|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
the second time in less than a year, Zimbabwe's justice minister
has seized a farm after forcing its white owners to leave.
In February, Patrick Chinamasa, the minister of justice, legal and
parliamentary affairs, sent the police to arrest Peter Baker, a white
farmer. Mr Baker had refused to vacate his farm, Rocklands, after
successfully challenging its seizure in court.
He went into hiding for two months as police searched for him,
although no charges were ever laid.
Eight months after the seizure, the farm's water supply has been
squandered, undermining its future productivity and that of the neighbouring
"Having taken and destroyed my farm, the minister was obviously
looking for a new property", said Mr Baker.
This weekend, Richard and Cally Yates of Lawrencedale 3 Farm, 95 miles
east of Harare, fell victim to the justice minister.
Although there were no legal grounds for Mr Chinamasa to seize the
farm, Mr Yates was powerless to resist, having been told by the police that
if the minister wanted it, the couple must leave.
In July last year, Mr Yates had accepted a government offer to
subdivide his farm between himself and state-appointed "settlers", in return
for being able to continue operating.
"I had a good working relationship with the settlers on my farm and we
all managed to produce a successful harvest," said Mr Yates.
He believed that having made this compromise his future as a farmer in
Zimbabwe was secure. But three months ago he was told that his farm had been
allocated to Mr Chinamasa.
The minister claims that he has been justly allocated the farm by the
state under the land reform programme.
He told The Telegraph that the Rocklands farm had been allocated to
his wife. She had subsequently relinquished it and it had since been
reallocated by the government.
The minister said farmers who resisted the acquisition of their
properties by taking legal action had "been encouraged to adopt a path of
confrontation by the British government".
He added: "The courts should rule only on matters of compensation and
not on the process of acquisition."
For the past six weeks Mr Chinamasa's wife, Monica, has been living in
the farm cottage, less than 30 yards from the Yates family's home. She has
ensured that they did not take any equipment or household fittings that the
Chinamasas wanted to keep.
On more than one occasion she and her "security agents" physically
threatened the couple.
Unlike Mr Baker, Mr Yates received some payment for his irrigation
equipment and seedlings, but this amounted to only a fraction of the value
of the farm's assets.
While the Zimbabwe government claims that its fast-track land
redistribution programme ended in August, the past two months have seen the
continued eviction of white farmers. Their farms are either taken by
political heavyweights or left vacant, producing nothing but weeds.
Mr Yates, his wife and their three young children have moved into a
small house in Harare but are keeping its exact location secret for fear of
Mr Yates said: "Mr Chinamasa is a so-called minister of justice today,
but in the future he won't be. And when that time comes I hope to have my
day in court."
Sometimes, a single incident can serve to tell the tragedy of a nation. Thus
it is with the seizure of a second farm by Zimbabwe's justice minister,
Patrick Chinamasa. Here we see, in microcosm, everything that is wrong with
Robert Mugabe's land programme. First, consider Mr Chinamasa's
qualifications. He is, it goes without saying, no planter. Nor is he a
veteran of the insurgency against Ian Smith, having spent the war years
practising as a lawyer. He is, however, a loyal supporter of Mr Mugabe and,
in particular, of the land-acquisition scheme. Two years ago, he proclaimed
that "violence is a necessary tool for a successful land reform programme".
Now, like many Zanu-PF apparatchiks, he is benefiting directly from his own
Consider, too, Mr Chinamasa's recent history. In February, he expropriated
another white farmer, and promptly set about ruining his holding. Now, with
that first farm operating at perhaps 15 per cent capacity, he has helped
himself to a new property. Here is as neat an explanation as you could want
of why Zimbabwe is collapsing. The confiscated farms are in two broad
categories. Some have been subdivided into parcels of 10 or 20 acres,
rendering them too small to be profitable without the economies of scale
enjoyed by larger estates. Others, especially those that have gone to Mr
Mugabe's cronies, have been left intact. But the new owners, lacking an
agrarian background, often treat them as weekend homes, with the result that
much of Zimbabwe's prime agricultural land is now lying fallow.
Finally, consider the sheer illegality of what is happening. The white
farmer whom Mr Chinamasa has displaced had done every- thing asked of him to
comply with the law, giving up much of his land to state-appointed
beneficiaries. Yet this did not save him once the justice minister took a
fancy to his home. When Zimbabwe's government goes beyond even its own laws
on land reform, its victims can expect no protection from the police. This
is the most frightening aspect of living under a tyranny: the fact that
there is no law, only arbitrary power.
Five years ago, Zimbabwe was a happy enough country, with food surpluses,
property rights, a free press, an elected parliament and an independent
judiciary. One by one, those attributes have been lost as Mr Chinamasa and
his kind have tightened their grip. Newspapers have been closed, opposition
suppressed and the middle class - black and white - driven abroad. There are
shortages of seed, and famine looms. Almost exactly a year ago, Tony Blair
publicly pledged himself to Africa. Yet in the country where Britain has the
most recent responsibility, he has been reluctant to act. Far more could be
done, with active support for pro-democracy activists, and genuine sanctions
against the regime's supporters, including the seizure of their assets
pending possible compensation claims by their victims. It is too late to
avert disaster, but at least we can salvage some honour.
Exploitation across the border line
October 20, 2003
By Mziwakhe Hlangani
Few people are prepared to work a 12-hour shift for only R8. But Topen
Ndlovu has jumped the border from Zimbabwe, risking arrest, to do this.
Ndlovu is among thousands of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants who sell
their labour on the Limpopo farms for low wages.
When they arrive in the country they move from one farm to another on
the Blouberg farmland strip, where they work as farmhands picking and
packaging potatoes, oranges and tomatoes during harvest time.
There they are often provided with accommodation in mud huts.
Ndlovu left Zimbabwe last year in July at the age of 22.
He has completed his high school and a two-year builders' training
course in Chiretsi Training Centre near Harare. But he, like thousands of
other young men, could not find a job in Zimbabwe.
Ndlovu is currently working on Wiggills Farm near Makhado, sharing a
hut with four other workers.
Ndlovu has a tough job: He wakes up at 4.30am and starts work in the
fields at 5am.
At 10am he and his colleagues are offered breakfast and at 11.30am
they return to the field, where they work until 5pm or "sunset during hectic
After work, Ndlovu says, they are expected to be available for other
A fellow worker, Sonnyboy Mpofu, says he works around the clock,
sleeping for fewer than five hours a day, before he has to wake up again at
4.30 the next morning.
Mpofu says: "The farmer did not seem interested in getting us work
permits any longer because labour inspectors from Louis Trichardt were no
longer visiting the farms."
"We are paid R8 a shift. Foremen are paid R11 a day," he says, adding
that he uses the money to buy tobacco and soap.
The farmer provides two bags of mealie meal and sour milk every month
for each group in the dingy hostel flats.
"If I manage to save R200 to take home to my family in Zimbabwe after
three months, it is quite a lot," says Mpofu.
Next December Ndlovu hopes to go back home to visit his family;
parents, seven brothers and four sisters.
To get to Gwanda, south of Bulawayo, he walks along long pathways,
through forested areas. This will be Ndlovu's fifth trip back home since he
arrived in last July.
Peter Muyongo Dube (45), a father of four, says he was promised R300 a
month to work as a farm handyman. He hails from Queque near Harare.
He says he has worked for six years on the farms in the province
without a work permit.
At Wiggills Farm, the
majority of farmworkers are from Zimbabwe. They
identify themselves as proud Zimbabweans who left their homeland to seek
Grant Brownley, a farmer in Musina and an executive member of
Agri-North, says farmers in the region have experienced countless inspection
raids from the Department of Labour.
"We employ less than 10% of the 3-million Zimbabweans employed
illegally in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.
"But we see the government campaign as concentrating on us because
they want to hammer the white farmer," he argues.
He denies that the illegal Zimbabwean workers are paid less than R600
a month. He also disputes the claim that most farmers prefer Zimbabweans to
local labour, adding that the media is bent on casting white farmers in a
South African Agricultural Plantation and Allied Workers Union's
(Saapawu) regional organiser, Dovhani Tshilande says farmers in the province
rely heavily on "paying exploitation wages" to Zimbabwe immigrants.
He says most farmers do not want to employ local job-seekers, because
they fear that they would be forced to pay minimum wages required by law.
"It is difficult for me to organise union members in the region as
farmers boast that they would never employ job seekers from local
communities because they would join the union once they were employed," he
The labour ministry has warned farmers to stop exploiting Zimbabweans
working in the country illegally.
Snuki Zikalala, Department of Labour spokesperson, says that the
ministry has signed an agreement with the Zimbabwean government and farmers'
organisations condemning the employment and exploitation of illegal
"We are planning to mount very soon a major raid on farms which employ
foreigners illegally because they did not want contribute to unemployment
"The farmers would be forced to pay repatriation fares for those
Zimbabweans and further fines amounting to R5 000 for each illegal worker
arrested on the farm premises," he says.
The department will work in collaboration with the SA National Defence
Force, responsible for border patrols to clamp down on alleged corruption
along the border line.
But for now Ndlovu wants the R8 a day to keep hunger away.
Maize subsidy puts smile on faces of hungry Zimbabweans
October 20, 2003
By Loughty Dube
The broad smile on her face says it all as she steps out
of a shop
clutching her one-year-old daughter with one hand and a 5kg bag of sorghum
meal with the other.
Ntombizodwa Moyo is a widow and a mother of four. She has been
struggling to source food for her children as the famine currently gripping
Zimbabwe begins to have a telling effect in the urban areas.
Matabeleland Province, in which Zimbabwe's second largest city
Bulawayo is situated, is one of the worst-hit areas.
"Life has been very difficult for me and my four children since the
death of my husband last year. We cannot get mealie-meal from the shops and
also cannot afford the price ... on the black market, it is too expensive,"
As she balances the bag of sorghum meal on her head while strapping
her daughter Monica to her back, Ntombizodwa says the sorghum meal she has
just bought would go a long way in easing the hunger her family has had to
endure in recent months as a result of shortages of the staple cornmeal.
Zimbabwe's urban areas have largely been ignored by humanitarian
agencies that responded to the country's two-year-old food crisis.
Urban dwellers, some of whom do not have any stable source of income,
have been left to fend for themselves, and many have turned into street
beggars and scavengers of garbage bins.
However, in a first of its kind in Zimbabwe, the United States last
week launched an urban hunger intervention programme to deal with the
swelling numbers of urban hungry people.
Targeted to benefit the low income earners in the country's townships,
the US-funded scheme subsidises the price of sorghum meal so that it is sold
at a quarter of the normal retail price.
The programme, dubbed the "Market Assistance Pilot Programme" (MAPP),
was launched in Bulawayo last Tuesday to address the increasing food
shortage in urban areas in a country where more than half the population is
in need of food aid.
"The reason for this programme is that while most
food aid is being
distributed in rural areas it is clear that food insecurity has been
worsening in urban areas and that a major reason for this has been the lack
of food in markets," says US envoy to Harare Joseph Sullivan.
The programme will run for an initial pilot period of six months.
The sorghum is being sold in 40 working class urban suburbs of
Bulawayo at a subsidised price of Zim$1 900 (about R16,50) for a 5kg bag.
The government-controlled price for a 5kg sack of the staple corn-meal is
Zim$3 320 (about R29) but it is scarce on the shelves.
On the black market it sells for more than Zim$10 000 (about R87).
Zimbabwe has been hit by a famine since last year, partly blamed on
bad weather and government policies.
The US government representative did not mince his words and openly
accused the government of exacerbating the food shortages through its
controversial land reforms scheme of taking farmland from white large-scale
commercial farmers and giving it to blacks.
"Zimbabwe used to export food and it has the potential to feed itself
and its neighbours but its government has embarked on policies that have led
to the shortage of basic food," said Sullivan at the launch of the MAPP.
MAPP is being implemented by the Catholic Relief Services alongside
World Vision and Care International.
The US government is the largest single donor of food relief in
Zimbabwe, providing over 40% of total international contributions, according
to Sullivan. - Sapa-AFP
On the road to nowhere
October 20, 2003
By the Editor
Some stories appear on the
front pages of newspapers with almost
boring frequency. One such story is that of Zimbabwe.
Yet we cannot allow ourselves to become desensitised to that story. It
is, after all, a story about the lives and, increasingly, deaths of people.
Today we report that, according to the city council of Bulawayo, 43
people have died from malnutrition in the city in the past two months.
That is a frightening statistic: it means that one person died almost
every single day during August and September.
"In some cases," says a Zimbabwe newspaper report, "families in
Bulawayo say they have resorted to having porridge with only lemon juice,
but no sugar or bread."
Such are the consequences when political rulers pursue a policy of
self-preservation at all costs. Human life loses all sanctity.
This certainly seems to be what is happening in the case of Zimbabwe.
The ruling Zanu-PF leadership seems determined to cling to power even though
the country is bleeding.
This weekend, it was also reported that nearly all
quasi-government departments were "paralysed" because the state fuel supply
company had run dry.
"There is no fuel here," a National Oil Company of Zimbabwe official
was quoted as saying, "not a single drop." This has affected the police, the
courts and even the army.
Hunger and frustration make a dangerous combination, and it may not be
overly dramatic to warn that this may eventually plunge the country into
How much longer will South Africa and the rest of the African Union
stand by, while mumbling self-righteous platitudes?
Their dithering on the crisis in Zimbabwe may yet spell the end to
Western support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development.
Whether this is the result of misguided solidarity or failed diplomacy
is irrelevant. The damage will have been done.
Harare blames UK for fuel crisis
October 20, 2003
Harare - Officials in Zimbabwe's stricken fuel industry have accused
Britain's top envoy of trying to sabotage the country's economy ahead of a
Quoting unnamed sources in the fuel industry, Zimbabwe's
state-controlled Sunday Mail reported: "The British high commissioner to
Zimbabwe, Brian Donnelly, is thwarting efforts by the government to revive
the economy in a bid to plunge the nation into chaos ahead of the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting."
President Robert Mugabe has not been invited to the December summit in
Nigeria after being suspended over alleged irregularities in his 2002
Zimbabwe, which gained independence from
Britain in 1980, is wrestling
with a crippling economic crisis that critics blame on misrule during
Mugabe's 23-year rule.
Mugabe denies mismanagement and in turn accuses domestic and foreign
opponents of sabotaging the economy to punish his government for the seizure
of white-owned farms. - Reuters
Country Faces Health Catastrophe
October 19, 2003
Posted to the web October 20, 2003
Nurses as old as 75 recalled from retirement to stem brain drain
GRANNIES have been roped in to shore up Zimbabwe's terminally ill healthcare
As the country's healthcare system edges towards collapse, due to chronic
shortages of key medical staff and resources, the government is hiring
retired nurses to rescue the situation.
Nurses as old as 75 (retirement age for medical personnel is 65) have been
called in to fill thousands of posts at dilapidated public healthcare
centres. These have been left vacant by colleagues who have emigrated to
About half of the country's 20 000 registered nurses and 2 000 doctors have
left the country.
This means there is one nurse for every 600 people and one doctor for every
12 000 people.
The brain drain has intensified along with Zimbabwe's economic crisis. A
recent study revealed that the country had lost more than 500 000
professionals over the past few years.
President Robert Mugabe has accused Britain of "stealing" doctors and nurses
"Britain comes in the dead of night to steal our people," he said recently.
"They are recruiting pharmacists, doctors and nurses."
But Dr Howard Mutsando, chairman of the Hospital Doctors' Association, has
said that medical staff are going abroad "to earn enough money to live on".
Low salaries, poor working conditions and the economic crisis were chasing
nurses and other medical professionals away.
Nurses earn a gross salary of Z138 000 (about R200) a month, while junior
doctors get Z300 000 (R600).
Working conditions in hospitals are terrible as there are no essential drugs
and equipment due to a chronic lack of foreign currency.
The government has also hired medical practitioners from Cuba and the
Democratic Republic of Congo to fill vacant posts.
At least 170 Cuban doctors have so far been employed.
The expatriate and formerly retired medical staff are complemented by nurses
trained in elementary health care.
But the crisis remains.
A spokesman for the Zimbabwe Nurses Association said retired nurses were
being hired "to prevent a catastrophe".
The spokesman said: "It's true that retired nurses are being called back to
rescue the situation.
"Government hospitals are terribly short-staffed and they can't cope.
Things are so bad that hospitals have now become places where people go to
Zimbabwe Medical Association president Dr Billy Rigava said the healthcare
crisis was due to the exodus of medical practitioners and a lack of drugs.
"The situation is very bad. The healthcare system has been hard hit by the
economic crisis," Rigava said. "The private sector is the one that is
holding [down the] fort. Otherwise, we would be having a real catastrophe."
Mail and Guardian
Zim group demands new constitution
Wilson Johwa | Harare, Zimbabwe
20 October 2003 15:43
Without New Constitution, No Chance for Opposition
constitutional change pressure group has taken its campaign
to a level, demanding that the next general election be held only under a
new democratic constitution.
The National Constitutional Assembly, a grouping of civic groups, labour
unions, churches and opposition parties, says to get into another election
before changing the rules would be self-defeating.
"Zimbabweans would be foolish to go into another election without a new
constitution," says chairperson Lovemore Madhuku. "The current government is
not accountable because there is nothing in the Constitution to make it
Zimbabwe is in the grip of its worst political and economic crises, blamed
on the country's long-serving, all-powerful executive President Robert
Mugabe with a limitless number of terms of office.
Last year Mugabe won his fifth election since independence under a cloud of
controversy that he stole victory through intimidation, violence and mass
The opposition is contesting the outcome of this election in court.
But the problems go beyond one man. Zimbabwe has not had a popular
constitution since gaining independence from Britain in 1980, following a
protracted liberation struggle against the rebel Rhodesian government of Ian
The country has been operating on the ceasefire document signed at Lancaster
House in London, Britain, in 1979 and subsequently amended 15 times.
Political analysts in Zimbabwe say a skewed electoral playing field has
helped the ruling party dominate all elections held since 1980.
"You can have 100 elections under the current Constitution and they will all
be stolen," Madhuku says.
Elections in Zimbabwe are run by civil servants and verified by an
ineffective Electoral Supervisory Commission appointed by the president, who
also has the power to validate and invalidate elections.
Thus, in effect, the Constitution allows the president to be both referee
One of the Constitution's major weaknesses is that the presidential election
and parliamentary elections do not have to be held simultaneously. The
presidential term is six years while parliamentarians are elected for five
Furthermore, the gap between the two elections is growing. The last
parliamentary election was held in 2000. The presidential election took
place two years later.
The next parliamentary elections will be in March or April 2005 and the
presidential election will be in 2008.
This two-year interval between the two elections will swell to five years by
2020, potentially making the country ungovernable.
Madhuku says to reject voting under the current Constitution is not akin to
"We are saying let's disturb the electoral process under the current
Constitution. If an election is called, we will disrupt nomination through
But the ultimate decision to participate will be left to the political
parties themselves, he says.
Launched in January 1998, the National Constitutional Assembly spearheaded
the successful campaign against a new ruling-party-drafted constitution in
February 2000, giving Mugabe his first ever electoral defeat.
Twenty months after its formation, the National Constitutional Assembly gave
rise to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has since become the
country's main opposition party.
Since then the two organisations have sometimes had an uneasy relationship.
"At the moment, the relationship with the MDC is fine, we are agreed on
these principles," Madhuku says. "But we don't trust that they will be with
us on this point."
"Political parties are opportunistic," he says. "When they see power they
The second round of talks between the MDC and Zanu-PF aimed at halting the
country's decline has been on and off since March. Madhuku says if the MDC
believes these talks will offer it a chance at power it is likely to forget
about a new constitution.
Equally, he says if the MDC thinks the current constitution will lead it
into power it will stick to it.
"They have some faith in the current Constitution since they have managed to
win elections under it."
Nine months after formation in 2000, the MDC won 57 of the contested 120
parliamentary seats. Since then the party has scored major victories in
However, MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi says "the only way forward for
Zimbabwe is through constitutional reform".
Nyathi adds that the decision to contest elections is made by the MDC's
"We will cross that particular bridge when we get to it."
Meanwhile, Zanu-PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira says the 2005 elections
will go ahead as scheduled and that the ruling party has no plans to adopt a
He accuses the National Constitutional Assembly of indecisiveness.
"They were the ones who rejected the constitution we put on the table in
2000. They don't seem to know what they want," he alleges. -- IPS
Zim tobacco sales lowest in five decades
October 20 2003 at 05:18PM
Harare - Zimbabwe's annual auction of tobacco, once
the motor of one of
Africa's most vigorous economies, closed on Monday at its lowest volume in
nearly 50 years, with even an even gloomier future for the next season's
Sales on all three auction floors ended with 80,2 million kilograms of
smoking leaf - less than half last year's 166 million kilograms and a third
of the record 236 million kilograms sold in 2000.
The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, which represents growers, is forecasting a
crop next year of 60 million kilograms, but officials admit it may drop to
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's seizures of white-owned farms - a large
proportion of which produced tobacco - and the accelerating economic
collapse driven by the 79-year-old leader's economic policies are said to be
behind the tobacco collapse.
This year's crop - nearly all of it exported - earned about $179-million
(about R1,44-billion) less than half of what the record bumper crop of 236
million kilograms earned in 2000, before Mugabe's notorious "revolutionary
land reform programme" had taken full effect. Since well before independence
in 1980, tobacco has been the country's most important source of foreign
"Without a significant tobacco industry, there are almost no other sources
of foreign currency," said Harare-based economist Tony Hawkins.
"It means fertilisers, crop chemicals and fuel will be harder than ever to
get. We will have to import more and more food. Hard currency will be harder
and harder to get on the black market, and the exchange rate will disappear
into the stratosphere."
"The industry is dying," said David Machingaidze, the managing director of
Tobacco Sales Floors. "We are going into the dark. We don't know which
farmers are going to take the risk of planting a crop."
"If the commercial sector continues to dwindle significantly without any
meaningful growth from the new farmers, that is probably the biggest
question," he said.
Commercial farmers, nearly all white, with generations of experience in
growing and curing high grade leaf, accounted for 75 percent of this year'
crop. The small-scale farmers' crop is not only much less, but low quality.
Even if commercial farmers were left alone to grow, they would face the task
of trying to produce in a hyper-inflationary environment, with the annual
inflation index at the end of September at 455 percent.
"Chemicals and fertiliser are not only expensive, but also difficult to
find," Machingaidze said. "There are serious shortages."
Last year it cost farmers Z$1,8-million to grow a hectare of tobacco.
Forecasts by farmers' unions of Z$30-million now are "not entirely wild", he
The government worsened conditions for growers by pegging the exchange rate
at one US dollar to 800 Zimbabwean dollars, as the unofficial "parallel"
rate soared unchecked to about one US dollar to 5 500 Zimbabwean dollars.
Twice in the five-month growing season, small growers withdrew their crop
from sale in an attempt to force the state to devalue and give them a better
price. Their action went unheeded. - Sapa-DPA
Spares shortage grounds ZNA fighter planes
By Caiphas Chimhete
ZIMBABWE’S aging fleet of British fighter planes, the Hawks, are
grounded because Britain – which used to supply the army with spare parts –
has frozen all supplies to Harare over the current spat between the two
countries, it was learnt last week.
The problems in the army are seriously compromising the country’s
ability to defend itself in times of an external aggression, a recent
parliamentary report has revealed.
The parliamentary committee’s first report of the Defence and Home
Affairs ministries submitted to Parliament recently said Airforce of
Zimbabwe personnel at Thornhill Airbase in Gweru at times have to
“improvise” spares to keep the planes in the air as the British embargo
takes its toll.
Britain together with other European countries imposed sanctions on
Zimbabwean leader President Robert Mugabe protesting his disputed victory
during the 2002 presidential poll, gross human rights abuses and the
controversial land redistribution exercise, which saw many whites losing
As a result of the British embargo, the fighter planes have, at times,
been sent to China for service, draining the little foreign currency that is
trickling into the country’s empty coffers.
Apart from the grounded hawks, the committee also expressed concern at
the sorry state of military equipment in general, the shortage of
accommodation, the dilapidated army barracks and the collapsing sewerage
system at almost all the army bases it visited in April this year.
Also of concern to the committee was huge size of the national army in
comparison to the resources that are available.
As a result of the huge number of soldiers, the ZNA had to accommodate
some of its soldiers based at the Zimbabwe Military Academy (ZMA) in Gweru
in former horse stables.
Khumalo Barracks in Bulawayo, says the report, are in a sorry state of
dilapidation and disrepair, particularly of the buildings at One Brigade.
Things fall apart at UZ
By Caiphas Chimhete
IN a typical rural “upper-top” secondary school set-up, where students
stay in shacks and cook for themselves, three students gather around one hot
plate stove applying their limited electrical knowledge to repair it so that
they can start preparing food for lunch.
In the next room, two students have already finished cooking and are
having their lunch of sadza and green vegetables without a drop of cooking
oil. They are seated on a single bed with worn-out blankets.
In the semi-lit corridors, another student shouts: “keep to your left”
, so that he can avoid bumping into another student coming down the
This isn’t a scene at makeshift boarding quarters of a rural secondary
school in Bikita or Tsholotsho, but is the day-to-day life at Manfred Hodson
Hall at the once highly regarded University of Zimbabwe in Harare, the
country’s oldest institution of higher learning.
“You have not seen anything yet, just follow me and see for yourself,
you will be shocked. Things have fallen apart here … it is now a ghost
institution,” said one student, who led The Standard around the campus.
True to his word, the next block of residence, Manfred Hodson Hall, is
a real disaster — windowpanes shattered; the toilets are blocked emitting a
choking stench while mountains of litter dot the dimly lit corridors.
There is no running water in some of the toilets posing a serious
health hazard to the students. In the same hall, at least 11 rooms have no
doors and some of those with doors have handles removed.
“This is the work of the riot police who destroyed the doors on June 2
when they attacked students and beat them for supporting the MDC’s final
push,” explained our tour guide pointing at room Y12 in Manfred’s second
A few blocks away is Complex Five, now dubbed “Baghdad” because a
student was allegedly beaten to death by security agents there for supportin
g the “final push”.
The walls and windows bear testimony to the aftermath of brutal
attacks. They are still plastered with blood five months down the line.
The corridors were also dark and we had to light a match stick to move
around, although it was just around 3.00pm.
Students who spoke to The Standard said that light bulbs and
fluorescence lamps in the corridors were being stolen by students who sell
them to buy food.
The most affected residences are Swinton Hall, Manfred Hodson Hall as
well as the New Complexes One and Five.
Vice Chancellor, Professor Nyagura, could not be reached for comment
on the state of affairs at the university yesterday.
However, the university’s acting director of information, Daniel
Chihombori, blamed the students for causing extensive damage to residential
and dining halls.
“Repairs are actually going on now … we started with Carr Saunders and
we will be going to other residential halls. We are replacing the bulbs,
windowpanes as well as repainting. Students cause extensive damage during
demonstrations,” said Chihombori.
It’s not only the UZ’s infrastructure that has heavily suffered 23
years after independence.
Academic standards have plummeted to unbelievable levels. Lecturers
and former lecturers said standards were fast declining as lecturers are
leaving the institution in large numbers for greener pastures abroad, or in
the private sector.
Currently, the institution has only about 500 lecturers but under
normal circumstances,it is supposed to have a full complement of 1200.
They said morale among remaining lecturers had also reached its lowest
ebb and many were frantically searching for better jobs abroad.
They said as a direct result of the shortage of lecturers, the
university had stopped or drastically cut student enrolment for such
faculties as medicine, pharmacy, electrical engineering, quantity surveying
“Students that had applied for geology were forced to choose other
disciplines of study because there were no lecturers,” said a senior
university official, who added that the faculty of medicine had reduced
intake by about 50%.
And due to the shortage of funds, equipment and lecturers, students
that are pursuing disciplines that require practical lessons have not been
“For example, we were supposed to do nine ‘practicals’ in the second
semester but we never did any,” said one student studying animal health.
Chihombori however denied that there were departments that have
downsized their annual intake due to the shortage of lecturers. “In actual
fact we have increased our intake for medicine students this year.”
He said all faculties were two weeks ago given their funds and it was
not true that students have since stopped doing research work and practical
Further food shortages loom
By Liberty Chirove
ZIMBABWE is set to experience further severe food shortages as the
government has failed to address the problems dogging the agricultural
sector, economists have warned.
Zimbabwe’s maize production dropped to 1,54 million tonnes in 2001
from 2,1 million tonnes in 2000 — a decrease largely blamed by the
government on droughts and floods.
Critics of President Robert Mugabe however say the shortages were
mainly man-made and caused by lack of planning and disruptions to farming
activities by land hungry government supporters.
Last year, while the State pegged maize production at 1,2 million
tonnes, economic analysts say production fell to as low as 800 000 tonnes.
This month, the government increased fertiliser and maize seed prices,
a move that has resulted in seed being more available on the black market.
A 25 kg bag of maize seed was last week selling for about $60 000
while a 10 kg bag was being sold at around $25 000, all much more than the
government controlled prices.
Recently, the government launched an operation code-named
Gutsaruzhinji to ensure more than 3,5 million tonnes of maize are harvested
in the 2003/2004 season.
“The government is being too optimistic as the agricultural sector is
facing a lot of challenges such as the escalation in prices of crop and
livestock chemicals, agricultural parts, fuel, seeds and fertiliser prices
which are bound to compromise the high output targets,” said economic
consultant John Robertson on Gutsaruzhinji’s prospects.
“In reference to the previous years’ harvests, 3,5 million tonnes just
too much to target in this harsh economic climate,” said another local
economist, David Mupamhadzi.
“The inputs and other facilities may be there but actually a few
people can get access to them for various reasons,” Mupamhadzi added.
Maize crop preparations hit snag
By Kumbirai Mafunda
MAIZE crop preparations for the new season have collapsed as it
emerged that subsistence and new farmers resettled under the government’s
fast track land grab are failing to access inputs, two months into the
Farmers said seed houses were yet to supply them with seed and other
“We are being told that there is no seed at the moment. We don’t know
whether we will be able to have something on the ground,” said Kasikai
Samushonga, a new farmer in Manicaland.
Samushonga said the lack of seed would be a major limiting factor for
maize production this season.
The input shortages, agricultural experts said, would drastically
reduce next year’s maize crop harvest to pathetic levels.
“The 2003/4 maize crop is likely to be affected by a shortage of
suitable seed because production of this vital input was also curbed,” said
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president, Doug Taylor-Freeme.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change secretary for economic
affairs, Tendai Biti, said the government had not bought enough fertiliser
from local manufacturers for on lending to new farmers resettled under the
fast track land grab exercise.
“Model A2 farmers who depend on government’s inputs are hardly going
to plant anything,” said Biti.
He said seed houses were only capable of producing 21 000 metric
tonnes of seed which would result in total planted hectarage of 800 000.
Biti said the amount of seed the new farmers can access could be
reduced to 12 000 metric tonnes because some Zanu PF bigwigs were looting
the few seeds available.
“We have reports that some Zanu PF chefs are getting seed which they
are selling to neighbouring countries,” charged Biti.
Zimbabwe is faced with a shortage of maize and fertiliser owing to
disruptions to seed cropping programmes in the commercial sub-sector last
season, caused mainly by marauding bands of war veterans and supporters
loyal to Zanu PF.
Seed powerhouse Seedco last month reported that production in Zimbabwe
was being severely hampered by factors beyond its control.
It said the continued shortages of foreign currency have had a
significant impact on the procurement of diesel and other equipment required
for the agricultural sector. Seedco said seed prospects were looking very
Zimbabwe Grain Producers’ Association chairman, Gordon Craig, said an
increase in maize production was unlikely.
“Lack of seed will be a major limiting factor of maize production this
coming season,” said Craig.
The fertiliser industry is crippled by a lack of foreign exchange to
import imported ingredients. Ammonia output from Sable Chemicals has also
been limited to below maximum potential.
Commercial banks are reluctant to provide credit to new farmers as
they are concerned about security of their funding of the commercial farm
sub-sector because of the lack of asset based collateral.
Although finance and economic development minister, Herbert Murerwa
allocated $45 billion for the procurement of agricultural inputs such as
fertiliser, seeds and chemicals for the 2003/4 agricultural season in his
supplementary budget, availability has not been corresponding.
MDC team to probe Harare councillors
By Henry Makiwa
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has put together an
investigation team to probe its Harare municipal councillors following
reports of rampant factionalism within the authority.
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai presided over a meeting between the
opposition party’s national leadership and Harare’s councillors on Thursday
afternoon at Harvest House, where a team of four commissioners comprising
Chitungwiza legislator Fidelis Mhashu and MDC national executive members
Bekhithemba Mpofu, Miriam Mushai and Tichaona Mudzingwa, were tasked to
proble the capital’s problems.
Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary general, said the investigation team
would start work tomorrow and will be expected to wind up operations within
the next two weeks before presenting its findings to a full national
“Harare’s problems began with the suspension of its legitimately
elected executive mayor (Elias Mudzuri). From then on (the Minister of Local
Government, Public Works and National Housing Ignatius Chombo) has
manipulated council by issuing out daily directives that we understand have
confused councillors and torn them apart,” Ncube said.
“We are sure that as soon as the investigation team is done with its
work, we will be able to formulate better strategies about when and how to
react to Chombo who has now become a pseudo-headmaster at Harare Town
House,” Ncube added.
Ncube, Tsvangirai and the opposition party’s vice president Gibson
Sibanda as well as party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi moderated Thursday’s
However, some councillors yesterday blamed the MDC’s Harare provincial
executive of compounding the city’s problems by suspending acting mayor
Sekesai Makwavarara on Wednesday. “It is unconstitutional for the party to
suspend a councillor and order him or her not to report for work,” said one
councillor who refused to be named.
“We had enough problems on our hands and these suspensions served no
positive purpose but to worsen the chaos. Tsvangirai and the national
executive intervention was therefore very timely,” he said.
Morgan Femai, the chairman of the opposition party’s Harare executive
conceded, that they had erred in suspending some councillors and ordering
them not to attend work, but maintained that his branch was acting according
He said: “We only acted according to our disciplinary code of
regulations. But if the national executive feels that we erred then so be
it. When a child falters he doesn’t argue with elders but waits for them to
rectify things,” Femai said.
According to legal experts, councillors do not have to relinquish
their local government duties even when they are suspended or ousted by
“Because historically local government matters were issues of civil
participation, the political dimension that has been brought up with the
emergence of other parties was never entailed in the Urban Council Act,”
attorney Silas Chekera told The Standard. Unless suspended by the minister,
in local government one keeps office even when the party fires them.
Meanwhile, the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has hinted
on organising a rates’ boycott unless the problems in Harare are solved. “We
call upon the MDC to urgently resolve the crisis in Harare and ensure unity
of purpose within council because it is the resident who ultimately suffers
from the prevailing crisis,” Mike Davies, CHRA chairman told The Standard.
“We also call for the return of the executive mayor because the acting
mayor can not run the city, she has no electoral mandate to do so. CHRA is
now under pressure from residents to boycott paying rates because of the
ongoing chaos and there shall come a time when we are going to give in to
their demands,” Davies said.
Mahoso laughed at
the chairperson of the Media and Information
Commission, (MIC), was laughed at in the administrative court packed with
journalists as he struggled to answer damaging questions put to him by
lawyers of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe.
Mahoso drank constantly from a glass of water, let his voice sink to a
whisper when asked difficult questions. He was repeatedly told by the judge
to answer questions put to him by the newspaper’s lawyers.
The administrative court, a branch of the high court, sat last week to
hear The Daily News’ appeal against its banning by the commission. However,
lawyers pointed out that in terms of the notorious new press laws which also
established the media commission last year, the court’s only power is to
refer the case back to the commission and ask it to review its decision.
Mahoso said the commission had decided to refuse the paper a licence
as it was an “illegal” organisation. He pointed to statements by its owners,
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), that it would refuse to register
with the commission because the law, the “Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy” Act, was unconstitutional.
He became evasive when he was asked by advocate Eric Matinenga if The
Daily News had ever been convicted of a crime. Another reason he gave for
the commission’s refusal to licence the newspaper was that it had employed a
journalist with a criminal conviction for “criminal libel” against the
government in 200.
Mahoso was silent when asked if he was aware that the journalist had
appealed against the conviction, but had not yet had his appeal heard. “Do
you accept you are not a court of law?” Matinenga asked him.
Final submissions will be heard at the administrative court this
week.—News 24 and our Staff.
Chegutu council fiasco: Chombo accused
By Henry Makiwa
THE Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing,
Ignatius Chombo, is sitting on two damning reports which expose the inherent
corruption and financial mismanagement bedevilling Chegutu town council.
According to sources, Chombo early this year received the two reports
titled: Special Report for Chegutu Municipality and The Municipality of
Chegutu Investigation Audit Report 2003, from an investigation team and
state auditors he had tasked to probe the affairs of Chegutu municipality,
following serious squabbles that engulfed the town council.
Trouble started when misunderstanding surfaced between the town’s
executive mayor, Blessing Dhlakama, who was elected on the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ticket last year, and the mostly Zanu
The squabbles reached a peak when Zanu PF youths torched Dhlakama’s
home in November last year, prompting the ministry to order a probe of the
council in January.
Sources told The Standard that Chombo received the two reports early
this year but has failed to act on their recommendations.
The special Chegutu council report leaked to this newspaper last week
makes startling revelations that indicate that the small farming town’s
problems are not merely political. It points to corruption and mismanagement
to a large scale by top Zanu PF officials within the council.
Chegutu deputy mayor Pheneas Mariyapera, who the audit report says
“interferes with the management of finances in order to perpetuate his
selfish interests,” is named in the reports as one of the culprits.
The 14-member investigation team tasked to ascertain the “exact extent
of political, administrative and financial problems affecting Chegutu
municipality” noted in its findings that there was “gross interference by
the councillors in the day-to-day management of council affairs. The deputy
mayor (Mariyapera) has usurped the powers of the executive mayor and the
It added: “The council had no strategic plan (from 2002 to 2003) in
place (nor) any standing policies on issues relating to administration,
finance, human resources and development. Wrong minutes are deliberately
passed as correct, neither do they indicate that there is any debate in the
chamber when the councillors meet. It is always total unison even when
illegal resolutions are passed.”
Mariyapera, who is also the Zanu PF councillor for Ward 8, is
mentioned at least three times in Special Report for Chegutu Municipality
for allegedly usurping the functions of Dhlakama and assuming absolute power
to run Chegutu.
Noted the investigation team: “The deputy mayor and three other
councillors who are running the show at Chegutu spent the whole of 2002
passing resolutions either to upgrade, hire and fire staff other than
“The deputy mayor is using the office at the council to mobilise
unemployed youths and threaten employees who do not agree with his ways of
In its recommendations, the 14-member team advised Chombo that
Mariyapera “should vacate the office that he is occupying at the Town House”
and that “if administrative, financial and political stability is to be
achieved at Chegutu Municipality, the honourable Minister is advised to
dissolve council and appoint commissioners in terms of Section 80 of the
Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15)”.
According to sources however, Chombo never “lifted a finger” to
resolve the town’s crisis because he is allegedly friends with Mariyapera.
Said a source: “Chombo has dismissed the reports because he is taking
sides with Mariyapera and his faction. The developments have split the Zanu
PF ranks within Chegutu but of course the Mariyapera faction is much
stronger because it enjoys the support of the province’s Zanu PF chairman
(Philip Chiyangwa) and Edna Madzongwe (the ruling party’s Politburo member
responsible for the town).”
Said the independent source: “Mariyapera is busy whipping into line
all those who do not toe his line through intimidation, beatings and
suspensions or dismissals of council workers. In the past two weeks alone,
he has presided over the suspension of at least 10 municipal workers.”
Chombo could not be reached for comment last week because his phone
Another source said even some top ruling party officials were aware of
the disappointments within Zanu PF over Chegutu
“There is speculation that Chiyangwa, Chombo and Madzongwe may have
benefited from Mariyapera’s vindictiveness. We know that even the Member of
Parliament (for Chegutu Webster Shamhu) is aware of all the plotting for
power that is going on in this town,” he said.
But Chiyangwa last week distanced himself from Chegutu’s problems.
Handizvizive (I don’t know of any problems). I live in Harare where I
run my businesses. Don’t ask me of anything to do with Chegutu,” said the
Contacted for comment, Shamu said: “Though I may be aware of the
issues you are referring to, I cannot talk about it. I am a mere
representative of the people of my constituency at legislature level ... I
cannot go beyond my jurisdiction and comment on matters of local
Evidence compiled by auditors from the Ministry of Local Government,
Public Works and National Housing shows that there was “a major cash flow
crisis due to theft of council funds by employees” and that their
investigations might have been hindered because “some key source documents
had been stolen during an overnight break-in in an apparent attempt to cover
up traces of corruption by the culprits.
The auditors also recommended to Chombo that for the “council to
realise any meaningful development, a police fraud squad should investigate
certain figures; and that the deputy mayor should be stopped forthwith from
his intolerable interference with line management functions”.
Mariyapera however denied the allegations of mismanagement. He said:
“I am just a mere councillor. I do not hire, fire or suspend workers. You
can ask the town clerk. He is the one who can assist you.”
Town clerk Elijah Gandanga would not comment saying that he was
Water bills shock Chitungwiza residents
By Lee Berthiaume
ON a bench outside his small, ramshackle St. Mary’s house, Cecil
Makoni struggles to make sense of the paper in his hand.
If what he sees is true, Makoni owes $22 146 for water this month –
$18 000 more than last month.
Makoni is not alone. This month’s water bills throughout Chitungwiza,
Norton, Epworth and Ruwa skyrocketed after Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, approved Harare City
Council’s decision to hike rates to the city’s outlying towns.
For reasons unknown, these four communities have been designated as
commercial/industrial zones for purposes of billing by Harare, which means
they pay three times more for water than if the towns were labeled
“When I got this paper it was difficult to believe,” said Makoni, who
survives through begging. “I can’t afford to pay this. I don’t know whether
they can close the water, but there’s nothing I can do.”
Down the street, Wellington Pamuli and Edmore Jacob received the same
surprise. They say their bill increased from $3 000 last month to $45 000
“We didn’t know what to do,” said Pamuli, who makes about $30 000 a
month selling sculptures. “If it continues like this, what will happen? Even
$3 000 is too much; we used to have problems paying even that. They should
look at our wages before they raise it this much.”
According to St. Mary’s MP Job Sikhala, who has told his constituents
not to pay the exorbitant water bills, over 90 per cent of the people of St.
Mary’s are unemployed, with most subsisting through vending and informal
“Have you seen the people in my constituency?” Sikhala asked,
indicating the poverty that pre-dominates his community. “I feel there’s a
hint of criminality in exploiting the very poor people. And this should
never be allowed.”
Sikhala said in the past he had helped an average of 10 households a
month pay their water bills but now he can’t afford to help two.
In an effort to find out why there was such an increase, residents of
Chitungwiza held a rally last Sunday in St Mary’s which attracted thousands
of people, including suspended Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri and Chitungwiza
Executive Mayor Misheck Shoko.
Led by Sikhala, the residents demanded answers from the council and
warned that they could beat up any council employee who dared to turn their
“We strongly warned the council at the rally not to dispatch workers
or there will be trouble,” Sikhala said this week.
But Mayor Shoko said all the power lies with Harare’s City Council,
“Chitungwiza is not a water authority,” Shoko told The Standard. “We
are completely dependent on Harare. Chitungwiza does not at all set prices
On June 24, Shoko learnt of the plan to designate Chitungwiza as a
commercial/industrial zone, which would see residents of Harare pay $117,50
per cubic metre of water while Chitungwiza, Epworth, Ruwa and Norton would
be forced to pay $352.
When asked why council did not question that designation in June, he
blamed that on the impending urban councils’ election.
“We could have done that back in June,” Shoko said, “but when we were
heading towards a general election, my council would not have helped me.”
When asked why he didn’t pursue the matter after the election, Shoko
said he had commissioned reports and begun negotiations with Harare but had
so far not come to an answer.
“It’s no just an event where you sit once and it happens.”
Last month, Chombo approved the designation changes, which brought in
the new rates.
However, Shoko said the designation is only part of the problem as the
town loses about 20 per cent of the water Harare sends to Chitungwiza due to
bad pipes and another 40 per cent is lost in the town itself.
“But all that water has to be paid for,” Shoko said. “Each household
is paying for 60 per cent more water than it actually uses.”
Shoko said one of his priorities as mayor is to replace the town’s
pipes in what could be a multi-billion dollar exercise. However, he felt
that residents aren’t as poor as they make themselves out to be and if they
saw the need, they would be able to find the money to pay for such repairs.
“Sometimes people don’t have money because they don’t understand the
importance of the project. The people here are generally regarded as very
poor so they have a tendency to scream at every corner. Over the past 23
years we have inculcated dependence to such a degree.”
However, Shoko said even he was shocked when he saw his bill this
month, which increased from $5 000 to $25 000.
“I was shocked. I knew there was going to be an increase, but I was
not expecting this type of increase.”
Still Shoko encouraged residents to pay their bills or face having
their water cut off by Harare.
“Harare will cut off the water to Chitungwiza,” he said. “Even the
people who have paid may suffer. And I would not blame Harare from their
point of view.”
But it appears St Mary’s residents are more inclined to follow the
advice of their MP who stays with them in that old suburb.
Delivering a highly charged speech at the rally, Sikhala drew applause
when he declared:
“Wangoona munhu anechipanera, ngaakwire pachikomo aridze huhwi pama
next door kuti nyoka yapinda mumba,” (Anyone who sees a city council
employee out to disconnect water should raise alarm).
Retrenched farm workers sink to destitution
By Lee Berthiaume
SEVEN kilometres south of Kadoma town, a small farmhouse stands
surrounded by a fence topped with razor wire. Signs on the fence warn
against trespassing. The fields around the house have not been ploughed in
over a year and there is no sign of any preparations for the coming
Some distance south of the farmhouse, few cement buildings are
clustered around several thatched huts. Children in torn and dirty clothes
play in the red dust, oblivious of the insects and parasites that have
infected their scalps and faces. Many of the children have distended
stomachs, symptons of their malnutrition.
A group of women watches the children from the door of a cement hut
that was built years ago to house them. A large ‘12’ is painted on the door
to identify it from the other worn down buildings.
An old man sits in a chair a few buildings away, lost in his own
world. He offers a toothless smile and shakes hands before returning to
wherever it is he goes. A young man sits near him, his face in his hands.
There are 20 families living here, consisting of just over 100 people,
including 50 children.
As one aid worker explains, these are the silent voices of Zimbabwe;
while the farm owners fled with what little they could carry as war veterans
and “Green Bombers” seized their properties, the farm workers were forced to
stay behind and watch it all fall apart.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) released a report in July in which
it estimated as many as 240 000 farm workers had lost their jobs, 100 000
people had been forced from their homes and more than one million people –
including the workers’ families – had been directly affected by the land
This particular farm was one of the 2 900 designated on August 10 last
year. According to Senzeni Sibanda, before the resettlement, life was good
for the farm workers.
“We were living quite peacefully,” she explains. “We were happy, we
Children were attending school, the people were well fed and were even
making money to spend on themselves. As Sibanda talks, the children gather
around and rip a loaf of bread apart, eating it ravenously. The women stand
and watch; they probably won’t eat today.
The farm workers only learned of the resettlement when the former farm
owner called them to the farmhouse and asked them to pack his belongings.
That was the last they saw of him but they didn’t have to wait long for the
“Just soon after the farm was taken over we were told we were
unemployed,” Sibanda says.
With their only source of income lost, the people were forced to fend
With the help of the Zimbabwe Community Development Trust (ZCDT), the
community has managed to start a small garden where they grow various
vegetables to sell at the market down the road. But even that hasn’t been
“We cannot get anything,” Sibanda says. “We can’t even pay school
fees, medication, or anything. We are like people in a coma; we can’t see
According to a report from the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe
(FCTZ), only about 100 000 commercial farm workers were still employed at
the end of last year on the 20 per cent of farms that were still
operational. The rest have had to fend for themselves. To make ends meet,
some have turned to doing odd jobs at nearby farms, panning for gold under
railway tracks and prostitution.
In Sibanda’s community, 12 people have died from disease – the
prevalence of HIV/AIDS is presumed to be high – malnutrition and dehydration
over the past seven months and that number is expected to rise as the
situation continues to deteriorate.
“We just need food and medication,” says Sharai Bava, whose husband
was a farm worker. She indicates the head of one of her daughters, which is
covered in scabs and flies.
Bava says there have been rumours the new settler will chase the
former farm workers off his farm.
“We are just like animals; we are rejected, we can’t eat good food, we
can’t have anything.”
North of the farmhouse is another group of huts and cement buildings.
Where the southern compound was brown and white from the buildings, red from
the dust and green from the vegetable garden, the northern compound is just
brown and red.
Last year the compound’s electric water pump broke down and the former
farm owner took it to get a replacement but didn’t have a chance to replace
it before being evicted.
Now the people in the northern compound are forced to walk across the
nearby highway to fetch water.
There is no garden to make money, no water to bathe or wash. There are
only a few scrawny chickens and many mouths to feed.
“We only survive because you are giving us something,” 81-year-old
Stone Banda says to one ZCDT aid worker.
The organisation delivers care packages of food and soap to the
compound every month. Banda, who moved to the farm to work in 1978, says the
lack of water is killing the community.
“We have no future unless we get water. We are like refugees because
we don’t have anything,” Banda says.
While life has been hard for these ex-farm workers, they have not been
spared from the political violence. At the height of the land reforms, war
veterans and the youth militia accused many farm workers of supporting the
white farm owners and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The United Nations estimated at the end of last year that more than
100 000 former farm workers had been chased from their homes.
In addition, dozens of ex-farm workers have been killed and thousands
others forced to move due to the violence.
Ex-farm workers have been the centre of the many humanitarian efforts
in the country as dozens of non-government organisations have scrambled to
provide emergency food aid while others have offered training in alternative
ways to generate income.
But thousands of former farm workers are in places that NGOs are
banned or find difficult to reach so they must try to survive on their own.
“There are quite a number of challenges,” says Didimas Munhenzva,
acting director of ZCDT, citing fuel and resource shortages as well as
ongoing political violence as some of the reasons the NGO hasn’t been able
to do more.
“People are just waiting for tomorrow and are trying to make it
through today,” says Munhenzva.
Body intensifies fight to protect birdlife
By Our Own Staff
BIRDLIFE Zimbabwe, the pro-bird species conservation organisation,
last week upped the ante in its quest to ensure the survival of the
endangered species when its headquarters were officially launched.
The organisation, the country benefactor for birds, has developed
centres for studying wildlife bird conservation.
Officiating at the event, the Netherlands ambassador to Zimbabwe, Hans
Heinsbroek underlined the importance of ensuring the survival of the
endangered bird species even “in hard times”, pointing out the dire reminder
that any species goes into extinction only once.
Much of the country’s wildlife has been decimated in the past three
years after marauding gangs of landless peasants and veterans of Zimbabwe’s
1970s war of liberation invaded commercial farming lands and animal
conservancies under President Robert Mugabe’s government controversial land
Birdlife Zimbabwe president, Dave Sheehan, pledged to continue
advocating for the preservation of birdlife, especially the threatened
species such as the Blue Swallow and the Wattled Crane.
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama
are all kinds of spirits, which torment people. In Shona these
are called “mashave”. When the “shave” possesses one he or she is completely
controlled by it.
Kleptomaniacs are possessed by the thieving “shave”. When they have
not stolen anything for some time this spirit comes to the fore and bothers
them mentally. It only subsides after they have stolen something.
Unfortunately for Zimbabwe, most of our ruling party leaders seem to be
consistently under the influence of this type of shave.
To be honest, I have to admit that I also have a shave. Once in a
while it comes to the fore and I lose my senses until I go fishing. Only
fishermen know the discomfort this spirit causes when it possesses one. The
person becomes irritable and difficult or even impossible to get along with.
I have heard that a lot of divorces have taken place because of this spirit.
Fortunately I have an understanding wife who recognises the symptoms
when this fishing spirit starts to bother me. When I start to shout to those
around me and to constantly inspect my fishing tackle, she discreetly
arranges for me to go fishing before I start going stark raving mad.
Last week she noticed the symptoms. Fortunately my nephew, James
Sibanda, who also suffers from the same affliction, was going to Kariba. She
begged him to take me along. We took off, forgetting everything, including
writing my column for The Standard.
After two days of fishing for tigers on that great lake the shave
subsided and I felt normal again. The fishing was great. It was just after
the Kariba International Tiger Fish tournament. The competition had thrown a
lot of “matemba” around the fishing spots to attract the tiger and the
predators were still prowling around for the free feed.
When I came back the wife told me that my editor Bornwell Chakaodza
had been frantically looking for me because I had not written anything for
him. Of course, he would not understand anything about me being possessed by
a shave so I told him some cock and bull story which he happily swallowed.
A fellow Christian once suggested that we go to see Prophet Andrew
Wutaunashe so that I could be exorcised of this bothersome shave. I
stubbornly refused. I have had it since I was a boy and I have fallen in
love with it. Both my parents had it. All my brothers and sisters have it.
Why should I be different from my kith and kin?
Now that I was myself again I started to read back issues of the local
newspapers or what they call newspapers. Without The Daily News they are
mostly junk good for only wrapping things and starting cooking fires when
the electricity is shut off. I will not mention the other uses they are good
for. I only read them in order to see the level of lunacy now reached by
some of our countrymen and women who insist on calling themselves
However, the painful truth in Zimbabwe is so glaring that even The
Herald has to sometimes tell it as it is. On October 3, 2003 it said: “The
future of the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company now hangs in the balance
following its failure to finance the acquisition of imported new buses which
were expected to turn around the fortunes of the bus company.
“Zupco stands to lose over 200 buses and $7 billion advanced to
Pioneer Motor Company as cash cover for the purchase of its fleet of 250
Marcopolo buses following the expiring on Wednesday of the deadline to raise
the foreign currency required for the transaction. The new buses were key to
the turn around of Zupco since most of its buses had either been run down or
Recently, Tongai “Samanyemba” Moyo released an album with a song
entitled “Chisi Chako Masimba Mashoma.” This is raw Zimbabwean wisdom. It
literally means that if anything does not belong to you, you will not do
with it what you would if it was yours.
Who owns Zupco? It is owned by the government. In other words it is a
company in which every Zimbabwean is a shareholder since the capital for it
came from the people’s taxes. When a company is thus owned by everybody it
is only logical to conclude that it is owned by nobody since everybody
cannot make decisions over its operations. Only direct investors who have
put their hard-earned cash into a company can successfully run it because it
is theirs. If they hire employees and they fail, as those of Zupco did, they
fire them there and then.
Because politicians, most of whom do not have any idea about business,
are responsible for Zupco, on our supposed behalf, we have the mess that we
have, not only in Zupco but in all government run companies.
Instead of employing proven professionals to run the companies they
hire often-crooked cronies and cousins. Their only interest is to make as
much money as possible for themselves knowing fully that uncle is not going
to do anything about it.
And Zimbabwe, of course, is never going to hold a shareholders’
meeting to bring them to account. This is why I say governments have no
business in business. They should leave the running of business to the
private sector and be content with collecting taxes from them.
All successful economies of the world were not based on government
participation in business but on the free enterprise system with varying
kinds of social welfare programmes for the less privileged.
Both Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania failed
their countries because they abandoned the free enterprise system for some
untried socialist experiments. Both their socialism of “humanism” and
“Ujamaa” did not work and only succeeded in making poor people even poorer.
The same is true of President Robert Mugabe. Because of political
posturing and expediency he has thrown our once rich country into ruin.
However, instead of resigning honorably like Nyerere or accepting defeat
like a gentlemen as Kaunda did our president clung on to power through what
the opposition MDC, many Zimbabweans and international observers allege was
I am not saying Zimbabwe is following some well thought out though
wrong ideology as Zambia and Tanzania did. Zimbabwe does not have any
ideology or economic policy at all. It is only drifting and clinging to
anything at hand like a drowning person would do.
He, who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Despair and grief in Zimbabwe
ORDINARILY in a democratic society, a government’s
role is to create a
secure and enabling environment for its citizens to live their lives and
pursue their aspirations.
People must wake up each day knowing their labours will be adequately
rewarded and they can plan their lives within the means at their disposal.
Where a government fails to create such an environment and provide the
wherewithal and security for its citizens for what ever reason, then it is
time for such a government to call it quits.
Zimbabweans find themselves in a hopeless situation where it is
virtually impossible even to plan for the next day. Lawlessness pervades
every aspect of life; transport operators charge what they want, traders
demand extortionate prices for their goods, municipalities that should be
providing social amenities to rate payers are collapsing – indeed there is
no proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
The Zimbabwe government lurches from one blunder to another but it is
now becoming increasingly clear that it does not have a clue as to how the
country’s economy that is now virtually in a coma can be resuscitated. The
excuse that the Zimbabwe’s economic problems are solely the result of
British, US, and the EU sanctions may or may not wash, but what the ordinary
Zimbabwean wants to know is how the government intends to get round that
Indeed it is very sad to see a country, once the envy of the whole
world, deteriorate to such an unmitigated disaster. It is equally sad to see
a man once revered as a distinguished Statesman who showed concern for his
own people during the first decade or so of our independence become an
object of hate and ridicule in recent years.
President Mugabe was a towering political figure who in 1980 inspired
public hope and confidence to win one of the most overwhelming electoral
victories in Zimbabwean history. No war hero turned his sword into
ploughshares with such practical fervour and consuming commitment as
President Mugabe did during the first decade of our independence. The policy
of reconciliation he enunciated in 1980 was indeed remarkable. What a time
Now all the opportunities that Zimbabwe had in store to grow from
strength to strength have been totally squandered. Despair is the order of
the day. The economy is crumbling and sinking deeper and deeper into a hole
from which it will be difficult to recover. Companies are closing shop on a
daily basis. Unemployment has hit 70% and is rising every day.
Elsewhere in this issue we report on the collapse of once thriving
institutions, the plight of farm workers, the fuel crisis, the transport
crisis, the unaffordability of basic commodities and the fact that not much
is happening in the farming areas as a result of the shortage of seed,
fertilizer, chemicals and drought power, you name it. We are entitled to ask
the powers that be: How much practice does it take to plan a human sacrifice
of your own people?
There is nothing wrong with embarking on a programme of empowering
your own people as long as it is done in an orderly, all inclusive and with
honest intentions. For political independence without the economic means to
actualise it is but an empty shell.
The driving passion of any political leader is to change society for
the better; to change things for the better. But when a leader and a ruling
party destroy everything because of power and greed, then such people have
no business being in politics.
When agriculture, industry and commerce is reorganised for the benefit
of the few and taking from those who have instead of expanding to include
everybody, then everything is turned upside down.
This is exactly what has happened in this country and why there is so
much anguish and grief in Zimbabwe resulting in millions fleeing their own
country of birth to become strangers and refugees in neighbouring countries,
UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.
It is most unfortunate for our country that we have a government that
chooses to ignore advice from men and women at home and abroad who mean well
and who want nothing but success for Zimbabwe.
It is difficult to understand why the plight and suffering of the
Zimbabwean people has not registered in the conscience of the President and
the ruling Zanu PF party. Is it because the President and his ministers are
so well-fed in every sense of the term that they have become oblivious to
what is happening around them and become indifferent to the tide of feeling
against the Zanu PF-induced suffering that is running very high in the
It is sinful on the part of Zanu PF to think that they are governing
the country in this manner. It is the right of every Zimbabwean to expect
that at some stage Zanu PF must show consideration for their plight by
speedily hammering out a political settlement with the opposition MDC – but
alas nothing on that front.
For without a political solution, there is no way that hope can be
restored to Zimbabwe.
As he nears the end of his political career and prepares for
retirement, we strongly urge President Mugabe to think seriously about what
they will say in the history books. What kind of legacy are you going to
leave behind Mr President?
Paper wars and paper tigers
overthetop By Brian Latham
A State-controlled newspaper in a troubled central African country has
been doing a great deal of gloating since its rival was effectively banned
The State-controlled Daily Horrid has been crowing that its banned
rival had become the mouthpiece of the opposition More Drink Coming Party.
But media analysts – who themselves face banning – point out there is
a certain degree of hypocrisy in this.
They say the Horrid is itself a mouthpiece for the dubiously elected
Zany Party. And not only is it a mouthpiece; it’s a grovelling, toadying,
fawning, lying mouthpiece that due to political confusion finds itself above
The same media analysts point out that the Horrid is indefatigable in
its support for the Zany Party, especially for that section of the Zany
Party that controls it.
If it ever criticises anyone from the Zany Party’s fragmented ranks,
you can be certain the poor victim has fallen out of favour with the masters
of misinformation who run the Horrid.
And disgruntled central Africans point out that the Horrid’s better
selling banned rival wasn’t run from the headquarters of the More Drink
Coming Party – unlike the Horrid which evidence suggests is run from certain
government offices not a thousand miles from the Most Equal of All Comrades’
Still, hypocrisy and double standards can’t be helped when it comes to
politics in the troubled central African banana republic, where lying has
become a national pastime. Adopting the Nazi propaganda philosophy that if
you tell a lie often enough it becomes the truth, the Horrid has embarked on
a grand deception to blame the country’s troubles on everyone except itself.
This is because in terms of official Zany policy, the Zany government
can make no mistakes and do no wrong. It has something called socialist
infallibility, which makes people laugh, if nothing else.
This is because in terms of official Zany policy, the Zany government
can make no mistakes and do no wrong. It has something called socialist
infallibility, which makes people laugh, if nothing else.
So… without a rival, the Horrid can blame food shortages on the
British, violence on the opposition, inflation on pale skinned businessmen,
money shortages on avaricious foreign cross-border traders, bread shortages
on saboteur farmers, strikes on the Selous Scouts and fuel shortages on
That 11 million troubled central Africans have a little difficulty
accepting the Zany Party’s abrogation of all responsibility is irrelevant.
The Zany Party is infallible because the Horrid says so…
And without its rival to point out that the Zany Party’s violent
seizure of farms might have more than a little to do with the shortages of
food, the increasingly hungry public has less to counter Zany’s diet of
nonsense and deceit.
Never mind, The Standard can assure you that Zany’s Dzaku-Tsaku Green
Bombers perpetrate more violence than anyone.
It can also say that inflation has less to do with avaricious
businessmen than it has to do with Zany’s increasingly curious economic
policies; that no sane person will ever hoard currency that depreciates by
two percent a day. It’s also true that bread shortages are caused by Zany
price controls and monopolies – and that strikes are a justifiable display
of anger at the Zany Party’s handling of the economy. Meanwhile fuel
shortages were caused by another Zany idea that the stuff should be sold for
less than it costs.
In other words, contrary to the Horrid’s bizarre belief in Zany
infallibility, everything that’s troubling troubled central Africans is the
fault of the Zany Party.
Not that knowing this helps much. While the Zany party continues to
use the Daily Horrid and Dead Broadcasting to spew forth puerile lies, the
propaganda machine will continue to play with the truth. Fortunately, anyone
with an IQ over 30 doesn’t believe it.
From The Sunday Times (SA), 19 October
MDC to meet Mugabe in court
Sunday Times Foreign Desk
In a move likely to sink
Zimbabwe deeper into its political crisis,
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will once again legally challenge
President Robert Mugabe's victory in last year's presidential elections.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change said it was ready to confront
Mugabe in court, and would do so in two weeks' time. "Last year's
presidential election is in dispute and we are proceeding with our election
petition against Mugabe early next month," MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi
said. "We had to institute legal action to get a hearing date set and we are
prepared for the case." The landmark case, which begins on November 3, is
widely expected to escalate the political tensions. The initial hearing,
which will run for five consecutive days, will deal with what the MDC refers
to as "serious legal irregularities perpetrated by the authorities before
and during the presidential election". This will be followed by proceedings
dealing with alleged acts of violence and the fraudulent conduct of the
Tsvangirai's case against
Mugabe will almost certainly scuttle efforts to
resolve Zimbabwe's political and economic crises. Mugabe has consistently
said Tsvangirai must drop his court case and recognise him as president if
he wants to enter into dialogue. MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube this
week rejected such demands. "Why are we always expected to bend backwards?
Why is no one demanding that Zanu PF should drop its treason cases and
numerous prosecutions of our members on trumped-up charges?" Ncube asked.
Meanwhile, the first of Tsvangirai's treason cases - in which he was accused
of plotting to assassinate Mugabe in 2001 - resumes on October 27. Another
treason case, arising from allegations that he wanted to overthrow
government through mass action in June, has been postponed to January 9 next
year. Intelligence sources say Zanu PF wants Tsvangirai convicted to
eliminate him from future elections and to destroy the MDC. People with
criminal convictions cannot stand for public office in Zimbabwe.
Zanu PF chief negotiator in the talks with MDC, Patrick
Chinamasa, said the
opposition "has no case at all" against Mugabe. "I'm very convinced they
have no case. They were just pushed into this issue by [Brian] Donnelly
[British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe] and his government," he said. "We
want them to go to court because we know we will be vindicated." These court
cases are likely to roll back the gains of informal talks between Zanu PF
and the MDC. The two parties started talking in March but stopped dialogue
on July 31. The informal talks appear to have collapsed, just like the
formal dialogue that broke down last year in May. However, church leaders
are still battling to resuscitate dialogue. Catholic bishops met Mugabe on
Wednesday this week in a bid to restart talks. Bishop Trevor Manhanga, who
is one of the clerical leaders pushing for talks, said: "We are still in
contact with both sides and we hope a solution will be found."
Foreign currency woes hobble Zimbabwe's mining sector
October 20, 2003
By David Cullen
London - Zimbabwe's key mining industry faces further mine closures unless
the government adjusts the official exchange rate to ensure producers remain
viable, the industry's main body warned on Monday.
As the country grapples with a chronic shortage of foreign currency,
Zimbabwe's exporters including miners are compelled to surrender 50 percent
of their U.S. dollar earnings to the central bank in exchange for local
money at an official rate of 1-to-824.
President Robert Mugabe's government has maintained the official rate at
those levels since February, but the Zimbabwe dollar is now trading as high
as 5,000 against the greenback on the black market.
"The export support rate has ceased to provide any support to the mining
sector. Production has declined for most minerals as a result (and) it is
difficult to imagine how growth is expected to be achieved under these
conditions," the Chamber of Mines said.
"Of major concern to the sector is demand for payments in foreign currency
for goods and services supplied by local companies. The 50 percent available
to producers is no longer sufficient to cover these competing requirements,"
it said in a statement accompanying its latest monthly production figures.
Mining accounts for four percent of Zimbabwe's gross domestic product and it
draws in about a third of foreign currency earnings.
The foreign currency crunch bedevilling Zimbabwe is just one symptom of an
economic crisis widely blamed on government mismanagement, and also shown in
food shortages, record unemployment and one of the world's highest rates of
inflation at nearly 460 percent.
Mugabe, 79, denies critic's charges his government has mismanaged the
economy since independence from Britain in 1980, and argues it has been
sabotaged by local and foreign opponents of his seizure of white-owned
commercial farms for redistribution among blacks.
New fuel crunch cripples Zimbabwe transport system
October 20, 2003, 04:32 PM
Deepening fuel shortages have all but paralysed the country's road and rail
transport systems, forcing thousands of motorists to ditch their cars and
walk to work with the crowds of commuters stranded by fuel shortages.
Zimbabwe's chronic fuel crunch, partly due to lack of hard currency and a
failed supply deal with Libya, is one of the most visible signs of a deep
economic crisis many blame on mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe's
State media reported at the weekend fuel stocks at NOCZIM - the state oil
importer - had virtually run dry. Officials say the shortage has also hit
key agriculture and health sectors, with some ambulances failing to
transport sick people to hospital.
Today, a drive along several major highways leading into the capital Harare
showed thousands of people trekking to industrial areas and into the city
centre. Clumps of people stood along the road trying to flag down the few
crammed commuter buses that made their way into town.
Fuel shipments have remained erratic even since the government officially
relaxed industry regulations in August to allow private oil companies to
import petroleum, ending the import monopoly of NOCZIM. The government
scrapped price controls, but ordered NOCZIM to discount fuel for government
and public transport operators.
However, public transport operators say they have to buy fuel from private
filling stations at the higher rates because NOCZIM depots designated to
supply cheaper fuel did not have enough. "We are supposed to get cheaper
fuel from NOCZIM, but the reality is that we are having to buy most of our
requirements from ordinary garages at higher market costs which we have to
pass on to passengers for viability," one commuter bus operator said.
The National Railways of Zimbabwe has suspended commuter services in the
capital Harare and the second city Bulawayo because it has no diesel to run
its trains. The government hiked urban bus fares on Friday by up to 150%,
but desperate commuters who wait hours to get scant transport home are
already having to pay much higher prices.
The fuel crisis is not likely to endear the government to urban residents,
who have rallied behind the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in
elections since 2000. - Reuters
Liberians seek asylum in Zimbabwe
ABOUT 50 Liberian nationals have sought asylum in Zimbabwe over the past
month, officials from the United Nations refugees' agency said yesterday.
The Liberians fled a bitter civil war in their country which culminated in
the departure of the country's president, Charles Taylor into exile.
Although a cease-fire
agreement has been signed to end hostilities, there
are still clashes between government soldiers and rebels of the Liberians
United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).
The armed conflict between the LURD rebel group and
government soldiers was
halted after the international community demanded the departure of Taylor
from Liberia to facilitate peace talks.
Taylor, indicted by a UN-backed International Criminal
atrocities that were perpetrated during a civil war in Sierra Leone, was
offered sanctuary in Nigeria.
An official from the UN
High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Harare, said
the Liberians arrived in the country last month to seek asylum.
The UNHCR official said the
Liberians have not yet been granted refugee
status because they have not yet been vetted. The vetting team comprises
police and army officers, members of the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO), officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs,
officials from the Department of Social Welfare and officials from the
It was not clear when they
would be vetted. Vetting is done to ascertain
whether they are not war criminals, fugitives or they do not pose security
risks to the host country.
If successfully vetted, the Liberians who are currently
staying in Harare
would either be moved to Tongogara refugee camp, about 400 kilometres east
of Harare, or they would be allowed to integrate with the local communities.
"The Liberians are scattered all over Harare," the
UNHCR official said.
"They have not yet been vetted."
home to over 13 000 refugees mainly from the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi and the Sudan.
About 2 000 refugees are based
at the Tongogara camp while the rest are
staying in the urban centres studying or working.
The figure has risen significantly from about 10 000 people two months ago
to 13 000.
In Burundi, tension remains high
despite efforts to rescuscitate a peace
deal that collapsed two months ago culminating in Hutu rebels shelling the
Rwanda, there are reports that President Paul Kagame's government
launched a witch-hunt on perceived supporters of Fausten Twagiramungu, loser
of presidential poll held last month.
In the DRC, the
situation remains risky particularly in the north-eastern
region where a peace-keeping mission has been deployed following bloody
clashes between the Hema and Lendu tribes.
Media Lawyer Assaulted
International Press Institute
October 17, 2003
Posted to the web October 20, 2003
The following is an IPI Watch List protest to President Robert Mugabe:
His Excellency President Robert Mugabe Office of the President Causeway,
The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors,
media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, condemns in
the strongest possible terms the assault on a prominent media lawyer.
According to information provided to IPI, Beatrice Mtetwa suffered severe
bruising and cuts to her body after being beaten by a policeman. The
incident occurred on 12 October when police were called to assist Mtetwa
after thieves attacked her car. However, when the police arrived they
promptly accused her of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
During the three hours that Mtetwa was held in custody she was beaten by a
policeman both in the car on the way to the Borrowdale police station and
while at the police station. "At the station he kicked me all over my body
in addition to the blows he had inflicted on my face. The assault was in
full view of the other [policemen] who were at the charge office and who
refused to intervene," Mtetwa said. Upon being released from custody Mtetwa
sought medical treatment for her injuries and had them documented.
On 16 October Mtetwa returned to the Borrowdale police station to press
charges and provide a written statement. A police spokesperson, assistant
commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, has said he is unaware of these charges.
Mtetwa is a well known media lawyer in Zimbabwe. She acted on behalf of
journalist Andrew Meldrum who worked for the British Guardian in his fight
against a charge of writing "falsehoods" and she recently advised the
independent Daily News which was closed down in September this year for
alleged breaches of Zimbabwe's Access to Information and Protection of
IPI is deeply concerned by the attack. It is another sign of the breakdown
of the rule of law in Zimbabwe. The fact that one of the police officers
apparently told Mtetwa "the tables have turned" is a sign that the police
were aware of who she was and it is difficult not to see the attack as
either a vicious act of retribution for her past legal work or as an attempt
to intimidate or silence her.
With the above in mind, IPI calls on the Zimbabwean government to hold an
independent inquiry into the vicious assault, to bring the perpetrator to
justice and to put in place new procedures to ensure that there is no repeat
of this incident.
We thank you for your attention.
Johann P. Fritz Director
Zimbabwe was placed on the IPI Watch List on 20 October 2001. In its press
release IPI said, "[It] is deeply concerned at attempts to extinguish press
freedom in the country against a background of government support for this
activity and reluctance to prosecute offenders, restrictions imposed, or
contemplated, by the government on the media, and the breakdown of the rule
Similar appeals can be sent to:
President Robert Mugabe Office of the President Causeway, Harare Zimbabwe
Fax: + 263 4 728 799 / 708 820 / 734 644
Health Concerns Over Reintroduction of DDT
UN Integrated Regional
October 20, 2003
Posted to the web October 20, 2003
Environmentalists and public health officials in Zimbabwe have warned that
government plans to reintroduce the banned chemical
dichloro-diphenyl-trichlorothene (DDT) in this year's anti-malaria spraying
programme could do serious ecological damage.
The use of DDT was banned worldwide in the early 1990s after it was found to
have adverse health and environmental effects.
According to Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa, the government has
resorted to DDT because it was "cheap and more effective, with a longer
residual killing power". But a senior health official told IRIN the
government had turned to DDT, "despite the obvious dangers, because it has
no money to buy prescribed, environmentally friendly spray chemicals".
Zimbabwe is grappling with an increasing malaria death toll and a resurgence
of the disease in areas where it had previously been brought under control.
"The reintroduction of chemicals with a proven record of destructive
behaviour, like DDT, in populated areas and water sources only shows that
government wants to be seen to be doing something to control the malaria
epidemic. But this will be more than just killing the mosquito and
destroying their breeding grounds, it will also kill the people and animals
in those areas in the long term," said a senior environmental health
official in the Ministry of Health, who asked not to be named.
He said that apart from being carcinogenic, DDT also poisons animals that
come into contact with it, and disrupts the food chain.
"Anyone who eats animals, birds or fish from water sources that have the DDT
residue will also take the chemical into their body. The effects include
high infant mortality, as lactating mothers may pass the DDT on to their
offspring through breastfeeding."
In justifying the use of DDT, Parirenyatwa told the Bulawayo Chronicle: "So
many people have died of malaria since January and we are doing our best to
control it ... DDT is very effective because it sticks for a long time on
the walls and kills a lot of mosquitos with a single spray ... South Africa
and Swaziland are using it, and I don't see why we should not use it."
He said the effects on the environment and humans would be minimal because
the use of DDT would be restricted to indoor spraying programmes.
But agriculturalists are concerned, fearing that an anti-malaria campaign
will inevitably result in DDT seeping into the environment, especially when
DDT-tainted water is used on crops and for livestock.
"The minister is correct to say it remains active for a long time, but I
don't understand why he believes it will have minimal effects on people and
animals. To me, the way government wants to do this is like introducing
quick measures to control the malaria epidemic, by using slow poison to
systematically decimate the same people they are trying to protect. The
effects on crop and livestock farming will be the same. DDT is an
undesirable chemical," Edward Mkhosi, an agricultural expert, explained.
Public health officials have also warned that the government was running the
risk of revitalising a number of DDT-related infections that are still being
detected in communities living along the Zambezi Valley, which forms the
northern malaria zone of the country.
The Zambezi Valley covers the Victoria Falls, Hwange, Binga and areas around
Kariba, further downstream on the Zambezi river. DDT was widely used in
mosquito and tsetse-fly control programmes by the pre- and post-independence
governments until its worldwide ban.
The other significant malaria belt occurs along the major rivers in
Zimbabwe's Midlands and the southeastern lowveld. The highest fatalities
have been recorded among illegal alluvial gold panners living in thousands
of informal settlements along the rivers.
This year Zimbabwe's malaria control programme has been threatened by a
shortage of spraying equipment, chemicals, personnel, transport and fuel.
The scarcities have been blamed on the lack of foreign currency to pay for
Although Stanley Midzi, the director of the Centre for Disease Prevention
and Control in the Ministry of Health, could not be reached for comment, he
recently told IRIN that his department would not be able to cope with any
new large-scale disease outbreak because of the budgetary, manpower and
Malaria has officially killed 782 people in Zimbabwe since the beginning of
the year, but disease control officials say the real figure is undoubtedly
"The number is much higher because some deaths occur at homes, or in remote
clinics while the patient is still awaiting transport to the nearest
hospital. Those are neither reported nor recorded, but they make up a
significant percentage of the total death toll. However, that does not
justify the use of highly toxic chemicals like DDT, because it will kill
more people and animals over the years than malaria," said Mkhosi.
S.Africa and Mozambique bust rhino poaching gang
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 20 (Reuters) - South Africa said on Monday it had smashed
a cross-border gang of rhino poachers in a joint operation with neighbouring
Mozambique, but the incidents have raised concerns about security in a
planned transfrontier park.
The first incident occurred in early September, when a heavily pregnant
female rhino was found shot dead with her horn removed in South Africa's
famed Kruger National Park, the country's Environment Ministry said in a
Then earlier this month, two white rhino adult males were shot dead and had
their horns hacked off by poachers.
South African officials linked up with their counterparts in Mozambique --
which shares a 350 km (200 mile) border with the Kruger Park -- and tracked
the suspects 20 km into Mozambique to a base where four rhino horns were
Six Mozambican men have been arrested by Mozambican police in connection
with the poachings.
"Investigation into...other rhino poaching incidents in the same area over
the past two years, is likely to lead towards more arrests," South Africa's
Environment Ministry said.
South African Environment Minister Valli Moosa said the cross-border
cooperation should assuage security fears surrounding the planned creation
of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which will include South Africa's
Kruger and reserves in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
"It is this sort of operation that proves that the Great Limpopo
Transfrontier Park will become a sanctuary against poachers for Africa's
precious wildlife," Moosa said.
But animal rights activists have questioned the wisdom of tearing down
fences along Kruger's border with Mozambique before proper anti-poaching
units are set up.
"The fact of the matter is that those animals are dead so there is still a
long way to go," said Jason Bell-Leask, the regional director for the
International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Rhino horn is prized in many parts of Asia for its supposed medicinal
qualities and in the Arab state of Yemen, where it is used to make
traditional dagger handles.