The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

South African business warned against cashing in on Zimbabwe crisis

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: October 23, 2007

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: South African businesses have been cashing in on
the economic crisis in Zimbabwe and need to stop putting profits before
ethics and play a greater role in resolving the country's problems, a
leading Zimbabwean academic said Tuesday.

Brian Raftopolous, director of research and advocacy for Solidarity Peace
Trust, a regional human rights body, questioned the role South Africa, a
regional powerhouse, has played in the turmoil in Zimbabwe.

He said companies operating in Zimbabwe had a responsibility to use their
influence to push for human rights and democracy.

"South African companies are cashing in on the crisis," he said in a report
released Tuesday. "They have not been idle in finding opportunities. If you
are making that kind of money in that context what is your responsibility in
resolving the crisis?"

The collapse of Zimbabwe's economy has been "catastrophic," the report said.
The country has the world's worst official inflation at nearly 8,000
percent, though independent estimates put it closer to 25,000 percent. The
International Monetary Fund forecasts it will reach 100,000 percent by
year's end.

In June, the government ordered prices slashed by half to tame inflation.
Instead, it worsened already acute shortages of food and basic goods.
As the economic and political crisis has deepened, new opportunities have
opened up for South African companies to extend their influence, the report

Several of South Africa's biggest companies have investments, subsidiaries
and interests in Zimbabwe, making up 60 percent of companies listed on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

According to the report, Zimbabwe has remained the largest African market
for South African goods, with rands 7.3 billion (more than US$1 billion;
nearly €750 million) worth of exports.

Several companies such as Implats, Old Mutual and SABMiller have invested or
expanded their investments in Zimbabwe since the crisis.

"The South African corporate sector has exploited Zimbabwe's collapsing
economy to bolster its bottom lines," the report said.

The report explores the impact these strong economic ties have on South
Africa's foreign policy toward its neighbor. "The role of South Africa, as
both a help and hindrance, has been continuously debated," it said.

South African President Thabo Mbeki has been criticized for advocating what
he calls quiet diplomacy over confronting Mugabe, who is accused of
overseeing his country's economic and political collapse.

Mbeki led talks between the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition, leading
to an agreement to ensure that elections scheduled next year are free and

Raftopolous said resolving the political crisis was vital to Zimbabwe's
economic recovery and urged South African companies to use their leverage to
ensure the talks are a success.

"They need to give support to the mediation and speak out against human
rights abuses. It is their employees who are the victims," he said.

Jerry Vilakazi, chief executive of Business Unity South Africa, dismissed
allegations that South African businesses were "cashing in on the crisis."

"That is not true. The situation in Zimbabwe is not normal for doing
business. A number of business have lost money," he said.

Vilakazi said his organization, which represents a number of large private
sector firms, called for South African businesses to stay in Zimbabwe.

"Business has to play a constructive role to ensure the difficulties the
people of Zimbabwe are going through are minimized through constant supply
of food ... (and) jobs," he said.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's opposition warned Tuesday that the crisis has reached
tipping point, as some suburbs in the capital, Harare, were reported to have
gone 10 days without power.

"This madness cannot continue," said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the
Movement for Democratic Change.

Supermarkets have been forced to throw out perishables after a huge fault
plunged a swathe of suburbs in the north of the capital into darkness last

Engineers warn supplies will not be fully restored until the weekend.

Scheduled power cuts are a common occurrence in Zimbabwe, where the theft of
cables and oil from transformer units had left engineers — already facing
chronic shortages of hard currency for spare parts, equipment and gasoline —
battling with mounting breakdowns.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Villagers denied food aid

Zim Online

Wednesday 24 October 2007

By Regerai Marwezu

MASVINGO - Several villagers in drought-prone Mwenezi district in southern
Zimbabwe were yesterday denied food aid by ruling ZANU PF officials amid
fears President Robert Mugabe could increasingly use the humanitarian
assistance bait to elicit support ahead of watershed elections next years.

Hungry villagers gathered at Rata rural service centre in the district were
shocked yesterday after being told by ZANU PF officials and members of the
dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) that they would not get any
assistance because they supported the main opposition faction led by Morgan

Tsvangirai heads the larger faction of the splintered Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). Academic Arthur Mutambara leads the other MDC

"Only a few people managed to get food while hundreds were denied the
opportunity to get the maize for allegedly supporting opposition political
parties," said villager Albert Manjengwa.

He said they were told to get food aid from Tsvangirai.

"Officers from the president's office told us that the people in our area
were not politically correct hence they must starve or get food from their
party," added Manjengwa.

Mwenezi district is one of the areas in Masvingo province adversely affected
by the poor harvest of the 2006/07 season.

Some families in the area are reportedly going for days without food and are
only looking to government and non-governmental organisations for help.

According to the villagers, all suspected MDC supporters have since been
summoned to a hearing on October 27 which will be presided over by CIO
operatives at Chief Negari's homestead.

MDC officials in Masvingo yesterday said they were shocked by the
government's decision to deny its supporters relief food.

"These incidents in which our supporters are being denied food ahead of the
elections next year are on the increase. I think it is high time we take
action as a party to save our supporters who are starving," said MDC
Masvingo central legislator Tongai Matutu.

"We are also not happy to hear that members of the CIO have since taken over
the distribution of food in rural areas where they screen beneficiaries on
political grounds," added Matutu.

Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo yesterday confirmed that operatives from
the CIO were part of food distribution teams in rural areas.

"It is true that members of the CIO are now part of the food distribution
team. The aim is not to deny other people food but to ensure that the whole
thing is done properly," Gumbo told ZimOnline.

Masvingo governor Willard Chiwewe yesterday said he was yet to receive
reports of politicisation of food.

"I have never received such reports but I think if it was true I should have
heard about it," he said.

President Mugabe's government has been accused of politicising food aid
ahead of next year's harmonised elections.

Although Mugabe has personally denied the allegations, one of his
supporters, Chief Fortune Charumbira, is on record as having told government
officials in Masvingo earlier this year to deny food aid to those linked to
the MDC, arguing that the opposition supporters were biting the hand that
feeds them.

Zimbabweans go to the polls next year and Mugabe, in power since
independence in 1980, is accused of employing dirty tactics such as
manipulating the voter registration exercise, politicisation of food aid and
harassment of opponents to ensure victory. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Central bank deputy chief invades white farm

Zim Online

Wednesday 24 October 2007

      By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri

      HARARE - A Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) deputy governor, Edward
Mashiringwani, last week invaded a white-owned farm, contradicting calls by
the central bank to stop farm invasions blamed for destabilizing the
mainstay agricultural sector.

      RBZ governor Gideon Gono is among a group of top government and ZANU
PF officials worried about the rapid decline in agriculture and who have
pushed to stop fresh farm seizures - albeit without success.

      Mashiringwani, who is responsible for financial markets, banking
operations and national payment systems at the RBZ, last Wednesday stormed
Friedwall farm located 150 km north-west of Harare claiming the government
allocated the property to him.

      A ZimOnline reporter, who happened to be at Friedwall farm on other
business when Mashiringwani invaded the property, witnessed the RBZ official
personally break open the gate and pull down part of the fence to let in a
tractor and a group of people believed to be his workers.

      "I want to get to the fields and start tilling the land in preparation
for the coming rains, after that I will take over the whole farm,"
Mashiringwani nonchalantly told the owner of the farm, Louis Fick.

      Mashiringwani told his workers to camp at the farm and to till the
fields in preparation for this coming season's crop before he drove off.

      Attempts since last week to get comment on the matter from
Mashiringwani have been fruitless, while Gono was also not immediately
available for comment.

      Fick, among the fewer than 600 whites still farming in Zimbabwe after
President Robert Mugabe's government grabbed land from most of the country's
about 4 000 white farmers, refused to discuss the invasion of his farm.

      Henrick Olivier, chief executive of the Commercial Farmers Union that
represents white farmers, said: "A report was made to us about Friedwall
farm. The RBZ deputy governor definitely went to Fick's farm with a couple
of guys and asked him to wind up and move out."

      Fick practices animal husbandry, keeping 3 000 pigs and about 1 500
cattle at his farm. He also breeds fish and crocodiles.

      Zimbabwe, also grappling with its worst ever economic crisis, has
since 2000 relied on food imports and handouts from international food
agencies mainly due to failure by new black farmers to maintain production
on former white farms.

      Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector has also had far
reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands have lost jobs while the
manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is operating below
30 percent of capacity. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC meets Home Affairs Minister over political violence

Zim Online

Wednesday 24 October 2007

      By Batsirayi Muranje

      HARARE - Two senior officials of Morgan Tsvangirai-led opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party will today meet Home Affairs
Minister Kembo Mohadi over rising political violence in the country.

      The MDC last week accused President Robert Mugabe's government of
stepping up violence against the opposition party ahead of next year's
presidential and parliamentary elections, a charge Harare denies.

      Mohadi last week invited Tsvangirai for talks after the MDC threatened
to pull out of South Africa-led talks between the opposition party and the
ruling ZANU PF party over alleged political violence.

      Sources within the MDC said yesterday that Tsvangirai will not attend
the meeting with Mohadi but will be represented by the party's home affairs
secretary, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, and Mutare Central legislator Innocent

      In a letter to Tsvangirai last week, Mohadi demanded that the
opposition party furnish him with specific cases of violence against the
party's supporters at today's scheduled meeting.

      The MDC says cases of political violence against its supporters have
escalated despite ongoing dialogue with the government to seek an end to
Zimbabwe's political stalemate.

      South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has since last March been leading
a Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative to push for a
negotiated settlement to Zimbabwe's eight-year political crisis.

      Last week, the MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa suggested that the
opposition party could pull out from the talks if violence, arbitrary
arrests and harassment of the opposition did not stop.

      "It cannot be summer time in Pretoria while here in Zimbabwe, our
supporters continue to live under a winter of violence," Chamisa told

      Sources within the MDC in Harare say Mbeki, who has in the past said
the talks were progressing "very well," was exerting pressure on the
Zimbabwean government to stop the political violence and save the fragile
talks. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe exam body runs out of funds to mark exams

Zim Online

Wednesday 24 October 2007

      Own Correspondent

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) says it not
sure if the 2007 examinations currently going on will be marked as it does
not have the money required.

      ZIMSEC director Happy Ndanga told a closed parliamentary committee on
10 October, minutes of which were seen by ZimOnline yesterday, that about
$1.7 trillion was needed to mark Grade Seven, Ordinary and Advanced Level

      "We asked for a budget of $1.5 trillion and got something which was
not quite anything. When we asked for a supplementary budget we were given
$630.6 billion - just a little over 50 percent. We cannot run an examination
at 50 percent capacity. It must be 100 percent," he said.

      He warned that lack of resources continued to affect marking standards
for examinations as most markers were leaving the country for greener
pastures. Ndanga said the examinations body was forced to import markers
from other countries.

      "We envisage a situation for this examination where the examiners may
be very much in demand because they have left in large numbers," said the
ZIMSEC chief, adding that the examiners must be paid reasonable rates.

      "It is not proper for an examination to be run with people where you
have scrapped rock bottom of the available resources," he said.

      ZIMSEC received only $1 billion from examination fees that are pegged
at $500 per subject. Equipment at the examinations body was obsolete and
printers were also failing to print question papers.

      Ndanga revealed that scanners used by the examinations body to "read
answers" for multiple-choice questions were now obsolete.

      "The manufacturer who sold them to us has stopped manufacturing (such
scanners) and we cannot even get spare parts for them. Unless we have a
scanner which can mark the whole paper at a fraction of a second, if we use
manual marking it will take ages, costs a lot of money and it will require a
lot of labour," said Ndanga.

      ZIMSEC also wants armed security at examinations centres and to
accompany trucks distributing examination papers to reduce cases of fraud
and other irregularities.

      "Examinations are very sensitive and important to depend on one
authority. What we want is shared responsibility . . . Every year we receive
very large numbers of cases of irregularities and we are trying to obviate
these cases by ensuring that there is good security all round," said Ndanga.

      He disclosed that in 2005 a truckload of question papers printed in
South Africa was hijacked between Johannesburg and Pretoria.

      "At one time in 2005 a whole truckload of question papers printed in
South Africa was hijacked somewhere between Johannesburg and Pretoria and we
lost the whole cargo to criminals," said Ndanga.

      Zimbabwean examinations have been riddled by irregularities with
several cases of leakages reported. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mbeki praised for efforts in Zimbabwe


October 23, 2007, 18:30

The Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT) has come out in support of President Thabo
Mbeki's mediation efforts in Zimbabwe. It says although under some
criticism, these efforts could still be a way of ending the crisis in
Zimbabwe. The SPT released its preliminary Zimbabwe-South Africa economic
relations report in Johannesburg today.

The SPT, a NGO committed to human rights, freedom and democracy -- 
co-chaired by the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo and the Anglican Bishop of
KwaZulu-Natal -- has been favourable about South Africa's role in the
Zimbabwean mediation effort.

SPT's director of research and advocacy Brian Raftopolous said: "One has to
be hopeful because the alternative may be too ghastly to contemplate. There
has been a lot of progress so far under the mediation and a lot of ground
has been covered."

SA businesses condemned
The talks, sanctioned by Southern African Development Community, are meant
to address violent crackdowns on the opposition, which led to a
constitutional amendment agreement that paves the way for presidential
elections by March next year.

But today Raftopoulos said if Mugabe's government failed to honour the
agreement, there would need to be a serious debate about economic and
political sanctions.

The SPT also accused South African businesses operating in Zimbabwe of
cashing in on the economic crisis.

The SPT says there are no guarantees that either mediation or the elections
will bring about peace, but it feels these at least present an opportunity
to confront Zimbabwe's economic challenges.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe crisis at tipping point, opposition says

Monsters and Critics

Oct 23, 2007, 11:13 GMT

Harare - Zimbabwe's crisis has now reached tipping point, a spokesman for
the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) warned Tuesday as a
local consumer watchdog said the cost of living had climbed 30 per cent in a

'It is now clear that Zimbabwe's crisis has reached the tipping point,' said
the MDC's Nelson Chamisa who said bread was now 'as scarce as gold.'

Food shortages have worsened since July following President Robert Mugabe's
controversial order that all prices be slashed by at least 50 per cent.

Most basics are now only available on the expensive black market. Many
Zimbabweans say they are surviving on vegetables.

Chamisa whose party is currently involved in delicate South African-brokered
talks with Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF also pointed to widespread power outages
which have crippled hospitals, schools, universities and industry.

'They (the ruling party) are not worried about our suffering,' the spokesman

His comments came as the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) reported a 30
per cent surge in the cost of living for a family of six, up to 21.7 million
Zimbabwe dollars (officially worth 723 US) in September.

Senior teachers report that their take-home pay that month was just four
million dollars.

The CCZ said there had been a 222 per cent rise in the cost of the staple
maize meal, while rentals have surged by an average of 34 per cent.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

EU And African MPs Agree to Invite Mugabe to Portugal Summit

SW Radio Africa (London)

23 October 2007
Posted to the web 23 October 2007

Tererai Karimakwenda

The controversial issue of whether Robert Mugabe should be invited to the
European Union-Africa Heads of State Summit in Lisbon Portugal in December
has surfaced again. A delegation of EU MPs reportedly visited the
Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in South Africa last Friday, and after meeting
to discuss the issue agreed it was better to invite Mugabe and engage him on
the crisis in Zimbabwe, rather than snub him altogether.

The EU delegation was headed by Michael Gahler and PAP was represented by
legislator Marwick Khumalo. At a joint press conference Friday they revealed
that EU-Africa MPs will be meeting a day ahead of the heads of state summit
in December, and hoped to influence the leaders to meet Mugabe and offer to
discuss his problems.

The EU and PAP parliamentarians are the latest addition to a growing list
who believe engagement is a better alternative to the decision made by the
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has insisted he will not attend the
summit if Mugabe is invited. Brown said it was important to take a strong
stance against the abuses of the Mugabe regime. But those favouring
engagement with Mugabe continuing to grow in numbers.

Nickson Nyikadzino, information officer with the Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition
in South Africa, described the decision by the EU/PAP parliamentarians as a
"thorn in the flesh" because he believes Mugabe should not be permitted to
attend the summit. He said: "There should be a clear cut agenda on what
issues will be dealt with, particularly the issues of human rights
violations in Zimbabwe, the economy and to what extent can Africa and also
the EU assist to make sure they mitigate the crisis in Zimbabwe."

Nyikadzino suggested that a committee be formed that would include both
African and European heads of state, to engage Mugabe on the sidelines of
the summit so he does not distract from the core business. He referred to
Mugabe as "a loose canon" who will use the platform for his own propaganda.
"He can be given a long rope and say a lot of stupid things while the
country is suffering", said Nyikadzino.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Government Policies Backfire Time and Again

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

No let up in directives that alienate and demoralise the population.

By Hativagone Mushonga in Harare (AR No. 140, 23-Oct-07)

The Zanu PF-led government appears to be shooting itself in the foot with
policies it has implemented in the last few months.

In addition to continuing farm seizures, these include the imposition of an
import duty in foreign currency for items including clothing, footwear and
electrical goods, thereby cutting the source of livelihood for cross-border
traders; and the price slash in July that resulted in empty supermarket
shelves, job losses, company closures and the arrests of company executives.

Some commodities are slowly starting to re-appear, but at unaffordable
prices for ordinary Zimbabweans, whose salaries had also been frozen through
a government directive. The prices of some commodities have now gone up by
as much as 800 per cent.

"I simply cannot afford anything now. Some of the prices are now too high
for small people like me. What this means is that the prices are going to be
even worse on the black market," said Mary Chanakira, an administrator at a

"I have to earn at least 100 million Zimbabwean dollars to live comfortably
in Zimbabwe. At the moment, I earn five million a month. How many things can
I buy? My salary is worth only five bars of one-kilogramme washing soap."

The official exchange rate is currently one US dollar to 30,000 Zimbabwean
dollars, ZWD, but on the black market it's trading at around one million

"You tell me where we are now," said Chanakira. "I have never felt so
helpless in my life and I never thought I would be forced to go hungry -
this is not the reason why I went to school and university. When is change
going to come?"

The few goods that have been delivered to supermarkets have found their way
on to the black market at double or treble the gazetted prices.

Meanwhile, essentials like sugar, salt, maize meal, cooking oil and all
meats including beef, chicken and pork are still in short supply.

As if that is not enough, Harare residents now have to fork out between five
million and 24 million ZWD for their water bills, despite the supply being

The government has approved high water tariffs - a rise of between 3,000 and
8,000 per cent, depending on the area - thereby violating international laws
and universal declarations, which make access to basic water requirement a
fundamental human right.

At the same time, several suburbs of the capital are experiencing water cuts
of more than four days and in some cases even one to two weeks.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority, Zinwa, has started cutting supplies
to residents who have failed to pay the huge bills and has threatened to
continue doing so if they are not paid on time.

In the leafy rich suburbs of Highlands, Borrowdale and Mandara, residents
were shocked to receive bills of up to 24 million ZWD.

Pensioner Sekuru Murehwa, who looks after five orphaned grandchildren in the
poor suburb of Highfield, could believe it when two weeks ago he received an
eight million ZWD water bill.

In previous months, he used to pay an average 250,000 ZWD. At first, he
thought it was a mistake, only to be told that water charges had gone up by
a huge percentage.

"Where am I going to get eight million ZWD? I have never held that kind of
money before. I am not the only one, everyone is crying about their water
bills. I think they will have to cut us off if the government does not
intervene because I know for a fact people in this area cannot afford to pay
even a quarter of their bills," he said.

"I know the water authority is looking for money to buy chemicals but to do
so this way is wrong. It is very cruel. How many ordinary Zimbabweans earn
that kind of money? And even if they did, they also have to eat, go to work,
educate their children and clothe them. We are suffering already and all
blame falls on the government. Things have to change."

People should not be mistaken by the crowds at Harare International Airport
welcoming or bidding Mugabe farewell to assume that Zanu PF still commands
huge support in Harare.

These are borrowed crowds from Harare's largest vegetable market, Mbare
Musika, and the nearby flea market at Mupedzanhamo.

IWPR spoke to some vendors at the two markets, who are forced to attend such

"We are required to close the markets and we all have to go to the airport
to welcome or bid the president farewell. If we don't go, we lose our space
in the market. There will be people there taking a register of everyone. So
my dear, you either attend or lose your source of livelihood," said one

"So we go, chant slogans, sing songs praising [Mugabe] but deep down in our
hearts, we will be cursing him and normally by the time I leave I am so
angry because I know he is the same man that has impoverished me, the same
man who is making my kids go to school on empty stomachs, the same man who
is making me live in near-destitution."

When asked about his party's campaign for joint presidential and
parliamentary elections next year, an opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, MDC, legislator from Morgan Tsvangirai's camp said jokingly their
electioneering was being done for them by the ruling party, through their
bad policies.

"No need to campaign," he said. "Zanu PF is doing it for us. Whatever move
they are making is convincing people why they should be out of power. So
really we are just watching Zanu PF destroying itself. But still with
politics we have to be always on our toes and work hard to get the
Zimbabwean vote."

If the situation continues its downward trend, which is likely, Zanu PF will
have to come up with a bag of tricks to convince the electorate why the
party should be allowed to continue to rule the country for another five
years. If not, it will have to employ the same tactics as it did in previous
elections, of violent intimidation and vote-rigging.

Hativagone Mushonga is the pseudonym of an IWPR reporter in Zimbabwe

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Family Of Six Now Needs Z$22 Million A Month To Get By


      By Jonga Kandemiiri
      23 October 2007

Getting by has gotten a lot more expensive for Zimbabwean households - a
family of six needed Z$21.7 million in September to purchase the essentials
of life, up 30% from August's Z$16.7 monthly bill, the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe said Tuesday.

The state-sponsored council said the biggest percentage rise in costs was
seen in the national staple food of maize meal, which was up 222%, followed
by meat which surged 172% and cooking oil, 104% more expensive.

The organization said commodity supplies had improved somewhat, but that
overall there were still not enough goods on shelves to meet consumer needs.

Economist Godfrey Kanyenze, director of the Labor and Economic Development
Institute of Zimbabwe, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that an average worker making $5.7 million a month is on starvation

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Busy Signal For Zimbabwe Telecommunications As Economy Crumbles


      By Carole Gombakomba
      23 October 2007

Frustration is mounting among Zimbabwean telephone subscribers and their
offshore family and friends as the country's mobile and fixed-line phone
services falter.

It has been increasingly difficult to reach subscribers on the
state-controlled NetOne mobile network, or to get through to TelOne
fixed-line phones. The privately owned Econet has had problems too, though
far fewer than NetOne, or parent TelOne.

Experts say the telecommunications crisis has sprung up on the back of the
general economic crisis gripping the country. Fixed-line monopoly TelOne
issued a statement recently saying current problems are due to continuous
electric power outages.

Three weeks ago, TelOne and Econet jointly informed the public that a
connector linking their networks was down. TelOne says the vandalism of
telephone cables is another factor in the increasing unreliability of its

Bulawayo and Harare residents report that their fixed lines have been out of
service in some cases since last year. They added that they have reported
the problems, but TelOne technicians have told them that computer network
problems have made it difficult to track line problems let alone follow
through to make repairs.

Opposition parliamentarian Murisi Zwizwai, a member of the house committee
on communications, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that the real problem is insufficient investment by state providers
in their networks, arising in part from the chronic shortage of hard
currency in the country.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Facing Acute Food Shortages, Harare Moves To Micromanage Farming


      By Blessing Zulu
      23 October 2007

The Zimbabwean government says it is mobilizing all farmers across the
country to deal with food shortages, ordering each to plant at least one
hectare of maize, the Southern African nation's staple food now in
desperately short supply.

But experts say the plan, reminiscent of Soviet centralized agriculture and
expected to be launched this planting season, is deeply flawed and destined
to fail.

Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo told the state-controlled Herald newspaper
that every farmer in Zimbabwe will be obliged to participate.

The campaign will be run by five cabinet ministers, the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe, Agribank and the army, represented by Brigadier General Douglas
Nyikayaramba. Provincial governors, chiefs and village heads will enforce
local compliance.

Zimbabwe needs around 2 million tonnes of maize a year to feed its
population, but has consistently failed to meet this target since launching
land reform in 2000.

With the planting season upon the country, essential agricultural inputs
such as seed and fertilizer as well as fuel and electricity, are in short
supply everywhere.

Agriculture secretary Renson Gasela of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change faction headed by Arthur Mutambara said the the yield of
maize from the compulsory hectare will only feed the producers and their

Agriculture expert and agronomist Roger Mpande told reporter Blessing Zulu
of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the government plan is simply not

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim's loss, SA's gain

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 23 October

Jocelyn Newmarch and Percy Zvomuya

Zimbabwe has effectively outsourced its economy to South Africa, sending
workers south of the Limpopo to mop up skilled jobs and receiving
$500-million a year in return. Estimates vary, but it is thought Zimbabwean
migrants in South Africa number between 800 000 and three million. They span
the spectrum of skills and income levels, from highly paid professionals to
poorer domestic and restaurant workers. There is also considerable
cross-border trade at an informal level, as Zimbabweans shop for groceries
and tradeable goods in South Africa. A study conducted by the ComMark Trust
last year found that between R15-billion and R20-billion was pumped into
South Africa's economy by other African traders who bought goods here for
sale at home. Although the trade has meant that border towns such as Musina
are booming, most shoppers prefer Johannesburg, where goods are cheaper and
there is more choice. This has boosted local manufacturing and retail,
encouraging local businesses to be set up to support these shoppers.

A recent study conducted by Unisa associate professor Daniel Makina found
that 62% of 4 654 Zimbabweans sampled had completed secondary school; 10%
had a post-secondary school diploma, 3% were artisans, 15% held a
professional qualification such as teaching or nursing and 4% had a
university degree. Makina's results are noteworthy, as his subjects live in
the comparatively low-income areas of Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville in
Johannesburg. But, despite South Africa's desperate skills shortage, many
Zimbabweans feel they are not employed at levels commensurate with their
qualifications. Most work in the automotive industry or the hospitality
sector, said Makina, earning less than R2 000 a month. The majority appear
to be illegal immigrants: of those who participated in the survey, 57% want
refugee status and 36% want work permits. Makina's study found the average
monthly remittance of the 4 654 Zimbabweans surveyed was R290.

Luke Zunga, a Zimbabwean author and businessman, said this means about
$500-million is sent back every year from South Africa. A Harare-based
economist who asked not to be named said that globally about $1-billion is
sent to Zimbabwe a year, although it is difficult to quantify informal
transfers. Zunga said ways should be found to formalise these remittances,
as the amount available on the black market could help sustain the economy.
Most of the money from South Africa is sent informally using taxi and bus
drivers, traders and friends. It finds itself on the black market where the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, when in need of money, has to buy it at a premium.
In addition to cash, many also send clothing and groceries to their
families. The Zimbabwean government has a two-pronged scheme, known as
Homelink, which is meant to attract foreign currency into the formal system.
It has met with a lukewarm reception. Homelink disburses money in local
currency to Zimbabweans abroad who want to acquire property. This money is
repaid in its foreign currency equivalent. The scheme also works as a money
transfer agency.

Recipients receive money at what the bank calls the diaspora rates. On
Wednesday the rate was around Z$35 000 to the rand, while the black market
rate was Z$110 000. The Harare economist said remittances coming from abroad
could not sufficiently plug the holes left by declining exports. He said
Zimbabwe needed $40-million for fuel and $15million for electricity a month.
All in all, the government alone might need in excess of $2billion annually.
Although a significant amount of money is coming in, it is in the parallel
market. Bringing it into the formal market is inflationary, as the Reserve
Bank prints money in order to buy foreign exchange. Black market money could
present a headache for the Zimbabwean finance sector, but earning it in the
first place can be a challenge. Researcher Sally Peberdy, from the South
African Migration Project, said the waiting list for passports in Zimbabwe
runs into years, not months. Others complain that Zimbabweans face more
onerous conditions when applying for visitors' permits to South Africa than
other SADC nationals. Government appears reluctant to employ Zimbabwean
teachers and nurses, despite the shortage. One researcher said it appeared
government did not want to be seen as poaching skills from other African

"Please hold on a moment, I cannot speak now," says Gibbs Chaponda. "I am in
the bank". Chaponda* is depositing money into a friend's South African bank
account. The friend will get the bank details of the intended recipient of
the money in Harare and will pay her at the prevailing black market exchange
rate (1:110 000) on Tuesday in Zimbabwean dollars. Chaponda is a fitter
machinist, now based in Steelport, who worked on the gold mines in Zimbabwe
before he left in 2004. He now works as a maintenance fitter in a smelting
operation. As he is building a house in Zimbabwe, he sends up to R20 000 a
year. Prince Chinyemba* is not so fortunate. He has an IT diploma, but works
as a salesman in a hardware shop in KwaZulu-Natal. "What I do now has
nothing to do with what I did at school," he says. "But it's about
survival." Chinyemba sends about R800 a month to his parents in Zimbabwe. "I
don't like it here, but Zimbabwe is worse." He came to South Africa last

Just about everyone interviewed by the Mail & Guardian did not want to be
identified. Hillary Moyo* is an investment administrator with a leading
financial services institution in Johannesburg. He holds a bachelor of
commerce degree in finance with a background in investment management. "My
position is not consistent with my expertise, but that's a familiar story
for every second Zimbabwean," he says. "I send home about R1 000 a month.
This is mostly in the form of groceries or money or sometimes a combination
of both." He has siblings at home in Zimbabwe and tries "to keep everyone
afloat". This includes his parents, his grandmother and some of his extended
family members. A former security guard and waiter, Moyo bemoans the crisis
that nearly snuffed out his dream of a corporate career. "Being in South
Africa is not a dream come true. It was never a dream. I was educated at
considerable cost to my community and the Zimbabwean government - and
Zimbabwe is not recouping much benefit."

South Africa's tourism and hospitality industry could boast the most
educated workforce on the continent. Nhlanhla Ndebele* has a marketing
qualification, but has worked as a waiter since coming to South Africa in
2002. He sends about R600 every month to his siblings and parents in
Tsholotsho in rural Matebeleland. Vusa Moyo* is one of many in the IT
workforce who has left Zimbabwe, where he used to work for a financial
house. Now a project manager at a local bank, he says that Zimbabwe "lost
out" to South Africa in the technology race. "When I left, the banking
industry was becoming really developed and sophisticated. But when things
imploded, multitudes of professionals fled. Most of the guys fitted in well,
as we were not that far behind the South Africans." This, he says, is the
same scenario in many of the industries - mining, banking and tourism - that
were mature. He sends about R30 000 a year to his relatives in Bulawayo.

Raphael Muhoni* was working as a geographic information systems (GIS)
specialist. His former colleagues earn about Z$16million (R150) a month,
worlds away from the R15 000 he earns in Johannesburg, where he works as a
GIS analyst with a company that deals in industrial minerals, chrome sand,
pigments and ferro-alloys. Simanga is a single mother who works as a
waitress. She uses her earnings to take care of her adolescent son and
commute to Bulawayo to monitor the progress of the three-bedroom house she
is building. Afak Chiutila, a stock controller at a local company, has a
diploma in purchasing and supply and is part of the generation that had it
good before the economy imploded. "I am not that happy because I enjoyed it
before the economy went down." He sends about R8 000 a year to his family. A
father of three, Zvikomborero Nyakudzi lives with his wife and family in
Johannesburg, where he runs a biomedical research consultancy. He sends R30
000 worth of groceries and cash to his parents and siblings in Zimbabwe each
year. "We are here to further our education and better our lives. We are
buying properties in Zimbabwe, which we hope to return to when things
normalise," he says.

* Not their real names

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

RBZ Issues Three-Year Insurance Bond

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

23 October 2007
Posted to the web 23 October 2007


The  Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has issued a three-year variable coupon
Insurance Industry Bond that will seek to mobilise funds to finance
Government's capital projects.

The bond was expected to offer variable coupon interest rates of between 100
and 300 percent payable on a diminishing method. The highest interest will
be paid in the first year. According to a statement issued by the central
bank urging insurance industry companies to subscribe to the bond, the bank
indicated that companies in the industry could offer any amount above $500
million and that the offer would be available everyday. Other salient
features on offer to subscribers under the bond include exemption from
withholding tax, prescribed asset status and liquid asset status.

In addition, the bond would be redeemable or payable at the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe on maturity and could also be used as collateral for repo and
overnight borrowing from the central bank. Pension funds and insurance
companies are required to invest at least 40 percent of their total asset
portfolio in risk-free Government paper such as Treasury bills or bonds.

The issuing of the insurance industry bond is in line with pronouncements by
the RBZ Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, in his Mid-Term Monetary Policy Statement.
Dr Gono blasted insurance firms for betraying the country's economic
turnaround efforts by failing to adequately invest in public sector
instruments. "By their nature, insurance companies and pension funds are
monumental hubs through which long-term capital can be mobilised," said the
governor. "In the case of Zimbabwe, the degree to which this sector has
contributed into the real sector of the economy continues to be drawn back
by a variety of factors. "Non-compliance with stipulated minimum prescribed
assets holdings, and over-concentration of business in non-productive money
market and stock exchange investments.

"As monetary authorities, we have, with immediate effect, established a
standing insurance industry bond, which will be available on a continuous
tap basis, so that industry players can comply with the prescribed asset
holdings requirement at all times." Dr Gono said experience the world over
"shows that insurance companies and pension funds played a pivotal role in
providing development capital, particularly in the real estate sector".
Pension funds and insurance firms have concentrated most of their
investments on the stock market. They control 90 percent of the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange. And, already, insurers and pensions are exempt from the 5
percent capital gains tax levied on stock exchange trades. Government has,
in some instances, failed to raise requisite capital to fund national
projects. The public sector housing bills have not been fully sub-scribed in
many instances.

Financial analysts said the 40 percent rate is fair, but only if interest
rates remained high.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Torture Victims Thank Australia for Its Stand Against Mugabe

SW Radio Africa (London)

23 October 2007
Posted to the web 23 October 2007

Tichaona Sibanda

A group of torture victims have written a letter to the Australian
government, paying tribute to their 'unequivocal show of support for
humanity' and the concrete action the country has taken against the Mugabe

The Johannesburg-based Zimbabwe Political Victims Group, which comprises
victims of torture at the hands of state security agents, thanked the
Australian government for publicly speaking out against Robert Mugabe.

The majority of the members in the group still bear scars after being
severely wounded due to their brutal torture in police cells. They are all
now safe in South Africa having been granted refugee status.

Spokesman for the victims, Remember Moyo, told Newsreel from Johannesburg on
Tuesday that his group commended the Australians for cancelling the visas of
senior Zanu-PF party members' children who were attending universities in
that country.

'These children have to experience the poor service delivery, poor health
delivery, electricity power cuts, and all other well-documented examples of
poor governance by Mugabe and their fathers,' Moyo said.

According to the group, the Australian deputy Ambassador at the Pretoria
Embassy gladly accepted the letter. It was also copied to Australian Prime
Minister John Howard.

Apart from cancelling the students' visas, the Australian government banned
its cricket team from undertaking a tour of Zimbabwe in November.

'We urge the Australian government and all other pro-democracy groups to
continue standing in solidarity with those who have been oppressed. We take
comfort in the actions taken by the Australians and it gives us hope that
what we are fighting for will be achieved sooner rather than later,' added

Moyo said his group is also appalled by the escalating government-instigated
violence targeting all forms of opposition in Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Repairs Underway As Suburbs Go for 10 Days Without Power

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

23 October 2007
Posted to the web 23 October 2007


Some suburbs in the northern part of Harare have been without power for the
past 10 days following a high-voltage cable fault, but the Zimbabwe
Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company says it is working to
restore supplies.

Supplies were, however, restored yesterday evening to some sections in the
Avenues area around Parirenyatwa Hospital, and parts of Avondale and
Belgravia. The other affected areas are Avondale, Milton Park, Belvedere,
Lincoln Green, Ridgeview, Kensington, Strathaven, Meyrick Park, Haig Park,
St Andrew's Park, Sentosa, Mayfield Park, Ridgeway, Sherwood Park, Avondale
West, Alexandra Park and Belgravia.

The areas were cut off 10 days ago after a fault developed on the
high-voltage cable supplying Strathaven Substation. "The fault has, however,
been identified and ZETDC engineers are in the process of restoring power to
the affected areas. "The exercise started late last night (Sunday) and has
been slowed down as engineers are first examining transformers in the
affected areas for possible acts of vandalism before restoring power.

"The exercise is expected to be complete before the weekend," the power
utility said.

Engineers have also identified the site of a high-voltage cable fault
feeding the Dorset Substation and work to fix the fault and restore power to
the network is underway. Areas affected by this fault include Northwood,
Vainona, Mount Pleasant Heights, Marlborough, Ashbrittle, Emerald Hill and
Groombridge. Businesspeople in the areas said they were incurring losses
owing to the power cuts. Some shops at Belgravia Shopping Centre were closed
yesterday with notices that the closure was due to power cuts.

However, some shops and businesses in other areas were operating because
they had generators. But some shop owners said they received sporadic
supplies on Sunday evening.

"We have not received electricity for the past two weeks and we do not know
whether it is still load-shedding or not. Zesa should rectify the problems
because we are losing potential revenue every day. "Every day we are
throwing away perishables and we have since stopped ordering perishable
goods because of the power cuts," said a Food Chain Group supermarket
manager in Ashbrittle.

However, it was brisk business for firewood vendors in the areas as they
were charging up to $500 000 for a small bundle.

"We are spending at least $1 million daily on firewood for cooking and
heating water. The situation has become unbearable," said Mr Tapfuma Murira
of Mount Pleasant.

Back to the Top
Back to Index