Wed 26 October 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party remained divided yesterday but there were signs the two rival
factions in the party were climbing down from their differing positions to
begin work to patch up relations.
The six-year old opposition was on Monday left sharply divided after
nine of the party's 12 provinces sided with secretary general Welshman Ncube
to participate in an election for a new Senate set for November 26.
The other provinces refused to field candidates in the poll in line
with calls by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai to boycott the election.
In the end, the MDC fielded candidates in only 26 of the 50 senate
Party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi, among other senior leaders siding
with Ncube, said while the pro-election group would soon begin mobilising
support for its candidates, the general feeling within the MDC was that the
party should regroup.
"There is a feeling now that we must come together and re-group
instead of spending endless hours bickering. We believe we will be better
off together than separated," Nyathi said.
On the other hand, Tsvangirai, who had said on Monday night that he
did not recognise the MDC candidates in the senate race and was on Tuesday
expected to announce tougher sanctions against those who rebelled against
his order, did not do so.
Instead Tsvangirai's spokesman William Bango and another senior
official of the opposition party Last Maingehama addressed a Press
conference but only threatened to make campaigning difficult for MDC
candidates in the senate election.
"We will make it difficult for those who were nominated to campaign.
They are criminal elements that are not in our structures," said Maingehama,
who is a member of the MDC's national council and is secretary of the party
in Harare province.
Bickering over the senate election has left the MDC on the verge of
splitting along ethnic lines with support for Tsvangirai solid among
Shona-speaking regions of Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai is Shona.
The opposition leader has vehemently opposed participating in the poll
saying it will be rigged by President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF
party. He has also said that the new senate is a waste of resources for a
country that should be putting its energies into fighting hunger threatening
a third of its 12 million people.
But Ncube supported by four of the other most senior leaders of the
MDC insisted the party should contest after its national council narrowly
voted to take part in the poll.
The Ncube faction also argued that the MDC could not surrender
political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting the poll. Support for
Ncube, an Ndebele, has been solid among Ndebele-speaking regions.
Tsvangirai and Ncube, who both deny factionalism in the MDC, also
reject the ethnic dimension to their wrangle.
The MDC, that was forged out of labour and human and civic rights
groups in 1999, has so far posed the greatest threat yet to Mugabe's 25-year
iron grip on power.
Its demise could see Zimbabwe becoming a de facto one-party-state
under Mugabe's ZANU PF party. - ZimOnline
Wed 26 October 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe may have lost close to US$1.5 billion in potential
earnings from tobacco exports over the past five years and the beleaguered
Harare government appears to be finally acknowledging the folly of its
chaotic and often violent land redistribution plan.
After five years of experimenting with an ill-conceived peasant
resettlement programme that saw more than 4 000 white commercial farmers
lose their properties and livelihood, authorities in Harare are finally
admitting the damage caused by their policies and are trying to turn back
the hand of time - albeit a bit too late.
The crescendo of choruses has grown louder by the day for a return to
normalcy in the key agricultural sector, a tacit admission by President
Robert Mugabe's government that its policies of the past few years have
failed to widen land ownership and increase agricultural production.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono last week summed up the
frustration of the authorities when he called for a moratorium on farm
invasions and full utilisation of pieces of land already allocated to
individuals, the bulk of whom are Mugabe's supporters.
Reviewing progress of his 20-month-old economic turnaround programme
last Thursday, Gono - a Mugabe confidante - compared the new holders of land
to the former white commercial farmers and bemoaned the lack of seriousness
on the part of the black farmers and their representative organisations.
"Our liberation struggle and land reform programme was, and remains,
about empowering Zimbabweans economically through the land and its potential
to create jobs, create foreign currency, create our daily food: chicken and
beef, pork, coffee, tea, milk and honey, for instance.
"This is how former holders of land used to employ that land; they
used the land to economically empower themselves, their kiths and kin and,
hence, became a very powerful socio-economic bloc and political pillars of
the government of that day," said Gono.
In a direct attack on the black farmer organisations, Gono said the
previous white farmer bodies were more organised and provided extension
support to their members.
"They also created institutions that ensured financing, logistics,
training and proper land use, surveillance through the mudhumenis and land
inspectors: things we are not doing efficiently today, hence the low yields
of half a tonne per hectare where we should be getting more," said the RBZ
Vice-President Joseph Msika followed up Gono's statement barely 24
hours later, threatening new black landowners that the government would
repossess all under-utilised land.
Economic experts this week noted that Gono's statement and the threats
by Msika were reflective of the general thinking in government and could be
a sign of more drastic action against those found with large tracts of
"The sudden chorus for better utilisation of the allocated pieces of
land is indicative of growing frustration by those in power that a programme
that they thought would provide the basis for the rejuvenation of the
economy had not achieved much except to bring pain and suffering," said an
economist with one of Harare's leading commercial banks.
Zimbabwe is in the throes of its worst economic crisis, which is
marked by runaway inflation and shortages of hard cash to import food and
fuel. More than four million people are in urgent need of food aid to avert
starvation this year.
Consultant economist John Robertson said current shortages of foreign
currency, food and fuel were symptoms of the collapse of agriculture. He
estimates that the country has lost close to US$1.5 billion in potential
tobacco revenue alone between 2001 and this year.
The lost revenue is equivalent to more than a year's supply of fuel
and is more than adequate to meet the country's food and power requirements
for the next few years.
"This is revenue that we could have earned over the years had we not
destroyed the goose that lays the golden egg," Robertson told a recent
conference of medical aid societies and doctors.
Figures from the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association show a gradual decline
in both output and yield levels since the land reform programme started in
2000. Production of the golden leaf has declined from a peak of 236 million
kilogrammes in the 2000/01 season to a paltry 65 million kg last year.
The yield in the small-scale tobacco growing sector has also dropped
from 891 kg a hectare in 2001/02 to 750 kg per hectare in 2004/05.
Small-scale growers now constitute the bulk of tobacco farmers.
Exports of the golden leaf - which at its peak production used to
account for a third of Zimbabwe's foreign currency inflows annually - have
dropped from $663 million in 2000/01 to $104 million during the past
marketing season that ended last month.
Officials have warned that next year could be even worse because of
shortages of fuel and fertilizers, late preparations and labour problems.
For example, the chairman of the government's Tobacco Industry Marketing
Board Njodzi Machirori told state media in a recent interview that the
2005/06 season was likely to be "the worst in history." -ZimOnline
Wed 26 October 2005
MUTARE - Levee Chishawa is a 54-year old headman from Tsuwa village,
some 30 kilometres north of the eastern border city of Mutare.
Chishawa, who wields massive influence in his community, was last
month tasked by the government to mobilise villagers to register for next
month's senate election.
Despite all the hype in the government media on why the Senate is good
for Zimbabweans and incessant bickering in the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party over whether to contest elections for the new
Senate next month, the headman says he has no clue whatsoever what the
senate is all about.
The MDC has been rocked by serious wrangling for the last few weeks
after sharp differences by the party's leadership over whether it should
contest the poll.
The party's leader Morgan Tsvangirai wanted the party to snub the
election while a faction led by secretary general Welshman Ncube was rooting
for participation in the election arguing a boycott of the poll would be to
surrender "political space" to President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF
But 26 candidates from the MDC defied Tsvangirai on Monday when they
filed their papers to stand in the November 26 election, handing victory to
ZANU PF in 19 constituencies where it was unchallenged. The ruling party is
challenged by independent candidates in the remaining five constituencies.
As ZANU PF party celebrated the victory after five MDC provincial
structures heeded Tsvangirai's boycott call, many like Chishawa still wonder
why for the past three months the Senate issue has bombarded them.
"Many of my subjects are unaware of how the Senate will help them.
Even as their headman I do not understand how it will work or who would be
"We all had wished it could have something to do with providing food
for us. The local teachers tell me they are confused as well," says
In rural Zimbabwe, where levels of literacy are very low, teachers are
still regarded as critical opinion makers. But the Senate is puzzling not
only to people in rural areas. Even the more enlightened people from urban
areas say they are at a loss as to what the Senate will serve.
Edmore Chiwara, a nurse from Mutare who is visiting the village and
has for a while quietly listened to our conversation with the headman, chips
in: "It's not only people in villages who do not know about this Senate.
"In town we also don't know how this new senate will solve our
problems. I have not bothered about who is contesting because I will not
vote for something that won't bring bread on my table."
Zimbabwe is going through a severe economic recession blamed on Mugabe's
seizure five years ago of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless
The farm seizures slashed Zimbabwe's food production by 60 percent
resulting in the country, once regarded as a bread basket in southern
Africa, depending on food handouts from international donors.
Inflation stands at 359.8 percent, one of the highest such rates in
the world. Fuel, essential medicines and basic
foodstuffs are also in short supply because there is no hard cash to
pay foreign suppliers.
Mugabe denies ruining the economy which was one of the strongest in
Africa at independence from Britain 25
years ago, blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and its Western
allies whom he says are unhappy over his farm seizure programme.
Whoever is to blame for the grinding economic crisis, many ordinary
Zimbabweans across the political divide appear certain about one issue: that
the new Senate is a dead horse which is of interest only to their out of
touch political leaders.
As lawyer and political analyst, Archibald Gijima, puts it: "Most
Zimbabweans see no need for this Senate. None view it as significant. It
therefore comes as a surprise to MDC supporters that their party leaders are
at each other's throats over a dead issue.
"ZANU PF supporters do not understand the need (of a Senate) either .
the Senate is a dead issue when compared with the critical issues facing
Zimbabweans." - ZimOnline
Wed 26 October 2005
HARARE - A child dies in Zimbabwe every 15 minutes due to
HIV/AIDS-related illnesses, a top United Nations Children and Education Fund
(UNICEF) official said in Harare on Tuesday.
UNICEF programme officer Roeland Monasch also said at least 110
Zimbabwean children aged 15 or below got infected by HIV every day as the
deadly epidemic ravages the crisis-riddled southern African country that has
one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates in the world.
"A child here dies every 15 minutes due to AIDS," said Monasch, who
was speaking at the launch of UNICEF and UNAIDS' global campaign to
invigorate action for the millions of children affected by HIV/AIDS.
The UNICEF official added: "This year 160 000 children will experience
the death of a parent. I have personally seen these impacts of AIDS."
In a speech read on his behalf, Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche
said the cash-strapped Harare government required help from international
donors to more effectively intervene on HIV/AIDS.
He said: "With support from development partners, in particular UNICEF
and all development agencies, Zimbabwe should be able to make significant,
practical, measurable and sustainable contribution, first of all at
community level where the children (infected with HIV) are, then nationally
Zimbabwe is at the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in southern
Africa with at least a quarter of its 12 million people estimated to be
infected with the deadly virus. The disease is said to kill at least 3 000
Zimbabweans every week.
A six-year old economic crisis that has seen the public health sector
collapse due to lack of funding while essential medical drugs are in
critical short supply has only helped exacerbate the HIV/AIDS epidemic in
Food shortages affecting an estimated four million Zimbabweans have
also worsened the situation with malnutrition-related diseases combining
with HIV/AIDS to claim thousands of lives.
Critics blame the economic and food crisis on mismanagement and
repression by President Robert Mugabe citing, for example, his chaotic and
often violent seizure of land from whites which destabilised the
agricultural sector causing a 60 percent drop in food output.
Mugabe denies mismanaging Zimbabwe and says the country's economic
problems are because of sabotage by Britain and its Western allies out to
punish his government for seizing land from whites and giving it over to
landless blacks. - ZimOnline
Wed 26 October 2005
HARARE - The Zimbabwe government has relaxed duty on fuel imports by
individuals in yet another desperate attempt to ease a six-year shortage of
diesel and petrol that has worsened in recent months threatening to bring
the country to a complete halt.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) spokesperson Priscilla Sadomba this
week said individuals are now allowed to import up to 2 000 litres of diesel
or petrol per month without an import licence and at a concessionary duty of
only five percent.
Previously individuals required a permit to import the same amount of
fuel per month and would pay a prohibitive 65 percent duty.
Sadomba said: "The critical shortage of fuel products have made us
reduce the rates of duty for imports for private use by individuals from a
flat rate of 65 percent to only five percent."
Zimbabwe's fuel crisis is a result of an acute foreign currency
shortage that has also caused shortages of food, essential medical drugs,
electricity and almost every other basic commodity because there is no hard
cash to pay foreign suppliers.
An estimated four million Zimbabweans or about a quarter of the
country's 12 million people urgently require more than one million tonnes of
food aid or they will starve.
The fuel crisis is threatening to derail the farming season that
begins in less than two weeks' time with seed and fertilizer suppliers
unable to move vital inputs to farms because there is no fuel.
Farm operations also face major disruption because of diesel
shortages. President Robert Mugabe last month told Zimbabweans that diesel
and petrol supplies would improve within "two weeks" but the situation
remains unchanged with only a handful of garages across the country able to
supply fuel. - ZimOnline
Wed 26 October 2005
HARARE - Tanzania's President Benjamin Mkapa on Monday said he will
not succumb to pressure from the West to condemn President Robert Mugabe
whom he described as an "elder" statesman.
Speaking at a farewell banquet in Harare, Mkapa said the new crop of
African leaders must emulate Mugabe who has refused to be dictated to by
former colonial powers in Europe.
"There are governments - some of them very good friends and
development partners of ours - which are upset with me because of my
steadfast refusal to censure the Zimbabwe government for what they claim are
human rights abuses and democratic deficits in this country," he said.
Tanzania like the rest of the southern African region, has
consistently defended Mugabe, who is accused by the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change party and major Western governments of serious human
rights violations and failure to uphold democracy.
"I think we have reached a point where... we have agreed to disagree
on Zimbabwe," said Mkapa.
He said new African leaders on the continent must be guided by
"elders" such as Mugabe.
"A new leadership is emerging in Africa that cannot accept tutelary
relationships with our erstwhile colonisers, a new leadership which should
rather listen to its elders such as President Mugabe, thus being faithful to
the counsel of Africa," he said. Mugabe, who is revered in some parts of
Africa, is accused by critics of ruining Zimbabwe which was one of the
strongest economies in Africa at independence from Britain 25 years ago.
Zimbabwe is going through a severe economic recession blamed on Mugabe's
seizure of white-owned land for redistribution to landless blacks five years
ago. Fuel, food and medicines are all in critical short supply with
inflation standing at 359.8 percent, one of the highest rates in the world.
Mugabe denies ruining the country blaming the country's economic woes
on sabotage by Western governments which he says are unhappy over his land
reform policies. - ZimOnline
Tue Oct 25, 2005 3:36 PM GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's dollar plunged 66 percent on the
newly-launched interbank market on Tuesday, a tumble which will push up
inflation but should permit a desperately needed rise in exports.
Analysts had expected the currency to weaken quickly under the new system,
which officially started last Friday
There had been no trade until now as banks said they were still awaiting
more central bank clarification on how the market would function. However, a
small number of banks began trading on Tuesday.
The Zimbabwe dollar was quoted at around 76,029 to the dollar at noon
against 26,004 at recent Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) managed auctions --
closer to the 90,000 rate offered on a thriving black market.
Zimbabwe has suffered chronic foreign currency shortages over the last 6
years, one of the most visible signs of its worst economic crisis since
independence from Britain 25 years ago.
The RBZ last week announced initial steps towards a managed floating
exchange rate system which would determine the exchange rate for the local
dollar, although exporters still have to remit 30 percent of their earnings
at the official auction rate.
A selection of commercial banks contacted by Reuters were quoting the
Zimbabwe currency in a 60,000 to 78,305 range on Tuesday, with the central
bank pegging the average at 76,029.
"There is still a bit of caution in the market because there are a number
outstanding issues which we need to clarify with the Reserve Bank," a dealer
at a Harare bank told Reuters, without giving details.
Under the new system, local banks are required to sell all excess funds
daily to the central bank at the new average market rate, whose calculation
dealers said remained hazy.
Analysts said the cautious stance taken by most banks could signal low
confidence in the system, but added this should improve if there is no
interference from authorities.
The analysts said the local unit would trade at no more than 84,000 to the
greenback in the short-term, gradually weakening in the long-run, which
would lift exports and stabilise the battered Zimbabwe dollar in the longer
"There is no confidence yet in the system but if market forces are left to
determine the exchange rate this will trigger exporters to produce and
thereby improve official inflows," Witness Chinyama, chief economist at
Kingdom Bank, told Reuters.
"Initially the weakening currency will be inflationary but as inflows
improve this will stabilise the exchange rate and inflation."
But dealers said black market activity would continue since official avenues
would not meet the higher appetite for imports.
25/10/2005 16:12 - (SA)
Harare - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was
split down the middle on Tuesday, a day after 26 of its supporters defied
leader Morgan Tsvangirai by registering to stand in upcoming senate
Twenty-six MDC candidates were approved in seven of the country's 10
provinces to stand in the November 26 poll.
Tsvangirai had called for an outright boycott of the election, saying it
would be skewed in favour of President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.
Tsvangirai's spokesperson William Bango said the candidates would not
receive support for their campaigns as they had breached party regulations.
Procedures 'not followed'
He said: "The MDC has specific candidate selection procedures that have
stood the test of time. Those procedures were not followed.
"The party didn't nominate those candidates. The party is not going to
campaign for them."
The six-year-old opposition party had been deeply divided over the issue of
participation in elections.
Those in favour said the party had to prevent Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) from gaining more ground in
parliament, where it already had a two-thirds majority.
But, Tsvangirai said the MDC should not participate because Zimbabwe's
electoral system "breeds illegitimate outcomes".
Party spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi on Tuesday brushed aside Tsvangirai's
criticism of the election candidates saying they were genuine party
He said: "My task now is to ensure that those candidates that have been
selected receive adequate support and take Zanu-PF head on.
"That is where the battle against Zanu-PF is going to be."
The University of Zimbabwe's political science lecturer John Makumbe said
that, despite differences among the party's leadership, the MDC's still
enjoyed significant popular support.
'Grassroots is very solid'
Makumbe said: "It is unfortunate in that it has split the party in terms of
the methodology of resolving the Zimbabwe crisis", while maintaining "the
grassroots is very solid".
Makumbe said he believed those wanting to participate were looking at
possible regional gains for the party or, in some cases, personal gains.
He said for instance, candidates from the Matabeleland provinces in western
Zimbabwe wanted to prevent Zanu-PF from gaining a foothold in their area
through the senate.
He said: "The people who are saying, 'Let's participate' are thinking
regionally or personally.
"Those against participation are thinking in terms of the national
Movement for Democratic Change
Cnr Angwa St / Nelson Mandela Ave, Harare
email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.mdczimbabwe.com
It doesn't take rocket science to tie up the Reserve Bank Governor's call
for self-appraisal at the end of the latest Monetary Policy Statement with
the catalogue of policy-induced economic problems at the beginning. We have
to soldier on, Gono says, but let's all be clear that it's the wooden spoon
that he's carrying for his efforts so far.
The statement is as bombastic as its predecessors, but this time does
contain some interesting tacit admissions for the vigilant reader. Take,
for example, the description of past monetary policy as "eclectic". In
context, this is an admission that the Governor has had scant idea of what
to do and has stumbled from one position to another in the setting of
interest rates, doling out of subsidised credit, and manipulating the
foreign currency market.
Now he's turned into an under-prepared pupil of the IMF, which has been
calling for the adoption of a "nominal anchor". This Gono says is to be the
increase in Reserve Money which is targeted to reduce from 280% in October
2005 to 50% in December 2006. The brief mention of the way in which this is
supposed to be achieved gives no assurance to the markets that the Reserve
Bank has any real grasp of what is needed in the face of the already high
inflation and growing inflationary pressures.
The glaring inconsistency is the continued overspending on the fiscal side.
Gono recently raised interest rates on overnight accommodation loans to over
400% in a bid to curb inflation, but continued excessive expenditure by the
public sector will simply negate monetary attempts to control inflation.
For 2005, the Minister of Finance projected a budget deficit of 8.7% in his
August statement, but this is in no way consistent with the intent of the
tightened monetary policy. With 30 and 91 day Treasury Bills at 260% and
265% respectively, there is significant feedback from the tightening of
monetary policy to the budget.
The IMF is projecting a deficit of 14.3% of GDP for 2005, mainly due the
higher interest charges and increased food imports (although it now seems
likely that food imports will be inadequate, so the budget impact will be
circumscribed but at the cost of people's lives). There are also huge
unbudgeted 'quasi-fiscal' expenditures which destabilise the monetary base
and cause high inflation. These include the colossal subsidies being
incurred by GMB, ZESA, TelOne, NRZ and other parastatals.
The most significant change in this week's Monetary Policy Statement was the
scrapping of the foreign exchange auction system at least in respect of the
procurement of foreign currency for imports. Exporters still have to remit
30% of their earnings at a so-called 'Auction Rate' - there's another tactic
admission that the rate has all along been set by RBZ and has never been the
outcome of any kind of bidding process.
It is particularly important for exporters to be easily able to obtain the
forex they need for their imported input and thereby be able to respond to
the improved incentives to export. The acid test of the changes announced
is whether they encourage the growth of foreign exchange revenues. The
figures presented show that foreign exchange earnings for the year are well
below half of what they were in 1996, while imports are still in excess of
earnings, adding to the country's arrears. Unless and until the flow of
foreign currency improves, the economy is going to continue to contract,
with more poverty unemployment and misery in store for its victimised
By liberalising the exchange regime to at least 70% Gono has thrown in his
last dice. We have always made it clear that the economy cannot be
addressed by piecemeal and eclectic measures. We always made it clear that
this economy is in structural crisis whose resolution is conditioned upon a
decisive political and constitutional settlement. Gono is sadly realising
that merely laying one's hands in cosmetic fashion, on this economy is
simply not good enough. He may have postponed the inevitable but sooner
rather than later this regime will dispense with him or he himself will see
the light and voluntarily resign.
His slogan "Failure is not an option" is now a shallow empty jingle. The
reality is that failure is the religion and Zanu PF is the temple that Gono
has been practising this religion.
MDC Secretary for Economic Affairs
25 October 2005
The Harare Province of the Movement for Democratic Change wishes to express
its revulsion at attempts by some misguided elements in the party to impose
individuals in the city as candidates of the MDC in the forthcoming
elections of the Senate.
For the record, Harare does not support the Zanu PF and CIO Senate project.
Harare is very clear about this negative development in our nation's
Harare has no candidates for the Senate. There was neither a primary
election nor a meeting at which anyone was chosen by consensus or nominated
by anyone in the structures for the candidature of the Senate.
We hear that some political adventurers were bussed in from Mashonaland East
to register in Harare's constituencies. Our structures have nothing to do
Our structures jealously guard their space from such invaders and have vowed
to make it impossible for them to campaign against the people's struggle for
democracy in the city.
As the leadership of the province, we shall refrain from counseling patience
among the MDC supporters should their peace be disturbed by anyone under the
guise of a campaign for a Senatorial seat using the MDC as a springboard.
What is particularly worrying is the information we received indicating that
some of these candidates were brought into the city by the CIO and driven to
the nomination court a few minutes before 4pm yesterday.
This shows that there is a broad CIO plot to tarnish the image of Harare. We
shall resist that.
We have been assured by our colleagues in Chitungwiza, Mashonaland West,
Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Masvingo, both Midlands
South and North and Matabeleland North that no primary elections were
conducted in those areas and that party structures have resolved to have
nothing to do with the campaign for the Senate.
This means Harare and the real MDC are united. We are solidly behind our
President Morgan Tsvangirai in the crusade for a new, people-driven,
publicly endorsed Constitution for a new Zimbabwe.
We pledge to join the rest of the country in the fight for a new
Constitution and for meaningful democratic change.
Our campaign for democratic resistance is gathering momentum and we shall
show leadership as the capital city in this struggle.
We swear to protect the party from elements keen to destabilize it.
I thank you
Secretary, Harare Province, MDC.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - Web posted at 7:08:41 GMT
MAIN street names invariably reflect a country's current political
situation and many of the street names in Namibia were deemed politically
incorrect after Independence.
These street names were changed at an enormous cost to the country and
its taxpayers, even in the case where it changed the character of a town,
However, the general feeling was that these changes and costs were
necessary to honour those people who have played a major role in the
establishment of an enlightened and equal society.
Those Namibians, like our former President, Mr Nujoma and even people
from other countries, like Nelson Mandela, who have fought against the
oppression of people were honoured, and rightly so.
However, we have also named one of our most beautiful and important
streets after a man who no longer stands for fairness and freedom.
I am, of course referring to Robert Mugabe.
Surely, this Avenue could be renamed in the spirit of democracy.
I suggest that we honour our new President, Hifikepunye Pohamba, who
has, so far, shown us his character, his strength and leadership abilities
in a positive and impressive way.
In his indiscriminate fight against corruption, he has done much to
unite the people of Namibia.
I would therefore much rather see his name on my way to work every
day, than that of the tyrant, Robert Mugabe.
I Preis Via Email
Reporters without borders
25 October 2005
Reporters Without Borders voiced relief today that the Zimbabwean
authorities have abandoned the prosecution of 44 Daily News journalists who
were to have been tried by a Harare court on 12 October on charges of
working without an accreditation issued by the Media and Information
Commission, the government-controlled body set up to regulate the news
The 44 journalist and their defence lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, went to the
court on 12 October but none of the court officials including the judge in
charge of the case knew about the hearing.
The head of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), which publishes the
Daily News, said the attorney-general's office evidently decided it could
not continue the prosecution after Kelvin Jakachira, the first Daily News
journalist to tried on these charges, was acquitted on 31 August. "The
government is too embarrassed to proceed with the prosecution so they
decided to let the case slowly die a natural death," the head of the ANZ
The Tide News
. Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Recently, I spoke with a senior editor who had just returned from an
international media conference in London. He told me it was an unusual
meeting because the 9/11 attacks, the war in Iraq, and the July 7 attacks in
London have put our brothers in the West in a quandary. After 9/11,
governments in many "old democracies" had introduced anti-terrorism laws
that had curtailed civil liberties, including Press freedom.
When the US and UK led the invasion of Iraq, as we all know, many
journalists jumped in bed with the militaries, not only as "embedded"
journalists, but the whole new environment created by the "war against
terror" turned many journalists into uncritical hacks for their governments.
The editor said that at the meeting, there was a sense of gloom. The
old certainties that some democratic societies had achieved Press and
political freedom, and that these gains were irreversible, had disappeared.
"The Western journalists were shy. They were embarrassed to lecture
the rest about freedom and democracy, because they could no longer offer
their societies as an example."
There are many ways you can read that. My own sense is that in the
post-9/11 world, the debate about Press freedom has changed in very
fundamental ways. While in the past we might have argued with our Western
colleagues about whether their model of Press freedom was the best, today we
argue about whether Press freedom is possible at all anywhere.
Where in the past we monitored to see where Press freedom would arrive
next, today we can barely keep pace with the places where it is under
threat. This is a little exaggerated, perhaps because there are countries,
including a handful in Africa, where Press freedom thrives, and the promise
of its further expansion is real - but the overall trend of the last five
years is disheartening.
The knock-on effect of this in Africa is severe: Because we still had
many - in fact most - of our countries with a horrible record on Press
freedom, the growing abundance of cases of press freedom reversals and new
media controls have set our struggle decades back.
The second major problem is that, today there seems to be less
awareness of the difficulties in which independent journalists work in
Africa. When a journalist is murdered today, or a newspaper office fire
bombed, it doesn't reverberate around the world as much as it would have
done 10 years.
One reason is that people are buried in a jungle of various media; on
the Internet, pay TV, and the thousands of independent FM stations that have
sprouted in Africa over the last 10 years, and there is no disruption to the
supply, they aren't aware that a journalist has been killed somewhere. In
the times when the media offerings were less, and therefore the news space
wasn't crowded, they might have noticed.
Now the US might afford some reversals, but it won't have the same
effect. First, the big corporations that now own the media were already
pushing for a less aggressive type of journalism anyway.
But Africa, where many countries have barely built their democracy,
where there are sometimes no independent newspapers or radios as in Eritrea,
we can't afford to have the door shut on press freedom even before it has
The dangers that lie ahead for Africa came home to us in Nairobi
during the International Press Institute Congress and World Assembly in
June. We all knew about the plight of our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe.
And we thought we knew it all. But when we heard testimony from
Zimbabwe, we were shamed into the realisation that we didn't know even half
of how bad the media situation there is.
We heard shocking testimonies from The Gambia of editors being shot to
death in the streets and printing presses being firebombed. In this case,
hardly any of us had heard of it. We learnt of crackdowns on the independent
media in Ethiopia that we thought had gone out with the end of Mengistu's
IPI also hightlighted yet another home truth, and one we've, perhaps
out of embarrassment, continued to close our eyes to - the atrocious
reporting of Africa by Western reporters and our seeming inability to
marshal our resources to give our continent a better face. Africa needs to
be celebrated and mourned in equal measure, but this balance is always
lacking in international media coverage because that coverage is informed by
a skewed and self-serving agenda.
It was against this background that, as Chairman of IPI, I suggested
an extraordinary meeting of African editors to discuss these problems. Just
to stay with the problem of Press freedom abuses, one of the conclusions we
have come up with is that, this is off our radar because no one is
monitoring it in a systematic way in the same way Freedom House, for example
is doing, although there is a serious problem with their methodology.
I am glad that MISA has been involved in a partnership to develop an
African Media Barometre. We need to measure the state of press freedom in
Africa in a structured way, because if we can't measure it, we can't manage
the fight for media rights in an informed way. But it is even more important
that this be comprehensive, so that we have a survey for all of Africa's 53
countries and territories. If we leave anyone out, we shall take longer to
The Highway Africa provides a good context to raise a related and
important question. How can we use the new technologies now available to
better track and campaign for Press freedom in Africa? What opportunities
does it provide us to break the stranglehold of repressive governments on
the management of news in their countries?
Equally important, is the question of media coverage of the continent?
What can African editors do to reduce their reliance on self-serving content
generated by outsiders about their neighbourhood? How can we make the
freedom monitoring and the development of more balanced coverage of Africa
Take some of these thoughts away with you and over the next few weeks,
think of what we can do to prevent Africa being buried behind walls of
secrecy in this technology age. Nation Media Group for its past is willing
to invest its own resources, and to mobilise support to organise a meeting
to discuss these issues and existing initiatives. So when that call comes
for the conference to discuss what, for us here, is our daily bread, we hope
you will say yes, and arrive with some bright ideas.
Kiboro, CEO of Nation Media Group, Nairobi, Kenya, presented this
speech at the Highway Africa 2005 Conference at Rhodes University,
Grahamstown, South Africa.
October 25 2005 at 02:01AM
Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has disowned 27
members of his own party, including the chief executive of the banned Daily
News, Sam Sipepa Nkomo.
They defied his boycott call and registered to take part in senate
elections next month.
Tsvangirai's spokesperson, William Bango, said the Movement for
Democratic Change did not recognise the candidatures of the 27 party members
confirmed by the nomination court as candidates last night.
Fifty senate seats are up for grabs, and Zanu-PF fielded candidates in
all the constituencies.
"Mr Tsvangirai does not recognise their candidatures... They are not
MDC candidates. They are on their own," said Bango, adding that the 27
candidates had also not been nominated in line with the party's procedures
and standards, making their candidatures "illegitimate".
But in a sign of seemingly irreconcilable rifts, MDC spokesperson Paul
Themba Nyathi dismissed Tsvangirai's position and insisted that the 27 were
official party members and their candidatures were legitimate.
Nyathi said that the decision of the 66-member MDC national executive
committee, which voted by a narrow two votes in favour of participating in
the senate poll, still stood and Tsvangirai couldn't overrule it.
Tsvangirai had written to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
advising it not to accept any nominations from anyone claiming to represent
the MDC as the party was not contesting the polls, but the highly
politicised ZEC, staffed with President Robert Mugabe's cronies, ignored
Tsvangirai and proceeded to accept the nominations.
Nkomo, the chief executive of the banned Daily News, Zimbabwe's
biggest and only independent newspaper until its banning, was one of the
most recognisable faces among the MDC candidates who filed nomination papers
It is not clear how his decision to plunge himself into politics would
affect his paper's bid to get back onto the streets. The Daily News is still
fighting in the courts to get a government licence to resume publishing.
The government banned it in September 2003 because of its refusal to
apply for a licence to operate. It accused the paper of being an opposition
mouthpiece. Nyathi said only two out of the MDC's 10 provinces had not put
forward candidates for registration.
Analysts said it was difficult to see how the MDC would ever recover
from its current quagmire to pose a serious threat to Zanu-PF again.
"The party now needs a thorough restructuring. It cannot proceed and
survive in this chaos that it has created for itself," said civic leader
a.. This article was originally published on page 6 of The Star on
October 25, 2005
Posted to the web on: 25 October 2005
EFFORTS by President Thabo Mbeki to ease the discord in Zimbabwe's Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) foundered at the weekend following a snub by the
opposition party's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
MDC leaders have been at each other's throats for the greater part of this
year as two factions - one led by Tsvangirai and the other led by
secretary-general Welshman Ncube - battle for control of the party.
At issue is Tsvangirai's management style, participation in the upcoming
senate elections and allegations of financial impropriety.
Mbeki, who is struggling to kickstart his diplomatic offensive in Zimbabwe,
was drawn into the MDC saga by the Ncube faction, which visited SA last
But Tsvangirai refused to attend Mbeki's meeting, claiming there was no
crisis in the MDC.
Sources said Mbeki telephoned Tsvangirai on Thursday and Friday asking him
to attend a meeting with other top officials, but he refused.
Only four senior MDC leaders, deputy president Gibson Sibanda, Ncube, deputy
secretarygeneral Gift Chimanikire and treasurer Fletcher Dulini Ncube,
attended Mbeki's meeting.
Other sources said Tsvangirai snubbed Mbeki because of a perception that the
president was "very close" to Ncube and had met the secretary-general more
often than he had met Tsvangirai.
The source said Tsvangirai had raised the issue of Mbeki's closeness to
Ncube with former South African ambassador to Zimbabwe Jeremiah Ndou.
"During last week's meeting Mbeki phoned Tsvangirai requesting him to accept
his invitation for a meeting, but he refused. Tsvangirai, in his own words
to Mbeki, said the MDC crisis was a storm in a teacup," a source said.
"Mbeki said during the meeting it was imperative for the MDC to sort out its
crisis because a split of the party or collapse would take Zimbabwe years
backwards to the dark days of a de facto one party state."
Yesterday, senior party member and MP Job Sikhala (pictured left) issued a
statement alleging his party had received $2,5m in illegal funding from
Ghana, Nigeria and Taiwan.William Bango, spokesperson for Tsvangirai denied
this, saying Sikhala was "out of line".
Zimbabwe's Political Parties Act prohibits parties from receiving foreign
funding. Sikhala was adamant, however, that the latest funding came from the
governments of Ghana and Nigeria three months ago. "All this fighting in the
party is over money," he said.
"It's not about the senate elections or the interests of the people of
Zimbabwe. Rather, senior party leaders are angry because of $500000 from the
West African state (Ghana), which was misappropriated by a senior official.
"Donor funding has been drying up of late and our leaders are now busy
fighting over the little money that has been coming in."
Yesterday, Ncube's camp defiantly registered candidates to contest next
month's senate election.
This despite an order by Tsvangirai not to legitimise participation in a
hostile environment that "breeds illegitimate outcomes".
But Mugabe has been having a field day ridiculing Tsvangirai, saying his
actions were the antithesis of democracy, which he claimed to be fighting
October 25 2005 at 07:25AM
Harare - A Harare businessman linked to President Robert Mugabe's
nephew, who is accused of illegally exporting flour, has appeared in a
Zimbabwe court on similar charges, the state-owned Herald said on Tuesday.
Passmore Chigwanda was charged with breaching Zimbabwe's Customs and
Excise Act and released on bail of ZIM$50 million (about R12 500), the paper
He is due to appear in court again on November 9.
The Herald said Chigwanda secured a contract in September to supply
flour to Zambia but did not have any of the wheat product in supply.
He was directed to Mugabe's company which sold him 600 bags of wheat
flour, it said.
"It is then alleged he instructed a driver to smuggle the flour
through Nyamapanda Border Post," on the border with Mozambique and then to
Zambia, the newspaper said.
Chigwanda and a Zambian national allegedly lied to customs officials,
telling them the consignment consisted of cement.
The truck was involved in an accident on the way to Zambia and was
A police investigation then stumbled onto the scam, the paper said.
The president's nephew, Leo Mugabe, the former chairperson of the
Zimbabwe Football Association, is facing similar charges. He allegedly
illegally exported 30 tons of flour.
Mugabe, who is the son of the president's sister, and his wife
appeared before the Harare magistrate's court last Thursday on charges of
smuggling flour at a time when Zimbabwe is reeling under food shortages.
They are facing fraud and smuggling charges over the deal and are also
accused of breaching the country's grain trade laws.
Trading in maize, wheat and their by-products has to be cleared by the
country's sole grain marketer, the Grain Marketing Board.
All these commodities are in short supply, with aid agencies
estimating that one-third of Zimbabwe's 13 million residents require food
President Mugabe last year launched an anti-corruption campaign under
which several senior government officials, including a cabinet minister,
have been arrested and charged for various economic crimes.
October 25, 2005
Harare, Zimbabwe - Trade in foreign currency at commercial banks in Zimbabwe
following the easing of tight exchange controls has got off to a slow start,
according to local reports on Tuesday.
The state-controlled Herald reported that only two commercial banks in the
capital Harare were Monday buying foreign currency at rates between 75,000
and 100,000 Zimbabwe to the U.S. dollar.
"Kingdom Bank was buying the U.S. dollar at between 90,000 and
100,000 Zimbabwe dollars depending on the volume of funds while, FBC Bank
was quoted at 76,800," it said.
Previously, commercial banks could only buy foreign currency at rates
determined by auctions managed by the central bank. This saw the Zimbabwe
dollar pegged at around 26,000 Zimbabwe dollars to the greenback.
The Herald said other commercial banks were still trading at the old rate of
26,000 to the U.S. dollar.
In a bid to end chronic foreign currency shortages, Reserve Bank Governor
Gideon Gono last week said exchange rates would no longer be set by the
country's two-year old foreign currency auctions.
He said the new rates would be determined by a "market-determined rate on
the interbank market". Under the system individuals and companies with
foreign currency accounts will be allowed to trade their money with banks on
the interbank market.
The fixed exchange rate had been blamed for fuelling the black market in
foreign currency, and starving official channels of hard currency needed to
purchase vital imports for Zimbabwe such as food, fuel and medicines.
Economists have cautiously welcomed the new system, saying it is more in
line with the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
However, since the new exchange rate system was introduced on Thursday,
little trading appears to be taking place. Several banks are "awaiting the
outcome of meetings held late last week with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe",
the Herald said.
There are fears here that the exchange rate will not be allowed to float
freely. President Robert Mugabe's government is wary about some economic
reforms that might see prices escalate way beyond the reach of the majority
of the country's 11.6 million people, 80 per cent of whom are estimated to
live in poverty.
Zimbabwe has suffered from more than five years of economic decline. Annual
inflation is currently estimated at close to 360
per cent, one of the highest rates in the world.
The country, which recently staved off expulsion from the IMF by paying some
of its debt arrears, is keen to get back into the good books of the
international lender. - Sapa-dpa