October 27, 2008, 06:00
South African President Kgalema Motlanthe says the SADC
mediator, former SA president Thabo Mbeki, has told him the allocation of
cabinet ministries, which is causing the deadlock, could be settled today.
A crucial Southern African Development Community summit
meeting on Zimbabwe starts in Harare today. The summit was called in an
effort to break the deadlock over Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal.
It had to be rescheduled when opposition MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai boycotted the first summit in Swaziland a week ago. He pulled out
in protest at being granted last-minute temporary travel documents instead
of a passport.
Motlanthe and Mbeki will fly to Harare this morning to
join the leaders of Swaziland, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
They will meet Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader
of a smaller MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara.
The MDC says there's no agreement on the allocation of
more than 10 ministries. The ruling Zanu-PF party claims only one, the Home
Affairs portfolio, is in dispute.
There is hope that Zimbabwe's rival parties will finally
reach agreement on the distribution of Cabinet portfolios today.
Oct 27, 2008 5:52 PM
Southern African leaders meet in Harare on Monday to try to salvage a
power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, and rescue Zimbabwe's economy from free-fall.
Political analysts say the chances of the regional summit breaking an
impasse over the allocation of cabinet posts depends on how much pressure
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) can put on Mugabe and
Tsvangirai to compromise.
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a presidential election on March 29 but by too
few votes to avoid a run-off in June, which Mugabe won unopposed after
Tsvangirai pulled out, saying his supporters had been subjected to violence
Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed an agreement to form a unity government on
September 15 under the mediation of former South African President Thabo
Mbeki, but this has stalled over a dispute over the allocation of key
Weeks of negotiations failed to break the impasse and the rival leaders
agreed that the SADC should convene an emergency summit on the dispute.
Tsvangirai, leader of the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
opposition group, boycotted the first summit in Swaziland a week ago, saying
Mugabe's government had refused to grant him a passport and instead gave him
only an emergency travel document to attend the talks.
On Monday, Tsvangirai will join Mugabe, Arthur Mutambara of a smaller MDC
faction, Mbeki and leaders from South Africa, Swaziland, Angola and the
Democratic Republic of Congo at the rescheduled summit in Harare.
Tsvangirai, set to become prime minister if a power-sharing government takes
office - says he will not be bullied into an administration in which he will
have little authority.
He accuses Mugabe of trying to make him a junior partner with control over
less important ministries.
In turn, Mugabe's ZANU-PF accuses Tsvangirai of seeking a power transfer,
not a power-sharing arrangement, and of stalling the talks to try to drag in
the United Nations to mediate.
"On the face of it, you get an impression there will be no deal, but it's a
50-50 affair," said Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National
Constitutional Assembly, a political pressure group.
"I think both parties realise that the region, and that many Zimbabweans
want some kind of settlement," he told Reuters.
"But the greater pressure will be on Tsvangirai because many SADC leaders
believe that Mugabe has already climbed down low enough."
In the past Mugabe, who is 84 and has been Zimbabwe's sole ruler since its
independence from Britain in 1980, has vowed that Tsvangirai will never get
Mugabe dismisses Tsvangirai as a "pathetic Western puppet" while the
56-year-old opposition chief calls him a "raving old man with nothing to
John Makumbe, a veteran political commentator and Mugabe critic, said
Monday's meeting would fail if SADC leaders resorted to their traditional
support for Mugabe.
"It is Mugabe who needs pressure not Tsvangirai, and it is the people of
Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe economy who need the support of SADC to survive,"
Political analysts say the September 15 power-sharing agreement is
Zimbabwe's best hope for rescuing an economy in free-fall, with fuel and
food in scarce supply while inflation stands at 231 million percent.
Monday, 27 October 2008
In the seven weeks since the signing of a power-sharing agreement in Harare, the poisonous relationship between Zimbabwe's political parties has continued to sour.
What some hailed as a "miracle" has stalled over the allocation of cabinet portfolios between Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
A regional summit on the deadlock is due to open on Monday in Harare as power sharing for President Mugabe so far does not extend to giving the prime minister designate - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai - freedom of movement.
Having spent the last few years canvassing support abroad, Mr Tsvangirai's passport ran out of pages earlier this year and the Zimbabwean immigration authorities are refusing to give him a new one.
Such is the toxic atmosphere that an issue that had previously just been an irritant to the MDC has become a major obstacle to further talks.
The MDC refused to attend a regional meeting in Swaziland last week unless this was resolved.
"The denial of that passport is a symptom of the real problem in Zimbabwe," said MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti.
"Despite the Global Political Agreement on 15 September there is no readiness on the part of Zanu-PF to enter into co-operative government with Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC."
'Go to hell'
In the week that followed the breakdown of former South African President Thabo Mbeki's latest negotiations in Harare, a copy of the facilitation document was leaked to the press.
It contains Mr Mbeki's proposals to the parties and is a revealing insight into what the mediator regards as a fair deal.
When Mr Mugabe unilaterally announced his cabinet the opposition condemned it as "a power grab, not power sharing".
Those words were echoed by EU foreign ministers, but Mr Mbeki's proposals only differ slightly from Mr Mugabe's list.
Just two ministerial allocations have been changed. The finance ministry was awarded to the MDC, while home affairs - and control of the police - was to be shared.
Twenty-seven ministries were listed in the paper with each party given a stake in so-called "priory sectors".
It may have looked fair on first reading but Mr Mbeki made no mention of four ministries that Zanu-PF have also claimed for themselves.
They are not insignificant: defense (and with it control of the army), justice, information and foreign affairs.
The MDC has never had much confidence in Mr Mbeki as mediator and one source said that following these proposals they had informed the former South African president that he could "go to hell".
In that light, it is of little surprise that those four days of talks failed to move the process forward.
"It says a lot about Thabo Mbeki's own ideology and the way he sees democracy in the African context," Zimbabwean analyst Immanuel Hlabangana says.
"You can see a man who struggles with Western ideologies and is trying to champion something different for Africa."
The MDC now talk about Mr Mbeki in the past tense, but his spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, dismissed queries about whether his mediation would continue.
While stressing that they remain committed to the 15 September agreement, the MDC now say both the spirit and wording of the deal have changed since they were first initialled.
Three full days passed between the announcement of a deal and the signing ceremony.
During that time the MDC say a number of small but significant changes were made to the publically released text.
These included an increase in the number of non-constituent senators given to the smaller MDC faction and the removal of a promise that MDC and Zanu-PF would have to agree on ambassadorial appointments.
The meaning of the word "consultation" in the document is also being hotly debated.
Under the terms of the agreement President Mugabe is entitled to allocate cabinet portfolios after "consultation" with other parties.
Much to the MDC's annoyance, Zanu-PF are interpreting that to mean that after discussions, Mr Mugabe decides.
"We have had a big quarrel over the meaning of the word consultation," Mr Biti said.
"As far as us negotiators are concerned, whenever the word consultation appears in the agreement it means in agreement with the prime minister."
For different reasons neither Zanu-PF nor the MDC want to be the one to walk away from this agreement.
"If the MDC do walk away they risk being seen as a weak party and not understanding the African context," Mr Hlabangana says.
"For Zanu-PF this deal provides an opportunity for them to stay in power and keeps them from prosecution."
But with prospects appearing bleak, thoughts are beginning to turn to what will happen next.
The MDC has called for an extraordinary summit of all southern African leaders but is now openly talking about new elections.
Last week Botswana, Mr Mugabe's sternest critic in the region, called for a re-run of the 27 June presidential election.
If that was to happen the big question would be whether the violence that
forced Mr Tsvangirai to pull out in June could be avoided.
Shops in Zimbabwe are refusing to accept the local currency after it
depreciated at its fastest ever rate at the weekend.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Sebastien Berger
Last Updated: 8:57PM GMT 26 Oct 2008
While millions of Zimbabweans are already going hungry, the move by
supermarket owners, who have few goods available for customers to buy, has
added to the hardship experienced by the urban population.
Most do not have access to foreign currency, such as US dollars or the South
African rand, now demanded by shopkeepers for payment.
A sign outside a supermarket in Harare's wealthy northern suburbs informed
the public on Sunday that, like many other shops, it would not accept
cheques or debit cards, because they take too long to clear while the
Zimbabwe dollar plunges hourly.
Weeping with frustration, a well-dressed woman fled the shop in tears as she
was left unable to buy anything, despite having amassed Z$14 billion for her
weekly shop. But even cash was useless, and the shop manager told her he was
only accepting US dollars.
"I felt really terrible telling her this, she is a good customer, a really
nice person, but it is too difficult to sell in local currency," he said.
"We don't know how to mark up goods as the Zimbabwe dollar is worthless
All his goods except meat and most vegetables were imported from South
Africa and, with 75 per cent tax, payable in foreign currency to the
government slapped on every item, many basic items cost four to five times
as much as south of the border, even with a relatively low mark-up.
"I don't even know the rate for the Zim dollar as it changes by the hour,"
he said. "We have no alternative but to try and stay alive by charging in
US. I am really feeling the strain and I can see customers, and many are old
friends, are suffering. Some of them used to be quite well off."
The country's hyperinflation is driven by the central bank creating ever
more money to fund the government's activities. Even though the authorities
chopped 10 zeroes off the currency in August, its interventions and
regulations have created a bewildering array of black-market exchange rates.
For cash notes, which the price rises mean are in appallingly short supply
despite the printing presses working overtime, on Sunday £1 was worth around
Z$110,000. But for cheque transfers, £1 brought anywhere from Z$8 billion to
At independence in 1980, the Zimbabwe dollar was worth more than the US
dollar, but Robert Mugabe's regime has destroyed the economy, with the slide
accelerating in recent years, months and weeks.
John Robertson, an independent economist, said the Zimbabwe dollar's current
plunge was unprecedented. "We had seen it losing value at about 25 per cent
a day, now it is losing hundreds of per cent an hour. It is now a valueless
A Zimbabwean businessman said: "The Reserve Bank is looting, that is what
caused this end-of-game crash. The Zim dollar lost three zeroes in a week.
Now you can fly from Harare to Victoria Falls for US 20 cents."
For ordinary Zimbabweans life has become almost impossible. Bank cash
withdrawals are limited to a maximum Z$50,000 a day - enough to buy two
bananas from street vendors, who are still selling in the local currency,
but 0.000625p at the cheque rate.
Companies are only allowed Z$10,000, or half a banana in street value.
Shops have begun refusing to accept Zimbabwean dollars in any form.
A businessman said: "When supermarkets have to start paying their workers in
US dollars they will have to close. When the civil servants demand foreign
currency wages, then that will be the end of the road for Mugabe."
Southern African leaders meanwhile meet in Harare on Monday for an emergency
summit on Zimbabwe's political stalemate. Mr Mugabe, the opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and the former South African president Thabo Mbeki will
discuss implementing a power-sharing agreement, although hopes for progress
2 hrs 32 mins ago
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF chief negotiator in the power-sharing
talks issued a stark warning to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of
key talks Monday on a unity government.
"If Tsvangirai does not stop campaigning for sanctions against Zimbabwe to
further cripple the country's economy, then we are headed for trouble,"
Patrick Chinamasa told AFP.
And he warned Tsvangirai against a boycott of the talks, after he failed to
attend last Monday's meeting of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) in Swaziland.
"We trust that Tsvangirai will not treat Monday's troika meeting with the
same contempt and utter disrespect that he did with the Swaziland meeting,"
Another boycott by him will irreversibly strain ZANU-PF's patience and will
be the last straw that broke the camel's back," said Chinamasa.
Tsvangirai stayed away from the SADC meeting in protest at the government's
failure to issue him a passport. This obliges him to seek emergency travel
documents, valid for a single trip, each time he leaves the country.
The southern African leaders agreed to hold new talks between the rivals in
Harare this Monday in the hope of salvaging an agreement on power-sharing
between ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Despite his warning Chinamasa added: "With respect to prospects of Monday's
meeting we are cautiously optimistic that the meeting will yield a positive
Monday's talks are aimed at breaking the stalemate over the allocation of
key cabinet ministers between the two parties in a unity government, which
in principle had been agreed in a power-sharing deal on September 15.
The deal, brokered by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, was hailed
as a breakthrough in ending months of political deadlock and long-term
economic melt-down in the former regional breadbasket.
October 26, 2008
By Our Correspondent
BULAWAYO - A councillor representing the mainstream MDC party led by Morgan
Tsvangirai in the Gokwe-Kana constituency in the Midlands Province has fled
his rural home after Zanu-PF militants led by a traditional chief raided his
homestead on Thursday.
Richard Gwenhamo, councillor for Ward 27 in Musala area in the constituency,
said a group about 15 Zanu-PF youths led by Chief George Musala and the
former Zanu-PF councillor for the ward, Sizane Zhou, raided his homestead on
He accused them of stealing property which included several chickens while
he was away attending a funeral in a neighbouring village.
Gwenhamo says his home was raided two days after he clashed with Zanu-PF
supporters and the ward coordinator, Patrick Takawira over the
politicization of food aid at the distribution point at the Musala Business
Centre where opposition MDC supporters were being denied grain.
"I was attending a funeral in a nearby village when Chief Musala, together
with the former Zanu-PF councillor of my ward, Sizane Zhou, came with more
than 15 Zanu-PF youths to my homestead holding axes, knobkerries and
machetes while looking for me," said Gwenhamo.
"My wife angered them when she told them I was not around resulting in them
stealing my property including chickens. Before they left, they told my wife
that they had since suspended me from being a councillor as they had lost
confidence in me."
Gwenhamo was speaking to the Zimbabwe Times at the MDC Bulawayo regional
offices where he fled and sought refuge.
"Two days before my home was raided by Chief Musala and the Zanu-PF
militias," he said, "I had visited the GMB depot at Musala Business Centre
to inquire about reports that the ward coordinator Takawira had engaged some
Zanu-PF supporters to distribute maize to people in my ward without my
knowledge and that suspected MDC supporters were being denied maize grain on
political party grounds."
The MDC has said that despite the ongoing power-sharing talks with Zanu-PF,
President Robert Mugabe's regime has continued to harass arrest and
intimidate opposition supporters and human rights activists.
Leaders of a women's militant pressure group, the Women of Zimbabwe Arise
(WOZA), Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu are currently languishing in
remand prison without trial.
The two were arrested in Bulawayo last week for demonstrating against the
slow implementation of the power-sharing deal and the continuous violation
of human rights by Mugabe's militant followers.
October 27, 2008
This long-suffering country urgently needs a unilateral airdrop of food and
Most crises blow over. A few blow up. But one or two live in our memories,
scars on the conscience of a world that had knowledge of tragedy, the
capacity to intervene, yet failed to act.
Zimbabwe is no Rwanda. Not yet. But after enduring years of Robert Mugabe's
thuggery, it has another cross to bear. The country is weeks away from what
could become a catastrophe. Already more than two million people need food
aid in what, say officials, is a "very, very serious" situation, after the
collapse of commercial agriculture in the wake of Mr Mugabe's confiscation
of white-owned farms. By early next year famine could threaten the lives of
some five million people - nearly half the population.
Yet Zimbabwe's agony is all but buried under the international avalanche of
bad financial tidings. But one suspects that the country is out of the
headlines for another reason. The international community has turned away,
well aware that horror may be imminent, but reduced to embarrassed silence
by its failure to act decisively.
Every now and then, however, there comes a point in a crisis where the scale
and duration of the suffering become too much to ignore. Conscience is
pricked, and a hitherto bemused world wakes to demand action.
That point has surely been reached in Zimbabwe, where the testimony of a
nurse in the front line (who of necessity must remain anonymous) suggests
that her country has reached the end of its tether. She has spent 30 years
serving its people, and now helps to run a city hospital. But never in all
that time has she felt such painful frustration at the sheer scale of the
agony unfolding. And it is coupled with anger at what she sees as the
bureaucracy of a leading international aid agency in the face of pleas from
the desperately needy.
Applicants for help from the UN World Food Programme (WFP), she writes in an
e-mail, "are meant to declare how many are in their households, how many are
disabled, how many are chronically ill".
Food for the starving is available, she says, held in the local compounds of
the WFP, ready for distribution. But first, insist officials, comes the
paperwork: tick the right boxes on two vital forms, and you qualify for
help. Give the "wrong" answers and you will almost certainly starve.
"Just how," she asks, "does the head of a child-headed household [an all too
common phenomenon in a country decimated by Aids] get into contact with
people who have the questionnaires? We have had people in their hundreds
coming to our doors and pleading for food.
"Please, whoever is responsible for all the bureaucracy, end this expensive
time-wasting exercise. We plead with you to start getting the food out of
the warehouses to the people who are hungry."
One can sympathise with the WFP position: that in time of acute need scarce
resources must be safely stored, and criteria for their release drawn up and
observed. Nor should the delicate nature of a relief agency's balancing act
be underestimated: for how long should it abide by an agreement with a
noxious regime, in which restrictions on relief operations have been
reluctantly accepted, in the belief that the lifesaving role it plays
outweighs all else?
The evidence of the nurse and others, however, suggests that whatever the
terms, the deal is not working. In her city, youngsters beg for food at the
hospital gates. In the country, many Zimbabweans are reduced to eating roots
in the worst- hit areas, according to a BBC report last week.
This leads to an obvious conclusion: conventional means of supply and
distribution are not enough. Zimbabwe urgently requires the unprecedented: a
unilateral airdrop of food and medical supplies.
The means are within reach. Giant Hercules aircraft, of the sort used by the
UN in Ethiopia and Sudan, could be based in neighbouring Botswana, where
President Khama has shown he is willing to stand up to Robert Mugabe.
True, in the all too likely absence of government consent, the airlifted
supplies would reach a fraction of those in need; and the dropping points
would be arbitrary. But not a single life need be lost in the conduct of the
operation, and many thousands would be saved.
Readers may recall a passage from Albert Camus' The Plague. The Algerian
town of Oran is isolated, cut off from the world by the dreadful pestilence
it endures, and at night the local doctor reflects: "From the ends of the
Earth, across thousands of miles of land and sea, kindly, well-meaning
speakers tried to voice their fellow feeling, and indeed did do, but at the
same time proved the utter incapacity of every man truly to share in
suffering which he cannot see... 'Oran, we are with you', they called
emotionally. But not, Dr Rieux told himself, to love or die together - and
that's the only way. They're too remote."
Zimbabwe is indeed a long way away. But it is not so remote that we cannot
demonstrate our compassion, as well as our outrage, in a form that provides
some relief to its people - even if we cannot truly share in their dreadful
ordeal. If not an airdrop now, when? And if not an airdrop, what?
Michael Holman, a former Africa editor of the Financial Times, grew up in
Zimbabwe. His latest novel is Fatboy and the Dancing Ladies (Abacus)
Mon, 27 Oct 2008 00:15:00 +0000
A BOOMING fake United States dollar trade is taking place at the
Zimbabwe-South Africa border and notes worth thousands could have already
found their way into Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Guardian has learnt.
A Bulawayo man who frequently travels to South Africa told this reporter
that he was offered fake US dollars with a face value of US$40 000, on at
least two occasions, by a man believed to be of West African origin on the
South African side of the border.
The Bulawayo man who wanted to be identified only as Mr Dube said he
frequently comes across these fake currency dealers and has, at least one
time, seen people smuggle fake US dollars into the country.
"I have been approached at least four times this month by men selling fake
US dollars. They are selling fake notes with a value of US$10,000 for almost
a tenth of that amount. So for US$1,000 you could walk away with ten times
that amount," said Mr Dube to this reporter.
"If you were just a common person on the street, these notes look very
authentic and you would need special equipment to detect the security marks
on the notes, like pens and infra-red light."
Dube, who runs a business in Bulawayo, says he travels at least once a week
to South Africa where his wife lives and works and often brings groceries
and clothes to sell back in Zimbabwe.
He said most of the fake note dealers are very sophisticated conmen who
spend days watching people cross to and from South Africa and only approach
you if they are sure that you are a frequent visitor.
"They seem to have details of how and when you have travelled to and from
South Africa and armed with this information, they normally offer you a deal
you will find hard to refuse."
Nigerians are said to be the main dealers although Zimbabweans living in
South Africa are said to be involved in the fake currency deals as well.
Mr Dube believes that corrupt immigration officials on both sides could be
aware of the illegal deals and could be involved as well.
He said because some of these officials want to make a "quick buck" they let
some of these unscrupulous characters "get away with it". He argued that
frequent visitors to South Africa will get approached at least once by these
"men in black" and the authorities should therefore be aware of this
"These men are normally dressed in black and look like very professional
people. They have beautiful cars and expensive suits and are quite
conspicuous from the rest of us," said Nkomo.
"The authorities should be aware of these characters. They spent long hours
at the border. How could officials not know about their existence when
common people like me know they exist? Everyone wants to make a quick buck
that's why these people get away with it."
Mr Dube said that many Zimbabweans would buy these fake notes and use them
to buy groceries in Zimbabwe and exchange them on the Black market. He said
that because these notes look authentic, many people on the streets and in
shops do not know the difference between the real ones and the fake ones and
"because they use both fakes and real ones at the same time, it is difficult
to detect them."
Quizzed by this reporter on how he knew so much about this illegal activity,
Mr Dube was evasive and said he was quickly said he was not at liberty to
say if he knew anyone who had been involved in the illegal activity.
He, however, said that many travellers to South Africa needed at to
demonstrate that they had at least R2,000 to get a visa and this was a way
of getting hold of that amount.
If this were a John Wayne movie we would be about to see the good guy walk
down the main street against the bad guys who were going to confront him and
to try to ambush him from the side streets and buildings. Morgan has agreed
to attend the SADC summit on Monday and the stakes could not be higher.
It has puzzled us as to why the bad guys had delayed this confrontation. We
now know that they had hoped to be able to spring a surprise election on the
MDC rather than face the prospect of their man (Mugabe) having to face our
man (Tsvangirai) in direct combat on the street. A shadowy group, listed in
a fascinating article by Charamba in last weekends Herald newspaper, has
been attempting to engineer a snap election using the mechanism that was put
in place for the June run off that ended so disastrously for Zanu PF. More
than most commentators, they had recognised the dangers to them of the SADC
This attempt spluttered out when they realised that the new South African
government would not tolerate that option - it was only one better than the
option of a military coup and in regional terms simply not acceptable. While
they quibbled and played for time, what they did not appreciate was that the
ship on which they were standing was in fact sinking. The consequences of
their own actions are destroying the very foundations of the system on which
they rely for continued power and sustenance.
The most obvious symptom of this process is the rapid collapse of the
Zimbabwe currency. Issued just three months ago at parity with the Rand and
7 to 1 with the US dollar, yesterday it traded at billions to one US dollar
and there seemed to be no bottom to the pit in which it was sinking. It has
become virtually impossible to trade in the local currency and I would not
be surprised if people simply stop trading.
There are signs that the South Africans are at last prepared to insist on a
deal on Monday. The reasons are many but in my view the following are the
principle elements in this change of heart.
The first, and possibly the most important is the change of leadership in
South Africa. Mbeki has been consigned to a retirement home and the new
leadership - Kegalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma are hardly friends of Robert
Mugabe. The new President of South Africa was the leader of a Cosatu
delegation to Zimbabwe that was hauled off a South African airplane about
three years ago, pushed into a minibus and driven to the Beitbridge border
post where they were deported and had to be collected by a car sent up from
Last week Zuma and Motlanthe both made statements calling for a speedy
resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis by the completion of the process of
forming a new government. South Africa is the only country in the world with
the power to tell Mugabe what he may or may not do. If they decide that the
time has come for a solution, a solution will be found. They are probably
quite happy that such a solution was not secured under Mbeki's watch as the
two ANC groups are now engaged in their own struggle in South Africa.
The second reason is one that has been there for a long time, but has been
made more relevant and pressing by recent events. It is the regional
implications of the economic collapse in Zimbabwe.
Of all the consequences of this collapse, the one most directly affecting
the South African government are the tens of thousands of people who are
pouring over the border into the crowded squatter camps that surround every
City. It is visible on every street corner and every person living in South
Africa pays a price for this unwanted invasion. Given the present situation
in Zimbabwe, if a deal is not reached on Monday the stream of people fleeing
to South Africa will become a floodtide that could simply swamp their
The next is the impact on regional business sentiment and international
confidence in African leadership and enterprise. The Rand fell to 12 to 1
yesterday - losing over half its value in a few days. The stock market has
also lost half its value over the past 3 months. I know the reasons for this
are the international credit crunch and its consequences but it does not
help to be seen in a region of possible political and economic instability
on top of everything else. A deal in Zimbabwe might actually help the South
Africans to defend themselves against the rising tide of global recession
that now seems unstoppable.
Adding to this situation is the growing evidence of the criminal nature of
the regime in Zimbabwe. We are engaged in every possible activity of a
criminal nature in the region. Nothing illustrates that more than the
illegal diamond trade. In recent weeks the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has been
offloading raw diamonds on the international market in large quantities,
these carry false certificates of origin and are from Angola, the Congo and
the newly discovered Maranke diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe. The
proceeds of this trade are not being returned to Zimbabwe and add to the
increasing flow of funds being siphoned out of the country by a frightened
oligarchy that now knows their days are numbered. This illicit trade
constitutes a threat to both South African and Botswana interests as it
violates the Kimberly Process.
Back home, the regime has paid the civil service for the month of October. I
understand the Police were paid Z$100 000. When you know that it will take
days to draw that kind of money out of the Bank and that bread is now Z$50
000 a loaf and the real value of their salaries is less than 0,000007 of a
US cent, you can understand why the regime cannot rely on the military or
the police for protection. Prices are doubling daily now and no one is able
to survive on local currency or a salary.
So Monday may be "D" day - decision time for us and disaster time for them.
If a deal is done and we get a new government it will take a few days to
appoint ministers and then get going but at least then we will at last be
able to tackle the many urgent problems that we have inherited from 28 years
of tyrannical and corrupt rule.
Bulawayo, 25th October 2008
27 October 2008
AFTER listening to a team of financial experts from Harare talking about the
Zimbabwean economy last week, a South African business man remarked to me:
"It's nothing short of surreal."
The experts presented a seminar at the JSE with an array of figures, in
which the word "quintillion" was not the rarity one would expect.
The team was less than two hours' flight from Harare and yet they may as
well have been talking about another planet, highlighting just how
disconnected South African business people are from the dire situation being
experienced by their neighbours.
It is more common to hear South African commentators' opinions about
Zimbabwe's economy than those of Zimbabweans themselves.
As one speaker said, you cannot really understand hyperinflation except by
living in it. Although the "official" rate is given as 231-million percent,
the year-on-year compounded estimate is about 18-trillion percent.
Jonathan Waters, a Harare-based analyst, says once inflation went over
10000%, the figure no longer mattered to Zimbabweans. They set up their
"individual procurement programmes" and began to micromanage their lives.
As the seminar progressed, the currency tumbled by millions of (Zimbabwe)
dollars, inflation added a few zeroes and the price of goods in Harare
Sean Gammon, MD of Imara Capital Zimbabwe, estimated the value of the
economy at US$3bn, down from $13bn in 1998. Without the politically inspired
"lost decade", it could have been at $30bn, he reckoned.
Doug Munatsi, CEO of the regional institution, the African Banking
Corporation, said money supply in 1998 was US$3,25bn and was now less than
Greg Hunter, CEO of Central African Gold, outlined the serious problems in
the gold mining sector. He said gold companies received only US$0,06/oz (at
a government exchange rate in Zimbabwe dollars) for their gold compared with
the international market price of more than US$850/oz. This was against
operating costs of about $4000/oz.
Hunter reckoned the gold industry was operating at below 5% of capacity,
with production at only three to four to n s a year, compared with 25 tons a
few years ago.
The obvious question is why - and how - companies continue to operate in a
country running on empty. The answer, business people say, is simple. By
holding the line, they are effectively investing in the future, not the
present. They are positioning themselves for change. The fact that this
change is taking longer than anyone expected simply means further
downscaling of companies already operating at only 5% to 20% of capacity.
The cost of getting back in, particularly in the mining sector, is likely to
On the bright side, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) continues to run at
record levels. Stocks rise - and occasionally fall - by hundreds and even
thousands of percent daily.
The market is driven mostly by trapped domestic savings trying to maintain
value in equities. Only 2% of trading on the ZSE is by foreigners, down from
30% in 1998.
Although negative macroeconomic fundamentals are driving the market, there
is still real value in many Zimbabwe companies. They have good business
models, modest capital needs, experienced management and assets that, while
outdated, could be refurbished at a fraction of the replacement cost.
Most sectors have turnaround strategies in place. They are being held back
by the politicians.
Investing in Zimbabwe right now is cheap and hyperinflation is making it
cheaper by the day.
An exception is the bar bill. The price of a beer goes up by several million
dollars from one drink to the next. So when you are next in Harare hunting
for bargain basement investments, make sure you buy the first round.
*Games is CE of Africa@Work, a research and consulting company, which
presented last week's seminar Zimbabwe: The New Investment Frontier.
October 26, 2008
(A lighter perspective on what could be a historic day, but is unlikely to
By Geoffrey Nyarota
IF I WAS President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe there is a host of measures I
would put in place to ensure that a solid foundation is laid for the
long-awaited recovery of Zimbabwe from its current economic quagmire and
It is regrettable that President Mugabe has routinely spurned the many words
of advice tendered by a host of advisors, many of them freelance like
myself. Looking back now, he has neglected their words of admonition at his
own peril, however.
On Friday, October 17, while preparing to fly down to Mbabane for yet
another round of SADC sponsored negotiations on the future of Zimbabwe, I
would have summoned Dr Misheck Sibanda, the Secretary to the President and
Cabinet and Munyaradzi Kajese the Chief of Protocol to the presidential
"Cde Sibanda," I would have started, "as you are aware I depart for Mbabane
again on Monday. Now there is this most irksome issue of the travel
documents of the Prime Minister-designate, Cde Tsvangirai, which has now
become a veritable albatross around our neck.
"The press outside our own patriotic media empire has repeatedly reported
that Cde Tobaira Mudede, the Registrar General, says there is a shortage of
the special paper on which to issue a passport for Cde Tsvangirai. But, of
course that explanation is wearing embarrassingly thin and turning Cde
Mudede into a laughing stock, even among our own Zanu-PF supporters.
"Our detractors now refer to our self-indulgence on our recent trip to New
York. They point out, quite rightly, that if we could spend millions in
United States dollars to send such a large delegation to the United Nations,
failing to buy paper on which to issue passports for the people, including
Cde Tsvangirai, merely reflects our failure to get our priorities right.
"In any case, I am informed that Cde Mudede has been issuing passports to
all and sundry and making a killing in foreign currency. He now charges in
US dollars for the passports, apparently. It appears Cde Mudede would make a
more astute Governor of the Reserve Bank than the now much stressed Cde
Gideon. My point here is that the people know that we are issuing passports
to others while denying one to Cde Tsvangirai. In fact, Cde Bonyongwe at CIO
must investigate who revealed to the press that Cde Tsvangirai's passport
was issued back in July but has been sitting here on my desk.
"So that explanation about the unavailability of paper makes us appear
somewhat silly, which if the truth be told, we have become, at least with
regard to this issue passports.
"The following is my proposal for a solution to this vexing problem. This
solution will not only solve the problem of Cde Tsvangirai's passport, but
will also make us appear both smart and magnanimous.
"Cde Kajese I don't know whether you had already filled all the seats on the
presidential flight to Mbabane on Sunday with Zanu-PF delegates. If this had
already been done, you will simply have to create a few more enemies at
Party Headquarters by removing some names from the passenger list to
accommodate members of the MDC delegations - both MDC-T and MDC-M.
"That way we will strengthen our credentials while improving the image of
Zanu-PF and therefore strengthening our hand at the negotiating table. If
Cde Tsvangirai and the astute Mutambara were to emerge from the presidential
flight on arrival at Matshapa International Airport, that would be a scoop
"Our shrewd strategy should effectively compromise Cde Tsvangirai at the
"It does look mean of us to leave these two delegations to fly on commercial
flights through OR Tambo International in Johannesburg while we fly direct
to Mbabane on the presidential flight. We unwittingly enhance their profile
as fighters against alleged oppression and harassment.
"Flying with our rivals on our plane will generate much goodwill for us. Who
knows, if our seats were to be strategically positioned on the outward
flight the juxtaposition of Cde Tsvangirai and myself could create an ideal
atmosphere for a deal to be struck between the two us long before touch-down
"I must confess that I feel an overwhelming sense of humiliation to have
young Mswati improve his own image among his many spouses as the one who
presided over the summit where an acceptable deal was finally struck to end
the political deadlock in Zimbabwe. Why, I could teach that young Mswati a
few useful political lessons.
"To be honest, we are beginning to look no smarter than a class of clueless
Grade Five pupils."
Having obtained confirmation from Kajese that the necessary arrangements
would be made for the Tsvangirai and the Mutambara delegations to join us on
the presidential flight to Mbabane, with or without travel documents - for
which immigration official could turn Tsvangirai back while King Mswati III
was waiting to welcome him outside - I would turn to Part Two of the grand
I would instruct Sibanda to summon Emmerson Mnangagwa and the JOC - sounds
rather like the name of a latter-day Zimbabwean heavy rock band.
Predictably, Mnangagwa former Minister of Rural Housing would be the first
to arrive at State House on the Saturday morning, having abandoned at the
last minute a trip to the Midlands. Unknown to him I am fully briefed that
he is fighting tooth and nail to have the name of a school restored to
Emmerson Mnangagwa School. The school was originally named in his honour.
But as his political fortunes plummeted precipitously the community
concerned unanimously agreed to rename their school as Runde School.
Of course, Cde Emmerson was livid.
Next to arrive is Paradzayi Zimondi, Director of Prisons. I stretch my hand
full length to shake his. Secretly, I have always wondered how he ever rose
to these dizzy heights. For some reason, he can never look me straight in
the eye. He is thorough, though, where the prompt incarceration of political
malcontents in appropriately deterrent conditions is concerned.
Almost immediately, into the main lounge of State House saunters Defence
Forces commander, General Constantine Dominic Chiwenga, with army supremo
Phillip Sibanda in tow. My eye does not miss the detail that Chiwenga's walk
is less sprightly than it was when he last visited here for my
inauguration - an auspicious sign for the bombshell I am about to drop.
After a long wait Air Marshall Perrence Shiri of the Air Force and Happyton
Bonyongwe of the Central Intelligence Organisation dash in together with
almost indecent haste. Shiri is sweating profusely. I must confess, despite
the crucial position that he holds, I don't know too detail much about the
latter. Mind you, there has been an exceedingly high turn-over of directors
at CIO. Then there were those unfortunate reports just before the March
elections that he was trying to hand the entire organisation over to Cde
With everybody now sitting around the huge coffee table in the lounge, cup
of coffee in hand, I don't beat about the bush.
"Comrades," I say while fixing my gaze on Chiwenga, "If you have been
visiting the Zimbabwean online websites, as Cde George Charamba enjoined you
to do recently, you will be aware that I am off to Mbabane again tomorrow
for yet another summit of the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security
"This time the delegation includes Cde Emmerson as a representative of this
very important forum.
"I will be forthright, Comrades. We all know that we survived the March
elections by the skin of our collective tooth, as it were. I am most
grateful to you, comrades, that you heroically and patriotically engineered
the series of events that culminated in the landslide victory that ensured
that we can continue to meet in State House, as we do today. But, dear
comrades, we delude ourselves if we believe we fooled anyone. We stand more
discredited and friendless today than we were back in March. To be quite
honest, nothing functions properly, if at all, now and Zimbabwe staggers on
without a government.
"Meanwhile, support for Tsvangirai continues to mount. Our own supporters
now flock to his rallies where ever the MDC organises one. Even the astute
young Professor appears to be gravitating towards him.
"Cde Gono has stopped pretending that the economy has anything but finally
collapsed. Can you believe that he has rendered even the US dollar
worthless. The people now need US$15 to buy a dozen eggs at Mbare Musika. In
New York they buy a dozen eggs for $1,99. I am informed the our enterprising
forgers now produce US dollars. I am informed that the son of one of you has
become an accomplished counterfeiter of Zimbabwe dollar notes. I hear one of
the online publications in now investigating him. We made a terrible blunder
when we fired the indomitable Cde Jonathan Moyo. He would have silenced the
online publications by now.
"As for Cde Gono, if the truth be told, the poor governor now runs around
like a decapitated chicken.
"We are cornered, comrades. We must be man enough to accept that we have led
ourselves up a cul de sac. What I say about Bush and Blair, sorry, Brown is
merely for public consumption.
"What I am about to say is not an appeal to you. Take this as an order. No
meaningful progress can be made at the negotiations if we insist that all of
you retain your positions. I am not in any way, whatsoever, suggesting that
you be sacrificed. No. But our best strategy now would be to negotiate so
that there is no wholesale retribution against Comrades Chiwenga and Chihuri
after you step down. Negotiation is a process of give and take.
"If we don't bite the bullet and take the initiative now, force of
circumstances will ultimately prescribe unbearably bitter medicine for us.
"For a change, comrades, let us stop thinking only of our own short term
interests. Let us consider the interests of our nation, of all our people.
Comrades, no one among you is a poor man. We will ensure that nothing is
taken away from you.
"I had not exactly scheduled any debate for this meeting. So I wish you all
a good weekend. Cde Emmerson, I will see you at the airport tomorrow."
Meanwhile, if I was Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic
Change and Prime Minister-designate of Zimbabwe I would have accepted the
emergency travel document from Tobaiwa Mudede, the Registrar General, and
flown to Mbabane through Johannesburg.
Mindful of the interests of the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe, the
majority of them supporters of the MDC, over and above the exigency of
scoring mute points against Zanu-PF I would have taken a broader view of the
ongoing conflict over my passport, while focusing on the crucial issue of
the allocation of cabinet posts to Zanu-PF and the MDC.
I would not permit Zanu-PF to so easily detract the MDC from the major task
in hand through pursuance of peripheral issues, however I may be entitled,
as a right, to hold a Zimbabwean passport. It is, indeed, both unreasonable
and humiliating for the Prime Minister-designate of any country to be denied
a passport. But the road of any struggle is strewn with hardship. The MDC
must stop behaving as if they believe that in Zanu-PF they are dealing with
Above all, I would never deny President Mugabe the rope with which to hang
The ancestors of the Shona people knew what they were talking about when
they said: "Kutsvata ngarara kuiteedzera."
27 October 2008
I almost fell out of my chair, laughing at your realisation that: "It is now
clear that Zanu (PF) never had any real intention of negotiating in good
faith" (Bad faith, October 23).
Did you really ever believe that they did? Did you also believe that former
president Thabo Mbeki was "facilitating" in good faith all along? Do I
belong to a small minority who never trusted Mbeki and President Robert
Unfortunately, I also agree with those analysts who often refer to Morgan
Tsvangirai as somewhat naive at times. I have never understood his rationale
for trusting the South African Development Community- appointed facilitator,
especially after the letter that he was reported to have written to demand
respect for his position as leader of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe
and to ask for Mbeki's withdrawal.
Mugabe, like Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, should have been incarcerated in The
Hague months ago! The fact that they remain free is because we Africans
continue to shield even the most evil amongst us simply because they are
I have listened to some fellow Africans say Mugabe should be praised for
having managed to take back the Zimbabwean land from white people despite
the costs in human life and to the economy of his country.
I have also listened to people going on about the importance of "African
solutions" - with demands for western money to be given without conditions -
for "African problems", but no one has ever been able to point to one
positive outcome in recent memory that was achieved through the so-called
"African solution". (Please do not mention Kenya because Kofi Annan -
African as he is - was "deployed" by the United Nations , with a UN brief
No country today, especially in the developing world, can function
successfully outside the global political and legal system. Until we have
our own resources to experiment with African solutions, I believe we should
accept advice, expertise and resources from outside Africa and contribute to
the fight for and protection of human rights.
Solly Moeng Cape Town
The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Monday, October 27, 2008
Re: Can't blame Mugabe for it all, Oct. 21.
I do not claim to be an expert on Zimbabwe but I differ with letter-writer
Tudor Jones' view.
The farms that were taken from the white farmers were not given to the
general population but rather to Robert Mugabe's cronies. These people were
not chosen because of their farming or management expertise but rather
because they had some connection to Mr. Mugabe or his government. Many of
these people simply aspired to live like the white farmers. However, they
had no idea what work it took to run the farms in order to maintain that
It must be understood that "farms" in Zimbabwe were generally quite large
and often employed whole villages. When the farms were taken over, there was
no longer any management to run the farms. Fertile fields were left fallow
and unlanded villagers who had always worked at the farms were all of a
sudden left without employment and no way to feed their families.
It is at this point that many were likely driven to cutting down trees for
fuel and slaughtering animals for food.
My parents who grew up in Holland visited Zimbabwe recently. My father's
assessment sums it up: "You can write a treatise about our week in Zimbabwe.
It reminded us somewhat of the last winter of the Second World War. There is
no food in the stores, no money in the banks, no work to be had, no light
most of the time, virtually no petrol and people going hungry everywhere."
So although the general population may have precipitated Zimbabwe's decline,
the blame must lie squarely at Mugabe's feet. He took the country from being
the bread basket of Africa to a country of abject poverty.