Saturday 20 October 2007
By Lizwe Sebatha
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda on Friday
told ZimOnline that President Robert Mugabe sanctioned public marches that
the former fighters have held in recent weeks in support of his candidature
in next year's presidential election.
The ex-combatants have since August held marches in Harare and other
cities to show solidarity with Mugabe, who they say is the only one fit to
rule Zimbabwe despite an unprecedented economic crisis and food shortages
blamed on his controversial policies.
Sibanda said veterans were given the "mandate to march" by none other
than Mugabe himself, adding the veterans would round up their marches in the
provinces this weekend before staging a "million man' march in Harare next
He said: "We are forging ahead with the mandate we were given by the
President (Mugabe) despite protests by sellouts in the ruling party who
think the President should go."
The war veterans on Friday marched in Marondera city in Mshonaland
East province and will today march in the city of Bindura in Mashonaland
Analysts say the marches are an attempt by Mugabe to silence
dissenting lieutenants from his ruling ZANU PF party who are pushing for him
to step down and pave way for a new leader.
Zimbabwe holds presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
Mugabe, who earlier this year said there was no vacancy for his position,
has said he will stand for re-election next year and no one in ZANU PF has
openly challenged him.
But there is growing speculation that a faction led by powerful
retired army general Solomon Mujuru - that has been pushing for a new leader
to be chosen - could nominate a surprise challenger to Mugabe at ZANU PF's
congress in December.
The Mujuru faction last December successfully blocked Mugabe's bid to
extend his rule to 2010 without going to the ballot but the veteran leader
made an about turn and offered himself to stand in next year's elections.
Under Mugabe's charge, Zimbabwe has declined from being one of Africa's
most vibrant economies to being a classical African basket case surviving on
food handouts from international relief agencies. - ZimOnline
Saturday 20 October 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO - A Masvingo school headmaster was on Wednesday robbed of Ordinary
Level exam papers that he had collected from the national exam centre's
provincial offices in the latest embarrassing incident to rock Zimbabwe
Although officials from the Zimbabwe School Examination Council (ZIMSEC)
refused to release the name of the headmaster, it is understood that the
stolen exam papers were destined for a local school in Masvingo town.
According to ZIMSEC officials who spoke to ZimOnline, the headmaster was
robbed of the exam papers while he was on his way home in Masvingo's
low-income suburb of Mucheke.
The robbers snatched the box of question papers and severely assaulted the
headmaster before fleeing the scene raising fears that the examination paper
could have leaked to prospective candidates.
Police with sniffer dogs were later called to the scene but the police had
still not made any arrests by late Friday.
Zimbabwe 'O' Level students began sitting for their exams last Tuesday.
ZIMSEC executive director Happy Ndanga confirmed the incident when
approached for comment on the matter.
"I can confirm that a headmaster was robbed of question papers in Masvingo
while on his way to his school.
"We have since made an official appeal to the government so that all
headmasters and our vehicles carrying question papers have proper security,"
Police spokesperson Inspector Phibion Nyambo yesterday said they were still
investigating the matter.
"We have launched a manhunt for the robbers but no arrests have been made so
far. We are urging members of the public to come forward and give us any
information which might lead to the arrest of the suspects," said Nyambo.
ZIMSEC has struggled to run exams after President Robert Mugabe's government
localised public examinations in 1998.
There have been numerous reports of exam paper leakages and mix-ups of
students' results raising fears that standards of Zimbabwe's once respected
education system could be seriously compromised.
Thousands of teachers have also fled Zimbabwe, which is in the grip of a
severe economic crisis, to seek better paying jobs in neighbourin countries
such as South Africa and Botswana. - ZimOnline
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
19 October 2007
The Zimbabwean opposition faction led by Movement for Democratic Change
founder Morgan Tsvangirai has its hands full these days pursuing high-stakes
crisis resolution talks with the ruling party under South African mediation
while containing turmoil in its ranks after the dissolution of its women's
assembly and United Kingdom executive.
The Tsvangirai MDC faction in cooperation with the rival formation led by
Arthur Mutambara has established an uneasy working relationship with the
ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, voting together to pass a
constitutional amendment over strident objections from civil society and
co-drafting a new constitution.
Yet Tsvangirai himself and other senior officials this week warned that the
crisis talks could be broken off if alleged state-sponsored political
violence does not cease.
At the same time, the Tsvangirai faction has been hit by internal turmoil
following the dissolution of its women's assembly and its United Kingdom
Many in the MDC rank and file and in allied civil society groups were
displeased when both opposition factions voted with ZANU-PF in parliament to
pass the controversial Constitutional Amendment 18, and accused the
politicians of selling out.
Others question whether Tsvangirai will make good on his threat to break off
the talks - his secretary general, Tendai Biti declared that the faction
intended to stick it in the negotiating forum come what may, before
Tsvangirai corrected him on the point.
But there are those who believe the MDC is well advised to stay with the
talks, which, being held under the auspices of the Southern African
Development Community, exert something of a check on the Harare government
which spent most of the period between March and July cracking down hard on
MDC officials and members.
Such pragmatists believe the talks represent the best hope for a democratic
breakthrough as national elections play out next March.
For perspective on the state of the opposition, VOA spoke with Advocacy and
Communications Manager Fambai Ngirande of Zimbabwe's National Association of
Non-Governmental Organizations, and South African-based Senior Researcher
Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group in Pretoria.
Ngirande told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that he doubted the outcome of the talks would be accepted by the majority
of Zimbabweans because they have been shrouded in an unhealthy secrecy.
19 October 2007
The southern African Nation of Zimbabwe is suffering from massive inflation, rampant poverty and a 90 percent unemployment rate. But when people try to speak out against the situation and the current government under President Robert Mugabe, they say they are subjected to harassment, arrest and even beatings.
A correspondent for VOA, who must remain anonymous for security reasons, files this undercover report from Bulawayo.
|Baton-wielding police are quick to break up anti-government and other protests|
Despite their powerful rhetoric, the men who are leaders of the opposition political party in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change, live with fear.
They fear arrest and violence because they speak out against the long-time President Robert Mugabe and his repressive government.
Their apprehension is not unwarranted. In March of this year, a protest staged by the opposition party turned violent, and police beat many members, including high-profile leaders.
"Quite a few people know my face, and most people know the kind of work that I do,” she tells us. “And, it's the most asked question of any of our members who are in custody – ‘Where does Jenni live?’ "
She is a leader of a group called Women of Zimbabwe Arise – known as WOZA. They organize public protests, deemed illegal by the government and often brutally suppressed.
|Memebers of WOZA carry a banner reading, "We want bread and roses"|
Williams asks rhetorically, "Most of our members feel that if they are going to die; can they just not die silently?"
Opposition member David Coltart is also a member of the Zimbabwean Parliament. He has received death threats and survived an assassination attempt. Photographs show him participating in an illegal public demonstration – protesting the beating of lawyers.
Severe consequences like the ones a woman we met – we will call her Faith – endured while in police custody. After she participated in another protest, she was beaten repeatedly and denied medical attention. "And after that we saw policemen. They come running with baton sticks. They beat me, beat me all over and then they beat me on my breasts," she said.
|Robert Mugabe (file)|
"The violence and other acts of lawlessness we have witnessed in recent months, which were planned and executed in complicity with western powers,” the president said in a recent speech, “were meant to create mayhem and hence a basis to place our country on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council."
Journalists are subject to arrest if found to be operating without government permission, which is why much of our video is shot out of moving cars and many interviews are shot to keep the subject's identity a secret.
One such interviewee told us, "Here in Zimbabwe, it is difficult to get something to eat. So, living in Zimbabwe is now so hectic-- so stressful," he said.
Even doing something as simple as changing local money into foreign currency can land you in jail.
David Coltart, the member of Parliament, said, "In essence it shows that this is indeed a police state, that this is a fascist society."
Opposition leaders such as Coltart, joined by ordinary people in the streets, say they face this everyday.
October 20, 2007
Jan Raath in Harare
Zimbabwe's currency has fallen to record levels, with one million Zimbabwean
dollars buying a single US dollar (48p) and inflation reaching 8,000 per
The bleak data was announced as people in the capital Harare struggled to
cope without electricity for the third day. "We closed our business today,"
said a woman who helps to run a major petrol supplier. "We just can't
operate like this."
The National Blood Transfusion Services said that it had been unable to test
blood since Tuesday. "We are in serious trouble," said a doctor.
At independence in 1980, the Zimbabwean dollar held parity with the US
dollar but the currency has suffered from the recent economic policies of
President Mugabe; at the beginning of this year it was $Z2,800 to one US
dollar and ten days ago $Z500,000.
President Mugabe has struggled to keep inflation under control and in July
ordered businesses to halve their prices to alleviate the country's woes.
The order resulted in the arrest of about 10,000 business people as
thousands of police officers raided companies, shopping malls and markets to
take goods marked above price control levels. Now the supermarkets are bare
and it is almost impossible to buy food.
Although the inflation rate slowed marginally in August it rose to 7,982
last month, according to official statistics, which are regarded as highly
conservative. "It shows the lunacy of their belief they can legislate
against inflation and bring it down at the barrel of a gun," said Rob
Davies, an economist.
Officials in Mr Mugabe's ruling party reportedly expect him to sign a law
that will force all foreign-owned companies, including local subsidiaries of
Barclays and Standard Chartered, to sell 51 per cent of their equity to
By Patience Rusere
19 October 2007
The Law Society of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and seven
individual attorneys have asked the Harare high court to order the Zimbabwe
Republic Police to allow them access to their clients, and stop what the
lawyers describe as harassment, infringement of rights and abusive treatment
The lead lawyer in the case, Sternford Moyo, could not be reached. The
Independent weekly newspaper reported Friday that the application names
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi
Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama, a plaintiff, tells reporter Patience Rusere
of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that unlawful arrests and other abuse of
lawyers involved in politically sensitive cases has been on the rise with
elections on the horizon.
Fri 19 Oct 2007, 16:42 GMT
By Ingrid Melander
LISBON (Reuters) - Critics of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe should
speak out to his face, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday,
opposing a British threat to boycott an EU-Africa summit in Lisbon if Mugabe
All EU leaders say they want the December summit, the first with Africa for
seven years, to take place, but they are divided on how to deal with Mugabe.
Other African leaders demand he be invited, despite the objections of some
in the EU.
EU nations, promoting human rights and good governance in Africa as a basis
for trade and investment, are under pressure from China's "resource
diplomacy", which says Africans need material prosperity more urgently than
rights and freedom.
"Criticism of Mr Mugabe can be levelled at him when he is there," Merkel
told reporters at the end of an EU summit in Lisbon when asked about Prime
Minister Gordon Brown's threat to stay away if Mugabe comes.
"I am going regardless," Merkel said. "I think we should have this summit
... it wouldn't be responsible if everyone was interested in Africa but not
There has been no EU-Africa summit for years because former colonial power
Britain and other EU states refused to attend if Mugabe did, and African
leaders would not go if he was barred.
Lisbon says it will invite all leaders, including Mugabe. Portuguese
diplomats say the invitations will go out on October 30.
The leaders of Sweden and Finland told Reuters on Thursday that Mugabe
should be excluded from the summit, but left open whether they would join
Britain in boycotting the gathering.
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he had not decided whether
to attend the summit if Mugabe came, but added that serious discussion of
Zimbabwe and human rights was a precondition for his attendance.
All three countries, which pride themselves on active human rights advocacy
around the world, said the summit was crucial and that they wanted it to
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero said on Friday that the summit was
crucial for his country.
"This summit is a great opportunity to deepen and go forward so that in the
whole EU ... we look at the issue of migration with Africa as an essential,
crucial issue for our well-being," he told a news conference in Lisbon.
Zapatero said he wanted the summit to facilitate the repatriation of illegal
African migrants to their homes.
Critics accuse Mugabe, 83, of rigging elections, human rights abuses and
presiding over the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy, now marked by the world's
highest inflation rate of about 8,000 percent and joblessness of about 80
Mugabe blames Western powers for the economic crisis and accuses them, and
former colonial ruler Britain in particular, of plotting with the opposition
to oust him. African leaders see him as an elderly hero of the anti-colonial
Mugabe is subject to an EU travel ban but it can be suspended for the Lisbon
Czech Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra told
reporters last week that his country was also considering boycotting the
meeting if Mugabe attends it.
The 27-member EU is Africa's largest trading partner with trade totalling
more than 200 billion euros (139.34 billion pounds) last year. But China
leapt into third place with trade worth 43 billion euros and has stepped up
its aid and investments.
SW Radio Africa (London)
19 October 2007
Posted to the web 19 October 2007
Sweden and Finland have joined the list of countries opposed to an invite
for Robert Mugabe to the EU-Africa summit set for December in Portugal.
Denmark's Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and Czech Deputy Prime
Minister for European Affairs, Alexandr Vondra, have all expressed concern
at Mugabe attending but are yet to make decisions on a boycott if Mugabe
decides to show up.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown set the tone by making it clear he will
boycott the meeting in protest at allowing Mugabe such a platform. Only
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered a different view, suggesting
Mugabe should not be banned.
The December 8-9th summit remains in the balance after several African
countries threw their weight behind Mugabe while threatening to boycott, if
he was banned. On Thursday this week South Africa's Foreign Affairs Minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma repeated the call to allow Mugabe to attend. In
response to a question in parliament Dlamini-Zuma argued the meeting, 'is a
forum that should be based on mutual respect and equal partnership.' Others
however believe such a move will legitimize Mugabe and give him the
opportunity to grandstand on a global platform and seek to divert attention
from his misrule.
Portugal meanwhile is desperate to save the summit from collapse, given that
a similar meeting in 2003 was cancelled over disagreements, again involving
Mugabe. The same set of circumstances threaten to re-occur. The Danes have
suggested serious discussion on Zimbabwe and human rights violations at the
summit as a pre-condition for Mugabe's attendance. Others have suggested one
of Mugabe's ministers attend instead. This would be similar to a stance
taken by the EU-Asia summit last year, which invited a minister to represent
the military leadership of Burma.
Rose Benton from the Zimbabwe Vigil in London says Europe should not waiver
on travel restrictions for Mugabe, simply for the convenience of the
Portugal summit. This she says will compromise the whole objective of the
targeted sanctions. She said their pressure group is weighing up their
options should Mugabe decide to attend, but it was likely they will organize
protests at the venue of the summit.
Commentators say Mugabe has played the race card to perfection. He has
blamed Zimbabwe's problems on Western countries, accusing them of imposing
sanctions on his regime for grabbing white owned land. This argument they
say has been used to try and mask gross human rights violations, the
clampdown on free speech and the murder of anti-government opponents. Anyone
opposed to Mugabe's government is branded an agent of the West. Leaders from
several African countries have bought into this racial paradigm and allowed
Mugabe justification for his behaviour.
Fri, 19 Oct 2007
European and African parliamentarians meeting in Johannesburg said
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe should attend the European Union-Africa
summit, reported SABC news on Friday.
European Parliament representative Michael Gahler said the summit's agenda
would not be put at risk because of their opposition to Mugabe's policies.
However, he said, Mugabe would be given a tough time by European leaders at
the summit to be held in December in Lisbon, Portugal.
"Our heads of state, behind closed doors, I think they will speak tough as
well," said Gahler.
"I would not pre-anticipate that it is a very cosy meeting. In order to hear
the message he must be there I think to get some tough talk."
EU and AU parliamentarians were holding discussions this week over a common
strategy for the summit.
SABC news reported that while in theory the EU travel ban prevents President
Mugabe traveling to and within the EU, in practice he could be exempt - with
certain conditions - to attend an international conference.
British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has apparently said he will not attend
the summit if Mugabe is invited.
SW Radio Africa (London)
19 October 2007
Posted to the web 19 October 2007
As we have reported, military, police and government officials are leading
the current attacks on the remaining white farmers. In the sugar growing
Lowveld area, the white farmers have already lost most of their land.
Their houses and farm equipment are all they own now, but that is under
threat after they were this week given 14 days to move out of their homes.
John Worsley Worswick of Justice for Agriculture said the evictions are
illegal because the 'new owners' are bringing eviction orders from the
Ministry of Agriculture, which has no authority to issue them. He said
eviction through "jambanja" has continued while government pretends to be
following the rule of law by taking a handful of farmers to court. 11
farmers were arrested this month and subpoenaed to a district magistrates
court. Applications by lawyers for the case to be referred to the Supreme
Court have been declined. Worswick said the court case gives the evictions
the face of legality, while violent and illegal pressure continues.
Two weeks ago Masvingo Governor Willard Chiwewe closed the only dairy farm
in Chiredzi. It was on a very productive farm owned by the Alford's, whose
100-hectare property was reduced to 40 hectares over time as government
allocated pieces of it to settlers.
Governor Chiwewe is believed to already have 5 other farms in Masvingo
province. He has given the Alfords' farm to his daughter, who allegedly
harassed the couple until they finally packed up and moved out.
The dairy was known by villagers from miles away for its lacto milk and
yoghurt. Given the ongoing food shortages, the lacto was an affordable meal
for many families that queued at the gates. The farm also produced about
1000 litres of milk per month, and a crop of oranges, vegetable seed and
high quality sugar cane. The surrounding community that relied on these
products now joins the rest of Zimbabwe in a search for milk, and other
basic staple foods.
Chiredzi farmer and activist Gerry Whitehead said teams of Lands Officers
are going around and forcibly making inventories of the farmers' equipment.
Whitehead himself was visited by one such team at his company Whitro
Engineering in Chiredzi this week. He said the two Lands Officers who
approached him failed to show any identification, and he refused to give
SW Radio Africa (London)
19 October 2007
Posted to the web 19 October 2007
The country's capital, Harare, is slowly grinding to a halt after large
sections of the city have gone for almost a week without electricity.
Harare routinely suffers from periodic electricity outages, but this one is
described by residents as one of the most extended and widespread in recent
memory, according to our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa. Never before
have areas in the central business district gone for a week without
electricity and water, compounding the urban misery in the blistering heat
at the height of the summer.
Muchemwa said the problem highlights the larger difficulties in a capital
beset by crumbling infrastructure and too little electricity to keep the
city functioning. This is turn has meant dry water taps as the strained
electricity grid cannot provide sufficient power to run water purification
and pumping stations.
'There is consensus among even government officials that the country's power
system is near collapse,' Muchemwa said.
Power supplies in Harare have been sporadic all year. Critical institutions
like Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals have power for just a few hours a
Muchemwa said nearly all residential areas in Harare have been in darkness
since Monday, except Borrowdale, which is home to Robert Mugabe and most of
his cabinet ministers.
'Everyone is now blaming Zesa for the power cuts because of it's inability
to generate and import power. The state power utility has failed to service
debts and foreign currency shortages have hindered its operations to a point
were analysts fear the whole system is going to switch off,' Muchemwa said.
Zesa officials are not even sure when normal service will resume, predicting
that the total blackout may persist into next week.
But analysts blame Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF regime for the mess the
country finds itself in. Bad policies and massive corruption have seen the
country's economic situation spiralling uncontrollably downwards for the
last seven years, making it almost impossible for organisations like Zesa to
Monsters and Critics
Oct 19, 2007, 9:09 GMT
Johannesburg/Harare - A Ukrainian company has said it wants to help improve
Zimbabwe's infrastructure by building a raised motorway over part of Harare,
reports said Friday.
Many of Zimbabwe's roads are so badly potholed these days that they look as
if they have been shelled.
In a report that is likely to raise the eyebrows of many harassed motorists,
the official Herald daily said the planned Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Express Road
would link the main road from the international airport with Harare's
It would include a raised section flying over the central railway line and
Augur Investments has provided 10 million dollars for the construction of
The Ukrainian company says it is willing to invest up to 100 million dollars
in development projects, including the construction of 500 upmarket houses,
and in agriculture and mining projects, the Herald said.
The newspaper - usually seen as the voice of President Robert Mugabe's
government - claimed the Ukrainian project was proof that investor
confidence in Zimbabwe was continuing to grow.
Many traditional investors from the West have pulled out of the southern
African country in the past six years after a controversial land reform
programme triggered economic collapse.
Inflation is the highest in the world at nearly 8,000 per cent, and the
takeovers of majority shares in mines and other foreign-owned companies
appears to be imminent.
Foreign direct investment in Zimbabwe slumped by 61 per cent in 2006,
according to a World Investment Report released by the United Nations this
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC)
18 October 2007
Posted to the web 19 October 2007
Foreign journalists are rarely allowed entry into the country. Human Rights
Watch is one of the few international organizations able to gather a picture
of the worsening conditions in the country, and the scenario is grim.
As many as 3 million Zimbabwean refugees have fled into neighboring South
Africa, threatening the stability of the entire region. Zimbabweans have the
shortest life expectancy world-wide: the average life span has halved to
only 35 years old today from 69 in 2000, according to the World Health
Organization. The World Food Program says that up to 4 million people are in
urgent need of food aid, and at around 7,000 percent, Zimbabwe's inflation
rate is the highest in the world.
These distressing quantifications illustrate Zimbabwe's fall from shining
beacon of Southern Africa after the country's independence from British
colonial rule. But despite these numbers the international community seems
unable to figure out how to improve the situation in Zimbabwe. And the
statistics, however ugly, do little for the litigant seeking legal redress
for official abuse or government disenfranchisement. This is lawyers' work,
which is where Arnold Tsunga steps in.
Arnold Tsunga - a "key contact" in Zimbabwe, according to Human Rights Watch
researchers - is the Executive Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights, an organization that represents victims of human rights abuses and
campaigns for respect for human rights in Zimbabwean courts.
In Zimbabwe, political dissent carries extreme consequences.
For Arnold, the path from commercial lawyer to leading human rights defender
began in 2002 with a kick to the stomach. He was traveling with colleagues
to visit a client when a distraught woman on the road stopped his car. As he
talked to the woman, soldiers came upon the group and, without explanation,
began beating everyone they could get their hands on. The group was then
dragged to a police station, where again they were beaten. Speaking to the
police commander in the station, Tsunga demanded that someone be held
accountable for the unprovoked brutality.
But, he said, "Driving back home I realized a lawyer can't sit back and be
quiet in this sort of declining legal environment." In an afternoon,
Tsunga's life trajectory had changed. His wife was not surprised. His
colleagues, however, advised him to leave well enough alone. "They felt I
was making a huge error," Tsunga said in a telephone interview from his
office in Zimbabwe.
But Tsunga was not to be deterred, and has spent the past four years seeking
justice for the victims of Robert Mugabe's authoritarian regime.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal in 2006, Tsunga explained his motivations
and his work. "After working for many years as a commercial lawyer in
Mutare, I was abducted, tortured and threatened for simply defending
individuals who stood in the way of Mr. Mugabe. My co-workers and I have
been arrested and dragged to the courts for trying to document and create an
official record of government abuses. Some people ask me why I bother using
the legal system when the deck is so stacked against us. I answer that there
is still a semblance of a court system and some brave judges who will uphold
the law. But they are operating in straitjackets and desperately need
support to continue doing the right thing."
Tsunga also acts as executive secretary of the Law Society of Zimbabwe,
chair of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association and a trustee of a private
radio station, Voice of the People. Each of these organizations has been
targeted and persecuted by the Zimbabwean government. Tsunga fears that this
litany of oppression, which has already lasted longer than he feared, could
trigger a deadly backlash.
"I thought it would be a space of one or two years before Zimbabwe returns
to some form of normality. But the ability for this government to persevere
is the real surprise," Tsunga said. "If the country continues along the path
it is on, there is a real danger for wide-spread and deep violence in the
Tsunga lays the blame squarely at Mugabe's feet. "Mugabe had a lot of
credibility as a liberator," he said. "But sometime in 2000 to 2002, we
realized that we had rationalized his totalitarian tendencies. Mugabe is the
main driver of the systemic abuses taking place in the country. He is now
the symbol of evil." For Tsunga, it is Mugabe's ability to "sustain evil"
that is the real shock.
But he does not see politics as the venue for his battle against Mugabe. "I
don't have political ambitions but I have a strong sense of community
service," he said. "I get motivated by what is happening around me, not
depressed. The more the system tries to humiliate human rights defenders,
the more it tries to rob people of dignity, the more I get motivated to help
change circumstances in this country."
By Dr Alex T. Magaisa
Last updated: 10/19/2007 22:45:41
WHETHER or not Zimbabwe's President Mugabe should attend the AU/EU Summit in
Lisbon in December 2007, is a question that, apparently, has divided opinion
between African and European leaders and, indeed, caused tensions between EU
leaders, with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, taking a firm stand and
vowing not to attend in protest against Mugabe's potential presence
It is, quite frankly, a needless fight, one that does nothing to practically
assist the people of Zimbabwe out of their crisis. It brings to mind the
Kiswahili saying, that, when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.
The trouble for Zimbabweans, who constitute the "grass" over which the
fighting is taking place, is that, there are too many elephants battling at
the same time.
Zimbabweans have long been trampled upon by the giant elephants fighting for
political power within the country, namely, Zanu PF and the MDC. Even within
the opposition, the elephants are also waging a battle between the two
formations of the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara,
To that can be added the elephant represented by the numerous civil society
organisations (CSOs), which, of late, have commenced their own battle with
the MDC in the wake of Constitutional Amendment No. 18. Ironically, leaders
of all these organisations enjoy the accompaniments of power, which the
ordinary people can only dream of. Never mind the claims for democratic
change - the bottom line is that they are politicians and they want power.
Democracy, however loud their slogans, is a bonus in the greater scheme of
But the greater cause for concern are the battles at the international
level, which few among ordinary Zimbabweans can relate to, let alone need,
in their current predicament. The first is the apparent battle between
Mugabe and Brown, which metamorphosed from the initial Mugabe versus Tony
Blair, the previous British Prime Minister.
On its part, the British government has always resisted the perspective that
it has a bilateral dispute with Zimbabwe, as claimed by the Zimbabwe
government, a position that is also shared by its African counterparts. Yet,
ironically, the conflict over Mugabe's attendance at the Lisbon Summit,
which pits Brown against Mugabe, appears to avail ammunition to those who
have long taken it to be a bilateral dispute between the two governments.
This circumstance, unfortunately, serves to dilute the grievances of
Zimbabweans against their government, which has always been and should be
considered as an internal matter.
Brown argues that Mugabe's attendance would divert the Summit's focus from
the bigger issues appertaining to the AU/EU relations. Yet, ironically,
Brown's public stance and the furore that has resulted, has actually been
counterproductive, because it has, in effect, produced that unfortunate
outcome before the Lisbon Summit has even begun, by diverting attention from
those bigger issues, to focus solely on the small and inconsequential matter
of Mugabe's attendance. The debate might enable one to score moral points
against the other, but what else it does to practically assist the
Zimbabweans is not quite clear. The suffering folk in Dzapasi or Warikandwa,
who are not even part of this debate (they probably don't even know about
it), but on whose behalf it is supposedly being argued, hardly benefit from
this jousting over a Summit.
Perhaps worse, this has also added fuel to the biggest fight of the
elephants - that between Africa and the West, on the turf that is Zimbabwe.
Over the last seven years, Zimbabwe has constituted the grass over which the
battle is being waged. No doubt, the duel stems from a bitter historical
past, yet there are also current issues that cause tensions between Africa
and the West, including details of how to deal with the past injustices, the
imbalance and unfairness of the international trading regime, human rights
enforcement and democracy, etc.
In relation to Zimbabwe, Africa has generally perceived President Mugabe as
a victim, rather than a wrongdoer, whereas, the West views him as a vicious
dictator. On its part, Africa has failed to fully appreciate the gravity of
the grievances of Zimbabweans against their government, choosing instead, to
see the Zimbabwean crisis as part of the, "Africa v West" dialectic.
The consequence of this is that the views and interests of those that matter
most, the people of Zimbabwe have, perennially, been subordinated to the
bigger duel between Africa and the West.
The Zimbabwean leadership is, whether consciously or unconsciously, being
used by Africa, as some kind of "useful idiot", who, in public meetings and
conferences, is prepared to do and say things that they (the African
leadership) would like to say to the West but would otherwise not do
publicly. Zimbabwe fills that role, to its own people's cost.
Yet, for all its weaknesses and hypocrisy, there is one part where Africa
appears to have got it right in relation to the Zimbabwe crisis, from which
the West can take lessons. In not isolating Zimbabwe, Africa has managed to
retain a level engagement with it, if not some leverage, which could,
eventually, be crucial to resolving the crisis.
The Commonwealth learnt the hard way, when, after Zimbabwe's suspension in
2002, President Mugabe unilaterally withdrew the country from the
organisation. Suspension was not meant to be simple punishment against a
petulant member. It was, as in the case of Abacha's Nigeria in the wake of
the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and his compatriots in 1995, meant to be an
incentive for Zimbabwe to reform and seek readmission.
But this backfired for the Commonwealth, because when Mugabe withdrew, the
organisation lost any leverage or influence that it might have had in the
affairs of Zimbabwe. Consequently, the Commonwealth has become no more than
a mere observer, with no meaningful role or impact in respect of Zimbabwe's
political affairs. The deprivation of membership of the Commonwealth has
resulted in lost opportunities for most ordinary Zimbabweans, indicating yet
again, the suffering of the grass when the elephants fight.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC), has, however, been more
tactically astute to remain engaged with the Zimbabwe government, because
ultimately, it is negotiations, not revolt, that will save Zimbabwe. The
on-going dialogue between Mugabe's Zanu PF and the MDC is being conducted at
the instance of SADC and so far, it seems to be proceeding on fairly good
terms. It may not be the best solution as a matter of principle, but for the
grass that is Zimbabweans, it may yet produce the practical outcome by
halting the battle of the elephants.
But as the saying goes, totenda maruva tadya chakata - we will be grateful
to the flowers only if they have born fruits. Criticisms of SA's President
Mbeki and SADC may, in the long run, prove to be well-founded, but the
Sukuma of Tanzania advise that, you do not insult the hunting guide before
the sun has set. That's because, the animals often appear in the twilight
and if you insult the guide before then, he might decide to abandon the hunt
and in the end you return with nothing.
The current battle over Mugabe's attendance at the Summit in Portugal is, in
some ways, pointless and ineffectual. The hunter in pursuit of an elephant
does not stop to throw stones at birds. So what if Mugabe goes to Portugal?
The fate of the Zimbabwean people hardly depends on this trip. The important
goal is to find a practical solution to the crisis, and the debate over
whether or not Mugabe should attend the summit is akin to wasting ammunition
on birds, diverting from the bigger mission to go after the elephant.
It is important to focus on the objective to help the ordinary Zimbabweans.
Embarrassing President Mugabe and his government might make some people feel
good about themselves in the media but it is important to assess whether it
has any impact on the search for a practical solution to the desperate
situation. President Mugabe's attendance at the summit, where Africa's
future will be discussed, could provide an opportunity for the West to
engage him at close quarters.
As it is, the debate has been narrowed down to the matter of his attendance,
instead of exploiting the window of opportunity to confront him on the
matters of concern. After all, ultimately, dialogue is beneficial to all,
especially when each party thinks it is right. But as the tribesmen of the
Sahara say, the camel never sees the bend in its neck. And, indeed, until
the lion has its own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part
of the story. All this indicates that it helps to talk and hear the other
There are causes that are worth fighting for, such as the need to find a
workable solution for Zimbabwe, but there are some that are better to let
go. How best to capture this than to take wise counsel from the Ewe of Togo,
who say that, the dog does not worry when the chicken runs over to the
bones. It knows that the chicken does not have teeth to chew the bones.
In those beautiful words is a simple message: Sometimes it is not necessary
to engage in needless fights. Whether or not one sits on the same table with
Mugabe and whether or not one shakes Mugabe's hand - these are needless
fights; battles that take away attention from the greater cause.
When the many elephants stop fighting, sometimes needlessly, who knows,
perhaps the grass in Zimbabwe might have a chance to regenerate.
Dr Magaisa can be contacted at email@example.com
19 October 2007
ZI launches RESTORE, a framework for running free and fair elections.
The Zimbabwe Institute (ZI) today launches RESTORE 2. This is a document
that provides a blueprint for the restoration of democracy in Zimbabwe
through the holding of free and fair elections. ZI first launched RESTORE in
2004 following the signing of the SADC protocol on the conduct of elections
by heads of state in Mauritius.
RESTORE 2 is an update of RESTORE and takes into full account the conduct of
elections in Zimbabwe since 2000 and seeks to provide an electoral framework
that will provide for free and fair elections.
This is the Zimbabwe Institute's contribution to the search for a resolution
of the crisis in Zimbabwe. We hope that political parties, civil society
groups in Zimbabwe and the SADC dialogue process will embrace these
principles as a key block to the resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe.
In developing RESTORE ZI has taken the view that free and fair elections are
an essential component of any truly democratic system of governance. Yet in
recent years in Zimbabwe elections have been neither free nor fair.
Because elections have not been free and fair, voters have lost faith in the
entire electoral process and this has led to disillusionment, cynicism and
apathy relating to the electoral process.
True democracy can only be restored in Zimbabwe if we restore genuine,
democratic elections and restore an electoral environment that will allow
free and fair elections to take place.
This document defines elections as process not an event. It is not enough to
have fair election processes on Election Day. Political parties contesting
the election must be able to campaign freely; the voters must be assured
that they will not face persecution before or after they vote because of
their electoral preference; voters must be assured that how they have voted
will remain secret.
To ensure free and fair elections RESTORE proposes that Zimbabwe:
Restores the Rule of Law
End all political violence and completely disband the youth militias and
impartial police and security forces
Restores Basic Freedoms and Rights
Revoke those aspects of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) that
curtail the right of citizens to move, assemble and speak freely and curtail
the right of political parties freely to campaign.
Repeal those aspects of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA) that curtail media freedoms and remove all obstacles preventing
independent print and electronic media from operating freely.
Liberalise the electronic media and open the airwaves to provide balanced
and proportional coverage of all political parties.
Ensure that all Zimbabwean citizens residing outside the country are allowed
Establishes a Genuinely Independent Electoral Commission
Ensure that the entire electoral process is managed and conducted in a fair
and impartial manner.
Establish an Electoral Commission that is politically impartial and
independent and which is responsible for all aspects of the elections and
the electoral process.
Restores Public Confidence in the Electoral Process
Conduct an independent audit of the voters' roll in order to ensure that
there is an accurate and up-to-date voters' roll and provide electronic
copies of the voters' roll to all political parties and interested persons.
Establish a sufficient number of polling stations (at least 1 polling
station per 1000 registered voters in a constituency).
Institute a code of conduct for political parties and create peace
committees involving the Independent Electoral Commission, all political
parties and civil society to curb or suppress political violence.
Ensure unhindered access to the entire electoral process by political
parties as well as domestic, regional and international observers and allow
civic organisations to conduct voter education.
Restores Secrecy of the Ballot
Use opaque ballot papers and allow voters to place their marked ballot
papers directly in the ballot box without first showing them to the
presiding officer; permit "assisted" voters to select a person of their own
choosing to help them vote; use translucent plastic ballot boxes of secure
single piece construction, and use visible, indelible ink to mark
individuals who have voted.
Count ballot papers at polling stations immediately after voting ends and
post the results at the polling station and provide copies to all party
agents and observers.
Fri, 19 Oct 2007
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is planning to enter into toll mining and
exporting deals with some mining firms, which will be given working capital
at a concessional interest rate of 25 percent.
Zimbabwean daily the Herald reported this week that the central bank said
the working capital would be extended against contractual commitments to
produce and export specific pre-agreed outputs.
Proceeds of these deals would go in to the pooled foreign exchange fund held
by the bank.
The bank listed top gold, platinum, nickel, chrome, asbestos, coal and
diamond producers as prospective beneficiaries of the arrangement.
According to the Herald, the central bank has also set aside
Zim$1.5-trillion for small miners.
Likely to benefit small mines
Zimbabwean Chamber of Mines Chief Executive Douglas Verden said the
arrangement, which was aimed at stimulating production in the mining sector,
was a good idea, but added it was more likely to benefit the small mines
rather than the bigger ones.
Mining companies operating in Zimbabwe have been plagued by challenges,
chief among them power cuts with some negative effects on production.
The Reserve Bank is also reported to have allowed some mining companies to
pay their bills in foreign currency in return for uninterrupted power
supplies from Cahora Bassa in Mozambique.
Among the beneficiaries are Zimbabwe Platinum Mines, RioZim, Central African
Gold Mine and Bindura Nickel Corporation.
Mining is now Zimbabwe's biggest foreign currency earner, generating in
excess of US$550-million in revenue during the first eight months of this
The sector contributes about four percent of GDP.
19 October 2007
A new report shows sub-Saharan African countries are not likely to meet
three of the Millennium Development Goals supported by the United Nations.
They include cutting hunger and child malnutrition in half by 2015 and
reducing child mortality by two-thirds. The report, called the Global Hunger
Index, was developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute,
IFPRI, and released with the German group Agro-Action and Concern Worldwide.
The Index ranks 118 countries. From Washington, reporter William Eagle
The report says only six of the 42 African countries tracked are likely to
reach the goals: Mozambique, Malawi, Mauritania, Congo-Brazzaville,
Mauritius, and Ghana.
IFPRI officials say of all the world's regions, sub-Saharan Africa has made
the least progress toward reducing hunger since 1990. Among the countries
that have experienced the greatest setbacks over the past 15 years are
Liberia, Burundi, Swaziland and the DRC. Among those that have shown the
most progress during that period are Malawi and Mozambique.
At the bottom of the Global Hunger Index are 10 countries with the highest
levels of hunger. In last place is Burundi (#118). Just above it are the
DRC, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Liberia, Niger, Yemen Republic,
Angola, Comoros and Zambia.
IFPRI officials say 38 of the 42 sub-Saharan African countries ranked are
lagging behind their efforts to cut child mortality; 35 are not doing enough
to reduce child malnutrition, and 27 have not reduced the number of people
who don't have enough to eat.
Doris Weismann [WEES-mahn] is a nutritionist and researcher for
International Food Policy Research Institute.
She says a number of factors help determine whether a country will meet the
challenge of reducing hunger. They include education, health care and food
production and availability.
Armed conflict also increases hunger - as combatants cut off food supplies
and take food meant for civilians. Most sub-Saharan countries involved in
war over the past 15 years scored poorly on the Global Hunger Index,
including Burundi, the DRC, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Angola.
Weismann said, however, that at lease one country is making progress.
"When we take Ethiopia," she said, "we can say that food production has
improved but also child mortality has fallen and child malnutrition has
decreased. There remains a lot to do.even positive trends depend where you
start from. And Ethiopia has invested not only into agriculture and
agricultural extension services but health and education systems, especially
since the [end of a border war] with Eritrea. So I would say it is possible
to see some positive steps here."
Improvements in food production can also lead to a drop in global hunger
rates. Weismann says some countries in sub-Saharan Africa - like Ghana and
Benin - are growing more food. But she says improved food production does
not necessarily guarantee a drop in hunger rates.
"You don't only want to have food on the table and in the country," said
Weismann. "[You want to] see that it can be biologically utilized and put to
proper purpose to nourish human beings and keep them healthy. It's not
sufficient to have just enough grains and calories but [also to have]
micronutrients like Vitamin A, iron and zinc to help people be healthy and
children to grow properly."
In other countries, including South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland, food
production has been affected by AIDS. The Global Hunger Index shows that
Swaziland is among those countries that have most deteriorated over the past
15 years - due in part to drought and HIV/ AIDS. According to UN estimates,
more than 33 percent of all Swazis between the ages of 15 and 49 are
HIV-positive. The disease has eliminated adult farmers and heads of
households needed to produce food and take care of family health. It has
also reduced the amount of money available to purchase fertilizer and other
inputs needed for improving agriculture.
Weismann says there's a link between success on the Global Hunger Index and
strong economies -- for example, South Africa and Mauritius are on the top
half of the chart. By contrast, the rankings of Zimbabwe (#93) and of the
DRC on the Index are dropping as their economies decline.
On the other hand, Angola has a growing economy supported by the end of
civil conflict and the production of two million barrels of petrol per day.
The International Monetary Fund predicts a 24 percent economic growth rate
for Angola this year, one of the fastest in the world. Improvements in
roads, railways and other infrastructure are expected to jump-start
But Angola remains near the bottom of the Global Hunger Index. Analysts
disagree over whether the economic growth has reduced poverty. Good
governance groups, including Transparency International, say poverty
reduction is thwarted by corruption among political and business interests.
Weismann says this is the second year in a row that IFPRI has published the
Index. She calls it a tool for NGOs and donors, showing them where to
increase efforts to reduce hunger and malnutrition.
Media interest has also been high and has brought with it renewed attention
to hunger. For example, Weisman says in Malawi, journalists have used the
rankings to question legislators and government officials about policies.
As a result, the government has been forced to defend its policies on hunger
By VOA News
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
19 October 2007
Blessed with natural beauty, Zimbabwe was once a destination for thousands
of world travelers. Amid an economic and humanitarian crisis, tourism in the
southern African nation is at an all time low -- except at The Victoria
Falls. There, the government shields tourists from the privation and
oppression many Zimbabweans complain they suffer.
A correspondent for VOA, who must remain anonymous for security reasons,
files this undercover report from Bulawayo.
The mighty Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world,
located on Zimbabwe's northern border with Zambia, is still a hot spot for
tourists. Although, their numbers have dropped by 30 percent since 2000,
when the Zimbabwe government first began to seize white-owned commercial
But here, on what is called a "booze cruise" down the Zambezi River, where
the wine flows much like water, tourists are not thinking about Zimbabwe's
plight - the fact that 90 percent of the country is unemployed, that public
demonstrations are forbidden and often brutally suppressed, and that
something as simple as buying a packet of sugar can get you killed in a
stampede of desperate shoppers.
Instead, hippopotamus, elephant and crocodile are welcome distractions. And
as tourists enjoy the ultimate African vacation, they are shielded from the
violence, poverty and desperation that exist in the rest of the country.
With the exception of the falls, tourism in Zimbabwe is at an all-time low.
In early July, at a famous place further inland, we saw no tourists all
week. Great Zimbabwe is a collection of ruins that are one of the most
important archeological sites in the country, and what Zimbabwe was named
after. The scene is deserted. The only other people there - the workers.
In the majestic Chimanimani Hotel dining room in the mountainous Chimanimani
area, empty chairs sit at empty tables. They have not had a single diner all
day, and no one the day before. Yet all the tables are set and ready -- the
silver polished, the napkins folded.
Zimbabweans cannot even afford to see their own country's beauty.
One man we spoke with is a refugee in his own land. "Life here in Zimbabwe,
(is) so terrible," he said. "There is no food in the shops. There's
virtually nothing. There's no water. There's no electricity. I mean, the
basic necessities are no longer here."
Zimbabwe's long-time president, Robert Mugabe, denies the allegations of
unrest and shortages of basic necessities in his country. Mr. Mugabe and his
government say they welcome tourists from all over the world.
Ironically, the majority of Zimbabweans are more interested in getting out
of the country. It is estimated that more than 2 million have illegally
emigrated to South Africa in the last 10 years, escaping the country's
"Here in Zimbabwe, each day that ends, ends without something to eat," a
refugee told us, but he asked to remain anonymous for his own safety. He
snuck into South Africa as many others do, but lacking the right papers was
deported back home. "Maybe a new government (can) to come in place and let
this economy work."
Zimbabwe is a country many others once visited for its allure.
"It's a remarkably beautiful country," says David Coltart, a Member of
Parliament and the nation's opposition political party.
"It has beautiful people and it's a beautiful land. All it's missing is
democracy, and when we get that ingredient, it's going to be one of the best
countries in the world," he says.
To the tourists back on this booze cruse, Zimbabwe, located on the banks of
the mighty Zambezi River, is placid and calm. But to those who cannot leave,
it is a turbulent country on the edge.
By Torby Chimhashu
Last updated: 10/19/2007 19:16:39
JABULANI Sibanda has warned rivals from the ruling Zanu PF party trying to
scuttle President Robert Mugabe's re-election plans of unspecified action if
they disrupt solidarity marches by ex-combatants aimed at bolstering his
The former Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial chairman and war veterans' leader
told journalists in Harare on Thursday night that the former freedom
fighters' campaign was "averse to criticism and opposition" from the ruling
Said Sibanda: "We have entered a revolution. I am a revolutionary and know
very well when to duck, retreat, side step and move forward. Right now I am
moving forward. Let me warn those who are unrepentant and opposed to this
revolution that they will see what will happen as we go forward.
"These marches are in solidarity with President Mugabe. In a leader we are
not looking for an athlete, footballer or boxer. We already have Samukeliso
Moyo, Evans Gwekwerere and Alfonso Zvenyika.
"We are looking for a leader who will take us forward and that leader is
already there. He is comrade Mugabe. It's not about age but sound
"In this revolution we will fight on empty bellies and empty shops but we
will win. So those that agree with President Mugabe will move with us and
those unrepentant shall see what will happen."
The firebrand war veterans' leader -- who bounced back from the cold after
his suspension and later expulsion from the party in the aftermath of an
alleged 2004 coup plot hatched in Tsholotsho - is thought to have been
referring to rival factions within the ruling party angling for Mugabe's
Sibanda's threats were seen as aimed at a faction led by retired army
general Solomon Mujuru, whose wife, Joice, is Zimbabwe's Vice President.
The Mujuru faction is opposed to Mugabe's re-election, something likely to
play out during Zanu PF's extra-ordinary congress in December where Mugabe
and his two deputies will seek re-endorsement to lead the party in elections
Mujuru's rival, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also back in Mugabe's favour
after being implicated in the Tsholotsho plot, is backing the 83-year-old
leader after reportedly getting Mugabe's promise that he would back his own
bid to succeed him.
Sibanda is thought to be Mnangagwa's foot soldier.
"I don't belong to anyone in Zanu PF except the party itself," Sibanda
insisted on Thursday. "The only time I heard of comrade Mnangagwa's so
called presidential ambitions was when he said he is as soft as wool.
"How can you be a blue-eyed boy of someone who clearly says is not gunning
for the presidency and is as soft as wool?
"Those (in Zanu PF) who are saying I have come back through the back door
don't know what they are saying. Whether the door is at the back or front, I
don't care. I was never outside that door.
"In 2004, I was suspended and then appealed in a 36-page document to the
Central Committee. While waiting for the appeal to be heard, I was slapped
with another charge from those against me and I appealed again. So, I have
never been outside the party and the war veterans association. No verdict
The war veterans' leader said they would escalate the street marches to send
a bold message that Mugabe is the party's only choice. The ex-combatants
have held marches in Gwanda and Bulawayo and a "million men march" is
scheduled for the capital, Harare.
On Friday, Sibanda was expected to lead war veterans in a march in Mujuru's
stronghold of Mashonaland East to drum up more support for Mugabe.
Zanu PF refused to endorse Mugabe's candidature at its annual conference in
Goromonzi last year, confirming serious divisions within the party. For the
first time, Mugabe was openly challenged by three provinces - Mashonaland
East, Central and Harare - both aligned to Mujuru.
Sibanda said: "Zanu PF's constitution is clear on the extra-ordinary
congress. It clearly states that the party will support the candidate from a
previous election. In this case it is President Mugabe, period!"
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
firstname.lastname@example.org with “For Open Letter Forum” in the subject line.
Please pass my sincere thanks to Ben Freeth for keeping us informed, we are
about to go down the route also. It helps to know what works.
054 228640/011 212 793
Most of the hierarchy in today's CFU were probably in nappies during the UDI
and sanctions eras that this country experienced - it was their fathers who
built up the agricultural empire that they have now, with the able
assistance of Mugabe and ZANU(PF), virtually destroyed. Sanctions were very
successful - for the country - as there was a will to counter them, which
was done with enthusiasm - and those who imposed them lost out, due to a lot
of innovativeness and hard work. Sanctions were imposed on anyone with a
green passport, not just political leaders, and the country then became the
breadbasket of the region, with virtually anything we produced consumed and
used by our enemies, far and wide. Anyway, enough of history, and however
bitter a pill for Zanu(PF) to swallow, history DID happen.
Now, aided and abetted by one another, CFU and Zanu(PF), want to bring about
relief to our oppressors and have PERSONAL sanctions lifted. Mugabe is
duping the wet-behind-the-ears MDC and youngsters in the CFU by making
provision for constitutional changes and other concessions, yet still trying
to get rid of the last few remaining commercial farmers. Remember, a leopard
never changes its spots. S. Taylor - loving life in the tropics.
I don't know what the colour of sadness is, but this October 2007 I think it
must be purple. The streets in our suburbs, towns and cities are lined with
Jacaranda trees and they are in full blossom, carpeting the roadsides with
soft purple flowers. The Bougainvilleas are covered in flowers too - mauve,
lilac and bright purple. It's hard to believe that with such tropical
brilliance all around us this hot October, there is such sadness too. For
three months or more everyone's been talking about the fact that there's no
food in the shops because the government ordered prices to be cut to below
production costs. Most of us have been so busy trying to find enough food to
survive and support our families that we haven't really been looking at how
other businesses are coping with absurdly low controlled prices. Well, to
put it simply, they're not.
I took a walk around my home town this week and was shocked at what I found.
Two big clothes department stores have closed down in the last month. These
weren't little family shops but big outlets stocking clothes, shoes and
accessories for men, women and children. Their huge glass display windows
stretching for more than half a block along the pavement are completely
Peering in, you can see nothing except vast expanses of grey concrete floor.
Carpets have been removed, naked wires hang from ceilings, light fittings
have gone, clothes racks are cleared, shelving has been taken off the walls
and the employees are all gone. Where are they now, I wondered and how are
they surviving. A great sadness welled up inside me; home is dying a slow
and tortuous death.
I wandered into a bookshop which is all but empty and into two clothes shops
which have almost nothing left to sell. All tell the same story: they cannot
sell goods for less than they have paid for them. Shop owners look gaunt,
exhausted and desperate, they say they cannot sleep at night and that their
stomachs are in tight knots: they are watching their work and investments of
a life time just ebb away. I went into another shop which has been in the
town since the 1960's. Their doors are still open but its as good as
pointless. Three smartly dressed salesmen wearing name tags stood against
the wall talking to each other. There are perhaps fifty items left to sell
in this branch of a shop which has outlets all over the country. The teller
sat counting wads of dirty almost useless money - bank notes which have
expiry dates on them and which we've been warned may be changed at any time
in the next few days or weeks. I asked the teller if the shop was closing
down. 'No,' he replied, 'if we do then they (the government) will just take
us over.' I asked him how they could stay open and he just shook his head
sadly. 'We are broken,' he said; 'we are just waiting for whenever the last
day comes.' I didn't know what to say but then the man looked around to see
if anyone was listening before he said : 'It's political you know.'
That little phrase slammed me back in time instantly to the day when the war
veterans were shouting at me through the farm gate. Threatening to shoot me,
armed with a pistol, one had bragged that he could "drop me at ten, twenty,
even forty meters." This is my farm he had screamed at me, my house, my
fields, my cattle and then later, when the Police finally came, they said
they could do nothing because :"it was political."
I stared at the teller with his empty shop and filthy money and his eyes
were filled with despair. 'Where will I go,' he said; 'what will I do?' I
had no answers and could just say: I am so sorry, so very sorry. As I left
and the trees dripped their purple flowers at my feet the tears were in my
eyes. We are a nation traumatized, regardless of our age or sex, the colour
of our skin or our profession and yes, it is all political. Until next time,
thanks for reading, love cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle 13 October 2007.
My books: "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available in South Africa
from: email@example.com and in the UK from:
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4. Economic Collapse
The evidence of economic collapse is becoming more and more evident in
Zimbabwe. By the end of this week the pound will be trading at Z$2 million
to 1 and the US dollar about Z$1 million. The Rand is already well over
Z$100 000 to 1. Inflation is now at dramatic levels with prices and costs
changing daily. People operating the open market for foreign exchange simply
cannot get enough local currency for their transactions.
Major firms who must import their raw materials and other key inputs have
suspended sales of finished products because they cannot determine a price
that would allow them to recover their costs and replace their stock.
Another interesting phenomena are the slowing down of the flow of
remittances into the country because the local recipients can no longer buy
locally produced food and essentials. People with relatives inside Zimbabwe
sending food and numerous systems for such imports are now in place.
The ability of local service providers such as ZESA, the PTC and the cell
phone companies, together with the Urban Councils and the transport
infrastructure to maintain their activities is now at dangerous levels.
Water supplies are short in almost all urban areas, clean water is
increasingly short and insecure – a recent analysis showed that the City of
Harare water supply was untreated.
The State brings Sable Chemicals on line and this results in electricity
supplies to all other users dipping to levels where output and services
cannot be maintained. The predictions for the weather this summer are all
positive but there is no seed, no fertilizer and no fuel. What fuel there is
available has to be bought with hard currency or you pay a premium of 30 to
40 per cent over the market rate for fuels and oils.
My own estimate of inflation is now at 22 000 percent and rising the
official rate is over
8 000 per cent. This is making it impossible to replace assets or stock
levels and very expensive to import anything. Local currency is virtually
worthless. Price controls remain in force but are totally ineffective and
have simply served to bankrupt formal sector firms while driving all
products into the parallel markets where prices are as much as 5 times the
Food supplies – bread, oil, sugar, meat, milk, eggs, maize meal and rice,
even pasta, are almost unobtainable. Queues form instantly at any retail
stores that get deliveries, yesterday I saw a crowd outside a retail store
on 9th Avenue that spread out onto the street and impeded traffic. Pet food
is scarce and pets are going hungry along with everything else. Stock feed
is very expensive and in short supply so those who keep poultry, pigs and
dairy cows face very serious problems of supply. When we start eating our
dairy cows and slaughtering our laying hens, protein shortages will become
even more serious.
At our factory in Belmont the staff were idle at their machines yesterday –
we had orders but no raw materials. The senior staff was all sitting in the
reception; the sense of fear was palpable. What on earth are we going to do?
We strategize and came up with one or two suggestions, nothing very helpful.
The mills at Kadoma had no water – could not produce fabric, plenty of water
in the supply dams – Zinwa had failed to maintain the pumps.
Those talks in Pretoria will be overtaken by events if they do not get on
with them and come to a conclusion. Then we are going to have to work on the
transition – without some stabilisation we will never get to an election in
Bulawayo, 18th October 2007
10:00 - 19 October 2007
It's time to act about the situation in Zimbabwe.
I agree that Mugabe is a tyrant in the country of Zimbabwe, a country, I
might add, that was the bread-basket of Africa when it was Rhodesia.It was
farmed in a proper manner by white farmers and Africans alike. The land
produced enough good crops that some of the surplus could be exported.
The military action T Hall advocates should happen.
However, I do not think this would be needed if the rest of the African
states condemned him.
I understand Africans must hold grievances over land ownership, but what
person in their right mind would have expelled competent farmers who
produced crops and revenue and gave people a reasonable standard of living?
T J Musson, Grimsby.
I disagree with both T Hall and T J Musson. Its time that Britain let
some other countries like France, Germany Spain etc take on some of the
third worlds problems. Why should it always be our lads placed in the firing
line? We send these countries massive hand outs (which I also disagree with)
only to have their governments spend the money not on the people, but on
guns, ammunition, and Mercedes cars for there wives. What?s left is sent out
of the country to banks in Switzerland or somewhere similar so if they
become deposed they can continue to live in luxury. I am a great believer
that charity begins at home. When we have our own house in order and only
then, should we send these billions of pounds abroad. We have people dying
at home because our hospitals are under funded; patients can?t get life
saving treatment because we can?t afford it. Yet we are still sending money
to be wasted abroad. I expect that some of these persons advocating sending
British troops will be individuals that disagreed with our invasion of Iraq.
If that?s not hypocritical I don?t know what is.
opposite View, Lincolnshire