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

Workers 'sleep in' over low salaries

Zim Standard


AT least 70 men and women working for Kingstons Limited have for a
week slept at the company's head office in Harare, protesting against their
paltry transport allowances.

The workers are from the government-owned parastatal's 11 branches in
the capital. The company has interests in books, music, stationery and
newspaper distribution.

The workers said their salaries were not enough to cover transport
costs for a month. The least paid takes home $5.7 million and a transport
allowance of $6 million for 26 working days.

Combined, their salary and transport allowance amount to $11.7 million
but each worker requires at least $20 million a month for transport alone,
by the most conservative estimates.

Trade union activists say the workers are virtually on slave wages.

"In reality, we are not gainfully employed but are subsidising the
company," fumed one worker, who asked not to be named for fear of
victimization. "Remember we have families to feed, children to send to
school. Where do they think we can get the money for that, when our salaries
are not enough to cover transport alone?"

The workers have been sleeping on the fourth floor of the building.
They have been authorised to use toilet and shower facilities at Empire Gym,
located in the same building.

Some of the workers use a toilet at a Parkade at Julius Nyerere Way.
To while away their time, some workers have brought their radios from home.
Every day after work, they gather in one of the rooms to pray for divine

The workers allege the management reneged on an earlier agreement to
give them enough transport allowance for the whole month, basing the
calculations on workers who commute to and from Chitungwiza where, at the
time of the negotiations last week, a single trip cost $500 000. The fares
have since gone up.

On 14 November, the workers' committee appealed to the Ministry of
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to "restore order in our

On that same day, the workers notified the management of their
intention to sleep-in. The letter was copied to the company's human
resources and development manager, John Majuru, the Ministry of Labour, and
to the wives, husbands and guardians of Kingstons employees.

Reads part of the letter: "As employees of Kingstons Limited . our
employer has refused to review the transport allowance to the current ruling
bus fares as per the agreement we signed on 26 March 2007, we are left with
no option but to sleep.

"If we don't report home, find us at No 34 Kwame Nkrumah, 4th floor,
Kingstons House."

Kingstons' general manager Dunmore Mazonde could not be reached for
comment yesterday.

The Minister of Information and Publicity Sikhanyiso Ndlovu - under
whose portfolio Kingstons falls - said although this was a management and
not policy issue "the plight of the workers should be attended to".

"Our policy is clear that workers should be taken care of, and if
there is a problem, they have to come to us," Ndlovu said.

The minister promised to look into the matter.

The dilemma of Kingstons workers represents the plight of over 80% of
workers in Zimbabwe, who can no longer survive on their salaries, according
to statistics released by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

In most cases, their monthly earnings are not enough to cover even
their rentals.

ZCTU Secretary General, Wellington Chibebe yesterday said the
situation at Kingstons was an example of how workers were now being treated
as "slaves" in most companies.

"This is an element of slavery," Chibebe said. "Transport costs alone
are now $40 million, yet most workers' salaries are far lower than that.
Workers are not realising anything from their efforts."

The ZCTU has warned employers to urgently resolve the salary
disparities "before the workers take the law into their own hands".

Efforts to get a comment from Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe
(EMCOZ) national director, John Mufukari, were fruitless.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Bio-diesel Plant: a case of 'celebrating a still birth'

Zim Standard


As you drive along old Mazowe Road, northwest out of Harare, your
attention is drawn to a large, colourful billboard: it announces the
existence of a new bio-diesel plant, "the first in Africa".

The huge plant was commissioned amid pomp and fanfare by President
Robert Mugabe recently.

The billboard says: "Bio-Diesel Processing Plant in Zimbabwe: Towards
food self-sufficiency; oiling the wheels of the nation."

There is no smoke billowing from the tall chimneys. A few technicians
mill around the silent plant.

The plant will become operational in two years when the Jatropha
planted last year matures.

Touted by political leaders as the panacea to the fuel crisis, the
plant probably deserves little of the hype.

Haunted by an eight-year fuel crisis caused by the foreign currency
crunch, the government sees the project as a likely solution.

The plant is a joint effort between the government and Yuon Woo
Investments of South Korea.

But experts are hesitant to sound as enthusiastic as the politicians.

The government has no capacity to support farmers to grow enough
Jatropha, cotton, sunflower and soya bean seed to produce bio-diesel, say
the experts.

They say the project will take "several years" to contribute to the
country's fuel needs, if ever it will.

It's ironic that the plant was commissioned a month after a United
Nations food expert called for "a five-year moratorium" on bio-fuel

But the government insists that the plant will ease fuel shortages.

That would happen when the plant is operating at full throttle,
producing 100 million litres of bio-diesel a year.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Dr Gideon Gono, at the same
high-profile, glitzy ceremony, noted that the success of the bio-diesel
project, to produce 90-100 litres of diesel annually, would depend entirely
on agriculture.

"These peak production levels impose a challenge on the farming
community to produce adequate feedstock of oil seeds to meet demand
throughout the year," he said.

But an agriculture expert said it would take years for the bio-diesel
plant to produce "meaningful quantities" of diesel.

"Right now we don't have enough seed for soya beans and cotton and
where would they get the Jatropha? It would be another white elephant," said
the expert who refused to be named, as this was a "sensitive issue".

Another expert said: "We would need a separate Zimbabwe to do that. We
cannot convert arable land to grow Jatropha; otherwise we would experience
serious food shortages. There is no land for that."

Zimbabwe has planted 100 hectares of Jatropha since last year,
according to reports.

The land invasions of 2000 reduced oil seed production: soya bean from
150 000 to 60 000 tonnes; sunflower from 40 000 in 1994 to 20 000 tonnes in
2006; groundnuts from about 95 000 to 90 000 tonnes.

"But still," said the expert, "these figures are too little to make
any meaningful contribution to produce diesel. What they did (inaugurating
the plant) is like celebrating a still-birth."

Land expert Professor Sam Moyo described the project as "quite good"
but said the general fear was that uncontrolled and unregulated growing of
Jatropha would have serious implications on food production and the

A UN independent expert, Jean Ziegler, last month condemned the
increasing use of crops to produce bio-fuels as replacement for fossil
fuels, saying it was creating food shortages.

Ziegler called for a five-year moratorium on bio-fuel production to
stop what he called a growing "catastrophe" for the poor, which he called "a
crime against humanity". Ziegler said it caused hikes in prices leading to
more hunger.

Ziegler is a sociology professor at the University of Geneva,
Switzerland, and the University of the Sorbonne in Paris, France.

Among the negative effects of fuel production from corn, sugarcane and
other crops are indiscriminate deforestation, resulting in the high price
and shortage of food, says his report.

Many species of trees would disappear, so ecosystems that absorb
carbon from the atmosphere would be destroyed, leading to an increase in
polluting emissions, the report says.

Research has shown that countries such as India, Mali, China, the
Philippines and Malaysia are starting huge plantations, betting that
Jatropha will help them to become more energy independent and even export

It is too soon to say whether Jatropha will be viable as a commercial
bio-fuel, scientists say, and farmers in India are already expressing
frustration that after being encouraged to plant huge swaths of the bush
they have found no buyers for the seeds.

The scientists say countries that struggle to feed their populations,
like Mali, can scarcely afford to give up cultivable land for growing
bio-fuel crops.

Already, World Food Programme estimates in Zimbabwe indicate that 4.1
million people need food aid.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

AU probes abuse of Zimbabwean refugees

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi recently in

THE African Union is investigating the alleged rampant abuse of
Zimbabwean refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa and Botswana,
described as "xenophobic and hostile".

The decision follows concerns raised by human rights groups in the
region to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR)
meeting in Brazzaville (Congo) recently.

The reports were submitted by the Human Rights Institute of South
Africa (HURISA) and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF).

They said South Africa and Botswana's refusal to treat Zimbabwean
immigrants flooding the two countries as refugees fuelled the abuse. ACHPR
is an organ of the AU.

The Special Rapporteur for Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally
Displaced Persons and Immigrants, Tom Nyanduga, presented a report to the
commission raising the problem.

He said he had already requested the South African government to
invite him to carry out further investigations.

"We are concerned about the ill-treatment of asylum seekers,
especially from Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in South
Africa," Nyanduga said.

"To that end, there are serious concerns about the activities of a
private company operating the Lindela Holding Centre for illegal immigrants.

"I look forward to engaging the South African authorities on the
matter and also to investigate other issues that have been brought to the
attention of the commission."

Several Zimbabwean immigrants have died in detention at the Lindela
Centre just outside Johannesburg, after being denied food and being
subjected to degrading treatment.

An estimated three million Zimbabweans have fled the country since the
crisis started about eight years ago and most of them sought refuge in South
Africa and Botswana.

Zimbabweans in South Africa face the same problems and difficulties as
refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia and DRC, particularly the lack of access to
documentation, which affects their chances of securing gainful employment.

Botswana and South Africa deport thousands of Zimbabweans every week.

"Zimbabwe is near collapse as evidenced by the acute shortage of basic
necessities and the thousands of its citizens escaping the crisis every
day," HURISA said.

"But Botswana and South Africa, who handle the bulk of the immigrants,
are not handling the Zimbabwean crisis properly as refugees and asylum
seekers are met with xenophobia and hostility."

HURISA said Zimbabwean professionals such as doctors, nurses and
lawyers fleeing the country were forced to do menial jobs in South Africa
because they did not have proper documentation, yet the neighbouring country
suffered from an acute skills shortage.

"Botswana and South Africa are best advised to use the funds they
allocate for deportations of the refugees to handle the Zimbabwean
humanitarian crisis more humanely," the institute added.

ZEF director, Gabriel Shumba said they were concerned that
deportations of Zimbabweans from the two countries continued to increase
amid more deaths of asylum seekers due to hunger.

ACHPR chairperson, Sanji Monageng of Botswana, praised HURISA and ZEF
for providing information about Zimbabwean refugees in the two countries.

and pledged that the commission would conduct its own investigations.

Last year Botswana said it deported about 50 000 Zimbabweans between
May and December, while 150 000 were repatriated from South Africa during
the same period.

The Zimbabwean delegation at the ACHPR led by Margaret Chiduku, an
official in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,
claimed that locals fleeing to those countries were not refugees since the
country was not at war.

Their South African colleagues also denied reports that refugees and
asylum seekers were abused at detention centres.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Landlords demand groceries as rent

Zim Standard


GWERU - Landlords in the Midlands have devised new forms of rent
payment for their tenants as a way of beating the continued erosion of the
Zimbabwe dollar: groceries.

For some time now, most landlords were charging rent in foreign
currency. But now, they have decided groceries are better.

This phenomenon is fast gaining popularity in Gweru, where letting out
a room or a full house is the only source of income for most house owners.

An investigation by The Standard established that most landlords are
accepting or even demanding groceries as rent. This, they said, is an
attempt to beat the continued decline in the value of the Zimbabwe dollar.

Sarah Dhlakama of Mkoba 20 said she was letting out three rooms of her
house for groceries.

"As a landlord, I have realised that the money I receive from tenants
at the end of every month does not amount to much as a result of
hyperinflation," she said. "I have decided that it is better for tenants to
give me groceries at the end of the month as payment for rent. At the moment
each of my tenants is giving me two litres of cooking oil and two bars of
soap for each room."

Another landlord, identifying himself only as Moses said it was
pointless to demand rent in cash.

"If I was to get $5 million per room, I would not be able to buy
much," he said. "At the moment, cooking oil is going for $4 million on the
black market - which is the only place where it is available. So, if I get
$5 million from a lodger what would it buy me? I wouldn't be able to take
care of my family. I decided groceries were better. This is better even for
my lodgers, than paying in foreign currency, as some house owners in the
neighbourhood are demanding."

Inflation has galloped to over 14 000%. Most landlords say, in real
terms, the money that lodgers are paying loses value by the day.

In the high-density of Mkoba, tenants pay a minimum of $3 million for
a room. Landlords who demand groceries usually require cooking oil, soap,
rice and even sugar from their tenants. Those asking for hard currency
charge 20 to 40 Botswana Pula or South African Rands - Z$3.6 million at the
parallel market.

While landlords are saying they are only trying to survive in a
country with a collapsing economy, tenants have condemned this practice.
Tenants buy the goods on the black market at astronomical prices.

Talkmore Phiri of Mkoba 15 said although this is not a good
arrangement, tenants had no option as accommodation was scarce. "If you don't
want to play the game, you end up without a roof over your head. You risk
starving your family, but they are sheltered, at least. "

A property expert who asked not to be named for professional reasons,
said while paying rentals in foreign currency was illegal; a house was an
investment from which an owner sought maximum returns.

He said it would be difficult to control such practices as
accommodation was scarce. Moreover, there was not much new construction
going on due to the high costs and scarcity of building materials.

The situation had been compounded by the reluctance by banks and
building societies to grant loans to individuals. Buying or building a house
was now beyond the reach of many. This meant that for a long time lodgers
would be at the mercy of house owners.

Most cities and towns were plunged into a housing crisis after the
ravages of Operation Murambatsvina.

The government's solution to the crisis, Operation Garikai, was
clearly not designed to solve the problem in the short term.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mumbengegwi rescued from angry mob

Zim Standard

  By Godfrey Mutimba

MASVINGO - Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi had to be rescued from
an angry mob last week after his ministerial Mercedes Benz struck a
pedestrian along Robert Mugabe Way.

The victim was quickly rushed by ambulance to Masvingo General
Hospital, where he was later reported to be battling for his life in the
intensive care unit.

Efforts to get the victim's name were in vain as the police refused to
release his identity.

Masvingo police spokesperson Inspector Phibeon Nyambo declined to
comment on the accident.

"I do not know you, so I cannot give you any information on the
accident," Nyambo said.

Eyewitnesses alleged Mumbengegwi's vehicle was speeding, drawing the
attention of scores of people doing their business in the Central business

The accident infuriated other pedestrians who started hurling insults
at the minister, who is also the Zanu PF provincial chairperson. Some of
them openly accused him of reckless driving.

An aide, who was said to have appeared from nowhere, jumped onto the
driver's seat and sped off as an angry mob threatened to mete out instant
justice on Mumbengegwi.

Mumbengegwi could not be reached for comment. Two months ago, the
minister's family made headlines after a former farm worker, Fibion
Mafukidze, accused of stealing a fence at their A2 Farm, died after being
beaten up by soldiers.

Mafukidze's relatives refused to bury him, demanding 100 cattle and
$10 billion as compensation from the Mumbengegwi family. They ended up
burying him after the police intervened.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tractor turned into commuter transport

Zim Standard


MASVINGO - "Mupandawana nemasix waya enyu vabereki, six waya chete
vabereki (Mupandawana for only $600 000)."

For travellers at Chatsworth township, a few kilometres from
Mupandawana growth point in Gutu, the voice of the excited tout seems

They have just dropped off from a haulage truck from Masvingo and are
anxious for transport to the growth point, yet there is no bus or kombi in

All they see is a brand new tractor parked nearby.

They ask the tout if he is up to some old-fashioned con-tricks, which
is when he confidently points at the tractor.

Unbeknown to the travellers, the tractor, distributed under the
government's much-ballyhooed farm mechanization programme, has been turned
into public transport, plying several routes around the area.

The programme has a fancy slogan, "The mother of all farming seasons",
coined by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono. The central bank dished out the
farm equipment to new farmers, hoping for a bumper harvest next year.
But there is now evidence that the green some of the beneficiaries
have in mind is not in the field, but in the equivalent of the greenback.

Zebron Masunda, a former Zanu PF Masvingo provincial youth leader, is
out for a quick buck, using the tractor as a cash cow. He has capitalised on
the current transport problems by using the tractor as a commuter omnibus or
. . . omni-tractor.

Instead of waiting for an entire agricultural season to reap his
profits, Masunda now relies on the quick returns from commuting between
Chatsworth and Mupandawana growth point every day - $600 000 a passenger.

The Standard caught up with the fully-loaded tractor at Mupandawana
last week.

Desperate travellers applauded the "new farmer" for bringing them
transport relief. They did not consider the likelihood that the farmer was
abusing the tractor. "We came on Masunda's tractor," said Joseph Makuvaza,
excitedly. "He is helping us a lot as we have been facing transport problems
all along."

Makuvaza said he had a plot near Masunda's, who could not be reached
for comment. Sources at Mpandawana confirmed he owned the tractor which
plied the route daily.

Other transport operators have pulled out of the route owing to the
fuel crisis and the terrible state of the roads, for so long neglected by a
government grappling with the highest inflation rate in the world.

Efforts to get a comment from the Masvingo Provincial Administrator
were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, analysts condemned the diversion of farming equipment,
seed, fertilizer and fuel, accusing the government of wasting taxpayers'
funds by channelling resources to unproductive new farmers.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'No Zanu PF card, no food' scam exposed

Zim Standard


ZANU PF is using traditional leaders countrywide to deny donated food
to suspected members of the MDC, a local non-governmental organisation has

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), a coalition of civic organisations
involved in conflict resolution, says people without Zanu PF membership
cards had problems in obtaining food from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

In Partisan Distribution of Food and Other Forms of Aid: A national
report, the ZPP says partisan food distribution was most prevalent in
Masvingo and the Midlands provinces.

It noted that ruling party functionaries recommended beneficiaries to
the GMB, a parastatal.

"Traditional leaders, councillors and community food committees mostly
recommended by Zanu PF leaders orchestrated the removal of non-ruling party
members from the list of beneficiaries," said the report.

"Beneficiaries were expected to chant ruling party slogans and to
produce party affiliation cards, before receiving food."

The organisation recorded 267 cases of partisan food distribution.
About 70% of those denied food were MDC members, 8% from Zanu PF and 19%
were not affiliated to any political party.

Even Zanu PF supporters were falling victim to the partisan food

"Some of the victims from Zanu PF were mostly victimized by fellow
Zanu PF supporters on allegations of non-attendance of meetings," says the

The majority of Zimbabweans now lack a legitimate means of livelihood
as a result of ad hoc policies adopted by Zanu PF.

The report blames the government's Operation Murambatsvina which
displaced nearly a million families, disrupting their livelihoods.

The small-scale mining industry has also faced severe challenges as a
result of several operations including Operation Chikorokoza Chapera (End
Illegal Mining).

As a result of these policies and successive poor harvests, millions
of people require food assistance this year.

"However, it is sad to note that not all aid reaches the intended
beneficiaries, due to partisan distribution of food and other malpractices
in food distribution such as bribery, favouritism, nepotism and inclusion of
ghost beneficiaries," says the report.

The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) says close to 4.1
million people will need food aid before the main harvest in 2008.

The most food insecure provinces are Matabeleland North, Matabeleland
South and the Midlands where many families failed to harvest anything.

Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of the southern African region, has
had food deficits since the 2000 land invasions that disrupted agriculture
and reduced yields countrywide.

The poor harvests during recent years were further compounded by the
poor rains, made worse by incompetent planning.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

How Ian Smith makes Mugabe look pathetic

Zim Standard

  By Bill Saidi

ONCE the white voters of Southern Rhodesia rejected the
liberal-leaning Garfield Todd in the 1958 elections, it was almost
inevitable that their span as the rulers of this mineral-rich country was

The year before, Ghana had achieved independence from the British.
Even the architects of apartheid in South Africa were quaking in their

Africa was on the march, a phenomenon recognised by Britain's Prime
Minister, Harold Macmillan, and aptly encapsulated in his "winds of change"
speech on African soil.

Winston Field, William Harper and other early white supremacists,
against all the logical odds, clung to this incredible dream of a
white-dominated country in the midst of black Africa for, as Smith was to
say, "a thousand years".

But it took a man of such insatiable ambition for power as Ian Douglas
Smith to dare to actually plan for a long white reign in the middle of

Smith may have been daring, courageous or a visionary - or all three
wrapped into one - but to many blacks and even a few whites, he sounded
stark raving bonkers.

By 1965, when he staged his farcical "unilateral declaration of
independence" (UDI) even more African states had fought their way to
independence from Europe.

Black and white lives had been lost.

The French had tried to hang on, but even their great Second World War
hero, Charles De Gaulle, had given up.

In the year that the white voters had rejected Todd's attempt to bring
the Africans into the political mainstream, another African country, Guinea
had gained independence.

By 1960, when the former Belgian Congo achieved its precarious
independence, the map of Africa had changed dramatically.

Yet Smith, by 1965, still clung to his forlorn hope that "his
Africans" would prefer his rule to their own.

The liberation war which followed UDI was brutal and savage and most
of the blame must be placed squarely on Smith's shoulders. He believed he
could shoot the white people to permanent dominance, in spite of the
numerical odds.

If Smith believed the rest of the white world would be behind him, he
must have been completely disoriented, either by a burning white,
supremacist dream, or by contempt for black people as rational, wise and
proud people.

In the end he lost the war, which had, unfortunately, poisoned race
relations in the country. More than 30 000 people, most of them black, had
been killed inside the country or in Mozambique and Zambia.

Smith's military raids into the two neighbouring countries sheltering
the guerillas, Mozambique and Zambia, were so destructive those leaders were
finally persuaded the sacrifice was too much for their people to bear.

In 1974, Zambians found themselves queuing for bread for the first
time since independence in 1964. Soon after that a movement was launched to
initiate talks among the warring groups in Zimbabwe.

Kenneth Kaunda sent a trusted emissary, Mark Chona, to Salisbury to
talk to Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe and Ndabaningi Sithole, all of them
still in prison.

Meanwhile, Smith himself had agreed to meet them in Lusaka, at Kaunda's
State House.

The rest, as they say, is history - except for the one small footnote
in which I was the victim. I lost my job on a newspaper because we published
the details of Mark Chona's mission to Salisbury.

There have been many versions of the events leading up to the
Lancaster House talks in London in 1979, but what is indisputable is that it
was the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Lusaka that year
which finally cleared the way for the talks.

Smith, who died in Cape Town last week, could not possibly have looked
back at his life after UDI with pride. True, his performance as prime
minister of an illegal regime under international sanctions was remarkable.
It was so remarkable that even Africans have grudgingly admitted that they
lacked for nothing under his rule.

But the price in bloodshed was totally unnecessary. Talks would have
eventually triumphed.

What galls many Zimbabweans today is that, after he took over the
reins, Robert Mugabe showed he was completely out of his depth. In a very
short period, spurred perhaps by another dream of a "thousand-year" reign,
he destroyed a thriving economy, albeit one once propped up by South Africa.

Today, not many people in Zimbabwe can think of Smith without
comparing his performance during UDI with that of Robert Mugabe since 1980.

Smith is one man who makes Mugabe's reign so pathetic in terms of what
it has done to the country that even a thousand years hence, people will
still shake their heads in disbelief, muttering: "How did he do it?

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'Zimbabweans deserve refugee status'

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi

BRAZZAVILLE - African human rights organisations want recognition of
Zimbabweans fleeing the economic and political crisis in the country to
neighbouring South Africa and Botswana as refugees.

They said this would ensure the refugees are treated according to
international humanitarian laws.

Moreover, this would compel United Nations agencies to intervene in
the "deteriorating" situation in Zimbabwe.

In submissions made at an African NGO Forum meeting ahead of the 42nd
session of the African Commission for Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) last
week, the groups expressed concern "at the worsening human rights situation"
in the country.

The ACHPR, an organ of the African Union (AU), described the human
rights situation in the country as "alarming".

The call followed reports by the Human Rights Institute of South
Africa (HURISA) and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) citing increased
incidents of Zimbabweans being allegedly abused while in detention in the
neighbouring countries.

"It must be noted that last year South Africa was deporting an average
of 4 000 Zimbabweans a week while Botswana had also deported about 100 000
between May and December," said Gabriel Shumba of ZEF.

"This shows that the situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate
and instead of treating those fleeing the crisis as undesirable elements
these two countries will gain more by granting them refugee status.

"This will not only ensure that Zimbabweans who are being displaced by
the economic and political crisis are treated humanely but it will also
benefit these countries in terms of human resources."

An estimated three million Zimbabweans are said to have fled the
country since the beginning of the political and economic crisis, with most
of them settling in South Africa.

But the South African government has repeatedly refused to recognise
such Zimbabweans as refugees, saying most were in search of jobs and other
means of survival.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Two million to be immunised against polio

Zim Standard

  By Bertha Shoko

About two million children are going to receive polio vaccine and
Vitamin A supplements in Zimbabwe's second round of the biannual Child
Health Days which is a critical campaign targeting all children under five
years of age for this whole week.

Now in the third consecutive year, Child Health Days have played a
significant role in raising immunisation rates and boosting child survival
efforts in Zimbabwe. On the back of the health campaigns, immunisation
coverage for children under five has increased to more than 80% (from below
60% in 2001) for all childhood vaccinations and Vitamin A supplementation.

The Child Health Days (CHDs) are steered by the Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare in partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund
(UNICEF), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Helen Keller

In addition to an increase in immunisation coverage, the partnership
has resulted in not a single case of reported polio since 1990 while
reported cases of suspected measles have dropped 84% since 2004. There have
also not been any reported cases of whooping cough in the last two years.

In turn, these improvements have played a critical role in reducing
Zimbabwe's child mortality rate by at least 20% due to vaccine preventable
diseases and successful malaria programmes.

"The timing of this campaign is critical," said Unicef Representative
in Zimbabwe, Dr Festo Kavishe.

"Zimbabwe is winning the war against polio, - not a single case has
been reported in 18 years but the new cases around Africa necessitate that
we remain vigilant. At the same time, Child Health Days are a critical boost
to health services that are under great stress as CHDs have dramatically
increased coverage of immunisation for Zimbabwe's children."

The week-long campaign is aided by essential funding from the UK's
Department for International Development (DFID), Canada's International
Development Agency (CIDA) and the Government of Ireland. More than
US$1million is spent on vaccines, logistics and social mobilisation, a
critical component to the campaign's success is the time devoted by health
staff and volunteers across the country.

"Tens of thousands of selfless, hardworking medical staff and
volunteers underscore why there is so much reason to be positive in
Zimbabwe," said Unicef's Head of Health, Dr Colleta Kibassa.

"These people will ensure that no child falls within the cracks.
Already they have conducted weeks of community mobilisation activities to
schools, community centres and clinics across the country, ensuring that all
parents know why and where to take their children to be immunised against
tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and
polio, and to receive Vitamin A supplementation."

While Zimbabwe has not reported a polio case since 1990, there has
been a looming threat from the neighbouring countries which recorded cases
in recent years.  "There remain many battles for children still to be won,"
said Kavishe.

"But with continued international support I am confident polio is one
in a chain of victories."

With donor assistance from the UK and Japan, Unicef provides support
to the Zimbabwe Expanded Programme on Immunisation (ZEPI) and procures all
vaccines for immunisation, cold chain equipment for vaccine storage and
support to the health workers, said Unicef.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Millers shun 'over-priced' winter wheat

Zim Standard

  By Jennifer Dube

A PRICE wrangle between the Grain Marketing Board and millers is
reportedly behind the bread industry's failure to improve supplies for three
months since winter wheat harvests began in September, industry sources said
last week.

In an interview with Standardbusiness, the GMB's newly appointed chief
executive officer, Albert Mandizha, confirmed there was "some reaction to
the price shift".

Sources said the production line was stalled when millers reacted
against the parastatal's recent decision to scrap the wheat subsidy.

They said of the 6 000 tonnes released by the GMB so far, the millers
had only picked up 2 000 tonnes, hardly enough to satisfy the demand for
bread for two days.

Early this month, the GMB asked the government to either carry the
subsidy or allow the parastatal to sell wheat to millers at the purchasing
price, plus a mark-up.

The GMB was buying wheat from farmers at $71.5 million a tonne and
selling it to the millers at a subsidised price of $ 238 000 a tonne.

It is understood the government authorised the GMB to sell at the
buying price plus a mark-up, much to the fury of the millers.

"They (millers) are not buying the wheat. They are saying they are
still looking for the money," sources said.

Mandizha would not elaborate on the issue, saying he would only be
able to issue a "fuller" comment once negotiations were concluded next week.

"Yes, there was some reaction from the millers but we are still
negotiating with other stakeholders, including both the millers and the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission," he said."We are still trying to
finalise a number of things and I will only be able to issue a fuller
comment after the meetings."

At the beginning of this month, the GMB said about 20 000 tonnes of
winter wheat had been delivered to its silos.

Meanwhile, sources said the bakeries also locked horns with the
government over the newly-gazetted price of bread, saying the increase was
insignificant, demanding it be reviewed upwards.

The NIPC recently announced a 100% increase on the bread price from
$100 000 a loaf to $200 000. It is estimated production currently costs $500
000 a loaf.

Sources said despite the winter wheat harvest, scarcity of flour was
now the major challenge for bakers.

While the government gazetted price for flour stands at $111 million a
tonne, bakers are getting flour at prices of between $800 million and $1
billion a tonne on the black market.

It is understood that some bakers are importing flour from Malawi
where they pay as much as $150 million a tonne.

Others, among them Bakers' Inn and Superbake, have ceased operations
for more than one month.

National Bakers' Association chairman Vincent Mangoma confirmed the
shortage of flour was affecting the industry but said the association was
confident a solution was imminent.

"We are negotiating with the NIPC and they are very understanding," he
said. "The Governemnt is also trying to help us obtain cheap fuel from the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe and some funding from the Reserve Bank"

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Boost for EU/AU trade

Zim Standard


THE European Commission has given Non-State Actors (NSA) involved in
trade issues a staggering Euro 1 million under a three-year capacity
building project.

The Trade Capacity Building Project (TCBP), will benefit non-state
actors directly involved in trade with exporters and traders benefiting
through their association with the non-state actors.

The TCBP is being established in the context of the Economic
Partnership Agreements (EPA) currently being negotiated by African,
Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states and the European Union.

Zimbabwe takes part in the negotiations under the Eastern and Southern
African (ESA) configuration.

ACP countries used to enjoy unilateral trade preferences with the EU
for almost three decades under the Lomé Convention. The Fourth Lomé
Convention was replaced by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2000, which
extends these unilateral trade preferences up to the end of 2007.

The EC said recent studies have indicated that NSA in Zimbabwe have
little knowledge of EPA and other international trade initiatives and lag
behind in participating in trade negotiations.

The project is being implemented after the EU General Council's 2002
decision under Article 96(2)(c) of the Cotonou Agreement which states that
"financing support for all projects is suspended except in direct support of
the population".

"In this context, Zimbabwe has continued to receive support channelled
directly towards the population."

It said that trade between Zimbabwe and EU has not been affected by
the Council decision and there are no trade sanctions between EU and

"The EU as a bloc remains a major trade partner of Zimbabwe. It is in
this context that EPA trade negotiations are taking place with the
Government of Zimbabwe fully participating," it said.

The EC said a turnaround of the economy will significantly depend on
positive performance of exports to generate the required foreign exchange.
But for this to materialize, the trade sector, being heavily reliant on
export of commodities, needs to make a shift towards value addition.

It said: "Continued reliance on traditional markets will present major
risks for the country, given that the EPA trading environment envisages the
removal of trade preferences."

EPA negotiations cover trade issues in six areas: fisheries; services;
agriculture; market access; development and trade related issues.

Last week ESA and EC ministers met in Brussels and agreed to work
towards a Framework Agreement of an EPA that will comprise trade in goods,
development cooperation, fisheries and any other sectors on which
negotiations would have been concluded.

A comprehensive EPA will be concluded by the end of December next
year, replacing the Framework Agreement.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Deal with root causes, urges CZI boss

Zim Standard

  By Jennifer Dube

THE government should start implementing policies to deal with the
root causes of the current economic crisis, not the symptoms, Callisto
Jokonya, said last week.

The president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, said unless
the interventions resolved the foreign currency crunch, their impact would
be minimal.

Jokonya said he welcomed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor's Basic
Commodities Supply-Side Intervention (Bacossi) facility.

"Bacossi is a welcome development for the nation, but we need
interventions that will address the real problem and not its symptoms,"
Jokonya said in an interview.

"We need interventions that will improve foreign currency supply and
also address capacity under-utilisation as those are the real problems we
are facing."

RBZ governor Gideon Gono in October unveiled the Bacossi facility in a
bid to assist companies to restock after the government's price blitz which
heavily undermined industrial operations, instead of achieving its objective
of "taming" runaway inflation.

The facility is administered through the banks and is a 270-day
renewable window under which producers and suppliers in targeted sectors
borrow production target-linked working capital at a concessionary interest
rate of 25% a year.

Jokonya said for the last eight years, Zimbabwe had only managed to
come up with policies that merely dealt with the symptoms of the economic
meltdown and not its root causes.

"Take, for example, the price campaign . . .that is merely many
business hours wasted in meetings and discussions," he said. "Prices will
not come down simply because we have a price controlling body. They can only
come down when production has been increased - we cannot control what we don't
have, but only that which we have in our pockets."

He said the Bacossi would be more helpful if it made it possible for
those companies which sourced their inputs locally to have access to the
local currency while those which relied on imports were given foreign
currency to restock.

Last week, Gono told journalists that US$13 million had so far been
disbursed under his facility, alongside Z$10trillion.

"I do not want to sound as if I am ungrateful for the support, but I
honestly do not believe it makes any sense, in the first place, for
government to run down industry and then start running around looking for
money to resuscitate it," a business executive said.

"The authorities should allow businesses to operate freely and sustain

The executive said that the authorities also needed to take note of
the serious challenges the price blitz brought about and "remove the red
tape" associated with Bacossi.

"Something must be done to expedite the process of acquiring the funds
and if possible, a way of avoiding commercial banks and going straight to
the RBZ should be found.

"The current process is so long that by the time you get the money,
its value would have been wiped away by inflation."

Of more than 500 companies in the country, only 29 have so far
accessed funding under the facility.

Among the beneficiaries are sugar manufacturer Starafricacorporation
and Cairns Foods.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

2008 Budget: what's in it for suffering workers?

Zim Standard


FORTY-THREE-year-old Thulani Munda walks to work every day as he
cannot afford the bus fare.

His monthly salary of $13 million cannot cover his month's transport
bill. So Munda wakes up early from his house in Epworth to join his
colleagues in their "walking club" to Graniteside.

His employers, with a combination of arrogance and the harsh economic
realities, have said that Munda is lucky to be working.

"They told me that, in reality, I should be on the streets, as the
company is facing difficulties," he told Standardbusiness.

"They give us a transport allowance of $5 million a month when the
monthly bill for transport is over $15 million," he said.

When you include taxes and medical aid contributions for his family,
Munda's net salary is $14 million, far below the Poverty Datumn Line (PDL)
announced by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ).

In its September update, CCZ said a family of six requires $22 million
a month to survive.

Munda's predicament is shared by most workers who earn below the PDL.

Despite earning so little, workers have a tax-free threshold of a
paltry $4 million. Workers' salaries cannot buy much as prices of basic
commodities continue to shoot up.

Munda says a realistic, generous tax-free threshold would at least
give him some breathing space, albeit temporarily.

Like any other worker, Munda looks up to Samuel Mumbengegwi's national
budget presentation on Thursday with optimism.

"May be this time around he will give us an early Christmas present,"
he said.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) advocates that the bonus
should be taxed from the PDL figures, to give more money to the workers.

"The tax-free threshold for bonus should start at the PDL level ($22
million)," said Gideon Shoko, the ZCTU acting secretary-general.

He says the government should waive taxation on housing and transport
allowances to give workers a heftier disposable income.

Analysts say Mumbengegwi's budget should set the tone for the setting
up a framework under which companies operate without constraints.

"The budget should clear the environment for companies to increase
productivity," said David Mupamhadzi, group economist at the Zimbabwe Allied
Banking Group (ZABG).

Mupamhadzi says there is need to review the exchange rate which is not
competitive for exporters. At the official exchange rate US$ fetches $30
000, far below the parallel market rate of $1.2 million.

Mupamhadzi says there is need for Mumbengegwi to use realistic
assumptions when crafting the National Budget.

"Using unrealistic assumptions that inflation will go down results in
expenditure distribution based on unrealistic assumptions which has led to
supplementary budgets," he said.

Economic analysts agree the government has to rein in expenditure.
Announcing a $37.1 trillion Supplementary Budget in September, Mumbengegwi
told Parliament that additional expenditure submissions were over $255
trillion beyond the country's domestic financing.

"The continued fiscal indiscipline," said economic consultant Dr
Daniel Ndlela, "tells us that in the past years the government has failed to
live within its means."

He added: "I hope the Minister will rein in the printing of money."

Ndlela said the government had to create a conducive environment that
creates confidence among international partners, though indications were
high that Mumbengegwi would come out fighting international financial

Meanwhile, Munda is not sure whether prices will remain static to give
workers breathing space.

The last time Mumbengegwi announced a tax relief to workers, the
Minister of Industry and International Trade Minister, Obert Mpofu awarded
businesses a 20% increase on prices of all goods.

"Maybe this time around, I will afford a smile and leave the walking
club," Munda said.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Kingdom expansion plan on course

Zim Standard


KINGDOM Financial Holdings Limited (KFHL) regional expansion
programme, is on course, following the issuing of a banking licence to its
associate company in Malawi.

Standardbusiness was told last week that First Discount House (FDH),
owned 40.16% by Kingdom, was given a banking licence by the Reserve Bank of
Malawi on Thursday.

The licence has scope for merchant and retail banking as well as the
formation of the building society.

Thomson Mpinganjira, the FDH head, said the licence enables the
discount house to transform itself into a Kingdom model as a one-stop shop
financial services company. FDH also has a stock broking company, FDH

"While FDH's listing was deferred, this licence approval means that
implementation and roll-out of a bank will mean greater value for investors
when the time comes for an Initial Public Offering," said Mpinganjira.

An FDH board meeting is slated for next Thursday to share the "good
news" and map the way forward, he said.

FDH wanted to run an IPO this year to finance the setting up of a
merchant bank.

The IPO and subsequent listing of FDH was assented to by the discount
firm's board at a 12 June meeting. The IPO would have run from 9 July and
closed on 3 August with listing slated on the 13 August, all things being

The Malawian Stock Exchange told FDH that it had to get a licence
first before running its capital raising initiative.

Had the IPO gone ahead KFHL's stake in the company would have been
reduced to 28.14%. Other FDH shareholders - T.F Mpinganjira Trust and Old
Mutual - would have remained with 27.89% and 14% respectively, with 30% of
the shares open to the public.

T.F Mpinganjira Trust and Old Mutual have 39.84% and 20% shareholding

KFHL funding of the 40% of the licence costs will come from funds
raised outside Zimbabwe through a public issue of Kingdom Meikles Africa
Limited (KMAL) shares, Nigel Chanakira KFHL group CEO told Standardbusiness

"The appetite in South Africa, United Kingdom and Russia for KMAL
stock has been encouraging," said Chanakira, who chairs the FDH board.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Property rights key to fighting Zimbabwe IT piracy

Zim Standard

  By Our Staff

IT would seem that the fight against piracy of any kind in Africa will
be an ongoing battle for the authorities, particularly in the movie, music
and software industries.

The truth is that technology makes it very easy to simply make a copy
of a CD, DVD or piece of software with the likes of CD- and DVD-writers and
tools on the Internet that allow people to bypass anti-piracy measures

This is according to Abednego Hlatshwayo, Anti-Piracy manager for
Microsoft in East and Southern Africa, who believes that although the
authorities and the producers of the material being pirated are always very
vocal about how illegal it is to pirate anything and how it can hurt
businesses on all levels, there is still this mentality of "it doesn't
affect me" or "they already have enough money" coming from the general

"This general misconception is not only naively inaccurate, but also
fuels the widespread piracy that ravages many parts of the world. In this
case, ignorance is not bliss," he says.

"There is, however, a single challenge that, if overcome, could
potentially have a massive effect on the way the people of Zimbabwe view
piracy - education about intellectual property (IP)."

There is a certain level of complacence when it comes to the issue of
intellectual property, Hlatshwayo says, because, although many African
governments acknowledge that there is such a concept, they lack the ability
to enforce IP rights affectively and to pass on the message about the
importance of IP to their people.

"As a result, people are less likely to care about the implication of
stealing IP and pirating products because they cannot draw a direct
comparison between copying something and physically stealing something from
a store shelf, for example," he says.

Piracy not a governmental priority

This complacence means that governmental budgets are less likely to be
allocated to fighting piracy, which means that the police and law
enforcement agencies in Zimbabwe are not sufficiently equipped to identify
pirated goods and enforce IP regulations on offenders.

But why should they? They have roads to build, electricity to supply
to their people and education that needs funding to ensure the future of
their economies.

"This is exactly the 'catch 22' situation that IP owners find
themselves having to resolve when dealing with countries where piracy is
rampant and state priorities are far from protecting IP rights," Hlatshwayo

"The solution, however simple it may appear, requires stern commitment
from all stakeholders in the fight against piracy, including the public and
private sectors, law enforcement agencies and the IP owners themselves.

"This commitment comes in the form of financial investment, resource
allocation and skills transfer to ensure that the proper amount of quality
information is transferred to the people that have the power to make a

"The need exists for IP owners to make a concerted effort to ensure
that everyone in Zimbabwe is as educated about IP rights protection as
possible," he maintains.

This, Hlatshwayo says, means dedicating time and resources to wade
through the various levels of protocol and bureaucracy, create awareness at
the highest levels of state and demonstrate the quantifiable and tangible
damages that piracy can wreck on an economy.

Success lies in proving value

Simply put, piracy robs the Zimbabwean government of vital tax
revenue, which in turn, deprives its people of basic rights and civil
services. It doesn't get any more tangible than that. But how do you prove

Microsoft has had much success in supporting and offering training to
various anti-piracy initiatives in a number of African countries including
Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, South Africa and Botswana.

In Zambia and Kenya, particularly, there are dedicated groups of
police that form part of the IP Protection Agencies, and who are passionate
about their work and see the value that they bring to the country through
their anti-piracy activities.

"Their successes and growing list of convictions serve as a fuel that
drives their motivation to make a real difference, and the governments are
slowly acknowledging their success," Hlatshwayo says.

"But successful initiatives and subsequent convictions could not have
been achieved without the commitment from the governments of those countries
and the help of the private sector in training the police."

What are YOU doing?

There is a call to action for any IP stakeholders operating in Africa
to make it a priority to help drive the education about IP in Africa. The
police cannot do their job if they do not know what to look for.

Similarly, governments cannot invest in anti-piracy initiatives if
they are not properly educated about the importance of IP and the effect
piracy has on their economies - and the benefits they'll gain in the way of
increased foreign investment based on their ability to protect IP.

"When something like piracy takes hold of a country and denies
businesses, on all levels, their ability to do an honest day's work, it's
very easy for the IP owners to point fingers at the police and blame them
for not doing their jobs," says Hlatshwayo.

"But then they need to ask themselves: 'What are we doing to help the
government and its IP enforcement agencies to confront piracy of any kind on
all levels?'

"All too often," he continues, "multinational organisations operating
in Africa use marketing spin to position Africa as 'an important market' or
as having 'huge growth potential' but what are they actually doing to invest
in the countries that they enter? What are they doing to help protect their
brands and fight off the piracy of their products?"

The Zimbabwean police and IP enforcement agencies can't do it alone.
And sometimes governments need a bit of a helping hand as well to nudge them
forward in their thinking about modern concepts such as IP protection, the
economic impact and how best to enforce it.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Vengeance drives our ruinous state

Zim Standard


One of the constant threads that link State decisions in recent years
has been vengeance. Today it defines our current parlous state.

Operation Murambatsvina was an act of madness driven by vengeance. The
campaign against teachers because of their perceived support for the
opposition is a dominant factor, defining the state of relations between the
profession and the government. It was followed by Sunrise, the mismanagement
of the fuel imports, Dzikisai Mutengo (price blitz). Now Sunrise II and
another price blitz threaten a demolition derby, to complete the unfinished
business of the first phases of State-sanctioned vengeance.

The reluctance to act on the water crisis that threatens to unleash a
wave of diseases on the second largest city in the country, Bulawayo, is
dictated largely by masked vengeance intent on punishing the people of
Matabeleland. The denial of adequate grain to the region is part of the same
sinister plot by the State.

While the second phase of the price blitz that began rolling out its
vengeful whirlwind in July appears stalled for the time being, the same
logic that froze it does not recognise both the harm and futility of waking
up one day and decreeing new currency.

Such profound changes require campaigns preceding launch of the new
currency. This, therefore, suggests a parallel campaign to the elections.
People will be tripping over each other.

But there is the logistics. Elections require an army of officers. It
is doubtful the Reserve Bank can raise that kind of staff to manage the
proposed swift overnight currency change.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy facing this country is the dearth of an
opposition capable of exploiting, to the maximum, the State's numerous
shortcomings. The State is campaigning for the opposition, which appears
incapable of recognising and seizing opportunities it is being gifted with.

But the desire by the State to subject the people of this country to
further humiliating punishment has neither parallel nor precedent. You don't
beat a man when he is down. Yet this is exactly what the government is
intent on doing. It is as if there is sustained effort to test and provoke
the majority of the people in this country to rise from their docile

In normal countries and societies currency changes are preceded by a
campaign lasting several months. The old and new currencies are allowed to
circulate concurrently until the old is finally phased out.

The decision to phase out, over night, the old family of bearer
cheques will have greater devastating impact on the ordinary people and not
the few so-called cash barons the State says it is determined to deal with.

Somehow the government has developed a knack of traumatising the very
people on whose behalf it claims to act.

For the first time since independence Zimbabweans head into the
festive season, while empty shop shelves stubbornly remind the government of
its failure. The price blitz is a disaster. So is the havoc being wrought on
the currency.

If the interests of this country drive our decisions, then we should
not appear intent on re-inventing the wheel. Other countries have
experienced the problems that confront this country. We should not be afraid
to ask them how they were able to overcome problems similar to those
Zimbabwe is facing.

Zimbabweans have been traumatised enough already. Introduction of new
currency, overnight and without warning is not going to end cash queues
outside banks as long as people have difficulties accessing their deposits.

Overnight currency switches are not going to instil confidence in
banks. The government can go ahead and do what it likes, but it needs to
understand that it will undermine people's beliefs in both the currency and
the banking sector.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Why they asked: Is God dead?

Zim Standard

  sundayopinion by Bill Saidi

TIME magazine is still going strong, 41 years after its 8 April 1966
cover story: IS GOD DEAD?

As far as I know, no catastrophe of tsunami proportions has befallen
the editors, the reporters or the production staff.

Perhaps there was controversy when the publishing company went to bed
with Warner Brothers, and AOL, but there was no fallout of biblical

As with every medium involved in the exposure of the scum of the
earth, the magazine burnt its fingers with one or two stories.

None of this involved the equivalent of the unleashing of pestilence.

TIME was not visited by the sort of calamity that allegedly befell
John Lennon for his cheeky remarks on Jesus Christ.

The question itself - Is God dead? - wasn't rhetorical, but steeped in
what the editors perceived as the crisis confronting US society at the time.

If God was alive, why had He allowed America to sink to such depths of

I empathized with the editors' aim in publishing what was clearly a
soul-searching story under an equally polemical cover.

I was 29, a nine-year veteran in journalism, 13 years a Catholic.

By 1966, the year I won joint first prize in a nationwide short story
contest in Zambia, I thought I had finally grasped the nettle of the human

It was more complex than I had ever imagined. Good and Evil stalked
the land in equal measure and one had to be ever-watchful of Temptation.

I had remained more or less faithful to the church, in spite of an
incident at school which had shaken my faith to its roots.

TIME's cover story generated controversy and provoked condemnation
from the Christian lunatic fringe, who saw it as heresy and sacrilege.

No doubt there were Christians who predicted God's vengeance upon the
publishers - as others predicted, for me, a grisly end, for my article, What
Would You Ask Jesus, Marx, Mzingeli?

I was intrigued by the suggestion that God, to punish the talented
John Lennon, chose a young man who later turned out to be mentally
unbalanced, to commit the deadly deed.

This is a merciful, caring God?

I have always believed a journalist's task is to probe and expose,
even the Supernatural.

Religion is based on faith, which is not to be disparaged because
without belief in SOMETHING the human soul is less than whole.

Someone said if God had not existed, Humankind would have created Him.
Belief in a Super Being is not crazy, or mumbo-jumbo. For billions of
people - Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and even Rastafarians -
there exists One such person.

What distinguishes faith from fanaticism is the tendency to exaggerate
everything about the object of idolatry, and to view sceptics, people
unaffected by that Supreme Being, as oddballs, heretics, infidels, heathens
or what some have called "the unwashed".

The reaction that I had "mocked" God is amazing. Since 1966,
Christians have lobbed controversial barbs at their religion. Some have been
provocative: gay people should not be barred from ordination. They, too, are
God's creatures, born pure and innocent.

Others have been more circumspect: shouldn't the church be concerned
more with poverty around the world, than with the sexual proclivities of

In Africa, there is consternation that any church would preoccupy
itself with homosexuality while child mortality and maternal deaths are on
the increase and while the cruelty of governments against their own people
continues unabated.

Regular readers of the American media will have come across stories
suggesting atheism is gaining ground.

Christianity is not exactly reeling against the ropes, punch-drunk
from atheism's incessant pounding, but the zealots are finding themselves
more and more on the defensive.

What has awakened even the previously ardent Christian's conscience to
the reality of their faith's inadequacies is the state of the world: wars,
poverty, corruption, abuse of human rights, victimisation of the weak,
support for dictators, despots, bullies, and the reluctance to weed them out
of civilised society.

There was a story in one magazine headlined Is Religion Making a
Comeback? There was a time when most people had little time for religion.
They saw it as having become irrelevant in an increasingly materialistic,
hedonistic world, where possessions - from trinkets to girlfriends in ermine
and pearls - were the "in things".

Intolerance is not entirely Christian. Jesus was not intolerant, or
Judas Iscariot would never have gone very far with his plot to betray his

If that scene was re-enacted today, Judas would have died in a
"mysterious road accident", or in hospital, of an overdose of some lethal
drug, long before he could get into his traitor role.

Most people in history associated with the founding of religions, were
peace-loving ascetics, not boisterous, hard-drinking, libidinous,
foul-tempered ruffians.

When any religion begins to espouse violence against non-adherents, it
must be de-classified, in a file with Satan (?) written on it.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Blind hatred of PF Zapu and prospects for unity

Zim Standard

  Sundayview by Judith Todd

Just after 2:30PM I got to Sandro's. The first table I passed in my
search for Godwin was manned by Oliver Chimenya, big business, Godfrey
Majonga, public relations, and Justin Nyoka, Permanent Secretary of
Information for the government of Zimbabwe.

They laughed loudly when they saw me and then rose to greet me. For
the first time in our lives, Justin went so far as to kiss me. They all
obviously considered it a great joke that I had been nominated for
parliament, but were so friendly. Justin said he would write my maiden
speech for me. Then I found Godwin, who was sitting with Comrade Mau-Mau and
Comrade Mao, both from the prime minister's office. I went aside with Godwin
to listen to grave things.

He said that when he had accompanied Minister Zvobgo to the ANC
Children's Conference the previous Saturday, he told Eddison it was rumoured
that PF Zapu was nominating me for a seat. They joked about it, wondering
how I could cope in parliament with my impossibly small voice.

But, said Godwin, Eddison had now asked him to urge me to back down
immediately, as I had made a serious mistake. I had become a pariah with the
Zanu PF Central Committee. Zanu PF had no intention of allowing PF Zapu any
more seats in Parliament. They already had their own 30 candidates lined up,
and there was no room for PF Zapu.

Zvobgo had told Godwin that when the prime minister had made my father
a senator, it was with the blessing of the Zanu PF Central Committee. When
Shamuyarira, the Minister of Information, appointed my mother a member of
the Mass Media Trust, he had the blessing of the Central Committee. If I had
wanted to become an MP, I should have approached someone in Zanu PF to take
it up with the Central Committee and my request would have been considered.

But now I had accepted a PF Zapu nomination, people were looking
askance. He was passing on this warning to me, through Godwin, to get out
now because he wouldn't like to see me "hurt". He said that after Dumiso
Dabengwa, the Central Committee considered me to be the most dangerous
person in the country!

So, Godwin said, I have passed the message on.

I made no comment throughout, thanked Godwin for passing on the
message and asked him to express my appreciation to Minister Zvobgo for his
concern. But I left Sandro's inwardly boiling and thinking what a ludicrous
role the minister was playing in the operation of his portfolio of Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

I went to collect a signature from Ignatius Chigwendere, a
long-standing member of Zanu PF. When I entered his office, he had to excuse
himself for a moment and I put the nomination form on his desk. Member of
parliament Josaya B Hungwe walked in. He was the Zanu PF whip. We greeted
each other. Ignatius returned and sat down. Hungwe picked up the form and
looked at it. I asked, jokingly, whether I could have his signature. He said
no, and I asked why not, still joking. He said: "Because you are a Zapu
candidate." Then Hungwe spoke at length.

He wasn't pleased. He said there had been no agreement between the
parties on any possible PF Zapu candidates. Zanu PF had the majority in
parliament and, as the MPs would be electing the new members, there was no
chance of a PF Zapu candidate being chosen. My nomination had caused
embarrassment, and Deputy Prime Minister Muzenda had been speaking about it
only the night before. Hungwe wanted me to know that they were angry that I
was a PF Zapu nomination. They never knew I belonged to PF Zapu.

I said I didn't, which made me feel even more honoured that PF Zapu
had nominated me. Well, he said, I might not belong to PF Zapu, but people
would now go to their graves believing that I did. I said that was fine.
Then, he continued, they couldn't vote for a PF Zapu candidate, but, because
of the record of my parents, it was unthinkable that a Todd could stand and
then be voted out. He himself came from Chibi area, and all his brothers and
sisters and friends had benefited from the fine work of my parents.

Ignatius was getting agitated. I turned to him and said if it was
difficult for him to sign the form, that was quite all right. I didn't mind.
But I had misinterpreted him. He ignored me and addressed himself to Hungwe.
He, too, was angry. He said he didn't know and he didn't care whether or not
I was a member of PF Zapu. But, he said, once, when I was believed to be a
card-carrying member of Zapu, he had gone to me for help in setting up a
committee in London to assist Tongogara and others who had been locked up
and were being tortured in Zambia.

"Judy didn't say anything about people being Zanu or Zapu. She just
helped us. And now she is asking me to help her and I do so with pleasure."
He signed the form with a flourish in front of Hungwe, who stalked out
slamming the door.

I said to Ignatius that whatever happened to my nomination, I would
never forget this moment, and I thanked him very much. He brushed my thanks
aside and said: "They have forgotten what you did, and they need to be

"Maybe they never knew," I said.

"Then they need to be told," Ignatius said.

The Herald reported that the Zanu PF Secretary for Administration,
Comrade Nyagumbo, had said that the party was "now emphasising very strongly
national unity" following the failure of unity talks. The unity talks
between the two major political parties were over, he said, and there was no
reason for anyone to continue sitting on the fence. PF Zapu members and any
other Zimbabwean who was not a member of Zanu PF were most welcome to join
the ruling party, as there was nothing left to wait for.

This was published the day after the prime minister had left for the
Commonwealth conference in Vancouver. The last time he went away, for the
funeral of Lord Soames, Nkala had instituted a new wave of repression,
closing and searching PF Zapu offices, and so I wondered what was now
planned to take place in his absence.

Nevison Nyashanu, a senior Zapu official, told me that in discussions
with the prime minister, Dr Nkomo had originally asked for 10 seats in
parliament and five in the senate. Mugabe accepted this, but then called him
back and said he needed more room to manoeuvre. Nkomo then agreed on seven
seats in parliament and three in the senate.

So there was an understanding that was probably all along designed for
scuttling. Nevison confirmed that it was believed by Zapu that their
candidates were to be integrated into a Zanu list (thirteen for parliament
and seven for the senate), that there would be no party labels and even no
election. The list totalling 20 for parliament and 10 for the senate, would
simply be accepted by the remaining parliamentarians acting as an electoral
college and this would be a further step towards unity.

Nevison had held a high position on the Public Service Commission. He
was then detained and abused in an unsuccessful attempt to force him to give
evidence against people such as Edward Ndlovu MP, accused of treason. When
charges were dropped against the accused, Nevison was released but was
sacked from the commission. I saw Ibbo Mandaza, who headed the commission
after that, and said how unfair the sacking of Nevison was. Nevison himself
had never been charged with anything, I said to Ibbo. His real crime had
been to be brave enough to stand for PF Zapu against Dr Bernard Chidzero in
the 1985 election.

Ibbo justified the action by saying that the fact that Nevison had
been detained showed he was political. I doubted that anyone in Zimbabwe
could be classified as more political than Ibbotson Mandaza.

* Excerpt from Judith Todd's latest book, Through the Darkness; A Life
in Zimbabwe, available from

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Diplomatic talk and the marginalized

Zim Standard

  sundayview by Brilliant Mhlanga

AS a person from Matabeleland, I wish to respond to the statement
posted by the Spanish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Santiago Martinez-Caro.

His statements are part of the dismissive discourse which seems not to
be addressing the core issues of the people of that region. The Ambassador
wishes to encourage us to forget about the horrors committed on us and the
loss of our loved ones; an act which was done in the fashion of Hitler's

A critical mind gleans a summative amount of unsaid issues from the
Ambassador's statement alone. One is puzzled therefore to note that the
Ambassador tacitly embraces the notions of the one who commented carelessly,
as if seeking to dismiss what Gorden Moyo said, about the talks, the history
of negotiations and Unity Accord, Matabeleland and the unfortunate dark
patches in our history as a nation.

It would appear, the Ambassador does not have deeper knowledge of what
happened to the people of Matabeleland, during the Gukurahundi period. This
probably explains his wish for us to follow the Spanish model. I respect his
wish, but it might not work in an environment where the political nuances
and contexts are different. I believe this is why certain models have not
worked in Africa.

If Moyo said it and the Ambassador has issues with it, I then wish to
request that we do not blame Moyo, but the people of Matabeleland for having
been killed and continuously labouring in their toil to try and talk about
their ill-treatment and calling for a just cause. We should then agree to
blame them on history, because their actions are a total summation of an
unjust historical act on them. One would have expected them to talk about

However, I wish to emphatically stress to the Ambassador that the
Gukurahundi genocide did take place. Maybe he was simply not aware of it. A
lot has been written and said about it lately. I will not delve into the
details of it now. I will be happy if he could approach the crisis of the
down-trodden masses - our crisis, with an open mind seeking to strategically
engage us in mapping out a constructive way forward, than showing us a
dismissive attitude.

I say so because from his statement the words, "retribution for past
activities, on a regional and ethnic basis" seem not to be a positive
gesture of nudging positive solutions for Zimbabwe as a whole. If anything
those words criminalise and trivialize an otherwise open, honest and candid
expression, seeking to show the deeper meaning of the politics of Zimbabwe.
These statements tend to soil various civil society initiatives to forge for
a forum to openly discuss the crisis of the people of Matabeleland,
particularly the genocide. And so it tends to impede any positive move aimed
at addressing the political crisis in Zimbabwe. I therefore submit that it
is a sign that we cannot easily ignore and relegate it to a historical
non-event. It happened and we must find a common solution to it as

I would surely be among those who are happy to acknowledge that what
Moyo did was the best given the circumstances. The effort alone must be
commended, given, that very rare occasion where an entourage of ambassadors
visited that part of the country; a seemingly God-forsaken region in all
respects. The problems of Matabeleland are quite dissimilar to those of
Harare where he is stationed. Venturing into most marginalized regions with
that in mind tends to help in the avoidance of what might end up being
perceived by the indigenous people as some kind of "deliberate vagueness".

Such actions and statements can even be more divisive if
inappropriately put across. In this case I humbly submit that the statements
by the ambassador of Spain are surely divisive and uncalled for. They seek
to trivialize the crises the people of Matabeleland have gone through since
1980. Indeed, the people of Matabeleland have an unresolved problem: they
have seen very little of development.

I can confirm this by reminding the ambassador what the Minister of
Health, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said when he visited hospitals in Bulawayo.
He openly lamented Matabeleland's marginalization and regretted that this
had been going on for a long time. This was widely covered in the media in
Zimbabwe, even by the state media.

I wish to submit to the Ambassador that some of these unresolved
issues seem not to be part of the broader arrangement of the SADC initiated
talks. As a result, the approach to the talks is a blanket mindset, hinged
on a general assumption that the crisis is truncated within the locus of the
so-called "national agenda", and that what happened to other sections must
be swiftly swept under the carpet.

I am not sure whether the ambassador is aware that this is likely to
cause more problems in future. In my view Zimbabwe's problems are bigger
than that approach by a group of the selected "wise ones".

There is need therefore for an all-embracive approach which
encompasses a wide section of Zimbabwe's troubled groups. I wish to further
pose the following questions: Is it not a paradox that the nexus of the
talks discusses Mugabe's exit package, yet it ignores one of the major
causes for his unrelenting grip on power, the Gukurahundi genocide? If it is
so trivial, then why is it not being openly discussed in Zimbabwe to this
day? Do we therefore have to blame the people of Matabeleland and concerned
Zimbabweans for raising this historical fact?

I promise to talk about it until it is embraced, particularly by
members of the diplomatic community, including Ambassador Martinez-Caro.

Maybe the ambassador might also want to know from his advisors what
happened to Thabo Mbeki (current President of South Africa) in the early
1980s when he was in Zimbabwe as an ANC emissary. I hope the brief, will
include that he, Mbeki, was arrested together with the political prisoners
from Matabeleland and thrown into Maximum prison in Zimbabwe. Some of the
political prisoners never came out alive; Mbeki knows that.

Is it not an elaborate surprise then that this issue is now expected
to be swept under the carpet and not even raised during the talks? I will
not delve deeper into the nuances of the SADC initiated talks as they remain
shrouded in mystery, but I wish to comment and urge everyone to remain
alert. Otherwise these wild leaps into darkness might turn into serious own
goals for the opposition.

Lastly, I agree with the ambassador's first two major points on the
talks and differ with the rest. The points are:

1. - The current negotiations taking place between Zanu PF and the
Opposition have to be held with a certain discretion if they are to have any
chance of succeeding. I therefore cannot agree with those who continuously
demand publicity and enlargement of the talks.

2. - The outcome of those negotiations cannot be, because of time
constraints and level of representation, a final and definitive solution to
Zimbabwe's problems. On the contrary, I believe and hope they will be the
beginning of a political transition which may last for quite some time and
which will end in a national framework which all Zimbabweans will be able to

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim Standard Letters

Media has duty to report unfolding human tragedy

JUST this past weekend we have had three deaths of people closely
associated with us. Two of the deaths this weekend were relatively young
people - one was a tuberculosis death, the other a sudden death in hospital
from causes unknown. The third death was a grandmother who had been ill for
some time.

The statistics are horrendous - 1.6 million orphans - nearly a third
of all children, increasing at the rate of 350 a day. Nearly 1 000 deaths a
day - the highest child mortality in the world, the highest maternal
levels in Africa, if not the world.

Add to this 3 500 Aids deaths, 1 000 deaths from Tuberculosis, 550
deaths from Malaria every week. Add to that water-borne diseases as urban
water supplies go untreated and sewerage systems fail and effluent plants
fall into disrepair. Add to even these
terrifying statistics the toll from malnutrition and even starvation.

Yet the regime here shows no sign that it is even aware of the nature
and extent of the crisis. Their total preoccupation with the retention of
power overrides all other concerns.

I doubt if we will have eight million people in the country by the
time of the proposed elections in March 2008.

That is half the population we predicted for the country by 2003 of 16
to 17 million. It chills me to think that just a few years ago we heard of
that statement by Didymus Mutasa that Zimbabwe would be better off with six
million people who supported Zanu PF.

It makes Pol Pot and the Rwandan genocides look amateurish and clumsy.

In the face of this unfolding human tragedy, I find the whole attitude
of the media incomprehensible. Just take two headlines in the past two
days - "Tsvangirai backs down" in The Standard and then "Violent clashes
outside MDC Headquarters" in Harare on ZimDaily. Both refer to the story
about the MDC Women's Assembly decision to remove Lucia Matibenga from her
post as Women's Chairperson and replace her with Theresa Makone.

In the first instance it was the decision of the women in the MDC to
move against their leadership. It was the representatives of all districts
and provincial assemblies that met and elected Makone virtually unanimously.
The fact that Matibenga has decided to fight back is nothing new or
extraordinary - its politics.

By doing so, she has exhausted what sympathy and support she had in
the leadership of the MDC and the matter is now a dead letter. Makone's
election still has to be reported formally to the National Executive but she
is already hard at work organising the women's wing in a way that we have
not seen for years.

But the local press (forget the State controlled media - that is just
a sick joke) and the South African press are making a huge story out of the
whole thing. Suggesting that the MDC might split again (a repetition of the
October 2005 incident that did such damage and from which we are just
recovering). That is simply nonsense.

But when it comes to the really big issues - like that of the silent
genocide that is killing millions of our people or the tidal wave of
refugees flooding out of Zimbabwe into neighboring countries, the media does
little except pick up the occasional incident - such as the tragic story of
the man who died of starvation outside the Home Affairs Office in the Cape.

The wholesale abuse of Zimbabweans in South Africa and in Botswana
goes largely unreported. Journalists pay scant regard to the real story that
is cleverly disguised and hidden by Zanu PF rhetoric and propaganda.

The media, by their very nature, have a responsibility to search for
the real stories in any situation and then to publish those stories with
integrity and conviction.

The Soweto massacre was one such incident carved into the mind of the
world by a vigorous media. Set that against the thousands dying every week
in Zimbabwe as a consequence of a delinquent and rapacious regime. It bears
no comparison - yet I see no significant media campaign around this issue.

Let's keep these things in perspective. There is only one agenda in
Zimbabwe today and that is how to remove Zanu PF from power and replace it
with a government that will restore sanity to the country. Anyone supporting
any other agenda, no matter how justified in normal circumstances, is just
perpetuating our misery and mortality.

Eddie Cross


 Give Tsvangirai a break

THOUGH only a sympathiser of MDC, I am concerned by your paper's
latest bash of the MDC, particularly Morgan Tsvangirai.

Of late your papers have become specialist in criticising the MDC.
This is not the first time Tsvangirai and the MDC have faltered; so why has
intensity of criticism increased now, especially ahead of the forthcoming

I admit that Tsvangirai may not be the best of leaders in the country
but at this crucial moment, let's deal with the "suicide bomber", Robert
Mugabe, who wants the nation to go down with him. If you have a snake and
rat in your house what would you pursue first? Mugabe is the biggest
liability and threat to our nationhood.

We have enough negative news about the MDC from the State media and
Nathaniel Manheru. To Tsvangirai and his team, let me say this: Do not
despair; people do not whip a dead donkey.

A T Mutingwa



 Masimirembwa should resign

EVEN if the chairman of NIPC, Godwills Masimirembwa did not have such
a murky past, he should resign because of his unworkable policy of requiring
the cost of goods to be based artificially on foreign currency inputs at the
official rate, instead of the actual rate paid.

Does he expect fuel to continue to be sold as if it were bought at the
official rate? The man does not know what he is doing.

M Willis

Milton Park, Harare

 NIPC chairman should be sacked

IF recent press reports are accurate, how
can the chairman of the NIPC, Godwills Masimirembwa, given such a past,
continue to occupy his position as NIPC chairman?

He should resign immediately. Failing this, the Ministry of Industry
and International Trade should sack him. Have they no shame?

N March

Borrowdale, Harare

Back to the Top
Back to Index