Lawyers from Nepal, Zimbabwe Fight for Rights of Powerless
(London, October 11, 2007) - Two courageous Human Rights Lawyers, from
Zimbabwe and Nepal, have been chosen to receive the prestigious Human Rights
Defender Awards, Human Rights Watch said today. The awards will be presented
at dinners in London, Munich, Hamburg, and Geneva in November.
Both honorees, who have faced down death threats, use the law to expose
abuses and seek redress for victims of gross human rights violations in
Human Rights Watch's global rights defender awardees for 2007 are:
a.. Mandira Sharma, a human rights lawyer and activist from Nepal;
b.. Arnold Tsunga, a lawyer and activist from Zimbabwe.
"We are honoring Mandira and Arnold because of their fight to build and
preserve civil society in Nepal and Zimbabwe," said Kenneth Roth, executive
director of Human Rights Watch. "We salute their courage in risking their
lives to seek justice and basic rights for all."
Sharma, the first woman in her village to become a lawyer, founded Advocacy
Forum to champion the rights of ordinary Nepalis caught in the brutal civil
war between Maoist insurgents and the Nepali government. Since a peace
agreement was signed in 2006, Sharma has concentrated on bringing to justice
those who committed abuses on both sides, because she believes that peace
depends in part on justice. "There is a culture of impunity," she said.
"Without addressing this, we cannot move forward."
Tsunga, executive director of Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights, returned
home to Harare this year despite being constantly harassed and threatened by
government forces. He uses the courts to take on Robert Mugabe's regime,
giving a voice to Zimbabweans silenced by repression. "Some people ask me
why I bother using the legal system when the deck is so stacked against us,"
he said. "I answer that there is still a semblance of a court system and
some brave judges who will uphold the law. But they are operating in
straitjackets and desperately need support to continue doing the right
Human Rights Watch staff work closely with the human rights defenders as
part of our human rights investigations in more than70 countries around the
world. The 2007 Human Rights Watch annual dinners, where the defenders will
be honored, will take place in London, Munich, Hamburg, and Geneva.
"We are all inspired by the work of Mandira Sharma and Arnold Tsunga," said
Roth. "They fight every day to uphold the rule of law because they know it's
the strongest weapon against abusive forces in government or out."
Background on the 2007 Human Rights Watch Honorees:
Mandira Sharma, Nepal
Mandira Sharma is a Nepali lawyer and human rights activist who cofounded
Advocacy Forum, one of Asia's most respected and effective human rights
organizations. Sharma works to publicize human rights abuses and provide
legal support to Nepali activists, many of whom have been targeted by the
Sharma's efforts have been critical to the pursuit of justice for abuses
committed by both the Royal Nepali Army and Maoist rebels during a civil war
that plagued Nepal for nearly a decade between 1995 and 2005. In the face of
entrenched ineptitude and corruption in the Nepali court system, Sharma
continues to file and win cases on behalf of human rights activists who have
been arbitrarily detained, tortured, and "disappeared." She also conducts
advocacy to raise awareness about these widespread human rights violations
and engages in grassroots outreach to educate the public about their legal
rights. Human Rights Watch honors Sharma for her work defending the Nepali
people in the midst of the bloody civil war, and for seeking to ensure the
country achieves a just and stable peace.
Arnold Tsunga, Zimbabwe
Arnold Tsunga stands on the frontlines of the struggle for human rights in
Zimbabwe, where the government has intimidated, arrested and beaten
political opponents, and in 2005 pursued a massive campaign of forced
evictions and demolitions.
As the executive director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Tsunga heads
a small and extremely effective staff of lawyers, as well as a network of
around 200 members of the legal community who offer their services on a
part-time, pro bono basis. Though he has been beaten, arrested and
threatened at gunpoint, Tsunga is tireless in his support of those who risk
their own lives to denounce the deteriorating state of human rights in
Zimbabwe. He visits police stations to secure the release of activists,
stands in court with outspoken opponents of the government, and speaks out
against the abduction, harassment and arbitrary detention of countless
others. Human Rights Watch honors Tsunga for his steadfast commitment to
those who fight for human rights in Zimbabwe.
FROM THE ZIMBABWE VIGIL
NB: CHANGE OF VENUE FOR SOCIAL EVENT - TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW
A final reminder that this Saturday, 13th October is the Zimbabwe Vigil’s Fifth Anniversary. Everyone is welcome and we look forward to seeing you. Please see attached Press Release for more information.
After the Vigil there will be social event. Apologies, in true Zimbabwean style, we have had a late change of venue. From 6.30 – 11 pm we will be socialising at:
Highgate Newtown Community Centre
25 Bertram Street
London N19 5DQ
Phone: 020-7272 7201
Directions from the Vigil to the Venue
Underground: Northern line from Charing Cross, High Barnet/Mill Hill East train. If delays on this, take Edgware train and change at Camden Town for High Barnet/Mill Hill East train. Nearest stations are:
- Archway: leave by the Junction Road exit, turn right onto Junction Road, take 4th road right, Bickerton Road at end of Bickerton Road turn left into Dartmouth Park Hill and then next right into Chester Road, Bertram Street is third on the Left and the Venue is at the end of Bertram Street. (alternatively you can catch Bus C11 from Archway – get off at the first stop in Chester Road)
- Tufnell Park: take Dartmouth Park Hill (road with ‘Spaghetti House’ in green lighting) across the 5 road intersection turn left (7th road to the L) at Chester Road and then as above (you can catch Bus 4 up Dartmouth Park Hill – get off at stop just past Chester Road)
Buses: no direct buses from the Vigil but many buses stop at Archway: 4, 17, 271, 43, 134, 390, C11.
Go east along the Strand, keep to the right entering the one-way semi-circle of Aldwych. After the traffic lights in the middle of Aldwych move to left to enter Strand which becomes Fleet Street. Turn L at first traffic lights into Chancery Lane. At the top of Chancery Lane turn right into Holborn and then first L into Grays Inn Road. Continue to end of Grays Inn Road and when it becomes one way, move to R. Keep in right lane and turn right into York Way (Kings Cross Station is on the left). Follow the one way system via Camden Park Road and Torriano Avenue. At top of Torriano Avenue turn R into Leighton Road and then L into Brecknock Road, then straight on through the 5 road junction at Turnell Park onto Dartmouth Park Hill (road with ‘Spaghetti House’ in green lighting). Turn L into Chester Road (7th turning L off Dartmouth Park Hill). Finallly take the 3rd turning L into Bertram Street. The Venue is at the top of the Street.
There is some parking outside the venue. When it fills up there is parking in the neighbouring streets
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
Zimbabwe VigilPress Release - 10th October 2007
One of the biggest demonstrations ever held by Zimbabwean exiles is to take
place in London outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, Strand (opposite Charing
Cross) on Saturday, 13th October from 2 - 6 pm.
Hundreds of Zimbabweans will gather to mark the fifth anniversary of the
Zimbabwe Vigil, which has been held outside the Embassy every Saturday since
October 2002 to protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and to
campaign for free and fair elections.
The Zimbabwean opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
has called on all its members in the UK to attend.
The demonstration will be attended by Kate Hoey MP, Chair of the All-Party
Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, who (at about 3 pm) will be presented with
a petition to hand to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown (see attached
The petition reads: "A Petition to European Union Governments: We record our
dismay at the failure of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
to help the desperate people of Zimbabwe at their time of trial. We urge
the UK government, and the European Union in general, to suspend government
to government aid to all 14 SADC countries until they abide by their joint
commitment to uphold human rights in the region." The petition has been
signed by thousands of people passing by the Vigil.
To mark our Fifth Anniversary we are submitting this petition to all EU and
SADC governments. The Vigil wants to make it clear that we are not asking
for a halt to humanitarian aid, but we would like to see government to
government assistance to the SADC countries halted until they honour their
human rights obligations to Zimbabwe. We suggest that the money should go
instead to the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
For more information, contact:
Rose Benton, Vigil Co-ordinator 07970 996 033
Dumi Tutani, Vigil Co-ordinator 07960 039 775
Dennis Benton, Press Officer 07932 193 467
For more information on Zimbabwe see Zimbabwe Fact Sheet - http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/old/oct9_2007.html#Z34
Dear Prime Minister
The Zimbabwe Vigil applauds your principled position in boycotting the
Lisbon summit if Mugabe attends. We are further encouraged by Chancellor
Darling's announcement of increases in foreign aid to meet the UN target and
take this opportunity to congratulate your government.
We are cynical at the alacrity with which EU members seem prepared to lift
the travel ban on Mugabe. As for the attitude of the African Union, it is as
contemptible as we expected.
But what we are most concerned about is the attitude of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) - supposedly our closest friends. We were
appalled when Mugabe was invited to Malawi to open the Robert Mugabe Highway
and disgusted at the applause he received at the last SADC meeting in
We have asked Kate Hoey MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on
Zimbabwe, to pass the following petition to you.
"A Petition to European Union Governments: We record our dismay at the
failure of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help the
desperate people of Zimbabwe at their time of trial. We urge the UK
government, and the European Union in general, to suspend government to
government aid to all 14 SADC countries until they abide by their joint
commitment to uphold human rights in the region."
The petition has been signed by more than 5,000 people passing by the Vigil,
which has been held outside the Zimbabwe Embassy every Saturday afternoon
since October 2002 to protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and to
campaign for free and fair elections.
To mark our Fifth Anniversary we are submitting this petition to all EU and
SADC governments. We want to make it clear that we are not asking for a halt
to humanitarian aid, but we would like to see government to government
assistance to the SADC countries halted until they honour their human rights
obligations to Zimbabwe. We suggest that the money should go instead to the
suffering people of Zimbabwe.
The government has upped its security at Chiadzwa diamond mine with the
deployment of an undisclosed number of soldiers who will replace police
personnel accused of corruption.
The police who used to guard the diamond deposits at Chiadzwa in Marange
have been accused of allowing illegal panners to dig for diamonds for a fee
or sharing the findings of diamonds thereafter.
CAJ News witnessed truck-loads of Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) personnel
travelling to Chiadzwa village under Chief Marange in Manicaland village
The dispatching of the army comes in the wake of at least 17 police officers
being arrested at Chiadzwa a fortnight ago on charges of corruption. The 17
are detained at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
The soldiers caused a reign of fear among the villagers and visitors in the
area when they launched "Operations Ngatizivanei" (Operation let's know each
Ezekiel Makate, a villager in the area, said the soldiers hd introduced a
curfew, with no-one permitted to walk in the area after 7pm, under threat of
being shot at or beaten.
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono's recently made a blistering attack on the
sloppy conduct of business by the Zimbabwe Minerals Development Company and
the Minerals Marketing Company of Zimbabwe during his presentation of the
monetary policy statement this week.
Makate said people without the area district numbers on their IDs and are
visitors are escorted to the homesteads of those are say are visiting. - Own
'His rule cannot persist indefinitely'
BY TREVOR GRUNDY
An American academic representing the influential New York-based political
think-tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, has warned politicians and
businessmen seeking change in Zimbabwe not to fall into the trap of
personalizing their concerns and ending up embracing an "anyone but Mugabe"
approach to the future.
Speaking at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, the
International Affairs Fellow, Michelle Gavin, said that such an attitude
could lead to all the old ruling party actors staying on the stage while
high risk investors snap up valuable assets while the pickings are dirt
Speaking at an important gathering of diplomats, businessmen, journalists
and human rights activists at Chatham House alongside the respected
Zimbabwean academic and military expert Knox Chitiyo, Gavin said that
Mugabe's government might be able to pull off a few more stop-gap measures
to bring in foreign exchange and extend his extensive patronage network.
"But his rule cannot persist indefinitely. I'm not going to put money on the
table and say when it will end but what we see now is part of the increased
un-sustainability of the economy."
She said the USA had work to do to restore its poor image in Africa and
suggested the launching of a trust that would stimulate debate about a
future, democractic, Zimbabwe.
Gavin suggested that, because there are so many young people in Zimbabwe, a
national agenda and a youth agenda would amount to roughly the same thing.
"Over 70 percent of all Zimbabweans are under the age of 30 so any kind of
lasting reform or economic revival is going to have to take a youth agenda
as the national agenda and this means getting serious about job creation on
a massive scale, thinking through how to address the fact that many
Zimbabwean youth have now been socialised in a kind of political violence
that does not translate well to a stable democracy down the road."
She warned that getting rid of Mugabe and replacing him with someone from
the same style of politics would not benefit ordinary people.
And there would also be a need to re-professionalise the security forces,
something that might not prove popular in the USA. She lamented the fact
that American public attention was fickle and paid attention to Zimbabwe
only when there were big stories in the papers. "It's a little like Burma,"
she said. "When the front page stories fade, so does a lot of the high
profile focus and attention."
Knox Chitiyo praised Gavin's astute observations.
The African Director of the Royal United Services Institute in London said
that one way countries with money and available expertise could help
Zimbabwe after Mugabe would be to compile statistics showing who had a right
to land ownership.
"We've had a land revolution since 2000. Now we need to find out who really
has title to the land. It's not an easy process. It's not going to take a
short time but any assistance that can be given, irrespective of politics,
would be welcome."
He said it was vital that leading members of the security forces were drawn
into discussions about the country's future.
"If the security sector is made to feel that they have no part of the
political process they may well feel threatened, then they have the power,
as we know, to clamp down on any kind of change."
Both speakers agreed that there could be no going back on the land issue and
praised Zimbabwe for playing constructive and well-organized roles in
regional peace keeping initiatives. "It's not a lost cause," said Chitiyo.
"Zimbabwe still retains a high level of professionalism, despite all the
violence." - African Forum News Services
BY ITAI DZAMARA
The Mugabe faction within Zanu (PF) has allegedly bribed war veterans
leaders to campaign for the embattled former guerrilla fighter ahead of the
ruling party's special congress likely to see him being denied the chance to
stand in next year's presidential elections.
Sources within Zanu (PF) this week said the faction lobbying for Robert
Mugabe to be endorsed as the candidate to represent the party has given
money to war veterans leaders and using them to campaign for him. It was
difficult to establish the amounts of funds reportedly used to bribe the war
veterans leaders but insiders confirmed that the ongoing countrywide marches
being conducted by war veterans in support of Mugabe's candidature is part
of the campaign programme.
"The war veterans leaders were paid to spearhead the campaign, which in
addition to these marches, also includes lobbying within party structures
through mainly intimidation to secure Mugabe's backing," a senior Zanu (PF)
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association vice president Joseph
Chinotimba confirmed the war veterans are on a campaign trail to push for
Mugabe's endorsement. "We are saying he is the leader of the country and the
party and we support him. He should stand at next year's elections. We don't
need money to carry out our duty of protecting the country's sovereignty,"
Confidential information suggests that the militant war veterans are already
planning to besiege the Zanu (PF) special congress in December and "use all
tactics such as intimidation and if necessary chaos", to ensure Mugabe
retains the party presidency.
War veterans have already held marches in Harare and other towns and cities
in support of Mugabe's candidature. The Mugabe faction comprises political
commissar Elliot Manyika and women's league chair Oppah Muchinguri among
Presiding over the worst declining economy in the world and accused of gross
human rights abuses, Mugabe faces an end to his political career at the
ruling party special congress in December. Earlier attempts to bulldoze his
candidature by his surrogates within the party failed and immense pressure
culminated into the leadership succumbing to the need for a special
Zanu (PF) information secretary Nathan Shamuyarira has finally confirmed
that the matter of electing the presidium will be the major item on the
agenda. Mugabe's long serving Vice President Joseph Msika, has already
confirmed his stepping down at the special congress, leaving the geriatric
leader under more pressure and exposed to concerted efforts at replacing
Vice President Joice Mujuru, Rural Housing minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and
former finance minister Simba Makoni are expected to fight it out for the
presidency of Zanu (PF) and automatically the right to represent the party
at next year's elections.
BY PHIL MATIBE
'This insane bill is un-African, illogical and has no relevance in modern
Barely a week before the ink dried on the divisive Constitutional Amendment
Bill (18) the Zanu (PF) government passed, unopposed, the xenophobic
Indigenous and Empowerment Bill. This irrational bill effectively
nationalises all remaining white or "foreign" owned private businesses and
apportions majority ownership to members of the ruling party, their
families, friends and political allies.
This insane bill is un-African, illogical and has no relevance in modern
society. It should be aptly named - "the Empowerment and Enrichment of
Comrades and Cronies Bill". Humankind's capacity for evil deeds and Zanu
(PF)'s propensity for depraved decrees corroborates civil society's
apprehension and misgivings over this bill.
Minister of Empowerment and Indigenisation, Paul Mangwana, consistently
bleats out toxic policies and proclamations on behalf of Zanu (PF) rightwing
Marxist-Leninist sycophants wishing to enchant their despotic leader. The
silence in denunciating the provisions of this bill by the Zimbabwean public
might be misconstrued by the rest of humanity as acquiescence to the bill,
thereby rendering us accessories to bigoted fanaticism and racial prejudice.
Whites are Zimbabweans too. As a proud black Zimbabwean I firmly believe
that time has come for the nation to "move on". We need to exorcise the
mantra, "we were colonised" from our national consciousness as we reclaim
our rightful place amongst the league of progressive nations.
What future are we creating for the next generation if all they know is
intolerance, hate and resentment?
It is incumbent upon all sensible Zimbabwean entrepreneurs, business owners
and advocates of free enterprise, to congregate and obstruct the ascension
of this debauched bill before it becomes law. Zimbabwe is being
decapitalised by bogus and counterfeit revolutionaries. Laws that abridge
our fundamental rights to property ownership, civil liberties and restrict
our freedoms must be repealed and rejected.
Deja vue, haven't we been here before? Another bill, the Land Acquisition
Bill, supposedly crafted in order to "correct a colonial imbalance and
decongest communal lands", was introduced just before an election in 2000 as
a constitutional amendment. All agricultural businesses that were
misappropriated from white and black farmers, "perceived political
opponents", ended up in the hands of Zanu (PF) functionaries and the
What have they done with these acquired agricultural businesses over past
A man-made humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Zimbabwe owing to previous
chaotic, racist and draconian laws enacted by recycled political
Neanderthals. Lack of water in Matabeleland, rampant unemployment, the
countrywide shortage of basic commodities, medicines, electricity, fuel, and
an economic meltdown weighted by hyperinflation, all universal hallmarks of
a failed economy, are now everyday realities for ordinary Zimbabweans.
Asesabi Lutho - we fear nothing.
President Robert Mugabe has ordered Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor,
Gideon Gono to back his government's controversial economic policies or
The strong warning, according to sources that attended a meeting between the
two last week, came after Mugabe said he was very disturbed by Gono's
statements against recent policies implemented by the government such as the
slashing of prices by 50 percent and the take over of private owned
companies through the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill.
"Following Gono's recent statements, Mugabe has become livid and told Gono
point blank during the meeting that he should support the policies of the
government or resign and make way for others who were willing to pull
Zimbabwe from the current economic crisis," a source said.
Gono carefully criticized the Indigenisation Bill recently, saying "a fine
balance should be struck between the objectives of indigenisation and the
need to attract foreign investment."
This angered a number of senior officials such as the Minister of Finance,
Samuel Mumbengegwi, Minister of Indigenisation and Empowerment, Paul
Mangwana and Minister of Policy Implementation, Webster Shamu, who
Mugabe to urgently clip Gono's wings. - Staff reporter
A recent report released by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), which
reveals that 58% of those interviewed in its pilot project were political
victims, has been disputed by several groups.
The report, launched recently at the Institute of Democracy in South Africa
(IDASA,) said Zimbabweans were fleeing the country for political reasons
rather than economic ones.
Leading Zimbabwean academics in South Africa say the figure of political
victims is inflated.
In the past few months the South Africa's Home Affairs minister and
President Thabo Mbeki have both noted that the most critical issue facing
Zimbabweans was the economy, rather than the political challenges as most
Zimbabweans in possessions of asylum papers flock back home during December
"I would personally put the figure at around 10% though I admit that I have
not done the research on that yet. Such research is very sensitive and it
would be difficult to get truthful answers," remarked one academic, on
condition he would not be named. - Own correspondent
SA Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni believes there was nothing worse for
an economy than when property is taken away from an investor. Speaking in
Cape Town at the weekend in a thinly veiled criticism of Zimbabwe land
grabs, Mboweni said: "If people are convinced that they have got their
private property rights secured, they will invest because they know that
their investment will not be taken away. We know that if there is a
disciplined fiscal policy regime, investors will respect it."
Asked directly about whether he spoke to his colleague in Zimbabwe, central
bank governor Gideon Gono, Mboweni said Gono did indeed phone him. "I think
my colleague in Zimbabwe is in a very difficult situation. He has tried to
maintain the highest standards of a central bank. He has indicated from time
to time where he disagrees with the government. It has been very brave on
Appearing to back Gono's warnings about recent legislation that will take
majority stakes in Zimbabwean companies out of foreign investors' hands,
Mboweni said it was critical for citizens of any country to tackle
legislatures if they did not pass good laws. It was too late to complain
once the legislation was in place. - Own correspondent
BY BAYETHE ZITHA
Residents here are up in arms with the government over its plans to pump
water from the heavily-polluted Khami dam into the city, as they fear that
this could result in a serious health hazard similar to the one that hit
Most residents get water once in seven days, while some have stayed for more
than two months without a drop of running water, after the city council
de-commissioned three of its supply dams.
The remaining two are expected not to last to year-end if they do not
receive substantial inflows within the next few weeks.
Some lucky residents have access to boreholes drilled by NGOs in the 1990s,
but others resort to unprotected sources, resulting in a serious diarrhoea
outbreak hitting the city a month ago.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), which recently borrowed a
muscle from Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo to wrestle the city's
water reticulation service from the Bulawayo City Council (BCC), has
indicated that it wants to recycle water from Khami dam for use in the city.
However, both the city fathers and residents have expressed disapproval with
the suggestion, indicating that ZINWA does not have the capacity to purify
the extremely contaminated water for consumption.
Khami dam was de-commissioned in 1988 after it began to receive direct
sewage inflow from the Southern Area Sewage Treatment (SAST).
"The dam has been receiving direct sewage inflow every day since then.
Instead of focusing on wasting more money on purifying that water, which
cannot be, ZINWA should be looking at working on Mtshabezi dam which is pure
and bigger," said Phathisa Nyathi, the BCC spokesman.
"This shows lack of seriousness on the part of ZINWA. They took away water
provision from the BCC claiming that they would solve our problems but now
they want to kill us with diseases. They should instead focus on Mtshabezi
and resuscitating boreholes at the Nyamandlovu Aquifer," said Winos Dube,
Bulawayo Residents' Association chairman.
However, Matson Chidakwa, the ZINWA catchment manager for the southern
region, says the dam's water is cleaner than that of Lake Chivero being used
"We will purify it and render it safe for consumption. The Mtshabezi and
Nyamandlovu boreholes are also within our plans," he said.
ZINWA was recently allocated US$1 million and Z$1,5 trillion for water
provision in Bulawayo by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Finance
Zimbabwe's tobacco production has dropped 131,3 million kilos since 2001, to
71 million kilos, highlighting the devastating impact of government's
chaotic land grab programme.
With an average price of US$3,18 per kilo, tobacco sales totalled
US$22-million when the auction season closed on Friday, producers said.
Prices were higher than 2006, although the crop was smaller, so on the
surface sales rose sharply from last year's total of $17,4-million for
But because of Zimbabwe's overvalued currency, officially pegged at 30,000
to the greenback compared to about 550,000 to one on the parallel market,
tobacco farmers are complaining bitterly.
They have to import their supplies, such as fertilizer and equipment, with
foreign currency sourced at the parallel rate. When they sell the crop,
government keeps the foreign currency and gives them the equivalent amount
at the official rate.
Production costs have shot up 7,000 percent since July, according to
farmers, much higher than the official rate of inflation at 6,600 percent in
The drop in production is largely because of the ongoing violent occupations
of commercial farms. The pro-government militants occupying the farms have
blocked farmers from working, burned fields and chased away farm workers.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association president Julius Ngorima said that it
was "nothing short of a miracle" that this year's crop was relatively
He warned that next year's crop could be significantly smaller, with seed
sales down 22 percent from the same time last year.
Zimbabwe exports 98 percent of its crop, which brings in about one-third of
the country's desperately needed foreign exchange. - Chief reporter
The government says farmers should grow jatropha seed in the coming farming
season in a bid to end the fuel shortages that have haunted the nation since
The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) says seed will be planted on
about 5000 hectares in each province to ease fuel shortages next year.
In a notice, the struggling state parastatal says it will assist new farmers
with ready-to-plant seedlings once their land is prepared for the 2007/2008
"The ultimate aim is to produce bio-diesel to substitute ten percent of our
national diesel requirements. To this end 40 000 hectares of jatropha has to
be established this year.," read the NOCZIM notice.
An ambitious programme pursued since 2005 by the government to produce
bio-diesel from the oil rich jatropha curcas seed, with communal farmers
contracted to grow the jatropha tree, has so far failed to yield any
Experts have warned that massive investment in expensive refineries and
conversion plants would be needed before the dream of producing bio-diesel
could be realized. - Own correspondent
Political situation kills chance to boost tourism in 2010
BY GIFT PHIRI
HARARE - The first Soccer World Cup to be held in Africa, scheduled for 2010
in South Africa, should already be brightening Zimbabwe 's tourism industry
after a gloomy year caused by political, social and economic unrest.
But it looks like Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland - all of them
Zimbabwe 's neighbours - will be the main beneficiary of this golden
opportunity. Some 350,000 to 450,000 tourists are expected to descend on
southern Africa for the soccer finals.
President Robert Mugabe's policies have resulted in empty hotels across
Zimbabwe and there is scant chance that big-money tourists can be persuaded
back in numbers to what could be one of the jewels of Africa.
The Zimbabwe government claims it is investing US$20 million on hotels and
stadiums. As one of the host country's neighbours, government is expecting
to rake in during the month-long event by hosting training camps,
accommodation and fan parks for teams and visitors.
A report drawn up jointly by the Sports and Tourism ministries, which has
been adopted by cabinet, called for a comprehensive refurbishment programme
of hotels. Plans to build a new stadium are also in the pipeline. But
nothing is happening on the ground.
"We are planning to build a tented village for hundreds of tourists,'' said
Wild Africa Safaris, a tour operator in Harare. "But then we are concerned
with the slow pace of putting up infrastructure for the event, and the
deteriorating economic fundamentals."
Tourism officials hope that the historic nature of the event will overshadow
the bad publicity the country has suffered since land occupations began in
Zimbabwe in 2000.
Sit-ins and violent attacks on 4,000 white-owned farms by liberation-war
veterans commandeered by Mugabe, and the violent suppression of democratic
opposition, have caused mass cancellations in the tourism sector.
"The situation in the country has been a disaster for the tourism industry,
especially for the indigenous professionals whose companies are generally
the smallest and the first to suffer,'' said a black tour operator in
He said that, one day last week, only seven rooms were booked at the famous
Victoria Falls Hotel which is normally full at this time of year - the
southern hemisphere summer season - and charges about £300 a night.
Tourism officials in Zimbabwe insist that visitors are completely safe and
that none would be affected by the disturbances in the country. The Zimbabwe
Tourism Authority (ZTA), insists that, despite widespread fuel shortages,
provision has been made for transporting tourists.
The ZTA is organising press trips for travel journalists and launched an
aggressive campaign at the World Travel Market in London.
After farming and mining, tourism was Zimbabwe 's biggest foreign currency
earner. Figures from the country's Central Statistical Office show that
tourism declined to a paltry 200,000 visitors this year against the 1.4
million who arrived in Zimbabwe for a holiday in the first nine months of
World Cup Safaris, one of the most high-profile tour groups travelling to
southern Africa in 2010, had originally intended to take its group to
Zimbabwe but opted instead for Botswana. According to the American company's
website, "the situation in Zimbabwe has steadily deteriorated and the
economy weakened rapidly'' and Botswana was chosen even though it is
"underdeveloped and logistically more difficult".