|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
No refuge Desperate people, endangered
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK, Zimbabwe Once this 14,800-square-kilometer expanse of
wilderness, Zimbabwe’s largest, was one of Africa’s grandest showcases of
wild animals. These days, it is Exhibit A in the unfolding story of their
On a recent steamy morning, perhaps 60 elephants staged a scrum at the
Nyamandlovu watering hole here, jockeying frantically for a drink of water —
not in the watering hole, a porridge of mud and flopping, dying fish, but a
trickle from a pipe at the hole’s edge.
During Hwange’s long, bone-dry winter, more than two dozen pumps supply
almost all the water to thousands of animals. But Zimbabwe’s government had
neither enough fuel to run them nor spare parts to repair the many that were
The scene was but a small element in what Colin Gillies, a wildlife expert
with a private group here, calls ‘‘an unholy slaughter’’ of one of southern
Africa’s most varied stocks of wildlife. It is the product of three years of
economic collapse, corruption and decaying civil order in a nation where the
government is encouraging squatters and political allies to seize commercial
farms and game preserves.
Hunting and tourism once pumped millions of dollars into Zimbabwe’s economy
each year, sustaining wildlife management programs on millions of acres of
private scrubland too arid or rocky for commercial farming but ideal for
photographic safaris and big-game hunts.
Zimbabwe’s decision to confiscate most of that land from its white owners,
and then to redistribute it to peasants and political supporters, has had an
unexpected result: thousands of hungry families on land too poor to support
crops have turned to poaching as their prime source of food and income.
Private wildlife programs have been all but destroyed.
Precise figures do not exist. But by estimates from several
conservationists, former landowners and opposition politicians, as many as
two-thirds of the animals on Zimbabwe’s game farms and wildlife
conservancies have been wiped out.
The situation in parks is less dire, according to some wildlife advocates.
Some say that in a few parks, as many as 40 percent of the big-game animals
have been poached or illegally hunted down, but other local conservationists
say the damage has been mostly confined to scattered species like impala
trapped for their meat.
No one disputes the fact that thousands of animals have been lost, including
significant numbers of species like rhinos and wild dogs that were already
severely endangered. No one disagrees that the losses are continuing,
despite the first belated efforts by Zimbabwe’s government this month to
rein in profiteering in wildlife by some of its own officials.
‘‘There were 4,000, 5,000 buffalo as of three months ago, when we got run
off,’’ H.A. de Vries, 69, known as Buck, said of the 160,000-hectare, or
400,000-acre, wildlife conservancy he partly owned in eastern Zimbabwe,
bordering Hwange National Park.
‘‘I’d be surprised if there are 20 percent of the animals left,’’ he said.
De Vries said he had been told that antelope in the preserve, the Gwayi
Valley Conservancy, were being slaughtered to feed thousands of members of
the Green Bombers, a much-feared government paramilitary force, at a camp at
an abandoned tin mine in central Zimbabwe.
There is no easy way to verify such reports. Former farmers and owners of
conservancies like de Vries are largely barred from their old lands, and the
settlers who replaced them are hostile to outsiders.
But a Zimbabwean representative of the Washington-based World Wildlife
Federation and a top official of Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe, a
private conservation group here, both said reports of wildlife losses on
conservancies like Gwayi Valley were credible.
Harrison Kojwang, the World Wildlife Federation representative in Zimbabwe,
said that estimates of a 60 to 70 percent loss of wildlife on farms and game
conservancies were common but that the death rates in parks like Hwange were
so far considerably lower.
Hwange park and its neighbor, Gwayi Valley, are, however, prime examples of
the collapse of the nation’s parks program. In testimony to Zimbabwe’s
Parliament this summer, the minister for environment and tourism, Francis
Nhema, confirmed that a senior ranger and warden at Hwange National Park had
each been awarded land seized in the Gwayi Valley Conservancy and had been
accused of allowing illegal hunting there. Other major parcels of Gwayi
Valley property have gone to Zimbabwe’s information minister, Jonathan Moyo,
and to senior officials of ZANU-PF, the governing political party.
Former landowners in the region, most of whom spoke on the condition of
anonymity, said in interviews that unscrupulous safari operators from South
Africa and Botswana had moved into Gwayi Valley and other large
conservancies, bribing settlers and officials to take big animals far in
excess of previous government quotas, which limited kills of animals each
The destruction of wildlife in Gwayi and other lands next to national parks
raises another ominous prospect: that valuable game in the parks will
migrate to the newly empty lands and become prime targets for future
hunters. Many fences on the conservancies have been torn apart to make
Kojwang and Gillies depicted the situation as not entirely hopeless. Within
the parks bureaucracy, they said, some officials are battling corruption and
political influence. In the last two weeks, the government has banned
hunting on land next to Hwange park.
But as the elephants’ battle at Hwange showed, the government is
ill-equipped to deal with even basic issues like fuel for water pumps, much
less enforcing hunting bans. During an animal census in Hwange this month,
Gillies said, members of his organization encountered a half-dozen dead
elephants, victims not of poachers, but of dehydration and stress. That, he
said, is new.
‘‘Zimbabwe was probably the best hunting land in Africa — in southern
Africa, for sure,’’ said another former conservancy operator, who refused to
be identified. ‘‘I suppose it’s improved in some respects,’’ he added with
irony, ‘‘because there’s nothing left to kill.’’
Urban farmers start planting most crops
HARARE was last week a hive of activity as urban farmers took advantage of
the rains to plant crops such as maize, groundnuts and roundnuts.
A survey by The Herald around the various suburbs showed that Harare
residents were ploughing and planting their pieces of land.
The fields are on open spaces in the various residential suburbs.
Mrs Norah Masango of Warren Park said she used untreated maize seed this
year because she could not find the proper seed in the shops. Last year, she
got eight bags of maize and this year she hopes to double her yield.
"There were poor rains last year. My maize crop was adversely affected," she
Mrs Masango also owns a plot in Nyabira, where she has already planted some
Another urban farmer, Mrs Maria Chitemere of the same suburb, said she
practised urban agriculture to supplement what she got in her rural home in
"Very soon I would be going to Mhondoro to attend to my other fields. What I
plant here is for my children who stay in town," she said.
Other urban farmers said they planted maize in town to avoid going to their
rural homes to collect maize meal.
"A farmer should not put his eggs in one basket. If there is a drought in
Harare I may be able to salvage something from Rusape," said Mrs Anatolia
Mr Jeffrey Chifamba of Kambuzuma said he planted 5 kgs of maize seed. He
bought the seed from Mbare Musika.
He said he could not afford to buy from reputable seed dealers because of
the prohibitive cost of the seed.
Another urban farmer of note is Dr Jameson Kurasha of Avondale West, whose
maize crop is already tussling.
He said his father encouraged him to plant food crops on his yard.
"I used to put all this land under flowers but after my father encouraged me
to plant maize, I have been doing so," said Dr Kurasha.
Last year, he got eight bags and hopes to increase the yield this year.
Studies by a local non-governmental organisation, ENDA-Zimbabwe, in 1994
show that the total land area under cultivation in Harare increased
dramatically when the economic hardships worsened in the 1990s.
Urban households save money by consuming their own produce.
Trudy’s Parliamentary Diary – September 03
The official opening of
this Fourth Session of the Fifth Parliament on 22
July caused a stir all round as the MDC caucus made a last-minute decision
to grit our teeth and sit through Mugabe’s speech, in an effort to break the
deadlock on negotiations to find a solution to the national crisis. We were
not recognising his legitimacy, but showing our willingness to make the
first step out of the deadlock. Reaction was good from all quarters –
despite someone’s mischievous idea of seating Chinotimba next to Tsvangirai
in the Speaker’s Gallery and repeatedly focussing ZTV’s cameras on the pair
Regrettably, after two weeks of relative thaw in relations between the two
parties as a result, Mugabe took it upon himself to use Heroes’ Day to call
on us to repent and learn to walk and talk like ZanuPF! That revealed his
own understanding of negotiations and solution, whatever others in his party
may be thinking – and was doubtless a warning to those factions of their
As usual, after the official opening, we recessed again until 19 August,
when we sat for 4 weeks to recess on 11 September. The main government
business was the Supplementary Budget: Z$ 672 billion, i.e. nearly as much
again as the $784 bn already passed in the Main Budget last November, making
a total of $1,4 TRILLION! It was a foregone conclusion that the Budget
would be passed, in view of ZanuPF’s superior numbers, but once more it gave
us an opportunity to expose the serious shortcomings of government’s
attempts to address the economic crisis – which they continue to blame on
We highlighted the fact that Minister Murerwa had promised to bring
inflation down to double figures by the end of this year, whereas it was now
officially 400% and rising, there was a serious cash crisis largely as a
result and his proposed measures of printing new $500 and $1000 notes and
issuing travellers cheques would be laughable if it weren’t impacting so
badly on people’s lives. The fuel crisis continued unabated, nothing had
been done about the exchange rate and the much-vaunted land reform programme
(“land is the economy”) faced total collapse, since provisions made for the
necessary inputs and infrastructure development were far too little too
late. In defense, Chinamasa (Leader of the House & Minister of Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs) complained that CIA and MI6 are funding the
MDC and its publicity overseas! Our Chief Whip Innocent Gonese (Mutare
Central) later advised the other side that “Sometimes it is better to keep
quiet than open your mouth and remove all doubt” while Paul Themba Nyathi
(Gwanda North) summed it up: “The Minister is the Treasurer of a burial
society called Zimbabwe.”
We do not contribute to the debate on Mugabe’s address (not recognising his
legitimacy) but moved our own motions on the political crisis and the
economy, as well as a tribute to our late Kadoma Central MP Austin
Mupandawana, who died a few months after being detained for 10 days in
police custody following the March stay-away.
Gonese moved the motion on the political crisis and need for a new
constitution, showing clearly the link between the two, and between that and
all the other problems now experienced in the country. A number of others
also contributed to this motion, which is still being debated. When Tendai
Biti (Harare East) spoke the next day, the other side listened attentively,
for once – usually he is a favourite target for heckling! He pointed out
that Zimbabwe is a failed state, that it is necessary to accept failure and
the inevitability of change, and that the ZanuPF succession debate needs to
be opened up into national debate. He showed how other African
states –Somalia, Liberia, DRC, Sierra Leone and Sudan - had disintegrated,
mainly after the demise of powerful leaders who had come to be synonymous
with the state itself, so that when they departed, there was chaos in the
absence of a strong constitution. Mungofa (Highfield) and Nelson Chamisa
(Kuwadzana and MDC Youth Chairman) made fine maiden speeches on this motion,
showing their mettle and the promise of more to come.
Subsequently Biti (party secretary for economy) and Tapiwa Mashakada
(Hatfield & Shadow Minister of Economic Affairs) moved a motion decrying the
economic crisis and calling for a National Executive Economic Council to put
things right. Again this elicited vigorous contributions from our side.
Both Welshman Ncube and I made the point that Zimbabwe was the first country
ever to run out of cash. Several of us showed the real effects of this
economic situation on ordinary people, for example a pensioner who earns
$4000 per month and can therefore only buy 4 loaves of bread per month, or
perhaps travel to and from Chitungwiza 3 times and buy no food at all or pay
for their electricity or water.
These unpalatable facts simply elicited belittling responses from the other
side, such as Chapfika’s (Mutoko North, Chairman Budget & Finance Committee)
that they thought “a few immigrants from Europe…a few white species
(referring to me) ... would add a bit of value … but they were wrong”!
Minister of State for State Enterprises and Parastatals in the President’s
Office (!) Paul Mangwana weighed in with a vitriolic attack in the usual
verbiage – “counter-revolutionaries…derailing the land reform programme and
stopping ZanuPF from taking land and distributing it amongst its
President…march to State House” rather as if it’s all a set speech which
they learn by rote and recite at every possible opportunity.
Lovemore Moyo (Matobo), supported by many, moved a motion to come up with a
national housing policy to address the housing issue and to make housing a
constitutional right. Arguments in favour of this are irrefutable. A
staggering 4 million people – i.e. 1/3 of the total population - are
currently in need of housing, and settlements virtually unfit for human
habitation like Hatcliffe and Dzivarasekwa Extensions are expanding rather
than decreasing. Hon Munyanyi (Mbare East) brought the house down when he
reminded members that they were no longer in the liberation struggle where
they could just take chickens from villagers.
Chinamasa brought the SADC Protocol against Corruption for ratification (as
required by our constitution). MDC was of course in full support, with P
Misihairabwi-Mushonga (Glen Norah), T Biti and PT Nyathi highlighting the
extent of corruption in Zimbabwe and its effect on the economy. Biti
reminded members of Standing Order 18 of Parliament requiring all members to
register their assets, which we have not done, and the fact that AIPPA
actually prevents disclosure of such facts to the general public.
The record of this debate, as of many, in Hansard is full of errors, making
it incomprehensible at times. The general public must believe that members
are either illiterate or drunk to say some of the nonsense they are reported
to have said, yet it is simply misrepresentation by the recorders unchecked
by the editor. This particular contribution by Biti, however, would win a
prize for inaccuracy, if there were such a thing. I quote: “Their
over-aching obsession is to amass personal wealth goldly displayed in flashy
automobiles, fabulous mansions and a bed of phoning women.” (4 Sept 2003,
In addition to questions on individual constituency issues, Ministers were
bombarded with questions on the cash crisis, crop inputs (esp the seed and
fertiliser crisis) and land allocation-destruction. Both Nhema and Made
were grilled on land allocated in conservancies, and the illegal
hunting/poaching and general destruction taking place. To give him credit,
Nhema took the trouble to research his question on Gwaai and gave a
respectable response (apart from the issue of permits being given to ZanuPF
youth to hunt game for relish!). Made, on the other hand, decided to avoid
my Gwaai question (i.e. of ZanuPF VIPs getting the farms and abusing the
wildlife and resources) and spin his answer to make it purely political – “I
am fully aware of the prosperity (sic) by the so-called independent press
and member of the Movement for Democratic Change to malign public figures…”
He had earlier used the same tactic on Roy Bennett (Chimanimani) who had
asked if it was government policy to destroy all the buffalo or relocate
them (1st part of the question not even reported in Hansard, and 2nd
reported as “relocate the Buffalo range in Save Conservancy’). He virtually
implied that Bennett was himself removing fences and moving cattle to spread
The prize question so far this session, in my view, was that put by Dr
Eddison Zvobgo (Masvingo South) who asked whether the Minister of Finance &
Economic Development was aware that the Reserve Bank had issued a directive
that no company should withdraw cash. Chinamasa (for Murerwa who was
absent) responded that, in view of the cash shortage, government expected
companies to be able to use cheques, direct transfers etc, to allow ordinary
people to access the cash.
Zvobgo then put a supplementary question:
“Could the Minister advise what we should tell our farm workers? They do not
have bank accounts, and if we give them the cheques, they will have to spend
two weeks sleeping on pavements hoping to get payment.
Chinamasa: “The hon. member and all members should tell their clients that
the matter is being attended to - ”
The entire House, including the Speaker, burst into laughter!
Zimbabwe steps up media clampdown
Mon 27 October, 2003 18:06 BST
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe police have arrested more directors of the
country's sole privately owned daily on charges of publishing without a
licence, an act its owner says is part of a government plan to shut down the
"The arrest of Daily News representatives is further clear,
irrefutable evidence that the Zimbabwean Government does not want an
independent newspaper in the country," said Daily News owner Strive Masiyiwa
in a statement from his base in South Africa.
"This government will stop at nothing in its shameful and illegal
quest to stop the Daily News from publishing," added Masiyiwa, who is also
board chairman of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) which publishes
ANZ legal adviser Gugulethu Moyo said police were holding the firm's
chief executive Sipepa Nkomo and directors Rachel Kupara, Stuart Mattinson
and Brian Mutsau under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act on charges they published the Daily News illegally. All four deny the
Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the
arrests and said police were still investigating.
"The police clearly intend to detain the four directors overnight. We
have filed an urgent court application for their release and are waiting for
a hearing date to be set. We are hoping it will be today," Moyo said from
Harare's central police station.
The High Court had ordered the release of another newspaper director,
Washington Sansole, following his arrest on Monday, Moyo said, adding police
would proceed by way of summons.
The Daily News began publishing in 1999 and has been critical of
President Robert Mugabe's government as the country grapples with an
economic and political crisis widely blamed on official mismanagement since
independence from Britain in 1980.
Mugabe, 79, denies mismanaging the country and in turn accuses local
and foreign opponents of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy to punish his
government for seizure of white-owned commercial farms for landless blacks.
Police closed ANZ's offices after the Supreme Court ruled on September
11 that the paper was illegal because it was published without the licence
required by media laws. The state media commission then turned down its
application for a license.
But the Administrative Court on Friday said the government-appointed
commission was wrong to deny the licence and ordered the panel to grant the
newspaper a licence by November 30.
Masiyiwa said the ANZ believed Friday's court ruling gave the Daily
News authority to resume publication, which it did until police moved
against it on Saturday.
He called on South Africa and what he called other democratic
governments in Africa to put pressure on Mugabe to accept press freedom.
Sunday Times (SA)
Mugabe ill, receiving treatment in SA - report
Monday October 27, 2003 19:09 - (SA)
The Johannesburg-based station Radio 702 is reporting that
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is in South Africa for medical treatment.
It is rumoured that he either had a stroke or a bad fall.
While it is understood that Mugabe is in Johannesburg, no details could be
confirmed by Foreign Affairs Ministry spokespersons Ronnie Mamoepa or
Nomfanelo Kota, both of whom were unavailable for comment.
Mugabe: FA has 'no knowledge'
27/10/2003 21:03 - (SA)
Johannesburg - The Department of Foreign Affairs was unable to
radio report on Monday that Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was receiving
medical treatment in a South African hospital.
702 Talk Radio reported on Monday that Mugabe was in South Africa for
treatment. The report followed rumours that Mugabe had either suffered a
stroke or had a bad fall.
Department spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa told Sapa on Monday night: "At this
stage we have no knowledge of this development. In our interaction with the
Zimbabwean authorities, they denied any knowledge thereof."
A reporter at 702 said that the story originated from a source, and that it
was not known at which hospital Mugabe was supposed to be.
More Zimbabwean Farmers Settle in Mkushi
The Times of Zambia
October 27, 2003
Posted to the web October 27, 2003
TEN more Zimbabwean white farmers have settled in the Mkushi
farming bloc in
Central Province as investors in agriculture.
Immigration department public relations officer Jones Mwewa confirmed this
in an interview in Lusaka.
Mr Mwewa said there had been an increase in the number of white farmers
coming into Zambia from Zimbabwe. The latest arrivals brings to 18 the
number of Zimbabweans now in Mkushi.
He said the department had issued the farmers with self employment permits
valid for two years and subject to renewal once the farmers proved to be
"The number of Zimbabwean farmers coming into the country is increasing. So
far 18 farmers have settled in Mkushi with self employment permits of
investment in agriculture specifically in maize and tobacco growing," he
He said the farmers would be allowed to bring in their farming equipment
from Zimbabwe or buy it within Zambia to prove that they had the capital
base for investment.
Mr Mwewa said Government had not given out any land to the Zimbabwean
farmers but they bought land from fellow farmers in Mkushi.
He said the immigration department wanted to attract investors into the
country but investors had to have documents allowing them to be in the
"We are not harassing any investors but we are only doing our job of
cleaning the country of illegal immigrants," he said.
He said the department was not there to disturb investors but wanted them to
follow immigration laws and other laws of the country.
Mr Mwewa added that those investors that contravened immigration laws risked
Playing the 'Imperialist' Card Has Cast a Spell On Mugabe's Critics
Sunday Times (Johannesburg)
October 26, 2003
Posted to the web October 27, 2003
Devan Pillay says the Left's silence on Zimbabwe has been deafening
Surprisingly, the broad Left has been largely silent amid the noise about
spies, divisions within the ANC and the alleged misuses of public office.
Few have resorted to the political bogeys of racial solidarity or
"imperialist" plots, which may lead some to think that the Left's public
interventions have matured.
However, this silence
masks a bigger silence - interrupted occasionally by
the refrain of "quiet diplomacy" - about the increasingly repressive regime
in Zimbabwe. Of late only a few within the Left have spoken out.
About two years ago, while at a Southern African Development Community
(SADC) meeting in Mauritius, I had the dubious pleasure of supping with
Zimbabwe's Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo.
I first met Moyo 10 years previously when he was a vociferous
liberal-democratic critic of the Mugabe regime. I asked him what made him
"When the white imperialists came back a few years ago," he said, "I decided
I had to make a stand. We cannot allow a return to racist colonial rule."
Moyo was reinforcing the demonisation of the Movement for Democratic Change
as a front for "white imperialists", and not a genuine expression of
Zimbabwean opposition to years of Zanu-PF neglect, nepotism, repression and
In 1990, I interviewed then-Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. He was no imperialist lackey. Indeed, he revealed
that he was a loyal, but critical, Zanu-PF member who wanted to "make Zanu
practise what it preaches". He was referring to Zanu-PF's socialist
rhetoric, at a time when it began drifting towards the IMF and World Bank's
policies of economic liberalisation and structural adjustment.
The early 1990s saw Zanu-PF become more authoritarian, leaving the ZCTU with
little option but to form an opposition party, the MDC, with Tsvangirai as
leader. While the party has proceeded to attract support across the spectrum
of Zimbabwean society, including white farmers, its base remains the
Zimbabwean working class.
Nevertheless, Moyo and his regime continue to portray the situation in
Zimbabwe as a battle between a genuine liberation movement and "imperialist
Of course, when trapped in a corner, unscrupulous thieves and bullies - like
our own former heroes in the arms-deal saga - will resort to whatever
tactics necessary to wriggle their way out. If it means pulling down
honourable people and institutions, then so be it. The "imperialist" card,
like the "racist" card, is inevitably played whenever corrupt officials are
The real tragedy is how many of us on the Left have become spellbound by the
"anti-imperialist" rhetoric. In contrast to its loud condemnation of the
US's invasion of Iraq, opposition to the rape of democracy beyond our
borders has been subdued, if not equivocal.
While Cosatu has for a long time criticised the repression of opposition in
Zimbabwe, its voice has been somewhat muted of late. The ANC has preferred
to maintain the fiction that, despite its shortcomings, Zanu-PF is still a
If members of the tripartite alliance can be excused for not wanting to rock
the boat, and prefer "quiet diplomacy" to resolve matters, what do we say
about others on the Left who are not shackled by diplomacy?
A leading member of the Landless Peoples' Movement told a gathering recently
that the Zimbabwean war veterans represent the true "revolutionary vanguard"
in the region. Others believe that Zanu-PF is still the "best hope for
socialism". Similar bizarre statements have emanated from the ANC Youth
League, the PAC and black consciousness groupings - betraying the utter
poverty of their commitment to democracy and social justice.
Zanu-PF's "socialism" is more akin to the Stalinist dictatorship of North
Korea than that of the democratic Left, which regards political, human and
social rights of all people as sacrosanct.
The Left has effectively abandoned the moral high ground to parties on the
Right, including disgruntled former Rhodesians yearning for the past. Just
because white farmers are the most visible victims of Mugabe's tyranny, we
should not be blind to the fact that the overwhelming majority of his
victims are ordinary workers and peasants.
Why is the invasion of Iraq more important than the desecration of human
rights on our doorstep? While the unilateral US invasion needs to be
condemned as an act of neo-imperialism, at least it got rid of a brutal
regime. In the case of Zimbabwe there are few ambiguities: Mugabe and his
regime are ruining the country and trampling on people before our eyes.
We need to stop being dazzled by Mugabe's "anti-imperialist" rhetoric and
mobilise support for those who are being silenced.
To those who choose silence, let me adapt the Rev Martin Niemoller's famous
words: First they came for the farmers, but I was not a farmer, so I did not
speak out. Then they came for the farm workers and the trade unionists, but
I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the journalists,
but I was not a journalist so I did not speak out. And when they came for
me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
Dr Pillay is a senior lecturer in the sociology department at Wits
Bleak Prospects for New Farmers
October 26, 2003
Posted to the web October 27, 2003
ZIMBABWEAN black market traders, notorious for making a quick dollar out of
people's miseries, have now targeted newly resettled farmers who are
desperate for seed and chemicals.
Already, many new farmers are complaining that they have been sold fake seed
maize, sometimes just ordinary maize grains that are painted over to make
them look like seeds.
But it is not only seed maize that is in short supply. Growers are
complaining that they cannot access enough chemicals and fertilisers for
this season's crop.
Thomas Hwande, a small-scale farmer resettled under the government's chaotic
land reform programme, said for him and many others in his situation, life
would be much harder this farming season.
"It seems as if there is no end to the crisis," a forlorn Hwande told The
"Not only is the maize seed unaffordable, but it is also unavailable. We are
still new in the commercial agriculture industry and were hoping that the
government would go a long way in assisting us as it had promised. But we
have not seen much of that. The land reform has been yet another political
fallacy," he added.
Investigations by The Standard show that a 25-kg bag of maize seed now costs
between $70 000 and $89 000 in most retail outlets, while an ox-drawn plough
is now priced in the region of $300 000, which is far beyond the reach of
many of the so-called new farmers.
Said maize and tobacco farmer, Derrick Slough: "Everything that is happening
questions the rationale and wisdom of the land reforms." Traditionally,
Zimbabwe's earnings from agricultural exports paid for the country's imports
of food, fuel and many other national basics.
"Not so after Hondo ye Minda. One wonders why production has fallen
calamitously under the fast track land reform which government claims has
been a resounding success," said Slough.
The disturbances in agriculture have had a ripple effect on the economy.
The resultant crisis, blamed by many government critics on "mismanagement"
by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party - which has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence in 1980 - has left the country with disastrous shortages of
almost all basic commodities including fuel, cement, fertiliser and basic
foodstuffs such as sugar, maize meal and cooking oil.
Phillip Chingwaru, the spokesman for the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union (ZFU),
lamented the unavailability of maize seed at most retail outlets as a major
"Our union produces between 80 and 90% of the country's maize crop and yet
we are unable to access seed because the chief manufacturers have flooded it
on the black market and to wholesalers who charge exorbitant prices," said
"As a result we have no choice but to balance between acquiring high
producing hybrid seeds and open-pollinated ones," he said.
The hybrid seeds are the scientifically tested seeds that are grown for
commercial purposes, while the open-pollinated ones are made from the
subsistence farmer's traditional skill of preserving the previous season's
grains by hanging them on granary ceilings until the next ploughing season.
Chingwaru said because of the high tillage costs, ZFU members had been
organised into co-operatives to assist each other with tractors and draught
In another show of the general decay in the agriculture sector, the District
Development Fund, which is tasked by government to till the land for the
"new farmers" and communal peasants, will this season be charging $32 000 to
plough each hectare of land. Farmers will also be required to pay for the
Wynand Hart, an official with Justice for Agriculture (JAG), said the
unavailability of inputs and the poor planning of the government's land
reforms had clouded the prospects of a bumper harvest.
"Most farmers were just put on vast tracks of land without any financial or
material support mechanisms," said Hart.
"We are expecting lower harvests by between 20% in most traditional communal
lands and up to 80% in resettled commercial farm lands. This is primarily
because of the shortage of seed, fertiliser and other mechanical inputs
right across the board has affected the whole agriculture production
spectrum," Hart added.
Economic Calamity Befalls Pensioners
October 26, 2003
Posted to the web October 27, 2003
WHEN an elderly pensioner in Harare came home with his pension cheque
recently and realised that it would not even cover their most basic needs.
He walked into his bedroom and shot himself.
He left behind a widow who was now even worse off than before. To survive
she will have to sell the house and their small car and try to subsist in
500 per cent inflation on interest on her capital at 100 per cent. It does
not add up and in no time at all she will again be up against an unforgiving
wall of penury and hardship.
This is only one story amongst many - I understand that pensioners who are
living outside the country have not had their pensions paid externally for
These are not people who have lived all their lives on the dole or wasted
their earnings while they were able to work.
These are men and women who have worked hard all their lives in anticipation
that the contributory pension scheme to which they belonged would enable
them to retire with dignity in a location of their choice.
President Robert Mugabe's economics have destroyed this prospect for all of
us who live in Zimbabwe. It's one of the worst examples of blatant disregard
for the needs of others in this once prosperous country.
The pension funds and their managers are strangely silent on this calamity.
They have sold us a vision of long-term security and persuaded us to take
out insurance and pension contracts of one kind or another with the claim
that this would secure our long-term future.
The Registrar of Pension Funds is also silent, as is the Reserve Bank who
has a statutory obligation to remit pensions to retired persons who are
living outside the country in the currency of their choice. They have the
foreign exchange but are instructed to use this for other purposes rather
than face up to their obligations to our retired community.
In my own case, I have contributed to various schemes ever since I left
school - for 45 years I have faithfully paid each month into these funds by
means of a stop order on my bank account.
I have also worked for the State for over 20 years and at one time held very
senior posts in this country.
During the whole of that time, my employers took a large slice of my income
and paid it into a pension fund on my behalf. They also contributed an equal
share to the fund to ensure an adequate retirement package. All of these
schemes mature at the same time - when I turn 65.
When that happens the combined value of these hopeless investments will not
buy my wife and I one month's living expense at today's prices.
It is not just a question of devaluation - for most of the years that I
worked the value of the Zimbabwe dollar was well above that of the US dollar
or the pound Sterling.
If I had simply purchased foreign exchange with that money and held that in
a bank account abroad, I would be better off than I will be when I "retire".
The reasons are many and they affect all of us who live under this regime.
Remember it used to be that it was compulsory for employers to have pension
funds for their employees and to ensure that these were maintained in such a
state that they could meet their obligations to their staff after
By this means, huge savings were built up and invested - you can see the
evidence of this all over our country in the skylines of our cities.
The managers of these funds were courted and wined and dined to persuade
them to invest in this project or that - deals were struck. The State
legislated that a certain portion had to be invested in government
securities at low interest rates and by these means was able to fund its own
extravagant lifestyle at the expense of the working population.
Accounts were never made available and only in exceptional cases were the
actual owners of these funds ever given access to the details of what was
Often the only statement would be a once-a-year note in the post to say they
were going to pay out a 10 or 15 per cent bonus.
The end result - when my father died, he had worked for the railways for 32
years, retiring from a senior position in the administration. His pension
was half the monthly salary of one of our domestic workers. He lived with us
for 17 years - had he not been able to do so he would never have survived.
This is just not good enough. People who have worked hard and saved all
their lives should not have to worry about their security in retirement.
Society has an obligation to see to this.
Mugabe and his henchmen have failed in their responsibilities towards this
important sector of our population and there are no safety nets.
So what do we do - well, we keep our eyes open for the people who find
themselves in dire straits - you can see them picking their way through the
We have set up funds to provide some assistance where it is required as a
stopgap measure until we get a decent government into place. The main
problem is people are too proud to ask for help, they have always been
self-sufficient and cannot understand what has gone wrong.
If they have children abroad a small sum each month (as little as US$25)
will make all the difference - but it must go through the informal sector or
the State steals that as well!
What these folk need most of all is recognition and understanding. Helping
someone at a crash site is an obligation we all hold - Zimbabwe is a crash
site and we all need to help the injured and casualties. It is certainly not
their fault in any way.
.Eddie Cross is an adviser to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Government Ready to Devalue
October 26, 2003
Posted to the web October 27, 2003
THE government is reportedly close to a decision to devalue the Zimbabwe
dollar despite President Robert Mugabe's strong opposition to any fresh
shift on the beleaguered exchange rate.
An official source in the Ministry of Finance last week told
StandardBusiness that Minister Herbert Murerwa could soon announce a new
policy on the dollar, perhaps as early as next month when he is expected to
announce the 2004 National Budget.
Officials are reportedly planning to fix the dollar at a blended rate of the
official $824 to the US dollar, and a conservative parallel rate of $5 000
to the greenback. Industrialists say they want the dollar to be devalued to
at least $4 500, but the government is unlikely to bend that far backwards,
the source said.
"The ministry has been under a lot of pressure from within government itself
and industry. It will be a difficult decision for Murerwa. He will want to
find a way between correctly pricing the dollar and keeping the politicians
happy," the source said.
Contacted for comment late last week, Murerwa declined saying he was on
Exporters say they need a fresh devaluation to soften the impact of
inflation on operations and revenue. The exchange rate was last adjusted in
February, after government grudgingly gave in to pressure from exporters,
but a 455,6% surge in year-on-year inflation in September has eaten away any
temporary relief the last devaluation might have given industry.
Experts say the $824 rate is no longer realistic, as rising production costs
hit company profits. The current exchange rate was made with February's
annual inflation rate of 220,9% in mind, but with the rate running fiercely
ahead with little indication that the government is anywhere close to a
solution, economists say a revision is well overdue.
"There definitely is pressure from exporters, especially tobacco and mining,
to have the exchange rate in line with the rising cost of production," said
David Mupamhadzi, group economist at Trust.
"Just to break even, in August the mining industry needed an exchange rate
of $2 800 to the US dollar. In September, also just to break even and maybe
make a marginal profit, they needed $3 970. There is need for government to
look at the plight of those sectors to give them a decent rate," added
Economists however also said devaluation had to be accompanied by policies
that would improve export quality and production efficiency.
The Treasury source said there had been constant contact between the
ministry and industry, although there has been a lot of resistance from
senior government officials. Last month, Standard Business reported that
Mugabe had - on eleven occasions this year - shot down any suggestions to
push the dollar from its current official rate.
Pressure for devaluation was dramatised earlier this year when small-scale
tobacco farmers, many of them direct beneficiaries of the ruling Zanu PF's
controversial land reforms, staged a sit-in at tobacco auction floors, in an
attempt to force government's hand on the exchange rate. Large-scale farmers
held on to their crop also in anticipation of the devaluation, but official
resistance to devaluation remained steadfast.
Under the National Economic Recovery Programme, ostensibly designed by
government to help the Zimbabwe economy out of nearly four years of
perpetual decline, the exchange rate was to be reviewed after each quarter,
but government has again failed to keep the pledge.
Government Loses Economic War
October 26, 2003
Posted to the web October 27, 2003
ZIMBABWEANS last week castigated the ruling Zanu PF government for failing
the nation by not addressing the current crisis of the economy that is now
into its seventh year of recession.
In a street survey by Standard Business, many Zimbabweans said President
Robert Mugabe's administration had, by approving astronomical bus and
commuter fares last week, finally showed that it was not capable of
addressing the issues affecting the sinking economy.
"The employed and unemployed people of this country are suffering and
government is not concerned. This government has abdicated its
responsibility of running the country," said Tendai Marango of Chitungwiza.
The government last week sanctioned fares ranging from $400 to $1 000
depending on distance travelled. The last review was in May when fares of
$200 to $400 per city journey were approved.
The new increase follows intense lobbying by transport operators who are
reeling under high inflationary operating costs.
"Zanu PF is no longer capable of turning this economy by itself. It is not
possible. They have failed since 1998," said Tapera Makombe of Mutare.
Responding to the fare hikes, the country's largest labour union, the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), has demanded the immediate
resignation of Mugabe's "War Cabinet".
ZCTU secretary general, Wellington Chibhebhe, said the government was now a
mere spectator to the precipitating economic crisis, which has reached
melting point level.
He said his union was perturbed at the failure by the so-called "War
Cabinet" to proffer any solution to the country's deepening economic crisis.
Mugabe coined the term "War Cabinet" last year - after winning the
controversial presidential election - when he appointed his new team of
advisers that he said would once and for all tackle Zimbabwe's problems.
"We are disappointed that the so-called War Cabinet is dismally losing the
war. Mugabe said the War Cabinet was put in specifically to address the
economic crisis but the war has been lost. So they should leave office
because the so-called declared war on the economy has been lost," said
Economic consultant, Daniel Ndlela said Zimbabwe had become "outstanding" in
the world for the wrong reason: having six consecutive years of negative
Gross Domestic Product growth.
"Zimbabwe is the only economy in the Third World that has GDP growth rates
going down without the country being in a physical war," said Ndlela.
Chibhebhe also warned that the ZCTU might be forced to "take action" against
the government if Mugabe and his team failed to address the economic
He did not specify the kind of action the labour movement would take, but
the ZCTU has in the past confronted government by organising crippling
nationwide work stoppages.
"The tendency of passing all costs to the suffering workers cannot be
tolerated any more, especially at this moment in time when workers' salaries
are eroded by high inflation and high levels of tax," Chibhebhe said.
Zimbabwe's economic woes continue unabated. Last week business at many
government departments and private enterprises came to a halt following the
drying up of fuel supplies from the State's National Oil Company of Zimbabwe
Hyperinflation, characterised by astronomical costs of basic foodstuffs, was
last month pegged at 455,6% - the highest since the southern African country
attained independence from Britain in 1980.
Experts say it will hit 1000 % by Christmas.
Zim paper: SA silence slammed
27/10/2003 13:40 - (SA)
Cape Town - The South African government's silence on the
persecution of the
owners and staff of the Zimbabwean newspaper the Daily News by the
authorities in that country, is scandalous, Democratic Alliance spokesperson
Graham McIntosh said on Monday.
"The persecution of the Daily News by President (Robert) Mugabe's
government, as well as its intolerance of points of view in the media which
are not managed by Zanu-PF commissars, is an international scandal.
"Equally scandalous is the South African government's silence on the
matter," he said in a statement.
"What further evidence does it need to convince it that the Mugabe regime
has no interest in observing human rights or the rule of law in Zimbabwe?"
"Abused, threatened... victims of sabotage'
Like the apartheid regime in South Africa, Mugabe's government had replaced
the rule of law with rule-by-law, silencing dissent with draconian
legislation and the use of the police force against the opposition,
independent media, and civil society commentators.
The owners of the Daily News, the editor, and his staff had been abused,
threatened, and made victims of sabotage and legislative terrorism.
"The latest act of intimidation, which must have shocked the world, is the
use by the police of hostages to secure the arrest of the directors of the
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) -- the owners of the Daily News,"
The hostages included ANZ boss Sam Nkomo's niece and former high court
judge, now a director of ANZ, Washington Sansole.
"This lawless behaviour by the police is outrageous, and demands the
strongest possible condemnation from democratic leaders in Africa."
South Africa had one of the most respected and progressive Constitutions in
However, President Thabo Mbeki's government's credibility as a consistent
supporter of human rights and democracy was withering in the face of the
outlaw regime of Mugabe and his Zanu-PF.
Decent people all over Africa were not simply puzzled by Mbeki's stance, but
that puzzlement was turning into disgust and condemnation.
Mbeki should re-establish South Africa's reputation as a champion of
democracy and human rights by leading Southern African Development Community
and African Union heads of state in condemning the escalating oppression of
dissenting voices in Zimbabwe, McIntosh said.
12:00 - 27 October
An 83-year-old Methodist minister, who flew to Zimbabwe to protest
against the regime earlier this year, stepped up his campaign with a
dramatic street demonstration this weekend. Merfyn Temple, a minister at
Honiton Methodist Church, travelled to London and painted himself with
tomato sauce to protest against the bloodshed in Zimbabwe under president
Mail and Guardian
'We will not be silenced'
Ryan Truscott | Harare
27 October 2003 08:13
A director of Zimbabwe's
Daily News was arrested on Sunday, a day after
police again shut down the troubled southern African country's only
independent daily newspaper, the paper's legal adviser said.
The arrest of Washington Sansole in the country's second city of Bulawayo
came after police occupied the paper's offices in the capital Harare on
Saturday and briefly detained 18 other staff members.
The best-selling Daily News, a staunch critic of President Robert Mugabe,
reappeared on the streets on Saturday more than a month after it was shut
down for operating without a licence.
But as Zimbabweans rushed to get a copy, police swooped on its offices,
detaining staff and shutting down its operations, and later went to the home
of Daily News publisher Samuel Nkomo and arrested his niece.
The paper's legal adviser Gugulethu Moyo said on Sunday the police wanted to
interview the other eight company directors and had threatened to detain
Sansole "until the other guys turn up."
"It's purely vindictive," said Moyo. "It's not about the law. It's about
dealing with perceived political opponents."
The France-based media lobby group Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF, Reporters
Without Borders) called for the immediate release of Sansole.
RSF said the detentions showed that Zimbabwe's authorities "are ready to do
anything to prevent publication of the only independent daily in the
Saturday's comeback edition -- touting the optimistic front-page headline
"We're back!" -- appeared after a court ruled on Friday that the Daily News
should be granted a licence before November 30.
No stranger to clashes with the government, the Daily News was shut down in
September after Zimbabwe's supreme court ruled it was operating illegally
because it did not have a licence.
The paper then applied for a licence but was turned down by the
state-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC). Tough new media laws
introduced soon after President Mugabe was re-elected last year say that all
journalists and publications must be registered.
Late on Sunday legal adviser Moyo said the paper would be filing a number of
legal suits against Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and MIC chairman
Tafataona Mahoso for "the damages we have suffered from this unlawful
The newspaper plans to sue for massive losses of revenue since its forced
closure in September, among other things, she said. The challenges are
expected to be filed on Monday.
Senior reporter Precious Shumba said on Sunday that the government would not
be able to deny him and his colleagues their "right to tell the Zimbabwean
"I feel the government is being harsh with us, and treating us like
criminals," he said. "But we will not be silenced."
The Daily News, founded four years ago, was an alternative voice to the two
state-run dailies, the Bulawayo-based Chronicle and The Herald, which toe
the government line.
Its closure comes against a background of political unrest, severe economic
crisis and one of the world's highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection in
The former British colony's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is currently
on trial for allegedly plotting the assassination of Mugabe.
His marathon trial, which started in February, was supposed to resume
Monday. But his lawyers said over the weekend it was being put off until
possibly next year because the judge had other engagements that might
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena on Sunday confirmed the arrest of Daily
News director Sansole, a former high court judge, and said he was being
charged with "carrying on the business of a media house without a
Bvudzijena said the other company directors would face similar charges.
"They are supposed to get an operating licence before they can produce,"
Bvudzijena said. "But they went on to produce yesterday (Saturday)."
The Daily News has a history of clashes with the government, which says it
is a front for Western interests. Several of its reporters and photographers
have been arrested, including prominent former editor and founder Geoff
It has also suffered two unexplained explosions -- one at the paper's
offices and one at its printing presses.
The Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday employs around 300 full-time
staff, and around 1 000 vendors sell the paper.
Window on Africa - Has the ANC shrugged off the revolution, and is it
using an old Kenyan trick to hold power?
October 27, 2003
By Peter Fabricius
Last year SACP deputy secretary-general Jeremy Cronin got himself into
trouble with his allies in the ruling party for criticising "the
Zanufication of the ANC".
What he meant was that in SA, as in Zimbabwe, the liberation struggle
had been "bureaucratised".
In an interview with Helena Sheehan, Cronin explained what he meant by
In 1994, the leadership had taken its seats in the Union Buildings and
had told the rest of the tripartite alliance: "Thanks very much. It was
important that you were mobilised then, but now we are in power, in power on
your behalf. Relax and we'll deliver.
"The struggle now is counter-productive. Mass mobilisation gets in the
way. Don't worry. We've got a plan. Yes, it'll be slow, but be patient...".
What Cronin was describing did not seem astonishingly reprehensible.
Stripped of its rhetoric, the message which the new government delivered to
its allies seems perfectly logical. "We conducted a revolution to get into
power and now we are in power, we no longer need the revolution." QED.
But to a communist still dreaming perhaps of the second, truly
socialist revolution - or perhaps of perpetual revolution - this message was
poison. Hence the unflattering comparison with Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF.
It was probably more the label, Zanufication, than the actual process
he was describing that so offended the ANC elite. The process itself could
hardly have seemed offensive, even to them.
From a different ideological perspective to Cronin's, one might have
thought he had something different in mind in describing the Zanufication of
That he might have been referring to the way Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF
has done so little of substance for ordinary Zimbabweans for 23 years, but
has tried to mask this omission by putting out an ink cloud of rhetoric
blaming the country's ills on whites, the MDC, the British government,
anyone but Zanu-PF.
It seemed at first glance that Cronin was saying something similar
about President Mbeki. That he was criticising Mbeki for pursuing a policy
of neo-liberal economics which were not (in Cronin's view) delivering
anything worthwhile to the black
And that he was meanwhile keeping his constituency at bay by blaming
others for this.
Through, for example, his frequent critical references to SA being
"Two Nations - one rich and white, the other black and poor"; a slogan which
suggested that whites were to blame for the continuing poverty of blacks,
without actually suggesting what they should be doing about it.
Maybe something of that same point is buried somewhere inside Cronin's
revolutionary language but it's hard to say.
If our leaders have indeed plagiarised a useful idea from Zimbabwe,
are we also now seeing them borrowing another one from Kenya?
In the extraordinary proliferation of the Zumagate affair, are our
leaders deriving some inspiration from Kanu, the party which led Kenya to
independence and for almost 40 years after that?
The last Kanu president, Daniel arap Moi, used corruption charges as
his staple weapon for dealing with challenges to his power in the party and
In a country so corrupt, that was always a plausible pretext.
Every time the donor countries on which he was so dependent demanded
some action against corruption, Moi would oblige by weeding out a few more
Here we have seen our president appoint the Hefer Commission of
Inquiry to investigate whether the national director of public prosecutions,
Bulelani Ngcuka, was a spy for the apartheid government.
Even within the ANC it is being asked whether it is appropriate to
mobilise judicial, state resources, to address a charge that does not
constitute a crime and which appears to be a purely internal party matter.
Are we seeing justice running its natural course?
Or the beginning of the "Kanu-fication" of the ANC?