By Tonderai Kwidini
HARARE, Sep 30 (IPS) - A young Zimbabwean couple glances furtively around
before settling on a bench in a bare patch of ground that used to be a
recreational park in Glen View, a sprawling, high-density suburb of the
capital, Harare. It's a Monday morning, and the two of them are struggling
to come to terms with a strange sickness that has gripped their family.
Every move they make in the direction of the Glen View One Satellite Clinic
shows they are in great pain.
"We are going to the clinic to seek medical attention. We have been twisting
and turning all night and we don't know what has hit us, but I suspect it's
the untreated water that we are drinking," Charles Nemukundu tells IPS as he
leads his partner to the clinic, where waterborne diseases are being treated
A water shortage and dilapidated sanitation works have caused Harare to
become stifled by pools of open sewage and filthy public toilets.
Groups of women with buckets on their heads have become a common sight
around streams that many residents of the city now use as their main source
of water. Various toxic substances are deposited into the streams on a daily
basis; yet the prospect of contracting diseases does not prevent people from
drawing water there.
As a result, the incidence of waterborne diseases such as dysentery,
diarrhoea and cholera has increased to such an extent that the Harare City
Council (HCC) is obliged to offer free treatment.
The city's health department last month warned of an imminent disaster in
the capital if the water situation was not addressed. "The cases of
diarrhoea reported and being treated at our clinics are increasing daily. We
are treating 900 cases daily," an official at the HCC who preferred to
remain anonymous told IPS.
Those living in the more affluent suburbs have also been caught up in the
"Since the start of the problems, I have been buying mineral water from the
shops for my children, but now I can't do that any more because there is
nothing left in the shops and I don't know what to do now. I have tried
boiling the water but it's not helping either," said Gladys Mtombeni, a
resident of Hillside, one of Harare's more upmarket areas.
The current health crisis intensified when the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority (ZINWA) took over the running of the city's water affairs from the
HCC. The takeover was met with considerable public opposition that went
largely ignored by the authorities.
"The government has vowed it will go ahead with the project even as health
officials show that recent deaths are due to the incompetence of ZINWA and
that whole urban areas are threatened because ZINWA cannot be relied upon to
provide water regularly," commented the weekly Standard newspaper in an
"Just how many more people must die in order to convince the government that
this is a man-made catastrophe?"
A resident of Harare voiced similar sentiments in a letter to the editor
published in a daily newspaper.
"Things might be hard, but it does not mean we have to accept living with
our own waste in our kitchens. I suggest we declare the current water and
sewer problems a national disaster. A stitch in time saves nine, lest we
head for a catastrophic health situation," wrote the resident.
ZINWA says it is struggling to provide water and sewerage services to
residents of the capital because ageing infrastructure has not been properly
maintained. The lack of maintenance means that sewerage pipes burst
The country's foreign currency shortages exacerbate the problem, making it
difficult to import the raw materials needed to produce chemicals for the
treatment of effluent. With an official inflation rate of 6,600 percent and
an unofficial rate of almost twice that figure, many Zimbabwean companies
that used to produce water treatment chemicals have been forced to suspend
their operations. ZINWA now has to import the chemicals directly from
While Zimbabwe's economy continues its downward slide, it will probably be
all but impossible to raise the funds required to restore normal water and
sewerage services to all urban areas in the country.
The government of President Robert Mugabe has been accused of demolishing
the economy through -- amongst others -- an ill-advised land reform
programme. In the most recent case of mismanagement, an edict from
government instructed retailers to cut all prices by fifty percent. This
instruction, in an economy already crippled by rampant inflation, made it
difficult for store supplies to be replenished -- and has caused many
businesses to stop trading.
Noted Jabusile Shumba, a senior programmes officer for the Combined Harare
Residents Association: ".we are in a crisis which has reached health menace
status. This is certainly a national disaster which other people have made
and are allowing to continue straight to the grave."
Ringed by a clutch of Zimbabwean
soldiers clicking automatic weapons, Charles Lock handed over the keys to his
farm and drove off his land for the last time.
All agricultural land was officially nationalised last year — with the seizure to take effect from Oct 1 this year.
In advance of this deadline, Zimbabwe's army and the Central Intelligence Organisation have been tormenting the last handful of white farmers and their workers.
About 50 have been summoned to appear at magistrates' courts. Some have surrendered their farms and homes in despair in the last few weeks.
Mr Lock, however, is determined to fight on. "I may have been forced to go but I will continue to fight in the courts," he said. "I have five court orders allowing me to stay."
Four years ago Mr Lock was given permission to stay on Karori Farm in Headlands district, about 90 miles south-east of Harare, after two thirds of its land was made available for resettlement.
Earlier, Mr Lock had surrendered another 5,000-acre farm to the government.
But the last portion of Karori's land still in Mr Lock's hands caught the attention of a senior army officer, Gen Justin Mujaji and his wife, Pauline.
He sent his soldiers to evict Mr Lock, along with all of the farmer's black labourers, and take over the property.
"They came with their guns and fired a few rounds," said Mr Lock, 45. "I was forced to pay off 158 workers. The soldiers drove them and their families off in the space of 24 hours. They vanished."
"The farm school is deserted. I had to move my four farm managers and their possessions off as they were in danger, and while I was away my house and equipment was looted. I was alone on the farm then, and so I just had to go."
Last week, Mr Lock brought a contempt of court application against Gen Mujaji and his wife.
Mr Justice Charles Hungwe heard the case and made a remark to the effect that the courts were being abused. He promised a ruling this week.
But Gen Mujaji insists that he will stay on the farm regardless of the law. "I will only leave Karori if the minister of lands orders me. He is senior to the courts," he told The Daily Telegraph.
Before the onset of the land grab, Zimbabwe had about 4,000 white farmers. Perhaps a few hundred are left — and the great majority are only able to cling to portions of their land.
Hardly any still possess all the acres they owned before the seizures. The latest deadline could dislodge the remaining handful.
"The military are heavily involved now," said John Worsley-Worswick, spokesman for the pressure group Justice for Agriculture. "We always knew that eventually the government would go for the final push, and here it is."
The United Nations says that about four million Zimbabweans will need food aid next year. Until the land grab, Zimbabwe exported food.
October 1, 2007
Jan Raath in Francistown
The heat was withering in the run-down wooden shack without a door handle
that serves as the Mphoengs border post.
"There used to be a store here, but it closed long ago," the Zimbabwean
immigration officer said. "You can get nothing this side. But it is OK for
us," he added brightly.
Barely 200 yards away, across the dry, thorn-fringed river bed that forms
the border between Zimbabwe and Botswana, is a tiny, tin-roofed building
called Basilele's Butchery. Its stock of fresh bread, milk, maizemeal, eggs,
beer, and even fuel, is more than any of the hangar-sized supermarkets in
Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, can manage now. President Mugabe's price
controls, unleashed three months ago to control inflation by forcing
businesses to sell at less than they produce goods for, have strangled the
supply of nearly all goods.
Shopping in Zimbabwean supermarkets has become a matter of hunting and
gathering. You walk quickly past the mostly empty shelves in the hope of
finding perhaps a tin of shoe polish, a sack of potatoes or a bottle of
mosquito repellent. There is almost no hope of getting essentials like bread
or milk. Mostly you leave empty-handed.
The shortages have created new meaning to the expression, "I'm just nipping
out to the supermarket". This week I drove 870 miles (1,400km) to and from
Botswana to do my shopping.
Mphoengs is the more inaccessible entry point to the Botswana town of
Francistown. Once a flyblown frontier railway junction, it is now a
sprawling consumer city with gleaming shopping malls and vast South
African-owned hypermarkets and chain stores, stocked with mountains of goods
and surrounded by lawns and fountains rising out of the semi-desert scrub.
The city is efficiently run, a magnet for investment, with a low crime rate
and a sense of civic pride. It is a product of Botswana's long tradition of
democracy, tolerance and astute economic management. It stands in absolute
contrast to Mr Mugabe's rule of brutality, cruelty, famine and failure.
The road to Mphoengs is avoided by the smoking, battered buses that are
Zimbabwe's public transport, because of a long stretch of bad gravel.
Instead, they pour into Plumtree border post, 60 miles north, bursting with
shoppers whose numbers overwhelm the customs and immigration officers. A
five-hour wait is normal at weekends.
At dawn the buses disgorge their passengers in their hundreds in the
terminus off the city's main street. The Zimbabweans are instantly
recognisable, often poorly dressed and struggling under the weight of
enormous plastic zip-up bags stuffed with bottles of cheap cooking oil, bars
of coarse soap, boxes of milk powder or loaves of bread to take back over
"It is for selling on the black market," Patson Hunduza, with a load of
plastic buckets, said. "I have no job but cross-border trading is
profitable. I can feed my kids and pay their school fees doing this." It is
worth the risk, he said, of being assaulted by and losing his goods to
The presence of thousands of Zimbabweans shopping in Botswana - and in
neighbouring South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique - is evidence of how the
country's once prodigious distribution sector has fallen apart. It is the
only way many Zimbabweans survive Mr Mugabe's state-induced famine.
The trip back through Plumtree is made even more excruciating by customs
officers who order shoppers to pull out their bags from the holds of the
buses and unpack them for inspection. "Usually the driver makes a deal with
the customs officer," Everista Kasambuwa, who makes the trip each month from
Harare, said. "He comes round and collects 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars [about
10p] from each passenger and gives it to the customs guy, who just waves us
through, and it only takes a couple of hours."
A Francistown businessman, Krish Naidoo, estimates that Zimbabweans account
for 30 per cent of his clothing trade. "I would be hurting if it wasn't for
them," he said. "Mugabe's slashing of prices has been great for my business.
When their shops ran out of goods, my sales volumes soared."
With no exports coming from Zimbabwe, the South African supermarkets, too,
have no competition and have put up prices.
Back at Mphoengs with my pickup truck loaded with wheat, cooking oil, soap
powder, long-life milk, rice, sugar, oats, soap, toothpaste, beer and wine,
I waited an hour for the sole customs officer to come back from lunch, and
contemplated the ten-hour drive back to Harare, most of it in the dark. I
didn't mind - it was a small price to pay for a well-stocked larder.
Monthly cost of living for a family of five
Z$14 million (£15.50)
Z$6.5 million (£7.20)
Other household goods
Z$7.5 million (£8.30)
Official price for a loaf of bread
Blackmarket price for a loaf
80 per cent of population is living below the poverty line
Sources: Times archives, Zimbabwe Central Statistical Office,
By Peter Clottey
01 October 2007
In Zimbabwe, a senior political science lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe, says the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) is trying to allay the fears of citizens who suspect the
opposition party is making deals with President Robert Mugabe led ZANU-PF
government. John Makumbe says the demands made by MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai for a level political playing field and an end to violence
against MDC supporters is to re-establish the credibility of his party.
Tsvangirai said Saturday during the eight-year celebration of the MDC that
the party's participation in next year's national elections would depend on
negotiations at the Southern African Development Community-sponsored peace
talks with President Robert Mugabe's government. The talks are meant to
resolve the political and economic crisis facing the country. From the
capital Harare, John Makumbe tells reporter Peter Clottey that all is not
lost for the opposition MDC.
"I think he is trying to backtrack now. He is trying to appease largely the
people who are suspicious that some deals are being made with ZANU-PF, which
might result in an unsatisfactory situation developing in 2008 because
people do not trust Robert Mugabe at all. They know him to be a cunning fox
and so they would really like the MDC to be on level with them," Makumbe
He said looking at the historical perspective of negotiations between the
ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition, the demands made by the opposition
would more than likely not yield any positive results for the MDC.
"I have known ZANU-PF to be very difficult in virtually all the benchmarks,
particularly, the leveling of the political playing field, and free and fair
elections, the composition of the Zimbabwe electoral commission and so forth
are going to be very difficult for ZANU-PF to acquiesce to, to agree to make
any substantive changes," he said.
Makumbe said there is a chance the MDC might feel deceived into agreeing to
a recent section 18-constitution amendment proposed by ZANU-PF in
"It is very likely that now that amendment number 18 has been passed,
ZANU-PF could very easily turn around and say nothing else would change. And
if that happens the MDC would be stuck in the middle," Makumbe explained.
He said there is some truth in Tsvangirai's assertion, that elections in
recent times have not been free and fair.
"In the past, elections have largely been pre-determined. That is really a
polite way to say they have been rigged. And yes, in the past, the election
results have been stolen, and there is no guarantee now that the 2008
elections would not be stolen in like manner. What Morgan Tsvangirai is
asking for the benchmark is that the conditions and the terms prevailing
circumstances in the political playing field must be such that a fair and
free and transparent election process would actually occur. And that I can
assure you ZANU-PF does not cherish such a development because it knows that
under free and fair conditions it will lose the elections. And ZANU-PF is
not in fact preparing to lose the election," he noted.
Makumbe said the current SADC-mediated talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC can
only yield positive results for the MDC if the ruling party agrees to the
demands of change the opposition is asking for.
"I think if the talks result in the benchmarks outlined by Morgan Tsvangirai
being met by ZANU-PF, then the talks would have really achieved something.
But my fear is that Robert Mugabe is going to twist and turn, and I believe
he is setting a huge trap for the MDC, and they are walking right into it.
They walked right into it by voting in favor of amendment number 18 and I
think they have made several other concessions including agreeing to where
no new constitution would be written before these elections. And I think
that is quite unfortunate," Makumbe stated.
Monday 01 October 2007
By Farisai Gonye
HARARE - Vice President Joseph Msika last week summoned Zimbabwe Defence
Forces commander Constantine Chiwengwa and ordered him to stop ongoing
occupation of farms by senior army officials.
Sources said the meeting between Msika and Chiwengwa was prompted by
numerous reports of top army chefs evicting white farmers and blacks
resettled under a controversial land reform programme from their properties
in the past few months.
It also came against the backdrop of some fissures beginning to emerge
within the ruling ZANU PF party over how to finalise the land redistribution
programme started in 2000.
Msika has been struggling to stamp his authority and enforce an order he
issued to Lands and Land Reform Minister Didymus Mutasa last month to stop
evictions of remaining white farmers.
Mutasa has openly ignored Msika by insisting that white farmers who have
been ordered to leave should vacate the farms or risk arrest.
The sources said Msika pleaded with Chiwengwa to rein in the senior army
officials whose actions threaten to negate the little gains made since 2000
when the government took farms from whites and parceled out plots to
It is believed that Mutasa has been telling senior soldiers and others
aligned to him to identify land and he would sign offer letters for them
despite Msika's protests.
"He is trying to use the army's influence in his battle against Msika," said
a source privy to the meeting.
Chiwenga was non-committal, according to the sources, and only promised to
"work on it".
The continued compulsory acquisition of farms by the soldiers could see more
newly resettled black farmers losing their land.
Msika is seeking to protect remaining white farmers who have blended well
with ordinary ZANU-PF supporters in rural areas and black farmers resettled
under the land reforms.
But Mutasa and senior army officers believe land reform would not be
complete if some farms remained in the hands of whites.
Mutasa told ZimOnline at the weekend that the eviction of remaining white
farmers would continue.
"I am not at war with the vice president, but my conscience is clear because
I am working within the framework of the law," said Mutasa, also the state
security minister and a close ally of President Robert Mugabe.
He said the police were under orders to arrest white farmers ignoring
Karoi commercial farmer Neil Saywood was arrested two weeks ago for refusing
to vacate a farm acquired by the government and allocated to another farmer.
Saywood had refused to vacate Glen Ellen Farm that had been allocated to
He was supposed to leave the farm by 31 July to pave way for the new
occupant but he continued farming, resisting attempts by the new owner to
move onto the property.
Msika's sole battle to end the chaos on the farms appears weak in light of
Mugabe's faith in the army and the old guard like Mutasa.
Mugabe is battling for political survival within his own party where rival
groups are jostling to nudge him out of power.
About 20 soldiers from the 2.3 Infantry Brigade in Magunje last Thursday
removed a black farmer from Folliot Farm in the same district.
Folliot Farm was occupied by Sam Sakutukwa who took the farm from white
farmer Young Husband in 2000 at the height of farm invasions. Husband has
since relocated to Australia.
A senior Zimbabwe National Army brigadier has since taken over the farm
after soldiers assaulted farm workers.
A farm security guard was admitted at Karoi Hospital following the assault.
Folliot Farm is adjacent to Grand Parade Farm, where another army brigadier
had forced white farmer James Stidholf off the property the previous day.
Stidholf is now in Harare where he has engaged Msika's help in reversing the
ZimOnline is also reliably informed that soldiers have threatened to take
over idle farms occupied by newly resettled black farmers in the Macheke and
The soldiers are reportedly ordering all black farmers to produce nothing
else except maize.
"They warned that they will chase away any black farmer who failed to adhere
to this order which they said would stop reliance on donors," said a black
Macheke farmer who had been growing wheat since receiving the farm in
2002. - ZimOnline
Monday 01 October 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe civic leaders at the weekend agreed not to cut ties with
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party after the opposition party
apologised for endorsing government constitutional reforms without
consulting allies in civic society.
The pro-democracy, human and civic rights activists, who had accused the MDC
of "betrayal" for backing a constitutional amendment Bill that among other
things paves the way for President Robert Mugabe to anoint a successor, said
breaking up the alliance with the opposition party would be "playing into
ZANU PF's hands."
Civic leaders, who met in Bulawayo to discuss rifts that had emerged with
the MDC after the party backed government constitutional reforms, agreed to
set up a "taskforce to engage the MDC."
The civic leaders opted for rapprochement with the MDC after a senior
official of the larger faction of the splintered opposition party apologised
that the party had not consulted its civic allies before agreeing in
Parliament to support Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill Number 18.
Elton Mangoma, who is treasurer in the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC, told the
civic leaders the opposition party cherished the relationship with the civic
society and would in future consult them more.
"We accept the blunder that was made by the MDC on the constitutional
amendment (Bill). We therefore apologise for that," Magoma said.
The MDC official added that the party would ensure more consultation with
civic groups as it engages with the ruling ZANU PF party in negotiations led
by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) last March tasked Mbeki to
broker talks between the MDC and ZANU PF to find a solution to Zimbabwe's
deepening economic and political crisis.
The MDC, which had initially pushed for an entirely new constitution that
would guarantee basic freedoms and free elections, has defended its decision
as a confidence-building measure meant to give more impetus to the SADC-led
The government constitutional Bill will see constituency boundaries changed,
parliamentary elections brought forward by two years while Parliament -
which Mugabe controls - will be empowered to elect a new president should
the incumbent fail to serve a full term.
Analysts see the clause empowering Parliament to elect a new president as an
exit mechanism allowing Mugabe, 83, to quit active politics, handpick a
successor and possibly rule from the sidelines.
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai told supporters that his party's participation in next
year's elections depended on the outcome of talks with ZANU PF.
Speaking at a rally marking the eighth anniversary of the establishment of
the MDC, Tsvangirai said the government must repeal repressive media and
security laws that have hampered his party from campaigning and allow
millions of exiled Zimbabweans to vote or the MDC will not take part in the
polls. - ZimOnline
Monday 01 October 2007
By Farisayi Gonye
HARARE - A senior Zimbabwe government official who is closely linked to
Vice-President Joice Mujuru last week stormed the offices of the Ministry of
Information demanding the lifting of a media blackout on his activities.
Ray Kaukonde, who is the governor of Mashonaland East province, took
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu by surprise after he stormed into his
offices in Harare unannounced following the blackout of his political
The move to blackout Kaukonde followed a meeting that was called by
President Robert Mugabe's press secretary George Charamba last month where
he told state media editors to limit coverage of Vice-President Joice Mujuru
and her political allies.
Kaukonde, is part of a powerful ZANU PF faction headed by former army
commander Solomon Mujuru, that is pushing for Mugabe's ouster from power.
Charamba, who is also the permanent secretary in the Ministry of
Information, told the editors that coverage of Mujuru and her allies in the
ruling ZANU PF party should be kept at the barest minimum.
Matters came to a head last Tuesday after Kaukonde was informed that the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) had been ordered by the Information
Ministry to blackout his political activities.
"Kaukonde was informed about the blackout after the ZBC dropped a story on a
campaign meeting he held in Beatrice on Monday. ZBC had ignored several
events where he had officiated over the past two weeks," said the source.
"Kaukonde arrived at the ministry's offices unannounced and stunned Ndlovu
and Dr Sylvester Maunganidze (the principal information director) when he
confronted them on the blackout. Both professed ignorance, laying the blame
on ZBC bosses.
"Kaukonde told them in no uncertain terms that they were abusing their
offices to fight internal party wars and that he would take up the matter to
higher offices. I am sure he meant Mujuru's offices," said the source at the
Mujuru on Wednesday summoned Ndlovu to her offices to explain why ZBC had
imposed the blanket ban on activities by her political allies. Sources said
Ndlovu professed ignorance over the media blackout promising to investigate
the matter further.
Kaukonde refused to comment on the matter when approached for comment at the
weekend, saying: "I have no comment."
Ndlovu, who is part of a faction seeking to ensure Mugabe stays at the helm
of ZANU PF and the country, denied any knowledge of a rift with Mujuru or
the encounter with Kaukonde.
"We have competent editors at ZBC who do not need any influence from us. ZBC
is a public broadcaster and we give voices to all genuine Zimbabweans
without favour," said Ndlovu. - ZimOnline
Monday 01 October 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - A Zimbabwean student leader faces treason charges for allegedly
calling for the violent removal of President Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) national council member Mehluli
Dube was arrested at the weekend on allegations that he uttered statements
considered to be a threat to state security during a recent meeting in
Dube is alleged to have told a meeting called by the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition civic group in Gwanda last week that "if President Mugabe does not
want to go, we will remove him by the ballot or the bullet".
Police officers from Gwanda's Law and Order Section picked up the student
leader while he was attending a meeting called by civil society to discuss
the just-passed Constitutional Amendment Number 18 in Bulawayo on Saturday.
He was taken to Bulawayo Central police station and questioned before the
police preferred the treason charges against him.
Treason in Zimbabwe carries a death sentence or a life in prison sentence.
Zimrights director Dzikamai Machingura and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
director Arnold Tsunga are part of a defence team hastily arranged from
participants attending the civil society meeting.
Tsunga confirmed that Dube was shaken by the treason charges leveled against
"The charges being leveled against Dube are serious charges but the police
released him in the custody of his lawyer and said they will proceed in the
matter by way of summons in the coming three weeks," Tsunga said.
Dube joins several seasoned politicians who have faced treason charges in
the past few years. These include the late opposition leader Ndabaningi
Sithole, Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former
PF ZAPU leaders Dumiso Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku.
All the treason cases have however collapsed due to lack of evidence. -
Life expectancy has plummeted from 60 years in 1990 to an estimated 34
01 Oct 2007 00:48
The crisis in Zimbabwe has long since reached epic proportions and the
situation worsens by the day. Millions of Zimbabweans have fled their
country, seeking asylum in neighbouring countries but are often rounded up
like criminals and carted off - back to the dangerous and inhospitable
territory that has become Zimbabwe. All the while African leaders have sat
back and watched the crisis slowly unfold, refusing to intervene or even
criticise the current regime. Through their complacency African leaders have
implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, condoned the Zimbabwean government's
actions to the detriment of the country's people.
Life expectancy at birth has plummeted from 60 years in 1990 to an estimated
34 years and according to the World Bank's African Development Indicators
gross domestic product per capita in real terms was lower in 2004 ($457)
than it was in 1980 ($599). For several years unemployment has been reported
to be over 80 per cent, although recent estimates suggest it is actually
closer to 100 per cent. In 2005, the Economist's Quality of Life Index
ranked Zimbabwe last among 111 countries surveyed. The countries were judged
according to their gross domestic product, health delivery systems,
unemployment rate and political stability.
Malnutrition is rife throughout the country and hundreds die on a daily
basis from diseases that are entirely preventable and often curable with
simple medications. It is estimated that between 3,000 and 3,500 die every
week from HIV/AIDS and related opportunistic infections. As a result of
starvation, malnutrition-related diseases, such as kwashiorkor, are
increasing at astounding rates. A recently released report by the Harare
City Council's Department of Health states that cases of kwashiorkor,
increased by approximately 44 per cent in 2006 over the previous year's
In response to the economic crisis, the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank has
frenetically printed money to support the corrupt and failing
government-owned enterprises and to sustain minimal government services. The
high growth in money supply has resulted in hyperinflation, conservatively
reported by the Zimbabwean Central Statistical Office to be 7,634 per cent
in mid-August 2007. The imposed price controls have simply emptied shops of
food and hospitals of basic medicines and other essential devices to perform
The hyper-inflationary conditions make it impossible to make any rational
economic decisions. Average wages are around 1 million Zimbabwean dollars a
month but a loaf of bread, when its available, can set one back Z$160,000.
Under these circumstances travelling to and from work is simply not
economically viable. Indeed, most medical staff can no longer afford to
reach their posts since transport fares exceed monthly incomes. The official
exchange rate is approximately Z$30,000 to US$1 but on the black market a US
dollar can fetch anything between Z$350,000 and Z$400,000 - a great
opportunity for arbitrage for those that are politically connected.
While the current government blames ex-colonial powers and western
governments for the present problems, in truth the economic and healthcare
crisis lie in the government's policies that have destroyed property rights,
individual liberties and the institutions of a free society. In order to
restore basic healthcare needs to Zimbabweans and to rebuild the public
healthcare system, some dramatic and far-reaching political and economic
reforms will be needed.
In responding to the growing outrage and alarm at the collapse of the
healthcare system, Minister of Health, David Parirenyatwa acknowledged that
the health system was bankrupt. However, in one of the state-controlled
newspapers he appealed to businesses and corporate interests to "rescue" the
service stating, "it is a question of social responsibility". It is however
somewhat ironic for a senior government official to claim that it is the
"social responsibility" of the private sector to "rescue" the health system.
Through its various policies and actions the government itself has destroyed
the healthcare system and if there is any responsibility for the state of
the system, it must surely lie with the government. Under changed
circumstances there could potentially be an opportunity for the private
sector to re-enter the system and re-build Zimbabwe's healthcare system in
partnership with a new government that acts in a rational manner. The
subsequent government should expand the private sector's role in healthcare
and should explore ways of using vouchers so that poor families can access
quality healthcare in an efficient and effective way.
The Zimbabwean government has systematically undermined the rights of the
private sector and has made it all but impossible for it to conduct business
in Zimbabwe. Price controls must be removed immediately and the Zimbabwean
dollar must be replaced by a stable currency, so as to curb hyperinflation.
Zimbabwe's only chance of economic survival, and a return to a normal life
for its people, is to change its current policies - this can be achieved by
allowing greater economic freedom and by restoring the institutions, such as
the protection of private property rights, that are essential if private
enterprise is to function.
Author: Jasson Urbach is an economist with the Free Market Foundation and a
director of Africa Fighting Malaria. This article may be republished without
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the article are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the members
of the Foundation.
The full study published by Africa Fighting malaria on which this article is
based is available at
The government passed a law allowing the state to take control of
Antony Sguazzin and Nasreen Seria, Bloomberg
28 Sep 2007 01:53
Impala Platinum Holdings and Aquarius Platinum, Zimbabwe's only platinum
producers, are seeking talks with the government after it passed a law
allowing the state to take control of foreign-owned assets.
Impala, the world's second-biggest platinum miner, expects the government to
take into account an earlier agreement under which the company ceded control
of $153m in mining concessions and committed to $258mof investment, CEO
David Brown said in an e-mailed statement. Aquarius CEO Stuart Murray,
whose company's stock plunged on the planned law, also expects talks.
"It is very hard to implement," Murray said in an interview from New York
yesterday, adding the measure still needs to be cleared by the upper house,
or senate. It can only be put in place through negotiation and there aren't
any talks, he said.
Zimbabwe Mining Minister Amos Midzi didn't immediately return a call to
his office in Harare seeking comment.
The law, which stipulates that 51% of all businesses must be 51%-owned by
Zimbabweans, follows a land reform programme that resulted in the seizure
of productive white-owned farms and deepened an economic recession now in
its ninth year. President Robert Mugabe, in power since the country won
independence from the UK in 1980, faces elections in March.
``It represents a deterioration in the investment climate and investor
perceptions of the country,'' Nana Adu Ampofo, country analyst at Global
Insight, said in an interview from London. ``There's no doubt the policy is
designed with one eye on the March 2008 elections. Politics is the key
Times Leader, Pennsylvania
Monday, October 1, 2007 4:01 P.M.
ROBERT MUGABE IS a tyrant who has crippled Zimbabwe. He has oppressed its
people, degraded its constitution and vandalized its economy. Millions of
Zimbabweans face famine; their basic freedoms are denied; 80 percent are
unemployed; and the life expectancy is 37. Mr. Mugabe's continued rule over
the wreckage of the country is a brake on economic development and an
affront to hopes for a democratic renaissance in sub-Saharan Africa. He has
committed crimes against his nation and so forfeited his right to represent
it on the international stage.
That is why Britain is right to be leading moves to exclude Mr. Mugabe from
an EU-Africa summit in Portugal in December. The Prime Minister has said he
will not attend if the Zimbabwean president is there.
Britain has tried to lead diplomatic moves against Mr. Mugabe before and
they have proved ineffective or counterproductive. That is because, as a
former imperial power, Britain's claim to moral authority is vulnerable to
attacks of hypocrisy.
Given the sensitive history of colonization and exploitation, European
leaders must be wary of appearing arrogant in their prescriptions for
Africa. But African leaders must also be wary of confusing past solidarity
with present-day criminal collusion. Britain does not seek to reassert its
hegemony over Zimbabwe -- it seeks the empowerment of Zimbabwe's own people.
This is not a replay of the old independence struggle; it is a new struggle
for political freedom within Africa. That should not be seen through the
prism of race.
The Observer, London
International Herald Tribune
In southern Africa, names that say a mouthful
By Michael Wines Published: September 30, 2007
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe: Thirty-two years ago in western Zimbabwe, a baby boy
named Tlapi was born so sick that his parents feared he would die. They took
him to sangomas, or traditional healers, and to Western-style doctors, but
nothing worked. It seemed that God, not man, would decide his fate.
So when he was 1 year old, Tlapi's parents changed his name to reflect that.
"Some people think I'm lying when I tell them my name," said Godknows Nare,
who survived to become a freelance photographer. "They think I am teasing
them. But I'm not."
Not at all. In Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, another Godknows was a waiter
at a popular outdoor café. So was a man named Enough, about whom more will
be said later. Across southern Africa, in fact, one can find any number of
Lovemores, Tellmores, Trymores and Learnmores, along with lots of people
named Justice, Honour, Trust, Gift, Energy, Knowledge and even a Zambian
athlete named Jupiter.
Some Westerners chuckle. Perhaps they are oblivious - Oblivious is another
Zimbabwean name, actually - to the fact that they once idolized a cowboy
star named Hopalong, or that many baby girls carry the name of a jewelry
store through life.
Indeed, Godknows, Enough and company are a continuation of an African
tradition arguably more logical than the one that churns out excess Justins
and Tiffanys. In southern Africa, a child's name is chosen to convey a
specific meaning and not, as is common in the West, the latest fashion.
Increasingly, however, those traditional names are bestowed not in Ndebele,
Sotho or some other local language, but in English, the world's lingua
franca. English names arrived with colonial rule, were further imposed by
missionaries and, for some, became fashionable with the spread of Western
But for Godknows, Enough and others, the result can be confusion - and
sometimes, hilarity - even among fellow Africans.
"Quite a few people tell me I am cursed," said Hatred Zenenga, an editor at
the main Zimbabwean government-controlled newspaper, The Herald. "They say
my name is un-Christian. They tell me that I should change it to Lovewell,
or some other Christian name. And others are just surprised - 'How did you
get that name?' "
Hatred got his name the way millions of other children here have - as a
means of recording an event, a circumstance or even the weather conditions
that accompanied their births.
"For instance, if it was windy, the name may be 'Wind.' If it was rainy, it
may be 'Rain,' " said Matole Motshekga, the founder of the Pretoria-based
Kara Heritage Institute. "If there are problems in the family, they will use
the appropriate name. So you cannot just name someone out of the blue. It
has to relate to something."
Thus a Zimbabwean baby born after years of trying may be named Tendai, which
expresses thankfulness, and a child born in a time of troubles may be named
Tambudzai, which literally means "no rest." Or, just as likely these days, a
baby will be named "Givethanks" or "Norest." If a Sotho-speaking girl
becomes pregnant before marriage, her unhappy parents may name the baby
"Question" or "Answer" - an answer to the question of why their daughter was
behaving so strangely before the pregnancy became known.
"Hatred" has its own story. Zenenga is one of seven children born to
hardworking parents who were determined to educate their brood. The family's
rising status made the father's illiterate brothers jealous. So except for
the first child, who died as an infant, all the children were named to
address the jealousy and other emotions that raged among the adults: Norest,
Hatred, Praise, Confess, Raised-on and Abide.
For Zenenga's parents, the names were an inside joke, a fillip in the
continuing family feud.
"My father's relatives didn't speak English," he said. "So he said, 'We're
going to name our children in English so they won't understand what we are
saying to them.' "
Some scholars, including Motshekga, frown on the trend toward Anglicized
names. "It's an entrenchment of a loss of identity," he said, "a joke. You
say 'I'm Wind,' and they really make fun of the person."
The Financial Gazette in Harare loosed an assault on the trend toward
English names in a 2004 essay.
"Oh, please! Why burden our children so unnecessarily just for the sake of
feeding our misguided ego?" a columnist complained. "Quite frankly, these
names amount to a form of child abuse."
Well, in some cases, maybe: Have-a-Look Dube is a well-known Zimbabwean
soccer player. There are Zimbabwean children named Wedding, Funeral,
Everloving, Passion and Anywhere, among others. A spirit medium who recently
duped Zimbabwean officials into believing he had found diesel fuel flowing
from a rock has the unfortunate name of Nomatter Tagarira. A Bulawayo truck
driver is named Smile, and, true to form, he is never without a broad smile
on his face.
hat said, none of the monikers were plucked from "1,001 Baby Names" or
chosen to imitate a pop star. Consider Enough, the Harare café waiter. Asked
how he got his name, he said simply, "My mother had 13 children. And I was
the last one."
Then there is the fellow from Dopotha, a village west of Bulawayo, who was
born while his father was in Congo, fighting in that country's civil wars.
When the father returned, the father concluded that the newborn almost
certainly was not his, and decided to make that clear.
The son's name? Never Trust a Woman.
A Zimbabwean researcher and Gavin du Venage, a researcher in Sedgefield,
South Africa, contributed to this article.