Angus Shaw in Harare
Saturday November 24, 2007
Zimbabwe is to slash three zeroes from its currency notes for the second
time in a year to make transactions more manageable in the world's most
The central bank governor, Gideon Gono, said after months of planning the
issue of new currency bills was "imminent", state television and radio
reported. Television showed a sample of a new 500 Zimbabwe dollar note. The
highest existing bill, for 200,000 Zimbabwe dollars, becomes 200.
"I know the zeros we removed last time came back quickly but this time we
are doing it in such a way they will not return," Gono told a televised
meeting of banking and business leaders. He did not elaborate.
Zimbabwe has suffered chronic shortages of cash this month that created long
lines at banks and cash dispensers not shut down by the daily power cuts.
Gono accused speculators of hoarding cash, saying the new denominations
would replace the old in a changeover lasting a day or two. He said holders
of cash needed to urgently deposit it into the banking system "before it
turns to useless manure". Banks and finance houses were asked to extend
their business hours to accommodate depositors.
The state central statistical office said on Thursday its monthly
announcement of official inflation due in early November still was not
ready, but an independent business weekly newspaper said leaked figures
showed official inflation at 14,800%, up from 8,000% in early October when
it was by far the highest in the world.
A government order in June to reduce inflation by cutting prices of all
goods and services by half left shelves bare of the corn meal staple, bread,
meat, cooking oil, sugar and other basic goods. It also worsened acute
petrol shortages. Independent estimates put inflation at close to 40,000%
On a parched nine-hole golf course that has seen better days, more than 40
golfers are braving the midday heat to battle it out for the big prize. The
winner of the weekend competition at the Hornung sports club in Bulawayo,
Zimbabwe's second city, will walk away with 25 litres of unleaded petrol,
writes Aoife Kavanagh .
"Last weekend, first prize was a box of vegetables," one wiry old veteran
explained as he shaped up to tee off. "Veggies are welcome, but the petrol
prize is something special - it's like gold dust these days."
This is Zimbabwe, where the white elite once lived a charmed existence, but
can now barely manage to fill their fuel tanks. And where, for the majority
black population, years of economic and political mismanagement are
Four out of every five black Zimbabweans are living beneath the poverty
line. Every wage-earner in the country is feeding almost 20 people from his
or her monthly salary. Just over a decade ago the life expectancy of the
average Zimbabwean woman was 66. Today it is 33. The central bank's foreign
exchange reserves have been decimated; supermarket shelves are bare.
When President Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980 the country was thriving.
Its health and education services were the envy of the region and, thanks to
a first class infrastructure and a healthy economy, the future looked
Now it is a country hanging on by its fingertips.
Last week the ritual queuing began at first light in the centre of the
capital city, Harare. As dawn broke, two separate lines intertwined on the
corner of Takawira Street. The longest queue was motivated by a rumour that
circulated around the city overnight. Somebody got a tip-off that there was
bread in town. Up and down the line people were on their mobile phones,
texting and calling friends to give them the latest information. In the end,
many people walked away empty-handed. When bread and flour do come on the
market they are often bought up in bulk and sold on at inflated prices on
the black market - in effect the real market in Zimbabwe.
And it's not just bread. Those who have the purchasing power buy what they
can - maize, cooking oil or beans - often at government-subsidised prices.
Instead of supplying the domestic market, they export the goods to
neighbouring Mozambique or Botswana to earn precious foreign currency, while
the less well-off in their own country can barely afford one meal a day.
"If I don't get the bread today, who knows, maybe I won't be able to afford
it tomorrow," one woman in the bread queue told me.
She is probably right. Last month inflation stood at 7,900 per cent, and
already this month, it has risen to 14,000 per cent. For those lucky enough
to have a job - unemployment is about 80 per cent - inflation rates are
making a mockery of their wages. Teachers are still being paid about $12
million (Zimbabwean dollars) a month, just a little more than the cost of
six litres of cooking oil.
The second queue that morning was for the Post Office Savings Bank, where
scores of people lined up to withdraw money. The value of the country's
currency is falling so sharply that the government can't print enough notes
to keep up with demand. On a bad day, by the time the last person in line
reaches the cash dispenser the Zimbabwean dollar will once again have fallen
This week, the government tightened the screw once again on the availability
of hard cash by halving the daily limit one person can withdraw from an ATM.
The queues on Takawira Street are about to get even longer.
The impact of this economic meltdown is much more serious than having to
birdie the ninth to fill your fuel tank or being forced to stand in line for
cash. Four million Zimbabwean citizens will need food donations if they are
to make it through the next four months. Zimbabwe gets much of its
electricity from South Africa, but supply is at best sporadic and at worst a
rarity, directly because of the fact that President Mugabe's government
can't afford to pay its electricity bills. All over the country, dams are
drying up and people are digging their own wells or making do with rancid
THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL of the economy even affects the dead. In rural areas,
people can no longer afford to buy coffins for their loved ones. Neither can
they afford to register their deaths. The truth is that nobody knows exactly
how many people are dying in Zimbabwe from hunger or disease. In Bulawayo,
the local, state-owned newspaper, the Chronicle, used to regularly publish
the number of people who died from starvation in the area, until the
government banned it from doing so.
Contaminated water, poor nutrition and a HIV/Aids rate of 15 per cent would
place heavy demands on any health service. But in Zimbabwe the health
service is failing the people when they need it most.
The country's public hospitals have almost ground to a halt, so much so that
if a patient needs a simple procedure, like a couple of stitches or an
injection, the instruments or the antiseptic might not be available.
Two weeks ago, three of the country's main hospitals were without
electricity for more than four days. Fires burned outside the kitchen doors
so staff could cook food to feed their patients.
Half of all medical posts are now vacant, as doctors leave for London or
Dublin or Sydney to earn a decent wage.
Dr Andrew Fairbairn, a white Zimbabwean, whose family has been here for two
generations, is one of the few doctors who hasn't left. He runs a private
clinic on the outskirts of Harare. Every week he watches the gradual but
persistent decay of the health system. "Medical care is almost not available
to people who can't afford it, such that someone needing surgery or chronic
medication cannot get it," he says.
When we met he was making plans to travel to Baghdad for two months as a
doctor-for-hire in order to earn some foreign currency before coming home
again. He says he is struggling to keep his clinic going because of the
severe drugs shortages and the spiralling cost of treatment. "It's shocking
to see some elderly people coming in here, wasting away, losing weight
because they can barely afford to buy food," he says. "Many people are
cutting their medication in half, or not taking it at all. They come to me
and ask me which of their medicines they can do without because they can't
pay for them."
Restricted by the price or the unavailability of certain drugs, pharmacists
occasionally stock medicines not registered by the Zimbabwean drugs
authorities. Friends of Dr Fairbairn's have been arrested and thrown in jail
for days for attempting to supply their customers with the drugs they need.
"A couple of pharmacies have been closed down. It's common for them to be
arrested on a Friday so that they squirm in an over-crowded cell all weekend
without access to a lawyer," he says.
While he will continue to come and go from the country to earn foreign
currency, Dr Fairbairn claims he is determined to stay in Zimbabwe no matter
how much conditions deteriorate. "I feel an obligation to stay until things
come right again." And when might that be? He shrugs his shoulders. "Once
again I am thinking something might change after next year's elections, but
then I am a committed optimist."
JACOB SWITCHES ON the battered radio and his small, dilapidated shack is
flooded with loud, pounding hip-hop music. His baby daughter lying on the
couch wakes with a start as our small group pulls a little closer together,
"just so they will not hear us talking", Jacob says, explaining that CIO
(Central Intelligence Organisation) operations are common in the area. "Now
you can go ahead and ask your questions."
His home is in Tafara, a huge township about 20km west of Harare. Jacob is a
monitor with the Zimbabwean Peace Project, a non-governmental human rights
organisation that tracks political violence and intimidation. Sitting on the
couch beside him is 32-year-old Saveri Mafunga, who is a victim of Mugabe's
efforts to shore up support ahead of the 2008 elections. He was refused
subsidised food because he does not support Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
As Mafunga begins to speak, his voice shakes a little; he is nervous. He
knows it is dangerous to talk to journalists or human rights groups. It is
officially illegal to criticise the government in this country. And,
unofficially, he could be beaten or tortured for doing so. One side of his
face is lit by the sun streaming through the window, and he appears gaunt
and tired as he tells me how he is sick with worry that he won't be able to
feed his wife and baby daughter.
Two weeks ago he went to a government food distribution point near his home.
Officials were handing out maize, beans and cooking oil, all at subsidised
prices and all most people can afford now. He checked if his name was on the
register and was relieved to see it there. For months he has hustled for
bits and pieces of part-time work, but there hasn't been nearly enough to
keep up with runaway prices.
"When I got to the top of the queue I was asked to show my Zanu-PF card," he
explains. "I do not have one and they told me that even though my name was
on the list, that I was entitled to food, there would be nothing for me."
The government official passed along, telling him that there was no record
of his attendance at Zanu-PF meetings, and if he wanted food he should get
it from Morgan Tsvangirai - the leader of the main opposition party in
"I am also asked for a Zanu party card when I look for work, and often there
is no work without it," he says. "I don't know what we are going to do now
to survive. Anything I have, I get from friends and from good neighbours."
This year has been declared a drought year in Zimbabwe, and this is the
beginning of the so-called "hungry season". Human rights organisations say
the government is clearly using food as a political tool against millions of
people who are now at their most vulnerable.
The Zimbabwean Peace Project has recorded hundreds of incidents of people
being refused subsidised food because they don't support Zanu-PF. Project
director Jestina Mukoko fears this tactic will have the desired effect at
the ballot box. "People might be forced to vote with their stomachs, simply
because they want to guarantee their food," she says. "For many people it is
a matter of survival".
The project has evidence too of efforts to discriminate even against those
too young to vote. Some "child-headed households" - where both parents are
dead and the eldest child is caring for the rest - are also being denied
food if their parents were suspected or known to have supported the
opposition. "Children are having to suffer for the 'sins' of their parents,
in terms of them accessing food," Mukoko says. "To want to see somebody go
hungry when food is available is inhuman. I think it is within the powers of
the authorities to sort it out."
While the government has free rein to manipulate its own subsidised food, it
has also attempted to interfere in the distribution of international food
donations. Between now and next March, the United Nations World Food
Programme (WFP) will feed three million people in Zimbabwe.
When WFP officials first sat down to negotiate the distribution of food aid,
there was a stand-off with government. The ruling party wanted community
chiefs - most of them loyal to Mugabe - to decide where the food would go.
WFP refused to go along with this arrangement, but has occasionally been
forced to suspend distribution because politicians have, to quote a WFP
spokesman, "tried to make their presence felt" at distribution points.
"We have a very rigorous and thorough process in place for handing out food,
from registration all the way through to distribution. The beneficiaries get
food strictly on the basis of need," the spokesman says.
However, Justina Mukoko believes there is a low level of manipulation of
international food donations. "Lists are compiled in the community and and I
think it takes the international organisations some time to realise that
people are being left out," she says.
'I THINK IT would be better if we were killing each other in the streets
every night," the owner of a Bulawayo hotel told me on my last evening in
the country. "Then perhaps the world would have to do something." That day
he had been forced to serve notice to half his staff and feared he would
soon have to leave the country.
There is no war on the streets, but instead Zimbabweans must suffer this
slow strangulation of their society. Intimidation by the government, in
whatever form, is crushing the population. Fear is palpable here and
prevents most people from speaking out or rising up. Instead, if they can,
they simply leave. Each week, more and more families are being ripped apart
as husbands or wives, or sometimes both, leave their children behind and
make for Mozambique or Johannesburg or Botswana.
Most people have one of just two hopes now. Firstly, that they will make it
safely across the crocodile-infested Limpopo river, which forms a natural
barrier between Zimbabwe and South Africa, and find a way to survive in
exile. Or, preferably, that their 83-year-old president will not live to
inflict many more years of chaos and oppression on his people.
Mugabe's methods: how he holds on to power
President Robert Gabriel Mugabe believes he knows the outcome of the
presidential elections next March: he will win.
In the course of almost three decades in power, he has efficiently quelled
dissent and out-manoeuvred all opponents. Even this week he saw off yet
another rival, with the death of the last leader of what was then Rhodesia
(now Zimbabwe), 88-year-old Ian Smith. Bitter enemies, both men were masters
Down the years, President Mugabe has been consistent in ensuring his ruling
party, Zanu-PF, always succeeds at the ballot box. And he uses every means
at his disposal to do so. Intimidation, torture, forced exile, and
infiltration of communities, and of the opposition, by his Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) recruits all help him stay in total control.
But as the economy of Zimbabwe continues to disintegrate, his most effective
tool, perhaps, is the manipulation of food for political ends. Through the
state-controlled Grain Marketing Board, the government holds the sole rights
to import and distribute maize, the staple diet of millions of Zimbabweans.
Throughout the country now, as elections loom, the message is clear -
support the ruling party and you will not starve.
The apparently gratuitous act has stopped the programme in its tracks, writes the BBC's John Kay.
It's hardly surprising. The pictures show all three of his family's adult black rhinos lying dead on the dusty floor. You can see the bullet-holes in their thick hides.
"It's just totally unbelievable," sighs Charles.
He has just returned to the UK from Zimbabwe, where his family runs the Imire Safari park, 100km (60 miles) southeast of Harare. The park is home to one of the only breeding centres for black rhinos, one of the most endangered mammals on Earth.
One of them was just days away from giving birth. Her unborn calf died as well.
"We simply can't believe it. Those rhinos were our friends. We knew them all so well," said Charles.
"It is deeply tragic. We've been left with four little orphan rhinos, which won't be able to reproduce for about 20 years. The whole breeding programme is now at a standstill. It's desperate."
There are only abound 3,000 black rhinos left in the wild, and the species is listed as Critically Endangered by the World Conservation Union, which means they "face an extremely high risk of extinction". Last year, one of the four sub-species was declared as "already extinct".
Cathy Dean from Save the Rhino International said: "The situation for rhinos in the country is becoming more and more difficult every day. We must continue to support those working to save the vital rhino populations in this troubled nation."
So, who was responsible for the attack? And why would they have shot the black rhinos?
BBC News is banned from Zimbabwe but a government spokesman has told us that poachers are to blame. He described the shootings as "wanton destruction" and said the police and military had stepped up patrols to search for the gunmen.
Black rhinos are sometimes shot by poachers, who sell their horns as dagger-handles or for use in Chinese medicine, but the Imire rhinos had recently been de-horned as a precaution, so they didn't have any value to hunters.
This has led to fears that black rhinos are instead becoming a target in Zimbabwe's battles over land-ownership.
"I hope this event, and others recently, don't mean we are returning to the disastrous poaching of the late 80s and early 90s. I hope this is not the start of a very worrying trend."
According to Charles Hamilton, the orphaned rhinos on his ranch have been left "stunned" by the deaths of their mothers.
The youngest of the orphans, baby Tamba, is now being fed by bottle.
"It's heart-breaking," says Charles, "but we are determined to
give these animals a future, and the breeding programme will continue."
By Michelle Gavin
Special to washingtonpost.com's Think Tank Town
Saturday, November 24, 2007; 12:00 AM
When Zimbabwe became an independent country in 1980, it was a focal point
for international optimism about Africa's future. Today, Zimbabwe is a
basket case of a country. Over the past decade, the refusal of President
Robert Mugabe and his ruling party to tolerate challenges to their power has
led them to systematically dismantle the most effective workings of
Zimbabwe's economic and political systems, replacing these with structures
of corruption, blatant patronage and repression. The resulting 80 percent
unemployment rate, hyperinflation, and severe food, fuel and power shortages
have created a national climate of desperation. Estimates suggest that
roughly one-quarter of the entire population has fled the country.
Meanwhile, the government's violent crackdown on voices of dissent has left
the opposition divided and eroded public confidence in the prospects of
peaceful political change.
The human rights and humanitarian consequences of these developments have
attracted the attention of the United States and others in the international
community, as has the potential of the crisis to add Zimbabwe to the roster
of the world's dangerously unstable failed states. But years of Western
condemnation and targeted sanctions have done little to alter the course or
speed of Zimbabwe's decline. The cyclical crackdowns on opposition figures,
the anti-climatic regional negotiations, and the ever-shrinking economic
figures tend to merge into a drumbeat of hopelessness, and a real danger
exists that policymakers fatigued and distracted by other crises will lose
enthusiasm for playing an engaged and constructive role in southern Africa's
most alarming political crisis.
While it makes sense to keep the pressure on the regime, the United States
cannot compel President Mugabe and his loyalists to step aside. Zimbabweans
themselves will ultimately decide, though other Southern African states may
well influence, how and when political change will come.
But, as I argue in a new Council Special Report, Planning for Post-Mugabe
Zimbabwe, the U.S., working with others, can help to alter the calculus of
the Zimbabwean players who can affect change -- at least those players who
are not 83 years old and determined to tank their country in a fit of pique.
By focusing on the future and putting a serious commitment to Zimbabwe's
recovery on the table, we might be able to influence the present.
This means working closely with others in the international community to map
out strategies that will help bring essential services back on line and get
the economy back on track. It also requires building consensus around
governance-related conditions that must be met to set those plans in motion,
like respect for basic human rights, an end to the political manipulation of
food aid, and amendment or repeal of repressive laws. Finally, this requires
marshalling real resources in an international trust fund for Zimbabwe's
recovery -- resources that can serve as powerful incentives for potential
successors to Mugabe to embrace vital reforms.
A clear plan to link robust recovery assistance to better governance can
help Zimbabweans interested in charting a new course to plan their strategy
by making it clear just how the spigots of international support can be
turned back on. This approach will open up space for a new diplomatic
discourse about Zimbabwe's potentially prosperous future, rather than simply
the prickly present. Such a plan would also lay the groundwork for a sound
reconstruction investment, because just as bad governance led to today's
economic catastrophe, sound governance will make or break recovery.
The United States can also seize on the opportunity presented by change in
Zimbabwe to enter a new phase of cooperation with Southern Africa, and
particularly with South Africa -- a country where the U.S. has quite a lot
at stake. By engaging in detailed consultations with Southern Africans now
and by linking a commitment to Zimbabwe's recovery with a commitment to
regional infrastructure investments like improving southern Africa's rail
links, the U.S. may be able to remove Zimbabwe from the list of irritants in
the U.S.-South African bilateral relationship to the list of issues on which
the United States and South Africa are genuinely invested in each other's
Zimbabwe, with its powerful history of race-based oppression, tremendous
human capital, and compelling roster of patriots who have worked tirelessly
and at great personal risk to resist oppression, could be as inspiring
tomorrow as it is depressing today. To be effective in helping to turn the
country around, the U.S. must work with others in the international
community rather than going it alone, and must be willing to commit
meaningful resources to the country. That's a tall diplomatic order, and it
will take a committed team of senior leaders in Washington working with
energized diplomats on the ground and a Congress willing to invest in
Zimbabwe's future to fill it.
The author is an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign
Saturday 24th November 2007
Dear Family and Friends,
When I saw people running down the pavement I knew that some precious basic
commodity must have arrived and that this rush was the start of the queue. I
stepped out of the way so as not to get knocked down and carried on walking.
I was amazed to see people pushing and jostling to get a place in line to
buy the State controlled daily newspaper. This sudden enthusiasm for a dose
of the latest propaganda has apparently got nothing to do with the
government pronouncements but is related to the chronic national shortage of
toilet paper. Not only does the newspaper double as toilet paper, it is also
cheaper with one day's edition of propaganda costing less than a roll of loo
I count myself very lucky that a neighbour hands me down two second hand
independent newspapers every week - not because I want toilet paper but
because these newspapers are now almost impossible to obtain - even more so
than the State controlled ones. When the independent papers arrive in the
town on a Friday morning you've got about half an hour to get to the
roadside vendors before all their copies are sold out and then its another
long week to wait for the next taste of the truth. To exacerbate this crazy
situation, the government's price controllers recently ordered the Zimbabwe
Independent to cut their price from 600 to 150 thousand dollars . This
undoubtedly pushes the paper rapidly to the edge of bankruptcy, even less
copies are printed and this means that the 10 or more people reading one
carefully handed down newspaper are without information - and the last one
without toilet paper!
All is not lost however because we still have Short Wave Radio Africa and
night after night more and more Zimbabweans are sitting in the dark of the
power cuts, using wind up radios and juggling between the two SW Radio
Africa channels - depending on which is being jammed that night. Here at
least people speak freely, not subject to State controls or even the self
censorship we have all made a part of our existence in order to survive.
Its ridiculous to think that we have to listen to a radio station
broadcasting from London to hear news of events in our country but we do.
The reports might be grim, the news depressing and the stories heartbreaking
but at least they are an accurate reflection of everyday life in Zimbabwe.
It doesn't matter what kind of a spin the Zimbabwean authorities put on
their TV and newspaper reports, they are so far from the glaringly obvious
situation on the ground that no one at all believes them anymore. One
outstanding example this week came when the President was shown on TV news
addressing a gathering near Victoria Falls. He told the audience that he
knew people were not getting enough bread but that they should be patient,
not lose faith and trust the Government.
What shortage of bread? Surely that should be "what bread?" It might be
selling on the black market for 700 thousand dollars a loaf but most
everyone I know hasn't been able to buy bread for over three months.
Zimbabwe's government has mastered the art of own goals and forcing us to
look outside for real news of events inside is surely a classic.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.
SW Radio Africa (London)
23 November 2007
Posted to the web 23 November 2007
The state's own newspaper The Herald has reported that the Reserve Bank
Governor Gideon Gono said he was in no rush to address the cash crisis that
has gripped the nation, and has ordered anyone 'hoarding' money to turn it
in to the formal bank system or lose it. The RBZ chief is usually described
as a ZANU-PF moderate who cares more for the people and country than other
ruling party die-hards. But his statement this week betrays an attitude
quite opposite to this.
The Herald quoted him as saying: "With immediate effect, all holders of
excess cash must deposit the same back in the formal system in order to
avoid serious and perilous losses when their hoarded loot turns into useless
manure." Instead of addressing the issues central to why many people are
staying away from the banks, Gono instead chose to intimidate them into
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political commentator Dr. John Makumbe
views Gono's statement as a classic sign of bad governance. He said: "There
is no economic solution which will work unless the political crisis is
sorted. And sorting out the political crisis means regime change."
As we reported, Harare residents have been sleeping in bank queues because
cash is running out due to the extremely high inflation. Our Harare
correspondent reported that many soldiers and civil servants failed to get
their salaries last week after banks totally ran out of cash. The Herald
report admitted the RBZ had reduced daily cash allocations to the banks. It
is therefore the responsibility of the Reserve Bank and Gono himself to fix
The severe shortages and extremely high cost of all basic commodities has
required Zimbabweans to move around with large bundles of cash just in case
they bump into some sugar, maize meal, cooking oil or bread. This is also
contributing to the shortage of cash in the banks.
According to The Herald, Gono also announced that currency reforms had been
deferred to a later date, perhaps next year. The report advised cash holders
not to draw any comfort from this, warning that "Dr. Gono is one of too many
surprises" and might introduce new currency sooner without much warning.
Does this mean hundreds of thousands of people losing all their savings is
what the doctor ordered?
Zimbabweans are simply responding to the situation that exists and trying to
survive under these difficult conditions. Again it is the responsibility of
the government to pursue policies that will resolve the crisis. And experts
agree that until the broader political issues are dealt with, no economic
genius, including Dr. Gono himself, can fix the economy.
MEDIA RELEASE FOR
23 November 2007
FURTHER POSTPONEMENT OF ZIMBABWEAN FARM TEST CASE
BY SADC TRIBUNAL, WINDHOEK
As beleaguered Zimbabwean farmer Michael Cambell recovers from the November 18 assault by armed men on his Mount Carmel farm in the Chegutu district, there has been a new blow to his case in the SADC Tribunal in Windhoek.
This "ground breaking" Zimbabwean case was first postponed from November 20 because the SADC Tribunal registrar had not formally informed the Zimbabwean President and government of the date.
The registrar then gave Campbell’s lawyers a date of December 4.
The Judge President of the Tribunal has now issued another date, December 11. This is in the full knowledge that Mr Jeremy Gauntlett SC will not be available on that date to argue the case for Campbell.
"Mr Gauntlett was able to make himself available on six separate days in the first two weeks of December," says Campbell.
"This was communicated verbally and in writing to the registrar and yet we are now given a date when our lead counsel cannot be there! They are aware it’s urgent, we know this is their first case and that they have no other cases so why is the court being so unreasonable in our matter?"
Campbell put papers into the Tribunal during October asking for an urgent hearing.
"The delay is inexplicable," says Ben Freeth who is on Mount Carmel farm with Mike Campbell and married to his daughter.
"I believe that SADC’s first international justice system is prevaricating in the face of the Lisbon summit. They don't want the case to be heard before the summit because the issues at stake are too sensitive. This is a test and so far it is not going well," Freeth adds.
The issues involved revolve around rule of law, property rights and racial discrimination against minority whites.
"This case is for all of us," says Campbell. "As white Africans do we have a future here as farmers, making a significant contribution to food security in the region, or not?"
As a result of the government-orchestrated land invasions, which began in February 2000 just days after President Mugabe lost a crucial referendum to change the constitution, more than 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s commercial agricultural sector has been destroyed.
Prior to 2000, agriculture was the second largest foreign currency-earning sector of the economy, surpassed only by mining, and it was recognised that the efficient operation of the commercial farms was essential for the welfare of the entire population.
In 2000, 22 percent of the land was owned by approximately 4 300 large-scale commercial farmers, of whom 18,5 percent were white. Of this group, 82 percent had purchased their land after independence in 1980 and had been given certificates of no present interest from the government.
In 1980, between 3,2 and 3,8million hectares of farmland were immediately available to the government for resettlement on a willing seller, willing buyer basis.
Although the Mugabe government has promoted its “fast-track” land reform programme as a mechanism for providing agricultural land to “landless black people”, the major beneficiaries of the programme have been the elite – security forces, senior Zanu-PF members, their families and, regrettably, judges.
However, in a remarkable turn of events during October, Zanu-PF’s decision-making body, the politburo, rejected a land reform report that proposed further purging of the few remaining white farmers.
They argued that the evictions would bring the economy to its knees and that the report was driven by none other than racism since vast swathes of land are lying idle.
As a result, large-scale commercial maize (corn) production now accounts for less than five percent of the country’s total maize production and wheat production has fallen by almost 90 percent since the late 1990s.
According to Oxfam, between 30 and 40 percent of households need assistance with food aid and from January next year, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNet) estimates that more than 4.1 urban and rural people will require food aid.
The World Food Program has named Zimbabwe as one of the Global Hunger Hotspots of the world.
Submitted by: For further information:
Mr Matthew Walton Mr Matthew Walton
Walton Jessop Attorneys Walton Jessop Attorneys
Tel: (021) 702 0541 Tel: (021) 702 0541
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Email: email@example.com
Cape Town, South Africa Cape Town, South Africa
Mr Ben Freeth Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett SC
Mount Carmel Farm. Zimbabwe Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +263 91 224 1477 Tel: (021) 424 9340
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By Patience Rusere
23 November 2007
Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations lobbying Commonwealth leaders to
take a stronger stance on the crisis in the Southern African country
encountered resistance from outgoing Commonwealth Secretary Don McKinnon,
NGO sources said.
NGO sources said McKinnon, presented with a report by Zimbabwean activists
on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit in Kampala, Uganda, urging an
expanded role by the Commonwealth, told them that the organization cannot
interfere in the affairs of the Zimbabwean government and does not want to
discuss the matter further.
The Zimbabwean NGOs also sent the report to Malawian president Bingu
Mutharika, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Ghanaian President
John Kufuor, currently holding the rotating chairmanship of the African
Liaison Officer Dewa Mavhinga of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum told
reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Kufuor
promised to take the Zimbabwe crisis up with other leaders though Pakistan
In the main Commonwealth summit business Friday, Queen Elizabeth II of Great
Britain opened the heads of state meeting with her husband, Prince Philip,
by her side.
Commonwealth Deputy Spokesman Manoah Esipisu of Kenya gave reporter Patience
Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe further details on the summit launch.
President Robert Mugabe took Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth in 2003 after
the grouping of mostly British former colonies it announced it would extend
a suspension imposed over what it said was a 2002 presidential election
marred by violence against the opposition. Mr. Mugabe has called the
Commonwealth an "evil organization."
By Jonga Kandemiiri
23 November 2007
A delegation of University of Zimbabwe students met with the parliamentary
committee on education late this week to brief its members on the impact of
the continued closure of university residence halls which they charge is
intended to quell dissent.
University authorities closed the dormitories in July, saying they had been
condemned by Harare municipal health authorities, leaving thousands of
students without shelter. Critics called the move as a form of political
reprisal against student activists.
Since the closure of the halls, a number of students living in other
accommodations have been killed, raped or robbed on their way to and from
Opposition lawmaker Fidelis Mhashu of the Harare satellite city of
Chitungwiza told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that his panel will inspect the closed dormitories and speak with university
officials before issuing a report.
by Lizwe Sebatha Saturday 24 November 2007
BULAWAYO - The trial of two men who are accused of killing a 72-year old
white farmer in Nyamandlovu district six years ago has been postponed
indefinitely because of a crippling strike by prosecutors and court support
Albert Ncube, 52, and Robert Nyathi, 34, are facing a murder charge for
allegedly killing Elizabeth Gloria Olds at her Silver Streams Farm in March
2001 at the height of a controversial government farm seizure programme.
The duo has pleaded not guilty to the charge before a senior Bulawayo High
Court Judge Maphios Cheda sitting with Phanuel Damba and Mtshena Sidile as
Zimbabwe's judicial system has been hit by a month-old strike that has seen
prosecutors, magistrates and other court support staff downing tools
demanding a 150 percent salary increment and better working conditions.
Hundreds of cases have been put on hold as a direct result of the strike
compromising the delivery of justice in Zimbabwe.
Brighton Ndove, a lawyer representing Ncube and Nyathi, confirmed the
postponement of the case.
"The senior public prosecutor for the western division Martha Cheda asked
for a postponement because there was no one to deal with the case," said
This is not the first time that the case has been postponed.
The murder trial has been dogged by problems over the past six years. Two
prosecutors who had been assigned to handle the case failed to do so after
both quit the Attorney General's office for various reasons.
Zimbabwe's judiciary has been hit by a massive staff exodus over the past
few years as officers quit in droves in search of better paying jobs across
the country's borders. - ZimOnline
by Lizwe Sebatha Saturday 24 November 2007
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's small-scale gold miners want state support to be
reviewed, describing an ongoing central bank scheme as a drop in the ocean
for a sector trying to recover from a government crackdown that shut 25 000
registered mining claims.
The Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) said the $10 billion being given to
each small-scale miner by the central Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) fell
far short of money needed to revive the industry.
"The $10 billion will not in any way assist miners to acquire machines like
explosives, compressors and other machines needed to kick-start operations,"
said ZMF president George Kawonza.
The handouts to miners are part of a $1.5 trillion fund first announced by
RBZ governor Gideon Gono last month and targeting small-scale gold mining
claim holders. The bank started disbursing the funds this week.
Kawonza said a lot more needed to be done to revive nearly 25 000 mining
claims that closed when Zimbabwean police cracked down on illegal gold
mining activities around the country under a massive operation code-named
Operation Chikorokoza Chapera.
He said more than 2.5 million people were left unemployed after the
The government said Operation Chikorokza Chapera was necessary to put a stop
to illegal gold mining and smuggling of the precious metal out of the
No comment could be obtained from the RBZ or the Ministry of Mines and
The government made it compulsory for the miners to obtain a management plan
from the Environment Management Agency (EMA) on land rehabilitation, apart
from licences from both the Mines and Mining Development ministry and from
the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
"Only 3 000 out of the 25 000 mining claims that were shut down have been
licensed so far but very few are operational due to lack of working capital.
The government is not serious at all about assisting small scale miners as
the money is just too little to resuscitate their operations after the
government crackdown," said Kawonza.
Zimbabwe's mining industry faces a myriad of challenges, including constant
power cuts and a recently passed draft law that would force all
foreign-owned mines to cede 51 percent of their shareholding to indigenous
blacks. - ZimOnline
By Stephen Bevan and a special correspondent in Shurugwi
Last Updated: 6:57pm GMT 24/11/2007
For many black Zimbabweans, the death on Tuesday of Ian Smith, the
last prime minister of white-ruled Rhodesia, was either to be welcomed or at
To them the 88-year-old, who turned his country into an international
pariah with his unilateral declaration of independence from Britain in 1965,
was a racist and a tyrant who led his band of white supremacists into a
bloody, and ultimately pointless, war against the black liberation movement.
But in interviews last week, workers on the cattle farm in Zimbabwe
which he owned up to his death painted a very different image of the man who
famously declared he could not countenance black majority rule, "not in a
They spoke of a generous, if paternalistic, employer who built a
school where the children of farm workers received free education, and
provided houses for the teachers and free medical treatment for all his
"The old man (Smith) was good to us," said foreman, Pedzisai Chizhika,
39, who was born on the farm and still lives there. "He built a school where
I went and my children are still learning there for free.
"Apart from what happened before independence he was a good man, who
had the interests of all people at heart irrespective of race."
Tadeous Maroyi Muchata, 60, has been working on the farm since Smith
bought it in 1948 on his return from the Second World War. He said Smith
always treated his workers with respect.
"Whenever an employee passed away he bought a coffin and provided food
and transport for the families. Do you call those the actions of a racist or
an evil man?" asked Mr Muchata, who added that the former prime minister
bought his own ambulance to ferry sick workers to hospital.
Mr Chizhika owes more than most to Smith.
He explained how his employer saved the life of his 15-year-old son,
"A detonator exploded in my son's face in August, seriously injuring
him. He was taken to hospital and the bill was huge, and the farm paid for
that because Smith always paid for our hospital bills.
"If it was not for his kindness my son would have died of bleeding,
because I did not have the money to pay the hospital bill of Zim $60
However, he also revealed a streak of paternalism in his former
employer that some might view as a form of racism.
"The old man never discussed politics with any of the workers - he was
a jovial man who treated all of us as his children and cared for our
Generous to his workers he may have been, but Smith was also an astute
and pragmatic man who managed to hold onto at least part of his property in
Shurugwi, about 186 miles south east of Harare, when other white farmers
lost everything in President Robert Mugabe's chaotic and violent land reform
programme in 2000.
The key to his continued survival, said employees of the newly
resettled black farmers who now occupy most of his property and include two
retired army leaders and a leader of the war veterans, was his willingness
to help them by getting his workers to plough their fields and provide
irrigation at no cost.
After being expelled from parliament in 1986, Smith spent much of his
time on the farm, where he often entertained high ranking visitors.
Indeed, say his workers, despite hostile statements from President
Mugabe's officials about Smith several of his cabinet ministers used to come
and have tea with him.
"Former vice president Joshua Nkomo used to visit, and some other
government ministers used to come here to buy cattle and have tea with
Smith," said Mr Chizhika.
With his health failing, Smith moved to Cape Town in 2005 but still
visited the farm up to a year ago.
Mr Chizhika said Smith had been devastated by the death of his son
Alec, who died of a heart attack at Heathrow Airport in January 2006.
"He was very sad. His son's death greatly affected him," he said.
For some, at least, Smith will be remembered as a positive force in
They draw favourable comparisons between how Smith kept the economy
running smoothly in the face of international sanctions during the 13 years
of UDI, and the fact that President Mugabe has run the economy into the
ground despite facing much more limited sanctions against a small number of
ruling party elite.
Former Gweru mayor, hotelier and opposition politician, Patrick
Kombayi, said Zimbabweans had much to thank Smith for.
"The roads that we are using today were all built by Smith. All the
infrastructure is Smith's. We never suffered the way we are suffering now
because Smith took care of the economy that supported all people and they
had enough to eat.
"When he left power the pound was on a par with the Zimbabwean dollar,
but President Mugabe has killed all that."