|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Sunday Times Foreign Desk
Mbeki's office and the Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu
Ndungane, who is battling to resolve Zimbabwe's political and economic
crises, are at loggerheads over how to deal with that country's problems.
Information from SA intelligence sources shows that Mbeki's office and
Ndungane have failed to develop a common plan to tackle the Zimbabwean
crisis, which Pretoria has been trying to unscramble for three years.
visit to Harare in March, where he met President Robert Mugabe
and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, as well as a wide cross-section of
Zimbabweans, Ndungane has failed to make progress because of a lack of
collaboration and possibly, it is alleged, sabotage from Pretoria.
Mugabe is still
waiting for feedback from SA on issues he raised with
Ndungane during their meeting in Harare.
The archbishop met Mugabe primarily to report back
on his earlier meeting in
the UK with the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Zimbabwe issue.
Mugabe's major complaint to Ndungane was that the
British government was
interfering in domestic affairs and treating him "like a small boy".
Mugabe also said that some clergymen in Zimbabwe were
political agendas by supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic
Mugabe told Ndungane that he appreciated
the need for political diversity in
Zimbabwe but insisted that the MDC was a British front.
However, Ndungane has not been able to proceed because
of apparent hostility
from Mbeki's office.
exasperation over the lack of co-operation from the
President's office during a meeting with senior South African intelligence
officers on March 22.
The archbishop has been trying to meet Mbeki since April to brief
his trip to Harare, but without success.
indicated to top officers of the SA Secret Service, which deals with
foreign intelligence, that his efforts were designed to complement Mbeki's
initiative on the Zimbabwe issue, and not undermine it.
11 Oct 2003 17:36 GMT
Zimbabwe Opposition:African Approach Prolongs Pres's Rule
Copyright © 2003, Dow Jones Newswires
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP)--Zimbabwe's African neighbors are
appeasing the country's increasingly authoritarian President Robert Mugabe
and prolonging his rule by pursuing an approach of so-called quiet
diplomacy, a senior Zimbabwean opposition official said Saturday.
Welshman Ncube, general-secretary of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, said it was hard to understand why African states
were taking a softer approach on Mugabe than Western powers and people from
within the troubled country itself.
"This is the bewildering part of the policy," Ncube told a forum on
democracy and Zimbabwe at a Johannesburg hotel. "You might call it quiet
diplomacy...but what it is is appeasement."
The approach, he said, "has had unfortunate effect of actually
prolonging the crisis."
South African President Thabo Mbeki, whose country borders Zimbabwe
and is the most influential nation in Africa, has defended his policy on
Zimbabwe. He says the best solution to Zimbabwe's crisis would be to bring
Mugabe's ruling party and the opposition to the negotiating table on the
country's deepening political and economic crisis.
But negotiation efforts have floundered.
The opposition blames Mugabe for plunging Zimbabwe into its worst
economic crisis since independence in 1980, with 70% unemployment and acute
shortages of food, gasoline and medicine.
A state program to seize thousands of white-owned farms for
redistribution to blacks has crippled the agriculture-based economy in the
past three years.
Mugabe's government has in recent years stepped up its crackdown on
the opposition. Investment and foreign aid have dried up in protest of human
rights abuses and last year's tainted presidential elections.
Ncube and another senior opposition official were acquitted in July of
treason. They had been charged along with the head of the opposition, Morgan
Tsvangirai, of plotting to kill Mugabe.
Tsvangirai continues to stand trial.
"Opposition politics in Zimbabwe," Ncube told the forum, "is a very
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 11, 2003 13:36 ET (17:36 GMT)
ZCTU plans more protests
By Caiphas Chimhete
ZIMBABWE’S umbrella labour union, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU), will stage crippling countrywide demonstrations before the
presentation of the 2004 National Budget to protest high taxation, inflation
and the general economic decay.
The resolution comes barely a week after the police heavy-handedly
quashed another protest masterminded by the labour body to force President
Robert Mugabe’s government to resolve the economic crisis and cut personal
tax as well as stop human rights abuses by government agents.
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo said the union would take to the
streets whether or not the police granted them permission to demonstrate.
“The protests will take place before Murerwa presents the budget. We
want to knock sense into them so that they can see that workers are
suffering ,” said Matombo.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa is scheduled to unveil the 2004
National Budget to Parliament late this month or early November.
Matombo said the ZCTU would not be cowed into silence by the
“barbaric” manner in which the police handled last week’s mass protest that
saw the arrest of 55 people.
“We are definitely going to apply for permission from the police but
if they refuse, we will go ahead,” said Matombo, who claimed officers from
the spy-agency, Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), had been following
him and other senior union officials around.
He said he had also seen “suspicious” cars parked near his home.
Matombo and the union’s secretary-general, Wellington Chibhebhe, were
among those arrested last week after heavily-armed police foiled a
demonstration called by the umbrella labour body.
They were charged under the Miscellaneous Offences Act and released.
The ZCTU’s powerful ally, the Congress of South African Trade Unions
(COSATU) had earlier demanded the union leaders’ release.
Matombo says police assaulted three members of the union seriously
when they were dispersing demonstrators in central Harare on Wednesday.
“We are still consulting with our lawyers on what course of action to
take against the police because it was barbaric and uncalled for,” he said.
The ZCTU said it was worried by the government’s inaction on the
crisis in Zimbabwe and believed that demonstrations were the only way to
force Mugabe’s government to take action.
Matombo said current problems bedeviling Zimbabwe were a direct result
of the lack of economic planning by Mugabe and his ministers.
Zimbabwe’s economy has shrunk by 30 percent; unemployment is over 75
percent while 85 percent of Zimbabwe’s 12,5 million people are now living
well below the poverty datum line.
In its 2004 National Budget proposal, the ZCTU is demanding a 10
percent point tax cut as well as widening tax brackets to cushion workers
from the deteriorating economic downturn.
It is also demanding that government sets aside at least $20 billion
to compensate farm workers, who were displaced during the chaotic land
Farm invaders detain SA envoy
By Henry Makiwa
SOUTH African officials yesterday remained tight-lipped over Wednesday
’s detention of the country’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Jeremiah Ndou by
angry farm invaders when he visited a former white-owned farm in Lions Den
The incident, which caused “much diplomatic excitement” according to
diplomatic sources, saw Ndou being barricaded by a troop of raucous settlers
at Hillpass farm.
Ndou had gone to see Jan Kotze, a South African who last week received
an eviction order from his 2 700-acre farm, where he grows crops and keeps
700 head of cattle.
Ndou, South Africa’s most senior diplomat in Zimbabwe, was held
hostage for two hours together with a television crew from the South African
Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and two High Commission employees by the
squatters, estimated to be about 25, who threatened to attack him.
His Mercedes Benz limousine, which bears diplomatic plates, was
blocked inside the security gates of the farm in the Chinhoyi district.
Brian Hungwe, the SABC’s correspondent in Zimbabwe who was detained
together with Ndou, said they were locked inside the farm premises for more
than two hours.
“The settlers were very threatening and warned us not to play with the
land reform programme because ‘it has blood’,” said Hungwe.
“They mobilised themselves upon seeing us and numbered at least 25 and
were led by a man who claimed to be a retired Zimbabwean military officer
called Tsvaki. Our situation was aggravated by the loss of telephone network
in the area ... it was only after two-and-half hours that we got in touch
with senior police officials who told Tsvaki to cool off and let us go,”
Diplomatic sources told The Standard that the incident had put a dent
on relations between Harare and Pretoria.
“Ndou protested bitterly about the incident during a meeting with Stan
Mudenge, the Zimbabwean foreign minister, on Thursday. Even Simon Khaya
Moyo, the Zimbabwean High Commissioner to South Africa was summoned to the
South African Foreign Ministry on the same day,” said a source.
Ndou himself would not comment saying his office would issue a
But South Africa’s spokesman for Foreign Affairs, Ronnie Mamoepa was
evasive when contacted for comment by The Standard.
“We are still awaiting a report from Ndou but in the mean time
relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa remain on course,” said Mamoepa.
Cattle die of starvation on resettled farms
By Lee Berthiaume
MERYL Harrison picks her way through the maze of decomposing carcases,
glancing at the bleached bones sticking out from the dead cows.
Their thin bodies and eyes that have sunk into their heads are a
testament to the starvation and dehydration that killed them. Lying between
the piles of hide and bone are more cows too weak to stand.
“They are waiting in the sun and waiting to die,” Harrison said. “They
’re too far gone now.”
Harrison, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’s chief
inspector in Zimbabwe, shakes her head at the scene, by far the worst case
of animal abuse and neglect she’s seen yet.
“It’s a tragedy,” she says.
Harrison and her team of investigators arrived at the once-successful
Beatrice dairy farm on Tuesday after a concerned neighbour called the animal
protection agency to report the situation.
According to farm records, over 300 of the farm’s 595 cows have died
Farm workers reported that the cows started dying when the operation
ran out of feed shortly after a Harare businessman purchased the property
three years ago
“It seemed everything was there for the first few months,” Harrison
said. “The previous owner had left feed which was used.”
But farm workers told Harrison that their requests for more feed were
ignored. Since Harrison and her staff arrived, they have destroyed eight
cows and will probably have to kill more.
The SPCA were fortunate enough to convince a neighbour to supply
enough hay to tide the surviving cows over for the weekend but they cannot
be moved because of a nearby Foot and Mouth disease control programme.
While working on the farm, Harrison received word that a neighbouring
operation was in the same situation.
When Harrison’s team arrived, they discovered more starving and
dehydrated farm animals; children were collecting acacia pods from a nearby
pond for dozens of cows that hadn’t been fed in weeks but were still being
milked and five pigs were foraging for anything to eat.
Farm workers told Harrison the owner, who is said to have another farm
in Gweru and bought the Beatrice farm in 2000, had been told but did
Harrison said the dairy farm hadn’t been cleaned in weeks and nothing
had been sterilized. She said the udders hadn’t been cleaned but the milk
was being sent to a cheese-making factory.
Harrison said the cows were standing around an empty water trough
waiting for water.
“It was bone dry,” she said.
Records showed that 32 of 90 cows at the second farm had died.
Harrison said the situation at both farms were the same: neither owner
was living on the farm and ignored farm worker requests for more food and
“We are totally opposed to farmers not living on their farms,”
Harrison said. She said the SPCA is currently prosecuting five cases and all
of which feature owners who do not live on their land.
Harrison said the SPCA has seen an increase in the number of cases
over recent months.
“It’s becoming more common, it’s becoming increasingly prevalent,” she
The organization is still drawing up charges for each of the two farm
If convicted they face a fine of up to $20 000 or six months in jail
or both for each animal that has died.
Power struggles rage while Harare drowns in squalor
Newsfocus By Henry Makiwa
THE affairs of the beleaguered Harare City Council continue to sink
deeper into a confusing maze of conflicts and counter-conflicts with yet
another suspension of Town Clerk Nomutsa Chideya, kicked out barely a week
after being reinstated.
Chideya, who has been in and out of Town House like a yo-yo, since the
days of the Solomon Tawengwa-led Zanu PF council, this time got the boot
from the capital’s acting mayor, Sekesai Makwavarara.
Ironically, Makwavarara’s boss – suspended Harare executive mayor
Elias Mudzuri – had eleven months earlier, again suspended Chideya. At the
time, in October last year, Chideya was suspended on allegations of “gross
inefficiency, incompetence and conduct inconsistent with his duties.”
But Chideya has this time been ordered to stay at home by Harare
councillors who have challenged the manner in which he was reinstated the
During his brief coming-in-from-the-cold show, Chideya had not done
anything of note except to suspend, indefinitely, the city treasurer,
Chideya suspended Mubvumbi, without benefits, on allegations of
“non-compliance” with the government-appointed commission currently
investigating the city council’s affairs.
Mubvumbi’s pleas of innocence have however fallen on deaf ears despite
producing documentary evidence that shows he had corresponded with the
commission on three occasions, giving them all the information they had
And so the unending saga of suspensions and reinstatements that has
dogged senior officials of Harare City Council persists unabetted.
Reliable sources however say business at Town House has now virtually
been taken over by the commission investigating the alleged corruption and
incompetence of Mudzuri.
The team, sources say, now pulls the strings from the background after
winning over Makwavarara to its side and had planned “to plant” Chideya to
execute its orders.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister, Ignatius
Chombo set up the committee, initially to investigate Mudzuri.
According to the sources, the committee has now amassed so much
influence since the committee discreetly began business in July such that
its recommendations to have some officials either suspended or reinstated
have been taken without opposition from Makwavarara, a member of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Besides the suspension of Mudzuri, six other councillors – Falls
Nhari, Fani Munengami, Michael Laban, Jeremy O’Brien and Elizabeth Marunda –
were suspended by Chombo, causing concern within the MDC that councillors
were not acting independently of central government.
Makwavarara has taken the brunt of the blame. Some MDC councillors now
accuse her of colluding with Zanu PF. Some have even said she is a “Zanu PF
The acting Mayor has been heckled by fellow councillors and MDC
supporters for executing decisions that are unpopular with her party. Signs
of the emerging rift between Makwavarara and the city council were glaringly
evident at a meeting summoned by MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai in July.
In apparent reference to Makwavarara, Tsvangirai reportedly implored
councillors to desist from “advancing the interests of Zanu PF and working
as conveyor belts of Chombo”.
One councillor who refused to be named said: “We have for so long now
hushed over Makwavarara’s unbecoming behaviour but she has become corrupted
by Zanu PF.
“We have lost faith in her since we learnt that she actually called
for the dismissal of Mudzuri before Chombo’s commission.”
Last week, a source close to the commission said it was the acting
Mayor who creating more confusion at Harare Town House by taking sides with
“Makwavarara is actually de-campaigning Mudzuri so that he never
returns to his mayoral position,” said the source.
“There has been reports brought before the investigating team that
Mudzuri and his treasurer Mubvumbi might have corruptly defrauded the
council in tender deals; and Makwavarara knows this,” added the source.
“She has taken this as an opportunity to amass more power and
eventually wants to pull the reins of the city council as executive mayor.”
Whatever happens, confusion still reigns at Town House where both the
Town Clerk and the Executive Mayor, are fighting to get back to their desks.
In the meantime, Harare – once known as the ‘sunshine city’ because of
its cleanliness and brightness – now wallows in mounds of rubbish and dams
of sewage as services grind to a halt while the council senior officials and
Ignatius Chombo are busy fighting for power.
Zim health sector in intensive care
By Caiphas Chimhete
SINCE her admission to Parirenyatwa Hospital, one of the country’s
largest referral hospitals some two weeks ago, Joyce (9), has not been
attended to by a medical doctor.
Joyce was referred to the country’s premier medical institution from
Mutare after she was diagnosed to be suffering from a brain tumor, a disease
that requires urgent attention.
“She was referred here two weeks ago so that she can be operated on
but up to now she has not been attended to. The nurses are saying the
doctors are busy elsewhere,” said Joyce’s mother, who requested anonymity.
Doctors said if left untreated for a long time, brain tumor “grows and
it gives a lot of headaches” to both the patient and the doctors.
Joyce’s case is not only a true reflection of the situation at
Parirenyatwa Hospital but also a microcosm of the health crisis that has
gripped Zimbabwe partly as a result of the massive brain drain of medical
It is ironic that Zimbabwe, a country that once boasted of an
impressive health sector soon after independence in 1980, is currently
facing a critical shortage of medical doctors, pharmacists and nurses,
equipment and essential drugs.
The crisis has turned Zimbabwe’s health care gains into a major
disaster. It is estimated that over 65 percent of Zimbabwe’s 12,5 million
people can not afford to pay for their medication.
More people are likely to fall into that bracket as the economic
The majority of Zimbabwe’s highly trained medical personnel are
leaving for Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United
States and Australia, where salaries and working conditions are better.
The exodus of medical personnel is largely because of the lure of
stronger currencies as the Zimbabwean dollar, and the economy in general,
continue on the downslide.
The president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima), Billy
Rigava, confirmed that the country is facing a critical shortage of doctors
due to a brain drain.
He said although there were 2 000 registered doctors in Zimbabwe, only
1000 were working in the country.
“Half of the doctors have left the country. It is a survival issue,
you can not expect doctors to stay here when they cannot pay for their
children’s school fees or have a decent house or car,” said Rigava.
His sentiments were echoed by renowned medical practitioner Chris
Mushonga, who also attributed the exodus of doctors to the current harsh
economic environment that has gripped Zimbabwe.
He noted that the number of doctors leaving Zimbabwe surpassed those
that were being trained at the University of Zimbabwe annually.
“It has reached a desperate situation. It is serious. There is more
doctors leaving the country every year than those being trained locally,”
said Mushonga, who runs a number of private surgeries in Harare.
The University of Zimbabwe churns out an average of 80 doctors a year,
a number too small to satisfy local demand. This situation is exacerbated by
the fact that specialist and experienced doctors are also leaving the
country. Statistics indicate that the doctor to patient ratio stands at
about 1:12 000.
“That ratio is certainly out of what is expected by the World Health
Organisation. We definitely need more doctors that is why the government is
getting more doctors from countries like Cuba and the DRC,” said Rigava, who
was quick to add, “but the university cannot train more doctors because the
lecturers, who are also doctors, are leaving”.
The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa, who
admitted the critical shortage of personnel, said the ministry had no
statistics on the doctor to patient ratio.
“We don’t know because some doctors are registered with us but are no
longer in the country while others are in the private sector,” said
A WHO official said the doctor to patient ratio depends on the level
of development of each individual country.
“It actually depends on the accessibility of other health services in
each country. People in developed countries have more access to doctors
while the reverse is true in developing countries,” said the official.
Also leaving the country in large numbers are pharmacists and this has
impacted negatively on public health institutions.
Rigava said there are only four senior pharmacists in the public
sector, two of whom are carrying out administration duties. This leaves only
two to serve in government hospitals.
The critical shortage of doctors in most of the country’s hospital
departments has resulted in some nurses having to perform doctor’s duties in
a bid to arrest the situation. But that has not improved the situation
either as scores of senior nurses are also leaving the country in droves.
An official with the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) said there
were 18 000 registered nurses in the country, of which nearly half have left
the country in search of better living and working conditions. This
translates to a nurse serving about 1 333 patients.
Zina president Abigail Kuranga could not be reached for comment as she
was said to be out of the country on business.
Besides the brain drain, the shortage of mortuary space, equipment,
drugs and food have also plagued the health sector.
Many clinics and large hospitals such as Parirenyatwa, Harare Central
Hospital, Mutare General Hospital, Gweru General Hospital and Mpilo Hospital
in Bulawayo, are failing to cope with the food requirements of patients.
Only recently, it was reported that about 10 women stumbled over each
other as they tried to get an extra plate of food in Ward 3A at Parirenyatwa
“If you do not have your own money to buy food you will die of hunger
here. The hospital gives us very little food. I stayed here a few years ago
but it was much better then,” said one woman, who was staying at
Parirenyatwa Hospital nursing her child.
Health officials said the situation was worse in small institutions,
particularly those in rural areas. Some hospitals have resorted to food
rationing while other health centres request relatives to bring in
Zimbabwe’s mortuaries are also crowded, a condition that has been
attributed to the Aids scourge, which is claiming at least 3 800 lives every
week. At times several bodies are put on the same tray while others are
heaped on the floor.
Commentators said as the Zimbabwe economy continues to degenerate so
will be the health sector and other facets of the economy.
Carjackers more daring as crime reaches new high
By Loughty Dube
BULAWAYO – A serious spate of car-jackings has hit Zimbabwe’s major
cities with criminals now using even more daring methods to pounce on
unsuspecting motorists, it was learnt last week.
Investigations by The Standard in the last two weeks have revealed
that the carjackers, usually travelling in gangs of between four to five,
strike after monitoring the movements of their victims over a long period of
time, and sometimes pounce in broad daylight.
What is baffling police and victims of the crime is the military-like
precision that is employed and the speed with which vehicles are snatched
from the owners.
Police spokesman, Oliver Mandipaka, confirmed that cases of car
jackings were on the increase but could not provide national statistics on
the number of vehicles lost so far this year.
“The cases of car-jackings are getting worse and more serious. As the
police force we have put up measures to ensure the recovery of stolen
vehicles,” said Mandipaka.
In Bulawayo, four car-jackings were reported during the first week of
September alone in the city’s low-density suburbs where vehicles of high
value are usually found.
In the latest incident, two students from the city last week lost high
value cars worth more than $100 million each and at the same time, when four
car-jackers armed with guns pounced on them outside a private school in the
city. The vehicles – a Toyota Raider and a Mazda Euno – have not been
The Anti-Hijack Trust, an organisation that deals with creating
awareness on car-jackings, said the violent crime of snatching cars was
rising at an alarming rate.
“The issue now is not a matter of only luxury vehicles being hijacked
but all types of vehicles are now being targetted by the car-jackers and the
frequency at which owners are losing their vehicles is getting higher
everyday,” said Tracy Burns, a spokesperson for Anti-Hijack Trust.
“So far we have not recorded any instances of carjack murders and
deaths but we have had instances where some victims have been shot and
wounded by armed car-jackers but none have succumbed to carjackers,” Burns
However motorists are now resorting to installing anti-hijack devices
on their vehicles to reduce chances of losing them. The devices, operated
with the aid of a mobile phone, cut out the engine and stops the car when
Dozens of vehicles have been recovered after car-jackers abandoned
them when they realised they were fitted with anti-hijack devices.
Mavhaire vies for presidency
By Parker Graham
MASVINGO – Maverick Zanu PF stalwart and the party’s former Masvingo
provincial chairman Dzikamai Mavhaire, could be taking steps out of the
political wilderness armed with huge ambitions.
Encouraged by simmering disunity in Zanu PF and the poor
socio-economic policies and deteriorating political stability in the
country, Mavhaire believes that this is the right time to go for the top
political post in the land, according to The Mirror, a Masvingo independent
weekly that interviewed him recently.
Without explaining where he would get the support from, Mavhaire is
quoted as having made a bold decision to go for the Zanu PF presidency after
seeing that senior governing party politicians were developing cold feet in
the succession race.
“I have since started campaigning for the presidential post at
grassroots level and I am using the current restructuring exercise being
undertaken to sell my candidature to the Zanu PF structures. The problem in
Zanu PF is that there is too much fear within the party and people are
afraid to come to the open,” said Mavhaire.
“My first assignment will be on constitutional reform before I retire
after serving only one term,” said the ambitious politician.
However the controversial politician who was suspended from Zanu PF
after making the famous “Mugabe must go” statement, refused to speak to a
correspondent of The Standard who tried several times to be granted an
interview with him.
Mavhaire made it clear that he was not at liberty to talk to national
mainstream media like The Standard but only to community-based publications.
Mavhaire, who was ousted from office in 1998 for allegedly abusing his
position in Zanu PF and replaced by Zephania Matchaba-Hove and then Samuel
Mumbengegwi, has since then been a mere card carrying member.
Maize demand threatens SA reserves
By Parker Graham, recently in Johannesburg
SOUTH African agricultural experts and economists are bitter about
persistent maize shortages in Zimbabwe saying such food deficits are
seriously threatening their grain reserves.
Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) Securities Exchange Agricultural
General Manager, Rod Gravelet-Blondin, says the demand for SA maize by their
northern neighbours accross Limpopo River had increased rapidly, a move that
saw the price of the commodity skyrocketing.
He says while a tonne of maize grain used to cost R600 last year, its
price had soared up to R2 000 this year due to increased demand from
“While it is a fact that Zimbabwe and Zambia experienced drought
during the 2002/2003 agricultural season, it is our feeling that the
invasion of the white-owned commercial farms and mismanagement contributed
to food shortage in Harare.
“As I speak right now, a tonne of maize cost R2 000 compared to R600
last season. We are very much concerned about the deteriorating agricultural
activities in Zimbabwe because it is our main trading partner in
agriculture,” said Gravelet-Blondin.
Gravelet-Blondin pointed out that South Africa was no longer capable
of supplying all the 14 SADC countries with maize because the demand at home
had increased too.
He said the information from the South African Grain Service (SAGIS)
showed that the country had little maize to feed the entire SADC region but
enough to take the over 40 million locals to the next rainy season.
Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of southern Africa but due to
economic mismanagement, the country has become the basket case of the SADC
Death of Daily News could mean death of MDC
IN typical arrogance, the Zanu PF government is at it
the voice of reason; the voice of the more than two million people who voted
for MDC during the presidential election.
And if the MDC leadership thinks it is The Daily News alone which was
silenced by the people at the propaganda ministry, Nathaniel Manheru is
going to laugh all the way to Herald house where he and his sidekick,
Tafataona Mahoso, will be celebrating the death of the opposition.
In reality, the killing of the paper and the persecution of its
owners, workers (including news vendors) is meant to distroy MDC just as
Muzorewa’s UANC’s, Tekere’s ZUM, Nkomo’s Zapu, Dumbutshena’s Forum Party and
Zanu Ndonga were silenced when there was no other forum of communication to
challenge The Herald propaganda.
Why are they talking of unity now? Why is Manheru still preaching
about what Mugabe said before about repenting? (Herald 27-9-2003). Is it now
safe for MDC to be swallowed because there is no more Daily News to be the
of the voiceless?
If we do not mobilise now there might be no MDC by 2005, even if the
other “Daily News” appears tomorrow — mark my words!
Reduce personal tax, say unions
By Caiphas Chimhete
TAX reduction and simultaneously raising the minimum taxable income
threshold is the only panacea to ensuring that workers retain reasonable
disposable incomes in a hyper-inflationary environment, labour experts and
economists have advised.
They said government should to put in place “a worker-friendly
taxation system” in the 2004 national budget that would enable workers to
retain a significant amount of their earnings from their salaries and wages.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa is scheduled to present the 2004
national Budget to Parliament on October 23.
The experts said the taxable income threshold should be pegged at $200
000 while others put it at $300 000, which is the current poverty
datum-line, according to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
Presently, the minimum taxable income threshold is pegged at $15 000
although the government has increased the minimum wage to $48 000.
Independent economic analyst John Robertson believes the minimum
taxable income should be raised to $200 000 if workers were to retain
reasonable income from their earnings. He said the $15 000 non-taxable
income was virtually benefiting nobody since 99 percent of the workers were
earning well above the figure.
Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited (KFHL) chief economist, Witness
Chinyama echoed the same sentiments. He said the current taxation rates were
too high and detrimental to workers, the majority of whom are living below
the poverty datum-line.
At least 75 percent of Zimbabwe’s 12 million people are living below
the poverty datum-line. Experts say the situation is set worsen as the
economic meltdown continues unabated.
“The government should realise that inflation is skyrocketing so it
should take a pro-active approach to cautioning workers especially now when
the economy is in bad shape,” said Chinyama.
Analysts said the tax bands have since been eclipsed by inflation,
thereby condemning most workers to a hand-to-mouth existence.
The ZCTU, whose leadership was last week detained for calling for a
mass protest against high taxation, is demanding tax cuts of 10 percent to
cushion workers from the current economic hardships.
“Taxation is extremely high yet the purpose for which it is collected
goes to waste partly because of the government’s high expenditure and the
lack of financial discipline by government ministries,” said ZCTU president
“If the union negotiate for 100 percent wage and salary increases, in
reality people get 60 percent and 40 percent goes to government,” he added.
In 2001 through the now-defunct Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF),
government, labour and business agreed that taxation should be pegged from
the poverty datum-line.
Monetary policy to nudge inflation to 500%
By Kumbirai Mafunda
LAST month’s introduction of bearer cheques and higher denominated
bank notes by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will further fuel money
supply growth and consequently propel inflation beyond the psychological
500% by December if not properly managed.
The RBZ last month introduced various forms of legal tender, including
bearer cheques and the wider use of travellers’ cheques (TCs), and new $500
and $1 000 notes. The two new notes started circulating on the first of this
month in a bid to ease a crippling cash crisis.
The central bank says it released about $8,8bn worth of bearer cheques
to commercial banks and that about $390bn worth of these cheques are
expected to be dispatched by December.
The bearer cheques are in denominations of $5 000, $10 000 and $20 000
and have proved much more popular than the cumbersome TCs.
Year-on-year inflation scaled the 400% mark in August to settle at
However government critics say the figure, supplied by the State’s
Central Statistics Office (CSO), was an understatement because the CSO based
its calculations on the cost of controlled commodities which are not
available on the official market but are
abundant on the thriving black market, albeit at exorbitant cost.
In separate interviews with StandardBusiness economic commentators
said the injection of bearer cheques into the financial system, though
providing temporary relief to the cash crunch, is like closing the barn door
after the horse has bolted.
“Our government is in denial. We avoided using the term devaluation
and opted to call it export support. Now we have an effective introduction
of higher denominations but we call them bearer cheques,” said Daniel Ndlela
“There is nowhere else in the world where people have introduced
bearer cheques. We are wasting time making instruments valued for five
months thereby inconveniencing people in remote areas such as Mutorashanga,”
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) shadow finance
minister, Tapiwa Mashakada said although his party appreciated the efforts
by the central bank to ameliorate the cash crisis, the diverse forms of
legal tender introduced were fraught with grave problems.
“There are a number of problems associated with the introduction of
the new forms of payments,” said Mashakada. “The first is that as more and
more money is printed and pumped into the economy without a corresponding
increase in real output, the outcome is inflationary as this will increase
money supply growth which is already above 230%, thereby further fuelling
“Our projection is that by December inflation could be over the 500%
mark earlier than projected at the beginning of the year. So the public is
likely to face a new wave of high prices,” said Mashakada.
Already, consumers have been ambushed by a torrent of price increases
as manufacturers and retailers react to the availability of cash brought
about by the new instruments.
Mashakada said the shortages of cash is symbolic of a deeper economic
crisis characterised by macro-economic instability — an environment where
the demand for money will always exceed the supply of money because of
“It is like a dog chasing its tail, never mind the fact that Zimbabwe
could easily enter the Guinness Book of Records as the first country to run
out of its own local currency,” said Mashakada.
With money supply currently pegged at 226% up from 206% in March,
experts said it would be difficult to contain inflation from raging forward.
“There is a good chance of reaching 800% by December if government
doesn’t change its policies,” said independent economic consultant, John
There are also fears that the bearer’s cheques, which are printed on
cheaper quality paper, could easily fall prey to forgers. Already, police
have confirmed that there are number of fake bearer’s cheques in
Murerwa admits inflation to blame for cash crisis
By Rangarirai Mberi
FINANCE and Economic Development Minister Herbert Murerwa (right) has
admitted that the country’s cash crisis has been a result of inflation, the
first such admission by a government minister.
The official response to months of bank note shortages by senior
officials in government has been that the crisis was a result of unethical
businesspeople hoarding cash for speculative reasons, and for purposes of
trading in foreign currency on the parallel market.
The government has also blamed traders on the black market for the
current shortages of basic commodities. State radio and TV have also blamed
“some whites” for stocking up cash to sabotage President Robert Mugabe’s
Police made countless raids on informal currency traders, business
premises and even homes as government sought to prove it was not to blame
for the crisis.
However, on Tuesday Murerwa told guests at the launch of Barbican
Holding’s commercial bank that inflation had indeed been at the base of the
crisis, which began to ease late last month after the introduction of bearer
cheques by the Reserve Bank.
“We are trying very hard to solve what was essentially a temporary
problem,” Murerwa said. “At the centre of tackling Zimbabwe’s problems will
be how we bring down inflation, which had been at the centre of the cash
Murerwa, who said he had been called “Mr Burial Cheques” on the
streets, also admitted that the use of bearer cheques would not solve the
crisis in the long term, and said his ministry was working on a more forward
looking plan to solve the crisis.
The bearer cheques are poor quality notes printed only on one side of
incomplete $50 notes, and will be taken out of circulation next year.
The cash crisis provided some of the clearest evidence yet of
government’s failure to cap inflation, which rose 426,6% year-on-year to
August, and widely forecast to come in even higher in official figures
expected out later this week.
RBZ extends bearer’s cheques duration
By our own Staff
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has stretched the life-span of
bearer’s cheques to the end of next June, giving the popular bonds an extra
six months in circulation.
Zimbabwe introduced bearer’s cheques, large denominated paper that
acts as legal tender, after the country experienced an unprecedented cash
New bearer’s cheques, released by the central bank to commercial banks
last week, already carry the changed dates of expiry from January 31, 2004
to June 30 in the same year.
The government says about $390bn worth of bearer’s cheques are
expected to have been discharged countrywide by December. The bearer’s
cheques are in denominations of $5 000, $10 000 and $20 000.
Analysts said the extension of the lifespan of the bearer’s cheques
meant that despite reports that they can easily be forged, the RBZ was
confident that they would temporarily solve the cash problem.
“They were just experimenting. But it has given them temporary
reprieve whilst they work on a more durable solution to solve the crisis,”
said Kingdom Holdings’ financial analyst, Witness Chinyama.
Chinyama however warned that government needed to address the
fundamental factor, which is inflation which last month blazed past 400% to
perch at 426,6%.
“They need to work on inflation because it is the underlying cause.
The injection of cash should be in tandem with an increase in output,” said
Confessions of a Zimbabwean
Americanotes by Ken Mufuka
THIS summer, I traveled widely in England and the Eastern United
States, talking to Zimbabweans (known as Zimbos for short).
I am also deeply involved in the formation of the US Zimbabwe Chamber
of Commerce that is affiliated to the parent Zimchamber. Over the last 24
years, I have been able to sponsor or recommend 48 Zimbos to study at my
university and other American universities.
Throughout the years, life in Zimbabwe itself becomes harder and
harder, my attempts to help become more and more desperate. The students
find it impossible to return home, their lives are torn between love of
Zimbabwe and the realities of becoming a permanent unwanted immigrant. The
political clouds darken at home, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Forgive the Zulu idiom, but it comes from frustration. The Zulus say it is
as if we are throwing dirty water against the wind. The dirty water just
flies back into our eyes and dirties our clothes.
While I was doing some research on tourism, working with a tourist
operator in Atlanta, two pieces of news drowned my day in sorrow. The
warning by the US Secretary of State, that Zimbabwe is an unsafe destination
is still on the Internet.
Secondly a well-known South African group gave a Press conference
saying that until there is a regime change in Zimbabwe, we can forget about
recruiting large numbers of tourists from Europe and the United States. When
I read this news, I was in a newspaper office that is usually enthusiastic
about my safari tours.
When President Robert Mugabe took us on a joy ride in an escalator in
1999, we all thought that the ride would be temporary. We were particularly
mistaken in our assumption that our African brothers would at least condemn
the destructive economic activities that were taking place in Zimbabwe. We
must confess that we were wrong on two counts.
President Thabo Mbeki reflected the views of African countries when he
condemned the fuss being made over Zimbabwe by the US and the United
Kingdom. He said: “Here is a guy (Mr. Ian Smith) who killed thousands of
black people and they did nothing about it.”
We must accept the fact that African leaders regard the opposition to
President Mugabe’s policies by Western countries as hypocritical and racist.
The second confession is that most African countries do not have
anything similar to an economy in the European sense. Their economies are
designed to serve the political operatives and their families. These, in
every country in Africa number only a few thousand. All government
scholarships, government contracts, free airline tickets, and just plain
business licenses are awarded to people with political connections.
Everybody else goes to hell, or migrates, or lives off the proceeds of
children working abroad.
Our criticism that President Mugabe has been shrinking the economy and
creating conditions that allow corruptive practices is saying the obvious.
Such a criticism is meaningless to a Nigerian, or a Ghanaian, or a Malawian,
or a Zambian, or a Mozambiccan or an Egyptian. It is like saying that the
sky is blue.
I have the last confession to make. All of us did not quite appreciate
the law of physics, every action is always opposed by another action of
equal force. By driving away two million Zimbabweans into exile, kicking out
the white farmers without proper regard for their welfare as citizens of the
country, the sinners did not, in their wildest dream think that their money
would be killed as a result of natural causes and the scarcity of goods.
What does it benefit a man if he gains two farms and has a million
dollars in the bank, if he cannot buy very much with the million and if he
cannot use the confiscated tractor for lack of spare parts and petrol? My
missionary teachers taught me: “ Ken, my boy, you must know one thing. In
the long run, it does not pay to be bad.”
Welcome my brothers to the real Africa.
No one has monopoly of national interest
There is a terrible tendency and apparent belief
ruling party circles that if one is critical of the government of the day,
then one is being disloyal to Zimbabwe and is therefore branded a traitor.
May God save us from such foolishness.
A political party that is in power at any given point in time can not
and should never be allowed to think it is the sole custodian of national
interest. There is a very clear distinction between the interests of a
nation and the interests of a government that is in power. Politicians
everywhere are always self - serving. Governments are invariably motivated
by the need to remain in power and therefore can follow policies and
programmes that are against national interest. Likewise, they can also
follow policies and programmes that are in the national interest from time
Clearly, therefore, it is all media in the country, civil society
groups and the people of Zimbabwe as a whole who are the voice of national
interest and are therefore its conscience and its body-guards. When Jonathan
Moyo or anybody else in government talks about the need to preserve and
promote national interest it is from a self– serving point of view.
This junior minister wants to stop the brains of journalists and the
people of Zimbabwe from working.
A newspaper is a market place of ideas. Freedom of the press is the
freedom of the Zimbabwean society to be informed fairly, adequately,
objectively and accurately.All sections of society must be catered for.
Indeed, one of the major building blocks of democracy is freedom of the
And when we talk of freedom, we do not mean just freedom from
government. The spectre of corporate power – this too is a major threat to
press freedom. Owners of the press, advertisers, religious groups, financial
interests and terrorist groups – a press must be truly free from all these
internal and external forces.
The experience of Eastern Europe in the last decade or so clearly
shows that societies which are censored become resentful and that where
freedom of expression is curtailed and limited, corruption flourishes. When
media has no editorial independence, nobody respects or believes whatever
comes from that media – whether print or electronic.
In fact, we know of no government in the world which has benefited
from banning newspapers or imposing censorship. Sooner or later such a
government will come to grief.
It is worth bearing in mind that when newspapers, radio and television
report only one view point, not only do they become dull, boring and
uninformative, worse, the flow of news and opinion seek other channels —
gossip, rumour, oral tradition and internet website versions.
We remain convinced that when a government claims it cannot afford a
free debate — likening it to subversion, incitement or injuring and damaging
national interest, then it cannot afford national development, not to
mention democracy its self. Democracy blocks its own progress if it does not
give the fullest possible expression to lone dissenting voices. Once honest
dissent is attacked and its attackers left unchallenged, there is no holding
back the forces of reaction.
It is in this context that without the crusading work of the private
newspapers and magazines with their vibrancy, vigour, robustness and alert
independent minds, the many sides of Zimbabwe’s character would have
remained unrecorded — what with the dull and uninformative State controlled
media crammed with official speeches which bear no resemblance to what is
happening on the ground. The govenment-owned media does not make a reader,
listener or viewer feel and smell Zimbabwe in a tangible sensuous way. Of
course, we do not want our readers to think that it is a bed of roses in the
private media. Far from it.
But the point we are making is that the tragedy of the
government-owned and controlled media is that many of the government policy
statements and speeches published in them cannot be taken seriously as
accurate forecasters of events or performance because there is no link
between what is officially stated and what is happening in practice. It is
lies and half-truths all the way.
It is therefore left to the private and independent press to subject
these government speeches and statements to rigorous scrutiny and to crusade
for the interests of the nation. This is why it is very important to
preserve the vitality of the independent press despite the recent setbacks
such as the banning of The Daily News.
We strongly believe that there is a pressing need for courage, high
ideals and sacrifice for values we must defend at all costs. The media’s
calling should be the struggle for the emancipation from mental slavery and
Jonathan Moyo and Tafataona Mahoso can not, by any stretch of imagination,
claim to hold a monopoly of this.
Indeed, this struggle must be intensified not necessarily in an
environment of confrontation, as the two gentlemen seem bent on, but more
importantly, in forms of dialogue which lead to a new understanding on the
need to preserve the independence and professionalism of journlists—
culminating ultimately in the re-opening of The Daily News and the repeal of
the three repressive pieces of legislation —the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), the Broadcasting Services Act and the
Public Order and Security Act (Posa).
Press freedom and human rights seem to matter more now than for many
many decades. They are more essential for the image of any government. Seen
from that perspective, we believe very strongly that the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe media campaign in the SADC region (and other
campaigns internationally) are timely and necessary and augurs well for the
future of the media in Zimbabwe.
Indeed, the Misa crusade could also serve the purpose of uniting
journalists within SADC to become a force speaking with one voice whenever
and wherever press freedom is threatened in this beautiful region of ours.
Sanctions, what sanctions?
overthetop By Brian Latham
THE government of a troubled central African nation has blamed all its
problems on sanctions. It says unpleasant western nations are to blame for
the economic crisis.
The claim flies in the face of the fact that there are no sanctions
against the troubled central African basket case.
A diplomat from a small patch of mud between Ireland and France
confirmed that it had banned some Zany politicians from shopping in its
capital. But he said that hardly amounted to sanctions. “All it means is
that they can’t go to Fortnum and Masons,” he said.
The small patch of mud stands accused of bullying the troubled central
African country, though historians point out that it hasn’t bullied anyone
since it had a little spat with Iceland over fish.
Still, Zany politicians insist that their inability to shop in western
department stores has had a devastating effect on the troubled central
African nation’s economy.
And some economists agree. “What other explanation is there?” Asked
one Zany economic advisor. “The ban on shopping in Bloomingdale’s is far
more effective than the sanctions applied to the previous rebel regime that
governed this troubled country.”
He said that though the previous regime had suffered full sanctions, a
ban on oil imports, an arms embargo and total international isolation, it
had managed to sustain its economy.
He blamed the psychological effect of the shopping ban as truly
disastrous. “The vanguard leaders of the socialist revolution find it very
hard to think and plan under these conditions,” he said. “Deprived of access
to 12-year-old malt whisky, Versace suits and Gucci shoes, their minds
simply grind to a halt. It is most unfair.”
Still, troubled central Africans are increasingly drawing comparisons
with the previous regime which also stood accused of gross human rights
abuses – though not of economic ones.
An angry central African told Over The Top that it seemed strange that
the previous regime had turned sanctions to its advantage while the current
regime had collapsed under the weight of a simple shopping ban.
Meanwhile a senior member of the More Drink Coming Party said his
organisation hadn’t called for sanctions.
“We don’t need to,” he said. “A ban on shopping hits at the heart of
the Zany Party.”
Political analysts claimed this was probably true. “Throughout the
world corrupt socialist leaders are the most conspicuous and lavish
consumers,” said one.
But many troubled central Africans doubted whether the shopping ban
was enforceable. They pointed out that there was little to stop senior Zany
leaders shopping for luxury hampers over the Internet, despite a ban on
foreign bank accounts in some countries.
Others scoffed at this claim, saying it was unlikely older members of
the Zany leadership were able to operate computers.
Despite the argument, all troubled central Africans agreed that it was
curious that after a decade of full sanctions a unit of their troubled
currency could buy a pound, whereas after a couple of years of no shopping
it took over 9,000 to buy the same pound – and that in burial cheques
because the real money had run out.
Meanwhile a Zany finance official denied anyone had to pay 9 000 for a
pound, claiming the rate was 55 to the US dollar.
“These are lies perpetrated by the running dogs in the imperialist
so-called press and we’re coming after you,” he said before getting into a
large black Benz.
A banker confirmed that for some Zany businesses the rate was indeed
55 to one, but these were then resold at 9 000 to one.