Zanu PF's new found weapon 11/3/02 Story by
newsfocus by Farai Mutsaka & Thabo Kunene
ONE has to hand it to
Zanu PF for developing the knack of defying odds, even under the most severe
Take last weekend's by-election in Insiza, yet
another reminder to hapless Zimbabweans of the extreme cunning of Robert
Mugabe's party. Up to the by-election period, won by Zanu PF's Andrew Langa
who was being challenged by the MDC's Siyabonga Ncube, many had predicted
that the acute food crisis facing the country would act against Zanu PF in
its remaining stronghold-the rural areas.
But this was not to be
as the party manipulated the self-inflicted crisis to its advantage, as
residents of the patchy Insiza district will testify.
choice was very simple. One didn't need to think much to know whom to vote
for. Voting for the MDC would have been a ticket to starvation. This we were
told and were shown before the election. It's not as if people here really
support Zanu PF," an Insiza villager said after the election.
the violence, which has come to be associated with all Zanu PF campaigns,
played a prominent role in cowing MDC supporters, in Insiza, the ruling party
revealed a new found weapon-food aid.
Although Zanu PF had won all
the previous by-elections-in Makoni West, Marondera West, Bikita West and
Hurungwe West-Insiza was considered the litmus test as it lies within what
many consider to be the heartland of the MDC. The win by Zanu PF brings to
three the number of seats held by the party in Matabeleland, out of a
possible 24. The remaining 21 are firmly in the hands of the MDC. Ironically,
the seats which Zanu PF holds-Beit Bridge, Gwanda South and Insiza-are all
tucked away in the southwestern part of Matabeleland.
victory in Insiza must have been particularly sweet, yet painful for the MDC,
as Insiza is home to the opposition party's vice president, Gibson
Insiza is also home to several other political
heavyweights from both the MDC and Zanu PF. Former home affairs minister,
Dumiso Dabengwa, Naison Ndlovu, Bulawayo executive mayor, Japhet
Ndabeni-Ncube and former Mugabe ally, Enos Nkala-now facing near political
obscurity-all come from the Insiza area.
This was reason enough
for Zanu PF to want to win the seat at all cost.
desperation led to a messy pre by-election period. So gross was the abuse of
food aid by the party that the internationally respected World Food Programme
(WFP), which falls under the auspices of the United Nations, was forced to
withdraw assistance to the constituency.
In a bid to thwart the MDC
campaign, Zanu PF organised its food aid distribution in such a way as to
coincide with MDC campaign rallies. As a result, the opposition party was
forced to cancel a number of its rallies.
"The Zanu PF machinery
has flooded the constituency with maize and maize seed, but behind the
distribution is always the threat that should the MDC candidate win, all the
food will be withdrawn, and the voters will starve to death. The Zanu PF food
distribution road show has followed the MDC campaign rallies.
"It is clear to us that the irregularities which have taken place in Insiza
are so gross in their affront to the elementary principles of a free and fair
election that they will undoubtedly impact negatively on the outcome of the
election. They are so extreme that this election cannot be properly described
as an election unless we are to redefine an election to mean literally a
choice between life and death," said MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube,
prior to the election.
In what has now become the fashion in the
ruling party's campaign strategy, on 16 October, Zanu PF filled the Filabusi
Hall with bags of maize for distribution. The hall had been booked for an MDC
rally on that date.
The same pattern was to be seen at a number of
other MDC rally venues.
But Zanu PF's new found weapon should not
blur the very real issue of violence. Langa is now the new member of
parliament for Insiza-thanks to the terror campaign waged against the
opposition by President Mugabe's shock troops, the war veterans and their
ruthless allies in the terror war, the 'Green Bombers', who are Mugabe's
answer to the late Kamuzu Banda's Youth Pioneers in Malawi.
During the campaign in Insiza, normal village life was brought to
a standstill. People's lives were disrupted, while others prayed every
night that they might see the sun rise the following day. Hundreds were
brutalised by the 'Green Bombers', while the police, also highly
indoctrinated in Zanu PF politics, watched and did nothing to protect the
poor villagers of Insiza.
According to locals, the militias who
did the dirty work for the ruling party candidate were brought in from other
regions. They were not known in the area. On top of all this, villagers told
The Standard that they stood in the voting queues with people who were not
even known in the area.
Nkululeko Mpofu summed up the villagers'
plight: "It has been tough for us. Staying with strange people with a strong
appetite for violence has been a nightmare. We are pleased that election day
has finally arrived."
During the run up to the by-election, 12 MDC
officials, including Charles Mpofu, the MDC candidate's campaign manager,
were ambushed by gunmen and robbed of more than $3 million at gun
One of the officials was shot and wounded by the gunmen.
When the MDC made a report to the police over the matter, the complainants
and the injured official were themselves arrested.
incident, the opposition party's candidate, Ncube, was almost killed when he
was ambushed together with other MDC officials in the area. It was clear from
the beginning that Zanu PF had won the election, even before it had
Zanu PF vowed to reclaim the Insiza seat, and they did
exactly that. It does not matter whether they won by hook and by crook, the
fact of the matter is that they won. And by continuing to take part in flawed
elections, the MDC is legitimising Zanu PF victories for the outside
Said Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, a political analyst
based at the University of Zimbabwe: "This result cannot be used as a
barometer by which the people's opinions can be measured. It is a
demonstration that Zanu PF is committed to maintaining a violent campaign
whenever there is an election."
Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has said
soldiers returning from the Democratic Republic of Congo war will get
preferential treatment in the carve-up of seized farms, a local newspaper
reported on Sunday.
The official Sunday Mail said Mugabe told a rally of
his Zanu-PF party in north-western Zimbabwe that land was still available for
all aspiring farmers, but soldiers who fought in the Democratic Republic of
the Congo were a special case.
"Those who were in the DRC are a source
of pride and honour because they accomplished their mission well," he
"Those who have applied for land will be given special
consideration and everyone who desires to go into farming should not be
denied the opportunity," he added.
Last week Zimbabwe withdrew the
last of its troops from the former Zaire where they fought alongside Angolan
and Namibian soldiers to defend the Congolese government against rebels
backed by Rwanda and Uganda. At the height of the war, which broke out in
August 1998, about 11 000 troops or a third of Zimbabwe's army was
Zimbabwe has been in turmoil since pro-government militants
began invading white-owned farms in early 2000.
Mugabe, in power since
the former Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1980, says his land
drive is aimed at correcting colonial injustice, which left 70 percent of the
country's best land in the hands of white farmers.
government has ordered nearly three quarters of the country's 4 500
commercial farmers to quit their land without compensation under a programme
to seize farms to make way for largely landless blacks.
The campaign has
drawn criticism at home and abroad and is blamed by analysts for a severe
food shortage affecting nearly seven million people or half of the
population. The government insists the shortages are solely the result of
October 2002, we witnessed a pure act of selfishness at the Chitungwiza
Community Hall where mealie meal was being sold only to card holders of
Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party.
Members of the opposition like
myself were turned away, threatened and harassed by youths from the
controversial Border Gezi Training Camp.
If this is the way we are
going to treat other human beings and fellow Zimbabweans, we are surely
heading for a big disaster.
Zimbabwe is not made up only of Zanu PF
supporters. We are a multi-party state, and every one of us is within our
rights to choose a political party of our liking. So food should not be for
just one political party.
May our ever loving God please help
us. How long shall the wicked have power over us - the underprivileged? We
have had enough of the Mugabe-led government.
We will soon have
a scenario whereby all scarce commodities are sold only to Zanu PF card
holders. What a shame!
Were it not for the laws favouring the GMB
as the sole importer of maize, even the Movement for Democratic Change ( MDC
) would be able to source maize for Zimbabweans.
the tactics now employed by Mugabe, we all know them to be the kicks of a
He just can't relinquish power like that and pave way
for Morgan Tsvangirai because he fears that his evil practices will come back
to haunt him. But the God that I know is for us all.
He is most
definitely watching from a distance -change is certain. Let's all keep the
FOOD hand outs from the donor community which are hoped to
avert mass starvation in Zimbabwe can be likened to a few drops of water into
a lake, as the crisis out in the rural areas has become uncontrollable
Red Cross officials who spoke to The Standard
last week painted a grim picture of the situation in the country's provinces
and warned that if the current rate of food distribution was anything to go
by, then the country was headed for a major disaster.
officials said this following the donation of 100 tonnes of mealie meal by
Lever Brothers to Red Cross society.
Chimanimani Red Cross
provincial programme officer, Golden Mukwecheni, told The Standard that the
dire conditions prevailing in Chimanimani were increasing daily such that it
was becoming difficult to identify those in need of assistance, as virtually
everyone was equally starving in the area.
"The situation in
Chimanimani continues to deteriorate. It calls for immediate help before
people starve to death. We are actually grateful for the donation we received
from the Lever Brothers because it's going to ease the plight of the
recipients," said Mukwecheni.
Red Cross programme officer, health
and social services, Catherine Marenga, said the generous offer from the
Lever Brothers came at a time when it was needed most.
donation in kind which we have just received is very much appreciated because
it is going to assist directly without involving other expenses like milling,
in the case of the grain, because the milling itself is now expensive for the
people to afford. We used to receive monetary donations and you know the
basic commodities are scarce these days-there was apparently nothing we could
do to help society, even though we had the money," said Marenga.
The 100 tonnes of mealie meal was shared among four provinces. Each of the
provinces identified a district in dire need of assistance to be
the recipient of the mealie meal. In Mashonaland Central, the donation went
to Rushinga, while the recipient in Matabeleland South was Matobo.
Chimanimani was Manicaland's beneficiary, while drought ravaged Zaka was
Masvingo's lucky recipient.
A Red Cross official from Masvingo,
Elizabeth Chingarara, welcomed the food relief which would help the starving
people of Zaka.
"Though the food will not be enough to feed
everyone in the district and province as a whole, the little we have just
received is going to ease somewhat the plight of the recipients," said
Health and child welfare minister, Dr David
Parirenyatwa, who officiated at the hand over of the food, appealed for a
united effort in fighting hunger.
"We call upon the private
sector, non-governmental organisations and the government to work together to
alleviate the hunger which is threatening the lives of many in the country,"
Over seven million Zimbabweans are facing starvation,
particularly in rural areas where some are reported to be surviving on wild
grass and others on tea and green vegetables because of the severe shortage
of maize, the country's staple diet.
It is estimated that the
country needs over 40 000 tonnes per week to see it through to the next
harvest in April 2003.
WAR veterans, riding high after the Zanu PF victory in the
Insiza by-election last week, have turned their guns on Kuwadzana, where
another by-election is due following the death of MDC MP, Learnmore
The war veterans and their equally potent allies,
the government-sponsored youth militia unleashed a reign of terror in Insiza
to ensure a victory which was later interpreted by the establishment to
mean that the tide was turning against the MDC which had held the seat prior
to the death of George Ndlovu last year.
The secretary for
security in the war veterans association, Mike Moyo, told The Standard that
his association was preparing for a fierce contest with the MDC in what is
generally viewed as one of its strongholds. The MDC currently holds all the
parliamentary seats in Zimbabwe's major urban centres such as Harare,
Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Kwekwe, Kadoma and Masvingo. It garnered
overwhelming support in all these centres in both the 2000 general election
and the March presidential poll.
But with Zanu PF brimming with
confidence following its triumph in the Kadoma mayoral poll and last
weekend's Insiza by-election, war veterans are confident of repeating the
feat in Harare.
"We are coming to Kuwadzana for the by-election and
we know that the area is full of MDC supporters, but we are going to put an
end to it. We shall have to politicise the people so that they can rally
behind our party," Moyo told The Standard last week.
The MDC has
seen its representation in parliament gradually reduced to 54 from 57 as a
result of the deaths of its MPs. Two of the seats it clinched in the 2000
parliamentary elections, Bikita West and Insiza, were reclaimed by Zanu PF in
With attention now turning to Kuwadzana, analysts are
already questioning whether the MDC should continue to participate in
elections which are now clearly nothing short of farcical given Zanu PF's use
of every trick in the book to win elections.
Reprisals in Insiza 11/3/02 Story by By
INSIZA-As Zanu PF basks in the glory of what they
call a resounding victory over the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in Insiza last weekend, weary villagers say the whole electoral
exercise was a mere sham.
Villagers who escaped the constituency
this week told The Standard that violence in the area still continues
unabated as Zanu PF supporters and its youth militia intensify a witch-hunt
to sniff out MDC supporters from the constituency.
party has started a retribution exercise to harass and force opposition
supporters to denounce the MDC and join Zanu PF.
"The Zanu PF
youths have given us two weeks to surrender all MDC material and join Zanu PF
and they have started moving around the district punishing suspected
"Despite their winning the seat, which we
think was on unjust grounds, they continue to intensify violence in the area
and we are being beaten up night and day as they continue searching for MDC
sympathisers and polling agents," said a villager who declined to be named
for fear of victimisation.
On Monday Zanu PF supporters are
reported to have rounded up 11 MDC polling agents from their homes and
severely assaulted them.
According to villagers, many people are
now spending nights in the bush for fear of being attacked by the Zanu PF
"The happenings of Gukurahundi have resurfaced once
again. How can the government use our own children, whom we have sent to be
trained in the name of national service, to beat us up and attack us at
night?" said Baba Sibanda who declined to give his first name.
Villagers in Insiza feel that the election was stolen as the electorate was
manipulated to vote for Zanu PF if they did not want to be killed and have
their homes burnt.
"Our village headmen pleaded with us to vote for
Zanu PF or there would be no peace in the area. However, what is shocking us
is that despite their victory violence is still prevalent and is getting
worse," said another villager.
"They have forced us to vote for
their candidate and he has won, we are not sure what they want from us
"We knew Zanu PF was winning because they told us to vote for
them. They gave us food, something that the MDC could not do, and told us
that if we voted for the opposition then we would starve," said Melusi
Msipha, a villager in the constituency.
The Standard had
difficulty interviewing villagers as most shied away from questions asked by
However, the few that spoke to this paper had
horrific tales to tell.
A man who identified himself as Zimutho
told The Standard that there was a lot of violence in some districts in the
constituency during the elections, where a number of MDC sympathisers were
beaten up and arrested.
"Silalatshani, Filabusi and Mahole were the
areas most affected with violence during the elections. Shops in Mahole were
attacked and destroyed with some being burned down whilst the electorate in
Silaltshani were stoned by the militia," said Zimutho.
spokesman, Paul Temba-Nyathi, said his party would challenge the outcome of
the poll as there was overwhelming evidence pointing to a flawed electoral
"We are definitely contesting these results because the
situation is crying out for us to do something. This is another seat stolen
from us by the government, only it is so much in the open that people can see
it," said Nyathi.
According to Nyathi, war-vets in Insiza are
still maintaining a reign of terror. He said the number of cases of villagers
being beaten up and tortured continues to increase.
"We have a
number of villagers who have managed to escape from Insiza and their reports
are just so appalling. The situation of violence in the constituency
continues to worsen as people are being raided night and day in search for
He dismissed the existence of democracy in the nation
saying it had been destroyed by Zanu PF.
Meanwhile addressing a
victory celebration in Insiza on Friday, President Robert Mugabe said the
people of Insiza had refused to be deceived by the "British sponsored" MDC
which championed the cause of the minority whites.
attacked British Prime Minister Tony Blair for meddling in Zimbabwe's
internal affairs and attempting to influence the outcome of the Insiza poll
through his High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Brian Donnelly.
Doubts over Jongwe letters 11/3/02 Story by
By Farai Mutsaka
AS the saga surrounding the death of Learnmore
Jongwe unfolds, the late Kuwadzana MP's family is now questioning the
authenticity of letters police allege were written by the former MDC
spokesman before his death.
The family, including three of the late
MP's friends, Charlton Hwende, MDC national youth chairman, Nelson Chamisa
and Earnest Mudzengi, said they were now seeking legal recourse to force
police to release the letters "if they ever existed".
In a bid
to diminish government responsibility in Jongwe's death, police have sought
to insinuate that the former legislator appeared to have been preparing for
his death and they claim to have in their possession, two letters written by
Jongwe just before his death.
The letters were purportedly written
to members of Jongwe's family. Contents of the letters have not been
released, except for an alleged instruction to his lawyer to give his mother
the secret Personal Identification Number (PIN) for his bank
The police have not released the letters, however, but as
evidence for their claims, have produced a footnote allegedly written in
Jongwe's bible which bequeaths the book to his prison inmates.
Hwende, who has been mandated by the Jongwe family to represent them on this
issue, told The Standard last week that they would now seek legal recourse to
force the police to release the letters.
He said the police
appeared not to be in possession of any such letters and could be looking for
handwriting experts to fabricate the letters.
Said Hwende: "The
police are claiming to be in possession of three letters written by the late
Jongwe. They have refused to give those letters to the family, yet we see the
state media saying they have excerpts of the letter. We don't honestly think
those letters exist.
"What they want to do is manufacture
non-existent letters to strengthen their argument that Jongwe committed
suicide thereby absolving the government of both accountability and
responsibility for the death. We think they are looking for a handwriting
expert to fabricate the letters. With the appetite government showed in
tarnishing Jongwe's image, even in death, they could have splashed those
letters around a long time ago. We are now seeking legal action to have the
police release the letters they claim to have," said Hwende.
Justin Jongwe, Learnmore's younger brother, confirmed that they
are challenging the police to prove the existence of those letters by
releasing them to the family.
Said Justin: "We want those
letters. If they exist then they should be given to the family as soon as
possible. Why are they withholding them if they are genuine? I don't suppose
they were addressed to Marimba Park police station, Harare Central or any
other police station. If Learnmore wrote those letters, then he obviously
addressed them to somebody, who should now be given the letters. We are going
to use legal means to get the police to release the letters. It appears the
police are simply out to embarrass us and we cannot tolerate that any
But police spokesman, Assistant Commissioner Wayne
Bvudzijena, said police would not release the letters.
letters are not going to be released. They are part of the evidence gathered
and will be produced before a magistrate. We are not working on mysterious
information. It is something that exists and will be produced. It is not
happening in this case only-this has always been the process. They (the
Jongwes) want to know how Learnmore died and those letters will be part of
the docket," said Bvudzijena.
Jongwe, who died in mysterious
circumstances in his prison cell, was buried at his rural home in Zhombe on
Post mortem results, which could shed more light on
Jongwe's death, are yet to be released.
Said Bvudzijena: "Post
mortem results will come, but people should not be of the opinion that those
results will be conclusive. There are a lot of other factors that come into
play and we should look at these as a whole before we come up with a final
Jongwe's mother last week told The Standard that she
held the Mugabe regime responsible for her son's death.
dismissed insinuations from government quarters that members of the Jongwe
family who had brought him food just before his death could have laced the
food with poison.
We spent yesterday looking at the economic
situation that existed in March this year when the MDC felt quite confident
that it was going to win the presidential ballot and take power away from
Zanu PF. Then we looked at the present economic situation and even I, who
watches these things on a daily basis, was shocked at the deterioration in 7
We were naïve to have expected, when we formed the MDC in 1999,
that we were about to engage in a struggle for power that would be based on
competing ideas and policies, on clearly defined democratic principles and
within the framework of the rule of law. We are now wiser - African politics
are not played out like that and that perhaps explains why so many
political conflicts on the continent end up as military
Since we founded the MDC we have seen the rule of law
abandoned, every accepted rule for a democratic process discarded or abused
and the blatant use of all the power of the state to try and smash the
fledgling Party. Our refusal to be drawn into a violent confrontation, our
persistent adherence to democratic principles and activities within the
framework of the law has brought us accolades from other democratic forces
and countries throughout the world but scant recognition in Africa itself -
where it matters. It has not even resulted in significant financial support
based on principle and a desire to promote democracy in Africa.
it has triggered inside the Zanu PF machine is a "total onslaught" in the old
South African apartheid parlance. They have recognised that it has been urban
workers and commercial farm workers who have been the backbone of the MDC.
They have seen that small independent business has been able to support the
MDC financially and all these sectors of our population have become a target.
The commercial farmers have been smashed into the ground - now the state is
taking their staff and their families and dumping them in the Zambezi valley
without food or any means of support. These impoverished, beaten and harassed
people (1,5 million of them) have nowhere to go except perhaps to our
neighbours where they will become new refugees. They have been stripped of
their citizenship and any other rights they might have had before this
economic blitzkrieg was unleashed. Their employers are now sitting in rented
accommodation in the cities wondering just what they are to do next? Their
assets have been handed out to those who committed this economic crime, in
front of the whole world, as a reward for their activities and
In the cities the attack has been more subtle but just as
effective - formal sector employment has crashed - some 400 000 jobs have
been wiped out. 2,5 million economic refugees - 90 per cent of them potential
MDC supporters, driven out of the country to become economic refugees in
other lands - 80 per cent of them in South Africa. Incomes have been
decimated by high inflation and low wages. The trade unions have been
neutralized by introducing pro Zanu PF structures to all sectors and allowing
them to harass and intimidate the workers in their companies and to entice
them with promises that their companies cannot afford. When required these
industrial thugs are backed up with CIO and Police who harass and
intimidate management. Life has become a nightmare in many companies targeted
for this treatment.
When they say enough is enough, there is always a
Zanu PF gravy train hack ready with a suitcase full of money to do a cheap
fast deal. Best of all, you have a simple computer driven system of theft
which, when a company receives a payment in foreign exchange, just takes 40
per cent and gives the company a pittance for its efforts. The company then
sells the balance for a huge premium, paid for by the productive sector or
those who are desperate to leave, and because the resulting blend is
profitable, the companies accept being robbed. Just to show they are in
charge, if they need petty cash for anything - they just sell the foreign
exchange back to the idiots who participate in this grand larceny at the huge
premiums they are prepared to pay. So we pay for our own destruction - it's
The end result is systematic, deliberate destruction of
everything that has been built up here since 1900. More especially, since
1980, and all the benefits of the past 22 years of foreign aid and World Bank
and IMF assisted development is being swept away. In 22 years the life
expectancy of our people has declined 22 years on average, incomes have
fallen to levels last seen in the 60's, industrial production is falling 3
per cent a month. We have gone from being a net exporter of food to being
dependent on imports for 75 per cent of what we need to survive. Education
and health systems are in a crisis state, the educated elite we created with
so much optimism in the 80's has left and now benefits the developed
countries where they do all the jobs the westerners do not want. At home, we
get the crumbs off their table.
What does this mean for us in Zimbabwe
- we are being starved, robbed, beaten and worse and all we get is sympathy!
We do not even get that from our African colleagues - they simply say "accept
the inevitable, do a deal with the devil". A government of national unity is
the answer is the cry from Mbeki and Obasanjo. We turn to our ancestors and
Joshua Nkomo comes back with the answer to that one!
So the debate
rages on in Zimbabwean society - do we fight the elections, even though they
are a sham? Or do we lie down and wait until they kill enough of our MP's to
give them the two thirds they need to change the constitution? How do we
fight back democratically when every aspect of the system is under Zanu PF
control and direction?
Take the Tonga people of the Binga district. They
are an ancient people, used to living on the banks of the great rivers where
they subsist on flood plain agriculture and the rich fishing. Long neglected
by African governments and others, they have come to recognise that they as a
tiny ethnic minority have a stake in a democratic system. So they voted for
the MDC in March and June 2000, then in March 2002 and again in September
2002. The result is that they are now being starved to death en masse. The
UNDP does nothing except make appeals to the Minister responsible;
the international community wrings their hands and goes to the next
cocktail party where they discuss the problem and the question of what to do
next. The people of Binga look at their plight; their starving children and
old people and ask for help from the MDC - what can the Party do? Denied food
or money to make any difference, the MP simply attends funerals
and commiserates with the families.
I wrote to the UNDP asking that
urgent action be taken to force a break in the blockade. All I got was an
assurance that they were "consulting". Who needs to consult in respect to a
thing like this, what we need is action and fast, to avoid a
As for NEPAD, what can we say? There will be no political
peer review process Mbeki says this past week - that will be left to the
organs of the AU. I have lived under the influence of the AU and its
predecessors since it was established. I have never seen any form of
effective influence exerted by this organisation in its entire history. Those
who seek to foster development and democracy in Africa must take note of
these events. Do not listen to the fine words spoken by African leaders -
watch their actions and be warned. The majority do not give a damn about
their own people or their welfare, all they want is control and power and the
ability to use the resources of the State (and donors if possible) to feather
their own nests and the nests of their close associates.
THE Beitbridge council has been accused of neglecting the
town's water supplies and there is mounting fear that the water crisis could
scuttle plans to cash in on the solar eclipse expected to occur in the
southern part of Zimbabwe on 4 December.
The Beitbridge Business
Association (BBA) and the residents' association told The Standard that both
the council and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority had failed to rectify
the problem which has dogged the town for the last 16 years.
Like other southern parts of the country that are set to experience a total
eclipse of the sun next month, Beitbridge is anticipating an influx
of tourists whom it is hoped will inject a great deal of money into the
small town. But with water shortages resurfacing owing to high temperatures
and the breakdown of water pumps, there are fears that the town's image could
be adversely dented, leading to potential tourists shunning the
With a population of 25 000 residents, plus 10 000 squatters,
the town is currently being serviced by a single water pump which is failing
to cope with the load. The pump operates for just two hours a day to save it
from breaking down completely.
"This situation has been going on
for the past 16 years and council has not been doing anything to repair the
leaking pipes, so as the business association we have been approached to look
into the matter before December, which is seen as a golden opportunity to
lure investors to the boarder town,'' said Michael Ngwenya, an executive
committee member of the Beitbridge Residents Association.
Standard is informed that the two dams on the banks of the Limpopo River are
virtually dry. To compound the situation, the dams' low gradient is making it
difficult to pump water to most houses and a health hazard is looming as
residents have resorted to fetching water from streams and unprotected wells.
People in transit to and from South Africa are also being affected by the
water crisis as taps previously installed to serve their needs have been shut
down completely. Public toilets in the town have also been shut down,
resulting in people relieving themselves in any secluded place, at best, or
in open areas, at worst.
A town councillor, Albert Mbidzi,
acknowledged that the water situation in Beitbridge was desperate. "We are
aware of this situation, but there is nothing we can do since we require
about $12 million in order to provide normal supplies of water to the
residents of Beitbridge. The water crisis is likely to extend for months if
government does not take any action because this place is home to deportees
from South Africa who don't pay anything and the residents owe council over
$6,5 million," said Mbidzi.
If the water situation is not rectified
soon, the town stands to lose tourists to South Africa, which is offering
better services on the other side of the Limpopo.
Zimbabwe is hoping to cash in on the anticipated influx of tourists to the
beleaguered southern African country.
SA cuts off fuel 11/3/02 Story by By
ZIMBABWE's precarious fuel situation is set to
deepen following revelations that South African fuel company, Sasol, has
stopped its supplies to Zimbabwe following last week's expiry of the US$20
million facility which saw the country receive fuel from across the border,
The Standard has learnt.
The deal between Zimbabwe and Sasol had
resulted in the southern and central parts of the country receiving fuel
overland from South Africa from 2000. It could not be established whether
fuel from another South African company, Engen which was also being sourced
for the southern and central parts of the country, was still flowing
The fuel provided by the two companies amounted to 30% of
the country's total requirements.
But with the facility now
exhausted, there are signs that national fuel procurement entity, Noczim,
will struggle even further to cope with demand. For the past two weeks, the
southern and central parts of the country have been experiencing sporadic
stock outs at filling stations, while supplies in the capital Harare have
also been inconsistent.
The Standard understands that last week,
the government sought forex from local financial institutions in a desperate
bid to renew the facility with Sasol.
The government is also
said to have gone onto the black market to source forex for another fuel deal
with Libya, causing the latest crash in the dollar which is now trading at up
to 1 800 against the US dollar.
The US$360 million facility with
Libya, which was personally signed by President Mugabe and his Libyan
counterpart, Muammar Gaddafi, in September, was supposed to assure Zimbabwe
of uninterrupted supplies until the same month next year. The Libyans
normally supply 70% of Zimbabwe's fuel needs.
But with news that
the forex-starved country is defaulting on payments, the Libyans are said to
have shut their pumps until all dues have been settled.
from a shortage of petrol and diesel, Zimbabwe is experiencing the more
severe shortage of paraffin and liquid petroleum gas (LPG).
The question is not about whether land reform
in Zimbabwe is necessary. It is obvious to any observer in this country that
At Independence the best
agricultural land was owned by around four thousand, mostly white, commercial
farmers whilst poor, black families were crowded into the less productive
communal areas. This was unfair, an unjust relic of Colonial policy and
change was clearly needed.
For these reasons the British
Government supported at Lancaster House, and continues to support, the need
for land reform in Zimbabwe. "Scrutator" refers to the then Commonwealth
Secretary-General quoting from the document which broke the deadlock over
land. This can only be the one which Lord Carrington, then British Foreign
Secretary, presented to the conference on 11 October 1979. This said that the
British Government "recognise the importance of this issue to a future
Zimbabwe Government and will be prepared, within the limits imposed by our
financial resources, to help" It pointed out that any serious land
resettlement programme would be "well beyond the capacity, in our judgement,
of any individual donor country". But the British Government undertook to
"support the efforts of the Government of independent Zimbabwe to obtain
international assistance for these purposes". Contrary to popular myth,
neither the Lancaster House Agreement itself nor Lord Carrington's statement
mention any specific sums of assistance or make any reference to Britain
paying compensation to white farmers Both documents are publicly available
and can easily be checked. But Britain did keep its promise to help with land
reform - to the tune of £44 million, which makes Britain the biggest
bilateral donor to land reform; and we did help to organise the donors'
conference of 1981 at which a further £636 million was pledged by the
international community for development projects.
promised at Abuja, and it remains true today, that more funding is available
for a programme that is sustainable, transparent and which promotes poverty
reduction."Scrutator" implies that this conditionality is the invention of
the present British government and is something to be ashamed
Not so, on either count. All governments have a
responsibility to their own people to ensure that taxpayers'money is properly
spent and there is nothing new in this. Lord Carrington pointed out, when he
outlined the British government's support for land reform at Lancaster House,
that "any resettlement scheme would clearly have to be carefully prepared
and implemented to avoid adverse effects on production".
Baroness Chalker also said in writing to Minister Kangai about land reform in
1996, "As a friend and partner in Zimbabwe's development, we want to help you
and your colleagues provide a basis for sustainable development for
alleviating the poverty of many Zimbabweans in rural areas." The principal
new element introduced by the Labour Government in 1997 was to strengthen the
emphasis on working with Zimbabwe as a partner, on the basis of sovereign
equality, rather than on the basis of a historical relationship rooted in
colonialism. The kind of principles all British Governments have supported
were also agreed by key stakeholders, including the Government of Zimbabwe
and donors, at the 1998 Land Conference, as the basis for the next phase of
land reform in Zimbabwe. The problem is that the way land reform has since
been implemented in Zimbabwe has departed from all these principles:The
current fast track programme has not been properly targeted to benefit the
poorest. Many poor people have been allocated land. But the majority of
acquired land has either not been allocated, or has not been taken up, or has
been allocated to those with more resources; At the same time the programme
has increased poverty for around 300 000 farm workers and their families who
have lost their livelihoods. This has affected up to 2 million poor people.
Many smallholders allocated land are also facing increased poverty for the
foreseeable future, because basic infrastructure and inputs have not been
properly planned to enable them to make the best use of the land; There are
few assurances on transparency, and numerous allegations that land has been
allocated to people because of their political position. To take an example:
your sister paper 'The Daily Mirror' reported this week that Minister Manyika
was threatening to repossess land allocated to people who do not belong to
the ruling party.
The rule of law has not been respected.
Numerous court rulings related to the land reform programme have been
disregarded and legislation has been enforced in an inconsistent manner
country wide;The British Government recognises that even the best managed
programme of land reform can bear economic costs in the short term. But the
process underway in Zimbabwe has not been properly managed to avoid
longer-term damage to the economy and, in our view, the authorities have
failed to provide the stable macroeconomic environment that is needed for
land reform to flourish. This has led to huge economic shrinkage and, as a
consequence, increased poverty for a steadily growing number of ordinary
The British Government would of course prefer to
be in the situation where we are contributing to a land reform programme in
Zimbabwe focussed on reducing poverty. It seems sad that over the last year
we have had to focus our assistance on meeting emergency humanitarian needs
in Zimbabwe - and we have spent £38 million here since September 2001
rather than investing this money in the longer term development of this
country. But that, unfortunately, is the current reality. It is our genuine
hope that these conditions will not exist forever and we look forward to the
day when we can resume contribution to Zimbabwe's longer term
Was Insiza Zanu PF's turning point? Mirror
When half of the country's cabinet members descended on
the parched dry lands of Insiza, the importance of the parliamentary election
could not be over-emphasized.
The glossy and expensive posters
plastered on the few weathered buildings and the dry tree trunks were a stark
contrast to the pomp and ceremony that surrounded the impoverished rural
populace. The creme de la creme of the ruling party addressed several rallies
in different villages. Surely, the people of Insiza had never felt this
important before and had never experienced such benevolence showered on them.
Truckloads of food were being ferried to the drought prone district squeezed
in the octopus-like grip of hunger, far flung in the outback of
The British High Commissioner, Mr. Brian Donnelly,
assisted by the international World Food Programme had been accused of
donating food to opposition supporters to counter an equally guilty Zanu PF.
TheInsiza parliamentary election served to make a political statement and for
Zanu PF it did effectively.
The ruling Zanu PF party won with an
overwhelming margin, polling 12 115 against the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC)'s 5 102. The question being posed by many is why there was such
a big fuss about Insiza and how the ruling party managed to change its
fortunes in what is regarded as an MDC stronghold. The answers to these
questions are complex. On many fronts- from the scooped by-elections to the
coup de tat at the earth summit by Robert Mugabe- the ruling Zanu PF and its
policies could be said to be gaining overwhelming popularity. Insiza became
another coup de tat to be achieved. Snatching the MDC seat was enough, but
winning a by-election in Matabeleland was a plus for ZANU PF. But is the
overwhelming victory in the by-election a shift in perceptions for Zanu PF,
hitherto unpopular in this region? Most analysts dismissed this notion that
the people of Matabeleland had buried the hatchet with the ruling party and
were now embracing it with open arms.
Heneri Dzinotyiwei, a
political commentator said that partisan politics did not even come into
play. He said that what had won the election in Insiza was common
"The perception you have is that an election is supposed to
be an independent process where people vote for a party of their choice
without external factors. It is not so.
situation in the country made people think of the immediate. The reality on
the ground meant that people had to vote for a party that would cater for
their immediate needs, in this case it is the government," he
Matabeleland has had a wave of government-driven
developmental projects and food aid being poured into the region. One analyst
concurred that although the region had always haboured a grudge against the
ruling party, its populace was swayed by need.
He added that
while people from Matabeleland had always been anti- government since the
80's, they now saw the ruling party as a conduit for development in the
impoverished region. To others the election signaled the demise of the
opposition. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which won the Insiza
seat in the June 2000 election was thrashed with a huge margin in what is
regarded as the opposition zone. Analysts have also accused the opposition of
having failed to offer people a credible alternative to ZANU PF. One analyst
said the party lacked coherent and superior programmes to those offered by
the ruling party that could have tilted the political scale in its favour.
However, human Rights lawyer and political commentator Brian Kagoro, disputed
the argument that Insiza was a sufficient barometer to use to argue that the
opposition had failed to guard their zones of autonomy. He said the
constituency was in rural Matabeleland and that area could not be described
as a zone of autonomy for the opposition. Kagoro said that if the MDC failed
to garner support in the Matabeleland urban then one would argue that they
had failed to guard a zone of autonomy.
" I think it is the
Kuwadzana seat that will spell out the fate for the opposition. If Zanu PF
wins this seat then we will admit that their popularity has increased."
Largely a rural constituency, the Insiza populace could have been receptive
to the ongoing land reform and the looming starvation eased by the bags of
maize that were being used as political leverage.
however highlighted that ZANU PF's people-oriented programmes won the day. He
said: " The ruling party explained the major problems that were faced by most
people. They explained what they were doing to alleviate these problems."He
said the challenge for the opposition was now to team up with the sitting
government on issues of national importance. He said that partisan politics
will always be superceded by the immediate and the opposition should be seen
to identify with the ruling party on national disasters if they were to be
respected. While clamours for the two main political parties to join hands
were noble, recent reports indicate that the natural disaster (drought) had
been hijacked by various quarters to gain political mileage. This fact has
thus dissipated any hope of the two parties working together. Notwithstanding
the row the government has made over the seat, other analysts saw no
significance over the Zanu PF victory in Insiza except a triumph of violence
and intimidation. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) in its initial
poll report said the poll had been marred by violence. The report stated that
ZANU PF militia had invaded the constituency. Kagoro echoed the same
sentiments, saying that Insiza had not been a significant election victory. "
To me violence won in Insiza, while people are saying attaching meaning to
the election result people are not talking about the huge scale of violence
that was prevalent. It was a margin of terror that carried the day in
Insiza." Kagoro questioned the prudence of the opposition's participation in
rural election when they knew that it would bring suffering to the
However, Kagoro admitted that the election had been
used to make a political statement by Zanu PF. He said that the election was
an effort by the ruling party to demonstrate that it had gained some support.
The MDC candidate Siyabonga Malandu Ncube had fled from the constituency
fearing for his life. He has reportedly accused the police for saying they
would not ensure his safety. The government has been accused of using state
machinery to lure and intimidate the electorate in Insiza. Characterised by a
heavy police presence, some analysts pointed out that the election was held
under a cloud of fear. One opposition rally was reportedly accompanied
heavy police and army presence that cowered its supporters into not
attending. Edward Mamutse, government spokesperson has dismissed these
allegations saying that there is always police presence during rallies to
ensure security. He added that the government was not abusing public funds
and food to buy votes.
" Food was being distributed in Insiza
because there is a famine." The fact remains that Insiza was
When top police officials are invited to a remote
district to direct a parliamentary election, half the cabinet and all the
governors are tirelessly campaigning for a week, then the seat means more
than a mere parliamentary election.
Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe
In power for more than 20 years, he is now strongly challenged inside
the country. As part of his bloody struggle with white farmers, he is targeting
independent journalists and foreign reporters. In 2001, Zimbabwe became the
African country with the worst press freedom situation. Twenty local journalists
were arrested and three foreign correspondents deported. Mugabe and his
government make constant sensational statements against the press, which they
regularly accuse of "spying" or "terrorism." Yet the former schoolteacher, who
has six university degrees, was hailed as a liberator when he won the 1980
presidential elections which ended white minority rule. Today he charges that
the privately-owned local press only tells "lies" and that foreign media are out
to "destabilise" the country. Predators They order violations
of press freedom and have others do the deed. They might be president, cabinet
minister, army chief, Guide of the Revolution or leader of an armed group. All
have the power to jail, kidnap, torture and even kill journalists. Because they
have faces, we should learn to recognise these predators the better to denounce
Eduardo dos Santos Angola Islamic
militants Asia Altaf Hossain Chowdhury
Bangladesh Alexandre Lukashenka Belarus
François Compaoré Burkina Faso Than Shwe Burma
The kidnapping mafia Chechnya Jiang Zemin China
Carlos Castaño Colombia Manuel
Marulanda Colombia Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista
Colombia Fidel Castro Cuba Joseph
Kabila D.R. Congo Teodoro Obiang Nguema
Equatorial Guinea Issaias Afeworki Eritrea Meles
Zenawi Ethiopia Jean-Bertrand
Aristide Haiti Ali Khamenei Iran Saddam
Hussein Iraq Ariel Sharon Israel
Kirsan Iloumjinov Kalmykia Republic Khamtai
Siphandon Laos Moammar Gaddafi Libya Mahathir
Mohammad Malaysia Kim Jong-il
North Korea Palestinian Security Forces Palestinian Authority
Vladimir Putin Russia Paul Kagame Rwanda
Abdallah al-Saud Saudi Arabia Security
Forces Southern Philippines ETA Spain Mswati
III Swaziland Bashar el-Assad
Syria Gnassingbé Eyadéma Togo Zine el-Abidine Ben
Ali Tunisia Hilmi Ozkok Turkey
Saparmurat Niyazov Turkmenistan Leonid Kuchma
Ukraine Islam Karimov Usbekistan Nong Duc Manh
Zimbabwe's tobacco earnings, its biggest source of foreign exchange, slumped
43 percent this year following the seizure of white-owned farms and a drop in
prices, said farmers, who forecast a further fall in 2003. The three
tobacco auction floors in Zimbabwe, the No. 2 tobacco exporter after Brazil,
sold 160.5 million kilograms (354 million pounds) of tobacco during the
six-month selling season, earning the country $364.9 million, the
government's Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board said. That compares with
the 201.7 million kilograms sold last year for $641 million.
number of large-scale growers has been cut by half to 715 following President
Robert Mugabe's program of seizing white-owned land for redistribution to
blacks deprived of land during white rule. The collapse of the industry will
dry up supplies of some of the world's best tobacco used to flavor cigarette
brands such as Camel, Marlboro and Winston. . .
``It'll be the last
real season we have,'' said Bruce Gemmill, who was forced off his tobacco and
fruit farm near Macheke, 60 miles east of Harare, in September. ``Who'd risk
a crop now?''
WE would like to respond to the article: 'Locals
working abroad to pay tax'. (Sunday News, 27 October 2002).
article is clear testimony of the desperation and confusion of the Mugabe
regime of thugs.
To begin with, the government decided to ban all
Zimbabwean nationals living abroad from voting in the parliamentary and
presidential elections, the implication being that we had become stateless
and had no government to identify with.
In reality, we are
living abroad through the generosity of host countries who understand the
plight of Zimbabweans far better than the Zanu PF regime.
would like to remind deputy minister, Christopher Kuruneri that there shall
be no taxation without representation. So no voting, no taxation. It is an
insult to Zimbabweans living abroad who have been labelled stooges of the
imperialists, to be expected to pay tax to both to the imperialists and the
illegal Gadaffi-led Zimbabwean government.
It would be a betrayal
of those of us forced out of our beloved country by the murderous, violent,
intolerant, corrupt and greedy Zanu PF machinery to pay taxes for the benefit
of the likes of Grace Mugabe, the green bombers, Joseph Made, Johno
Mafikizolo, Patrick Chinamasa, Peter Chanetsa and dull boy, Phillip
Why should this regime benefit from a situation they
have caused? It remains to be seen whether democratic nations such as the
USA, the UK and Australia will cooperate with a regime they don't
VaMugabe, muchifungawo mhani. Kutokundwawo na
MDC in elections rethink 11/3/02 Story by
By our own Staff
THE MDC executive will meet this week to review
its participation in future elections.
The move comes in the
wake of the controversy surrounding last weekend's Insiza by-election that
was won by Zanu PF.
Following the victory by ruling party, which
defied all odds by reclaiming the seat from the MDC in what is considered its
heartland, the opposition party has indicated that it will challenge the
results in court.
The party also challenged the outcome of 37
constituencies in the June 2000 general election, as well as that of the
March presidential election that was controversially won by President
MDC presidential spokesman, William Bango, said it was
this controversy that had forced the party to review its stance with regards
to any elections held under the current regime.
"The thinking in
the party right now is that we should think seriously about participating in
elections because the conditions on the ground are not conducive for any kind
of election. There is now a general belief within the party that
participating in elections is detrimental as it just legitimises Zanu PF's
fraud," said Bango.
He added that in the light of this, it was
therefore premature to talk of the Kuwadzana by-election, where reports of
intra party squabbles appeared in the press yesterday.
not even be participating in Kuwadzana. This is all just speculation. It is
true that there are people jockeying for the Kuwadzana seat, but what these
people do not know is that we are now reconsidering our participation in
future elections," said Bango.
Meanwhile, the Kuwadzana leadership
yesterday lambasted party members who were already vying for Jongwe's
Zim feeling effects of US trade shut off
ZIMBABWE'S ineligibility in the African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA) has cost the forex starved country millions of dollars
in foreign currency as eligible countries are benefiting from preferential
trading with the United States of America, it emerged this week.
Addressing a breakfast seminar organised by the Institute of
Marketing Management (IMM) in Harare on Wednesday, the head of Economic and
Commercial Affairs at the US embassy, William Weissman said although Zimbabwe
is not eligible under the African Growth and Opportunity Act the business
community here in the country must take up trade opportunities in that
"There are enormous opportunities for you to sell your
products for the US has a Gross Domestic Product of US$9 trillion . We are
also investing a lot of money and resources into the World Trade Centre which
is the best vehicle in the world to develop trade. Our biggest initiative
with Africa is AGOA which was passed in 2000 and the General Systems of
Preferences (GSP) of which Zimbabwe is a member,"
what chances Zimbabwean goods had in light of the imposition of targeted
sanctions on some government officials and their apologists in protest over
gross governance and human rights abuses, Wiessman said: "There are no
sanctions that keeps Zimbabwean products out of the United States. The US
government has absolutely no problem with the people of Zimbabwe but with the
Asked about the US view of Africa, Weissman said his
country was very upbeat on the direction Africa is moving which has seen
neighbouring countries among them Mozambique, Tanzania and Botswana
experiencing growth in excess of 5% and single digit inflation.
"We feel Africa is one of the regions we think we want to trade closer with.
We are very cognisant of the impact of agricultural subsidies and we are
looking at African countries who are failing to export on a country
by country basis," said Weissman.
The trade balance between the
United States and Zimbabwe is completely out of balance in favour of Zimbabwe
but exports to New York have steadfastly been dwindling. The US total imports
from Zimbabwe in 2001 amounted to US$91 million, 18,5% down from US$112
million in 2000. US exports to Zimbabwe declined by 40,4% to US$31 million
last year from US$52 million in 2000.
The Act offers beneficiary
sub-saharan African countries duty free and quota-free US market access for
essentially all products through the Generalised System of Preferences
program greater access to American markets and opens avenues for enhanced
trade, investment and transfer of technology. It also offers tangible
incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their
economies and build free markets. In the southern African region nearly every
country is a beneficiary of AGOA except Zimbabwe which is mired in its worst
political and economic crisis since the attainment of independence. The
wholesale setting aside of the rule of law and the return to a command
economy have shut Zimbabwe out of AGOA.
Weissman said the second
AGOA Forum to take place in Port Louis Mauritius in January 2003 is a very
important occasion for Africa to talk to the Bush
The trade balance between the United States of
America and eligible sub-saharan African countries under AGOA has surged by
an 61,5% in three years.
In 1998 Africa's exports to the USA
earned US$13 billion which nearly doubled to US$21 billion in 2001 as AGOA's
benefits came to be realised whilst US exports to Africa during the same
period were static at US$7 billion. Of the US$21 billion, US$8 billion is
constituted of duty free AGOA products.
The recent IMF
assessment of African trade shows that restrictive practices declined from
75% in 1990 to 14% in 2002 and open trade practices which stood at 0%
improved to 43%.
Eric Dickinson, an executive member of the
Institute of Marketing Management (IMM) challenged the business community to
take advantage of the export opportunities.
"We should be more
motivational and take opportunities in the United States because to Zimbabwe
exports are critical. We are all aware of the fact that the main thrust to
revive the economy is the export sector so it is up to the business community
to exploit opportunities and take advantage of them to move the economy in
that direction," said Dickinson.
Export sector performance has been
hampered by increased production costs, a fixed exchange rate and an
uncompetitive pricing among other factors and has resulted in reduced foreign
What this story means:
Weissman may encourage Zimbabwean companies to export to the US, they are
doing so at a massive disadvantage to other companies in the region since
they face 18% duty on getting their goods into the USA. Zimbabwean companies
are advised to export through Comesa countries if they want to have some kind
of comparative advantage.
New economic theory lauded overthetop by
A NEW economic theory has been developed in a troubled
central African country where analysts say it will revolutionise development
and fuel a new world order.
The theory, touched upon by the
troubled central African country's most equal of all comrades, sees goods
being bought with foreign currency obtained at outrageous prices, then sold
at an enormous loss to the public. "This means that businesses will go broke
and not the government," said a clearly uncertain spokesman from the troubled
central African country's economics ministry.
First to be
affected by the revolutionary economic theory, said to be the finest since
Karl Marx sent over half of Europe into bankruptcy, will be multinational
fuel companies. They must now import their own fuel, said the most equal of
Fuel company executives scratched their heads and
asked how they were to do this when the troubled central African nation's
corrupt and bankrupt oil procurer had a monopoly on petrol
"That's the beauty of the beauty of the scheme," said
someone from the economics ministry. "If we tell them to import it and they
can't, then we can blame them and their imperialist bosses for any fuel
shortages that occur."
Still, a fuel executive said that if the
most equal of all comrades thought oil companies were going to import fuel
at, say, 50 US cents a litre and sell it at 5c, then clearly the most equal
of all comrades was using a calculator made in North Korea. "If we can't sell
it at a profit, then we won't sell it," said the oil executive.
The oil executive's statement was dismissed as treasonable rubbish by the
troubled central African country's disinformation department. "It's obvious
that these imperialist saboteurs haven't grasped the fundamentals of the most
equal of all comrade's genius revolutionary thinking," said a functionary
reading a prepared script, without saying how the genius revolutionary
thinking would transform the economy.
But he did say it would
transform the government's economy because it would no longer have to
subsidise the price of fuel. When asked whether fuel would be sold at world
prices or whether oil companies were expected to run at massive losses, the
functionary said imperialist profiteering would not be allowed and prices
would be vigilantly monitored by revolutionary cadres from the Zany
"Until such time as we own all the fuel companies there will
be no profiteering. After that prices may rise because the fuel companies
will belong to the people and they will be buying the fuel from themselves,"
he said, adding that this was where the revolutionary bit came
The idea was so simple that it was pure genius, he went on to
say. "It's much the same as with the farms. Now that the people own all
the farms, they can blame only themselves if food costs too much or if, as
is more likely, there is no food."
When it was pointed out that
only members of the Zany party owned farms, the functionary said that only
members of the Zany party could be classified as people. "The rest are
subversives, imperialists and puppets of the west," he said, "and they should
go and live with their colonialist puppeteers in those foreign places where
such people are tolerated."
Meanwhile, an economist who was not a
member of the Zany party advocated mass hoarding of fuel because it was
unlikely there'd be much to go around for some time to come. "All I can say
is buy now while stocks last, because in the realms of weird economics, this
has to be the weirdest I've ever encountered, even here," he said.
The Chickens are coming home to roost
FACED with a crisis of its own making, the
Zimbabwe government is now calling on multi-national oil companies to import
their own fuel instead of buying this precious commodity from the National
Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim).
politically and almost literally, the Mugabe regime has run out of
The chickens are coming home to roost. Over the years, in fact
for decades, before this Zanu PF-induced anarchy, oil companies were calling
for precisely what President Mugabe said last Thursday at the
National Consultative Forum retreat in Gweru, but their call has been falling
on deaf ears. The excuse from government was that oil procurement could not
be left in the hands of western imperialists who could sabotage the economy
through this 'strategic' product.
Even calls for Noczim to just
concentrate on ensuring that Zimbabwe had adequate reserves stored up at
Mabvuku holding tanks were dismissed contemptuously. The call was being made
in an era of economic stability and relative affluence, rather than of the
economic crisis as we are experiencing now.
Then, Zimbabwe was
experiencing some kind of boom, the economy was moving forward not backward.
There was national optimism then. The fundamentals of life were
plentiful-jobs, health facilities, food, strong Zim dollar, secure future for
Zim children and the amenities essential to modern life. In short, it was an
era of promise and great expectations.
Now the 80s and the 90s have
given way to the self-inflicted Zimbabwean crisis and the nation's psyche has
been darkened once again. There is an acute shortage of everything. Prices of
goods and services are going through the roof on a daily basis. Honest and
hard working Zimbabweans are being turned into criminals and crooks largely
because of the shortage economy currently engulfing the country.
It does not take rocket science to figure out why upright Zimbabweans have
been transformed into dishonest people. Private companies, individuals and
the government itself are carrying thousands, literally millions
of Zimkwachas in the boots of their vehicles. The country is being
run literally from the streets and not from the banks, government and
private sector offices.
For a country long accustomed to honesty
and hard work, this is something new and unwelcome. And this is the
environment in which President Mugabe is calling on multi-national companies
to use their own resources to import petrol and diesel. The implications of
this direct importation of fuel and other commodities on inflation and
subsequently on prices, is none of his business-so it appears. There is no
doubt in our own minds that if such a thing were to happen, there would be
human misery of enormous proportions. The current crisis would be so much
worse. We therefore await the forthcoming budget with bated
President Mugabe said every week cabinet "cracked" its head
over fuel supplies in the country. He went on: "Twenty-two years in
government, 22 years of playing this game of foolery. They (multi-national
oil companies) don't suffer from the headaches and stomach aches I suffer
from...For how long shall I superintend this institution of
We will tell you Mr President. Suffer as long as it
takes. Continue to "crack" your head as long as it takes. There is no hope in
hell as long as you are unwilling and unable to address the real and
fundamental issues at stake in our present situation. And you will continue
to suffer. Suffer old man.
It is an exercise in self-deception
and unmitigated folly for anyone to think that the economic and political
malaise that has enveloped this country can be solved by tinkering with the
rough edges. What we need is a cure for the disease and not a bandage here
and a bandage there.
The government has destroyed, among other
things, the goose that lays the golden egg: tobacco. The government has
destroyed commercial agriculture. The economy has become a shadow of its
former self. Where will exports for our much-needed foreign currency now come
from? This is what the Cabinet needs to "crack" its head over if there is
indeed to be a turn-around in our fortunes. Not to mention balance of payment
support from the Bretton Wood institutions: the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and the World Bank. Such support is critical to the economic health and
well being of Zimbabwe. Equally important also is the need to tackle issues
crucial to democracy such as: the rule of law, accountability, transparency,
human rights, violent conflict, free and fair elections, freedom of the press
and independence of the judiciary.
Zimbabweans cannot go it
alone. It is absolute lunacy to say: 'To hell with the international
community and international opinion.' No country can be an island complete
unto itself. Much less so, Zimbabwe. It is wicked and foolhardy to try to
emulate political systems of countries such as Cuba, Libya and Malaysia. Cuba
is an island with a fairly well-developed economy. Zimbabwe is not. Libya is
rich in oil while Zimbabwe is poverty-stricken. Malaysia has a sound and
highly developed economy. Zimbabwe is a midget compared to that country. In
any event, this world is so round, so wired and networked that it is
absolutely ridiculous and foolish to have faith in another equally (in fact
worse) poverty stricken country-Namibia.
The president must show
that he is serious in both word and deed after his plea at that Gweru retreat
for all Zimbabweans, irrespective of political background or religion, to
work together to create smart partnerships and make Zimbabwe great. The
problem with Mugabe is that he does not mean what he says. He merely pays lip
service to what he utters. No sooner does he leave Gweru and then he says and
does things completely at variance with what he would have urged Zimbabweans
to do. This is the problem. If only he could mean what he said about
Zimbabweans working together irrespective of political affiliation, what a
new beginning it would be for this country!
always be there in any society. When will Zimbabweans learn the simple fact
that if and when people disagree with you, they are just thinking
differently? They are not your enemies. They are just being creative and
trying to come up with the best way forward for our country. The sooner
everybody grasps this simple logic, the better for all of us.
How long can this continue? sundayopinion by
THE full extent of the mass misery Zimbabweans are
experiencing was brought home to me in the most excruciating way through
three different incidents over the past week.
In the first
incident, I was walking down the street nibbling an apple when a young man
surged forward from nowhere and snatched the fruit from my hand. He
apologised for his action but explained that he was so hungry he hoped I
understood that he simply had no choice but to do what he had done.
Another time, I was sitting in a fast food restaurant trying to assuage my
hunger with one of the cheapest items on the menu, an egg roll, when a
smartly dressed young man sitting at the next table leaned
After explaining that he was hungry but could not
afford to buy anything for lunch, he asked whether he could have that half of
my roll which was not garnished with egg.
The third incident
occurred on garbage collection day in my neighbourhood when two men who
usually scavenge for whatever scraps they can salvage from rubbish cans
fought over the rotting contents of a particular container.
was devastated. Firstly, because I never thought things would ever come to
this in my motherland and secondly, because these incidents brought home the
fact that there are real flesh and blood human beings behind the statistics
pertaining to unemployemt, economic hardships, hunger, starvation and life
below the poverty datum line.
These examples demonstrate beyond
doubt that we need men of conscience and compassion within the political
hierarchy to stem the wave of misery and suffering sweeping across the
nation, which is affecting people of all walks of life. The government levies
taxes on all citizens, regardless of political affiliation and should cater
for everyone on the same basis when there are crises. People are hungry
everywhere, including in cities and towns.
But what we have seen
so far, if persistent press reports are to be believed, is that food is being
used as a weapon to punish opponents and to consolidate the ruling party's
control and power over the starving masses. The people are crying out for
compassion and empathy and all they are getting in return is a kick in their
empty bellies. How long can this continue?
And yet a national
disaster such as the prevailing humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe presents a
golden opportunity for the ruling elite to put petty and selfish personal
agendas aside and build bridges. When faced with similar challenges, leaders
in other countries rise to the occasion every time.
example is how Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder came from behind in opinion polls
to win elections in Germany, last month. His victory has been attributed to
his 'hands-on' approach to the floods which hit his country and other parts
of Europe in September.
Schroeder rolled up his sleeves and toured
the affected areas for an on-spot assessment of the damage. This enabled him
to listen to the concerns and needs of the different communities and to
assure them of his commitment to doing everything possible to help
Such an approach is unheard of in Zimbabwe. What usually
happens is that when the people are down, they are shown a clenched fist and
subjected to fighting talk and threats. Disasters are seen as opportunities
to gain political mileage.
After the stock market crash of 1929
and the ensuing economic depression, the United States faced a catastrophe as
grave or worse than the largely self-inflicted one in Zimbabwe at
In introducing a package he called the 'New Deal' to
address the economic collapse in his country, the US president at the time,
Franklin D Roosevelt, combined strong leadership with consummate skill to
harness all forces into an effective coalition. He was wise enough to
appreciate the importance of involving all stake holders in tackling the
enormous problems his country was facing. By so doing, he gained enduring
respect and admiration.
Zimbabwe political leadership's myopic
quest to gain influence and consolidate power using brute force to instil
fear in the population can only buy them time. It will eventually backfire.
When deprived of all means of voicing grievances and seeking redress, a time
will come when the people will conclude that they no longer have anything to