Thu 8 Nov 2007, 7:12 GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's attorney general has been arrested and charged
with corruption in connection with allegations he promised to help a
fugitive banker who had fled the southern African nation, police said on
Attorney General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele was arrested on Tuesday and then
released after a statement was recorded, chief police spokesman Wayne
"So far we don't know when he will appear in court, but we have finished
everything, including the investigations, which meant taking statements from
witnesses," Bvudzijena told Reuters.
If convicted, Gula-Ndebele could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison
and face a heavy fine.
Bvudzijena said Gula-Ndebele had met James Mushore, the former director of
banking group NMBZ Holdings, in September and promised him that he would not
be arrested if he returned to Zimbabwe.
Mushore fled to Britain in 2004 at the height of a Zimbabwean banking crisis
that saw several finance houses shut down by the country's central bank. He
was arrested last month upon his return to Zimbabwe.
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Editing by Paul Simao and Janet Lawrence)
From The Times
November 8, 2007
As the country she loves plunges into economic and social meltdown, a white
Zimbabwean woman writes to her family in Britain about life amid runaway
inflation, police repression and a defeated people
Home. Strange but familiar. Scary but welcoming. Three months away from
Zimbabwe is a lifetime. People in normal countries return to their homes
after a time away to find nothing changed. Not here. The drive home is spent
dodging the same old potholes, ducking and diving with the cars and lorries
belting across crossroads where traffic lights still don't work, staring out
at the rusted and buckled street lamps that have had unsuccessful
altercations with Zimbabwe's death-defying drivers.
And home - with its magnificently flowering petrea entwined with yellow and
white banksia roses, the heavily scented Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
(brunsfelsia) bush of purple, mauve and white blossoms, the bougainvillea
spilling great masses of scarlet and cerise blossoms over the driveway, the
delicate pink and white bauhinia spreading its tangled branches, all under a
flawless, balmy, blue sky, so warmly embracing. I loved coming home . . . to
the hysterically barking dogs and Moses, standing at the front door with his
broad, delighted grin displaying the loss of another front tooth.
Until, that is, I decided to tackle the shops. The Mazda, left in June
safely parked and locked in the garage, provided me with my first shock. The
upper side of the boot had a rumpled look to it and it was a different white
from the rest of the car. I sought out Moses, dear trusty concerned Moses,
majordomo, carer, friend.
"Have you anything to tell me, anything that happened while I was away that
I should know about?" I asked.
"Well I told you I broke a plate and that I used your cooking oil; but
nothing else," he replied in a puzzled tone.
"Nothing on the property," I probed gently. "Nothing to the car?"
And so the story emerged. Apparently Moses (whose driving lessons I had
sponsored earlier this year - coincidentally?) had decided to wash the car
and, for an inexplicable reason, had pushed it out of the garage and it had
"rolled" into a pillar. This, he claimed, had buckled the boot. So he found
a hammer, used it to try and iron out the creases in the metal
(unsuccessfully), bought/borrowed/begged (a shifting account here) an
aerosol can of white paint - and sprayed. Why hadn't he told me on my
regular phone calls from England, or my friends keeping an eye on the house?
"I forgot," he said, eyes blank and depthless. "It was a mistake."
Perhaps I overreacted. But I was consumed by the sense of betrayal -
betrayal unhappily too common here in these troubled days - which upset me
far more than the damage to the car.
Shock No 2 was TM Supermarket. Somehow I thought the stories and pictures of
empty supermarkets were an exaggeration. But they weren't. Outside the shop
was a motley gathering of mainly women and children. The effect was one of
darkness and drabness (worn, torn, grubby clothes), weariness and defeat
(unsmiling, silent hopelessness). I asked a woman what she was waiting for.
Perhaps bread, she shrugged, or sugar or maybe mealie meal [the staple]. But
more likely nothing.
I went into the shop. And the empty shelves and freezers took my breath away
as fresh memories of yesterday's Sainsbury's and Waitrose obscenely filled
my mind. Many of the metal shelves were entirely bare; others contained a
single row of one commodity. For instance the tinned vegetables shelf was
taken up with can upon can of tomato purée - and nothing else. Another
"full" shelf held a line of loo rolls, while packets of loose tealeaves
decorated another. The only meat was packets of one brand of pork sausages
and another of frankfurters. There were no dairy products - milk, butter,
cheese - no eggs or bread or biscuits or cereal or flour or sugar . . . but
there was a small selection of fresh vegetables and one brand of washing
I left the shop with a packet of washing powder and two tins of grapefruit
segments - the only tinned fruit. My three items came to Z$533,000 - about
90p. Living here, I thought, is going to be cheap; not to mention provide a
Love and miss you, darling, Mummy
Yesterday was a bad day. As you know, I didn't leave my potent English bug
behind along with the cheddar cheese I couldn't squeeze into my ridiculously
laden hand-luggage. So feeling really rough, dragged myself to the doctor
and she put me on an antibiotic and a course of vitamin B injections to try
and boost my flagging system. She also told me that the results from a sugar
test, done before I left here, had shown I was prediabetic and I was to go
on to a sugar-free diet. Hmmm, I said, that's not too hard here; just as
well you're not telling me to go on to a sugar diet.
This new medical development, with the high blood pressure and high
cholesterol, apparently is just another indication of Zimbabwe's endemic
stress level. Talking of which, I suggested perhaps I should come off the
old Prozac. It's been a long time. Wait, she advised. You've been back in
the country only a matter of hours. I'm putting patients on to Prozac, not
taking them off.
I had chatted to a patient in the waiting room. She came here from England a
couple of years ago with her family in search of a "better life" - and found
it. "There's no way I'd go back to the UK," she said. "I'd much rather scout
round for fuel and food here than bring my kids up there. We had no quality
of life. I had two jobs, running ragged, and my kids were being brought up
by child carers. What kind of family life is that? Here they have open
space, sunshine and a mother and father."
My doctor was very kind and understanding of my pecuniary circumstances. She
charged me only Z$1 million (£1.80) for the consultation and first
injection. The pharmacist wasn't so sympathetic. My monthly medication and
the antibiotic came to more than Z$13 million. I reeled. In real money that's
just over £20 at yesterday's black-market rate. But all those zeroes are
frightening and it's amazing how easily they add up to lots of pounds.
I came home with my bag (we don't use purses here any more; they're simply
too small) a good deal lighter than when I went out (Z$14 million are a lot
of notes) and found an electricity cut. The power's off most days, but apart
from not being able to use the computer, I don't mind it too much during the
day. I try to get up around five in the morning, boil the kettle and put
some hot water in a Thermos. On the days I don't wake in time to carry out
this ritual, it's pretty miserable. Usually the power's off all day, so I'm
parched by evening.
But it's the black nights I hate most. Last night was awful. I came home
from walking the dogs on the golf course and heard that dreaded
deep-throated burrrr of the surrounding generators, and found the house
still in darkness. I don't use my baby generator. Somehow it seems
extravagant to spend a few hard-to-come-by litres of petrol on the couple of
lights and television it will power.
Cathy had left me some candles. I searched in vain for matches. I lay in bed
in that thick enveloping African blackness, sick and hungry, lonely and
despairing, worrying that Moses was a good deal less faithful than I had
believed . . . and I decided everyone has a line in life that they can't
cross. And I feared that perhaps I'd reached mine.
I've now heard that British Airways is stopping its thrice-weekly direct
London-Harare flight. A friend, whose daughter booked and paid in May to
come home from England to Zimbabwe this Christmas, has been advised by BA
that she will be refunded her money (which the airline has had the use of
all these months). But the new fare will be more than twice the amount she
receives because the route now takes in a stop-over in Johannesburg.
And so our isolation continues, our troubles worsen.
Sorry I'm so maudlin. I love you, Mummy
Thought I'd better send the following e-mail as a guideline for our future
communications: PLEASE TAKE NOTE AS THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS MATTER WHICH
NEEDS TO BE CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD.
As you might have read in the papers, the INTERCEPTION OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS
or THE ANTITERRORISM AND COMMUNICATIONS BILL is now LAW.
PLEASE BE WARNED AGAINST SENDING e-mails with political connotations, or any
unfriendly verbatim, like the use of known nicknames of political figures.
The Mail-Marshal can easily detect these. Let's try to avoid any unwarranted
arrests in our individual capacities, or as a company (companies can be sued
according to the companies Act chapter 23 section 12).
You might also want to advise any colleagues who you might have been in the
habit of exchanging potentially dangerous political views/jokes over e-mail.
Your landline phones are also not spared from this. Mobile phones can also
be tapped but only to a certain extent.
Not sure what constitutes "terrorist-in-spired" musings between mother and
daughter, but had better watch my Ps and Qs.
If I'm struggling to find food, can't imagine how the 80 per cent (actually,
now considered closer to 90 per cent) of unemployed are managing. No wonder
they appear so thin and emaciated. And from being a nation of jolly,
pleasant, contented people (as Zimbabweans were by repute and fact), those
men, women and children who tramp the dusty streets unable to afford the bus
fare home, look as though a smile requires more effort and energy than they
I drove out to Borrowdale Brooke to visit Jill last week. As I passed the
powder blue-painted walls - disappearing in every direction to beyond where
the eye could see and guarded by camouflage-clad, rifle-at-the-ready,
sinister-looking men whose stance definitely discouraged eye contact -
sheltering ******* rambling multi-roomed residence, I marvelled at the man's
lack of conscience at his people's anguish. And those people's passive
acceptance of their sorry lot.
Today heard the British Shadow Chancellor telling the Tory conference: We
have changed our party to face the modern world; now let's change our
country. Thunderous applause and acclaim in a country that to us is little
short of Utopia (with its freedom, democracy, rights, choice - not to
mention food) . . . and yet here, where there are no such things, we have no
such promises. Just a governing party that expects its 27-year rule under
one man to continue through next year's ********* into a never-ending
Delighted to find the Borrowdale Brooke Spar far better stocked than TM
Supermarket. Bought heavy brown sugar, Nescafé, light bulbs, dog biscuits,
carrots, a packet of pork sausages AND butter (I salivate at the memory) for
a cool Z$5 million (possibly what many receive for a month's work). Now on a
diet of sausage and sausage and more sausage. By Friday I was desperate for
stodge. I wanted to feel full. I longed for thickly cut, generously spread,
bread and butter. But I've seen no bread since my return.
So I set off to find flour. Not in the shops, of course, which haven't had
flour on their shelves for months, but from within the "informal trading
sector". (The wheat crop failed, we are mollified by a government report,
because of constant power failures - no mention being made of the fact that
all those commercial farmers who used to supply this bread basket of Africa
were hounded from their now mostly fallow lands.)
These traders operate from well outside the shops, and as you approach their
territory you are surrounded by feral-looking men, eyes darting on the
constant lookout for police charged with plugging the thriving black market:
madam, madam, they screech, elbowing their fellow hawkers away, and
proffering cartons of cigarettes - no longer available in the shops of this
once prime tobacco-growing nation - while suggesting, sugar, cooking oil,
and mealie meal can be obtained. I make my shopping request: flour.
All but one man fall away to descend on another potential customer. My man,
who introduces himself as Eddie, starts the long haul of negotiation. Six
million for 5kg, he offers. Four million, I counter. And so we haggle. In
the end I paid Z$4,600,000 (£6.50), thrilled with the deal and yearning to
make muffins and scones and biscuits and pizza . . . but I had no power that
night and none for 13 hours the following day. But what a magnificent
Saturday night I had . . . cooking and baking AND eating. In haste for the
kitchen, all love, Mummy
I write in some trepidation. Went to dinner with Lizzie and Lindy the other
evening and heard a horror story. Apparently Lizzie's boss arranged to meet
a client for a working breakfast at a coffee shop. When she got back to the
office, she was met by a number of plain-suited men. They identified
themselves as policemen and wanted to know who she had met, why and what had
been discussed. We live in a country where our rights have been totally
eroded - and we accept that as the status quo. Scary.
Meanwhile, costs continue to spiral. Moses - who hasn't had meat for
months - found some dried fish (kapenta) the other day for Z$900,000. Of
course, he didn't have the money to buy it. So I gave him it the next day,
but when he got to the shop it cost Z$1.4 million. Having not learnt the
dither-at-your-peril lesson (golfers buy their mid-game drinks at the start
of the 18 holes because their prices will have increased by the ninth hole),
I gave Moses the money the following day. The wretched fish by then was
Z$2.2 million - and when he went back for the third time, it had sold out.
Had a similar experience with the cars' tax this week. I could buy the
single-term tax for only one car because, as I reached the counter, the
office ran out of one-term discs. It cost an extraordinarily reasonable
Z$30,000 (20p). When I went back the following day to tax the second car,
the identical one-term tax cost Z$480,000. How's that for inflation?
Just been chatting to Maximus at the gate. Grizzled and looking his age - he
tells me he was born in 1927 - he still cycles round the suburbs selling
vegetables. I was shocked at the price of his potatoes (a million for 2kg).
Ah madam, he apologised; this country. What will happen to us God only
knows. My heart breaks for him and the millions of others suffering under
these unbearably harsh conditions. I asked him if he was still making a
living. Barely, he replied, but for the help of a granddaughter living and
working in England as a nurse.
Not only is Maximus physically fit, but he's mentally as sharp as a pin.
Getting off his bike and rubbing his steel-grey wire-brush head in memory of
better times, he remi-nisced about the Federation (you wouldn't know, but
that was of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland - Zambia, Zimbabwe
and Malawi, 1953-1963) and what good years they had been. "I can't
understand why this country had to seek revenge," he mused. "Swaziland and
Basutoland, South Africa and Botswana, Malawi and Zambia, Tanganyika (oh no,
they were ruled by the Germans) and Kenya, Ghana . . . they fought for their
freedom but they didn't seek revenge from the British. It confuses me why
this country had to attack the white people."
And me. With perhaps only 25,000 Zimbabwean whites left in the country (at
its peak there were 250,000), we are right down to those committed to the
country because they so choose - or they have no other choice. We are a
largely ageing population, at ease in a society that has forged a network of
friendship, affection and community-ministering through a tough and testing
shared history. To what alien world do we turn with a suitcase and a
truckload of useless Zimbabwe dollars?
Is this the Final Push? First the farms - with any white farmer remaining on
his land now considered to be trespassing - now last week's Indigenisation
and Empowerment law calling for 51 per cent of all foreign and white-owned
businesses to be given to black Zimbabweans; how long before our homes?
Returned to exercises this morning, held on Cathy's lawn under the spread of
the most magnificent Jacaranda tree. We twist our torsos and flex our limbs,
stretch spirits and souls, while staring up at a lacey purple canopy
filtering an emerging sun in a duck blue sky. The birds are in full voice,
banks of dazzling spring colour flank us, the dogs race round as I watch a
colony of ants on the march away from this group of middle aged women
working their bodies as they do all over the world . . . but surely seldom
in such magical surroundings.
I guess, simply, this is where I belong.
My love, Mummy
Inflation in Zimbabwe
Inflation rate: officially 6,592 per cent in August, but independent
estimates say 25,000 per cent
The official price of bread rose 300 per cent in October to Z$100,000 (10p)
Monthly cost of living for a family of five: 14 million Zimbabwe dollars
(Z$), worth £15.50 Food: Z$6.5 million (£7.20) Other household goods: Z$7.5
80 per cent of the population is living below the poverty line
Unemployment rate: 80 per cent
Sources: Times archives; Zimbabwe Central Statistical Office;
Photo: Anthony Kaminju/IRIN
After a month-long fact-finding mission to the region, Refugees International (RI), a US-based non-governmental refugee advocacy group, published a bulletin, Zimbabwe Exodus, on its observations.
"Large numbers of deportees regularly re-cross the borders illegally immediately after deportation, where they are subject to dangerous environmental conditions and often fall prey to criminal gangs. Deportations are very costly for the host governments and do not achieve the goal of deterring undocumented migration," the bulletin said.
Estimates of the scale of migration from Zimbabwe range from 1 million to over 3 million people, while international donor agencies say more than a third of the population, or 4.1 million people, require emergency food assistance. Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate in the world, nearly 8,000 percent, unemployment levels of 80 percent and acute shortages of basic foodstuffs, fuel and electricity.
In the first seven months of 2007, the Reception and Support Centre of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) processed 117,737 people repatriated from South Africa at its Beitbridge centre on the Zimbabwean border - about 40,000 more than in the last 6 months of 2006. The IOM has estimated that about 35 percent of those arriving at the centre immediately make their way back to South Africa.
According to unofficial estimates, about 40,000 Zimbabweans were repatriated from Botswana to Zimbabwe in 2006. RI said in its bulletin that "what is abundantly clear is that Zimbabwe currently suffers from a near complete lack of basic goods - food, petrol, soap, paraffin - and that Zimbabweans outside their country are actively engaged in providing those goods to family members back home."
Attempts by governments of neighbouring countries to find a solution to Zimbabwe's ongoing problems must "de-link" these political interventions from other considerations, so that they can "address the domestic consequences of Zimbabwean migration, including strains on social services, xenophobia, and the growth of an undocumented underclass that is in need of humanitarian assistance."
The initiative by the Southern African Development Community - of which the Zimbabwean migrant target countries of Botswana, South Africa and Zambia are all members - to broker a solution to Zimbabwe's political problems had deflected attention from the large-scale migration from Zimbabwe, "as it draws attention to the humanitarian crisis inside Zimbabwe", RI said.
Zimbabweans typecast as economic refugees
Zimbabweans were being typecast by the United Nations and neighbouring states as economic migrants, while the nature of the migration was complex, and "The attempt to categorise the outflow [of people] ultimately obstructs the humanitarian response by focussing on why people do (or do not) qualify for aid," RI commented.
Clearly not all Zimbabweans have a fear of prosecution ... however,
economic and political grounds for leaving are not mutually exclusive
The main host countries of Zimbabwean migrants, South Africa and Botswana, "should acknowledge the nature of the Zimbabwean migration, and provide adequate protection and assistance to those in need," the bulletin said.
South Africa's Department of Home Affairs, which the RI said showed "a lack of political will" to resolve issues pertaining to Zimbabwean migrants, has consistently said it was bound by international treaties, and Zimbabweans could not be classed as refugees in terms of the international accords South Africa was party to.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) defines a "refugee" as a person who has fled his/her country of nationality or habitual residence, and who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of a "well-founded" fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group. This definition excludes those who have left their homes only to seek a more prosperous life.
Treatment of foreign nationals
The home affairs parliamentary portfolio committee in South Africa recently condemned the "animal"-like treatment of foreign nationals by the authorities and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has launched an investigation into the death of a Zimbabwean refugee.
Fellow refugees named the deceased as Adonis Musati, who had reportedly queued for two weeks outside Cape Town's home affairs offices and died of starvation because he refused to leave the queue for fear of losing his place in it.
deportation of Zimbabweans had become a revolving-door phenomenon that costs the
country [South Africa] millions and does not solve anything
She said the SAHRC had been monitoring the treatment of foreign nationals and the conditions were "not up to scratch", as the home affairs department lacked adequately trained staff, and their processes were "cumbersome, bureaucratic and overly complicated".
RI said a UN agency, such as the UNHCR, should take a leadership role in the crisis and re-evaluate their planning, which was currently based on the scenario of "hundreds of thousands of people crossing the border in a few weeks", rather than basing its "contingency planning on the continued, steady flow of Zimbabweans out of their home country - exactly what is happening at present".
UNHCR spokesman Jack Reddon told IRIN the recommendation by RI that a UN agency should play a leading role in the migration of Zimbabweans did not take account of existing protocols, in which the agency's role was one of assisting and advising host governments on the issues of refugees and migration. "The lead in handling a flow of people into this country is taken by the South African government - they are in charge," he said.
A report released on Thursday by Save the Children (UK), Children on the move: Protecting unaccompanied children in South Africa and the region, noted that "The response in the region appears inadequate at present. Not only do countries such as South Africa need to work harder to ensure that these children are protected but, at the regional level, policies need to be reviewed and revised."
A child migrant is defined as a person under the age of 18, who has either crossed an international border alone or has subsequently found him- or herself living in a foreign country without an adult caregiver.
Child trafficking is the recruitment and transportation of a child by means of threats or use of force or other forms of coercion. "In the region there is still a tendency to see child migration and child trafficking as one and the same," the report said.
Save the Children said there were no reliable estimates of the number of child migrants in the region, who were mainly from Lesotho, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
These children have a powerful sense of futility about the lack of
opportunities available to them at home, combined with a strong sense of
possibility in relation to those in South Africa
The report recognised that the death of parents from HIV/AIDS could also contribute to child migration, and that girl children were especially vulnerable to the disease. "Many girls described crossing to South Africa by having sex with the border guards ... alternatively, some of the girls in the study described travelling across the border with truckers in exchange for sex."
The need for children to cross borders "only emphasises the work that remains to be done in the region on fundamental challenges such as HIV and AIDS and poverty."
South Africa's home affairs department could not be reached for comment.
Monsters and Critics
Nov 8, 2007, 17:06 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - Poachers have shot dead three black rhinoceros - a
species listed as the most highly endangered large mammal on earth - on a
private conservancy, its owner said Thursday.
John Travers said poachers armed with AK47 automatic rifles Wednesday night
evaded the armed guard surrounding the rhino on Imire game park about 100
kilometres east of Harare and shot dead two females and a male, but left a
four-week-old calf unharmed.
Zimbabwe in the 1980s had the largest population in Africa of black rhino,
about 7,500, but a wave of poaching all over Africa - driven by demand for
the horn in the Far East as a cure for fevers and a sexual stimulant and in
Yemen where it was used for dagger handles - decimated the population,
The horn is composed of tightly compacted hair fibres, and has no other
pharmacological properties, according to biologists.
About 1,500 of the surviving population were captured in the Zambezi Valley
on Zimbabwe's northern border and taken to apparent safety in national game
parks and conservancies in the interior of the country.
About 500 are still left, according to wildlife experts, but they have come
under increasing pressure this year.
The animals on Imire were under constant watch by armed guards, 'but this
was a slick operation,' Travers said. One of the cows was two weeks away
from giving birth to a calf. 'Poaching is pretty rampant now. Incidents like
this are going to have a serious effect.'
He said the three animals had had their horns sawn off by wildlife
veterinarians about two months ago, a tactic used with some success to deter
The decision to dehorn them was taken when poachers attacked another
conservancy outside Harare and shot dead three white rhino.
'My assumption is that these guys were after the horns but it was dark and
they couldn't see that they didn't have horns,' he said.
The three were among the hundreds of black rhino rescued from the Zambezi
Valley during 'Operation Stronghold,' a semi-military operation to fight off
the poachers, and came to Imire in 1985, where they became the stock for a
scientific breeding programme to build up their numbers again.
Travers said there were three others - the progeny of the slaughtered
rhino - still on the conservancy.
Police had supplied six armed officers to live with the rhino for the next
two weeks and strengthen the defences against a possible return by the
poachers' gang, he said.
'It's getting out of hand,' said Johnny Rodriguez, chairman of the Zimbabwe
Conservation Task Force, a private wildlife organization.
In a large conservancy in the Mavuradonha area about 200km north of Harare,
the rhino population had fallen from 54 to eight in the last year, while
conservancies in the central Midlands province had lost 31 in the same
period and were down to 21 now.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Thu 8 Nov 2007, 10:21 GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE (Reuters) - A week-long strike by Zimbabwe magistrates over pay could
be joined by more disgruntled state employees, increasing pressure on
President Robert Mugabe ahead of elections next year, analysts said.
The southern African country is grappling with a severe economic crisis that
has pushed inflation past 7,900 percent -- the world's highest -- resulted
in shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel, and left many workers
unable to feed their families.
This year alone has witnessed wildcat strikes from doctors, nurses, teachers
and university lecturers, all demanding higher wages but some workers have
stopped coming to work all together, moving to neighbouring countries or
abroad for better jobs.
"This is an electoral season that we are in and the government can ill
afford to have an ocean of discontent which its opponents can use for their
own political ends," said Eldred Masunungure, a leading political analyst.
The strike by the magistrates, which started in Harare, has spread
countrywide and forced courts to close. Analysts said the possibility that
other state departments could join the strike is likely to worry Mugabe's
The veteran Zimbabwe leader has ruled the country since independence from
Britain in 1980. While he has outmanoeuvred political opponents to cling to
power, critics see the deteriorating economy threatening his grip.
"The government will be gravely concerned, there is no doubt about that ...
and there is real fear the infection will spread to other (government)
sectors," Masunungure said.
As the economic crisis worsens, Mugabe's government has resorted to cracking
down on dissent, prompting workers to avoid street demonstrations and
express their discontent instead by staying away from their jobs.
Faced with a weak and divided opposition, analysts say Mugabe and his ruling
ZANU-PF party look set to win presidential and parliamentary elections in
But it is the economy that continues to pose headaches for Mugabe as
government efforts to rein in inflation have largely failed and it continues
to print money to appease workers.
"Luckily the opposition is in disarray but economic pressure certainly
remains and if unchecked, this strike will spread and paralyse government
operations," Masunungure said.
The magistrates' want their monthly pay raised sixfold from Z$29 million,
which is $966 on the official market but $39 on a thriving parallel market.
The strike has meant suspects are held longer in police or remand custody.
"The employer has been seized with concerns of the middle and lower levels
of the judiciary and the employer is addressing these concerns in an
expeditious manner as is reasonably practical," David Mangota, permanent
secretary in the justice ministry said in a memorandum to senior magistrates
(editing by Marius Bosch and Mary Gabriel)
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 11/08/2007 10:14:07
ZIMBABWE'S ruling Zanu PF party and the two factions of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are inching closer to an historic deal
aimed at fostering national unity and redrawing a new constitution, New
Zimbabwe.com learnt last night.
The talks, brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
are currently being held under the facilitation of President Thabo Mbeki of
The two parties adjourned last week when Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa received news that his son had suddenly died in his sleep in the
Chengetai Chinamasa's body arrives in Zimbabwe from the United States on
Friday, with the funeral expected at the weekend. His funeral clears the way
for talks to resume again in midweek.
Sources close to the talks said there had been "no sticking point" in the
discussions which are several months behind schedule. The two parties, which
were now eyeing November 15 as a deadline for concluding the talks, have
been forced to consider the end of November as a realistic time to reach a
A source revealed: "There isn't much of a sticking point in the talks; it's
getting time to meet that has been challenging. There certainly hasn't been
Zanu PF and the MDC have agreed amendments to tough security and media laws.
The amendments have been referred to government drafters before the drafts
are referred back to the negotiators for final approval.
The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and the
Public Order and Security Act (Posa) were both reviewed during the
The new Aippa draft includes measures to take the regulation of the media
from the government to a self-regulatory body.
But perhaps the most critical and delicate discussions centred on a new
constitution. Both parties have "essentially agreed on the new draft",
sources said, but there remains some critical sections which need
A source revealed: "Some provisions of the draft are not there. The date of
the general elections next year has to be dealt with under transitional
"You can't complete a constitution until you say the current parliament will
continue until such and such a time and the current president's term will
continue until this or that day which in this instance is the eve of the
The sources revealed that when Chinamasa returns to the discussion table
next week, the parties will begin talks on international sanctions against
Zimbabwe - an area which could make or break the talks.
MDC officials have privately said they are not sure how Zanu PF hopes the
opposition party can influence western nations to lift purportedly
"targeted" sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his officials.
"We now wait to hear what exactly they want us to help with on the issue,
since they put the item on the ageda."
President Mugabe has accused the United States and Britain of leading an
international campaign to topple him from power, and accuses the MDC of
actively seeking the imposition of sanctions. The MDC rejects the charges.
The African Union and SADC have both endorsed the talks which the MDC hopes
will lead to fairer electoral rules ahead of general elections expected in
March next year.
The MDC is represented at the talks by Professor Welshman Ncube and
Priscilla Misihairabwi from the faction led by Arthur Mutambara, while
Tendai Biti and Lovemore Moyo represent the other faction led by Morgan
Tsvangirai. Chinamasa and Labour Minister Nicholas Goche represent Zanu PF.
Farmers weekly, UK
A group of Dutch farmers is one step closer to gaining compensation for land
and farms lost to the government of Zimbabwe, after a recent hearing in
The tribunal, at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment
Disputes, heard evidence from 10 dispossessed white farmers, represented by
the Dutch Farmers Association. Each made the case for Robert Mugabe's ZANU
(PF) government to accept liability for a breach of the Netherlands-Zimbabwe
bilateral investment treaty and pay compensation.
Victory at this level could benefit more than 4000 dispossessed farmers who
lost their land in the period of so-called land reform, said Bob Fernandes,
chairman of AgricAfrica, which is jointly funding the tribunal.
In a series of briefs and counter briefs, the tribunal heard that the
Zimbabwean government acknowledged certain "deprivations" had taken place
without the payment of compensation. But compensation would only be payable,
the government insisted, when the country was able to do so.
The group of farmers, who now live outside Zimbabwe, could now be only three
months away from receiving some degree of compensation, according to Mr
Fernandez. "It remains unclear what valuation compensation will be paid, as
the Zimbabwean government only recognises formal expropriation in a
constitutional amendment made in 2005." With interest, a figure suggested is
close to h25m.
Worldwide Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Group lawyer Mathew Coleman,
who represented the Dutch farmers, said: "The tribunal heard from claimants
that the process of land reform had proceeded in a haphazard, illegal and
ultimately disastrous manner. In response, Zimbabwe insisted that the
process had served an essential public interest, giving land to the landless
peasants of its country."
A large percentage of this repossessed land now lies derelict and
unproductive, and many farms are now occupied, not by the people the
campaign proclaimed to provide for, but by ruling party cronies.
The final ruling is expected early next year.
by Emily Padfield
[Analysis] Numbers of chronically undernourished rising
Published 2007-11-08 14:16 (KST)
Hope for economic stability and food security, or even grudging political
settlements in Zimbabwe are fast getting extinguished.
The appalling events of the past few years have not only affirmed what every
one knew: UN refugee agency states that over 3 million people are thought to
have left Zimbabwe. They have also exposed what everyone had hoped was no
longer true: the World Food Programme reckons that 4m Zimbabwean (about
one-third) of the remaining population will need food aid by 2008.
Furthermore, it has been estimated by the FAO that the number of chronically
undernourished people in Zimbabwe is rising and rising at an alarming rate.
A recent report of FAO stated that Zimbabwe's hunger is worsening.
Zimbabwe's hunger is worsening and because of the widespread hunger and ever
soaring unemployment and inflation, the exodus rate is certain to rise in
the coming months.
There seems every chance that it will, given more than 80 percent of
unemployment, world record hyper inflation and severe shortages of the most
basic goods. Zimbabwe's situation is growing ever more miserable.
According to the International Monetary Fund experts, by the end of this
year, there is every likelihood of inflation reaching 100,000 percent.
The problem is not only inflation. Other statistics reveal grimmer pictures
of Zimbabwe. According to the Refugee International, each day, thousands of
Zimbabweans are streaming across the borders to neighboring countries in a
bid to escape the chaos. Many people have already fled and more are waiting
to make it to the other side. They sit in the sun, with little food or water
and wait, hoping to get refuge in neighboring nations.
The tragedy of the hunger, misrule, unemployment and inflation has spread
all over Zimbabwe and in recent years has spread into South Africa,
Mozambique and Zambia too.
In South Africa alone, there are estimated to be 3 million Zimbabweans (both
legal and illegal). The condition is further deteriorating in Zimbabwe
according to the UN, and there are every possibilities of mass exodus in the
neighboring nations such as South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia.
In the midst of this all, The United Nations has already warned that
Zimbabweans could be forced to take desperate action in order to stay alive.
Inequalities in income and consumption have increased in Zimbabwe. It may be
noted that casual workers report the highest incidence of poverty and food
security risk. This is an indication of growing vulnerability of poor people
in terms of their income earning opportunity and thus their food purchasing
capacity as well.
On the other hand, this year's harvest of maize, the local staple, was
meager. Rains have been poor, and the government's disastrous land-reform
program has turned once flourishing commercial farming into subsistence
Zimbabwe faced shortages of vital supplies including its staple food, maize.
And the trouble in Zimbabwe is worse because Zimbabwe has a dire shortage of
the foreign currency needed to import goods. And isn't this troubling for a
nation which agriculture based economy used to produce enough food to feed
The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), led by Robert
Mugabe, has been in power since 1980. In 1991, Zimbabwe embarked on an
economic reform process which was not successfully carried through. And
since the late 1990s it has been grappling with economic deterioration and
the government has been implementing a land reform program since 1999/2000.
There has been no positive impact of land reforms in agriculture as
evidenced by the low growth in agriculture with declining per capita
domestic food supply. The share of agriculture in resource allocation of the
government has declined over the years.
Analysts say it is this very land reform which is deteriorating the
Zimbabwean economy. Land reform has led to decreased agricultural production
and this had led to the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy as Zimbabwe's
economy relies heavily on agricultural crops, such as tobacco, cotton, and
sugarcane, and on related manufacturing industries, such as textiles and
Moreover, it has left less than half of the country's farmland under
cultivation. According to the statistical reports, real GDP declined by 6.5
percent in 2005, which was the seventh consecutive year of negative GDP
growth since 1997. Similarly, over the period 1997-05, GDP declined by more
than 30 percent. This shows how much Zimbabweans are suffering, and how
fragile its economy, once the most dominant in the region has become.
But, all these depressing statistics has not shattered Mugabe and his ruling
elites. All this sets the stage for more turmoil and hardship for ordinary
citizens in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe will have to provide an answer to this.
The sooner, the better for Zimbabwe.
HARARE, Nov 8 (AFP)
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's deputy has dismissed reports that she
wants to succeed the veteran ruler, state media said on Thursday.
"If there is a person who wants to contest (against) President Mugabe, it's
not me," the Herald newspaper quoted Vice President Joyce Mujuru as saying
during a provincial meeting of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union -
Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
"I am shocked about all this I am hearing. The presidium is made up of four
people and I am already in the presidium. I am not going anywhere."
Mujuru, who is one of Mugabe's two deputies said she was content with her
"I was groomed by Mr Mugabe to what I am," Mujuru said. "Please don't force
me into the presidential throne. Don't force me where I don't fit. Mr Mugabe
appointed me to my current position so that I could help him."
When Mugabe elevated Mujuru to vice-president in December 2004, he appeared
to have annointed her as his successor by saying she was destined for higher
But relations between the two appeared to have cooled following reports
linking her to a faction in the party pushing her to take over from Mugabe,
who has ruled the country since its independence from Britain in 1980.
Mujuru is the wife of former army chief Solomon Mujuru who remains highly
influential in the Zimbabwean government and the military.
Mugabe, 83, has in the past attacked members of his inner circle jostling
for the presidency saying some were consulting traditional healers under the
cover of darkness to enhance their chances.
Last year he declared there was no vacancy for the presidency and in March,
ZANU-PF chose him as its candidate for presidential elections next year.
By Henry Makiwa
8 November 2007
A student and youth rights activist who was arrested at the University of
Zimbabwe where Robert Mugabe was capping graduates on Friday has been
released from police cells without charge.
Wellington Mahohoma, of the Zimbabwe Youth Movement (ZYM) walked out of the
Harare Central Police station free after police failed to pin down any
criminal charges against him. Mahohoma was arrested for holding a camera in
the presence of Robert Mugabe.
Heavily armed state security agents and soldiers nabbed Mahohoma while
filming the graduation ceremony of his brother, accusing him of taking the
images of Mugabe for "sinister use". He was further charged with
"trespassing" at the University of Zimbabwe where he used to study before he
was expelled after leading student protests in 2001.
On Thursday, Mahohoma accused Mugabe of suffering from paranoia.
He said: "I was well shocked to see some big burly man jumping out of Mugabe's
cars, guns on the ready to arrest me. They accused me of taking pictures of
Mugabe for sinister use and took me away to the police station where I was
to spend an entire weekend of intense interrogations.
"After arresting me, they confiscated my Digital camera and recorder and ZYM
flash disk and continuously questioned and harassed me. On opening the flash
disk, they found several issues pertaining to ZYM's political activities and
thus tried to find justification to holding me."
Mahohoma was only released after the intervention of ZYM lawyers although
the police insist they need to investigate him.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
DELEGATION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO ZIMBABWE
Harare, 8th November 2007
The Heads of Mission of countries of the European Union accredited to
Zimbabwe and the Head of Delegation of the European Commission are
conducting a Field Trip from the 8th and 10th of November 2007 in Bulawayo
and Matabeleland South areas to visit EU funded projects.
This initiative follows a first similar successful visit to
Rusape-Nyanga-Mutare Region conducted in January 2006. The current visit
will be centred in Bulawayo and Matabeleland South Region, another important
part of the country.
The visit is organised by the Delegation of the European Commission, which
is responsible for EU cooperation on behalf of all EU member States. EU
ambassadors will have a first hand opportunity to appreciate the depth of EU
current assistance to Zimbabwe in the Region visited. The Commission and EU
Member States are actively involved in supporting directly the population of
The visit is also an opportunity for EU Ambassadors and the Commission to
assess the situation in the Region visited.
The Ambassadors' visit will cover a variety of projects in different areas.
Upon arrival, EU HoMs will have meetings with the Governor of Bulawayo,
Honourable Mr. Cain Mathema, as well as with the Executive Mayor of
Bulawayo, Honourable Mr. Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube. In the afternoon EU
Ambassadors will visit an Emergency Water and Sanitation Project, funded by
ECHO, the humanitarian department of the European Commission, and
implemented by World Vision Netherlands. This visit will be followed by a
visit to the Bulawayo Agenda Local Voices Project, a Human Rights project
financed by the EU and implemented by Bulawayo Agenda.
On the occasion of this field visit, the EU-Troika (Portugal - France -
European Commission), on behalf of all EU Ambassadors, will host a reception
in Bulawayo, with the participation of key stakeholders in the region and
On the second day, EU Ambassadors and the Head of the Delegation of the
European Commission will visit an Orphanage in Bulawayo, as part of a Food
Security Project funded by the EU and implemented by Lead Trust. They will
then head to Matobos area, where they will visit Mhlahlandlela Rural Health
Centre and Silobi Secondary School, both EU MicroProjects. In the afternoon,
they will visit an evidence-based programme implemented by UNFPA and UNICEF
through civil society in support of the National Behavioural Change
On 18 February 2002, the Council of the European Union decided to take
"appropriate measures" against Zimbabwe following the conclusion of the
consultations held under Article 96 of the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement.
These measures included the suspension of financing of budgetary support and
projects, as well as the suspension of the signature of the 9th EDF National
Programme, but explicitly did not affect the contributions to operations of
humanitarian nature and projects in direct support to the population, in
those in social sectors, democratisation, respect for human rights and the
rule of law.
They also included the suspension of Article 12 of Annex 2 to the ACP-EU
Partnership Agreement, concerning current payments and capital movements, in
far as required for the application of further restrictive measures, and in
freezing of funds.
The European Commission has remained, significantly, the most important
donor to Zimbabwe, on behalf of the European Union. In 2006, EC funded
support amounted to 86.1 million Euros, while EU total support including
bilateral support from EU Member States amounted to 193.3 million Euros.
This alone shows that the EU has not abandoned the population of Zimbabwe
and is constantly looking for solutions through dialogue with the host
Main activities are focusing on: basic health including a strong dedication
to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria; basic education; food aid and food security;
water and sanitation; assistance to mobile and vulnerable populations,
orphans and other vulnerable children; emergency assistance, community
development, good governance and human rights. Zimbabwe is a "focus country"
for the European Initiative on Democracy and Human Rights, and implements a
wide and extensive programme through International and National NGO's.
Thu 8 Nov 2007, 18:03 GMT
By Alphonso Toweh
MONROVIA, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf urged
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to drop his threat to boycott next
month's Europe-Africa summit if Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe attends.
Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa's only elected female head of state, added her voice
to the growing number of African and European leaders calling on Brown to
attend the summit in Lisbon, which she said was likely to focus on trade
"We hope that (Brown) will change his position and we hope that he will be
there. He's a strong supporter and partner to many African countries,
including Liberia," Johnson-Sirleaf told Reuters in an interview.
"He has supported Liberia very well in our debt relief efforts and we think
he will be a positive participant in the meeting," she said. "We do not
think he should take the position of trying to promote the exclusion of any
There has been no EU-Africa summit for seven years because former colonial
power Britain and other European Union members refused to attend if Mugabe
did, citing human rights abuses by his government. However, African leaders
have said they would not go if he was barred.
European countries have been pressing African nations to sign new Economic
Partnership Agreements (EPAs) by the end of this year to replace trade pacts
deemed illegal by the World Trade Organisation.
Fair trade campaigners have said the EPAs threaten to flood the world's
poorest continent with European goods and undermine African agriculture and
industry, while others say failure to sign risks a block on African exports
"One issue that may well come out will deal with trade policy: how we can
make sure African commodities penetrate European markets?" said
Johnson-Sirleaf. "Africa's position is that we want more trade and less
EU nations, which attempt to promote human rights and good governance in
Africa using the incentive of trade and development spending, find they are
losing ground on the continent to emerging economic powers such as India and
Beijing has been criticised for ignoring ethical considerations when
clinching deals for African raw materials to feed its resource-hungry
The 27-member EU is Africa's largest trading partner, with trade totalling
more than 200 billion euros ($285 billion) last year. China leapt into third
place with trade worth 43 billion euros and has stepped up its aid and
The Liberian leader, a former World Bank economist, repeated her country's
support for a planned U.S. military command in Africa (Africom) but she said
there had been no contact with the U.S. Defense Department concerning
Liberia's offer to host it.
"It's going to be a force that is going to help prepare African security
forces to be able to protect African integrity," she said. "It is a training
facility ... unlike the way it is possibly understood."
Johnson-Sirleaf said she had talked to U.S. President George W. Bush about
"What we have discussed is how can you make a better case for what Africom
is all about ... to make African leaders more comfortable with it." (Writing
by Daniel Flynn; editing by Alistair Thomson and Andrew Dobbie)
By Mutumwa D. Mawere
Last updated: 11/05/2007 18:40:17
JAMES Mushore, one of three professionals who founded the first merchant
bank controlled and managed by blacks in Zimbabwe, the National Merchant
Bank of Zimbabwe (NMB), made history in 2004 when like the late Vice
President Joshua Nkomo, he fled to the former colonial power, England, for
fear of his life in post colonial Zimbabwe.
Like Nkomo before him, Mushore is passionate about Zimbabwe and his role as
a trail blazer in the quest for black economic empowerment remains unshaken.
Together with Dr. Julius Makoni, whom I consider the father of black banking
in Zimbabwe having pioneered the establishment of the first black owned bank
in Zimbabwe, and William Nyemba, Mushore's place in black corporate history
is secure and yet he finds himself behind bars for a crime that is difficult
to explain to any rational person who is not a Zimbabwean.
The late Joshua Nkomo was the first icon to be a victim of the post-colonial
state and he could find no refuge in the country that he had fought so hard
to liberate. The accusations against Nkomo and his colleagues when
critically examined are no different from the accusations against Mushore,
Chris Kuruneri, James Makamba and others. Essentially, the allegations
center on actions that are deemed to undermine national interest.
National interest, often referred to by the French term raison d'Etat is
multi-faceted and is concerned with the state's survival and security as
well as the pursuit of wealth and economic growth and power.
In early human history, national interest was usually viewed as secondary to
that of religion or morality. To engage in war, rulers needed to justify
their actions in these contexts. The primacy of national interest came later
to dominate European politics and states found a convenient avenue to embark
on wars purely out of self interest.
In the case of post-colonial Zimbabwe, the country is regarded by those who
persecute their perceived enemies through prosecution as an independent
polity with an identity jealously defined by the ruling elite as anything
other than a vague geo-political and historical concept. The geography known
as Zimbabwe is a politically and culturally diverse collection of polities
and dependencies with no generally agreed and shared sense of common
history, destiny or culture.
The Matabeleland region is just as culturally and historically Ndebele as is
Manicaland just as Manyika. In such an environment, any strategic thought on
national interest cannot be rooted in nationalist ambitions for glory or
protection. What post-colonial Zimbabwe has advanced may be regarded as a
ruthless political paternalism or a nationalised future even Nkomo could not
have conceived of, borrowed liberally from and put to the service of self
serving nationalist ambitions.
When Nkomo fled the country, his enemies now in control of the state could
not have been motivated by a nationalistic sense of Zimbabwean-ness at
heart. Rather it may have been motivated by a strategy to increase the power
of the Great Leader for whom he worked as Minister of Home Affairs. In this
case, it is arguable whether the reasons for Gukurahundi were real or
manufactured for political expediency.
Zimbabwe, like many post colonial states, has failed to invest in an
institutional framework to ensure that no despot - whether that despot be a
single dictator, a political pressure-group (party) or a befuddled
democratic majority of the moment - may usurp the powers of government, and
turn its machinery upon any of its citizens, each and every aspect of
government action is codified, and carried out, according to objectively
In the case of Mushore, he is alleged to be guilty like Makamba, Kuruneri
and others before him of a crime that does not exist in the statute books of
the country. In the search of a universally agreed definition of
externalisation, I searched on the internet and could find no description of
the term as a crime. Such a crime only exists in Zimbabwe and can trace its
origin to when Gideon Gono was appointed as Governor of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe. Prior to Gono's appointment, exchange control violations were
civil rather than criminal offences and justifiably so.
In any free society each and every man ought to live under a rule of law as
opposed to a whim-ridden rule of evil men. The rule of law should only have
one purpose: to protect the rights of the smallest minority that has ever
existed - the individuals like Nkomo, Mushore, Makamba and others.
Such a body of integrated, codified and non-contradictory laws should form
objective legislation, which should ideally hold a man innocent until he can
be proven guilty as opposed to a library of irrational regulations which
hold a man guilty until he can somehow prove himself innocent, to the
gratification of some idiot able to gain a foothold in public office.
Zimbabwe's still boasts of a constitutional order that is premised on the
existence of democracy and the doctrine of the separation of powers. The
supreme legal document of any proper society is ultimately its
constitution - a citizen's protection against both private criminals and
public officials who seek to imitate the criminal's methods.
The liberation struggle was primarily motivated by a just cause for just
ends and yet Mushore finds himself in this year of the Lord in custody
notwithstanding the fact that he has been granted bail by a Court of law
while public officials try to pump life to a dead case.
Makamba, Kuruneri and Muderedi were there before, and we were all silent
while the collective project to create a New Zimbabwe founded on the rule of
law and not rule by law was being massacred by the few who are lucky and
privileged to preside over the state.
The purpose of any constitution should not be to grant unlimited power to
government or to limit the rights of an individual, but to limit the power
of government to its only valid purpose, the protection of individual
rights. In other words, a citizen should be free to do whatever he is not
explicitly forbidden (under a proper legal system the only act forbidden is
the violation of the rights); whereas, a public official is only allowed to
carry out what is explicitly permitted.
Mushore is facing charges of authorising the illegal export of foreign
currency during his time as Deputy Managing Director of NMB Bank in 2003. It
is not clear from the state's case whether Mushore should in his personal
capacity be culpable for an alleged offence that purportedly was to the
benefit of NMB, a separate and distinct juristic person with its own rights
at law. If Mushore is indeed guilty of the offence, then surely why would
the state be selective?
Anyone who has followed the NMB saga closely will know that the bank has
already been found guilty and fined for the same offence that Mushore finds
himself charged with. In what kind of constitutional order would a citizen
be accountable for someone's offence?
Mushore left the country in 2004 and it is reliably understood that he was
assured that he would not be harassed by the state after the conviction of
NMB. If Mushore was not patriotic and believed in his country, he would not
have dared to come and face his accusers.
As President Mbeki tries to find a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis, it is
evident that no lasting solution will take root as long the state operates
above the law with impunity. Yesterday it was Kuruneri and today it is
Mushore and tomorrow only the Reserve Bank knows. What kind of a society has
Zimbabwe come to?
In trying to explain the root cause of the economic crisis, the government
has chosen to target selected individuals as economic saboteurs whose
actions undermine public interest. The Reserve Bank has been at the
forefront of projecting the notion of public interest in policy debates,
politics, democracy and the nature of the government itself. While the RBZ
claims that aiding the common well being or general welfare is positive,
there is little, if any, consensus in Zimbabwe on what constitutes the
public interest to justify the actions perpetrated against people like
There are different views on how many members of the public must benefit
from an action before it can be declared to be in the public interest: at
one extreme, an action has to benefit every single member of society in
order to be truly in the public interest; at the other extreme, any action
can be in the public interest as long as it benefits some of the population
and harms none.
The public interest is often contrasted by the government with the private
or individual interest, under the assumption that what is good for Zimbabwe
may not be good for a given individual and vice versa. This definition
allows people in government to "hold constant" private interests in order to
determine those interests that they perceive to be unique to the public.
However, Zimbabwean society is composed of individuals with conflicting
objectives, and the public interest must necessarily be calculated with
regard to the interests of its members. It has now become evident that the
notion of public interest as espoused by the government destroys the idea of
human rights and it's about time Zimbabweans interrogated the degree to
which the ends of society are the ends of its individual members, and the
degree to which people should be able to fulfill their own ambitions even
against the public interest.
The Mushore case provides yet another opportunity for Zimbabweans to reflect
on what kind of society they want and begin to debate about policies rather
than be preoccupied by State House politics at the exclusion of key
institutional issues that help define and inform a progressive and
developmental state. The debate ought to be elevated from personalities to
the foundational aspects of the post-colonial regime.
Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column appears on New Zimbabwe.com every Monday. You
can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org