposition - where in the world does that happen?"
The airline resumed flights yesterday, claiming that the fuel shortage
November 23, 2005, 07:15
Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe's national airline, has suspended two of its most
senior executives following a fuel shortage which grounded its entire fleet
at the weekend. The airline resumed flights yesterday, claiming that the
fuel shortage was over.
Jonathan Kadzura, acting chairman for Air Zimbabwe, said: "Things were not
being done in time resulting in them developing into a crisis. but there is
no crisis at Air Zimbabwe."
Kadzura claimed that the fuel shortage which led to Air Zimbabwe grounding
its fleet was merely a communication problem between government and the
airline's management. Whatever the truth, the airline clearly did not have
fuel to fly its planes until late yesterday.
From Saturday until Monday, six flights to Zambia, Malawi, South Africa
Singapore and London were grounded. In addition an economist at Interfin
securities said that the fuel shortage was having a ripple effect on
Zimbabwe's already battered economy
Zimbabwe has suffered a chronic fuel shortage, although this has been the
most critical so far. While Kadzura would not elaborate on the communication
problems between Air Zimbabwe management and government, the crisis was
serious enough for the board to suspend the Tendayi Mahachi, the airline
CEO, and Mrs. Mujuru, the financial officer.
While Air Zimbabwe has assured passengers that no further flights will be
grounded it is unclear how Zimbabwe intends ensuring an uninterrupted Jet
Harare, Zimbabwe, 11/23 - Zimbabwe`s central bank, battling unrelenting
inflation, Tuesday hiked interest to 460 percent to discourage consumptive
and speculative borrowing.
This is the second time in two months that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has
hiked interest rates to tackle inflation.
The latest increase, in which the secured accommodation rate went up from
415 percent to 450 percent and unsecured from 430 to 460 percent, is in
response to October`s inflation data which showed this had gone up to 411
The central bank, declaring inflation the country`s number one enemy, is
using interest rates as its main weapon against the latest inflationary
Inflation has risen consecutively for the last six months in Zimbabwe, and
is projected to end the year at around 600 percent.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Nov-23
LACK of infrastructural development is hampering progress in the
construction of residential houses under the National Social Security
Authority (NSSA) and FBC Building Society Housing Scheme at the Gloudin farm
in Harare, an official has said.
NSSA public relations manager, Philemon Shereni said the Commission running
the affairs of the city of Harare had advised them that the sewer system was
currently overloaded hence the delay in constructing houses.
"We would have wanted construction work to start, but the development of the
off-site infrastructure is the responsibility of the local authorities who
advised us that their sewer system can not accommodate that at the moment,"
He said NSSA acquired land in every town in the country but development of
the infrastructure by respective local authorities was causing delays.
Under the scheme, FBC Building Society will be responsible for marketing,
selling stands and houses as well as providing mortgage finance where
The would-be beneficiaries will be required to deposit into individual
savings accounts to be opened at FBC Building Society, 50 percent of the
total cost of the stand they intend to buy. The mortgage finance will also
be provided by FBC and the balance will be paid over 5 years at a
concessionary rate of 30 percent per annum.
Under the scheme, preference will be given to NSSA contributors, pensioners
and those on the municipality housing waiting lists in respective towns.
This would present people with an opportunity to own houses since 30 percent
interest was way below market rates.
The NSSA and FBC Building Society smart partnership is in line with the call
by the monetary authorities and the government for companies to prioritise
funding of new projects or housing schemes as opposed to financing existing
NSSA and FBC intend to take this initiative, launched in Marondera in June,
to other towns and cities around the country where land has already been
The move is aimed at complementing the government efforts to provide housing
for people under operation Garikai/Hlalani kuhle.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
issue date :2005-Nov-23
THE Zimbabwe Teacher's Association (Zimta) has called upon the government to
recognise, through fitting salaries and bonuses, the critical role played by
teachers in educating the nation's children.
The call comes in the wake of deferred payment of bonuses to teachers by the
"We are perturbed by the marginalisation of the education sector in the
payment of bonus," Zimta said in a statement on Tuesday.
For the third year in a row, Zimta said teachers would not get their bonus
in November, despite pleas that all civil servants be paid the benefit
during the month.
"We strongly feel that this is unfair. We wonder why there is this
deliberate and well calculated perpetuation of preferential treatment of
some sectors of government employees at the educators' expense."
"For teachers, bonus will be paid in December, when prices will have shot up
astronomically, further plunging the cash-strapped teachers into more misery
during the festive season," Zimta said.
It said the fairest position would be that all civil servants get paid bonus
in November or, if it that was impractical, that the employer annually
alternate the staggered payment of bonuses.
Teachers are among the lowest paid workers in Zimbabwe with most getting
less than $5 million after 20 years of service.
The country's monthly consumer basket for a lower income family of six now
stands at $11 668 465.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
issue date :2005-Nov-23
ZIMBABWEANS go to cast their ballots to elect a Senate on Saturday against
the background of a stuttering opposition whose beleaguered leader now cuts
an increasingly lonely figure, isolated in the MDC but for a coterie of
harassed hangers-on and advisors.
The MDC, the once popular party among urbanites has become the 'sick man' of
Zimbabwean politics as it suffocates in the fumes of its intra-party
violence and seemingly irreconcilable differences.
The month-long standoff - precipitated by the heated debate over Senate
participation - has occurred in the light of historical fractions where
cliques in the party represented tribal, ideological and elitist interests.
Added to the MDC saga, Tsvangirai's vulnerability could not have come at a
more awkward time, observers say, as the chaotic disarray in his party has
not only rendered it irrelevant but also perhaps doomed as well in its
battle for political supremacy.
Tensions within the MDC have spilled into the public arena with senior
officials washing all the dirty linen in full view of everyone.
Zanu PF seems to be riding on the wave created by the tensions within the
Drawing a huge crowd at Middle Sabi, Manicaland, for one of his star rallies
on Monday, President Robert Mugabe hammered out at what he referred to as
the political immaturity of the opposition.
The name-calling, mudslinging and character assassination now dominating the
MDC, said President Mugabe, was "a triumph for Zanu PF, which was getting
stronger by the day causing the MDC to break into pieces."
The power and support base of the 'vanguard party', President Mugabe added,
suggested that the MDC was no longer the vehicle through which an
increasingly nervous Western community could effect illegal regime change in
Some observers have interpreted the mayhem in the MDC as an indication of
the opposition's inherent weaknesses.
Saying the current scenario indicated that Tsvangirai and his party had seen
better days, they were unanimous that the results of the Senate polls were a
foregone conclusion, with Zanu PF apparently headed for the finishing line
Political commentator, Augustine Timbe said the MDC's uncertainty over
participation in the Senate polls would give Zanu PF victory on a silver
platter while denying the opposition a veto or
say in the enactment of key legislation.
The ruling party already has won 19 seats unopposed.
He said Zanu PF had made inroads in traditional MDC strongholds like
Matabeleland and despite severe drubbings there in previous elections, it
had exhibited better organisation this time around.
He predicted that people would no longer "gamble" with their vote and
entrust civic governance in the hands of the fractious MDC considering the
that has befallen the
municipalities of Harare and Chitungwiza.
Said Timbe: "The divisions created disillusionment within its support base
which would encourage people to seek alternative views.
"They are not likely to win much in Harare (three contested seats) because
of poor civic administration."
Tsvangirai's critics have lashed out at his position on the Senate issue and
then his unilateral blocking of a decision by the National Executive Council
(NEC) to participate in elections for the Upper House.
Those in favour of participation say since the MDC is already in the Lower
House, a presence in the Upper House would ensure that "Parliamentary
territories" are protected.
The impasse has greatly minimised the MDC's chances of performing as well as
it could have done in the Senate elections.
However, some observers say there is a blurring in ideological differences
within the MDC in a manner similar to those between the American Democrats
and Republicans with others dismissing the forthcoming polls as a "non
event" designed to buttress Zanu PF hegemony in the local political
landscape without accounting for the interests of the people.
Heneri Dzinotyiwei, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Integrated Programme (ZIP),
a local think-tank, said: "The voter turnout is likely to be low because the
elections have little prospects of improving the lives of ordinary people.
"This is a dilemma. Zanu PF is dwelling on peripheral issues and ignoring
underlining concerns affecting people."
The Senate will comprise 66 members six of whom would be appointed by the
President while the Chiefs Council would elect 10 chiefs.
The elected senators from whom would come the Senate President and his or
her deputy, in addition to the 150 members of the House of Assembly, will
constitute the bicameral Parliament done away with in 1987.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Nov-23
Zimbabweans will have to start bracing for a difficult festive season as
long distance transport operators have hiked bus fares, citing increases in
operational and maintenance costs, among other reasons.
An informal survey conducted by The Daily Mirror at the Mbare Musika
terminus revealed that some operators had already hiked fares while some are
intending to do so.
Buses plying the Harare- Mutare route are now charging $340 000 up from $280
000 since Wednesday last week. The charge for a trip from the capital to
Marondera has been increased by $20 000 to $100 000.
It now costs $120 000 to travel between Harare and Bindura instead of the
old $90 000. Operators also revealed that they would review the fare for the
Bulawayo- Harare trip from $450 000 to $780 000 over the weekend.
It would also cost $320 000 up from $200 000 to travel from Harare to
Operators plying the Harare- Masvingo route remained with their fare pegged
at $240 000 going into the weekend but indicated that they could raise it to
anything above $300 000 early next week.
The situation for people travelling to rural areas has been worsened by the
scarcity of buses plying routes outside the city.
The government invited long distance buses to service urban routes when
urban operators could not cope, in the midst of a biting fuel scarcity.
As an incentive bus operators would be designated points where they would
acquire the fuel.
Many of them have since stuck to urban routes, saying they are more
This has reduced competition in rural areas, with the few operators engaging
in ad hoc fare determinations.
The increases in rural bus fares come at a time when urban commuter omnibus
operators are gradually increasing their fares from an average of $15 000
per trip to $20 000.
The rises have been unilateral and government has reiterated on several
occasions that it would take tough action against violators.
Even though the police have been mounting road blocks to arrest offenders,
they seem to be overwhelmed since the new fares are sticking.
Most of the bus conductors interviewed by the Daily Mirror cited increases
in vehicle maintenance costs and persistent economic hardships as their
major reasons for reviewing their fares upward.
"Zvakapressa mudhara. Hapana zvekuzviita, (Things are tough, Mister. There
is nothing we can do)", said one conductor.
"Kunze kune mhepo uku mwana wamai. Hazvishamise kungoona yachinjazve
mangwana (The situation out there is tough, my brother. We cannot rule out
further increases soon)", said another conductor.
"Fuel is hard to get on the black market. Spare parts, general maintenance
of the buses and the difficult times we are living in make it necessary to
increase the bus fares," he added.
Speculation was also rife among bus operators that the official prices of
diesel currently pegged at $20 000 per litre would go up soon and further
push up the black market price which is over $100 000 per litre.
The bus fare increases come at a time when Zimbabweans are struggling to
meet basic requirements with the annual inflation rate now pegged at 411
With the school term approaching its end, parents would have to dig deeper
into their already empty pockets to fork out money for their children to
The festive season, which is traditionally associated with a lot of
travelling and merry-making, is also set to become ordinary as people may
not afford the new bus fares.