27 October 2008
HARARE - Former South African president Thabo Mbeki said he was hopeful that
power-sharing talks in Zimbabwe would produce a breakthrough as he arrived
Monday in Harare for a regional summit.
"Progress on the talks is very good," Mbeki told reporters, adding that he
was "very optimistic" about finalising plans for a unity government in the
Mbeki brokered the unity agreement signed six weeks ago, calling for
Zimbabwe's long-time leader Robert Mugabe to remain as president while
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai becomes prime minister.
But the deal threatens to collapse over bitter disagreements about how to
divide control of the most powerful ministries, particularly home affairs,
which oversees the police.
Key regional leaders are meeting in Harare to try to salvage the deal, seen
as the best hope for ending Zimbabwe's political turmoil and pulling the
country from economic ruin.
President Kgalema Motlanthe arrived earlier today for the talks, which will
also gather Swaziland's Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini and Angolan foreign
minister Assuncao dos Anjos.
Mozambican President Armando Emilio Guebuza was also expected to attend the
by Godfrey Marawanyika Godfrey Marawanyika - 1 hr 11 mins ago
HARARE (AFP) - Leaders of a Southern African bloc met Monday in Zimbabwe to
press President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to
break an impasse on forming a unity government.
The rivals spent more than eight hours in talks with South African President
Kgalema Motlanthe and other regional leaders who hope to settle their
differences over which party should control the most powerful ministries.
Underscoring Zimbabwe's political tensions, at least 47 people were arrested
and eight injured as police broke up a protest by 100 activists who tried to
march by the hotel where the leaders were meeting, organisers said.
"One woman said she was struck with a rifle butt. Another student I spoke to
said he fell to the ground and a policeman stamped on his head," said
Blessing Vava, spokesman for the Zimbabwe National Students Union.
"We are shocked by this brutality" during the summit talks, he told AFP.
The security organ of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
organised the summit in Harare after Tsvangirai boycotted talks a week ago
in Swaziland, to protest delays in receiving his travel papers from Mugabe's
Just six weeks ago, regional leaders had come to Harare to celebrate the
signing of the power-sharing deal, which calls for 84-year-old Mugabe to
remain as president while Tsvangirai becomes prime minister.
But Mugabe and Tsvangirai have failed to agree on which party should control
the most important ministries, particularly home affairs, which oversees the
South Africa's Motlanthe as well as Mozambican President Armando Emilio
Guebuza, Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini and Angolan Foreign
Minister Assuncao dos Anjos hope to pressure the two sides into an agreement
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who brokered the original
agreement, said he was "very optimistic" going into the talks.
"Progress on the talks is very good," Mbeki told reporters as he arrived in
Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway faction of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), said he expected the regional bloc to find a
way to resolve the differences over the cabinet posts.
"The options are limited. We must make sure the September 15 agreement
works," he told reporters.
"There is no way Mugabe will go it alone, and Mutambara and Tsvangirai can't
walk away," he said.
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a first-round presidential vote in March, when
the MDC also forced the ZANU-PF into the minority in parliament for the
first time since it took power on independence in 1980.
But he failed to win enough votes for an outright victory and then pulled
out of the run-off in June, accusing the regime of coordinating a brutal
campaign of violence that had left more than 100 of his supporters dead.
The protracted political feuding has dimmed the hopes of ordinary
Zimbabweans, who had believed the unity government would lift the country's
Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy has been in free fall for nearly a
decade since Mugabe's government began seizing white-owned farms in a
chaotic land reform scheme that gave land to poor blacks who often lacked
the training for large-scale commercial farming.
Once seen as an African success story, Zimbabwe is now one of its failures
with more than 80 percent of its population plunged into poverty and
battling the world's highest inflation rate, estimated at 231 million
By Lance Guma
27 October 2008
Over 50 people were arrested in Harare on Monday after students and
activists from different pressure groups marched on the venue of a SADC
summit, meant to discuss the deadlock over cabinet allocations. Police fired
tear gas and in some cases beat up the protesters who had come to express
their disillusionment with the power sharing deal signed in September.
Hundreds of activists from the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Youth
Forum, Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR), Women's Coalition and
others were prevented from getting to the Rainbow Towers Hotel. Over 300
members from the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe, dressed in black and white
outfits, held their own demonstration demanding that a unity government be
formed as a matter of urgency.
According to the coalition, 47 of their members were arrested while 11 had
to seek treatment for injuries sustained from police beatings. The women
waved placards written 'tafa nenzara- we are dying of hunger' and 'hatina ma
US'- we don't have US dollars, a reference to shops in the country being
allowed to sell goods in foreign currency.
The other demonstration featured mainly students and youths who also had
similar demands. Students say the cabinet impasse has affected their
schooling with lecturers and teachers on strike while some of the colleges
remain closed. An alert from ROHR activists alleges that senior ZANU PF
official Elliot Manyika, 'with a team of ZANU PF youths hired from Machipisa
abducted 4 ROHR activists after the demonstration.' The youths were still
missing at the time Newsreel went on air.
Monday's demonstration marks the first time civil society pressure groups
have organized a protest on the same day. In the past they have been accused
of leading valiant but disorganized protests, instead of harnessing their
23 INJURED, 7 ARRESTED AND 4 ABDUCTED AFTER A ROHR DEMONSTRATION
23 men and women have been
hospitalised and seven arrested after ROHR Zimbabwe demonstrated in
More than 200 ROHR activists
participated in demonstrations that brought business to a standstill in
The peaceful protest was
violently crushed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police a few streets away from the
venue, along Robert Mugabe Road corner
Police crush peaceful demonstration using tears gas at 1230hrs today.
Around 1200hrs our members reported that
1 person was abducted by suspected Zanu PF operatives along
protest in progress
Tel: +263 4 744593
Mobiles: +263 912 426638, +263 912 713410
UK Contact: Ephraim Tapa, President ROHR - 07940 793 090
October 27, 2008
By Mxolisi Ncube
JOHANNESBURG - More than 3 500 disgruntled junior members of the Zimbabwean
security forces have quit their jobs over the past two months, in protest
over low pay and poor working conditions, senior intelligence sources have
Serving members have absconded from the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), the
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) and the
dreaded spy agency the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), which have
all played a key role in President Robert Mugabe's continued reign and
control over the country's volatile political situation.
Although Zimbabwe's security chiefs have continued to show their
unquestionable loyalty to Mugabe, lower ranking officers, who are among the
lowest paid workers, have continued to leave their respective organisations,
as they fail to make ends meet a result of the country's blistering economic
meltdown, characterised by record inflation of above 200 million per cent.
Sources within the security forces, who are all senior officers, revealed to
The Zimbabwe Times on Monday that more than 3 500 junior officers had either
resigned or deserted the security forces since August 1.
"The biggest number came from the army, where more than 1 500 officers
quit," said a senior officer with the CIO. "From the police, more than 1
000 officers deserted, while the prisons services and the CIO contributed
the remaining number.
"The officers who quit either go to neighbouring South Africa and Botswana,
where they do menial jobs, or just join the informal sector locally."
The sources added that there was a feeling among the lower ranks of the
armed forces that were being used to ensure Mugabe clings to power, yet the
84-year-old leader neglected them in favour of their seniors.
"The junior officers are not happy that they continue to earn peanuts from
the government, yet they do all the dirty work, while their superiors reap
the rewards," said a source from within the national army.
"As it is right now, they can hardly afford to provide basics for their
families, yet the bosses drive around in expensive motor vehicles and earn
various pecks that keep them afloat."
He added that the lowest paid junior army officer earned a monthly basic
salary equivalent to R30, which was not adequate even for monthly transport
A senior police officer based at the Police General Headquarters in Harare,
also confirmed that the law-enforcement agency had lost close to 2 000
junior officers since August.
"We are set to lose even more non-commissioned officers before the end of
the year, as more than 1 000 more have submitted their resignation letters,
to be effected on December 31," said the officer, who works in the
Discharges Section of the ZRP.
"Our recruitment drives have failed to realise the 50 000 officers that we
had targeted for 2010 because of these resignations of young men and women,
most of them aged below 30 years.
"Most young people are now reluctant to join the organisation because they
know about the poor working conditions for its members."
Non-commissioned officers of the ZRP are those with ranks of Assistant
Inspector and below.
The senior officer revealed that other than poor salaries, the junior
officers were struggling to get accommodation in police camps, while the
organisation was also failing to supply them with uniforms.
"The young officers are now being forced to live out of camps, which means
an extra cost in rentals, now charged in foreign currency, while transport
also becomes another expense," said the senior officer.
He said authorities had tried but failed to suppress the continued lack of
faith in the current government.
"Those living in camps are crammed in small rooms, where you find seven
officers sharing a single room meant for one person," he said. "Uniform
shortages have also seen some officers wearing either over-sized garments,
or those that are too small for them and this has made them a laughing stock
to the public.
"Supplies also come once in a long while and the junior officers have lost
their patience with the government."
National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena,
refused to comment to The Zimbabwe Times.
"I do not know what you are talking about," he said before switching off his
Zimbabwe currently has about 40 000 soldiers, 30 000 police officers, 20 000
prison officers and 15 000 CIO officers.
Since the formation of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
in 1999, Mugabe has used the security forces to quash opposition efforts to
wrestle power from him, through controversial operations in which opposition
officials, supporters and civic leaders have been brutalised.
He has also lavished senior officers, most of them former freedom fighters,
with expropriated farms, seized from white commercial farmers during the
government's controversial land grabs of 2000, while ignoring the juniors.
The ministries of Defence, Justice and Home Affairs, under which the
security forces fall, are currently at the centre of a cabinet sharing
wrangle between Mugabe and the opposition. The conflict has delayed the
formation of a unity government, whose agreement was signed on September 15.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the government’s decision to spy on the email of editors employed by the state-owned Zimpapers group from 3 to 15 August in order to gauge their loyal to President Robert Mugabe.
“As a result of this illegal decision, editor Bhekinkosi Ncube of the magazine Umthunywa has been suspended for nearly two months and could lose his job altogether,” Reporters Without Borders said. “He is alleged to have insulted President Mugabe in an email sent from his private email address. The accusation is baseless and proves only that his personal email was monitored. We call for his reinstatement, the destruction of all the gathered data and an investigation into the government’s violation of the Interception of Communications Act.”
Ncube was suspended in August for publishing a photo of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change with the caption “Walile u Tsvangirai” (Tsvangirai refuses to sign). At the time, negotiations were under way between the MDC and the ruling ZANU-PF for power sharing after ZANU-PF’s defeat in the March general elections.
During a hearing on the case on 7 October in Harare, Zimpapers CEO Justin Mutasa revealed that he had placed all of his editors under electronic surveillance to establish whether they supported ZANU-PF. He authorised the use of password-cracking software to hack into their private email accounts.
In an attempt to evade responsibility, Mutasa told the hearing that it was the information minister, not himself, who determined editorial policy for the Zimpapers group. The minutes of the hearing quote him as saying: “Every incoming minister calls all the editors and expounds to them what he expects from them. Editors must comply.”
The Zimbabwean Broadcast Corporation’s CEO, Henry Muradzikwa, and seven of its journalists were fired in May for not supporting Mugabe and ZANU-PF sufficiently during the election campaign.
Zimpapers is 51 per cent owned by the Mass Media Trust, which was set up by the government in 1980. The country’s biggest print media group, it consists of six newspapers. One of them, The Herald, has a circulation of 45,000 and is Zimbabwe’s most widely-read daily.
Adopted in August 2007, the Interception of Communication Act allows the government to tap phone calls and monitor email and fax communications in order to “guarantee national security” but does not authorise hacking into private email correspondence without a warrant.
Zimbabwe was ranked 151st out of 173 countries in the 2008 press freedom index which Reporters Without Borders released last week. Journalism continues to be a dangerous and frustrating profession in Zimbabwe and journalists are constantly harassed by the police and courts.
Monday, 27 October 2008 09:00
No deal as long as African leaders side with Mugabe
On Monday, October 27, African leaders will gather again in Harare to
try and salvage the infamous government of national unity (GNU) deal that
has all but collapsed.
The African leaders have a simple task at hand. All they need to do is
to remind Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF cronies that the GNU demands that he
share power, equally, with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
With the benefit of hindsight, we believe that the African leaders
will do no such thing. Instead, they will side with Robert Mugabe on one
hand while on the other hand they will try to force Morgan Tsvangirai and
his MDC to accept what Mugabe wants.
Indeed even Tsvangirai knows this, why he was forced to make his
position clear when he was in Marondera Saturday.
"We have very high respect for SADC (Southern African Development
Community), very high respect for every African institution," he said. "When
they (the regional leaders) come on Monday we shall respect them," he added,
but he was quick to remind them that he will not accept a deal that favours
Mugabe or one that leaves him powerless.
"There is nothing wrong with the deal, the problem is now its
implementation... the problem is that Mugabe wants all the key ministries...
I will not enter into this government when I know there is no sincerity...
How can I sign this deal when I am not given the tools to perform?"
In a show of the complete distrust of the MDC of the mediator Thabo
Mbeki, Tsvangirai went on to castigate Mbeki's quiet diplomacy, arguing that
"quiet diplomacy has its limits."
Tsvangirai and the MDC are right to be afraid of the African leaders.
Over the past seven months of the crisis, the African leaders at first
denied that there was crisis, but as the ZANU-PF militia went of the rampage
in rural Zimbabwe, they were forced to eat their words and eventually
accepted that the situation in Zimbabwe was a crisis.
At every turn in this whole crisis, the African leaders have sided
with Mugabe. In fact, over the last decade, when Mugabe and his ZANU-PF
cronies destroyed Zimbabwe, these African leaders stood by, hands folded.
Some of these African leaders even applauded Mugabe, urging him on.
Mugabe and ZANU-PF are aware of this, and they are looking forward to
capitalizing on the duplicity of the African leaders. ZANU-PF will enter
the meeting with a strong hand, assured that the African leaders will cover
So, today Monday, it is interesting to ask these simple questions.
What would the African leaders do differently at this emergency summit? What
will be different? Would they have stopped looking at Mugabe as a hero?
Would they cast of the misdirected 'African Solidarity' stance and do what
is right for the people of Zimbabwe? The answer to all these questions is
Therefore, we the Harare Tribune Editorial Board accept as fact that
today and the days ahead, either a) Tsvangirai will accept a deal that
favours Robert Mugabe and his cronies or b) The impasse over the allocation
of cabinet posts will continue.
We hate the cabinet deadlock. The people of Zimbabwe are suffering.
We urge African leaders, starting with Thabo Mbeki who presided over
the collapse of our country Zimbabwe, to do the right thing.
Do the right thing and force Mugabe to share power equally with the
MDC. It is time African leaders stopped siding with Mugabe.
By Alex Bell
27 October 2008
Zimbabwe's worsening economic crisis has seen the country's sick, injured
and dying being refused critical treatment in hospital - as patients are
expected to pay tens of millions Zimbabwe dollars as down payments for
medical care and for drugs.
The country's health system has deteriorated to drastic levels as a result
of the combined crises crippling the once prosperous country. The economic
collapse has seen a flood of highly skilled doctors and nurses fleeing
abroad, while even the most basic medical supplies are out of financial
reach for hospitals and clinics. The situation has recently meant patients
are forced to buy their own drugs and medical supplies in order to receive
even the most basic treatment.
At the same time, the country's economy has spiralled out of control, to the
point where shops are now refusing to accept local currency after the
Zimbabwe dollar depreciated at its fastest rate ever over the weekend.
Hospital patients are now required to fork out a Z$20 million down payment
for care, on top of buying drugs from private pharmacies - in a country
where the daily cash withdrawal limit is Z$50,000 a day. In what is clearly
the strangest form of genocide ever to face a country, a weekend report by
the UK's Sunday Telegraph newspaper say patients are being left to die
inside Harare's Parirenyatwa Hospital, because their families are unable to
draw out the funds needed to secure critical treatment from the hospital
The report quoted a grieving husband whose wife was diagnosed with a kidney
ailment - the treatment for which the man said he could easily afford. But,
on top of the down payment, he was told to buy the drugs needed to save his
wife's life at a cost of Z$30 million. He was forced to get special
clearance from the Reserve Bank to exceed to the daily limit of Z$50,000,
but by the time he got clearance hyperinflation had seen the cost of
medicine almost double, and his wife was beyond saving.
"She was not a candidate for death, I have my money in the bank, but they
have been cruel enough to deny my access to that money," the devastated man
told the Sunday Telegraph.
At the same time, a nurse at the hospital spoke about the death of a three
month old girl in the hospital's waiting room. "When she arrived her life
could have been saved but her parents had exhausted all their savings on the
bus fare," the nurse explained. "She died while everyone watched right here
in the waiting room because she could not be attended to without the
Tiseke Kasambala from Human Rights Watch called the situation tragic, saying
Robert Mugabe's government needs to be taken to task for the suffering being
endured by the people. She warned against labelling the situation as
"genocide" but argued that clearly things need to urgently change.
"We are seeing an unwillingness by the government to end the crisis and the
suffering being experience," Kasambala said. "We are therefore calling on
the government to immediately end all restrictions on aid and for the
international community to respond in force to the desperate humanitarian
By Violet Gonda
27 October 2008
Jenni Willams and Magodonga Mahlangu were arrested two weeks ago during a
peaceful WOZA protest in Bulawayo, demanding an end to the suffering in
Zimbabwe, but they are still being denied bail. The pair were further
remanded in custody on Monday and the defence team has now lodged an urgent
High Court appeal.
Last Friday a Bulawayo magistrate Charity Maphosa, who had on Tuesday
reserved judgement on the matter, failed to arrive because she was
'attending a workshop'. Another magistrate, Sophie Matimba, took over the
case that Friday but delayed the ruling until Monday. Magistrate Maphosa was
back this Monday and again denied bail to the pair, claiming that it would
'not be in the best interest of justice'.
WOZA believes this is a purely political ruling. The group's spokesperson
Annie Sibanda said despite the two being removed off remand on previous
cases involving protest marches, the State insists they still have other
In denying them bail, magistrate Maphosa stated that because the two WOZA
leaders had 'pending' cases it was likely that they would commit similar
offences again. She made note of the volatile political climate gripping the
country saying 'people are easily excitable' and could be moved to violence
if they saw such demonstrations.
Annie Sibanda said: "The latter statement (by the magistrate) is actually
the crux of the matter. It comes down to the fact that ZANU PF does not want
people on the streets demonstrating and claiming their constitutional
The WOZA women have been at the forefront of peaceful protests in Zimbabwe.
WOZA says the continued denial of bail for their leaders is an indication
that nothing has changed in Zimbabwe, despite the political leaders signing
a power sharing deal pledging to end the crisis and the suffering in
Since the deal was signed last month the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe has
reached alarming proportions with the Zimbabwe dollar crashing spectacularly
and shops no longer accepting payment in local currency.
Dozens of hungry and frustrated protestors, mostly women, were arrested in
Harare on Monday. The arrests took place as regional leaders converged in
Harare to try and break the political impasse.
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
27 October 2008
Posted to the web 27 October 2008
SOME Zimbabweans have called on the Government to prosecute those
individuals and bank officials implicated in the cash scam and implored the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to phase out cash withdrawal limits as they fuel
Some individuals are reportedly conniving with bank employees and central
bank staff to withdraw large sums of cash way above the $50 000 daily limit.
The money is then used to buy foreign currency. The Bankers' Association of
Zimbabwe last week warned those involved that they risked prosecution.
"We will investigate the allegations to see whether they have substance or
warrant action and then issue a statement," BAZ president Dr John Mangudya
He said the difficulties in the banking sector could only come to an end in
the event of a political settlement between Zanu-PF and the two MDC
"Our prayer is that the political problems come to an end. First and
foremost is the need for speedy political settlement because the economy is
bleeding. Things are bad and what we are seeing are symptoms of a big
problem," he said.
Dr Mangudya said hyper-inflation was also contributing to the current
problems the sector was facing.
"You are aware of the nature of the problems and the major cause is the
hyper-inflationary environment. The environment is not conducive for normal
business and there are bound to be temptations," he said.
Allegations are that some individuals and bank officials were using
prescriptions from doctors requiring millions of dollars, which they then
use to obtain quotations from pharmacies to apply for cash at their banks
with the assistance of bank employees.
The Herald was last week inundated with phone calls as people aired their
views on the cash scam. Most of the callers said the central bank should
immediately phase out cash limits.
"Limiting access to cash fuels illegal activities. People should be able to
access their salaries but cannot. People are then forced to resort to
illegal activities to survive," Mr George Mazangunye of Harare said.
Although he condemned the abuse of the emergency purpose facility, Mr
Mazangunye said the RBZ should address the interest rate policy to attract
money back into the banking system.
Others were of the view that the withdrawal limit should be increased to $5
million for individuals and up to $10 billion for companies.
People also said the country's banking system was benefiting a few
individuals with connections at the expense of the general public.
"The banking system in the country is benefiting a few people who have
access to senior managers in the banking sector while the majority who are
not connected are suffering," Mr Kudakwashe Jodo said.
He suggested that the maximum withdrawal limit be increased to $5 million in
line with the prices of goods and services.
Last week a loaf of bread was selling at between $30 000 and $50 000, a
kilogramme of beef at between $150 000 and $200 000 a kg and a 75ml bottle
of cooking oil was costing between $150 000 and $200 000.
Transport has also gone up with commuter omnibuses charging between $15 000
and $25 000 for a trip to Chitungwiza.
Another caller who declined to be named said many people had resorted to
walking to work.
"Things are hard, we are appealing to the Government to make money easily
accessible to everyone and at the same time prosecute those culprits who
have caused this suffering. The majority of people are suffering and it's
pathetic while others are flashing bundles of cash in the city," he said.
He alleged one bank worker (name supplied) was boasting recently that they
get $1,5 million cash every week.
"She told me that she was getting $1,5 million every week and uses it to buy
foreign currency. This is real and we have learnt to live with it," he said.
He said the central bank should also ensure that shops and service providers
are forced to accept cheques as a form of payment.
"Where do we get the hard cash to settle our bills? For years we have been
using cheques to pay bills, why cash today?" bemoaned a resident of the
Avenues who declined to be named.
Most banks were last week reportedly called meetings with workers over the
"We have been holding meetings but I cannot give you the details or the
nature of our meetings," a teller at a commercial bank said.
Another official at a building society also confirmed that they had been
summoned to a meeting over the scam in which bank employees are also accused
of using dead relatives' and friends' ATM cards to withdraw huge sums of
Bank workers were also accused of being the chief culprits in violating the
RTGS and inter-bank systems by withdrawing huge sums of money and offloading
it on to the black market to buy foreign currency.
By William Wallis in London
Published: October 27 2008 18:33 | Last updated: October 27 2008 18:33
It could be many months before Zimbabwe can access donor funds to stabilise
its imploding economy even if President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai,
the prime minister designate, break the deadlock over cabinet positions
holding up a post-election agreement.
Donor officials say any government emerging from the power-sharing talks
that resumed in Harare on Monday would first have to establish a clean break
from ruinous past policies.
“We are keen that they reach a political agreement so that they can have a
credible economic reform programme and credible people at the Reserve Bank,”
says Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank.
But the government would have to move quickly to schedule repayment of $1bn
(€801m, £644m) in arrears to the AfDB, and the World Bank, and reach
agreement on an International Monetary Fund reform programme before direct
budgetary support would be available, he said.
The threshold has been raised by the global financial crisis and the
likelihood that donors will be reluctant to risk substantial sums on
rescuing an administration still headed by Mr Mugabe.
“For the bilaterals they could begin now. For the international financial
institutions it would require agreement on arrears and an internationally
accepted reform package,” Mr Kaberuka told the Financial Times.
Without an injection of hard currency, potentially more than $1bn, any
government would struggle to tame hyper-inflation running officially at an
annualised 231m per cent, and by unofficial estimates tracked by the US Cato
institute, at 10 quadrillion per cent.
Bilateral donors including the US and UK could raise humanitarian aid to an
estimated 5m Zimbabweans facing starvation, donor officials say. But a
prolonged period of waiting before any formal stabilisation package is
available would pose serious difficulties for both Mr Tsvangirai and Mr
Having signed up to what some opposition activists criticise as a pact with
the devil, the opposition leader once in government will be under pressure
to prove he can quickly reverse a vertiginous decline in Zimbabwean
livelihoods. “Civil servants want real incomes. What happens if he can’t
deliver?” asks a Zimbabwean analyst connected with the Reserve Bank.
As a bare minimum towards maintaining the peace and paying security forces,
a new government would have to continue printing money in the near term, an
economist with a multilateral donor organisation said. But to accelerate the
disbursement of donor funds – in the best case scenario within three
months – it would have to signal serious intent to reform.
For Mr Mugabe this would pose an acute dilemma. A period of best behaviour
could jeopardise the patronage system with which he has maintained his grip
In the fantastical world of quadrillions that Zimbabwe’s economy inhabits,
it has become next to impossible to measure the real state of the country’s
finances. Donors list some minimum conditions that a new government would
have to meet to restore confidence. These include commissioning an external
audit of the Reserve Bank, establishing a credible consumer price index,
willingness to seek technical assistance from the IMF, and the appointment
of credible reformers to positions with influence over monetary and economic
Beyond that, a new government could move to protect private property,
reverse legislation hindering business, and re-establish the rule of law.
Because Mr Mugabe and his principal lieutenants have shown little
inclination to do this, many donor officials remain sceptical that a
substantial recovery programme will be feasible in the near term.
By William Wallis
Published: October 27 2008 17:44 | Last updated: October 27 2008 17:45
The strongest card Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's opposition leader, has held
during protracted talks with President Robert Mugabe is his ability to draw
a financial rescue package should he gain sufficient power in a coalition
Yet Mr Mugabe and his principal allies from the Zanu-PF party have every
reason to fear the reforms that foreign donors would impose. "It would
require a wholesale change in attitude at the top, and decisions that are
incompatible with the patronage system," says a senior economist with an
international financial institution.
As Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed, access to patronage including US
dollars at the heavily discounted official exchange rate, has become
increasingly centralised at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). Should Mr
Mugabe lose control of this, as well as finance and other key economic
ministries, he would struggle to hold his support base together.
"Without the patronage system, Zanu-PF would implode," argues a senior
Foreign assets at the RBZ are now so insignificant that one analyst
describes them as "a rounding error on the balance sheet". Yet fortunes are
being made even as the economy reaches an exponential stage of implosion.
The effect, according to Harare-based economists, of the monetary policies
pursued by Gideon Gono, the reserve bank governor, has been to suck residual
value from the economy and channel it to securocrats, politicians and
businessmen within Mr Mugabe's fold.
The process began in 2000 with the expropriation of white-owned farms. It
continued when the reserve bank seized control of pensions and corporate
savings by raising statutory reserve requirements.
In its latest stage, spiralling hyperinflation and dysfunctional exchange
rate mechanisms offer the possibility of instant riches to what one
economist calls a "pickers' pot" of 200 well-connected officials with access
to hard currency at official exchange rates. Due to its control of scarce
hard currency, the bank has gained a hand in a lengthening list of trading
"Monetary policy is central to every business," says an analyst connected to
To circumvent rules on sending fortunes overseas, businessmen can buy shares
in Harare of Old Mutual, the insurance and investment management company,
and sell them in London and Johannesburg where they are co-listed. This
process is also controlled by the RBZ.
HARARE, October 27 2008 - Representatives of the National Association
of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO), on Monday met with Prime Minister
designate Morgan Tsvangirai, hours before the make or break SADC Troika
mediated dialogue, to urge him to end the cabinet sharing talks stalemate.
The NANGO leadership had earlier on met with ZANU-PF Chief Negotiator
Patrick Chinamasa, and presented a document for onward submission to
President Robert Mugabe. The team is also scheduled to meet with the
Mutambara led MDC leadership. NANGO spokesperson, Fambai Ngirande, noted
that as the inter-party dialogue process continues to stall, humanitarian
conditions have degenerated to unprecedented levels, with food insecurity
leaving close to five million people in need of humanitarian support, amid
hyper-inflation, repression and mass unemployment. "The Masvingo declaration
holds that the "delay in the amicable conclusion of the talks is negatively
impacting on the hopes and expectations of Zimbabweans." "It also
reiterates the importance of the urgent and amicable resolution of the
Inter-Party dialogue as the first step towards national efforts to
effectively meet the humanitarian needs of the people and put in motion,
national healing, economic recovery and transitional justice processes,"
Ngirande said NANGO was in the meantime rallying its entire membership
to show solidarity and give practical assistance to the hundreds of
protesters who were injured during the attack by riot police as well as the
WOZA leadership who are currently unjustly incarcerated. "As the talks are
underway the NANGO Board condemns in the strongest possible terms the
violent clampdown by State security officials on hundreds of marchers from
various sections of Civil Society, conducting non-violent protests to press
political leaders to conclude the talks," said the NANGO spokesman. "The
clampdown is yet another illustration of the extent of the absence of
democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe. More than forty seven protestors
from the Women's Coalition who led the "Conclude the Talks Now - We are
Dying of Hunger" campaign, are being held at the Harare Central Police
"NANGO remains committed to supporting its members in engaging non
violent social actions to agitate for the urgent conclusion of the talks and
for democracy, constitutionalism and human rights in Zimbabwe," he said.
Meanwhile the Parliament of Zimbabwe has moved a motion to have the
food situation declared a National Disaster - a move Ngirande said will
precipitate the the formation of an inclusive Inter-sectoral Commission to
oversee the sourcing and equitable distribution of relief efforts.
Angola Press Agency (Luanda)
26 October 2008
Posted to the web 27 October 2008
A special envoy of the Zimbabwean president,
Robert Mugabe, arrived Sunday morning in Luanda,
with a message to the Angolan head of Head of
State, José Eduardo dos Santos.
The special envoy, who is Zimbabwe's Housing and
Social Infrastructures minister, Emmason
Munangagwa, would not speak to Angop on arrival.
Angola will attend, Monday in Harare, the
extraordinary summit of the organ of defence and
security of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) which will discuss, among other
matters, the situation in Zimbabwe.
Angola will be represented at the meeting by the
Foreign minister, Assunção dos Anjos, on behalf
of the head of State, José Eduardo dos Santos.
Besides Zimbabwe, the meeting will also discuss
the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo
and other issues concerning the African heads of
Mon 27 Oct 2008, 16:52 GMT
GENEVA, Oct 27 (Reuters) - A rare sale of African ivory will be held under
United Nations auspices over the next two weeks, with proceeds to be used
for conservation purposes, officials said on Monday.
The sales will take place in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe,
with only China and Japan permitted to buy.
Africa's elephants are protected species and cross-border trade in their
ivory tusks is generally prohibited.
But signatories of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species (CITES) last year gave the four southern African states special
permission to sell a combined total of 108 tonnes of raw ivory from
elephants that died of natural causes or were killed in
CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers will be on the spot to "supervise
closely" the closed-door transactions.
The first sale will take place in Namibia on Tuesday, with the second in
Botswana on Oct. 31, CITES said. Dates for the South African and Zimbabwean
sales, not open to reporters or the public, will be announced later.
The two Asian nations, traditional users of ivory, were approved to buy
after showing they could fight illegal domestic trade in the material used
mainly in jewellery and carvings.
Wijnstekers will hold talks on the margins of the auctions with officials
from both countries about how CITES will monitor trade controls "to ensure
that unscrupulous traders do not take this opportunity to sell ivory of
Cash raised in the one-off auctions must be used to fund programmes for
nature conservation and community development projects in the areas the four
countries say rising elephant populations have caused problems for local
Last week the Internet auctioneer eBay Inc. <EBAY.O> said it would institute
a global ban on the sale of ivory products after a conservation group found
4,000 illegal elephant ivory listings on its site. The company already
prohibits cross-border sales of ivory and items made from other endangered
or protected species.
(Editing by Michael Roddy)
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
27 October 2008
Posted to the web 27 October 2008
TOBACCO deliveries remained subdued despite a series of clean-up sales,
which started two weeks ago. The Tobacco Industry Marketing Board said only
about 3 million-kg of tobacco had been sold during the mop-up sales,
bringing to about 47,6 million kg of tobacco sold this season.
About 45 million-kg had been sold during the actual selling season compared
to 70 million last year.
It is a far cry from this year's target of 77 million kg an indication that
a lot of tobacco remains unsold.
Earning to date from sales stands at US$154,5 million.
Indications are that the season could extend beyond the mop-up as was the
case last year.
Most farmers were reportedly holding on to their crop due to a number of
reasons including limited cash withdrawals, high transport costs, fuel
shortages, the exchange rate, among others.
27 October 2008
The financial and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is now so grave that the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediators meeting in Harare
today must find an immediate solution to the impasse and halt the country's
headlong plunge into chaos and despair.
Independent Zimbabwean analysts estimated last week's inflation rate at 1.4
billion, far surpassing the hyperinflation levels of any country on record.
They report that hyperinflation is escalating at 50 percent a day and
heading towards the trillions.
The exchange rate is currently around Z$5-billion to US$1 and by the end of
the month is predicted to spiral to Z$9-billion.
Devoid of solutions to the financial fallout, the Zimbabwean government
continues to print vast amounts of worthless bank notes.
Consequently the Zimbabwean dollar is at the point where it is unable to
hold its value for more than two hours and is being discarded in favour of
the US dollar or South African Rand.
The only solution, analysts say, is to take control of the economy out of
the hands of Mugabe.
Ironically the Ministry of Finance is one of the disputed ministries in the
"If the mediation results in a stalemate, the solution will be to
immediately set up a combined AU / UN / SADC force to co-ordinate and
supervise a fast-tracked presidential election authorising the use of
identity documents for verification," said a Harare-based analyst.
However, the holding of yet another election poses significant problems.
The voters' roll remains in shambles and requires a complete overhaul. It
also has to be produced in an electronic format which can be easily
Another stumbling block is that, according to the current constitution,
people have to vote in their wards which means displaced people cannot vote
outside of their constituencies..
In the run-up to the June 27 presidential run-off election, the
government-sponsored violence was of such intensity that thousands of people
were forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives.
During the attacks, hundreds of homes were burnt to the ground by Zanu PF
militia and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party estimated that as
many as 200 000 people had been displaced countrywide.
Given the bloodshed during the last presidential election it is hard to see
how elections could be undertaken without foreign troops or a terrible loss
There is also another - and as yet unquantified - population movement taking
Employees whose companies have closed down due to the economic and political
chaos are having to leave the cities where food is also becoming scarce and
return to their homes in the rural areas.
The Diaspora is yet another question. Although estimates vary widely of the
number of displaced Zimbabweans in the region - notably in South Africa,
Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique - in excess of three million people could be
Angered by their disenfranchisement in previous elections, members of the
Diaspora have expressed the desire to return home to exercise their right as
citizens of Zimbabwe to vote for the president of their choice.
However, it will only be feasible for those in the SADC region to return if
their security can be assured and if there is sufficient food available to
ensure they do not become a burden on their struggling families.
This also raises the question of funding. The majority will require
financial assistance to return home.
Travel documentation will also have to be resolved since many do not have
passports having entered neighbouring countries illegally.
A further issue is the sourcing of polling agents. In previous elections,
teachers played a significant role but were victimised by the regime, some
suffering extreme brutality.
Consequently, thousands of trained polling agents fled for their lives to
South Africa, neighbouring states and overseas where they are now widely
scattered and attempting to rebuild their lives.
The fallout in the educational sector is so profound that the Professional
Teachers' Association of Zimbabwe (PUTZ) estimates only about 7 percent of
the 3-million school-age children in the country are being educated.
In some instances, pupils have only had 23 days of effective teaching the
The PUTZ therefore anticipates a catastrophic pass rate in this year's
examinations of just 3 percent and Raymond Majongwe, the secretary-general,
has made the unprecedented call for the 2008 academic year to be cancelled.
The agricultural outlook is correspondingly bleak and this year's harvest is
described as the worst in Zimbabwe's modern history.
In many rural areas there is neither food on the ground nor in the shops.
Mugabe's Zanu PF party has once again taken control of the distribution of
agricultural inputs such as maize seed and fertilizer for the 2008/09
This has been organised through the Reserve Bank, which has bought up seed
and centralised the distribution of agricultural inputs.
General Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of Zimbabwe's defence forces,
who was given the responsibility of identifying the beneficiaries of
agricultural inputs, has been handing them out at Zanu PF rallies to party
members and senior officials.
According to IRIN, a few "A1" small scale and communal farmers and "A2" new
black commercial farmers are known to have received seed and fertilizer but
ordinary card carrying Zanu PF members and villagers have been told that
inputs have run out.
The situation is now so dire that whole villages are faced with no food and
welfare organisations warn that entire families are dying.
UK charity Save the Children reports that thousands of children have dropped
out of schools devoid of learning materials to search the already heavily
plundered countryside for edible roots and berries.
"In one district, 10 000 children out of a population of 120 000 left school
over a period of six months," said Rachel Pounds, the charity's country
"If it wasn't for aid organisations such as World Vision and the remittances
from family members in the Diaspora, we would already have starvation levels
of the proportions of Biafra during the 1960s on our hands," said a
humanitarian worker in Matabeleland province.
Food is also becoming in increasingly short supply in the towns and cities,
with row upon row of empty shelves in supermarkets.
What little food is available is so expensive that it is beyond the means of
The chaotic situation has been compounded by the fact that the government
has set a maximum daily withdrawal limit of Z$50 000.
To put its value into perspective, Z$50 000 will buy the hard-pressed
consumer just one loaf of bread - and in certain outlets only four slices.
As a result, millions of man-hours are being wasted while people wait in the
endless queues that choke crumbling city pavements.
Since it has become almost impossible for companies to withdraw adequate
cash - which is in effect worthless anyway, they are resorting to paying
staff in goods such as salt, beans and the staple maize meal - if they can
According to the financial director of a large company in Bulawayo the
chaotic situation is further exacerbated by the fact that it is virtually
impossible to use cheques.
"If you are given a cheque, by the time it has been cleared it has lost 20
percent of its value," he said. "And if a client tells you he will pay by
cheque, you have to add on such a substantial mark up that it further fuels
Given the worthless state of the Zimbabwean dollar, companies and
individuals are increasingly refusing to accept it as a currency.
When the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is no longer able to continue its practice
of purchasing foreign currency on the black market, some analysts predict it
could finally collapse.
They point out that, with 50 percent of this year's budget allocated to the
armed forces, Zanu PF has no financial reserves to feed or provide support
to the starving population, or to keep the country running.
A consequence of the economic and humanitarian fallout that Zimbabwe's
neighbours cannot afford is a major escalation of desperate Zimbabweans
crossing into their countries in search of jobs, food and, increasingly
The health care sector, which has been teetering on the brink for months,
has effectively collapsed.
Parirenyatwa Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Harare, announced
last week that it had stopped hospital admissions with immediate effect due
to a chronic shortage of staff, drugs and food.
Even the fortunate few who have been on private medical schemes through
their companies can no longer afford to get ill, or even to book a doctor's
Medical aid tariffs have rocketed from four to seventy times the salary of
an office worker and just one tube of antiseptic ointment costs Z$200
million which equates to more than a year's salary.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has expressed
outrage at the worsening situation in government hospitals.
Douglas Gwatidzo, ZADHR Chairman, says he fears that increasing numbers of
lives will be lost and has called for immediate intervention.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has been forced to share the
responsibility of finding a solution to the impasse with SADC leaders, who
effectively have two choices.
Either they admit that the allocation of ministries tabled by the Movement
for Democratic Change is fair and use this as a basis for an equitable
solution, or they accept the deliberately skewed demands of Mugabe and Zanu
PF who are determined to retain power.
Realistically, and in the interests of their own electorates, SADC cannot
afford the catastrophic consequences of a failed member state and the
resulting fallout if they fail to act decisively.
The time for protracted negotiations and deferring to aging dictators is
27th Oct 2008 14:56 GMT
By Chenjerai Chitsaru
LAST week, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) boss was accused of what we
journalists would describe as "improper behaviour" - it involved a woman.
The IMF called it something else.
The man was let off the hook with a warning. At the time of writing, I had
not come across any loud protests - or even quiet ones - from international
Not so fortunate was Paul Wolfowitz, the former head of the World Bank,
whose case also involved a woman. They threw the book at him and he was
forced to quit. They say his severance pay was almost obscene.
These are not your average bank managers, in double-breasted suits ten years
out of fashion, well-polished shoes fashionable when Clark Gable was the
biggest film star in Hollywood.
These are men of vast international banking experience. They are entrusted
with trillions of dollars of every country's money.
Their salaries are in staggering figures too. They could quote you,
verbatim, everything Adam Smith, Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan ever
wrote. They might even go back to the origins of money as we know it today -
not that you couldn't find out all that from the internet.
But the beauty for them is that they could put it in context. Yet they were
caught - literally - with their pants down. Who puts such people in charge
of crucial international institutions? It may not be gracious to mention
"moral depravity" or "moral turpitude", but you could feel justified to be
Who put them in such positions? The politicians. It must follow that the
present world economic crisis cannot be blamed on the bankers alone. Most of
them are placed in their jobs by politicians - for one good reason and
probably two, three or four bad ones.
Between the two groups, there cannot be unanimity on who is a saint and who
a sinner. Most hard-boiled journalists would say it is highly dubious to
speak of good and bad about politicians and bankers.
There can only be degrees of badness. This is an extremist view, embraced by
all who have endured the agony of lost life savings and evaporating
investments because a banker took a chance with their money.
Traditionally, it used to be said that if you couldn't trust your bank
manager, who else could you trust? Well, you could trust your pastor,
surely. But as he didn't possess the wherewithal of improving your material
status, perhaps you did not list him as your priority.
Today, all over the world, banks have lost the trust they used to enjoy in
the early days. Much of the trust has been chipped away by their own lack of
integrity, their greed, their get-rich-quick obsession and their inherent
attachment to politicians.
Governments are run by politicians with many friends among bankers - and
vice versa. In many cases, they have decided they will use taxpayers' money
to bail out the bankers.
The phrase popularised by some politicians is "whatever it takes". If it is
not your money, the sky is the limit - it's no skin off your nose. Most
taxpayers must feel an urge to get back at the politicians for this, at
A fresh examination of the relationship between voters, bankers and
politicians seems called for, particularly in African countries. For a
start, there are few Africans who understand why the credit crunch has
brought the world to a situation reminiscent of the crash of 1929 - 79 years
At that time, few African countries had achieved the independence that began
in earnest in 1957. For instance, Robert Mugabe was only five years old
then. He too would only know of that nightmare from reading books.
There is no doubt it was a period of extreme hardship for all, rich and
poor, but particularly the poor. It began with the stock market crash on
Wall Street, in New York, in the US - where the present one began as well.
But this time, political leaders last week gathered in Beijing, China, to
debate how to solve the world crisis. China was chosen, not because it hadn't
been contaminated - because it had - but because it now has the third
largest economy in the world, but doesn't seem to appreciate why it's a
collective responsibility to keep the world economy under constant review
and under some kind of control.
If both Russia and the United States ignore the almost knee-jerk inclination
to dominate the proceedings leading to a united front against the crisis, we
shall see signs of an improvement soon enough.
The temptation might be irresistible to apportion blame, but in Beijing,
there was little of that. There seemed to be a serious attempt to confront
the problem without using the blinkers of old cold war ideologies.
When the explanation offered for the crisis includes a detailed account of
the meaning of the "subprime mortgage crisis" in the US, which triggered the
present debacle, then there is little doubt few Africans or even Chinese,
Mongolians or Tibetans, Eskimos or Andorrans could muster the patience to
plough through the verbiage.
"The subprime mortgage crisis is an ongoing financial crisis characterized
by contracted liquidity in global credit markets and banking systems
triggered by the failure of mortgage companies, investment firms and
government sponsored enterprises which had invested heavily in subprime
mortages. The crisis, which has roots in the closing years of the 20th
century but has become more apparent throughout 2007 and 2008, has passed
through various stages exposing pervasive weaknesses in the global financial
system and regulatory framework."
In lay-people's language, this was a practice of lending money to people
whose capacity to pay it back at the periods specified as making good
business sense was almost non-existent.
The government intervenes because it has a lot of taxpayers' money lying
around. It's indecent to suggest this is because the government has no idea
what to do with the money.
It's possible the government is keeping the money for the proverbial rainy
day, although it must know there are people without jobs, food and shelter,
while it's sitting on these billions.
What infuriates taxpayers around the world is that their money is being used
to pay for the greed and blunders of people apparently trained to look after
other people's money wisely - apparently.
Yes, to err is human and to forgive divine. But if a bank fails to get its
overdraft fully paid back from you at the time it expects to, there are few
occasions during which it will let you off the hook.
Nobody believes banking to be an inherently crooked business. Bank charges,
for instance, have provoked many depositors to call for government
intervention, because they can be hefty beyond belief...
In Zimbabwe , where a piranha-like monster, looking strangely like your
typical politician, has ruined the economy since 2000, the world crisis will
postpone a return to the good times for decades.
In trying to be fair to the bankers, one must not bend over backwards too
far, because there is much evidence of larceny.
Here is something: "Stemming from the 'credit crunch', attention has been
drawn to recent subprime lending practices. It has been suggested that some
lenders engaged in predatory lending practices. More extreme allegations
included lenders deliberately targeting borrowers who may not have fully
understood the terms of their loan, or lending to people who were never
likely to afford the interest payments in the long-run. Many of these loans
included exorbitant fees and hidden terms and conditions, and they
frequently led to default, seizure of collateral, and foreclosure."
In some cases, they might have led to broken lives, let alone broken
marriages. Someone ought to pay for all this terrorism of the innocent..
They must include bankers and politicians, these birds of the same feather.
A government of the people, in essence, must institute provisions for
ensuring the people's hard-earned money is not frittered away in bailouts of
Zimbabwe, in particular, has an opportunity to start afresh.
24 October 2008
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) is disillusioned by the conduct of the police with regard to vendors. It is clear to all and sundry that the economic melt down; high levels of unemployment and the political stalemate have rapidly increased the number of Zimbabweans who earn their living out of vending as the means of survival are increasingly becoming difficult. This situation has created two inimical groups; the police (state and municipality) being “hunters” and the vendors, the “hunted” and it has seriously exposed vendors to continuous harassment by the police.
CHRA is reliably informed that a uniformed policeman and a plain-clothed detective allegedly pounced on unassuming 15 vendors in Masasa and confiscated their vegetables and fruits and told them that the goods would be forfeited to the state. The vendors are alleged to have tried to explain that they had licences but the police officers in their fashion of unprofessionalism, would not brook those explanations. The vendors, among them members of CHRA, reported the matter at Rhodesville police station. The police are said to have convened a meeting with the vendors and the municipality police. The vendors produced their vending licenses to the police during the meeting which was held on Monday the 20th of October at Rhodesville police station and the officer in charge instructed the police officers who had confiscated the goods to either return the goods to their owners or render equivalent payment in monetary form. The vendors celebrated this small victory as they were paid by the policeman and his partner.
Meanwhile the defacto Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development is urged to stop interfering with the running of the city and allow the council to make progress in cleaning the mess of “his” commissions. Among other things, the council needs to designate and build necessary infrastructure in vending market places, reclaim water management and sewer reticulation from ZINWA and ensure that there is improvement in municipal service delivery. CHRA also urges the country’s political leadership to move swiftly in resolving the country’s socio-economic and political problems which have brought untold poverty among the residents (and the police).
Exploration House, Third Floor
Landline: 00263- 4- 705114
27 October 2008
Combined Harare Residents Association has received information that; Hatfield junior primary school authorities are contemplating closing the school due to dire water shortages. The school is entering its fourth week without water and the situation is highly unhygienic. The decision to close the school has been delayed by the Grade 7 examinations in progress. This issue is a miniature depiction of the Zimbabwean crisis.
A member of the CHRA Secretariat
interviewed some children who are in the sixth grade at the school and gathered
that the toilets at the school have blocked and they have become unusable. The
school authorities and parents at large fear for the health of their children as
there seems to be no hope that the situation will improve. This poses a serious
threat of Cholera and other disease outbreaks which have wreaked havoc in the
city. Homes, offices and other public institutions have been victims of the
ZINWA’s failure to provide clean and accessible water throughout the city of
State media has been running stories of ZINWA having acquired some equipment and chemicals from The People’s Republic of China (consistent with the current defacto government look east policy), a country where thousands have been hospitalized and dozens have died from melamine contaminated products. The parastatal (ZINWA) which was imposed by the government in 2006 has failed the nation beyond any reasonable doubt and some government authorities have chided it in the mainstream media, thus acknowledging their failure.
Reacting to the developments, the
Chairperson of CHRA, Mr
CHRA remains committed to demanding quality
and affordable service delivery and accountable, transparent and democratic
governance system in the city of
Exploration House, Third Floor
Landline: 00263- 4- 705114
Sunday Independent 26 October 2008
By Peta Thornycroft
Harare - Sister Patricia Walsh says in her 35 years living in Zimbabwe she
has never seen the level of hunger that she does today.
"It is deeply troubling, especially in rural hospitals I have visited where
even the nurses are hungry all the time.
"They will ask why they have to feed patients who are going to die soon,
when they are not going to die but need food to keep on working.
"They earn salaries, so are not eligible to be on the list of vulnerable
people, but their salaries will not even buy one meal a month."
A nurse earns less than R20 a month as the Zimbabwe dollar continues its
daily plunge in value and incalculable annual inflation stands at many
hundreds of million percent.
Irish born and raised, Walsh, 66, a Dominican nun, is one of the most
outspoken Christian leaders in Zimbabwe. She is not only critical of the
government of President Robert Mugabe at home but also has raised her voice
at many of the world's top humanitarian agencies.
Walsh, who trained at Paddington and St James Hospitals in the United
Kingdom and took her vows when she was 28, rarely gets out of Zimbabwe for
more than a few days to return to her beloved Athlone, County Westmeath, in
"the heart of Ireland, my roots".
She lived through the Rhodesian war on a remote mission station at
Chilimanzi, about 220km south of Harare, where she saw some malnutrition,
mostly, she says, among children whose parents worked on white-owned
"We longed for the birth of Zimbabwe and in the first years it was good. We
were so hopeful, so happy after independence. The ministry of health gave us
whatever we needed, they bent over backwards and the health of the
population improved a lot."
Most of Zimbabwe's population lives in the countryside and 60 percent has
traditionally received medical care at rural mission hospitals. After
independence, the government fully supported mission hospitals. Now they
depend on hand-outs from external churches and some donor funds to stay
"I am schizophrenic about Zimbabwe," says Walsh. "It is a love-hate
relationship. There is despair everywhere and yet I love the country."
She is critical of those non-governmental organisations tasked with defining
who is vulnerable and who is not before they hand out food.
"We have no food to give out and surely we can be trusted to do it fairly
and be accountable?"
She said the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP), the major importer
of food aid, recently provided statistics of those it says are in need, 2
million now, and 5 million in January, nearly half the population.
"Sadly for some of us this information is a cause of frustration. One of our
mission hospitals with one of the largest HIV/Aids outreach programmes in
the country applied to the WFP and were told that food is only being
supplied to 'vulnerable people'."
She questioned why 4 000 orphans cared for by the church in one district,
many of whom were hospitalised with the diseases of malnutrition were not
She asked where church-run hospitals were supposed to get food if not
through such organisations as WFP and Christian Care.
She pointed out that many people living with HIV/Aids in Harare, for
example, are not considered vulnerable, even though their health status is
dramatically deteriorating because of malnutrition.
"Why is there this expensive time-wasting exercise with questionnaires to
decide who is vulnerable when so many starving people are already on the
records of clinics and various church groups?
"How does the head of a child-headed household in a high-density area get
into contact with the people who have the questionnaires? In most cases they
have no chance. We have had hundreds of people on the point of starvation
coming to our doors pleading for food."
She called on "whoever is responsible for all the bureaucracy to start
getting the food out of the warehouses to the people who are hungry or we
will have mass starvation".
Walsh said the churches were finding money to buy coffins for people who had
died rather than using the funds to get food to them.
"Let us stop buying coffins and distribute food," she said.
Most members of the NGO community in Zimbabwe refuse to be identified when
interviewed by journalists, and yet all are deeply critical of the Zimbabwe
One European medical doctor, running the largest HIV/Aids facility in Harare
and waiting for his temporary work permit, said this week: "I feel ashamed
not being able to give you my name but if I am refused my TEP, I will be
kicked out immediately and I have 2 000 patients and no one to replace me,"
"There are others from powerful organisations, earning huge salaries, who
are not vulnerable and yet they will never put their names to their
criticism of the government, which is responsible for this tragedy in case
they lose their fabulous jobs."
Walsh and many other church organisations have been pleading with the food
importers to be given food to distribute. "We would get it out now," she
Many NGOs say they cannot begin major food distribution because the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe will not allow them access to their local bank accounts to
withdraw enough to pay for people and trucks to distribute food.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe allows NGOs to withdraw less than R10 a day. -
play next to an open sewer
"Our dilemma is that we have not had running water for close to a month. In addition we had sewer pipes bursting, resulting in untreated effluent flooding most parts of the community. As you can obviously tell, there is an unpleasant smell in the air.
"As to be expected, many residents have dug shallow wells to try and access clean water. The danger is that sewage is seeping into the shallow wells, and with the rains that have been falling, the result could be an outbreak that could be difficult if not impossible to control.
"Right now every home has members who are suffering from diarrhoea. Children are also at great risk, as they are exposed to sewage effluent while playing in the streets."
He said reporting burst sewerage pipes to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), the water parastatal, never elicited any action.
"When we reported that we had not received water for a long time, the ZINWA people said they were surprised because they assumed we had water. When we told them about the sewer bursts, they said they had not been vaccinated against typhoid to enable them to attend to the sewer bursts.
"According to the Water Act, ZINWA has exclusive rights to sewer and water and that means we can not hire private contractors to attend to our problem.
"When you add water shortages, sewage pipe bursts, electricity cuts, food shortages then you realise the kind of hardships that people are going through in the different communities."
Matsikidze said many residents were being forced to buy clean water from suburbs with water supplies. "Instead of money, we can barter sugar or soap for a bucket of water."
"Of course, there is a lot that can be done and we are working on a class action against the Zimbabwe National Water Authority. To start with, ZINWA is failing to keep its end of the bargain by not supplying clean water when residents are paying rates," Matsikidze commented.
"By not tackling these issues, they are threatening the existence of the community because people have died of cholera, while others have fallen sick. We are seeking to compel the authority to provide services which we have paid for without delivery," he said.
"If they cannot provide the services which we require, then we will seek to have services such as water distribution and sewer management handed back to local authorities, which used to do a very good job."
Inflation is one of those things I just can’t keep track of any more. Steve Hanke at the Cato Institute reckoned it was around 52 trillion – but that was over 10 days ago. Last week our office got a shock when the Old Mutual Implied Rate went from around USD1 = ZWD 3 billion on Wednesday to 28 billion on Thursday 163 billion on Friday. Granted, as they say on their website, “The Old Mutual Implied Rate (OMIR) is a broad unofficial proxy for the value of the Zimbabwe Dollar to the US$ based on the relative values of shares on the London and Zimbabwe Stock Exchanges.” I don’t know anyone who’s actually doing transfers at that rate. So on Saturday, when a friend of mine asked me what the transfer rate to the US was, I could honestly say, “somewhere between 250 million and 163 billion.” But this short video - shown recently at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival - sums up inflation better than any figure I’ve seen so far.
by Tshepo Matjila
Another day passes by, another batch of famine-induced deaths in Zimbabwe.
The quiet death of Zimbabwe will haunt us all to our dying days. This former
African bread basket country continues to wither away - way away from the
glare of the world. Families have been torn apart, many men have been
executed - I take it back.many men have been murdered!
This is another day in the life of a thuggish military junta headed by its
hypocritical leader - Robert Gabriel Mugabe. 'Let them eat potatoes', the
monstrous Mugabe was once quoted. Sadly the potatoes he so bragged about to
the world has also run out. While Mugabe and his junta continue to enjoy
three course meals each day, sons and daughters of Zimbabwe succumb daily to
famine, malnutrition and disease. While the negotiated political settlement
continues to show more signs of a burlesque, relatives and friends of the
Zimbabwean people pray that someone would be bold enough to step up and act.
While most of us Down South continue to cheer, rile and contemplate the
impact of a ShiKota political party, many of the desperate Zimbabweans who
had some hope that normality was going to return to the country of their
birth, now they left with little choice but to flee in search of greener
pastures and a normal coexistence!
Why are we doing nothing bathong (people)? Just as was noted in the Nazi
camp - soon they WOULD be coming for us after they have decimated what
remains of Zimbabwe. Are we willing to let the situation gravitate to that
level before we act? How long will we continue to endorse (by doing nothing)
the illegitimate and brutal regime of Robert Gabriel Mugabe?
With no UN peace-keeping forces and UNAid allowed, the junta continue to
rule the day and use fatal force at night. Do we have to continue talking to
a regime that doesn't respect the rules of engagement? Is there a need from
our side to continue to recognise a Presidency that shows scant regard for
I know what I would like to see in Zimbabwe: I would like to see peace,
reconstruction and prosperity in Zimbabwe - 'by any means necessary!'