|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Harare - Some 2.5 million Zimbabweans in four southern provinces have
registered with the government for food aid, the weekly Financial Gazette
The figure represents about one-fifth of the nation's 12.5 million people, and came from totalling the number of requests for food relief in the provinces of Matabeleland South and North, Midlands and Masvingo.
The hardest-hit province is Matebeland South, where 540,550 people out of a population of 900,000 have registered for food aid, the paper said.
Aid agencies and government reports have blamed the food crisis in southern Zimbabwe on several factors, including a devastating cyclone in early 2000, a January drought which destroyed this year's maize crops, and ongoing disruptions to agricultural activity due to land invasions by liberation war veterans.
Violence tied to the government's land reform scheme prevented both commercial and small-scale farmers from producing a full maize crop.
Zimbabweans consume between 1.8 million and two million tonnes of maize per year, but government officials have estimated that only 1.4 million tonnes will be harvested this year, while the nation's reserves are nearly empty.
Zimbabwe is normally self-sufficient in food production, but aid agencies have been organizing for months to find ways of delivering food relief to people in rural areas. - Sapa-AFP
Consumer Industries Reporter
SA RETAILERS operating in Zimbabwe say they are having difficulty finding food for their stores, and have strongly criticised the government's price freeze on basic commodities.
Massmart's deputy CE, Dan Barrett, said yesterday that finding general and dry goods had been a problem for some time, but now finding a steady supply of certain foods had become a problem.
He said Massmart was experiencing "serious shortages" in sugar, oils and mealie meal, and that it expected the problems to spread to other food products. Massmart runs two Makro stores in Zimbabwe, one in Bulawayo and the other in Harare.
Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson said the group also had problems finding a steady food supply. It was especially difficult to find fresh produce, he said. He believed disruptions on farms were the main reason for this. Basson said he would not be surprised if the problem developed into a food crisis if matters continued as they were.
Pick 'n Pay CEO Sean Summers said he was confident that he could keep his stores supplied with food, but he was critical of the price freeze.
Summers said the freeze did not make "commercial sense".
Barrett said that the problem was getting worse for retailers and that, with the introduction of price controls, it would not get any better.
Basson echoed this sentiment and did not think any good would come from the price controls.
With selling prices being fixed and the cost of goods rising, it would not surprise him if some businesses went under, Barrett said. He said the price freeze was on basic commodities such as sugars, oils, mealie meal, soaps, salts, meat, chicken and bread.
Barrett said all retailers were finding trading conditions extremely tough. The fact that suppliers were demanding cash payments upfront was making it even more difficult for retailers.
Retailers who did not have cash on hand to buy goods were at a big disadvantage, he said.
Barrett said Massmart's Zimbabwebased stores had most of their food supplied by suppliers in that country. The Makro stores were initially getting a steady supply of food, but this was becoming more difficult.
Barrett, like Basson, believed that a drop in food production was the likely reason for the food shortage.
Besides food, the Zimbabwe Makro stores were also experiencing a disruption to their supply and range of general merchandise.
Barrett said supplying goods to Zimbabwe from SA was problematic as the shortage of foreign currency in that country resulted in payment for exported goods being a "bit tardy".
Adding to the payment problem, SA banks were not recognising letters of credit issued by Zimbabwean banks.
With the Makro stores not getting goods from SA, Massmart is now using Zimbabwean suppliers for sourcing general merchandise.
The group was having more luck in obtaining supplies of liquor for its stores from Zimbabwean suppliers, Barrett said.
Managers on the whole were spending a lot more of their time finding products than they used to.
In spite of the difficult trading conditions, Barrett said that there was no "financial risk on (the group's) investment". Massmart did not bring back the profit made by its Makro stores to SA. He said that Zimbabwe's shortage of foreign currency was the main reason for this.
Ironically, the stores were quite profitable when measured in Zimbabwean dollars. High inflation meant the stores merchandise were gaining value "by sitting on the shelf", Barrett said.
However, Massmart would not be considering further investments in Zimbabwe at this stage.
In terms of the deal, trading in Porthold shares was suspended last week on the JSE Securities Exchange South Africa (JSE), and the company de-listed in Harare and Johannesburg on October 15.
The majority of Porthold shareholders, excluding Anglo Zimbabwe shareholders, opted for an all-share exchange of 6.724 PPC shares for every 100 Porthold shares, PPC said.
The alternative was a cash plus share option of $47.277 plus 2.447 new PPC shares for every 100 Porthold shares held.
A pre-requisite of the deal, prescribed by the Zimbabwean competition authority, is that Porthold is maintained as a going concern that continues to produce cement in Zimbabwe. Porthold is the holding company of Unicem, which operates the cement business.
The existing management team from Unicem, headed by managing director Darren Muirhead, will remain in place.
"In time, the name Porthold will be replaced by PPC Zimbabwe on a corporate level, and the name Unicem, which is well recognised in Zimbabwe, will remain as a cement brand name," Muirhead said.
PPC shares closed at 68.90 rand on the JSE on Wednesday, but were untraded on Thursday.
ECONET Investors Flee Harare's Political Chaos
Financial Gazette (Harare)
October 18, 2001
Posted to the web October 18, 2001
ECONET Wireless Holdings, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)-listed counter, this week said it has been severely hit by the flight of foreign investors from the local bourse due to Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis.
Kevin Kachidza, head of Econet's investor relations department, said the counter - which has attracted overwhelming support from foreigners since its listing in 1998 - had been worst hit by the political upheaval of Zimbabwe in the past year.
Until Zimbabwe's political crisis started last year when government supporters violently seized private commercial farms, Econet had the largest following of foreign investors on the ZSE.
"Most international investors who had significant shareholdings in the company have either sold their shares in the last year, or they have frozen their portfolio investment programme in Zimbabwe," Kachidza noted.
"This has been a major contributor to the under-performance of our share price in Zimbabwe in the last 12 months," he said.
Without quantifying the amount that has been pulled out by foreigners due to the uncertainty, Kachidza said foreigners started deserting the counter immediately after the government followed up on the seizures of farms with its own controversial land reforms.
"This situation was exacerbated by the dramatic fall of the Zimbabwe dollar which made foreign investment worth comparatively little in US dollar terms," he said.
Kachidza however said the sharp drop in Econet's share price had nothing to do with the company's actual performance.
"The truth is we had an overhang of shares from foreigners who wanted to get their money out of Zimbabwe. When that happens, as any good analyst knows, a company's shares will remain under pressure."
Kachidza also said foreign investors continue to hold Econet in high regard due to the company's reputation as a value creator with a strong business model and an innovative management team, adding that Econet believes that entrepreneurship is not a monopoly of the world's largest operators.
"Many of the foreign institutions we speak to are ardent supporters of our approach to telecommunications investment and all are waiting for the company to list on an international stock exchange," Kachidza said.
From The Financial Gazette, 18 October
Plot to deploy voter registration stations on occupied farms
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede's office plans to deploy most mobile voter registration stations in occupied commercial farms to enable ruling Zanu PF supporters to register to vote in next year's presidential election, it was learnt this week. Authoritative official sources told the Financial Gazette that Mudede's office, which kicked off mobile voter registration on Monday, was working hand in hand with state security agents to manipulate the voters' roll with these measures. They said Central Intelligence Organisation officers, who have been seconded to Mudede's office countrywide, would in the eight weeks of mobile voter registration work mainly on commercial farms occupied by Zanu PF supporters.
Although mobile voter registration offices will be available countrywide, the exercise will be concentrated in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West, where Zanu PF supporters have seized large numbers of commercial farms under the so-called fast-track land resettlement exercise. Zanu PF enjoys huge political support in the three provinces and wants the mobile voter registration service to be readily available to resettled peasants and rural folk, who form the bulk of its support. The mobile stations will also register many resettled peasants who are ineligible to vote in the presidential election because they were moved from their homes to be resettled elsewhere in commercial farms after the June 2000 parliamentary election.
Voters in the presidential poll will be required to cast their ballots in their constituencies and nowhere else. Sources privy to Zanu PF's exercise said Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo's ultimatum to resettled peasants to occupy their pieces of land by the end of last month was aimed at making it possible to assess the number of people resettled before the start of the mobile voter registration exercise. The government says it has resettled about 200 000 people under its scheme. Mudede could not be reached for comment because, his officials said, he was attending meetings away from his office. Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo, whose ministry runs Mudede's office, was reported to be out of Harare and unreachable.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who will square off against Zanu PF's President Robert Mugabe, said the government should establish an independent electoral commission to ensure free and fair elections. Although Zimbabwe's voters' roll is said to be in a shambles, the government has spurned offers of technical expertise ahead of the election from foreign organisations. "For us to have some reasonable grounds to have a free and fair election, we need an independent electoral commission to be set up," Tsvangirai said yesterday. He said the government-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission had become dysfunctional since its work was now being done by Mudede's office.
From IRIN (UN), 17 October
International NGOs prepare to distribute food
International NGOs working in Zimbabwe are preparing food distribution and food for work programmes despite the government's reluctance to admit to a food crisis, representatives said on Tuesday. "We're initially targeting about 130 000 people in the Midlands and Matabeleland South provinces," Zvidzai Maburutse of World Vision International (WVI) in Harare told IRIN. Food shortages in these regions have been largely drought induced, impacting adversely on a population mainly made up of subsistence farmers. Lack of food in other areas has been attributed to additional factors, including the government's chaotic land reform programme, as well as a severe foreign exchange shortage. During a recent food assessment mission to the two provinces, WVI found that in seven districts, over 50 percent of the population had no livestock, no reliable source of income and no agricultural implements, and that very little grain production was taking place. "The problem is trying to identify those really in need, those without remittances from South Africa and entirely dependant on subsistence farming," he added. WVI have received funding from USAID, and food importation and distribution would commence soon, Maburutse said.
Oxfam in Zimbabwe is trying to help a smaller number of rural people – about 8 500 - "but that's just phase one, we'll expand if we can secure enough funding," Arif Khan, Oxfam's regional humanitarian coordinator told IRIN from Pretoria. He added that Oxfam was equally concerned about food shortages in urban areas and that his agency was trying to address this problem as well. Both agencies said they had secured permission from government to import food aid at a time when the issue of food shortages is of growing political sensitivity. Oxfam is attempting to raise about US $1 million to fund the first part of its programme. "It's like talking to two governments right now - at a local level there's a great deal of concern and enthusiasm for food aid, at national there's still a strong element of denial that parts of the country are going to starve soon," one aid worker who wished to remain anonymous told IRIN. Khan said he was aware of the possibility of President Mugabe's government using food aid as a political tool in the run-up to next year's crucial presidential election. "If there's any attempt by government to control Oxfam's food aid programmes we would have to think again," he said.
Further signs are emerging that the government is trying to assert control over dwindling food supplies. At the weekend the 'Zimbabwe Standard' reported that the army had been deployed to enforce a recent government decree that farmers sell all their maize to the government. Communal farmers in Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central are reportedly the worst affected as the army is now monitoring the sale of grain as well as the ferrying of the crop to various destinations around the country. Farmers said they were being forced to sell to the controversial Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for half what they could get privately for their maize. Finance Minister Simba Makoni told parliament recently that 100 000 mt of maize and 60 000 mt of wheat would have to be imported to make up for shortfalls in domestic production. According to a United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimate in June, Zimbabwe will need to import a total of about 570 000 mt of maize and wheat to avert starvation and replenish its reserves.
From The Financial Gazette, 18 October
Zanu PF readies for war
Zimbabwe is amassing huge quantities of arms and ammunition using two African allies in preparation for next year's crucial presidential election, it has been established. Financial Gazette investigations in the past one-and-a-half months have revealed that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Namibia are helping Zimbabwe circumvent an international arms embargo to buy huge quantities of guns and bullets for next year's ballot. The arms embargo was imposed on Harare last year by Europe and the United States on President Robert Mugabe's government because of its appalling human rights record. The investigations show that Zimbabwe is importing and massing an assortment of guns at army bases around the country in preparation for the poll, which is expected to be violent. Most of the guns have been arriving secretly at Suri Suri airbase in Chegutu before they are distributed to other military bases and some will be sent to farms where self-styled war veterans have established bases to intimidate voters. The bulk of the weapons have arrived from the DRC in that country's military cargo plane. The weapons consist of a significant portion of French-made guns, most of which top government sources say will be distributed to war veterans who are central to the ruling Zanu PF party's re-election strategy in the presidential poll.
The sources say Zimbabwe, after the massive depletion of its armoury because of its participation in the three-year-old DRC war, has been finding it extremely difficult to replenish its arms stocks because its traditional and cheaper arms suppliers in Europe are refusing to sell it arms. This had forced the army to implement some unpalatable measures, including the grounding of most of its entire fleet of Hawk fighter aircraft due to Britain's refusal to sell spare parts. Virtually all European Union member states have severed ties with Zimbabwe and imposed an arms embargo on the country. "Although we can still buy a number of arms from countries like Russia and China, a greater part of our fairly priced weapons, ammunition and spares have been sourced from mainly European countries like Britain, Sweden, France and others over the years. We can no longer buy arms from Europe at the moment because of the problems here," said a top Ministry of Defence source. "We have been left with no alternative but to buy some weapons via our allies in the DRC who have access to some of these European weapons that we have preference for." Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi declined to comment on the allegations of sanctions busting and the massing of guns at army bases around the country. "Just avoid that one for now. I am not going to comment on that one," Sekeramayi said yesterday before immediately cutting off his telephone.
Asked why weapons of French origin were finding their way into Zimbabwe in an interview last month, Jerome Sautier, the first counsellor at the French embassy in Harare, and Lieutenant Colonel Dault, the defence attache, said France was not selling any arms to Zimbabwe. The two said they had no knowledge of the arrival of French arms in the country but said France sold arms to several African countries which could in turn re-sell them to other countries. They said they did not know whether this was the case with Zimbabwe. "In Africa, we have military relationships with many countries. We have, for instance, sold arms to many French-speaking countries. These arms can in turn be re-sold by those other countries," said Sautier, adding that there was also the possibility of illegal arms trafficking outside the authority of the French government. The first secretary at the Namibian High Commission in Harare, Mati Jose, said he had no knowledge of Namibia helping Zimbabwe to bust the arms embargo while the DRC's ambassador to Zimbabwe Mawapanga Mwanananga could not be reached for comment.
Authoritative military sources said the army will be training and arming war veterans to ensure that Mugabe is re-elected in the ballot which must be held by the end of March. A number of bases have been established for the war veterans throughout Zimbabwe, particularly in those areas which did not have army camps. The sources said the war veterans will operate from these bases, their main objective being to make it impossible for the MDC to campaign in rural areas. Opposition supporters would also be harassed and ejected out of the rural areas to disable them from voting in their constituencies. A number of war veterans have in fact already been armed. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said in a statement that Zanu PF supporters who smashed MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's vehicle and thwarted his planned meeting with his party's structures in Sanyati last week were armed with guns. A senior government official said: "I sympathize with those who want change in the presidential elections but judging by the groundwork that Zanu PF is doing to deal with the opposition, I am afraid to say that I don't see that change coming."
Comment from The Wall Street Journal, 17 October
'Pack Up and Go'
It's official: Robert Mugabe declared Monday that he's finally gotten what he's "always wanted." He calls it "socialism," but it looks for all the world like economic collapse in Zimbabwe. In announcing a return to a command economy - in which not only would prices be controlled but production itself would be subject to government regulation - Mr. Mugabe has completed Zimbabwe's journey from a relatively successful postcolonial economy to an African disaster. Price controls, as everyone knows, lead to scarcity, especially when the mandated prices are below the prevailing ones prior to regulation, as Mr. Mugabe's are. Mr. Mugabe knows this, which is why he's accompanying his price regulations with a demand that businesses continue to produce. This is backed up by a threat to nationalize businesses that halt production in response to the Zimbabwean president's price orders. If businesses don't like it, they can "pack up and go." This may be advice that anyone still engaged in productive activity in Zimbabwe will be only too glad to accept. These economic controls come on the heels of Mr. Mugabe's ongoing expropriation of Zimbabwe's productive farms, seizures that have done much to cause the scarcity that has driven up the prices Mr. Mugabe is now trying to rein in.
Such economic details are apparently of little interest to Mr. Mugabe, who is more interested in getting what he wants - total control over his hapless country, even at the cost of driving the economy into the ground. But since he obviously cares little for the economic costs of creating his socialist paradise, he might want to consider how his government, already running a huge deficit, will finance the continued operations of companies driven out of business by his ham-fisted attempt to control an inflationary spiral that his own policies attempted to create. With runaway inflation and a tax base that shrinks every time he commandeers a formerly successful business or turns a productive farm into a squatters' wasteland, Mr. Mugabe's grand design can only accelerate his nation's collapse. One of the staples in Nobel Prize-winning V.S. Naipaul's fiction is "the big man" - the African or Caribbean or South American "liberator" who, through a combination of hubris and greed, leads his nation to ruin. Zimbabwe's big man just got bigger, and as always, it is those in his country who not able to take Mr. Mugabe's advice to flee who will pay the price.
From ZWNEWS, 18 October
"Big man" economics
The following advertisement appeared in the Zimbabwe press earlier this week. It needs no further comment, except to say that is a classic case study in what the Wall Street Journal (above) describes as the economics of "the big man".
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
BREAD PRICES : UPDATE
As agreed with Government Officials, it now costs large and small bakeries $52.00 to bake one loaf of bread, but they are expected to sell that loaf at the controlled price of $44.00, which means a loss of $8.00 per loaf.
Other raw materials Z$4.85
Baking Gas Z$1.70
While bakers continue to distribute a limited quantity of bread on a daily basis, the loss incurred is in the region of $1 800 000 per day. Obviously bakeries are going to go out of business in a short space of time and it is hoped that on-going discussion with Government will produce a solution.
15 October 2001
From The Daily News, 17 October
Hundreds laid off as bread war continues
Bakeries in Harare have laid off hundreds of contract workers and are losing $1,8 million a day as the wrangle between the government and bakers over statutory price controls on bread continued yesterday with no solution in sight. The bakers argue they are incurring heavy losses and risk going out of business soon after using up the current flour stocks. Jacob Dube, president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, said yesterday bakers were losing $1,8 million every day because of the mandatory price controls on bread introduced by the government last week. Addressing journalists after a meeting of the Business Leaders’ Forum in Harare, Dube said: "It’s not possible to produce bread at $52 and sell it at $48. A business that does that will close down sooner or later."
Dube said attempts to control the price of bread without curbing prices along the supply chain would cause an economic dislocation. He said: "There is a big possibility that there will be serious food shortages this year." A production manager at a city bakery, who refused to be named, said: "We are incurring heavy losses every day and we cannot continue producing bread under the prevailing circumstances. As a result, we are down-sizing our operations and doing away with contract workers." Since the beginning of this year, the price of flour has gone up every month by between 10 and 20 percent, he said. "Our business is no longer sustainable and the allegations of profiteering are baseless because of the hyper-inflation, now hovering at about 86 percent," the manager said.
While the Cabinet was expected to discuss the matter yesterday, Mark Prior, chairman of the National Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe, said bakeries were producing and selling bread at a huge loss. Prior said millers and bakers were still waiting for the government’s response to an appeal for a review of the price so that all parties could get a better deal. "We have already indicated to the government that we will not be viable if we sell bread at the gazetted prices," said Prior. "Bakers are still producing bread, but we need to make it clear that they are selling at a loss. The length of time we can continue to operate at a loss is debatable."
The government last week gazetted price controls on bread, maize meal, margarine, beef, pork, sugar, chicken, soap, salt and fresh milk. But millers and bakers are resisting the new prices, arguing they would make business non-viable. Prior said: "There is a massive demand for bread at the moment because not all bakeries are operational. We are producing limited quantities of bread and delivering it around town, but not to rural areas. This is because of the high delivery costs." The business leaders’ meeting yesterday came ahead of today’s conference of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum, which brings together leaders from government, business and labour. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and International Trade said in a statement yesterday that sales tax would not be applicable to bread, maize meal, cooking oil, chicken, beef, sugar, milk, margarine, pork products and salt. But economists immediately dismissed the statement as inconsequential because the products had always been non-taxable.
MDC Infighting – Fact or Fiction?
The state media has been going to fantastic lengths recently in an effort to present an image to the public of an MDC that is divided and is fighting itself over various things – the ethnic divide, ideological issues and factionalism. Just this week I have seen an article in the national media stating that Chief Ndeweni has "demanded" that the leadership of the MDC pass to the members of the Executive that come from Matebeleland. This morning there was an equally bizarre item on the radio to the effect that we were intending to hold a Party Congress to "resolve" the leadership dispute. For weeks we have seen stories about the four younger Members of Parliament who have been recently suspended from their Party posts until an investigation is completed into the underlying issues.
I am always amazed that anyone listens to the state media or reads the state controlled newspapers – even more astonished when these matters get given any credence, but it seems to happen. So I thought I should give you a bit of an "insiders view" of these issues.
All of the suspended Members of Parliament are personal friends as well as being colleagues. Tapiwa, as the Shadow Minister of Finance, works with me very closely and sits on my Committee dealing with economic matters. They are all bright, well educated and young – the latter feature is perhaps the most important because this makes them more vulnerable to the kinds of things that the CIO gets up to from time to time.
Job Sakala has been a target of the CIO from day one – he is a delightful character, very forthright in his opinions and a history graduate, which gives him special insight into what is going on in the country. They hate Job with a passion and sometimes he wreaks havoc in Parliament with his pithy and biting comments. He also has a short fuse and is easily aroused. Try that on any of the older leaders and they will just laugh at you – they have been there before. In the early days of the MDC Job was selected as a tinderbox on which the CIO hoped to launch a violent campaign against the thugs of Zanu PF. We were able to point this out to Job and he has been able to take all the punishment metered out on him and his family and still present the other cheek to his tormentors. Let me tell you – Job is a big man and that has not been an easy task for him.
Last week I reviewed the documentation that has been the subject of the dispute between Tapiwa and the other three – I was astonished and I told Tapiwa so, most of the documents are so clearly a CIO plant that they should never have been given any credence. They are crude forgeries and designed to foster conflict and division in the MDC. I was dissapointed that the CIO could not do a better job with all the resources at their disposal. Tapiwa was astonished that I gave the documents so little credence. Learmore, in his role as spokesperson for the Party has proved to be quick and sharp and eloquent. He should have exercised a bit more caution in his reaction than he did – but he is learning, fast. All of them have accepted, in a mature way, the actions taken by the Executive to resolve the issue.
Our senior leadership has warned us very strongly that we must be very careful about our personal behavior. The CIO are following us around and we are being filmed and recorded constantly. They are doing this to try and catch us in a compromising position and then will use this stuff against us in any way they can. If they cannot find anything then they will simply go out and fabricate it – this is easier than you might think!
When I accepted a position with the MDC in 1999, Morgan had me in and warned me that if I went out on a limb for the MDC I had to accept that I would be opening myself to all sorts of personal attack. My business interests would be in danger, my family threatened and my reputation sullied. He wanted me to know that before I committed myself to the job. He was right but I accepted the role because I wanted to help rescue the country from the deep despair and hardship that it was in because of Zanu PF mismanagement and corruption. If we fail, the country is a write off anyway – so what if in the process we lose what we already have.
I was in the leadership of the Forum Party and remember well how easily the CIO infiltrated our ranks and sunk our ship. The MDC is a different kettle of fish – led by tough seasoned politicians who have been in the front line for many years and are a tight knit group. The CIO have not been able to infiltrate to any great extent – even in the lower levels of the Party where you would think it was quite easy. The temptations are great – we have been shown cheques drawn on building society accounts for a million dollars in favour of individuals – rewards to them for dropping an MDC position or withdrawing from an election contest. Its impossible to think that they have not had some success – fear and greed are very effective in such a struggle, but my general reading of the situation is that they have had very limited success.
The manner in which the conflicts in Harare and Chitungwiza Provinces are being resolved is both disciplined and principled. When the preliminary investigations found some evidence it was decided to appoint a Commission of "elders" to investigate – all three are capable and mature. They were then given a free hand with the clear instruction that they were to report back as soon as possible but within a month at the latest. Then the persons caught up in the spat were all told to withdraw from their Party positions until the report was in. If any evidence is found of misbehavior by anyone involved, the Parties disciplinary committee will take disciplinary action. After that they can appeal if they feel that they have not been heard fairly or a wrong conclusion drawn. These actions were given unanimous support at the Executive and Council meetings held last week.
On the issue of the "ethnic" divide, I can remember the days in the early 60’s when Zapu and Zanu fought in the streets and villages for supremacy in the race for leadership of the struggle against the white government of Rhodesia. I grew up amongst the Ndebele and know well their deep feelings of being marginalised and ignored both in Rhodesia and then in the new Zimbabwe. The late Joshua Nkomo was a regular guest in our home in Bulawayo in the 80’s before and after his forced exile. I am well aware of the deep feelings of the Ndebele about the attempted genocide of their leadership in the mid 80’s.
I am a white man – born and raised in this country, but still a "Murungu" with all the baggage that that entails. My forefathers were not angels – they were often ruthless and full of avarice and certainly believed in their innate supremacy as a race. These things run deep – they will take many generations to overcome. I am pleased and surprised at how far we have gone in such a short time already, but no one, least of all the MDC, says it will be easy.
Since I joined the MDC in 1999, I have never perceived any substantive signs of any deep ethnic divide. On the contrary, the leadership is remarkable unified in every way and no cognizance is given on any issue to the question of race, tribe, religion or even ideological persuasion. I sit next to Gwisai, a convinced Marxist in Party meetings and we discuss key issues openly and frankly. We do not agree on everything – but we sail under the same flag and accept its rules. I feel totally accepted in the structures and have been with Morgan in all areas of the country. There can be no doubt that he is the leader of the Party and has the full acceptance of all provincial leaders. When he is in Bulawayo, the greeting he gets is no different to that in Harare. Mugabe certainly could not walk the streets of Bulawayo without a heavy security presence, he would have difficulty in holding a meeting anywhere in the province, the same cannot be said of Morgan or Gibson, his deputy, who finds similar acceptance in the Shona areas of the country.
In a unique way, MDC is an amalgam of different interests and people and this is its strength, not its weakness. What holds it together is not what others might say – simply its desire to rid Zimbabwe of the Zanu plague, sure that is there, but its much more. We share a commitment to a new, more democratic Zimbabwe, under a new constitution, which will outlaw for many years the presidential dictatorship we have been living under for the past 20 years. We share a commitment to new economic policies that will harness our great natural resources to our human resources within the frame of a dynamic, market driven economy, for the betterment of all our people. We share a commitment to rid the country of corrupt individuals and businesses that have bled our economy dry and impoverished our population. We share a vision of a better future for all our children, one in which they will each be accepted as individuals and citizens with equal rights and responsibilities.
When I read that "statement" from Chief Ndeweni and the claim that Gibson and Welshman were vying for the Party leadership I laughed out loud. It is so ridiculous that it’s laughable – but it also encourages me because it reveals how desperate this bunch are and the lengths to which they will go to undermine the image of the MDC. I am not concerned about the impact of this nonsense on the mass of our membership or even the majority of our population; I learned long ago that ordinary Zimbabweans have a wonderful system of communication that works much more effectively than any state controlled system. I was concerned that those who do not have any contact with the MDC on a direct basis, might actually become disheartened by what they get fed very day – especially if you, like the great majority of us, cannot afford DSTV or find a copy of the Daily News 5 minutes after it has arrived.
17th October 2001
From The Daily News, 18 October
Zvobgo warns Zanu PF
Eddison Zvobgo has stirred fresh controversy in Zanu PF which threatens the party’s chances of winning Masvingo province in the 2002 presidential election. He has reportedly declared parts of the province, rocked by factionalism for years, no-go areas for Zanu PF in the presidential campaign. Zvobgo is the MP for Masvingo South. He leads a faction which is fighting for control of the faction-ridden province against another led by the provincial governor, Josaya Hungwe, a protégé of Vice-President Simon Muzenda. Zanu PF lost the executive mayoral election to the MDC earlier this year. Some analysts attributed the loss to factionalism which has split Zanu PF in Masvingo. Hungwe was reportedly present at a Zanu PF meeting in Masvingo on Tuesday at which Zvobgo’s latest statements were discussed. Last night, a meeting of the provincial executive of the party was held, again reportedly to discuss, among other crucial issues, Zvobgo’s reported threat to bar Zanu PF from campaigning for President Mugabe in the province.
The controversy was stirred up by a report in the small weekly independent paper in Masvingo, The Mirror, alleging Zvobgo had once more attacked Mugabe and the Zanu PF leadership for clinging to power for too long. In Harare yesterday, Zvobgo denied the newspaper report, although he said he would do nothing to correct it. The paper covered a rally addressed by Zvobgo on Saturday, 6 October, in its Thursday 11 October issue. The newspaper is owned by a Masvingo businessman, Douglas Hill. Zvobgo was quoted as saying: "I will not allow Zanu PF to be abused by a few individuals. We did not fight the liberation struggle for one person to rule the nation forever. No one was born a dictator in this country. We fought for majority rule." He was speaking at a victory celebration rally at Nyikavanhu business centre. Contacted for comment, Zvobgo said: "This is a very delicate time and I do not want to be part of this fray. Those are damned lies. I have never attacked the person of the President. I never said that." In August, Zvobgo was quoted at a colleague’s funeral as attacking leaders who clung to power instead of retiring gracefully. He likened the refusal of one to hand over power to the mentality of a madman who, when given the relay baton in a race, flees with it into the mountains instead of passing it on. "Once upon a time, a psychiatric patient at Ngomahuru Hospital joined a relay race with other patients. Instead of passing the baton onto the next person, he ran into the adjacent hill with the baton," he told the mourners.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Zanu PF provincial leaders were reportedly divided over the issue. Some felt the party should not concentrate on Zvobgo but on campaigning for Mugabe. Others felt the "Zvobgo factor" had to be addressed. Zanu PF is likely to fare very badly in the presidential election without the full backing of the Zvobgo faction. Samuel Mumbengegwi’s executive, which took over from the one led by Dzikamai Mavhaire, a Zvobgo ally, is unpopular in the province. The Hungwe-led faction is alleging Zvobgo is using his victory celebrations to campaign for Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC’s presidential candidate. Zvobgo has already held six victory celebrations with another 19 still to be held in Masvingo Central and South. "I heard about that a long time ago that I’m MDC but that’s nonsense, rubbish. I have always held victory celebrations in each and every ward where people come to feast after every general election, and that’s not a crime," he said. Zvobgo said the celebrations will spill into the Masvingo Central constituency, which Mavhaire lost to the MDC’s Silas Mangono in last year's parliamentary election. However, Zvobgo says the majority of the people in the rural areas voted for Mavhaire.
From African Eye (SA), 18 October
War vets want R47m for all terrain vehicles
Harare - Zimbabwe's war veterans plan to ask their African sympathisers to contribute towards the $5,3 million (about R47 million) they need to buy all-terrain vehicles, at a meeting to be held in South Africa next weekend. The meeting on October 27 and 28 aims to enhance unity amongst former war veterans will include representatives from Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. "We are going to discuss economic and political situations in these countries," said acting secretary general of the militant Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) Andy Mhlanga. "Beside forging unity among the war veterans we are also going to take this opportunity to request for financial assistance from our colleagues," added Mhlanga.
He said the chairman of the South African war veterans association, Deacon Mathe, had already pledged to mobilise financial support for the ZNLWA. The Libyan government has promised to give Zanu PF about $1 million for the presidential election, despite Zimbabwe's parliamentary decision last year to outlaw foreign funding of political parties. The ZNLWA aims to buy about 40 vehicles to use during a vigorous campaign to garner support for Zanu PF's 2002 presidential campaign. Mhlanga said the vehicles would be distributed among the party's 10 administrative provinces and would be used to campaign for President Mugabe' s re-election. "What we want is enough money to buy at least four new cars for each of the 10 provinces, fuel and food for war veterans," said Mhlanga. Mugabe is facing the stiffest challenge to his presidency since independence in 1980 from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvingirai. Of late the war veterans have become the backbone of Zanu PF's election campaign.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 18 October
His Master's Voice
Zimbabwe's in-your-face Department of Information was at it again last week, fulminating on everything from first lady Grace Mugabe's right to keep secret her abysmal London University law exam results, to the alleged conspiracy of whites behind South Africa's planned deportation of Zimbabwean farm workers. Playing the race card, an unnamed "authoritative source" told the state-controlled Herald newspaper the deportations would rouse black Zimbabweans' fury against South Africa, and whites in general. The voice was unmistakably that of Professor Jonathan Moyo (47), President Robert Mugabe's highly articulate Minister of State for Information.
A recent report in the Bulawayo Chronicle – another newspaper under Moyo's control - said his "mesmerising glamour made him by far the most popular politician in Matabeleland since the death of vice-president Joshua Nkomo". Publication of unctious claims that adoring fans were fighting to shake Moyo's hand clearly implied the paper's master now nurses the highest ambitions. Moyo declares that "the days of trash journalism are numbered" with a "Freedom of Information Act", long delayed in drafting. It may also signal the end of the road for Zimbabwe's once-vibrant independent media, through imposition of a state-drafted "code of ethics", an official accreditation system and a Moyo-nominated disciplinary board. Several foreign correspondents have been ordered out of Zimbabwe this year. Within hours of his promising to silence the Daily News in January, its presses were bombed. In a land racked by political paranoia, Moyo is feared and hated both by opponents of the regime and old timers in Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF who see him as a Johnny-come-lately who whizzed up the ladder into the Cabinet and Politburo in the short space of two years. Before then, Moyo enjoyed international respect as a champion of human rights against Mugabe's autocratic regime. His bald, dome-like cranium, resembling one of the granite hills of the Matopos, has become a familiar sight on television and in opposition cartoons.
Moyo's former colleagues fear being quoted about him. He rebuffs interviews by independent journalists. Even Moyo's origins are obscure. Without clarifying exactly where he was born, he recently denied a claim he hailed from the Nyamandhlovu area of Matabeleland, close to the Botswana border and scene of some of the worst atrocities against suspected Mugabe opponents during the 1980s. Old colleagues believe he comes from Gwanda, south of Bulawayo, from a family linked to the Karanga section of Zimbabwe's majority Shona people, rather than from the Ndebele minority. He attended a church school in Matabeleland, then the paper trail gets cloudy again. Wilfred Mhanda, veteran of the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army, claims Moyo enlisted as a young guerrilla in 1974 but deserted from a training camp in Tanzania within weeks and fled to the United States. Moyo says this is false, he was a mere child at the time. He did, however, receive tertiary education in the US in the dying years of the Rhodesian War and the turbulent early years of independence, returning home with a doctorate of philosophy in political science, to join the University of Zimbabwe department of political and administrative studies. It was there, between 1987 and 1991, that he won acclaim as a scholarly opponent of Mugabe's plans for a one-party state. His book on the 1990 election, Voting for Democracy, remains a classic critique of Zanu PF skulduggery. He concluded it was essential to win proportional representation, a free press and legislated safeguards leading to truly "free-and-fair" polls. "Why do we have a unicameral Parliament full of presidential appointees who do not appear capable of independent thinking?" he thundered in a 1991 article. Ten years later, Moyo is a presidential appointee and the question is unanswered.
He attacked Mugabe's early threats to seize white farms and redistribute them to black Zimbabweans. "From the point of view of the landless ... the measures are too good to be true," Moyo said of Mugabe's Land Acquisition Act. "This puts Zanu PF as a ruling party at the risk of committing 'politicide' by promising what it can hardly deliver. "The new land reform measures have the trappings of a boomerang - they dare the government to do something drastic when all indications are that there is neither the will nor the space for such action." Mugabe could never give all 10-million black Zimbabweans a viable plot, even if he seized every square metre owned by whites, Moyo warned. Ten years later, with 76% of Zimbabwe's now 13-million people living below the bread line, his point seems equally pertinent. What changed, or who changed? Former colleagues believe Moyo turned cynical after a move to Kenya with the Ford Foundation in the mid-1990s. A 1999 article published in Zimbabwe indicated a change in tone - still attacking Mugabe, but urging him to strip whites of economic power and deliver "real independence". He became embroiled in a row with the Ford Foundation that has left the threat of litigation hanging over him. A similar but briefer excursion to Wits University led to another row over the fate of funds. He denies wrongdoing, but enemies accuse Moyo of scuttling to Mugabe's side to seek legal protection.
However, when he agreed in 1999 to serve on a constitutional review commission, chaired by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, his participation was generally felt to give it credibility. Over the following six months, as the commission defied popular opinion to impose a framework that would have entrenched Mugabe's power indefinitely, Moyo's formerly urbane tone became increasingly embittered. He blamed whites for the Constitution's rejection at the February 2000 referendum. He was rewarded with a seat in Parliament and the Cabinet after the June 2000 general election. Revealing for the first time a streak of vindictiveness, Moyo said urban voters who backed Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would be "given a bitter pill" while Zanu PF rewarded the "loyal and disciplined" rural areas. Shortly afterwards - to the horror of party stalwarts - Mugabe brought Moyo into the Politburo. The former champion of civil society continues to slang off any critic of the government's human rights record and alleges it is those widely seen as victims, the MDC and the white farmers, who provoked violence in which 100 have died. Many believe the recent adulatory articles in the Bulawayo Chronicle indicate Moyo's ambition to become Mugabe's vice-president when 70-year-old Joseph Msika steps down. And after that?
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 18 October
SA farmers defy Zim workers repatriation
Three rebel farmer associations in the Northern Province on Thursday decided to act unilaterally to retain the services of their skilled Zimbabwean employees, some of whom have worked for them for 15 years or more. The government is insisting that the foreign workers be repatriated without delay. The Weipe, Pont Drift and Njelele farmers associations this week obtained a high court interdict restraining the government from deporting any workers before further negotiations with the farmers. The three associations came under heavy fire during Wednesday's annual general meeting of the Soutpansberg District Agricultural Union, the umbrella body to which they are affiliated, for failing to work through the recognised channels provided by organised agriculture.
Representative for the three associations said in a meeting their situation was unique, because most of their members owned farms along the banks of the Limpopo River, the official boundary between South Africa and Zimbabwe. The workers and their families now lived on both sides of the border, and had become an irreplaceable component of their farming operations. During an emotional debate on the issue, it became clear that there were serious differences of opinion on how the dispute with the government should be handled. The agricultural union's general affairs convener, Gideon Meiring, said his committee was exploring all options to resolve the deadlock, including further talks with the government. However, other speakers at the meeting said the government was intent on breaking the farmers and getting them off the land.
Union President Dries Joubert, who was elected for a sixth term of office, appealed for unity, saying the central issue was the survival of the regional economy north of the Soutpansberg. "The 15 000 Zimbabweans, one of the mainstays of the province's economy, have suddenly become illegals - the other six to eight million illegals do not seem to matter. Who is being targeted here - the workers or the 90 farmers along the border ?" Joubert asked. The official government view, conveyed during talks with the farmers, was that the foreign workers were holding jobs which should be given to unemployed South Africans. But the farmers insist they cannot recruit a large enough work force in the area to replace the foreign workers.
From BBC News, 18 October
Starvation looms in southern Zimbabwe
Drought, floods and farm invasions are all blamed
Harare - About three million people in southern Zimbabwe are reported to be facing starvation as critical food shortages bite. Since independence, the Southern African country has always been a net exporter of food but now aid agencies working in the area say the situation is desperate. No deaths from starvation have been officially reported in the area but relief agencies say the situation will worsen if food aid is not sent quickly. In some areas, thousands have resorted to eating tree roots simply to stay alive, but even the bland roots are now in scarce supply. Estimates by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) say Zimbabwe will need to import a total of about 570,000 metric tonnes of maize and wheat to avert starvation and replenish its reserves. So far, some 2,5 million have registered with the government for emergency food aid. According to Mark Karinda, the national drought co-ordinator of Christian Care International which is working in the affected areas, they have had to introduce a feeding scheme for children. Another aid agency, Care International, reported that in the southern Provinces of Midlands and Masvingo, 100,000 children are already taking a supplementary meal a day. For some of these children, school is the one place they are assured of a square meal each day and worth the long distance they have to walk.
Last month Zimbabwean Agriculture Minister Joseph Made admitted the country was to import 100 000 tons of maize immediately from neighbouring South Africa to avert the looming food shortages. But for a long time, Zimbabwe denied that the country could face food shortages. The government has promised that no-one will starve. But the opposition have already warned the government not to use food aid to try to get votes In next year's presidential elections. Drought-prone southern Zimbabwe normally receives very little rainfall, but last year, poor harvests came as a result of a combination of drought and heavy rains brought about by Cyclone Eline that ravaged southern Zimbabwe. The lack of food has also been attributed to additional factors such as the government's chaotic land reform programme. In urban areas, consumers are facing massive bread and other food shortages as a result of strict price controls imposed by the government last week. Major bakeries in the country have already put workers on shorter working hours and reduced output because of the price controls. Several face closure unless the prices are revised.
Voter Registration Programme
The government has recently published details of dates and places for its countrywide Voter Registration Programme. If you are intending to vote in the 2002 Presidential election, it is vital that you check that your name is on the voters' roll. If you would like a copy of the Voter Registration Programme, please let us know - it will be sent as an Excel spreadsheet attachment to an email message - size 200 Kb - about four times the size of the average daily ZWNEWS.